We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Home again, home again

Written By: Charles - Aug• 21•20

Lughnasa and the Labor Day Moon

Friday gratefuls: Rigel asleep on the floor, my side of the bed. Her bag of meds and the schedule laid out by Kate. Palisade Peaches and center cut pork chops. Easy Entree. Amber, again. Rain yesterday, good rain, during a red flag day. All the firefighters deployed to the Western Slope. The Pine Gulch Fire, now the 2nd largest in state history.

Rigel went outside yesterday when the neighbor dogs barked. She came up and down the short stairs between the first level and the second. She ate some canned food and took her first meds at home. As VRCC predicted, she was tired and spent most the time splayed out on the rug.

As was her occasional habit anyhow, she didn’t get up for breakfast. It’s five o’clock, Dad. I’ll feed her a bit later.

As we were going to sleep last night, Kate said, “It feels good to have the whole family back together.” It did. My mind didn’t have to wander all the way to Edgewood to Rigel’s kennel. I could reach down and pat her head. Which I did.

I sent Ruth a text with a short video of Rigel walking out of the VRCC. She is strong, Ruth said. Yes, I replied. Like you and your Grandma.

No matter what happens after this, yesterday was a good day.

She’s Back.

Written By: Charles - Aug• 20•20

Lughnasa and the Labor Day Moon

Special afternoon edition. Rigel is home! We picked her up at 12:30. She came walking out, a small pink bandage on her left front leg, otherwise pretty normal. A bit tired from the constant bustle of doggy ICU.

We spent just the right amount of money on her. Which was enough to get her back home alive.

I was overcome with feelings of love and gratitude and relief, burying my face in Rigel’s as the vet tech said, “She’s a perfect girl.” An overused word, perfect. But apropos for Rigel. So many of our dogs, most of them, in equally serious situations died. She didn’t. Not today.

When in need

Written By: Charles - Aug• 20•20

Lughnasa and the Labor Day Moon

Thursday gratefuls: Rigel’s strength. The docs at VRCC. Tara. Kate. Amber, two gratefuls for Amber. Wildfires. Extreme Fire Danger. Kep. Ruth. Kate’s sisters. Shadow Mountain. Black Mountain. The Arapaho National Forest. All the wild critters that live within it.

Rigel. Steroids bringing her fever down. Down into normal range. Seeing now if that can last. If so, she may come home today. If not today, tomorrow. She’s strong, otherwise healthy. Dr. Baylis, who diagnosed her allergy to chicken protein, said yesterday that a six week course of oral anti-biotics could find her back to normal. The stroke risk remains though I don’t know how to evaluate it. Guardedly optimistic.

Had a dream last night. A big brown dog bounded through the house. I turned to Kate and said, “Oh, you went in and picked up Rigel!” She’s in my heart. Forever.

Kate seems to have found her advocate about her feeding tube. Amber. Amber is physical therapist with a specialty in wound care. Since the feeding tube goes through the skin, it is a permanent wound. Healing it requires preventing fluids from leaking out onto Kate’s skin.

We’re now thinking that the tube, which was placed in a small part of her stomach left after bariatric surgery, may need to go where we originally thought it was going, into her jejunum. A J-tube. Would require surgery again. Grrr. But if that’s what it takes, we’ll go there.

Amber got the operative report yesterday and found a denser nutrient supplement for Kate’s feedings. That might help, too. It would supply more calories per unit and allow her to slow down the rate of feeding without making it take a really long time. That could help with the leakage.

We’re going back to see Amber today. Might have some news on this later.

Meanwhile my friend Tara has talked me through the recent disturbance in my psyche. She asked me how things were going on, I think, the same day that I told Kate I couldn’t clean the house and cook as much. I told Tara how things were right then. She offered to do many things, but the one I needed was to talk.

