The kids..or some of them, lol!

It’s a messy Sunday here..Annabelle is in clown mode with her ball, which is typical. We haven’t had the Opportunity to do the full out game of flying catch today. The backyard is just too soft and wet. She hates water, lol! Except when she’s chasing Wooby, then no amount of flying mud and debris is too much! He’s much smaller but being a Jack-Rat terrier he’s got lightening speed and uses small escape and evade tactics on her all the time. He’s her favorite playmate in the house. We call JoJo”cat-dog” because he’s like a feline at times. Walking on top of chairs, tippy toeing through the yard and there’s nothing he liked better than a good ole dusty patch in the yard to spin around in and send up dust plumes to bite at. He and Wooby are brothers. All these kids are rescues. My hubby and I ran a dog rescue for five years with the help of a few others and we successfully saved over 500 dogs today we adopted into forever homes. Amazing! And amazingly hard work! If you ever get the chance to be a foster family take advantage of it, even if only once. There is no greater heartwarming gratification than seeing a dog go from needing rescue into the loving arms of their new parents! 

We have seven dogs now and each one has their own story.Our first tworescues came from a high kill shelter nearby.Their names are Buddy and Chase.But he was three months old he seems to be a mix of border colliewith a dab of Labrador retriever and some type of houndhe was severely abused and as we saw had been hungon the catchpole by the people at the shelter at least twice when I witnessed it.He didn’t get the socialization that’s needed between their eight and 13th weeks with people every experience he had must’ve been bad.He’s almost 6 years old and has come so far we brought him homethe same day we brought home Chase. Chase was four months old maybe five and he’s a yellow lab golden retriever mix.They both were so frightened at the shelter they were going to be put down because they wouldn’t eat food and chase just sat in the back of the corner of the shelter and buddy sat in the back of the corner of the shelter but he did have some teeth with him!Fear was All they knew at that time and people were not their friends. We have to start them off and channels in our garage and it took me several days of sittingabout 10 feet away from themto get them to even make eye contact with me Chase came around a lot quicker than buddy Theon.I took a little bit of meat lunch meat and would throw it to them and eventually they let me pet them and eventually came out of their cages but it took a period of weeks before I could get them in the house without them having to be picked up and brought in. They weren’t ready for mixing with the other dogs it was too scary for themuntil they had been here a few weeks.Now that I’ve grown into a fine man and are wonderful companions.Chase is as laid-back as any lab on the face of the earth and Buddy still needs his room from time to time, but we’ve seen him blossom over the last six years. It’s amazing that they can still learn every day and make great examples for people if we would just take time to notice and follow the example. There was a time when you couldn’t walk behind Buddy or have anything in your hands, especially a mop or broom. He used to spend most of his time in their bedroom. Now in the last year he’s decided he wants to be inside the family pack and spends most of his days and evenings in the family room. It’s a big deal for him and us. He’s even come to the point where he likes to have his head nuzzled with mine but only for a few seconds. He’ll allow me to give him kisses on top of the head when I come home in the afternoon from work. He loves to be brushed now and we often find him running to the front gate when someone comes in just for a few seconds to see who it is and then he scoots back to the family room. Lately he’s learned to relax on the dog bed on the floor underneath the TV which is a giant accomplishment for him! That place doesn’t allow him a fast escape route which is normally top on his list. He’s at his most free when he’s running in the yard chasing squirrels or Annabelle. That’s when he looks the most normal of all. hands rehab has been a work of love for him and it’s taught us a lot about patience and slow moving trains. the spirit of the dog is indomitable just like people and given enough time and love and understanding they can accomplish almost anything. His progress and is a constant reminder to me of just how slowly life moments us overtime and it reminds me that you have to wait for things. Waiting is not the human condition unfortunately and certainly not my normal condition.  But when I reflect on him it helps me to understand that nothing happens instantaneously. Peace and Love.

