Friday, April 29, 2011

Preparing to Say Goodbye

It's sadly part of owning horses, the decision to say goodbye.  It's something we have had to do before and it is something we will have to do again. 


We don't take the decision lightly.  We discuss, we discuss some more, we discuss further.  With each discussion pieces of our heart break as we move towards our decision and closure.

As it is with Bear, our rescue Belgian who came to us skin and bones, in such poor health that he wasn't supposed to last through the winter.  We were the third party to rescue him, the other two parties failing miserably when it came to feeding him.

If there is one thing this family can do well, it's put on weight.  So Bear gained weight and for the last five years we've adored this sweet, kind hearted Belgian.  He rebounded and a few years ago was in good enough shape that I was able to ride him (at a walk) around our place.

The funny thing about that short ride.  I'm not sure who enjoyed it more, Bear or I.  There is saying about giving a horse a job.  One could see how proud Bear was after our little ride.  Like a peacock, he strutted around the pasture when I turned him back out.  He was waiting at the gate the next day, as if asking, "Can we do it again?"  I wish I would have taken him up on the offer.

Bear gets along with everybody but I think his best friend was my former horse Cisco, who we lost to colic last year.  After Cisco was put down I brought Bear out to say Goodbye.  The look of pain and sadness in his eyes as he raised his head after smelling Cisco - my husband also saw it.  That look tore at our already broken hearts and we knew we weren't the only one that night who had lost somebody special.  

But the weight will no longer stay on, no matter what we feed nor how much.  At an estimated age of late twenties, the teeth are no longer plentiful and the mind is becoming confused.  With each time Bear lays down in the pasture it's now a major effort to get back up.  It's a long process to watch him struggle back to his feet.  His step is now unsteady as he wobbles around the pasture.

And so the clock ticks and time moves closer to when we will have to make the calls that will change the rhythm of our barn. 

One thing is for sure. They don't make many as sweet as Bear.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Snug and Cozy

A week ago this is how our kitchen looked.  Notice to the right, the hole in the floor.  That's my husband on his side to the left with his trusty sazzle (I think that's how it's spelled), as he cuts out rotten floor joists.  The floor inside the French Doors and surrounding areas were rotten and had to be replaced before we could have our new door installed. 

We had paid for "installation" when we bought our new door.  Sure, we could have put the door in ourselves but my husband didn't want to mess with it.  For a guy who can hang doors in his sleep, installation was a real treat.  However, installation didn't include repairing the damage from the previous doors so it was up to us to have everything repaired before our new door arrived.

This is how my kitchen looked "buttoned up" with plywood at night.  With the exception of a few evenings, this plywood came off to expose the kitchen so that we could get back at the floor.  We were fortunate to have very few days with rain this past week, which would have made the project more of a challenge.  This side of our house gets all the weather and we would have had rain coming into the kitchen.

With the door arriving first thing Saturday morning, the big push came this last Friday.  My husband took the day off and we both spent the day getting the floor project finished.  At 11PM, under flood lights and totally exhausted, we raised the sheets of plywood to cover the hole in the kitchen for the last time.
This is the results of our efforts.  How can I get so excited about a silly door?  Well, my floor no longer sags when I step on it.  I don't have to leave a towel down in front of the door whenever it rains.  I don't have to take a dinner knife and wedge towels between French Doors when it's cold outside, nor wedge steel wool into the door to keep rodents out.

Today the rain is pounding outside and 45mph winds are predicted.  I find after 25 years of marriage that the bond between my husband and I is as strong as it ever was.  The teamwork when we work on projects is still intact with that incredible intuition as we work together.  We are both proud of our efforts in this project.  As the rain hits against the new door we feel good in knowing our home snug and cozy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

French Doors

It's another wonderful Wednesday and only two days (39.5 hours and counting) until I can see outside onto my patio once again.

Recently we made a decision to replace the French Doors that let out onto our patio.  (Sigh).  I loved those doors but I didn't like the water that came inside when it rained nor the draft of cold air that came through when the temps got low or when it blew. 

(Bigger Sigh.)  They sure looked pretty but placing towels between them when it was windy or cold and/or on the floor in front of them when it rained had gotten old.
A few weeks ago we ordered new doors.  We thought we wanted new French Doors (I sure first).  But by the time we placed the order, the French Doors had turned to a (boring) Sliding Door. 

I had to concede to my husband, it made sense with the weather we get on this side of our house.  Sometimes logical sense just beats out all the pretty's, as it did in this case.