So we’ve met for an hour each week since. Three weeks. I calmed down after the first conversation. Over the course of our three talks I’ve come to realize that stuff here: Kate’s, Rigel’s, the house’s, The Denver Olson’s: Jon, Ruth, Gabe, occupy most of my free mental territory. That’s what I meant when I said I could no longer clean and cook as much. Or, rather, at that point stuff occupied more mental territory than I had free. My hard drive had crashed.

With Tara and the Ancient Friends and the Clan I’ve opened up some space and feel better now. Thanks to you all.

Whole lotta billin’ goin’ on

Written By: Charles - Aug• 19•20

Lughnasa and the Labor Day Moon

Wednesday gratefuls: Mussar MVP. Silence. Guarding speech. Ron. Susan. Jamie. Marilyn. Rich. Kate. Tara. Judy. Rigel’s temperature down to 102.1. Our emergency fund. Vanguard. Peak Windows. We can see clearly now. Kep keeping his humans safe. Clean gutters. Getting my password back for solar panel monitoring. Our mailbox with the door in the back. No more standing on the road to collect mail. Ruth and Gabe. Steven, the snail.

Rigel remains in the hospital with a guarded diagnosis. The iv antibiotics and steroids seem to be bringing her fever down, but the chances of a stroke remain, and will remain even if she survives this episode. This is due to what doctors charmingly call vegetation on her mitral valve. If this vegetation breaks loose, it could cause a pulmonary embolism or a stroke. Nothing to be done about that risk, either.

I go to sleep imagining myself with Rigel, testing a connection that is as strong as I’ve had with a dog. Rigel lies in her crate, feeling miserable, and I try to comfort her. Probably hooey, but it makes me feel better.

You never realize how dirty your windows are until you’ve had them professionally cleaned. They’re transparent! Peak Windows came yesterday to celebrate Kate’s birthday. Did a great job. Clean gutters, too, heading into ice dam season. Also recommended for fire mitigation. Pine needles in the gutter can catch fire.

The last week showed how bills can stack up all of a sudden. Rigel in the vet hospital. Kate’s dentures. And, yesterday, my long-term care insurance. Yike. Not to mention quarterly taxes due next month. We’ve got it, but not without some pain.

Kate turned 76 yesterday. A quiet birthday though we’re going to celebrate on Saturday with Jon and the grandkids. With phone calls, Peak Windows, and Rigel in the hospital, then MVP which goes late for us, her birthday wore her out.

Here’s an interesting note. I wrote a post on Nextdoor Shadow Mountain extolling Easy Entrees. Got lots of hits. And, this morning I found a private message from Laura, who apparently owns Easy Entrees. My post brought tears to her eyes, she said. And, she deposited one hundred dollars in my Easy Entree account. Wow. Thanks, Laura.

Dog Is Love

Written By: Charles - Aug• 18•20

Lughnasa and the Labor Day Moon

Tuesday gratefuls: Kate and her 76th. Veterinarians. Their love of dogs. Rigel in their care. Still. Kate’s teeth. Emergency fund. Ruby. A fine car. Window cleaners coming today. Angelique. New house cleaner. Kep. Tears. Again. Sweet Corn. Cool morning. Cooling nights.

Getting this out before the meeting of the clan. Rigel has endocarditis, an infection of a heart valve. She’s being treated with IV antibiotics and fluids, still at VRCC. The cardiologist there says guarded prognosis. Hard to treat and it can slough off detritus that leads to a stroke. Wait and see as SeoAh says.

Meanwhile the birthday girl, Kate, discovered yesterday that she’s going to lose four teeth on the bottom of her jaw, the ones between the bicuspids. Sjogren’s. Old age. Impressive bill. This happens next Thursday. Happy birthday, Kate!

My beloved females. Please hold them in your hearts.

Yesterday’s Gone

Written By: Charles - Aug• 17•20

Lughnasa and the crescent Lughnasa Moon

Monday gratefuls: Rigel. Kep. Kate. Tom. Mark. Paul. Bill. VRCC. Thermometers. AC in Ruby. Defurmination. Vets. Vet techs. Blood tests. Kindness at VRCC.