Well…a place for deep thoughts

It’s a yucky kind of gray rainy day in West Tennessee and so it’s been slow moving for everybody I’ve talked to today. Sorry I was MIA for a couple days. My appointment with the doctor yesterday went good but questionable … We saw Dr. Latif who I really liked. He’s nice and seems very compassionate. However, the MIBG scan was negative which is kind of what I expected . He said sometimes this could take 8 to 10 years to sort out … Yes I said years. It was a relief to hear that I didn’t show a pheochromocytoma ! But it sent us back to the drawing board as far as he was concerned and as far as our searching goes..sigh. It’s not an easy thing to track down and I knew that from all of my research . I couldn’t help but cry just a little because I was really hoping for something like a benign Pheo that could be removed and I could get my life back quick.  No such luck. We started a new medicine called Cardura which is an alpha blocker, on top of the other five blood pressure medicines that I’m on right now! So I’m spending yesterday and today trying to get used to the new medicine and I think I feel a little bit better today . Of course I haven’t really done much I’m trying to follow the directions on how to get used to an alpha blocker . It blocks the infusion of epinephrine and norepinephrine into your system and helps to keep you from getting the “fight or flight” response in your body. The dogs smell it of course rescue one has taken turn passing by me sniffing the new chemical smell on mom . They’re adjusting to it, amazing how they know! I’m not sure how but their noses are so developed it’s incredible they sniff me from high to low as soon as I come back in from the doctors office every time . The med causes a little dizziness. Yesterday was worse than today and Layla has been close by just to be sure I don’t fall flat on my face . So far it’s not keeping my heart rate below 100 consistently but it hasn’t blasted up to above 120 bpm all day long which is a new development. The biggest problem with all these blocking drugs is that they also block your desire to participate in life, lol. Being the terrible patient that I usually a.m. I have made the executive decision to start and withdraw one medication at a time based on my vital signs. Since I have the ability to monitor both my heart rate and blood pressure and the way I feel internally and how are Espanto things that I’m doing I’m going to try over the next few weeks to knock off one at a time and see if I can get some life juices flowing again . I’ll let you know how it goes it should prove to be interesting! Of course he told me that sometimes these things have triggers… so I should avoid as many carbohydrates as possible. That means try to go on a high-protein diet. This leaves out pretty much most of the things that I like to eat. Luckily I had already started lowering carbohydrates back at the beginning of the year before I got sick and pumping up the protein and fruits and vegetables then so it won’t be a horrible conversion but Rome wasn’t built in a day . Some people really feel it when I eat certain foods..that trigger point I don’t get that.  I get a trigger whenever I try to do something physical like swing a golf club or slide the mop around the floor or get on the treadmill or take the dogs out or take a bath…. just pretty much anything that most of us do in regular life. I will say I’m hopeful for controlling the symptoms . He said that he would see me again in six weeks and I have to have the 24 hour urine lab done in four weeks to see if it’s still as elevated as it has been the last three times. He mentioned that we will probably do what’s called an octreotide scan if I’m still having symptoms. It’s a scan that is has radioactive dye tagged with a hormone that’s specific to some of these types of tumors and can find them in lieu of the other scans. They use it when the go to scan is negative, since with all tests there are about 10% or more false negatives.

 I have the best husband in the world! Brett is so patient and loving. He went yesterday and bought groceries so that we would have all the correct foods. He’s taking care of everything around the house like he has been since January as best as can.  I just thank God for him. He’s such a wonderful man and such a beautiful and loving mate. Without him and the dogs life around here would be pretty solemn. I’m also extremely thankful for my beautiful family, especially my sister. And friends like Kathleen, who keeps up with me no matter that I go silent from time to time. 

 I don’t know if anybody else’s this way but when I’m processing things I’m not the most communicative person in the world. It’s difficult for me to text back and it’s agonizing for me to try to pick up the telephone and call somebody back. I can’t make myself! I find myself just crawling in my shell and have to think for a while! Course the dog babies sense this and try to entertain and cajole the whole day. Annabelle has been bringing me her ball to throw up and down, up and down… all day long. Wooby and JojoHave had several Jack rat terrier wrestling matches in the middle of the floor just for entertainment value if nothing else. Layla has been hippity-hop, big old girl that she is, jumping up and down, following me everywhere smiling that big black playful Lab face. She even started a play towel fight with me earlier when I tried to dry her off after coming in out of the rain . Lyza Jane has done the Chihuahua yip of and on all day just to keep out snappy (pun intended). sweet yellow lab Chase has come over for petting and loving. He has to lick you under your chin just to let you know he loves you and Buddy the most frightened of all, but also the most loyal at times, has given up his spot on the couch just so that mom can lay down . So I’m surrounded by love and I can’t think of a better place to be and the day has been better than the days before so I’m thankful . Now we’re settling into the evening time watching a little bit of tube. They’re all finding their spots around the house where they know it’s time to slow the clock down and get some rest . I’ll keep you posted on this journey. God has provided as I knew he would and I feel encouraged . I hope this account of the journey helps somebody else, because there are a lot of people out there dealing with things … disease in their body or in their lives. It’s good to know that you always come out on the other side. You might not have all the answers but you do come out on the other side as long as you have faith . Peace and love to all!