Unfortunately, those pretty French Doors had leaked so badly that we had some rotten flooring inside our house that needed to be repaired in preparation for the arrival of our new (boring) Sliding Door, which will be here on Friday (39 hours and counting).

Thankfully my husband's background includes carpentry so this last weekend (4 days ago), he started the task of 'repairing' the floor for the arrival of our new (boring) Sliding Door.  

Sometimes it's better to let things be, sometimes it's better to know what you need to find out.  Saturday as he pulled up the floor I wished we would have left those old French Doors alone.
I took this picture (very quietly) with my phone.  My husband was in no frame of mind to know I had a phone poised behind him.  Cutting back the kitchen floor and pulling it up produced massive rot and terrible things underneath like a huge old bee's nest and some very stinky insulation from rodents. 

I may live on a farm but I do not do rodents in my house.  In the barn we have an understanding, they keep out of sight when I'm around and I leave them alone.

From dawn to dusk my husband ripped and sawed away rotten floor joists (new words I learned as of last Saturday).  We were grateful for the dry day.  Rain would have come right into the kitchen and why the logical purchase versus something romantic.  (Sigh).

By Saturday afternoon I was no longer an observer but the Laborer.  The Laborer is the person who fetches/carries/cleans and tries to cheer up the Carpenter.  As darkness started to arrive the Laborer was getting concerned about the huge hole in her kitchen and what in the heck she was going to cook the Carpenter for dinner as everything was covered in dust. 

The Carpenter assured her that he had a plan, and indeed he did - the plywood out of the beds of our trucks!
The Laborer again used her phone to take this pictures but she was reminded that Laborers are supposed to work, not sit around pointing their phone at plywood.  By dark we were all boarded in only to take it all down and go back at it again first thing Sunday morning.  Dinner on Saturday night?  Frozen Lean Cuisines (and lots of wine).

On Sunday the Laborer was sent for purchases of odd things like metal clips and insulation while the Carpernter worked.  Hither and yonder she traveled with her trusty dog Hank, by her side. 
By dark the Laborer was back again next to the Carpenter, holding sheets of plywood while he once again boarded up the hole that used to host beautiful French Doors that had caused all this grief.  And just like the French Doors, trusty towels were back in place to block the wind/rain (as best they could) as the wind started to blow and rain fell.

Since Sunday the hammering and sawing have been quiet.  However, the Carpenter is taking the next two days off so that we will be ready when the (boring) Sliding Door arrives on Friday (38.5 hours and counting).  In the meantime this is how the front of our house looks:
(Sigh).  I guess that (boring) Sliding Door won't be so bad after all....

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Never Take It For Granted

The biopsy is over.  Incredibly quick and with amazingly little discomfort considering they took six biopsies from two lumps in my right breast. 

The mumbling and whispers from the medical team as they removed the biopsies had left me doubting the outcome.  I hadn't said anything about my doubts but a dark shadow was upon me.  I was convinced the news, when it came, would not be good.

The call with the results arrived while I was out in the barn putting hay in the stalls for three uncooperative horses, which were due to have shoes in a few hours.  Soaking wet, they refused to come in out of the rain and into dry stalls complete with fresh shavings, grain and hay.

The nurse who called me was very patient when I asked her to please hang on while I went into my office and pulled out a notepad more for something to hold then to write on.  Frankly, I also felt the need to be seated when I got the results. 

Once settled in my office I took a deep breath and said, "Ok."  And she said the words I had been praying so hard to hear.  "Your Results are Negative."

Oh those wonderful words!  They released me from the stress I'd been carrying.  They lifted me up into the clouds and everything around me seemed to lighten up.

I gushed many "Thanks" and upon hanging up found tears streaming down my face.  Such a strong joyous feeling of having been given a new lease on life came upon me.  A grateful feeling for the prayers I'd said, for the prayers my friends had said, and for you who read this blog who had written me and helped me keep my chin up this past week.

My dog, Hank, was the first to be told my good news, sitting faithfully next to me in the office.  A phone call went next to my husband and daughter.  Then text messages to the few family/friends who I had shared this with. 

I then returned to my job of trying to coax my horses into their stalls but not before I did a jig up and down the barn aisle multiple times while music played full blast on the barn radio and Hank ran alongside me until we were both breathless.  Someone seeing me would have thought I'd lost my mind. 

