Saturday, September 23, 2017

Spared

My husband was a hero and took the bull by the horns by driving my truck to an appliance store and bringing home an inexpensive floor model refrigerator for us to use as a spare in our laundry room.  He made sure it wasn't an LG or Samsung, which have a lot of problems, according to the refrigerator repairmen we've talked with. It's a Frigidaire.

It's already getting cold and it's only been plugged in for an hour.  I'm amazed that we were able to unload it from the pickup truck.  I was rather horrified when I saw that it was standing upright in the bed of the truck.  I had no idea how we would get it down, but my husband just did the reverse of how they loaded it up.  He laid it down on a blanket, slid it to the tailgate, and then we lowered the bottom to the ground, pushed it upright, and rolled it into the house.  We would have never been able to do that if it weren't for me getting my steroid shot and him getting his chiropractic care.

One of our beefs about the LG fridge is that it's not real stainless steel, so we can't stick shopping lists and reminders to it with magnets, but this new fridge accepts magnets like a charm.  The LG also collects fingerprint smudges, while the Frigidaire is smudge-proof.

Now those dang refrigerator repairman can take as long as they need to fix our other fridge and I won't have to bite their heads off for coming late, staying too long, not having the right parts, and not being able to fix it.  I suspect we're going to attract some wildlife between now and trash pickup day, because all that spoiled food is stinking it up outside.

Once the new fridge and freezer are down to the right temps, we can go shopping for the third time this weekend and have decent food to eat, as well as confidence that the dogs' prescription foods and medications are being kept at a safe temperature.  Scrappy's not doing too well.  His legs are wobbly and he's hiding himself away from everyone.  I think he's in pain, so if he doesn't improve once I get him back on his kidney care dog food, I'll have to get him to a vet.

Between the bathroom flooding, the refrigerator breaking, Midge's cancer coming back, me having a bunch of doctor appointments, and Scrappy going downhill, I haven't really been able to enjoy my birthday gifts.  My husband got me a Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS70 camera because my Nikon point-and-shoot was going on the fritz taking too long to turn on and focus.  I missed a lot of great shots and needed a more responsive camera for those wildlife pictures.

I missed having a small camera that I can stuff in a horn bag while riding horses.  With this one, I don't even have to fuss with a lens cap because the lens gets automatically covered when it retracts.  I took a few photos with it so far.  Here are my most interesting shots...

I caught Gabbrielle shaking her head, but she looks like she's acting cute for the camera.

The obligatory bunny.

The camera has a lot of features I've never used before, so when I get a chance I'll investigate them.  My son got me a new video game where I get to kill zombies.  My daughter got me some puzzle books and baked me the most delicious cake.  And we went out to dinner where I had the best chimichangas I've ever tasted.

We tried to go for a ride in the Mule in the mountains along an OTH trail designated for ATVs and side-by-sides, but found out that you had to have a permit, and once you got that, you would be provided with the combinations to the locks on the gates.  They were really quick about emailing our permit to us within an hour of my request, but by then we were too pooped out to try again.  We planned to go this weekend, but then the stupid fridge broke.  We have so much work to do around this place that it will probably be a while before we try again.  I'm not into off-roading, but it's the only way I could get up into the mountains with my messed up leg.  I couldn't hike or horseback ride like I used to, and I miss nature.

I got to test out the new camera's zoom when I spotted something suspicious in the neighbor's backyard...

It was just what I thought it was -- a large, dead bird.  Most likely a raven or vulture.  I was baffled as to how it could have died and not be eaten by a predator.  My husband said it looked like it had been shot.  If that were the case, I knew exactly who would do something like that.  The race car driver's grandsons hate the ravens because they squawk too much, and I've seen them throwing rocks at them in the past.  I've also seen them carrying dead bunnies and quail they shot in my backyard, and then throwing the carcasses into the arroyo when their grandfather called to them.  So, I told them they were not allowed to shoot their guns in or at my backyard.  That was when their grandfather stepped in and claimed that they "loved little critters and would never do anything to hurt them."   Yeah, right.  This was right after the boys told me that they went hunting all the time.

Anyway, I was thinking that I hadn't seen those boys in a while, so maybe it wasn't them who shot this bird, and then the very next day, right after I gave them the benefit of the doubt, there they were up on the hill playing.  I couldn't tell if they had their guns, but they almost always do.  I just can't relate to parents and grandparents who keep their kids entertained by giving them a gun and sending them outside to play unsupervised.  One of these days I'm going to get them on film shooting wildlife in a residential neighborhood, and they'll have to face the music of the law.  No more he said, she said.  I'll have proof.

I checked my horses for bee-bee, pellet or bullet wounds, but they were okay.  At least the boys haven't used them for target practice.  I know it's got to be tempting, because they can stand up on that cliff above my backyard and sight down their barrels right at my horses, and I've seen them do it before.  It's like shooting fish in a barrel.  If they do ever pull the trigger, there will be hell to pay.  I'm sure they know it, and that's why they've restrained themselves thus far.

I've been training the horses to clear out of the barn when I drive through the gate, and stay out while I clean stalls.  Since I couldn't walk all the way to the tack room to get the long whip every day, I just kept it outside next to the manure fork.  I knew the whip would get chewed by critters and rotted in the sun, and sure enough, it did.  The innards are falling out the handle where an animal chewed it, and the fabric is rotting, so I'll have to buy a new one.  I think I've had this red whip as long as I've had Lostine.  My first whip was black, but it broke in half when Bombay stomped on it.

So far all of the horses have tested me to see how serious I am about them staying out of the barn while I'm cleaning.  Rock sneaks up on me slowly, Lostine bolts past me and runs into her stall, Bombay is just bad about waiting until I say his name and give him permission to enter.  He sees the other horses being allowed in one by one when I'm done, so he thinks he can just follow them in, but he can't.  I make everyone stay out until I point at them, say their name, say okay, and point at their stall.  Gabbrielle has probably been the best behaved, but she's not without her occasional slip up.

When Rock sneaks up on me, I say, "OUT!" in a forceful tone, and if he doesn't listen, I crack the whip.  But sometimes he has such a sneaky look in his eyes that I can't help but crack up laughing as opposed to cracking the whip.

Yesterday on his way out of the barn he stopped to mouth something on the driver's side of the Mule.  I hollered at him, chased him off, and made a mental note to find out what he chewed on.  Then when it was time for me to drive it, I discovered that Rock had figured out how to lower the handle of the emergency brake!  That's pretty impressive, because you almost need thumbs to do it.  You have to press a button in and the press down on the lever at the same time.  Rock is so smart.  I used to call him Forrest Gump because he was so slow, but now that he feels at home here, his genius is coming out.

Still No Resolution

The first refrigerator repairman was supposed to arrive between 10 and 1 yesterday.  When he still hadn't called by noon, I called three other companies for help, but no one was answering their phones because they were on their lunch breaks.  An emergency on my part certainly does not constitute an emergency on anyone else's part.  I know a broken fridge would not be considered an emergency, but in our case, the effects are far reaching, and I suspect that by the time we are done with this journey someone may end up either very ill or dead because my dogs are not getting the refrigerated prescription food and drugs they need for their critical illnesses, and my husband and I are getting dehydrated and not eating properly.

I know what you are thinking... Just eat out in restaurants, right?  There's no time!  I barely have time to eat when I'm at home, as is, without the hassle of having to wait in line behind dozens of snowbirds for a table, wait for someone to take our order, wait for our food to be cooked, and then wait for our server to bring the bill.  Also, how are we supposed to eat out when we have to be at home to let repairmen into our house and the repairmen can't give us a specific time of when they will arrive?