Got up yesterday at 8 a.m. Very late for me. Breakfast, then zoom with the ancient friends. No time to write. After the zoom call ended, I took off for Petsmart, where Kep got groomed. I drove back home after dropping him off even though it’s an hour round trip. Nowhere I could imagine hanging out for the three hours.

Nap. Then. Rigel’s not looking right. She wasn’t. She looked like she was sick. We worried about bloat. I felt her stomach. Not tense. Her expression made me sad. I felt her head. Hot. Got out the thermometer and, in the undignified way we do it, took her temperature. 105. A Dog’s normal temp is around 102.5.

Kate called the emergency vet where we’ve taken Rigel before, VRCC. They’re sort of a cross between emergency vet and the U.’s vet hospital. Yes, that temperature meant she needed to be seen.

Rigel loves to go for rides, but this time I had to place her front paws on the floor of Ruby’s back, then put my hands under her rear and boost her in. At one hundred pounds she’s still in my range to help. One reason we know longer have Irish Wolfhounds. When they’re sick, I can no longer move them. IW’s weight between one hundred and fifty and two hundred pounds.

Left home around four fifteen, got into Englewood at five p.m. Due to Covid the VRCC building allows no entry for anyone except employees and patients. Understand. But. It’s a bare parking lot and four p.m. meant the day’s heat had hit maximum. Ninety five.

Rigel disappeared inside the nice air conditioned building. I went back out to Ruby to wait. Four hours would pass before I left for home. Life threatening illness and trauma kept showing up ahead of Rigel being seen. Triage.

On the internet I looked up running a car with the air conditioning on while parked. Modern cars, the experts said, could be run with the a.c. on until you ran out of gas or the battery drained. Didn’t do that right away, but sitting in Ruby with the windows down, the sun above and the asphalt below…

I drove to Steak and Shake for a burger. Got back. Had that sort of supper. Realized I could download a book from the Jefferson County Library and listen while I waited. Forgot my books while getting Rigel in the car. Found a book by David Baldacci and the wait became less onerous.

Finally, around eight forty-five p.m. a doctor called on my cell. Rigel’s temperature was at 104.3 and hadn’t changed since she arrived. Not gotten worse, but not better either. She recommended an overnight hospital stay where they would try to get her fever down, give her IV fluids, and start hunting for a cause. The bloodwork and physical exam showed nothing except normal values. Urine, too. Chest x-ray. Nada.

Still true this morning. The tab is going to be high. In the thousands. She is, however, our last big dog and she’s been so healthy, we’re going to try and figure it out. At eleven and a half it could be cancer. If so, we won’t treat that. Just about anything else we’ll probably try to correct. Depending on the estimate.

These are heart-wrenching decisions where weighing the pocketbook against Rigel’s life makes our heart spin.

That was yesterday and yesterday’s gone.

A Better Week

Written By: Charles - Aug• 15•20

Lughnasa and the Lughnasa Moon

Saturday gratefuls: Easy Entrees gift cards to Kate for her birthday. Thanks, Mary and Diane! Easy Entrees produce box. Big and bountiful. That Yam! The size of a football. Sweet Corn. Tomatoes. Green Beans. Onions. Zucchini. Peaches. Pears. Oranges. Geez. I just wrote a glowing pitch for Easy Entrees on Nextdoor. Never do that. Kate’s inhaler has helped her, as has the zofran. She’s feeling better this morning.

In family news. Joe and SeoAh will be posted to Hawai’i after Singapore. 2 or 3 years. Happy as I am for them I’m equally so for Kate and me. We love Hawai’i and they want us to come visit. Try to keep us away.

All the work last week has borne fruit. The inhaler from Dr. Taryle has given Kate a tool to combat her shortness of Breath. That’s a bigger deal than it may sound. Just having something is a lot, lot better than nothing. Also, the zofran experiment seems to be allowing her to eat some more. That will pay off in extra weight, we hope, coupled with extra feeding tube calories.