Ok…a DA move, LOL! 

Solid facts: 1) South is about 10-15 years behind medicine for the most part (being kind) and 2) if you’re going to have a test for something exotic you should do your homework. 

The endocrine doctor ordered an MIBG scan because he really felt it was the best procedure and diagnostic test for what’s going on. I’ve had to fight the schedulers to get it. I’ve talked to the radiologist to get it approved because of my Iodine allergy, researched the test and which of my medicines to stop. Radiology stopped it and rescheduled it once. Radiology didn’t advise the doctor what thyroid blocking agent to use so I did that. I researched hard to see how/what Cleveland Clinic, UCLA and MD Anderson use and came up with Lugol’s solution.

  Arose this morning at 6 and took 50mg of Prednisone and 50mg of Benadryl. Ever the dutiful nurse, I’d looked up all the above…..but being the PATIENT I trusted someone else’s calculations of how much Lugol’s solution to take. DA move on my part! LOL. It’s funny now but it wasn’t funny this morning. They prescribed 8 mL which is about 1 and 2/3 teaspoons full of the solution for me to take three days in a row, starting today. I swallowed that potassium iodine solution down and immediately followed with a ton of water it was horrible! Salivary glands went wild my stomach contracted and I spent several minutes fighting my body trying desperately not to reject the solution. It  seemed like an hour but I lost the battle and hurled up some of it. My mouth is burned, my tongue is burning, my throat is burning and can’t taste anything!  My lips are still burning and my salivary glands are still working overtime. This would be terrible if it wasn’t so typical for me. I detailed and dialed everything out except for this! The good old 50 mg of Benadryl has had me pretty much comatose all day on the couch.  I woke up from time to time in the fugue state and tried to drink something cold to abate the fire in my mouth then fell out again, LOL. I’ve restarted the same movie 3 times! After I became conscious again about 45 minutes ago I started thinking ……I think it probably should’ve been drops and not milliliters. So I got back on the old handy Internet and went back to the drawing board to see what the heck I could do tomorrow because I’m supposed to take it again. I know there’s no way I can do that again tomorrow .  Guess what I found??  It was supposed to have been three drops or six drops depending on who’s protocol you read not teaspoonfuls . Like I said, DA move on my part! 

You should’ve seen Layla and the other dogs. She sat bedside me while I was lurching and wretching, ever watching me unphased by the sight. She’s got a lot of experience with my physical warfare over the last eleven years, haha. The fact that almost nothing grosses out a Lab helps. The rest of the pack were deserters! Well except Annabelle she just walked around with her balls in her mouth on the periphery as usual. Anytime one of us sneezes loud the others clear the decks! LOL…..I’m pretty much in good shape, except for my poor mouth and sad little tastebuds. Hey, maybe I’ll lose some weight! 

Don’t lose your peace and have a great day! Staying strong and finishing strong on this end!

Before thoughts

It’s shortly after midnight in West Tennessee and I’m awake. I’ve been watching TV, actually a movie I watch from time to time Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot. Right now that is kind of my question to the universe…if you don’t get the title just take the first letters…WTF? 

Today I start the pre-medication, taking Iodine solution before my MIBG scan tomorrow and Wednesday. The catch is that I’m allergic to Iodine! So I’ve electively chosen to take something I’m highly allergic to in preparation for a nuclear medicine scan which also has iodine in it. In search of an elusive health threat. Searching for a Neuro endocrine tumor of some sort. Something somewhere inside me that causes a simple bath to explode my blood pressure in spite of four anti hypertensive meds and spike my heart rate in spite of a load of beta blockade. Oh yeah, and take a blood thinner so I don’t throw a clot. 

A little over 3 months ago I was working everyday, going to the local Y 3-4x week to work out, playing golf, hanging with my grandkids, husband, dogs and pretty much living a very normal active life. BAMMM! Someone pulled the bathtub plug and all the water has tried to run out. So has my life.

