Monday, March 18, 2019

Pretty in Pink, and Blue, and Green, and Yellow, and Orange

A beautiful pink and blue sunset.


I am so exhausted and it's really hard to blog when your brain is just mush. But I really need to get caught up on the Jim saga before I forget some of it.

Jim came home on Friday and we had great hopes that with the low fiber diet and the antibiotics he was on the road to recovery. We had a follow up appointment with the pacemaker technician and everything was working correctly. The only problem is we still didn't have a monitor so nobody is checking to see what Jim's heart is doing. We also had another follow up with the GI doctor (Jodi). She mentioned that he was anemic and wanted him to have blood work done again and see her in two weeks to follow up on that. She will also be scheduling another colonoscopy when she feels his colon has healed enough. 

At home, Jim was not eating. You know something is wrong if he isn't eating. His breathing was also getting worse. Remember - the pacemaker was supposed to help him breathe better. We kept hoping things would get better but Saturday night about midnight he woke me up because he can't breathe. I was going to drive him to the ER but he couldn't even get to the truck. I called 911 and they showed up about five minutes later. Our trailer was filled up with seven big husky men all working on Jim. Once they got him stabilized, they picked him up in a sling chair and off to the ER once again.

Like I said in my last post, this ER can only stabilize people and then find them a room at a hospital that can help them. Finding a hospital room in this area during snowbird season is a real challenge. It took them almost 15 hours to finally find a room at Banner Baywood. Once again he got transported to another hospital. While in the ER they determined that he had fluid on his lungs, a result of congestive heart failure. The blood tests also showed that his red blood cell count had really improved which is a good thing.

Banner Baywood is actually the hospital that my Aunt Happy built (well her money built) many years ago. They have excellent heart doctors and Jim is definitely right where he needs to be. They put him on a diuretic and that has really helped to remove the fluid from his chest which means that he can breathe better. In fact, I just talked to him and he says he feels better than he has in weeks. He's also up and walking around. Hopefully this time when I bring him home he can stay here.

Time to change the subject. We have had a wet and cold winter. Probably the worst since we've been here. And it lasted for a long time. Usually we have a couple of bad days and then it warms up but not this year. What that means is that our desert is green, green, green. I've taken a couple of pictures but they aren't very good.



We also have these beautiful yellow flowers blooming just down the road from us.


However, this next picture is incredible. Our neighbor Wendy told us where to find these flowers so we stopped so I could take some pictures. I have never seen the desert bloom like it is this year. So overwhelmingly beautiful. No need to touch up this piece of God's work.


I just talked to Jim and we're not sure when he'll be coming home but hopefully not too long. 

(he's not here to proof this so please forgive the scattered thoughts)


Saturday, March 9, 2019

Fragile

AJ, AZ   High 81 or 62 (depends on the day) 

Fragile – (of a person) not strong or sturdy; delicate and vulnerable. weak, delicate, frail, debilitated, tottery, shaky, trembly, ill, unwell, ailing, poorly, sickly, infirm, feeble, enfeebled, unsound

This is how the Emergency Room doctor described my husband a week ago. My strong, protective, able to do anything, defender. The man who has always been there for me when I am falling apart. The man who’s eyes light up when I walk into the room.

Fragile – when the doctor said that, I looked at Jim and realized that he was in so much pain and wasn’t able to be the strong one right now and it shook me to my core.

We have been through so much together – two heart bypass surgeries, lung cancer, femoral artery bypasses, a pacemaker as well as my broken ankle and ruptured Achilles tendon. He’s always been strong and never once has anyone ever called him fragile. Age does catch up to us.

He had his pacemaker put in Tuesday morning, Tuesday afternoon he started having terrible stomach cramps. We all thought it was the surgery, the sedation, the pain medication – something like that. So Wednesday I brought him home. He was in terrible pain but it seemed to get to be getting better and on Saturday he felt good enough to walk across the street to visit with friends. But Sunday morning he was in so much pain he couldn’t stand up straight and we headed for the ER here in AJ.

They took some scans, did some blood work and finally decided that he needed a GI doctor. Banner Goldfield is a very small hospital and they do not have any specialists so they transported him to Banner Ironwood. For three days they ran tests, took x-rays, more scans, ekgs, and put him on antibiotics and morphine.

