Thursday * December 8th 2016

Comfort and Joy…

It’s cold and December – even in the Desert Southwest…

This year I seem to have “finally and totally” lost any “Christmas Spirit” and/or joy regarding the holidays.  In the past, I’ve always at least made an effort to put up a small tree, listen to “Holly” on XM radio, watch some Christmas movies, etc…  Either I’ve finally lost my expectations of the holiday season, or I’m just overwhelmed.

spirit

Cali Update…

Cali is slowly but surely improving, but has developed some gastrointestinal issues after her bout with pancreatitis.  Her kidney disease is stage 2 (out of 4) and her lab numbers are actually quite good.  Two or three times a week she’ll have some morning nausea, but usually by afternoon she “springs back” and is eating again.

I’ve been feeding her a home cooked diet made in the crock pot of chicken breast or 93% lean ground beef mixed with a puree of sweet potatoes and green beans, then adding rice to included broth.  I add the contents of a salmon oil capsule to her food once a day.  The crock pot food usually lasts 5-7 days.  Sometimes, on really bad days I have to puree the food and syringe feed her.  Usually when I have to syringe feed her, she’ll “take over” and lap the soup mixture.  I’m trying to get her to eat 4-5 small meals spaced out during the day.  She also takes Slippery Elm, Pepsid (famotidine), and a canine probiotic.  I’m going to start giving her calcium carbonate as a phosphate binder once I receive some special “mini” measuring spoons (the smallest measuring 1/64th of a teaspoon).

Except when she’s nauseated, her eyes are bright and she follows me from room-to-room as usual.  I worry that she hasn’t gained the weight back (24 lbs. from 30 lbs.), but I’ve actually seen thinner “healthy” dogs.

I’m happy to do all this, but I must say I’m pretty stressed when she has a bad day (which ARE happening less and less).

Mexico Bound…

My very good Canadian friends from Prince George, British Columbia are “working their way south” in their RV and later this month I’ll meet them near the Lukeville, Arizona border crossing to go to Puerto Penasco.  In February, we plan to caravan down the Baja with other RV’ers to see the whale migration.

In the meantime, my local mobile RV guy is changing my oil, installing covered vent hoods on the roof, cleaning the scale from my water heater, fixing the outside vent door (Lazy Daze wanted $200.00 for the whole assembly, unpainted) that rattles when I drive, and replacing two coach batteries.

Hopefully. Christmas Day will include a margarita on the beach…

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Would you like some “whine” with that cheese?

Things are finally “calming down” at Casa de Cheryl…

winewhineWell, almost – 🙂

Cali is much improved after a couple of rough spots (and sleepless nights for me).  After her recent bout with pancreatitis and diagnosis of stage 2 kidney disease the vet treating her wanted me to feed her a strict kidney disease diet.  The diet is low protein and phosphorus, but high fat for caloric value.  High fat is the last thing a dog (or human for that matter) needs after a bout with pancreatitis.

I really like one of the vets at the office I go to for Cali, but left a message Saturday for the owner (who is probably the best vet in Las Cruces).  Dr. Calista called me back and talked to me for about 1/2 hour, then arranged for me to pick up a probiotic after hours.  She told me to back off the kidney diet and make lean chicken and rice.  Cali’s digestive tract is “super sensitive” after pancreatitis and she was waking me up at 2:00 a.m. pacing restlessly until having diarrhea between 4:00-4:30 a.m.

I’m still shocked at the amazing results…

Cali’s still a slow starter in terms of appetite, but eats several small portions during the day with no more digestive upsets.  When talking about Cali I “usually” say, but she’s fifteen and old.  Dr. Calista stopped me and said “older pets deserve the same quality of care and treatment as younger ones do.”  And, she’s right…

Frustrations abound…

It’s still difficult for me to make decisions and “take care of business” as a single person.  Examples:

  • Today I literally spent an hour and 1/2 on the phone negotiating with Century Link regarding my Internet fees.  I was on a “special promotion” and it expired making my bill twice the amount.  I finally got it settled, a new rate negotiated (for two years) and all is well.
  • My RV is parked in a storage facility (outside) and I’m up and down regarding what I should do.  Next month, I’ll start to travel again and hate to think of paying for a space I’m not using.  However, the rate is the best in Las Cruces and currently the facility is at full capacity.  I think it’s just best to “bite the bullet,” pay for a year, and not worry how much time I’ll be away.
  • I’ve spent a “bunch” of money this month.  Cali’s hospital stay and meds hovered around $1,500.00.  I’m not poor, but I’m not rich either.  I think I planned well for my retirement.  However, there’s still the memory of being raised in a family of seven with a father who became ill, couldn’t work, and eventually passed away.  Because of this, it was not a happy childhood.  I’m “OK.”  I have a steady retirement income, and some “adequate” savings.

