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Hard Landing Leads to Two, Maybe Three (Impossible?) Surgeries

I’d like to tell you that the past couple of months–during which I was not writing–have been a piece of cake.  Au contraire! They have been a constellation of events–almost beyond my comprehension–certainly a test of my faith!  (You are always in my thoughts and prayers but time seems to run out every night/day.)

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Home from the hospital for just an hour, Someone sat on the ground to love just some of the dogs who have been missing him!  (Big) Bunny Bun Buns (who turns 12 the end of March, 2020), Jed the white Poodle Doodle, Bitty Bits (center) and Sissy (who turns 10 the same time Bunny has her birthday!)  Since we don’t know Bits and Jeddy’s birthday, we are going to have one cake and celebrate their birthdays all together at the end of the month. They each have an amazing survival story!  (More dog birthdays  (and ours) this summer and then more in the fall.) 

 

First, Someone’s Benefits Were Wrongfully Terminated

Someone, has a terminal neurologic illness, Lewy Body Dementia. There are about seven stages of this disease in total that lasts from 5-7 to 20 years, depending on each individual’s health and complications.

This part of the latest odyssey began in January.  Someone’s disability benefit is key to paying the mortgage, utilities and insurance and not anything more.  That said, the last check deposited was in December, 2019! This is a man who is terminal and granted permanent disability.

When January’s check wasn’t auto-deposited,  I waited until early February to see if there was a banking glitch–and to see if that check and the past one would show up. Nope. Nada. Turns out that someone was put on a list of terminal people whose claims had just been “terminated” without so much as a phone call–but he is still very much alive and should not have been on that list!

I was assured that some paperwork and a brief questionnaire substantiating that Someone was still alive and a physician confirmation would suffice and he would receive back payments.  (I am still kicking myself that he didn’t sign up for supplemental disability insurance.)  As of this writing, however, it has not been rectified yet–going on three months of no income.  **(Scroll to the end for today’s update.)

His Fall

To begin to make matters worse, right after Valentine’s Day–after we had a few wonderful days to enjoy good food, cupcakes and doggie toys and cards and bones that some of you sent (thank you!!!!), Someone had a very bad fall. Living with extremity tremors that come and go, mostly that ‘come’ these days, along with an altered sense of balance, falls and slips are common. This fall was different. Someone put his arm out straight to break his fall with his hand.  The damage done, however, was, to quote the head of orthopedics at the hospital, “massive.”

When I took Someone to the hospital and saw the head orthopedic surgeon, he ordered an MRI to be done right away. (We could see his arm was “wrong” without the MRI!)  As it was explained to us, we have two bicep muscles in each arm.  One of Someone’s in his right (primary) arm has been disconnected/everything shredded from the shoulder down and the bicep is down near the bend of his arm.  It could be pulled up and sewed back in place with anchors drilled and embedded in his bone if surgery were sooner than later…that time now has passed (see below).

In addition, the rotator cuff (four big muscles that hold our shoulder together) has a “massive tear” (and there is other damage) but the bigger issue is that the labrum (that surrounds the socket) and the bone around the head of the arm bone and the rotator cuff are all retracted (cannot be pulled up into place without a two to three hour intense surgery–and it still may not be able to be totally repaired.) Someone had an anxiety attack just listening to what had happened to his arm–and I am pretty sure he didn’t even understand it all.  I have had to do hours upon hours of research to do so.

The surgeon wanted to operate two weeks ago–less than a week from the injury would be a safe window to reattach the bicep at the same time as one or two other surgeries.  The surgeon discussed his plan that involved drilling holes in the bones to place/insert (two year) biodegradable “anchors” to have something to hold the sutures and sutured tendons and muscles back on to the bone.  The surgeon was then going to add a large biologic Regeneten patch of processed (cadaver?) tissue over the shoulder that strengthens the torn areas and speeds up healing.

Every step of the way, he and his staff kept stressing how extremely painful shoulder surgery is and that it would take 4-6 months to have just a moving arm and with rehab, up to a year to be mostly functional.  (One time, when he thought Someone wasn’t in the room, the surgeon actually said to me, “If he only has three years left, don’t bother. Recovery alone will be a full year and require intense rehab.” Unfortunately, Someone was just around the corner and heard him. This was not something he should have heard.)

Since I disclosed that Someone has LBD, the doctor required pre-surgery clearances and tests and even pre-surgery rehab to reinforce post-surgery restrictions, how to get dressed, how to put on the surgery brace (it’s all complicated for him), etc. The clearances were to be from Someone’s heart doc (blood tests and an EEG); his main neurologist; and since he was in the middle of trying to have dental work done (four dentists all had very bad and complicated prognoses), a dental clearance.