They finally decided that they needed to do a colonoscopy to find out what was going on inside. Thursday the GI doc (Dr. Wang) finally did the colonoscopy but they could only do a partial one. Jim’s colon was severely ulcerated and they were unable to go any further. The inflammation of the colon was probably caused by a lack of blood flow to the colon. They sent a couple of samples off for a biopsy and we should get those results in a few days. The good news is that the colon will heal itself with medications and a low fiber diet. May take a few months but no more pain makes it all worth while.

The colonoscopy was able to relieve a lot of the gas that had built up in his colon and with the antibiotics in his system, he actually started to feel better. Friday I got to bring him home. He’s really weak from laying in bed for five days. And he went almost 10 days with no solid food. We have to work on getting his strength back and figuring out what he can and can’t eat.

We have follow up appointments with the GI doctor, his cardiologist, his primary care doctor, and his electrician for his pacemaker.

I document all of this information so that I have it to refresh my memory. I needed information from his previous medical issues when we were in the ER and being able to access my blog gave me the information I needed.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

I have been really busy taking care of Jim and two old dogs and haven't read a lot of blogs lately. I'm hoping next week eases up a bit and I can catch up.

This is the beautiful throw I won in a raffle by Promised Land Dachshund Rescue. 



I really wanted to get a picture of both the pups with the throw but Rocky refused to cooperate. Skittlez was more than happy to snuggle with me while we were having our winter weather.



Arizona got a whole bunch of snow - 40 inches up in Flagstaff, 2 feet in Payson. Our Superstition Mountains were covered and Four Peaks were incredibly beautiful covered in snow. I didn't get a chance to get out to take any pictures so google snow in Arizona and you can see some of the beauty.

At our house we did not get any snow for which I'm grateful but we had rain and more rain and more rain. Steve, from our park, took this picture of our detention pond. Horseshoes - no, Kayaking - yes.


Meanwhile Rocky was making himself comfortable on my pillow.


This week the weather is back to normal - high 70's during the day and in the lower 50's at night. Perfect.

I started this last Tuesday so hopefully I can get it finished today and posted.

Jim got his new battery booster (pacemaker) this morning. The surgery took awhile longer than was expected and the doctor explained that he had a great deal of difficulty getting the wire into the left ventricle but was finally successful. 





He will be coming home tomorrow and I'm not sure who will be happier - me or Rocky. 
 
I got to bring Jim home on Wednesday. The recovery from the surgery itself is doing great. But Jim has had terrible stomach pains that don't seem to have anything to do with the surgery. At first we figured they were gas cramps caused by the pain medication or his not being able to eat before the surgery. However, those kinds of problems should have been resolved with a day or two and he's still having pain. He also doesn't want to eat anything. That's not good for a diabetic so I'm doing the best I can to get some food in him.

We put in a call to the doctor's office but as per usual we did not get a call back. He also called the hospital follow up number and that was a waste of time. If he's not better by Monday we will be going to Urgent Care.

I'm really hoping that next week sees a big improvement for all of us.

 








Friday, February 15, 2019

Finally - A Date

AJ, AZ   High 57  Low 48  Rain (We’ve had a lot of rain this winter and it’s been quite chilly.)


We have spent a lot of time in doctors’ offices so far this year and as most of you know the magazine selection in these offices are pretty pathetic. But this one just really got my attention.



Now look at the date of this magazine.





25 years – it really must qualify as an antique by now.

 
They finally got Jim scheduled at Shea Hospital in Scottsdale on February 26th to have his heart helper implanted. The Electrician, Dr. Tom Mattioni, told us it would take about two hours but they will keep him overnight to make sure there are no complications. We were really impressed with Dr. Mattioni. He explained in depth about how damaged Jim’s heart is and how this new device will really make a difference in how he feels. I just wish we didn’t have to wait almost two weeks. 

This is what the device looks like. One wire goes into the top of the heart, one goes into the left side of the heart, and the third into the right side. The two wires on the sides of the heart make the heart beat normally and more efficiently. This device gets implanted under the skin up near the collar bone on the left side of his chest. 



After the surgery he’s going to be restricted for about six weeks from raising his arm up in the air, twisting his shoulder or lifting more than ten pounds with his left arm. This is to allow enough scar tissue to grow around the wires to keep them in place. He’s been practicing getting dressed without raising his arm and also lifting the dogs with his right arm. The doc does, however, want him to use his arm so he doesn’t get a frozen shoulder which would then require lots of physical therapy. So by the middle of April he should be good to go.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Stress

AJ, AZ   High 59   Low  54    Rain

January became a very high stress month for us. When we returned from our trip East last fall, Jim didn’t feel very good but we blamed it on the very long, very quick trip we made getting back to Arizona.