The guy finally called around 12:45 PM to say he was going to be late, but didn't know how late.  He swore he was on his way to my house, though, so we locked the dogs up, but had to let them out when he didn't show.  I was trying to keep and eye out for him to get the dogs locked up before he came to the door.  I took them out to pee at least three times while waiting, and on one trip out I spotted a 3 and a half foot bull snake coming out from under our porch.  It saw me and took off.  I told my husband about it, and he went out to see where it went.  When he came back in, the refrigerator repairman was walking through the door right behind him, and Stewie charged him while barking, which got the other two dogs running in circles barking.  The guy panicked and held his hand out like a policeman stopping traffic.  I grabbed all three dogs by their collars and had to struggle to get leashes on all of them, and then drag them to the back of the house to lock them up while they were trying to attack the guy.  He arrived after 2:00 PM.

There was a language barrier between us.  He spoke fast with a strong Latin accent.  I had the worst headache of my life because it was my first full day on steroids.  I just couldn't deal with the guy because I felt like all the straining I was doing to understand and communicate with him was going to cause me to burst a blood vessel in my brain.  I mainly wanted to make sure that he was LG certified, so that the warranty company would reimburse us for his work.  He swore that he was.  I'm still a bit skeptical.

He said that the manufacturing plant didn't do a very good job of welding some parts, so he re-did that and set off our smoke alarm.  We had to open all the doors and windows.  I was so glad that Midge is deaf, because in the past, when smoke alarms went off, she'd go nuts and tear up the house.

Our kitchen is tiny, so when the fridge is pulled out of its alcove, there is no room to walk around and get stuff.  He worked on our fridge until 6:00 PM and couldn't fix it.  He tested every part, and replaced those that were questionable.  He said if that didn't work, we should call him in the morning, because there is one last part he would need to buy, and then he'd come over and replace that.

We were so relieved by the time he left, because we were starving and thirsty.  There was nothing cold to drink unless we broke open one of the watery, mostly melted ice bags.  I was drinking warm water out of the tap, which is gross, and all I got to eat all afternoon was one granola bar that my husband managed to squeeze out of the pantry.  I had wanted to go out to lunch, but had to stay home to wait for the repairman.  We decided to go to McDonald's for dinner after we fed the dogs.  When we opened the bedroom door to set them free, there were pee stains and water stains from a spilled water bowl all over the carpet.

I was totally looking forward to drinking an ice cold soda, but the girl behind the counter was in training and she gave us the wrong change and then forgot to give us our cups.  I was just standing there thinking, "Why?  Why me?"

I got her attention, and got our cups, only to find out that their ice dispenser wasn't working.  So, I moved to the other ice dispenser, and it only had a tiny bit of ice left in it that was coming out super slowly.  I hate eating in fast food restaurants because people are really rude and pushy at the drink dispensing stations.  They give each other two seconds tops to get their drinks, and if you aren't out of there in that amount of time, they just shove you aside to get their drinks.  Sure enough, some people started pushing me, so I turned to face them and look them in the eyes to let them know I wasn't budging until I got my damn ice.  They backed off.  I'm learning that people will give me my space if I act like a raging bull.

I was still starving after eating a Big Mac, so I went back for a cheeseburger.  That's when it hit me that I never gave the dogs their medications because I was so anxious to eat.  So, I had to wolf down the cheeseburger to get home, but first we had to stop at the store for more ice and dry goods that we can eat.  Fortunately, Midge's diabetic symptoms hadn't hit her yet and I was able to get insulin into her on time.  Scrappy got his thyroid medication, but I'm having a problem with it spilling all over inside the baggy, even though the cap is on tight.  I think the bottle has a crack in it or something, so now I have to order more medication for him, but I don't want to do that until we have a refrigerator to store it in.  The ice in the ice chest is not keeping the medication cool enough, so we have to get this damn refrigerator fixed.

Anytime anything changes in our environment or we have people over, I struggle to remember all the things I have to do to take care of the dogs and horses, and someone usually ends up suffering.  I get so distracted and busy that I forget to fill water troughs or even feed the animals sometimes.  Most often, I forget to give the dogs their medications and let the horses out of their stalls.  I feel bad for my son, because the most convenient time for him to call us from the east coast is right when I need to do my barn chores, so I usually only get to talk to him for a few minutes, and then I hand the phone off to my husband while I run around taking dogs outside and cleaning up manure before feeding time and before the sun sets.  I don't like to have people over for dinner, because I'm just too busy taking care of the animals to cook and entertain.  I almost always have to recruit my guests into shoveling manure and cooking since I can't possibly do it all AND be able to visit with them at the same time.

I have this recurring nightmare in which I discover that my house has a basement, and inside it are all the pets of my past waiting for be fed.  I feel horror over the realization that those poor animals had been down there for years starving to death, while I had gotten swept away with my life and completely forgot about them.  In my most recent nightmare, my horses were down in the basement of a high-rise office building that was condemned and being prepped for demolition.  I was frantically trying to get my horses out, but they were too scared to go up the stairs.  I went home, and came back the next day to try to bring them up the elevator, but someone had removed the elevator cars.

Those nightmares reflect how I feel in reality -- constantly frustrated and battling unexpected problems, always trying to save some animal's life, but failing.  Speaking of... the cancer on Midge's back is now returning.  She looked so good last week, and I was relieved to not have to worry about her for a while.  I don't know what I'm going to do.  The vet has made it clear that there's nothing else she can do for her, so I have to drive her into the city to see an oncologist, which I'm scared to do, because I know it will result in more medications and treatments, which will just take up more of my time and energy, which I don't have because everything in my house is breaking down faster than anyone can fix it.  I can totally understand why some people burn down their own houses and businesses.  Sometimes it's easier to just destroy what is in front of you and start over from scratch.

I'm going through my form of PTSD right now.  Every time I'm about to touch something, I hesitate, because I might break it.  I'm anxious to do any task at all, because I know something will go wrong and create more work for me.  I'm still hearing water running in our walls all day and night, so I know I have to get a leak detecting plumber out here, but I'm scared to open Pandora's Box.  I don't want someone to start breaking up walls and floors, because at that point I'll have to move into a motel with my dogs, and I just can't deal with that right now.  I wish RVs and trailers weren't so expensive, because it would be nice to have a space with a second kitchen that I can escape to when all hell breaks loose in the main house.  Remember the time I went without a kitchen for a whole month because it had to be rebuilt due to water damage from a leaky pipe?

When we moved in here, we were told by the home inspector and the real estate agent that this house was very well built and had a lot of expensive upgrades and special features.  Now it just feels like a money pit.  It's draining the life out of me.  I think that once I no longer have animals, I'll find a small place to rent that is low maintenance so I can rest.  Now that I've had to deal with all this arthritis, I understand why people go to retirement villages.  You have to simplify your life in a hurry when your body starts falling apart.

The refrigerator repairman said that if our fridge wasn't cold by morning, call him and he'll pick up the only part he couldn't replace at the store, and come over on a Saturday to finish the job.  Well, it wasn't cold, so my husband contacted him, and the guy said, "Whoops.  I was wrong.  The store isn't open on Saturdays.  I'll have to come out on Monday."