Angelique from the Maids is here today, doing her first cleaning of the house. That’s good news for me, no more floors and bathrooms. It’s also good news for Kate because the cleanliness level overall will improve. I didn’t dust, vacuum, or do much to clean the appliances.

Easy Entrees is a good source for restaurant quality food and a fresh produce box. A week’s worth or more of Veggies and Fruit. We got Garlic Tenderloin bites, palisade Peaches smothered Pork Chops, and Herb-encrusted Parmesan Beef Tenders. They’re in the freezer, waiting for the right time. Using this kind of resource, Tony’s Meat bundles, and Safeway’s pickup grocery service, I can keep us fed well without angst. Low Covid risk, too.

Also, I have a guy coming out today to do annual maintenance on the generator. The generator, which we used for five years in Minnesota, has taken on added importance with Kate’s need for O2 twenty-fours a day.

Got back to work on Jennie’s Dead, too. Decided to try free-writing to get me unstuck and boom, it was back. That’s a lot of fun. Jennie’s Dead is about half done. Exercising. And, the oil paints have begun to call me.

A better week.

Red Moon

Written By: Charles - Aug• 14•20

Lughnasa and the crescent Lughnasa Moon (with Venus below)

Friday gratefuls: Kate’s more comfortable. Her Michelle William’s hairdo done in reddish blonde. Jackie, a sweet woman. Note from Seoah. Jon, Ruth, Gabe coming up Saturday next to celebrate Kate’s 76th. Weather. The beautiful moon and its pendant planet. A nice note from Diane. Wildfire. The smoke. The red moons at twilight. CBE.

There’s a smoky haze over Black Mountain. Its source is far west of us, on the other side of the Rockies, but still in Colorado. The Pine Gulch Fire mainly, over 69,000 acres burning, 7% containment. Near Grand Junction, the big city of the Western Slope.

Smelling smoke makes everybody nervous when you live in the WUI, the wildland urban interface. We look out the windows, search the skies for local red. Only on the Moon at night, the particulates refracting moonlight. We feel relief, but we also have fellow feeling for those in the path of the Pine Gulch Fire.

When Kate and I got our haircuts yesterday, she had great difficulty walking from Aspen Roots, Jackie’s salon, to the car. Maybe two hundred feet. She had to stop and rest. It’s an orange day for air quality with ozone and particulates as the primary pollutants. Yesterday, too. Seems to affect Kate a lot. In additional air quality news the pollen alerts are high, too, with Ragweed and Sage Brush along with chenopods like Amaranth, Pigweed, and Lamb’s Quarters.

While Kate’s hair color set, I did errands. Picked up an albuterol inhaler for her at the King Sooper pharmacy. Bought her a box of Pinot Grigio. The owner of the liquor store and I had a conversation about his task today, taking his son to C.U. I’m anxious and sad, he said. Called to mind for me taking Joe to kindergarten. He’s not going very far. (C.U. is in Boulder, about 34 miles away, but an hour or so by car.) Yes, I said, but he’s going on with his life away from you. That’s tough.

From the liquor store I drove over to Oyama Sushi and Ramen, a brand new Japanese place near King Sooper. Take out. In keeping with the times I sat outside on some steps while they prepared the order. Mr. Charlie? That’s me. With the brown, stapled bag I drove back to Aspen Roots.

Kate’s 76th is next week on the 18th. As Earth races around Sol, she brings us back to that spot in Her orbit where life outside the womb began.

Just a brief thought. Kamala Harris.

Due to the nature of politics mine never get represented at the presidential level. Those of us on the fringes have to watch our policy favorites get diluted, misshapen, and ignored for the sake of a coalition big enough to win a national election. I get it. Really. I’ve been a political observer since the Eisenhower/Stevenson election when I was five.

When centrists like Biden float to the top, I sigh. Choosing Kamala makes it a little better, since she’s a progressive with roots in Berkley’s radical political community. That she’s a Black woman and only fifty-five, bonus.