I get short of breath walking into work about 150 feet, feel anxious inside constantly, my heart hammers for no reason, fatigue, fatigue…did I say fatigue? Sweating just for moving. I’ve gained about 12lbs for no real reason, headaches that split my brain, just to name a few…… I’m really tough. Child birth with nothing, bone marrow biopsy was nothing, multiple surgeries and several under local anesthesia only. I’m a 25 year battle tested ER nurse. So when I say tough I mean tough. But hunting this bastard has been like a chess game. I suspect these 3 days will be rough but with my sweet Brett, my husband and angel we’ll get through….Our dogs by our side the whole way, family and friends prayers. I’m praying we find it, cut the MF out and get back to Sheri’s  life! 

Mom’s turn to talk..

Hi all, 

You’ve heard from my favorite girl Layla. Such a wonderful devoted spirit! This coming week I’m having am MIBG scan. Specific for Neuro endocrine tumors, especially specific for Pheochromocytoma. Pheos as they are called can cause all the symptoms I’m having. Extremely high blood pressure, extremely high heart rate, new onset atrial fibrillation, exhaustion, my blood pressure spikes just taking a bath! Not to mention weight gain, constant headache, swelling all over….diarrhea, anxiety, memory confusion….did I say anxiety?? Moving makes my heart hammer, sleeping is almost impossible. When I do I wake up to my heart running like a Jack hammer. For blood pressure medicines, one heart medicine and a blood thinner all since January! I’m keeping a positive outlook but I’m really tired. To make it worse no energy for my grandbabies or four legged babies. No energy for golf!!! I’m praying daily they’ll find something they can fix. If it’s a Pheo they can usually remove it and all can return to normal. Now you’re up to date! Ruff ruff!

Whole lot of thinking going on!

I was sleeping but my mom is awake now. I always hear her when she rises. Many times it’s at night right now. We used to sleep during the night, the last ten years at least but she’s been sick for about four months. She’s told me all about it. As a dog I don’t exactly have a medical degree and I don’t know what the things she tells me mean but I knew it was coming. This year in January her body started swelling really bad all over, getting bigger. The thing about dogs is we smell it on our person. It’s usually in their breath first. After a couple weeks she got so sick she had to go to “the hospital”, it’s a place kind of like a vet’s office. At least that’s what she smells like when she comes home. It’s a crazy unnatural odor full of chemicals. That time she was gone for six days! I knew she’d be back but it seemed like forever. Besides it wasn’t time. Mom only leaves once a year when it’s hot outside for several days. She calls it “going to the beach with the family”. I went there with her once and the water was huge and amazing! Jumping in the waves was as natural as breathing for me, I am a Labrador retriever! The sun and sand were so fun I didn’t want to leave. If she gets to go this year I’m hoping she’ll take me with her because it’s been several years since the waves. But I digress…when mom was at hospital in January she had human kidney failure. It must’ve been bad because even her skin smelled sick when she came home! I heard things like uncontrolled hypertension, edema, irregular heart rate and abnormal lab work. That word abnormal means something bad. She and Dad talked a lot and while she was there he came and went a lot to be with her. We all had to wait. I know she was okay because when he came home I could smell her on his clothes. Those pesky lab tests made her read and read. Mom learns things on her own. Being a nurse makes you pretty smart about healing other beings and yourself. None of my brothers or sisters were as happy as me when she came home! They love her but they aren’t connected with her like me. I was so relieved to see her, smell her, feel her hands and her happiness! It was short lived. Within a few days the bad was back and this time the word “cancer” was going around between Dad and her. Those lab tests thought she had it. Mom found the very best hemo-oncologist in Memphis, Dr. Yasser. That time she had to have a “bone marrow biopsy” to rule out multiple myeloma. This test came back negative after several days of concern and lots of prayers. It must’ve been something that was painful because it took her a couple days to pick up a golf club again, lol. Speaking of golf, it’s a stick and a ball..a really small ball, not the kind you want to chase. When she feels good we go out back and Mom uses the,”golf club” to work on her “swing”. I usually lie down about twenty feet from her while she’s practicing, just for safety. Golf must be something you need to practice often! She still smelled sick but had some good days. I live for the good days with her. She looks in my eyes a lot in a fun way and she’s always moving and talking… chatter, chatter, chatter. It makes me wish I knew more big words. The next thing that came was a “Cardiac Cath” because she couldn’t breath when she got up and started having chest pain spells. This one really worried me. Humans and dogs can’t stay here if their heart stops! It’s vitally important! That test came back negative too, Whewww. Then one night came a spell of chest pain and her heart was beating so fast she couldn’t stand up. That night she went back to the hospital by “ambulance”. It’s a special ride because lots of men came to get her really fast! She was gone another five long days…I tried to pass the time sleeping because I’m getting old AND I was worried! I passed my days but was grouchy with the others and growled a lot (Not my normal). Annabelle my younger sister kept pushing her ball in front of my face! Jeeez, I love her but she can be so worrisome with that damned ball! That time she came home with “new onset atrial fib”. By now Mom has seen two heart doctors, a kidney doctor, cancer doctor and someone called an “endocrinologist”. That last one is pretty hard to understand, I’ll admit. They’ve made her take five new medicines and each one hits my nose differently. She’s told me this coming week will be harder still…. She’s having some “scans”. I was told she has to take a lot of medicines to prepare and stop some of the blood pressure things. I’ll be sticking very close by her. I’m never more than ten feet from her when she’s home anyway. I can tell she’s getting sicker right now. Walking takes her breath and makes her blood pressure go up and there’s been no golf for the last two weeks. I’m concerned but don’t really worry unless she does and she’s pretty good at not worrying. The main things she worries about are her mom and dad, “the kids”, Dad and of course me and the others, Chase, Buddy, Wooby, JoJo, Lyza Jane and Annabelle. I’ll tell you about all of them another time. Of course, I’m the oldest and her special “big girl”. Tonight I heard she’s having an MIBG scan that lasts two days. Something about a Neuro endocrine tumor. Well, she’s finally ready to lay down again so that’s all for now. I’ll do what people say and “keep you in the loop”!

