We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

4/20, Dogs

Spring                                                                           Mountain Moon

Just as I imagined I would after I turned seventy, Kate and I drove over to our local marijuana dispensary, The Happy Camper, to celebrate pot’s unofficial holiday, 4/20.

The Happy Camper on the flank of Mount Rosalie. Decorated. Sort of.

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A local food truck offered fried chicken, pulled pork, baby back ribs as part of the 4/20 celebration.

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Rigel and Gertie came along.

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Often when I go up to the loft, these treat loving dogs await me. They push past me to get there first.

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Yesterday in Pictures

Spring                                                               New Shoulder Moon

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Looking north from Happy Camper, Mt. Evans

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dogs who lunch

dogs who lunch

dogs who lunch

dogs who lunch

dogs who lunch

dogs who lunch

apres snow, Monday

apres snow, Monday

view from loft balcony

view from loft balcony

Recovery under the New Shoulder Moon

Spring                                                                           New Shoulder Moon

recovering-please-waitKate has slept well, mostly, her first two nights home. She’s controlling her pain with tylenol and the occasional tramadol or vicodin. She had a bout of nausea yesterday; but, unfortunately, that’s not really unusual. Her weight is up, thanks, she thinks, to good intravenous hydration in the hospital. Prior to surgery she’d had trouble keeping water down. She’s on the mend.

Can’t say the same for our *%$!!** dishwasher. Not the drain pump. Maybe the sump pump? Nope. So. Computer boards. 1 of 2. We have to order them, can’t get them by Wednesday. Oh. That means, due to 1 Stop (ha) Appliances mountain schedule, Mondays and Wednesdays only, that we’ll not see a working dishwasher until April 2nd which is the date of Kate’s post-op appointment with her surgeon. Grrrr.

10002012 05 01_4261Snow. While the rest of the nation east of the Rockies has been pounded with storm after storm this land of ski resorts and mountain passes has been dry, one of the 14 driest winters in the state’s meteorological history. Last night though, maybe 9 inches of heavy, wet fire dampening snow! Welcome.

Our little hippie dog Gertie has recovered from her long, strange trip over Sunday with her usual resilience. Tail wagging and happy. Gertie is a good role model for how to handle adversity.

The view out the window here in the loft shows snow covered solar panels, flocked lodgepole pines, a white Black Mountain, and a pastel blue/white sky. Peaceful.

 

 

At the Vet

Spring                                                                   New Shoulder Moon

I want one.

Suspended

Spring                                                               New Shoulder Moon

Still not home. I went over yesterday after lunch only to find Kate struggling to eat a bite of a bacon sandwich. She couldn’t keep that down, water either. Extremely unpleasant for her. Kate hates nausea.

ok, maybe not this quiet, but still...

ok, maybe not this quiet, but still…

When I went in yesterday, the busy M-F buzz of the hospitals had disappeared. There were fewer cars in the parking lot, a guard at the concierge desk, the Ortho small cafe closed. Nobody bustling about guiding patients, taking preop folks back, people with canes or walkers stayed at home. On the third floor, patient rooms, only a scattering of folks remained, three that I counted on Kate’s wing.

It’s disconcerting to have Kate in a place that feels emptied of its vitality, just when she’s having trouble. Being in a hospital over a weekend is not something you choose.

Meanwhile, after a full Sunday of lying around stoned, looking pretty damned unpleasant, Gertie’s tail wags furiously (normal) and she ate. Back to normal after a trip to the late ’60’s. Kep sniffs Kate’s side of the bed.

20180323_075536_001On Thursday, the day of Kate’s surgery, I left Rigel and Gertie outside while I was at Ortho Colorado. Staying outside that long, several hours, is unusual for them. When I let Rigel inside, she ran to the couch, jumped up on it, jumped in the air a couple of times, then flopped down into her usual position. Ah.

(Rigel yesterday hunting for voles.)

I hope Kate comes home today. Having her in the hospital, uncomfortable, makes this whole process feel suspended. When she’s home, I know her shoulder will be recovering, right now its her system adjusting to the insults of surgery. Not where we wanted to be right now, but what is.