Unexpected Jawbone Replacement

His heart doc clearance was done that day.  A-OK. A blood test and EKG.  The neurologist, however, wrote a letter that said in a nutshell, surgery is OK physically but I/Someone needed to be told that Someone may not come out of General Anesthesia–either at all; as “himself”; could be fully dementiated (my word because someone would cringe if I wrote demented) and needing to be in an institution for months or forever.  It was also, in my opinion, meant to be a “liability” warning letter to the surgeon.  Finally, the dentist would not grant surgical clearance. Oh, brother.

A CT scan was done of Someone’s mouth/head after no surgical clearance from the dentist would be granted (the dentist wanted to start/finish his proposed work BEFORE surgery)–but in waiting,  the surgeon would lose the ability to reattach the bicep muscle and possibly more damage would be caused in the rotator cuff area.  Which was the more important issue to be fixed had to be established.  The CT scan showed that Someone needs to have at least his lower right mandible replaced–not just some dental work!  It is dangerously close to breaking, the bone rim is so thin.  This disease and complications just destroy their bodies!

Once this was all discovered and reviewed, the surgery that was scheduled for March. 3, 2020 was cancelled.  The head ortho surgeon classified Someone as “high risk” for any surgery–put it all in his records including the clearance/no clearance letters and I was told emphatically by the head neurologist that Someone has to avoid GA (general anesthesia)–period.

All surgeries, the one or two to repair his arm–the massive rotator cuff repair and a capsular repair to hold his arm ball and socket together/it is loose (there is a more technical name but I am too tired to remember it right now) as well as the lower jaw mandible replacement–in which a bone graft from Someone’s hip has to be taken out, molded on the table, while his mouth in surgically opened up while the old lower right (or whole??) jaw bone is replaced/grafted–all require long GA surgeries-and the mandible surgery, maybe the shoulder surgeries as well, require hospitalization.

With these delays, it is now too late to have Someone’s bicep muscle repaired and reattached to his shoulder.  (The one good news in this is that the muscle will “scar in place” and the pain will stop at least in the bicep and it will work even in this odd place.)

More Opinions

I was not going to take “No” for an answer.  I lined up two more ortho surgeons to get their opinions.  Surgeon Number 2 was willing to help but only with GA.  He did at least say that he will be actively researching if there is anyway to help Someone get help/surgery without general anesthesia but it is nearly impossible to do. Surgeon Number 3, I had to reschedule for early this coming week due to Someone’s limitations and pain level–and now with the virus, I am going to have to re-re-schedule because Number 3’s office is inside the hospital.  A quarantine hospital.

I called the Lewy Body Dementia Association for additional medical referrals/resources.  After making sure that I knew that over 65% of LBD caregivers pass on/God calls them before their “patient’–and making ng sure that I grasped that I must take care of myself, too, with all of this going on–the facilitator asked me to think about this: If I can’t get any surgical help for Someone, that it may be time to call in hospice. Hospice.  That was a shock for me to hear or to even have to consider. I pray to God that this does not become the only option.  I don’t like making any of these decisions about Someone else’s life, but at least with the amount of research I do about any one of them, when I have to make any decision, I will be at peace.  Right now, I am still in the “I can fix it” mode.

Can’t Carry the Burden

I was told during a near death experience, after a duodenal ulcer perforated in 2018, to leave your/our burdens at the foot of the cross. Let God handle them! And so I do or I’d be a wreck!

I have also learned to say, “Jesus, I Trust in You,” whenever I get anxious or to get me to the point of remembering to go leave the burden.  We must walk blindly in unfaltering faith–just surrendering it all to Him. No amount of worry or anxiety will help even in the slightest way.  Year after year, my understanding of how faith works–and acting on it–has carried me through some of the hardest, most painful times.  You can do it, too!

I learned how important that is to say that (and to stand in faith after you say it) after reading the diary of Sister (now Saint) Faustina, whose experiences gave us the Divine Mercy chaplet (in song–my favorite!) and a Holy Day, Divine Mercy Sunday (the Sunday after Easter). (Jesus told Sister Faustina that you can say that phrase as many times a day as you need to!)

Thanks for listening and for caring. Especially for caring.

I will have another update soon. I have some other posts that I’d like to write if I have the time, too, especially about this virus and what you should be doing to prepare for home isolation just in case.