The only problem is that Jim did not get any better even with rest. By January he could not walk from the bedroom to the living room without being out of breath. He could not even take the dogs outside when they needed to go.

We finally got an appointment with his cardiologist. She put him through a nuclear stress test, an echo, and a heart monitor. When we met with her for the results, she informed us he needs a pacemaker/defibrillator. Of course we couldn’t get in to see the electrician (that’s what they call the surgeon who puts them in) until the 8th of February. However, she also put him on digoxin and that has definitely helped him to breathe a little better.

I’ll sure be glad when he is feeling better.

Also during this time, both dogs had a case of diarrhea and Skitz hurt her front leg. Jim also caught a cold which certainly didn’t help the fact that he couldn’t breathe.  Now he has the left over cough that keeps us both up at night.

I also had a heart issue. I had an irregular EKG and my heart doc thought maybe I had had a heart attack. So I also got to do the nuclear stress test (but I had to walk the treadmill and Jim didn’t), have an echo and wear a heart monitor. I got good news with my results. Lose weight, exercise more.

Needles to say we have not gone anywhere or done anything. I’m hoping since he’s starting to feel a little better we might be able to get out for a little while. The dogs are feeling better, even though Skitz is still in pain.

And that is what is going on in our world. We are certainly praying that the new equipment in Jim’s body will put us back on track again.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

10 Years

I'm a couple days late posting this. Life keeps getting in my way.

We left Billings, MT the afternoon of January 21, 2009 to begin our full time lifestyle. We were 72 feet long and ready for adventures.


We were trying to outrun a snow storm that was headed into Montana. I had suggested waiting til the next morning to leave but Jim knew that the roads would be far worse so we decided to head out and see how far we got. Our first night we spent in Bozeman, MT in a motel room. It was so cold we just wanted some place to get warm and get some sleep.

I was still in a wheelchair from a broken ankle and ruptured Achilles tendon. I could hobble a few feet and crawl up and down steps but most of the time Jim was pushing me in a wheelchair. 

This picture was taken at Covee Fort, UT. It was windy and cold but we were ready to visit new places.



We stopped in Las Vegas for a few nights and then headed for Apache Junction where we had reservations for a month at a park not far from where we are now. My sister and her husband were in Mesa and we wanted to explore this area. The RV park was okay but the sites were so small we barely fit. We decided to check out all the parks in this area and find one that we felt comfortable in.

We must have driven through 50 RV parks. When we drove through Santa Fe RV Park, there was just a feeling about this place. The sites were large and spacious. The park was kept in fantastic shape. And they offered a Passport America rate of $13.50 a night for two weeks. We took them up on that. 



We enjoyed our stay so much we put our names on a list for a permanent spot. Since pets were only allowed on the back row we figured it could be a couple of years or so before we were offered a site. Little did we know that one would become available that October. 

Now Site #34 has become our home base. Couldn't ask for a more perfect spot to spend the winters with the best neighbors in the whole world. 



We've had fantastic adventures these last ten years and I know we have more good times ahead of us.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Bloggerfest - Saturday

Any and all bloggers and non-bloggers in Q are invited to Bloggerfest. Come and meet other bloggers or learn how to make your own blog. 

 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Benihana's With Friends


I do not know how to use blogger because I have always used Live Writer and as you know, it isn't working. So who knows how these pictures are going to be placed.

Jim and I have not been going out very often to eat so we jumped at the chance to join good friends at Benihana's for lunch. These are some of the very first friends we made when we began our full time life style.

From left to right - Jeri, Delci, Freddy, Jan and Bill



 Terry gets his own picture. Jeri kept turning her head every time I took a picture. I forgot to get her attention.

 Four of our group had never been to Benihana's and were in for a fun experience. Our chef is cooking the eggs, vegetables and rice.
One of the really fun parts of lunch is the onion volcano.
After cooking the rice, the shrimp and scallops were cooked and then came my favorite part - the steak and mushrooms. Cooked to perfection and so tender.
Jan's birthday is next week so she was brought a dish of Rainbow Sherbert. We all got a taste of course. Happy Birthday Jan.
A good time was had by all and I'm really hoping we can all get together one more time before everybody takes off for parts unknown.