So, now I've got two refrigerator repairmen who are coming out on Monday.  I don't know which would be a bigger setback -- to give up on our current repairman and give the job to someone else only to have the second guy re-do everything that the first guy did, or to just trust that this first guy knows what he's doing after he already failed us once.  I'm tempted to just let them both come out and work together, but I'm worried that the warranty place won't reimburse me for either of them if I handle it that way.  I've learned to always expect to be screwed by business people.  I'm very, very tempted to just buy a new refrigerator right now, but there are so many other things we need to spend money on, plus who's to say the new refrigerator would be reliable?  I'm hoping we can be protected by the "lemon law" and get a free replacemnt, but it would be cheaper to buy a new fridge than it would be to hire an attorney.  I feel like we are burning money all the time to get us out of jams, and the more money we throw at problems, the more often the problems come back to bite us.

I really feel bad for all the hurricane victims who had/have to go without electricity for several days and weeks.  They can't even go to a grocery store or restaurant in their neighborhood to eat.  They have to either have an emergency stash of food, drive a long distance to get out of the power outage zone, or pick up food donations.  My neighborhood was once cut off from the rest of civilization by a flood, and they had to helicopter essential items in for us.  I didn't need any at the time, but I know all about that waiting game you have to play after a natural disaster... and after a power failure, and after your well breaks, and after your refrigerator breaks.  It all sucks.

Friday, September 22, 2017

No Breaks For Me

I'm plum out of breaks and almost at a point where I'm ready to hire a full-time personal assistant because I can't do everything myself, and I keep getting walloped with problems that need immediate attention simultaneously.  Apparently, someone on the spiritual side of life thinks it's time to test my strength, and I can feel myself breaking both mentally and physically in the process.  I want out, but I can't get out, because this is life.  It's not like I started a job or project and discovered that I bit off more than I can chew, and I can just quit.  There's no quitting all the crap that keeps happening to me.

Here's my most recent list of fiascoes.  I went in for my corticosteriod shot in my hip.  It was gross feeling those needles being pushed through the many layers of my muscles.  I asked if my two existing muscle tears in my hip and hamstring will eventually heal, and the doc said probably not because of my age.  He thinks they were age induced and not from injuries.

So, after my appointment I stopped at a shopping center, spent five minutes in the store, and got overwhelmed with leg pain.  My thigh was swelling up trying to bust through the seams of my jeans.  I limped back to the truck and tried to drive home using cruise control and my left foot.  Every time some jackhole messed with me, I drove like a drunk to scare him off.  I wanted all other drivers to stay out of my space just in case I couldn't get my left foot on the brake fast enough.

I made it home only to discover that my fairly new refrigerator was not keeping anything cool and everything in the freezer had melted.  I called my warranty place and they were closed.  So, I had to race out to the market before closing time at night to buy some ice, and this sweet bag boy asked me how my day was going.  Wrong question.  I spilled my guts while his face expressed more and more horror.  He was like, "Don't you hate it when that happens?"

I put the ice in the fridge and freezer and tried to eat as much food as I could.  The next morning the horses were kicking their food and water troughs waking up everyone in the neighborhood because I forgot to let them out of their stalls while dealing with the fridge fiasco.  I had to keep yelling at them to shut up, because the sun hadn't come up yet and it's snake season, so I didn't want to go out in the dark.  Then when the sun came up, the dogs started hassling me to feed them, but I went out to feed the horses first.  One water trough was almost empty.  I never have the time to attach that float to the end of the hose, so I just stuck the hose in the trough and left.  You know what's coming next.

I went to go feed the dogs and discovered that the $160 in insulin I just bought was now warm and it has to remain refrigerated.  Scrappy's oral suspension wasn't fairing well either, so I had to dig up a small ice chest out of the garage and stick a bag of ice in there with the medications in sealed baggies.  Then I couldn't feed Scrappy his prescription wet dog food because the one I had in the fridge smelled bad, and I didn't want to open a new one because he hasn't been eating much lately and it takes him two or three days of refrigerating before he'll eat all the food from one can.  So, I fed him Stewie's food.

Stewie refused to eat his own food, Midge kept trying to eat Scrappy's food, and Scrappy kept trying to eat out of Stewie's bowl, which was resulting in yet another dog fight.  I needed to call Lowe's warranty center ASAP and once again the dogs were dragging out my morning with bad behavior.  I shut Midge away in another room and took Stewie's bowl up off the floor, let Scrappy eat, and then took everyone out to do their business.

That's when I discovered that the barn was flooded.  Pissed!  This means I'll have to bend over to pick up sixteen hooves and treat them for thrush again.  Like I really needed one more problem.  I raced outside to shut off the hose, then came back in to get a clean diaper on Scrappy before he pissed all over the house and created even more work for me.

I called Lowe's and they couldn't get anyone out to fix my fridge four four days!  Pissed!  I let the lady have it, and she said, "Well, it is a Friday."

Yes.  It's a Friday.  You know how I know?  Because everything in my f'ing household breaks down on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday or holiday.  I wish we could just ban the weekends or build robots to work seven days a week, because I'm sick of this crap.  That's why I need a personal assistant who can work on my schedule.  Unfortunately, that person would also have to be an LG certified repairman, a plumber, a dog trainer, a horse trainer, a veterinarian, and a doctor and be willing to work for minimum wage.  Not going to find it.

I told the lady I would call around myself and find someone who can fix it today.  She said, "It's only covered under your warranty if you get a certified LG repairman and put in a claim with a us.  Otherwise you have to pay for it."

Fine.  But it was still 6:30 in the morning and no local business would be open until 8:00 or 9:00 AM.  I called one place at 8:00 and left a message.  The second place I called promised to get a certified LG repairman out to my place today, but they were a call center and they wanted my credit card information before they sent someone out so that they could collect on a $60 service call fee in case I wasn't there.  I'd never heard of such a thing, so I questioned the man extensively.  There are so many scams nowadays.  I gave him a little hell explaining that I've had repairmen come out who tell me they don't know how to fix it or they don't have the time to fix it, and they left without collecting the service call fee, because it wasn't fair to me that my problem didn't get solved.  He assured me that whoever he sent out would be qualified to fix my fridge, so I gave him my cc info, but if no one shows up by the early afternoon, I'm calling my credit card company to cancel any charges for the day.

Now I get to get started on an itemized list of all the food that spoiled so that I can be reimbursed for that by the warranty.  This is just how a planned to spend my weekend.  (Sarcasm.)  Had this problem not been discovered at night, I could have asked a neighbor if I could store some of my food in his fridge.  Now is just too late.  Even with the ice, everything is going bad.

As far as my hip goes, I'm supposed to be icing it constantly, but obviously I can't do that because all of my cold compresses are hot.  We have no freezer.  The timing of this couldn't have been worse.  I won't know if the shot worked for a few days or weeks, because for now all it did was cause me more pain.  Although I did notice that when I got out of bed, I was standing upright before I knew it and I kind of scared myself.  All summer I have had to inch my way across the mattress and stand up in small increments because of the pain.  It took just enough time for me to get out of bed each morning to allow the dogs to give up on me and piss in their diapers or on the floor creating more laundry, mopping, and carpet scrubbing for me to do in my pain.  So, I suspect this treatment will work once I get past the initial stage of side effects, like this headache I've been nursing all morning.

