Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Throwing Off the Shackles

  What do you call it when you fail repeatedly at the same thing?  Perfecting stupidity.

I can't treat relationships like the anemic sprinkling of a Catholic baptism.  Love, to me, is a Baptist full immersion experience. 

Each of my past relationships has left me: A) Washed ashore, with no clue how I got there.

                                                                    B) Regularly water boarded at Guantanamo.

                                                                  or  C) half drowned.

Relationships are expensive to be in and cost a fortune to exit.  "Oh, Jamie, you're doing it all wrong", they say.  No shit, Sherlock!!!  Regardless, I'm finished with the mental, emotional and financial anguish of seeking a partner. I'm nearing a year of hermit living, pondering my next move:  stick to what you know.  

The most rewarding pursuit of my life:  providing sanctuary.

Since the age of 15, I've recorded and categorized every dollar made and spent.   With the advent of Quicken and Quickbooks, I can chart my overspending on animals on pretty spreadsheets spanning almost 20 years.  My dad chides me that I could've retired 15 years ago with the money I've spent on furballs.  (He is right) To do what though?  Knit? I think not.  Spending 2 quality days last week (yes, I went back) in the hospital in the fetal position  gave me time to reevaluate everything in my life. The realization that there's so much more behind me now that before me, has raised my defiance level to that of my teen years.

Symbolic of my throwing off the shackles of living a traditional life, I brought another dog into my home.  The shelter gave me a bag full of meds to try to continue the rescue effort they started. 

I named him Connor.  He's a Coonhound mix,  He was severely emaciated when animal control seized him, scoring only a 1 on a body scale of 10. 

The first night he was home, I put him in the guest bedroom.  He shat on the bed and laid beside it.  I don't think he's ever known what it's like to have a clean place to stay.  

He's a clever old thing and quickly figured out you shouldn't poop in your castle.

A precious life someone discarded, he has a serious heart condition and tumors here and there. 

I'm not sure what's in the tennis ball size mass on his belly, but it's not a top priority at the moment.

Enjoying however much more time he has is.

Part of the reason he was so skinny is that someone in the past filed down all his front teeth.  Grasping anything, even a plush toy sends pain down the exposed pulp.

The atrocities invented to torture animals... man is evil.

And yet, Dog is always willing to forgive and trust.  Their faith in us is greater than my own.

A few weeks ago, I started online dog training classes given by the woman owner of Method K-9 in Idaho.  It's the communication breakthrough I've yearned for.  It's how a gutter dog who'd never been indoors became a well mannered house dog in just a few days.  It's how all the other dogs have accepted him as part of my pack.  

I'm gratefully celebrating all the wins because school started back this week.  I spent my day off stressing about the five Business classes I'm taking.

Blessed be the guy who likes to share my office chair.

I wish I could take him to class with me.  Yes, after a year of glorious home schooling, I must report to campus for night classes.  It had been 20 years since I'd sat in a lecture room.  Shell shocked after 3 hours of feeling totally out of place on Tuesday, I hurried back to my truck and sat in the parking lot contemplating a good long cry.  Then I remembered that if you're not putting yourself in uncomfortable situations, you're not growing.  Plus, my 20 year old truck gave me a good pep talk.  Unfailing and strong, she and I have been through a lot.  She's gonna get me through this.  I had to move a trash can to make room for her wide butt in these tight parking spaces, I can keep parking creatively. I can do this.

I'm still not over whatever is going with my innards.  I have more follow up appointments scheduled.  I'm permanently nauseated now and have too much belly pain to even consider running or biking.  I can walk, for now that will have to do for the dogs' exercise.  The result of my hospital time mulling was that I need to treat myself with the same compassion I dole out for all the animals.  I lift Peter into bed at night, yet I berate myself with the foulest tirades in my head to force myself to work through fatigue and pain.  I'll work late getting all the horses blanketed before a cold snap and skip my own supper.  

My body has spoken loud and clear, it wants to fire me as its manager.  To negotiate a truce with this corpse of mine,  I grabbed my new camera and took a drive through the countryside to focus on what is beautiful in life.

In the depths of being miserable, I'm grabbing at every occasion to find reasons to be grateful.  

I'm enamored with palm trees now.  

They make me smile, so I seek them out. They've always been all around me, but it's like I'm walking around this week with my eyes open for the first time. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Divine Intervention Via Palm Trees

 My guardian angels deliver messages in uncommon ways.  At times, the message can be hard to decipher.