The orange tumor has cast off the thin, transparent cloak of his commitment to democracy. He’s now full on acting like a fascist, admitting he’s holding up funds that would facilitate voting by mail to win the election. Yes, he has to go and may his seat be filled by Kamala in four years. And, may she lead the legal team that puts his fat ass in jail.

The Good News

Written By: Charles - Aug• 13•20

Lughnasa and the Lughnasa Moon

Thursday gratefuls: Tara. Taryle. Kelly, the gutter cleaner. Ruth and Gabe, the snail wranglers. Claretin. Jackie, our hair stylist. The fan in our bedroom. Kate’s capacity to adapt to new realities. Her microwave bowls. Kamala Harris. The excitement over the Democratic ticket. The chance to dethrone the naked emperor in November.

And so. The pulmonologist. Dr. Taryle is a gnome, an old gnome, older than either one of us, I’m sure. He works as a pulmonologist for National Jewish Hospital, the premiere respiratory hospital in the U.S. He’s been clear, focused, and attentive to data and detail. He knows his specialty and cares about Kate.

He also said her lung condition is stable. That’s good, right? Well. Yes. Sorta. He looked at her CT, listened to her lungs, heard her story about recent shortness of breath. Among the other things going on, I can say the lungs are stable. Well, can you give me something, anything to help? I don’t think it’s called for. Those meds cause nausea, diarrhea, fatigue. Oh, well.

Which leaves us in a weird place. Her cardiologist, after an echocardiogram, says her heart is not the issue. No pulmonary hypertension. Her pulmonologist says her interstitial lung disease is stable. Yet she’s still out of breath after coming up four stairs or going out to her sewing room to water her plants. Not sure what to do next.

A positive is Kate’s new, more regular use of Zofran, an anti-nausea drug. It seems to help with her eating. She lost weight over the last couple of weeks, down to 90 pounds. If she can add some calories by mouth, we should be able to get her up to her target range between 95 and 105.

Rigel’s foot, now wrapped in a neon pink bandage, has gotten better. Her gate is normal. The bandage comes off this evening. Kep goes in for another grooming session on Sunday. As a double-coated breed, Akita’s shed a lot. And, by a lot, I mean, a lot. The only antidote is regular grooming.

Kelly, the gutter guy, came by yesterday. He put a ladder up on the roof, then climbed up and walked around cleaning the gutters. He did this on the garage, too. A much taller roof. Would have scared me. An ice dam and fire mitigation service. The same company sends us window cleaners next week.

Debating right now whether resurfacing our driveway and extending the asphalt to the garage makes sense. About seven grand. Or, should we stain the house? Probably about the same. Or, should we do neither? Like a new roof these are big ticket maintenance items that have to be done on occasion. Is this the time?

It’s Baaaackk

Written By: Charles - Aug• 12•20

Lughnasa and the Lughnasa Moon

Wednesday gratefuls: Getting Ancientrails back. (It was lost somehow.) The lovely cool morning. Kate’s experiment with zofran. Kate’s appointment with the pulmonologist today. The cow that gave its life for our dinner last night. Potatoes. Our new mailbox. Jon. Ruth. Gabe. For the wonderful Saturday. Edging my way toward a new normal: Covid safe, Kate gaining weight, writing, painting, working out, seeing friends and family on Zoom.

Ancientrails got lost in some cyber realm. When I wanted to access it yesterday, all that happened was little balls going back and forth on my browser tab. To show how seriously I took this, I contacted Ionos, my web server, for technical help. Reminded me why I never do that.

Had to take Rigel to the vet on Monday. She ripped a nail part way off. We had noticed a limp and both sucked in our breath. Rigel’s eleven and a half, the longest lived by far of all our big dogs. Which is great. But it also means something could happen to her at any time. Too often a limp, especially in a big dog, means bone cancer. Relief when we discovered her injury.

I have to go because it took Windows 10 forty minutes to update this morning and we have an 8:45 appointment in Englewood. Breakfast, stuff like that. I solved the Ancientrails issue by completing rebooting everything. That’s how I got stuck in the endless update loop.