The doc said that now that he's seen my hip through the ultrasound, he knows that the arthritis is worse than he originally thought.  Yup.  Just because I'm not crying in a wheelchair does not mean I'm fine.  The guy is so sweet -- he kept asking me every few seconds how I was feeling.  He even took the time to chat with me about places he's lived.  I've never had a doctor socialize casually with me.  They are usually racing out the door to their next patient while I'm still asking questions.  This man is such a breath of fresh air.  He gives me hope for mankind.  He also said that one side effect of the steroids is that I might be moody.  I'm definitely not holding back in letting people know that I'm not going to put up with their B.S. today.  Maybe I should throw tantrums more often.  I might get faster results.

No breaks for me yet.  At the rate things are going, I may have to hire someone to eat, sleep and go to the bathroom for me, because I rarely have the time to do those things for myself when I need to anymore.  When I do get a chance to sit still, I usually read and write, because those activities settle the dogs down and put them to sleep.  Right now the only dog who pees in his sleep is Scrappy, so I just have to keep those diapers on him.  I've learned that even when I'm home alone I have to shut the bathroom door or a dog will walk in and crouch down or lift his leg on something while I'm trying to use the toilet.  Things are really out of control here, and I'm beyond tired.  I just need things to work. I need my leg to work, I need my dogs' bodies to work, and I need my well, my plumbing, my air units, and my appliances to work.  Refrigerators should not need three repairs in their first year of use.  LG, you suck.

Monday, September 18, 2017

More Answers Than I Expected

Today I got some answers.  I met with my new orthopedist to find out the results of my MRI.  A little background first, though, so you can see the curvy road I had to follow to get where I am now...

My right leg started giving me trouble about a year and a half ago when I would try to lift it over my horse's hind end while dismounting.  The leg simply would not lift.  I had to grab it with my hands and drag it over.  Then I began having pain in my right hip and right knee.  My doctor ordered x-rays, and they all came back saying that I had advanced osteoarthritis in my knee, hip and spine, and my hip replacement is intact.  I told my doctor I've never had a hip replacement, so we knew that the imaging place mixed up my x-rays with someone else's.  My doctor requested my real hip x-ray, and someone from the imaging place just sent an email saying it was fine.  It sounded to me like someone had lost my hip x-ray and was trying to cover his ass by making up some results.

But my doctor believed that the knee and spine x-rays were correct, so he treated me for osteoarthritis in the knee and spine for a year and a half.  My physical therapists were a bit baffled by the fact that I had so many different types of pains in so many different locations along the length of my leg, hip and even crotch.  No one could seem to narrow down the exact source of my pain.  I saw an orthopedist who specialized in knees, and his x-rays showed that my knee was perfectly healthy with no signs of osteoarthritis, so I knew then that the knee and spine x-rays belonged to some other patient too.

So, I met with a diagnostic orthopedist far, far away from where I live, hoping he could shed some light on the source of all this pain.  From his physical examination and x-rays, he found that I had osteitis pubis or osteoarthritis of the pubic bone.  However, the MRI revealed a lot more.  It turns out that my right hip is wrecked.  Osteoarthritis everywhere.  Remember the imaging place claiming that my right hip was "fine"?  Yup.  Some irresponsible idiot in the medical field was trying to cover his ass without caring how this misinformation might affect the patient.

However, on top of me having osteitis pubis with bone spurs and osteoarthritis of my right hip, I also have muscle tears in my gluteous minimus and my hamstring!  Criminy!  No wonder no one could figure out the source of my pain.  I have four sources.  My daughter said, "How did you mess yourself up that bad?"

I sat there shaking my head running all of my most recent horse accidents through my mind, trying to figure out which one would have resulted in such ridiculousness.  I decided to blame Gabbrielle for the time she kept bloating her belly, and then when I stepped into the stirrup she let all the air out and I fell down onto the stool, and then the stool collapsed and I fell further onto the ground.  I remember my leg hurt quite a bit after that one.  I was so mad at her that I refused to waste anymore time trying to ride her ever again.

When I fell off Rock, I landed on my left side, so I don't think that impacted my right hip and leg problems.  My fall/emergency dismount off Bombay when he was bolting toward a cactus patch could have contributed, but I would think that most of the damage from that accident would have been in my right knee, because I hyper-extended it.  I do roll my ankle and take bad steps over rocks quite often, because there are rocks everywhere you go in Arizona.  The muscle tears could be from just walking around on rocks.  Who knows?

Anyway, the doctor wanted to treat me in a systematic manner so that we can kind of do triage on all of my issues to figure out which one needs the most attention.  Right now it is a toss up between my hip and my hamstring.  They both cause a lot of pain.  I'm not aware of any pain deep inside my butt cheek, so that's way down the list of priorities.  I'm going in later this week for my first shot of steroids to either the hip joint or the hamstring tear.  We'll see if that makes me more mobile, and then work on the other areas later.

I said, "I just want to know if I will be able to ever ride my horses again, because right now there is no way I can mount and dismount."

He said that the first shot should get me back in the saddle.  Yippee!  Just in time for riding season.  This means, if he's right and it does relieve my pain, I won't have to sell my horses.

He said that the poor condition of my hip does make me a candidate for hip replacement surgery, but he doesn't want to do it on me, because I'm too young.  I'm not sure what to make of that statement.  Usually, you want to do surgery on people when they are young, because they will be more likely to recover faster.  My father had hip replacement surgery in his 60's, and he never really recovered.  He continued to have pain, and then developed an aggressive form of cancer and died.  I've always been suspicious that cancer is a virus, and he picked it up on an unclean operating table when he went in for his hip replacement surgery.  So, I'm very wary of having such an operation myself.  I don't want history to repeat itself.

When I let the doctor know that I was anxious to get my first steroid shot as soon as possible, he said that would have to be another appointment several weeks out.  I got sad, because I was really hoping to make this pain go away today and be able to ride my horses again.  He and his assistant dug around in his schedule to see if they could possibly fit me in this week.  They offered me an 8:00 AM appointment, which meant I'd have to get someone else to do my barn chores in the morning, so he looked around some more and was willing to give up his lunch break to make sure I got my treatment sooner than later.  I was touched.  Then they got a cancellation for the day before, so they asked me to take that time slot.  It's been a while since I've met anyone in the medical field who actually cares about my quality of life.

I looked up this doctor's background and found out that he has won all kinds of awards for going above and beyond.  He not only was a doctor to several sports teams, but he was a master teacher, which explains why he is so good at answering my questions.  He never walks out of the examining room without first asking me multiple times if I have anymore questions.

You should have seen the mares this morning.  Lostine and Gabbrielle were cavorting in the arena, galloping around and leaping into the air.  It was so refreshing to watch them play after having all the horses standing around with their heads hanging low in the shade of the barn for four months straight.  There was actually a chill in the air.  The rattlesnakes felt it too, because they came out and made it difficult for us to take our dogs out on potty breaks last night.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Royal Flush

There has been a royal flush in my household, financially speaking -- like money getting flushed down the toilet.  There seems to be some kind of instability going on in the pharmaceutical world.  It first affected us when my husband could not get one of his blood pressure medications refilled.  Apparently, that particular drug fell off the face of the earth.  Then I went to Walmart to buy Midge's $24 bottle of Novolin N insulin, and they said they didn't have any and didn't know when, if ever, they would get it in.  I did some research, and pharmacies everywhere were out of this form of insulin.  I did find one online store that had some, but for $80 a bottle.  That's what the Humulin N was costing me all those years, and then the price rose to $120 per bottle, and that's when I switched to the $24 Novolin N.  I've been happy ever since... until now.