For example, last Friday, they sent me on a wild goose chase for boat parts all through Southern Alabama.  Like Alice in Wonderland, me and my 20 year old one ton truck slid down a rabbit hole and ended up in Florida.  All because I had a bright idea when I realized I was only 15 miles from the Florida line.  Replacing the 2 prominent pear trees I had to take down in front of Adjanie and Cristian's would cost beaucoup bucks.  Sure, you can buy a twig in a 5 gallon pot and wait 10 years for it to look like something...or you can surprise your Caribbean friends with 2 cold hardy palm trees, 18% of the cost of a landscaper's quote on planting cherry trees.

Oh yeah, I knew there was a reason I decide to drive Boss instead of Betty.

All my vehicles have been named since I was 16.  You don't?  What's wrong with you?  

I had hopscotched down county roads in my pursuit of specialty hardware and used my heavy cargo as a reason to repeat on the way home.

These palms are hardy to 15'F, when established.  Out of the ground, with a fraction of their roots... not so much.  The 26'F low predicted Saturday night just might do them in, so I was determined to shelter them in an insulated building.  Only place fitting that bill was the Gatehouse garage.

Slight problem: we didn't fit.  I had missed my window of opportunity to get help moving the palms because I had been playing Ace Ventura Pet Detective for a couple of hours.

Spoiler alert:  I found the farm guest's dogs.  

I spent the next couple of hours using hoist and fulcrum principles to lift and pivot these very heavy trees around in the bed of my truck, in order to close the garage door.  

My treasures were not freezing to death Saturday night.

I was quite smug until 3 AM Sunday morning.  After reenacting The Exorcist vomit scene for a few hours and doubled over in the most exquisite abdominal pain, I self diagnosed acute appendicitis and proceeded to make tracks to Georgia.  Yes, I can't call an ambulance from home because I now have health insurance from my university... in Georgia.  And no, I couldn't ask anyone who'd been more than willing to drive me, because I don't damn well know how.  I do know how to put the flashers on and drive straight through red lights though.  

I found a hospital in my network (you Canadians have no idea what I'm talking about, but that's OK) with less than 30 minute wait time in ER (same Canadians can't grasp concept of less than 8 hour wait time either, ha, ha).  Clinical signs were all there for ruptured appendix, I was fast tracked for CT Scan.  While awaiting results, the most excruciating pain I've ever been in had my blood pressure through the roof.  That's when they started giving me the good stuff: morphine.  The first dose didn't even phase me.  Then they doubled it and gave it a wee bit fast.  It felt like my heart had been dropped in hot grease.  Holy Mackerel!  

Then the good news/ bad news came.  It's not a ruptured appendix that will require a nice long stay in ICU.  It's a twisted ovary.  Yes, the only vestige of my reproductive apparatus left inside of me decided to flop over on itself and cut it's own blood circulation off.

Now, I know how Jack felt when a lipoma on his intestine flopped around and caused intestinal torsion.  His pain was so intense that we struggled to get him to stand long enough to trailer him to the vet school.  He didn't survive.

Ovarian torsion is uncommon, what were you doing yesterday to cause this, they asked.  Olympic power lifting with palm trees, they requested photographic evidence.  The look of  "you idiot" was all over their faces.  

The plan should have been to transfer me to the larger sister hospital that had the Ob/Gyn surgeon to perform emergency oophorectomy (I prefer to pronounce it uh-oh-phorectomy, suits the situation). But, no beds available thanks to covid.  In retrospect, it suits me better because of my ticker, I'm not a good candidate for general anesthesia and have to opt for fully awake nerve block surgeries, so emergency surgery when already pumped full of morphine and stressed to the gills, not a good idea.  I went home with a satchel of pain meds and  anti-nausea pills.  I was to monitor if the pain resumed full on after the morphine wore off. It it came back the same, I'd be transferred somewhere for emergency surgery, if not, it meant the ovary had flopped back over or ruptured. It was the latter. Even after major surgeries, I've never, ever taken any of the pain  meds they prescribed.  It's been my firm stand, until now.  

My surgery consultation is Thursday and I'm afraid Izza gonna be torked until then.  The pain is not bearable otherwise. Here's where my guardian angels' message came through via the palms:  what is supposed to be the size of an almond is the that of an egg.  

If it's a cyst and it ruptured, that's just gross and it needs to come out.  Given the brush with cancer is why I don't have a repro tract anymore and I have genetic markers for cancer, we need to get in and vacuum everything out.  I'm sure there's better medical terminology.  But, if it hadn't been for the palm trees, I'd never known trouble was brewing within.  Always a silver lining. 