The Tao of Springtime

Spring                                                                            New Shoulder Moon

sagegoddess.com

Kate has the power of a resurgent earth, ready to fluoresce, and the power of a waxing moon, growing stronger every night, to boost her this week. She’ll need them plus a good surgeon, anesthesiologist, and nurses. Without her pain meds, which she’s had to eliminate prior to surgery to prevent bleeding, her shoulder has become debilitating, or, I should say, more debilitating.

Kep’s digestive tract remains upset. He threw up more overnight. Yesterday, after our physicals, we went to the Wash House Laundromat in Littleton, put the comforters and quilts in two giant washers and waited in the car while they went through the 28 minute cycle. A bit of sticker shock for me since each washer, we used two, was seven dollars and twenty-five cents. Worth it though.

wash houseIn a bit of nostalgia for me all the seats in the place were taken up by residents from a group home for the developmentally disabled. A young man with a plastic helmet to protect against seizures, another autistic young man davening and crying out, and four Down’s Syndrome young women. When I worked with the developmentally disabled, which I did from 1974 to 1980, taking clients out to places like the laundromat was a pleasant diversion, teaching independent living skills and being away from the residence.

Kate’s preop physical yesterday cleared the way for the procedure on Thursday. It will not come soon enough. Today we go to see her rheumatologist.

ekgMy physical was, at least so far (before lab results), unremarkable. Dull is my favorite medical term. Boring. Nothing happening here. My ekg was like last years. My blood pressure is low enough that Dr. Gidday wondered if I was over medicated. No, I said, I want to keep it low. All those strokes in the family of origin. O2 saturation fine, as it always is when I descend 3,600 feet to her office. Knee? Fine. Other knee? Surprisingly fine. Prostate? Still gone. PSA’s good. No hernia. Lungs and heart sound good. Still upright and moving.

I’m doing well, able to help Kate, care for the dogs, feeling centered and calm. I understand my limits and know that staying present, not fretting about tomorrow or holding onto yesterday, keeps me sane. The tao of this time flows through us all and I’m following its course, traveling with the fluctuations. The tao right now is my nurse, my comforter, my energy.

Tao4It is the tao of springtime reminding us that winter passes, too, as will all the difficulties; and, that even in the midst of a tough season, underneath is the movement of life itself, struggling to emerge, to take back the moment. All we need to do is follow its cues.

 

Bear’s Day

Imbolc                                                                             New Shoulder Moon

repairSometimes. Well. So, the washer failed first, on Thursday. Then, a day or so later, the dishwasher. 1 Stop appliance, the folks who do Samsung repairs up here, only have two days in Conifer, Monday and Wednesday. Monday was full, so Wednesday. That’s the day before Kate’s surgery.

Then, this morning around 4 am, Kepler began to puke. On the comforter. On the quilt. On the carpet. OK. Kate woke up first and as is our agreement, first one aware cleans up. I got up, too, carried comforters and quilts to the laundry room. (but, if you’ll recall from paragraph one, the washer is not working.)

Last night we got about 4 inches of snow, too. That figures into all this because we have our physicals this morning in Littleton. And, obviously, afterwards, I have a trip to the laundromat.

“Monday, Monday, so good to me
Monday mornin´, it was all I hoped it would be.” Good song, but posted here, as you might have already guessed, ironically.

Positive News

Imbolc                                                                   New Life Moon

Kate’s Sjogren’s flare has begun to subside. Her energy is better. She’s smiling more. I’m happy to see her improving. Now we get that shoulder replaced. March 22nd.

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In other positive medical news Dr. Bayliss called with Rigel’s blood work. Liver functions normal. It was the prednisone that knocked them out of whack. No prednisone, no abnormal liver values. So, we’re left with some G.I. tract problem, undefined. She stays on the rabbit food. Like Kate her energy is better and we have some chewed up deck boards to prove it. Something warm and tasty lives under there. And Rigel wants to eat it.

blade ladyWent to see the Blade Lady out in Centennial. It surprised me, when I saw the directions on Google, that it was 50 miles from home. I remember when 50 miles required a picnic basket and a living will. Jennifer was nice, picked up our knives and scissors personally. They finish fast. We gave them to her at 12:45 and we could have had them back at 1:30, but Rigel had to get to her 2pm vet appointment. She’s mailing them.