I weighed my options.  If I asked my vet for help in getting my dog on some other type of insulin, I'll still have to pay at least $150 for the vet visit, plus the cost of the new insulin and the hassles of having a new prescription.  Any time I have to switch a pet over to a new drug, I get locked into a bunch of follow up appointments to make sure she's getting the right dose, so in reality, that would probably be about $450 in vet visits on top of the cost for the drug.  Uh Uh.  Not doing that.

I honestly didn't think Midge would live long enough to finish her current bottle of insulin, but now she's acting like a puppy again, jumping up on the bed and other furniture ever since she recovered from her surgery.  I was given the chance to order 1, 2 or 3 bottles of the remaining Novolin N from this online outfit.  That was a tough choice.  If Midge were young and didn't have cancer, I'd order 3 bottles in an instant before the drug falls off the face of the earth.  I decided to take the middle road and order 2 bottles, which is about a six month supply.  So, what normally would have cost me $48 total, is now costing me $160 total just because of some problem going on with the company that produces it.  Still, $160 is way better than $450 plus the drug costs and hassles had I taken the other route.  I'm all about saving time as well as money.

I'm trying really hard to cut back on the number of medical appointments my pets and I have been having recently.  Once they got you in their system, it's super hard to break out.  They act like they own you.  I received multiple phone calls last week from the vet's office checking up on Midge, wanting to know the outcome of her oncology appointment that I never set up.  Then I started receiving a bunch of automated emails from the vet saying this dog is due for one thing and that dog is due for another thing.  It's getting to the point where I feel like I live in that vet's office.  I wouldn't be surprised if I alone am paying the vet's mortgage each month.  That needs to stop.  I can't afford this.

Then there's Scrappy.  He's filling all six of his diapers with urine in a 24 to 48 hour period despite us taking him out constantly, which means that I'm having to do a special load of laundry every to every other day.  I don't have time for this.  I've been holding off on purchasing more washable diapers, because they are expensive, and I doubt Scrappy is going to live much longer.  However, the first set of three diapers I bought him is now losing the stick in its Velcro, so soon I will be down to just three diapers that can be attached to him, and at the point I'll be doing laundry twice a day.  The diapers can't even dry that fast.  I bit the bullet and ordered another three pair just because all this laundry is getting to be a royal pain in the butt.  Of course, I wasn't born yesterday, so I know that disposable diapers are an option, but then I will just have a trash problem.  I'm trying to be a good citizen and help the environment.

The horses and the extreme heat have been breaking everything in the barn, so I'm constantly investing money into replacing the essentials.  All the horse toys are shredded, all the feed troughs are cracked with big enough holes for the feed to fall through, and the water troughs are starting to leak.  I just bought a new block of hay and soon I'll have to order another couple of pallets of grain.

The other thing that has been happening this summer is that the dogs' leashes keep breaking, and I keep having to buy replacements.  The fabric isn't the problem, but the hardware -- the hook snaps that connect to the collars.  A few weeks ago I finally got myself set up perfectly with three leashes -- one for each dog -- stationed by the garage door and the back door.  That way I wouldn't have to drag my bum leg all the way across the house every time I needed a leash.  I know it seems extreme, but between the fact that Scrappy will piss in his pants within five seconds of indicating that he needs to go outside, and me only having one good leg to stand on, I need leashes within reach.

Anyway, a couple of days ago I went to hook up a leash to Stewie, and found pieces of the hardware on the floor.  So, I had to buy yet another leash.  I'm sick of having to make special trips to the store to buy leashes.  I'm tempted to bulk order 50 of them like a pet store would, just so that I don't have to hassle with this anymore.  The only problem is that once I did something like that, it would almost guarantee that Scrappy and Midge would pass away, kind of like when you wash your car and then it rains.  I think the next time a leash breaks, I'll just loop it through the handle and put that around the dogs' neck.  Who needs unreliable hardware when they have a rope, right?

I think I'm going to start demanding that the manufacturers of all products do heat testing.  When I worked for a company that manufactured wireless handheld bingo machines for the casinos, I had to do heat testing in the attic of the building.  They put me in there with a bunch of space heaters, and I had to play bingo on all of these units in 140 degree heat.  Seriously.  They had to keep sending people up to check on me to make sure I wasn't dead.

The good news is that I think we might have permanently turned the corner in the seasons.  This morning I was able to clean stalls to the tune of a cool breeze.  I hope we don't have to see triple digit temperatures until next summer.  Things always calm down when the temperatures come down, because we have less equipment failures.

Right on cue, with the drop in temps, along came the snowbirds, so now we are having to fight for our groceries again.  They didn't waste any time flooding into Arizona this year.  This was the most disappointing marketing I've had yet.  The store hardly had anything in stock that I normally buy.  What they did have in stock was beyond stupid.  I wanted to take the manager who ordered stuff this week and paddle him.  He did things like order bulk toilet paper that wouldn't fit in or under a shopping cart.  Who wants to walk through a store carrying that?  I literally had to climb to the top shelf to get a package of T.P. that I could slip under my cart on the bottom rack.  Then I heard a couple of store employees complaining to each other about how someone in management royally screwed up this week.

I also kind of wonder if there is a shortage of certain foods since so much is being shipped to disaster areas.  I know I've seen a lot of Florida license plates here this past week, and some people are hosting company from there because of the mass evacuation.  I sense that things are going to be crazy for a while.  If you have a chance to buy something you need, I recommend you grab it while you can.  There's no guarantee it will always be there for the taking.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Any Day Now

Summer can end any day now.  I'm ready for it.  Gabbrielle and Rock have been so destructive in their boredom.  I finally took the new hook-over feeder away from them because they kept knocking it off the railing and rolling it around.  Gabbrielle likes to play with the gate handles because they make a lot of noise.  If it would just cool down by 10 degrees, then I could lunge their butts in the round pen until they get their ya-yas out.

Last weekend it was cool enough for some neighbors who did hit the trails on horseback, so there is hope.  This is the time of year when everyone is grumpy, not because the heat is any worse than it's been the rest of the summer, but simply because it has been dragging out for way too long.

We got a partial solution to our water leak problems.  My husband revisited my idea of the flooding in our bathroom being connected to the air conditioner on the other side of the wall, and he tested it out by turning the air conditioner off and on.  Sure enough, when it was off, the floor dried up, and when it was on, water came seeping back in.  So, I tried to get some HVAC guys out on Monday, but they kept pushing my appointment back because they were handling a flood in someone's kitchen.  I wasted all day Monday waiting for them, and they ended up coming on Tuesday.

It was kind of surreal watching all these homes destroyed by Hurricane Irma and seeing the flooding she caused while waiting to get the flooding in my bathroom addressed.  It was hard to argue that my situation was an emergency when you see what's going on elsewhere.  We've got wildfires throughout the west, clean up from Hurricane Harvey in Texas, an 8.1 earthquake in Mexico, Hurricane Irma in the southeast, and an angry North Korea -- the journalists aren't sure where to cast their focus.  I've been wanting to call some people I know in Florida to see if they are okay, but I know that they don't have electricity and I don't want to use up what's left of their mobile phone batteries, assuming they can even get reception.