I'm really not sure how blogger is going to work out for me. I'm hoping this isn't the end for my blog but I'll let you know if I decide to throw in the towel.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Rocky’s Gotcha Day

AJ, AZ   High 64  Low 50

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I can’t believe it’s been two years ago today that we went into PetSmart and Jim picked up this aggressive old dog out of his pen. He was malnourished, had a cancerous sore on his wide, almost furless, a big hole in his mouth and a really bad heart murmur. 

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It didn’t take us long to fall in love with him but it took him a lot longer to learn to love me. Skitz was so patient with him and put up with his snapping at her for several months. It took him over a year before he would let me pick him up or even be willing to sit on my lap.

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He is still totally Jim’s velcro dog. If Jim leaves him behind he whines the entire time he is gone. Sometimes he really gets on my nerves but there is nothing I can say or do to make him happy.

     

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However, he has come so far. He no longer attacks people when they reach to pet him. Just don’t try to pick him up! He is still dog aggressive so we just keep him away from other dogs or make sure Jim has total control over him.

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He is really stingy with his kisses but for some reason I seem to get more of them than Jim does. Don’t know why but I take what I can get.

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He is the best traveling dog we’ve ever had. You put him in the truck and he’s settles right down and goes to sleep. He’s even happy in the truck when Jim is out working on the boat or doing something else.

He and Skitz have a wonderful relationship now. Well, I’m not sure Skitz thinks so because Rocky has a habit of climbing into the bed with her and sitting on her.

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His heart is extremely enlarged and we have no idea how much longer he will be with us. So we appreciate and love each day as it comes. It’s not easy with two old dogs in the house. Rocky is on diuretics for his heart so he has to go out many times during the day and also a few times during the night. His hearing is slowly going away and even with the cataract surgery that he had before we got him, his eye sight isn’t the best. He gets four pills in the morning and five at night. He’s on almost as many meds as Jim is.

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They will both be 15 this year.

Skitz has dementia (not real bad but she forgets where she is or what she’s doing there). Her back legs are also not working well so she has to be carried up and down the steps to go out. She is also almost totally deaf. I’m grateful they are not big dogs and we are able to take care of them.

As for Jim and I, we are doing nothing but doctor appointments. Hopefully by the end of the month we will have some answers.

However, we do have a fun outing planned for Tuesday and we are really looking forward to it.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Day Trippin’

Algodones, Mexico   High 66  Low 37

I finally got out of the house. It’s been so cold I’ve been hibernating. Paula was going to make a run down to Mexico and asked me if I’d like to ride along. So I said sure.

And I’m really glad I said yes. It’s about a four hour drive so that gave us a great opportunity to get completely caught up on our lives and solve all the world’s problems.

I was hoping to find some more roadrunners like we already have or some cute turtles. But I didn’t really see anything I liked. Paula checked out a couple of t-shirts but she didn’t find anything she wanted either.

By this time we were really hungry so we stopped at the Plaza to have lunch.

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We were lucky enough to find a table in the sun because it was cold in the shade.

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There was a band playing and this lady was dancing for tips.

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We had a really good lunch. I have tacos with rice and beans and Paula had carne asada that she said was as good as it looked.

After lunch we headed to the Purple Pharmacy so I could get some prilosec and then we were ready to head back to the US.

This is only a small part of the line to get across the border that awaited us.

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Things were moving slowly because of the Government shutdown. The Border Patrol agents were all working for no pay and there were only two of them. However, the line moved faster than I thought it would. It only took us about an hour. Paula was kind enough to do all the standing and let me sit as much as possible and I sure do appreciate that.

I had such a good time I think I just may have to do it again if Paula decides to head down that way.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year -2019

AJ, AZ   High  48  Low 33

We are experiencing a rather “chilly” start to our new year here in Arizona. New Year’s Eve we had rain – a little over half an inch – which put a damper on any exciting celebrations we might have had planned. But since we didn’t have anything planned except a quiet evening with just us and the pups, the rain was not a problem.

My favorite mountains, The Superstitions, had a dusting of snow on them this morning once the clouds lifted.

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I was looking back in my blog to see what the weather was like over the years. The following picture of the Superstitions is from January 1, 2015. It was also cold that year – high of 48 and a low of 28.

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This cowboy was out for a leisurely ride. Notice the snow on the mountain in the background.

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Rocky and Skittlez are enjoying the start of 2019 in their favorite manner.

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An Arizona sunset

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We hope that 2019 brings all of our friends and family a year of joy, peace and love