We have a set of Shun Japanese kitchen knives. I’ve sharpened them using a sharpener that came with the set, but I wanted a professional sharpening since I’m using the knives a lot more now. Cooking most nights of the week requires a lot of knife work. Which reminds me that the cooking is also physical, manual labor. And I’ve been enjoying it since I got back to it.

the santoku, a favorite

the santoku, a favorite

 

Mostly Good News

Imbolc                                                               Imbolc Moon

Kate’s sewing again, looking more rested. Her energy through the day is a bit more even. Good to see.

20180202_113032Rigel’s gained 8 pounds on her rabbit protein and potato diet. When we went to the VRCC on Friday, the tech said she’ll probably have to continue this diet indefinitely. She also has to get a B-12 injection once a week, also probably indefinitely. The key word, for us, is indefinitely. This is a better word than terminal, which we had expected.

Ruth, Gabe and Jon are up here because the grandkids like it on the mountain. They asked to come and spend the night. We had Cincinnati chili, chili on spaghetti with oyster crackers and sour cream. There were, too, chili dogs. Not a health food meal, but enjoyed by all. Ruth said she could eat 5,000 popsicles. When I went to bed, she said she had only 4,996 to go.

15177522925301509361960968The snow drought continues here with snow pack levels about 40% lower than normal. That’s bad news for those of us who live in the Rockies, but also bad news for the Colorado River Basin states that depend on our annual snow fall for a significant percentage of their daily water. This reality will have a definite effect on our summer.

In other dog news, Murdoch is getting bigger.

 

 

Medicine. Good.

Winter                                                                Imbolc Moon

Met a charming Dr. David Schneider yesterday. Kate’s shoulder guy. He said thin women like her were ideal candidates for a new shoulder, either the reverse or the normal. He recommends the reverse implant because it not only provides pain relief; it also will allow her to reach above her head. Her bones and muscles that support the shoulder are all strong so he anticipates a good result. Sometime in the next couple of months. Not scheduled yet.

“Boring,” he said. And boring is good. One of the first things I learned after marrying Kate was that you do not want to be an interesting patient.

pacemaker history

He told several stories, starting by commenting on the three lead pacemaker that Kate has. It showed up in the shoulder x-rays. “Made possible by the transistors invented in the 40’s and battery improvements in the 1950’s.” Seemed like an odd place to start Kate’s consultation, but he went on, “Did you know the wearable external pacemaker was invented by a TV repair guy in Minneapolis?” I didn’t.

Earl Bakken had a shop near University hospital and collaborated with a well known heart surgeon, Dr. Lillehei. Apparently, Lillehei had successfully planted leads into the hearts of several patients but they were literally plugged in, “…using a hundred foot extension cord.” Schneider went on, “Then there was a storm, power failed and the patients all died.”

Bakken came up with a wearable device (external) based on an electronic metronome (rhythm for the heart). Crude, but it worked. Lillehei took it right away and tried it on a dog. It worked. The very next day it was in use in patients. Medtronics was born. Schneider is going to the Big Island in three weeks to interview Bakken, who is 94. Turns out Dr. Schneider is writing a book on the history of medical devices.

As he went through the consultation, he explained who came up with measuring certain angles in the shoulder and referred to one guy, whose name I don’t recall, as “a shoulder God.”

He’s also a fan of Mama’s Fish House. Good taste.

gratitude shiloh sophiaSandy, our house cleaner, who is about to have brain surgery for a second time on the 20th of this month, got her quilt Kate made her yesterday. She’s a strong woman and she’s had a very, very tough year. Unfortunately, the tumor did not debulk as they had hoped after the first surgery. It’s benign, but large. The aftermath of the surgery is awful. Disorientation. Nausea. Headaches. And these last a while. A quilt is such a great gift in this situation, since a lot of time in bed is part of the recovery. Covered in love.

I know. A lot of medical stuff over the last few weeks. Kate. Kate and me. Rigel. Our friend with breast cancer and her husband. But. Kate’s shoulder replacement should ease her everyday load. Rigel’s getting better. Jon’s gradually making the transition to single life and doing wonders on his new house. Ruth is growing up very fast. Kate’s friend anticipates excellent results. It feels lighter around here right now. I’m grateful.

 

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