Anyway, the HVAC guys found that someone had installed a T-joint where there should have been a closed elbow in the drainage pipe for the air conditioner condensation.  My husband had noticed that one air unit had water pouring out of a pipe, while the suspect unit wasn't expelling anything more than an occasional drip.  We figured the condensation drain was clogged.  That turned out to not be the half of it.  It was probably clogged, but it also had an unintended opening for the water to flow through, which resulted in water being poured onto our home's foundation.  To top it all off, a rat had chewed a hole in the wall that went under our bathtub, so the water was damming up down there until it had nowhere to go but through the grout between our floor tiles.

I saw Stewie growling at the bathtub several times last week, but thought he was just hearing the rat clawing around down there.  Now I know he was hearing the water collecting down there.  I'm sure the rat has been drowned by now.  The HVAC guy wanted us to get an exterminator out, but I felt the problem was caused mostly by man -- probably the previous owner of the house.  This flooding could have been happening on a smaller scale ever since we moved in.  That's scary.  That would mean we've probably got plenty of black mold.

I did ask the HVAC guy about the mold, but we didn't see any and he felt like this was a more recent problem that we caught in time.  I guess the water was bypassing the open part of the T-joint only until the drain got clogged.  We're smelling wet wood now, which we didn't smell before, so I'm trusting that it wasn't a long term problem.

I'd like to say that's the end of it, but it turns out that the flooding was not related to the sound of water running in the walls when water is not being used.  That's a mystery that still needs solving.  We haven't seen water leaking anywhere else, but I'm sure something else will happen soon that will shed some light on the source, and then we will have to scramble to get that fixed.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Stop the Madness

It turns out that the new water trough I bought had a leak.  We lost 100 gallons of water in a couple of days, and I knew the horses couldn't have slurped it all up.  When I bought the trough, I found an O-ring washer and a few other parts lying on the ground next to it.  I thought, "I hope these didn't come from the water tank I'm about to buy."

Just in case, I scooped them up and put them in my pocket.  It's starting to look like the O-ring, at the very least, never got included in the plug assembly, and whoever installed the plug didn't tighten it down.  So, I had to drag the empty trough out of my barn before the horses destroyed it, and repair and tighten the plug when I had a spare moment.  Also, the horses have figured out how to lift the new feed trough up off the railing.  I found it lying on the ground this morning.  Thankfully, no horse managed to injure itself on it.  That's a low priority problem at the moment.

I had this upcoming week off from appointments, and I was hoping to get caught up on actually doing something on my To-Do List, but of course, all hell had to break loose again.  A couple of weeks ago we started hearing water running through the pipes in our house at times when no water should have been running.  We thought it was odd.  I looked around to see if the drip system had broken again and was running 24/7, but it was not running when I checked it.  I checked the well water, and it was full.  Then our well motor started making a racket through the pipes.  We can hear it accelerating and decelerating.  It's kind of like someone sitting outside your house revving their engine over and over.  In fact, that's what I thought it was at first, but when I'd step outside, I'd hear nothing.

We called the well repairman, he came out and said there was nothing he could do until the motor on the pump actually broke.  We thought the worst of it was that we'd have to listen to that noise until that happened.

Then this Saturday morning I walked into the guest bathroom, which rarely gets used, and the bath mat was soaking wet.  No one had bathed or showered in there.  My first thought was that the toilet was leaking again, but there was no water anywhere near the toilet.  Then I thought a pipe under the sink had burst, but it wasn't wet under the pipe, and when I ran the sink faucet, I didn't see any water dripping from the pipe.  Then we realized that the water was coming up out of the floorboards underneath the tile.

My husband pulled a bunch of stuff out of the bedroom closet on the other side of the wall from the tub, and the carpet in one corner of the closet was wet.  I said there had to be leak in the drip system, because of the location, but my husband turned off the drip system and water kept coming up from the floorboards.  We thought we were going to have to cancel our plans for the day and pay for a weekend emergency plumbing service, but as we sopped up the water, the floors started to dry out.

My husband concluded that there might be a leak in the roof, and water ran down the inside of the wall, and then the ground got saturated with rain water and the water had nowhere to go but up into our floorboards.  Now that it wasn't raining anymore and the sun was out, everything should dry out.  We went to our social engagement, and when we returned home, the water had returned, so we knew that theory was off the mark.

My husband shut off the water to the house, and he could still hear water running in the pipes.

I started thinking about what would have been running while we were away, and all I could come up with was the air conditioner, which was on the other side of the wall.  I noticed the other night that one room it serves wasn't cooling down.  I thought perhaps it could be leaking water, but we couldn't find any evidence of that.

We also thought that the plumber who changed out some broken parts in our bathtub faucet a few weeks ago must have broken something in the process.  The guy had a really bad attitude and didn't want to do the job.  I heard him crashing around in there and cursing, and when he was all done, he said he was going to retire that day because he was sick of Moen faucets.  My husband took apart the bathtub faucet to check that plumber's work, but didn't find any problems or any evidence of leaks in the pipes behind the bathtub wall.

Unfortunately, all this troubleshooting is leaving us with only one more possibility:  A pipe in the foundation of our house has broken.  That probably means tearing out the bathtub and ripping up the floors.  We did want new floors, but after the dogs pass away.  There's no point in getting new floors now while they are still doing their business on them all throughout the day and night.  Bad timing.

When we moved in, the wall just above the bathtub unit was damaged.  We tried to repair it ourselves, putting in a lot of work between the two of us, but it was dismal failure, so we decided to hire someone to put in new drywall and some tiles.  That's one of the items on my To Do List that I haven't been able to get around to doing over the past couple of years.  I've actually been waiting for Midge and Scrappy to pass away before doing that job, because every time a repairman comes to the house, the dogs destroy everything in their path.  Now I'm glad I procrastinated on that, because had we gotten new drywall and tiles installed, we'd just have to have them ripped right out with this latest problem.

Water damage is something you want to treat immediately before mold can set in, but I suspect we've had this leak for at least two weeks now, so we are already past the point of hope.  We'll probably wait until Monday to call a leak detection business to save on weekend emergency fees.  I can kiss this week goodbye.  Since this is the third time that this house has had serious plumbing problems that resulted in water damage, I'll be buying flood insurance as soon as we can afford it after this current fiasco.

I specifically bought a newer house to avoid having to do repairs all the time, but I guess it really doesn't matter.  If you own any house at all, you may as well become a full-time handyman.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Longest Day

You know how I always say I won't schedule two appointments on the same day, or even in the same week, because somehow some way they always collide with each other?  It happened again.  On Friday I had an appointment for four hoof trims first thing in the morning and an appointment for an MRI last thing in the evening.  My farrier refuses to give me an exact time that he will arrive.  The general rule is that the hotter it is, the earlier he arrives, and he never comes later than 9:00 AM in the winter.

I couldn't sleep and got up at 4:00 AM, had breakfast, did barn chores, fed and pottied the dogs, and then my husband woke up.  He has Fridays off from work, but on this morning he had the first appointment of the day with his doctor, so he had to jump in the shower.  I looked at the clock and it hit me that I was going to have to hold horses while wearing the same clothes I wore the day before and slept in, and I'll be stinking up the stalls.  Honestly, I can't even stand to be in the same room as myself before I've had a shower.  We sweat so much in the summer months that our clothes get soaked all the way through and dry up several times over.

So, when my husband abandoned the bathroom to race out the door to his appointment and the farrier had not yet arrived at 7:45 AM, I jumped in the shower thinking I'd just rinse off super fast and change my clothes.  Then I remembered that I needed to shave my legs because they might put me in a hospital gown for my MRI, but I didn't have time to shave.  I decided to take a second shower later in the day and do it then.  I was in and out in a couple of minutes, and when I looked out the window, there was the farrier setting up shop in the barn.  I ran for my phone with a towel around me thinking he must have been trying to call me, but there were no missed calls.  He just took the initiative and got started without me, which made me happy.