My Mom’s heart aches..

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She isn’t sleeping much right now. I spent the night hours beside her watching and listening, dozing a little bit not much. She prays. Sometimes she cries tiny tears that roll down her face never stopping them but letting them run their course. The tears don’t last long. I’m not sure for who but I know her well enough after eleven years it’s probably for other people and their needs. After the tears she is stronger every time. As a dog we don’t get many watery eyes. I believe God knew we wouldn’t need them. This morning we watched a movi before the sun. She doesn’t watch it often. Today she quietly told me it’s called 13 Hours The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. I think she watches it so she doesn’t forget how others sacrifice themselves. I watched it too because that movie has a lot of feelings that come out. Most TV doesn’t. My mom wasn’t a soldier in some land not home but she’s seen a lot of people die I can just tell. I’m pretty sure she remembers many of them from her days saving them, but it’s never talked about. I feel it in her spirit. Dogs feel everything. Most people don’t know that. Our days are wrapped around feelings. This early morning her emotions seem like anger and regret for loss of life’s force. But there was pride too and strength, some feeling of connection to conquering things she knows personally. This morning I felt her longing, not sure for what.  Mom has taken care of other people (and dogs) for over thirty six years. She called a nurse. I’m not sure what that is but it must be hard charging, challenging and filled with emotion and action. Most days she is so happy and strong that I’m amazed. I soak it up, the strong powerful energy. I stay by her always. As a dog we admire and respect that I’m out person. It makes us confident! We draw strength from each other. We don’t have to talk with words because I can’t, but I hear her. She calls me “big girl” special just for me. The sun is up now and she’s ready for whatever comes today… This I know.

My Body’s Acting Weird

Gosh I love today! Just enough breeze to keep it cool and so many sights and sounds in the back yard.  Lying in the grass is so soft and tickles my fairly round belly.  Yes, like Mom I could stand to slim down some. Dad worked all summer putting out those speckled things all over the grass and I overheard him say they make the grass grow, which is a wonder itself. We have a tractor that spits out water and moves all over the yard getting the places where the speckles flew wet. Dad runs the tiny tractor every evening. The other day I heard him say “the grass looks great now”! All I know is to my pack it’s nice and thick with lots of smells.

For the past month it’s been very hard to have the energy to run around for any length of time. I’ve been weak and can’t stop panting. Usually I pant like all dogs to cool off. Some days I can’t lie down at all and have to sit straight up panting fast. I stay really close to Mom and Dad. I know they’re worried so I try to act like I’m okay. Whenever she talks to me I give her my best smile.  She’s a RN, a nurse that takes care of humans but i can tell she’s learning dog doctor stuff when she reads articles about it to Dad. So far I’ve been to 3 dog doctors. They aren’t sure what’s wrong and neither am I. I still have my joy because I’m with my people and my brothers and sisters!