Comfort and joy…

It’s the advent of a “difficult” time of year for me.  There will be no family Thanksgiving and/or Christmas celebrations.  I’m not “whining” – that’s just the “way it is.”  However, if I can eventually meet my friends in Mexico on the beach and have my best girl at my side, my heart will be full.

Commenting…

I know that sometimes I “pour out my heart” on this blog.  I’m sorry that I’m not always in a position (or right frame of mind) to reply to your comments.  However, I’m thankful that you reach out – even when I’m overwhelmed and don’t.  So please, never underestimate the healing balm and power your words have in my life…

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Taking Care of Cali…

sleepygirl

It hasn’t been easy lately…

I’ve “beat up on myself” for not recognizing the signs of Cali’s illness sooner.  She would vomit bile in the early morning about twice a week.  I Googled her symptoms and most said it wasn’t unusual for older dogs to have an upset stomach.

As I mentioned in the last post, Cali was hospitalized for five days with pancreatitis.  Her blood work on the day of her release came back normal (resolved) – actually right in the middle of the “normal reading.”  However, sadly she was also diagnosed with Stage 2 (out of 4) kidney disease.  What does this mean?  It means that her blood work has come back with higher levels indicating she has toxins in her blood.  She has no “outward” symptoms of the kidney disease and depending on her diet and treatment it might be awhile.

In the meantime…

Thank heavens nothing happened during our travels to Albuquerque.  Little by little, I was able to transition her over to the “kidney” (low protein) diet.  However, the day after our return she had vomited (bile) three times in almost as many hours.  The vet took us in as a walk-in immediately, and told me that Cali still has a “very sensitive” tummy after the pancreatitis.  The vet gave her an injection for nausea and vomiting and thank heavens it worked.

More meds…

Now I give Cali 10 mg of famotidine (generic Pepsid AC) twice a day with the 25 mg of Rimadyl for her severe osteoarthritis. Cali also gets Proviable-KP, a digestive health supplement.  I also have an anti nausea/vomiting medication on hand for emergencies.  In the evening I give Cali carafate to coat her stomach.  I have to mix the carafate with 10 cc’s of water in a syringe, and then give it to Cali.  At first I was pretty anxious and concerned when she “fought” with me.  However, now I sit with her for a couple of minutes and stroke her.  Then I lift her lip and angle the syringe toward the back of her gums in her mouth trying to find a small gap and then inject a small amount.  Then I “pet, praise, and repeat.”

Rimadyl is a canine NSAID and is not considered a good drug to give dogs with kidney disease.  However, the vet and I talked it over and weighed the options.  We decided that comfort and quality of life is more important to focus upon in a 15 year old dog.  In addition, Cali’s kidney blood work is somewhat stable for the moment.  Although her BUN and creatine levels are elevated, her phosphorus is in the normal range.

You want me to eat WHAT?

The vet sent me home with a few kidney disease diets.  Cali would repeatedly sniff, walk away, and then look at me like “seriously?”

She “will” accept the Royal Canin brand and I have both wet and dry.  At first I transitioned her by adding less and less of a ground beef and rice mixture.  Now I roll the kibble into the wet food and make little “meatballs.”  Sometimes, I have to use a sliver piece of boiled white meat chicken to get her to take the first “bite.”

It’s like OK, you gave me something good so now I’ll eat the yucky stuff.  Sometimes I make the “meatballs” and put a teeny, tiny piece of boiled white meat chicken on top.  I usually have to hand feed her and she eats several small meals a day.  Strangely, if I leave some food out for her when I leave the house the plate is always empty upon my return.

Nursing quarters…

I’ve moved my bed to the sofa in my computer room, and Cali has a dog cot with her memory foam bed on top with a soft blanket.  She’s always like to be close to me, but not “snuggled.”  This way, I have a good eye on her and can watch for signs of distress.  At the moment, I’m a little too hyper-vigilant and listen for every tummy sound, etc…  However, so far so good.  At night while we sleep, I have some battery operated votive candles I use.

We all know how this story ends…

Cali is a 15 year old dog that now has a life threatening disease.  Some dogs with kidney disease live for years – others are not so lucky.

All I can do is attempt to free myself of anxiety, and do the very best I can do to care for my best girl.  At first I was a “basket case,” and wasn’t really taking care of myself.  Now, I’m somewhat back on an even keel and am trying to make my life as “normal” as possible.