When I got dressed and joined him, he seemed like he would have preferred that I not help at all.  He doesn't like it when people hold horses for him, so he had the lead rope looped over the railing.  Still, I like to be there to help if something goes wrong, so I sat nearby in a chair.  Bombay spooked big at nothing and teleported to the other side of the stall in an instant.  It's been a while since any horse has spooked like that around me, and I reacted by jumping up out of my chair to grab him before he trampled the farrier.  Jumping up like that caused my muscles to contract, and hurt my leg, so I just basically fell back down into the chair.

Then when it was Lostine's turn for her trim, I heard the farrier say, "No!  Don't fall down on me," and I looked up to see Lostine leaning backward with her rump aiming right for my lap.  She nearly fell on top of me the last time I worked on her hooves, so I have a sense of how much she weighs, and I don't need all that weight on top of me.   I jumped up out of my chair and bailed to the side to avoid having a horse sit in my lap right when the farrier released her and she stumbled, but caught herself before going completely down.  That time I felt like I tore a major muscle in my thigh and had to hop one legged back to my seat.  It was becoming clear that I couldn't be any help to the farrier if he needed me, so I just stuck around to pay him.

Rock got spanked for trying to bulldoze the farrier in order to get to some hay, and Gabbrielle was the only horse who didn't cause trouble -- go figure.  Gabbrielle is usually the instigator of everything.

After the trims, my fresh clothes were soaking wet and I was ready for that second shower already, but I waited until it was closer to my next appointment.  I did household chores all day, more barn chores, more dog chores, took my second shower, shoved dinner down my throat early while barking at the dogs not to pee on the carpet, and was waiting for my husband to drive me to the imaging place when the TV reception cut out.  "Ummmm, could you check the radar?  Is there a rain cloud over us right now?"

Yup.  He ran outside to look, but the air was still, with no sign of rain.  Two minutes later we were driving through an onslaught of huge rain drops coming down hard and fast with lightning flashing all around us every second on the second.  Our car was being pushed around by high winds.  The windshield wipers couldn't wipe fast enough to give us a clear view of the road, and we had to get on the crowded freeway and somehow drive into the city with little visibility.  Not only was it raining faster than our wipers could wipe, but the lightning was blinding us and it was night.  The roads were already flooding in just those first few minutes of rain.  That's the behavior of a monsoon.

I began to have a panic attack in the passenger seat.  I kept checking with my husband, asking if he can see anything at all.  He has bucket seats that have lost their cushioning, so I could barely see over the dashboard myself.  I had to hold my hands over my eyes because all the flashing was making me feel like I was going to have a seizure.  Once we were on the freeway, he drove cautiously so that I wouldn't throw open the car door and fling myself onto the flooded shoulder in a panic, but all these other drivers in big pickup trucks just kept flying past us going 80 mph and kicking up tidal waves onto our vehicle.  I considered calling the imaging place and telling them I wasn't going to make it, but I knew I'd have to pay a $50 fine for canceling at the last minute, and I already blew fifty bucks on that stupid horse feeder that Rock ruined so that I couldn't return it to the store.

Fortunately, we hit a break in the clouds and everything calmed down, so I collected myself and limped into the waiting area for my MRI.  The receptionist confiscated my driver's license and insurance card and didn't give them back to me.  I figured that was their way of preventing people from getting impatient while waiting and walking out -- something I've done many times before in medical offices back in the day before they started charging No Show Fees.  But considering that my appointment was at most people's bed time, there weren't many people waiting and I got right in.

All along the way, people kept asking me if I am claustrophobic.  I said no.  For years throughout my childhood, I squeezed into bullet shaped soap box derby cars and drove them down hills with very little room to move anything other than my fingers and toes.  Two ladies began barking orders at me in the MRI lab.  Apparently, I wasn't moving fast enough for them, because one was shoving ear plugs in my ears while the other was swinging my legs up onto the table for me.  I couldn't hear their instructions in part because I had ear plugs in my ears and in part because one of the ladies had a thick accent and spoke too fast, but as they were sending me into the machine, I did hear one say, "This will take about 25 minutes."

When the table stopped, I was stuck inside this tiny tube with air blowing directly onto my face from a vent in the ceiling just two inches away from my face.  I lifted my head to look down at my body and hit my head on the ceiling.  Then I tilted my head back and saw there was a hole just about a foot away from the top of my head.  I thought if I could just have them roll me back another foot, I'd be okay.  I heard the lady with the accent yell, "Are you okay?" and I yelled back, "No!  Can you let me stick my head out this other end?"

I heard no response and then she yelled something about beginning the first image.  I remembered being told that I'd be stuck in this tube for 25 minutes, and I totally lost it.  I started kicking and screaming, and then I remembered the ball in my hand that I am supposed to squeeze in an emergency, so I squeezed it and heard an alarm go off, but for some reason I just kept squeezing it repeatedly, as if I didn't trust that this lady would hear the alarm.  She aborted the image and slid me back out.

"What's wrong?"

I repeated my question about being allowed to stick my head out the other end, and she explained why she can't do that.

"Is there any other machine we could use?  I barely fit in that thing!"

She said there was a slightly larger MRI, but I'd have to wait several weeks for the next opening, and there was an open MRI, but I'd have to wait months.  Then a new panic attack took over when I realized that I may never receive a diagnosis and treatment for my leg condition.  If I can't get this problem addressed, then I'll never be able to ride my horses ever again.  I'd been waiting one and a half years for just one thing to go right so that I could finally know what my problem is and how to fix it.

The lady offered to put a blindfold on me.  I was desperate, so I said I'd try it.  Amazingly, it worked.  I was able to pretend like I was lying in my bed with the sheet pulled up over my eyes, and I reviewed my day in my head while the MRI machine banged and shook a couple of kidney stones loose.  It hit me that they never put me into a hospital gown since I had dressed appropriately with no metal zippers or buttons.  Taking two showers so that I'd have time to shave my legs ended up being a non-issue.  I thought about the horses and how they would have kicked the entire MRI machine apart by now in one of their panic attacks.  I realized that the way I was feeling during this procedure must be similar to how the horses feel when they are forced to undergo unexpected medical treatments they don't understand.

I had an MRI years ago, and I remember that they gave me a sedative beforehand, just like the vet does with my horses.   And when I didn't calm down enough by their standards before rolling me into the machine, they hooked up an IV to me and pumped sedatives straight into my veins.  Medical care used to be so much more thoughtful back in those days.

I was doing pretty good in that tube with a towel over my face until the air being pumped into the machine started to smell gross.  They had a band around my feet to keep them upright, and I squirmed a bit, which caused the band to roll up and dig into my toes.  Then I suddenly became aware that my arms were cramping with my shoulders touching the sides of the machine.  I waited for this round of knocking and pounding to stop and then I was going to squeeze the panic ball again just so that I could sit up and breathe fresh air.  I didn't have to, though, because that turned out to be my last image.