But I hadn't lost something; I had found something in the joy of health and life along with a deep humbleness of knowing I'd been spared from breast cancer while others hadn't. 

Never take it for granted.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

This Little Nagging Thing

It happened five years ago in a moment of stupidity, which seems to be the result of most horse-related accidents.

My hubby and I were releasing two horses into our paddock, putting them together for the first time.  I was holding my former horse, which had just finished being shod and across the paddock hubby was holding the new member of the family.

My horse and I were faced away from my hubby and his horse.  As I released my horse, I moved backwards instead of moving away sideways or forward. 

I had no idea that the new horse had already started to move up behind us.  My horse suddenly kicked out with both back legs.  His newly shod back left hoof struck me on the right side of my breast.  From there the hoof hit my right arm, which flew up from the force of the kick as if it wasn't attached to my arm.  I recall air from the hoof grazing past the right side of my face, my eye and up past my temple.

It all happened in a blink of an eye.  With the next blink came such intense pain, it was all I could do to stay standing.  My right breast felt as if it had been split in half.  I reached up, expecting blood and gore, but my hand returned clean.

The shoer was putting away his tools, waiting for payment and to schedule our next visit.  I didn't think he knew what had just happened and I sure wasn't going to let him see the pain I was in.

I went into the tack room to get his money and there I did a visual check of my breast.  It was still in one piece but was already turning purple.  I grabbed the money and gave it to my shoer, telling him that I needed to go into the house and that I'd call him to schedule our next appointment.

In agonizing pain, I headed into the house and directly to the bathroom where I applied a cold wash cloth to the damaged area.  There in the privacy of the bathroom, I burst into tears knowing that what had just happened could have been worse if that hoof had hit my head but that where it had hit might also have a direct impact on my future.

I lost my Mom at age 46 to breast cancer.  And by how I'm made up not only physically but also internally, I'm noted as a high risk candidate for this terrible disease.  I'd already had one biopsy prior to this accident and I dreaded that this incident might change my life.

I called the Doctor's office the next day to report my misadventure, concerned about the color of my breast and the implications of the injury.  It always kind of irks me when I call them with a horse-related injury.  I feel a strong sense of remoteness from my medical team towards my horse-related incidents.  It's as if I've been hurt on the moon by aliens vs at my home by my horse.  I guess it reflects a gap between those who live in the city and those who don't although we all live in the same county and pay identical taxes.  Probably best to not get me started on that topic.  :(

My doctor visit was uneventful.  The bruise was as beautiful as a spring rainbow and took months to fade.  I now carry a large mass where I was kicked, a reminder of how to NOT release a horse.

Last spring I noted a tiny lump above this mass.  I scheduled a doctor's appointment which led to a mammogram/ultrasound a few weeks later. 

I recall coming down with the cold/flu the day of the mammorgram/ultrasound.  I was miserable and couldn't wait to get back home and into bed.  When the doctor briskly came in and told me to not worry, that it was just more scar tissue, I didn't push the diagnosis and request a biopsy, I headed home coughing and sneezing but with a lighter mind.

But this nagging little thing has continued to bother me.  It's not like my other lumps, which are fibroid and painful to push on, nor is it like the mass from the kick.  I've run on the word of assurance from the radiologist I saw last year that all was well.  But internally I've kept asking myself, "Is it really ok?"  I've thought about going back to have it looked at during sleepless nights, but in the light of day have chosen to ignore it. 

I can't ignore it any longer.  This nagging little thing, initially hard to locate, has now become easy to find.  A few weeks ago I had another mammorgram.  I told the Technician about my concerns and she documented it on my chart, showing me what she'd written to be sure it was accurate.  She assured, as they always do, that if there was an issue that I'd get a phone call. 

I got that call last week and returned for an ultrasound.  This time I got my favorite Radiologist, Dr. Stuart, who had done my previous biopsy.  As with my experience before with Dr. Stuart, she projected some concern at what she saw but also makes me feel assured that if there is anything to be concerned about, she's going to get to the bottom of it and take care of me.

I return for the biopsy this coming week.  Sure I'm worried but I'm also relieved that I am dealing with this nagging little thing that has been in my thoughts for the last year.  Could have, would have, should have's are now in the past.  What will be, now will be.  I regret that I waited to have it readdressed and hope that last year's diagnosis is accurate. 

If you have a nagging little thing, please go have it checked out and get that peace of mind.  That is something I sure wish I had right now.