Today, Cali is recovering and stable.  Each day is a little better.  At the end of the day, I always give her a little “snuggle love” and tell her I love her.  It’s difficult, but I try to surrender the pain of the day and be grateful for the blessings and grace.

Every day is a gift…

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All About Cali…

calihome

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A couple of weeks ago, Cali seemed “sick.” 

She wasn’t eating on a regular basis, and early in the morning she would vomit bile at least a couple of times a week.  Stupidly, I just thought this was a phase she was going through due to her age (15).  However, one morning when her stomach “noises” were extremely audible from where I sit at my computer I knew something was seriously amiss.

I have a vet “right around the corner” from my house and I took her there as a walk-in. 

Thursday, 10/13/16

Basically, the vet wanted to do every test known in the canine world and presented me with an estimate of $500.00.  It’s not that my “best girl” isn’t worth the money (as you’ll later read), but one of the “tests” was for osteoarthritis.  Uh, we already KNOW that she has this problem and “knowing the degree” isn’t really going to change the treatment.  Since Cali had a “potty accident” as we were checking in, I allowed them to check the stool sample.  However, basically she was given a “plethora” of drugs to see if one would work.  🙁

Saturday, 10/15/16

Cali continued to decline and the “walk-in” vet was closed.  I called her regular vet and they IMMEDIATELY took her in.  Thirty minutes (and a blood test) later, she was diagnosed with pancreatitis.  She was swiftly admitted to the hospital and drugs were administered.

Ups and Downs…

One day I came to visit Cali and she seemed “spaced out” and her hind legs weren’t working at all.  However, Cali was in a crate and probably stiff.  The vet lowered the opiate they were giving her for pain and she was taken on hourly walks.  What a difference.  For her appetite they gave her an appetite stimulant – it DOES work, but I’m still wishing she would eat more.

Home again…

Cali came home on Thursday after a five-day vet hospitalization. I don’t EVER use this word, but it’s somewhat of a “miracle.” I was totally expecting the worst and trying to prepare myself.

The vet gave me a copy of this report:

Cali was hospitalized from 10/1516-10/20/16 for IV fluid and medical management including pain, antibiotic, stomach, and appetite stimulant medications. Her follow-up quantitative pancreatitis test result came back normal; her kidney values are improved, although still elevated.”

(Cali shows that she has stage 2/4 of kidney disease.)

When I went to pick up up this afternoon, the vet tech said there was a complete turnaround in terms of eating. She ate two bowls of “mama’s homemade” chicken and rice!

Not out of the woods yet…

Yesterday, 10/22/16 Cali seems to “crash.”  She refused all food and couldn’t stand on her hind legs.  I totally freaked out as the vet office was closed.  However, I decided to stop giving her:

Buprenex. A synthetic partial opiate, Buprenex acts as an analgesic that is used primarily to help manage and dull pain, such as in pre, during, and post op patients, as well as in cats and dogs with severe chronic pain.

However, toxic as some claims are I still give her the prescribed Rimadyl.  I WILL NOT allow her to be in chronic pain even if the drug shortens her lifespan.

Then I did something painful…

On days when Cali wouldn’t eat when hospitalized, they gave her some nourishment with a syringe with food condensed in a blender.

I waited all day, and then decided to go to Wal*Mart and get a small turkey baster and “do the deed.”  I mixed her chicken and rice with some no-salt chicken broth in a NutriBullet.  I got a big towel, and fed her – crying the whole time.

It was so painful because I remembered my late mother who had senile dementia and lost her swallow reflex who was fed the same way for a short time before a feeding tube was inserted.

It worked!

Today, Cali went on two short walks and ate homemade chicken in rice in the a.m. and ground beef, rice, and carrots in the p.m.  She walked pretty much as usual for her, but didn’t fall over like she did on Saturday.

I have no illusions.  Cali is fifteen years old, and our time together is limited and precious.  However, I can’t/won’t give up until I’m sure there are no options left.

A little trip…

Mama is going to get her “tango on” and Cali is going with her.  We’re going to the Albuquerque Tango Festival this coming Thursday!  The festival venue doesn’t allow pets, but we’re staying quite close at the pet friendly Econo Lodge.  It’s not fancy, but quite nice with a free yummy breakfast.  During the day, it’s about a ten minute walk in Old Town Albuquerque, but I’ll drive over at night.  The addition of Cali is $10.00/night.  🙂

I was going to “medically board” Cali, but “we’re better together.”

Hoping…

I know this “may not end well.”  However, I’m not giving up until it’s “crystal clear” that Cali is ready to leave.

I’m stubborn that way, my friends…

 

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Protected: The Dark Side of Argentine Tango…

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