What you may not be thinking about, is that even if we have to go into isolation perhaps two to four weeks regionally or as a country–or not at all–the supply chain is being disrupted.  I need you to hear this–items that come in and stock our shelves AND pharmacies are going to be months behind coming in to restock our store shelves after the virus or virus hysteria has passed.  IF you can, buy extra things to anticipate a post-virus gap in many things–pet foods, too!  (more on this below…)

(Please sign up to get my posts in your Inbox–look for the three lines at the top of this page.) In the meantime, I would be grateful if you would keep Someone in your prayers.  Prayers accomplish great things!

Sending much love and always Hugs from the Herd!!

Jane

PS  If anyone would like to help with the RR dogs or would like to write to Someone, the address is:

Rescue Ranch

4057 Riley Fuzzel Road

Suite 500-130

Spring, TX  77386

Much needed:  (Imagine trying to prepare for a 2-4 week isolation with Someone in this condition and a Herd full of special needs dogs–feeling overwhelmed is an understatement! My back feels like it is broken!  I don’t even know if we have shipping time these days before things stop being open/available but whatever you choose to help with, I will be grateful, including prayers–always!)

  1. HEB, Walmart, generic Visa/MC gift cards or e-cards.

2.  Amazon.com e-credits to a.rescue.volunteer@gmail.com

Tubs–10 oz. and 3.5 oz–of wet dog food (HEB, Amazon, Target)

Walmart and HEB:  Big bones/chews, chicken jerky/dried chicken;

…as well as McDonald’s, Burger King, HEB.com and Kroger.com gift cards are needed. (Generic Visa cards can be used anywhere, on any site, in any store.) Prayers are always welcome and are not the “only” thing you can do…but is a magnificent thing you can do!  We all pray for you every single day!

The Virus

At the time of this writing, the COVID-19 virus is in our counties and countries.   Please take all precautions.  I have been studying this and talking to some experts for a few weeks and need to share some of what I have learned.

There is a lipid layer (fatty) around the outside of the virus which is destroyed by using soap–especially blue Dawn dish soap–and then, to be extra vigilant, spray your hands, feet, area with alcohol or another disinfectant.  

Staying 6 feet or more away from people, you must also stay out of the path of their sneezes and coughs, which can propel molecules as far as 20 feet–and linger in the air after they have left the area! The more you can stay in, work from home, don’t go to public places, especially at peak times, the more you can limit your exposure.  Drink plenty of water, build your immune system ahead of time (now) and pray.  Our lives are ultimately in God’s hands.  Remember–Don’t give into fear.  You may choose to self-quarantine sooner than later, too.

Do be smart and get food, water and other things you may need if you were to be told/choose to self-isolate for two weeks to a month. (Some people are guesstimating that there may be a three month isolation if things are very bad.) You want to do the same for you/your family and your animals.

The last thing you want to do is have to expose yourself to lots of potential virus carriers or sick people in order to stand in a government food line because you didn’t prepare–or to have to greet the National Guard every day to get your emergency food box or meal and a soda, as I was told, that would be left at your door–and then how then do you deal with the garbage that will not be picked up? Yes, we’d be grateful for their mercy/help but if you have special diets, food cravings, need more calories, have pets, etc. you won’t have the option like ‘room service’ of ordering what you want!

IF you never need what you buy/bought, just use the emergency items like a pantry and rotate out things as you use them, replacing them with newer expiration dates.  You will always be ready for a storm, another emergency, etc. and I hear that this is just the first wave of the virus.  In six months another may come.

Sign up to this blog to get my next posts about what to do if you haven’t started already.

God bless everyone and all of your animals.

PLEASE…IF there is absolutely anything that I can do to help you, please email me with “URGENT” or “HELP” in the subject box: a.rescue.volunteer@gmail.com  (–even if you just need emotional support or have a question on how to deal with some unexpected issues.)

 

**Divine Intervention?  As I was writing this post, particularly about faith and the power of surrendering your burdens, I received an official call that Someone and his disability will be restored in the next few weeks. He has been “un-terminated” or “restored.” Funny, I just had spaghetti with Someone earlier tonight so I’m glad he is still officially alive!   Thank you, God. Thank you all.

Grateful always.

 

My apologies for any errors.  I will fix them when I reread this with wide-open eyes!

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Bunny’s new ride is a special wheelbarrow with lots of softie toys from her angel!  She is very much less able these days and so is my back to lift her up to go potty.  This is a perfect solution for her to just get in and out easily.

 

 

 

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