Wednesday * February 22nd 2017

Beach Lessons…

sunsetseaofcortezLife in Mexico…

I think if one is fortunate enough, all of the troubles and worries can temporarily fall to the side and allow us to transcend into the “natural world.”  People that know me well know that I’m not a “calm” person – anxiety is pretty much a constant unwelcome companion for me.  However, in the short time I’ve been here I’m “slowly but surely” feeling the layers of worry shed like the dried out skin of a snake.

We did have a couple of rain/wind storms that were somewhat unsettling, and not every day here has been sunny and warm.

Beach Front Bingo

Being right on the beach is lovely, but sometimes it’s a major PITA.  Every time someone leaves, there’s a scramble for someone to fill the space.  The beach doesn’t belong to me, but it would certainly help if the spaces were marked out.  Sometimes it’s difficult to live in close proximity to someone – especially if they like to run their generator several hours a day, etc…  When I first arrived I got all set up into a spot and then the guy one one side of me actually told me to more over one or two feet because there was more room on the other side.  Obviously, it didn’t matter that I had spend copious energy and time backing and and leveling my RV.  He had PLENTY of room, but just wanted MORE.  *sigh*

People say they want to move into a space, then change their minds.  I’ll leave you to imagine what a clusterf*ck that creates.  The other evening a woman dress to the nines and hauling around three dogs came and asked about the space between my RV and my Canadian friends.  (Originally, my friends were going to move over but changed their minds.)  I told her the spot was taken, but she obviously didn’t like my answer and came BACK.

Sorry folks, but I’m not going to sugar coat/sweet talk someone who asks the same question repeatedly.  Of course, she reverted to the “you’re being rude” card.  So, I succinctly told her if she felt that way she could certainly leave my space and go back down the beach.  In my thirty years of my career in education, I had to take a myriad of abuse from administration, parents, and even students.  Trust me, I’ve been called everything but a “white woman.”  Not.going.to.take.it.anymore.  Sorry, that was a rant.

Run for the Border…

I’m planning on making a quick trip to Las Cruces in my Honda CR-V.  It’s a little unnerving because of the current gas deregulation in Mexico and subsequent protests.  The border crossing at Lukeville has had on and off protests with traffic blocking.

Why go?  Well, I miscalculated the amount of food Cali would need and had more shipped to my house.  I’m also picking up some items (Wi-Fi extender) that I ordered from Amazon.com, picking up my prescription eyeglasses that didn’t arrive before I left (but are now in), and taking Cali to the vet.  She’s actually doing quite well, but the only problem is she’s limping due to her osteoarthritis.  Since she’s on the Prednisone step down, she can’t take Rimadyl (and I no longer want her to take it with her kidney issues).  I’m going to see if she can get an injection of Adequan (not offered here in Mexico) and a supply for a local vet to inject.

Setting Boundaries…

I’m not sure if it’s by choice, but I’m actually somewhat of a loner.  I like spending time with other people, but solitude has never frightened me.  I like going for long beach walks by myself.  Last night I was quite happy to cook dinner, have a couple of cervazas, and watch “The Martian” while snuggling with Cali.

Living in such close proximity with others you don’t know well is sometimes challenging.  I’m not naive to think that everyone will get along 100% of the time – life just isn’t like that.   When I feel/perceive tension, I tend to withdraw.  I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.

Finding My Bliss…

The beach is a good place to think and recover your soul.  It seems that all of my life I’ve been putting myself in second place concerning what “I” want.  Therefore, I need to re-focus on my desires/needs and if it coincides with the plans of others that’s great.   If not, well…

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Wound Up Tight…

I always have a certain amount of anxiety when I leave home…

Although I think it’s pretty common with RV-er’s, it takes a lot to get me started to get ready to travel.  However, for this trip many things needed to be taken care of before leaving for Mexico.

Medicare and Retirement Blues…

I’m at that “sensitive age” where I’ll be eligible to collect Medicare benefits starting next February.  I had to make sure I was “registered,” pick an “Advantage Plan,” and fill out copious amounts of paperwork.  When they say “Old Age Isn’t for Sissies,” I’m sure they were talking about the angst over choosing an Advantage Plan and understanding the in’s and out’s of Medicare.

It certainly didn’t help that Social Security “flagged” my 2015 tax return and sent me a letter saying I would have to pay an additional premium for Medicare.  I have an appointment tomorrow with Social Security.  My “income” was spiked for 2015 because I cashed out the amount I paid into my Indiana Teacher Retirement and paid off my house with the money.

Beginning 03/01/17, I’ll be able to collect a small amount from Indiana Teacher Retirement as I have thirteen years there and am “vested.”  Of course, I had to spend time filling out the “zillion page” application and making sure that everything was in order.  The nice thing is that this income will be in addition to my New Mexico Teacher Retirement and my Social Security.  Yippee Skippy…

Cali Girl…

Cali is an old girl, and apparently had some IBD/IBS which was successfully treated with Prednisone.  We’re already on the “step down,” and she continues to do well.  Since Cali’s “mamma” is a little bit, moderately, full-blown OCD we opted for a short blood panel to check her kidney values.  Her numbers were “slightly” elevated in some areas while others stayed the same.  I’m going to try not to worry too much and go with the adage, “Treat the dog, not the disease.”

I had to order a “significant” amount of Hill’s Prescription G/D food (low fat, phosphorus, and protein) from Chewy’s (48 cans) that I mix half and half with her home cooked diet.  (Dang, that stuff is HEAVY – where am I going to put my WINE?)

My vet gave me her personal e-mail, so I feel confident that we’ll be fine.

RV Check…

I got my mobile RV guy here in Las Cruces to install some Maxx-Air vent covers, change the oil, check the generator, install two new coach batteries, de-scale the water heater, etc…  I’m going to have the tires checked tomorrow (I have a TPMS) and I should be “good to go.”  I spent the better part of the past two afternoons, loading and re-arranging items in the RV.

Meeting Friends…

I’m meeting my good friends Bob and Maxine (from Prince George, British Columbia) next Monday or Tuesday near Ajo, Arizona.  We’ll then follow each other to Puerto Penasco.  Yes, “Christmas in Mexico.”

No photos today, but I’ll leave you with the “Christmas Spirit” from Pentatonix…

 

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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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