When I came out and was prodded back into the waiting room, my husband was missing.  I checked my phone to see if he left a message, but there was none.  He eventually stuck his head in the door from outside and on the way to the car explained that there was a man in the waiting room who smelled awful and was stinking the whole place up, so my husband had to go stand outside.  Then the guy came outside and polluted the air there, so my husband went back inside, but the guy followed him, so my husband went back outside and it took several minutes for the man's body odor to dissipate outdoors.  I said, "Oh.  I must have been having sympathy smells, because gross smelling air started being pumped into the MRI machine and I was having a panic attack."

He said that it probably really was this guy's B.O., because he was stinking up the entire building.  Fortunately, the worst of the flash rain storm had passed, so the ride home was less eventful than the ride out.  I had too many panic attacks for one day, so I'm hoping to take a vacation from myself for the rest of the week so that I can relax.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

I Want My Fifty Bucks Back

So, the new hook-over feeder was a total waste of time and money.


Seriously.  What's the point of having a feeder if the horse just ends up eating off the ground?  Yay me!  Now I get to deal with colic.

I knew there was some reason why I never bought this style of feeder in the past.  My neighbor who I horse-sat for back in Nevada had this style, so I knew her horses always ended up eating off the ground.  However, that wasn't a problem for her, because the feeders were in stalls that had rubber mats and wood chips.  I've actually had several locals, including my vet, tell me to pile some manure under the feeders, because it's better for the horses to eat off their own poop than it is for them to eat off of sand.  I'll probably shove one of my sheep troughs under it.  Either that or I'll wash it off and exchange it for a full barrel feeder like we had before.

This is the old feeder...

It is cracked in several places...


But the hay never fell out of it.  The full barrels are great for monsoon season where one microburst and blow an entire bale of opened hay down the road.  The only problem with these old barrel feeders, besides the fact that they crack after a while, is the way you have to mount them to the railings...

They came with the two brackets at the top of the picture.  You either need two people, or one person with really long arms to reach through the railing and into the opening of the feeder to hold the bolt still on one side and turn the nut on the other or vice versa.  You also have to tighten them down regularly.  But that is not enough.  My husband had to add the metal band to the bottom, because the horses would pick up the barrels with their teeth and drop them, banging them against the railings all night long, which I'm sure made us very unpopular in the neighborhood.  I don't know why my horses are so musically inclined, but I think the drums are their favorite instrument.

I bought the metal troughs as pictured on the right below when I lived in a colder climate.  They don't hold up in the heat here and leak around the edges of the bottom.  Also, they get quite hot in the summer, so the horses prefer to drink out of the plastic water troughs in order to avoid getting burned.  If you live in a hot climate, thick plastic -- good, metal -- bad.  I recommend Rubbermaid.  I still have the very first one I bought 17 years ago, and it's easy enough nowadays to find replacement plugs should those leak.  Those plugs were a struggle to find many years ago, but since then Rubbermaid has sold replacement plugs, and there are also universal plugs that sometimes work.

Hmmmmm.  Come to think of it, maybe I could use the leaky metal troughs as hay feeders in the cooler months.  I had been using them a trash cans.  They are great for collecting twine.  I keep one next to my hay barn for that purpose, because it saves me from making several trips to the waste can in the tack room.

Here is a picture of the new floorboards my husband installed on our manure wagon...

It's not exactly a wagon, but a 16-foot trailer.  We use it to move all of this crap out of our yard...

Every time I drive my truck after my husband uses it to haul the trailer to the dump, it's full of flies and smells like garbage.  It's so weird how that smell sticks to everything.  I usually drive around with the windows rolled down for a while, and then it smells better.

It is forecasted that we should drop down below 100 degrees this weekend.  What a treat.  I hope we get a breeze with that.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Things We Do For Our Horses

Yesterday afternoon we had a storm edge pass by, which brought with it a nice breeze, which brought all of the horses out of the shade of the barn.  They resembled survivors emerging from a long stay in a bomb shelter, looking around cautiously as if trying to get their bearings in a strange environment.




I decided to chase them all around with a long whip to encourage them to get some exercise since we had a temporary cool down.  But then I remembered that I can't run, none-the-less walk, so I decided to see if I could drive the Mule and crack the whip at the same time.  I could, but the horses didn't respect the whip without my body language to back it up.  They just walked in front of the Mule and blocked me from being able to chase them.  Oh well.  It was worth a try.

Then today I decided to address Bombay's weight loss.  I was going to the feed store to see what they stocked in the way of weight gain products for horses, and I decided to buy two plastic water troughs to replace the two metal ones that have been leaking too.  I was disappointed to find that they didn't have 75 gallon plastic water tanks in the brand I wanted, so I decided to get their last 100 gallon tank.  They also had a 150 gallon tank, but I didn't think that I could tip it over to empty it should I need to change the water, so I left that for someone else.

They had some new tanks with a built-in float, so I could attach a hose to one and it will keep filling itself, and then shut off before it overflows -- an automatic water tank.  I've seen automatic waterers that are the size of drinking fountains, but these were like 50 gallon tanks.  I considered buying one, but the plastic was so cheap.  It was like if I bought a plastic storage bin at Walmart.  I used to store feed in those, but the plastic would rot and break within a couple of months of sitting in the Arizona sun.  I doubted these automatic waterers would last much longer.  Plus, my horses would immediately rip that float right off the device.

Then I saw that they finally had new feed barrels available.  I was going to get one since Bombay's old one has a huge crack along the length of it, but decided to try something different since my husband has to bust his butt to get those barrels attached to the railings.  Instead, I bought an upright feeder that I can just hang over the railing.  I don't think it is big enough to hold the amount of hay that I like to feed the horses, but this is an experiment.

I got involved in this conversation with the cashier and forgot to inquire about the equine weight gain products, which was the whole reason why I went there in the first place.  Duh.  If I don't make a list, it's inevitable that I will forget something.  She said the guys would help me load the water tank and feeder, but no one was around, so I just started rocking the water tank toward the back of my truck.   I left it there and went over to get the feeder.  Right then a man driving a forklift showed up.  He said, "Let me make this easier for you..." and he lifted the tank into the bed of my truck with the fork.  He did the same with the feeder.   The horses were so happy to have new stuff to torture in the barn.

I felt bad about forgetting Bombay's weight gain feed.  Then I remembered that he loses weight and gets depressed at this time of year every year.  I think the summers draw out too long for him and he loses his interest in life.  Usually, if I play with him and come up with games to keep him entertained, he perks up and starts eating again.  So, I decided to get him out of the barn and take him for a short walk just to change his surroundings.  Of course, there's the problem of me not being able to walk, but I decided to force myself to push past the pain.

I put on my tall cowgirl boots and when I limped into the barn with a halter, Bombay's head came up, his ears shot forward and he pranced right up to me.  He knew I was coming for him.  I struggled to get up the slope of the driveway without being able to bend my knee, but he was very patient, staying at my pace.  I stopped every few yards to rest and shake my leg out.  I thought it would get easier once I got off the gravel.  I made it through the gate to the bridal trails, but couldn't go downhill, so we stopped in the shade of a tree and I let him pick up sticks and branches off the ground and draw in the dirt with them.

I thought he was going to try to bring this tree branch with us back to the barn, but he dropped it after dragging it a while.  I found a couple of shady spots in the back yard where he could graze while I hung over his back and rested my leg.  The other horses were jealous that I didn't choose them for this special field trip, but I didn't have it in me to take anyone else for a walk right then.  After just being out for a few minutes, heat effects were setting in.  I didn't want to lunge him in the round pen just yet.  It's still too hot.  Hopefully, that brief outing was enough to improve Bombay's mood, and he'll eat better tonight.