Back to the beloved palm trees.

Luke helped me get them back out of the garage and then I proceeded on Monday to plant them alone.  My choice, for safety sake, I didn't want anyone around while I was medicated and operating heavy equipment.

I dug fresh holes and brought rich compost from the manure pile.

I devised a three strap system to transport and a single strap for maneuvering.

Dusk nipping at my heels, I finished my project.

Little Puerto Rico now available in Russell county.  I understand homesickness all too well.  

There's a chance these palms have saved my life.  In return, you bet we're going to baby them.

Condomized for their overnight protection. I hope Adjanie and Cristian give them names...

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Genetic Misfit

 Good deeds seldom go unpunished.

It's a convoluted story of how in July, Dax, Micah and I ended up in North Alabama to pull a dog out of a bad situation.  

Wasn't supposed to be permanent, but I should've known I'd be foster fail!

This cantankerous, nippy English setter was cooped up in a 3x3 earthen chicken pen at a "rescue".  This place had pit bull mixes everywhere, running loose, in crates, in large pens.  All barking to deafening levels and standing in their own feces.  One of the larger ones lunged over a fence and grabbed a pony by the leg.  A donkey rushed over and kicked it. The owner, unperturbed, said they 'played' like that all the time.  She wanted me to let Dax and Micah out of the truck to play with her dogs. Oh, F#@* no.  Then she let this shell shocked English Setter out with a bunch of bigger dogs.  "She just needs to socialize" .  I grabbed her by the halter and threw her in the truck, wet dog crap all over her feet.  I didn't care.  We were leaving.

  She had raw spots on her head, neck and paws.  

Through some detective work, I was able to get her history from a kennel employee at her old vet clinic.  Her owner was a young man who had her as a puppy and had hunting aspirations.  Well, "this dog don't hunt".

...thanks to being a genetic misfit and having juvenile cataracts .  Never diagnosed until now, but it doesn't take a genius to observe her running into trees.  It seems that she fell out of favor with her master who then dumped her on his ailing mother who could do no better than keep her locked up in a laundry room with pee pads for 2 years.  That's the story I got.

She also spend weeks at a time being kenneled at the vet clinic, which is why I suspect she was relinquished to them.  Boarding fees add up... And that's how she ended up being sent to a hell hole to live in dirt crate and how I wanted to do better by sending her to a pure bred rescue group.

Realizing she was severely vision impaired, I notified the rescue group who would have to make special arrangements for her.  Could I hold her a little longer?

Can I hold her?


Now I can. Vixen savaged me three days in a row, biting me.  It took her about 2 weeks to adjust and accept being held.

She will always a special child. But she's mine now. Sun sensitivity and all.

 And Micah is quite smitten with his little sister, Pippins.  


To try to get over her psychotic rock eating disorder, I started taking her on daily runs with Dax and Micah.  She took to it so well that after a few weeks, I started to let her run off leash because she never strayed more than 10 feet from me.

Until one day,  the four of us gathered at dawn at the gate.  I unlatched it.  As per normal, Dax and Micah went flying off in the direction of the Boonies.  Pippins took a 90' left turn and went straight as an arrow out the gates and up the county road. Bolting right up to the paved road.   I couldn't chase after her without risking Dax and Micah following me and all three dogs getting hit on the road.  So, I had to call the two pointers back, throw them in the house, get the golf cart and begin my pursuit.  By the time I was pulling onto the county road, Pippins passed me, heading North this time. 

I'm innocent, Your Honor.

Having newly developed cardiovascular capabilities, missy outran the golf cart for another half mile before she abruptly turning around. As she ran past the golf cart, I pounced and wrestled with her, she stayed busy poking holes in her captors hands.  

That's when I decided these cataracts had to go.  She could see large figures, otherwise, she was a danger to herself.  D-Day: Oct 4th for cataract surgery (also her 4th birthday).

Over a month of multiple drops 4x a day.


(Cataract surgery paid for itself: one night she raised the alarm at 2 intruders who'd come in the back door as I slept)  Maybe a good deed does have karmic rewards after all. 

She's in identity crisis mode and believes she's a cat.

We're all a little 'special' around here, she can be what she wants to be.

She'd worn an Elizabethan collar for almost 6 months between the eyes and the non-healing wounds.

Her eyes still aren't what they could be, but she's now living her best life.  She sleeps in custom flannel pajamas.

And is the side car to this crazy pointer duo.