Archive for the ‘surgery’ Category

…I’m still here. It’s just been a couple of crazy/odd/busy weeks around Oleo Acres. I have to admit that lately I haven’t been on the computer much or when I have been “on”, I haven’t felt like being very creative.
This summer saw a couple of health problems pop up for both my Hired-Hand-With-Benefits and myself. My DH developed a HUGE incisional hernia requiring surgery which he underwent last Friday. Today he had an appointment with the surgeon to have the drain placed at the time of surgery removed. I remember thinking it was so much longer than I ever imagined as the surgeon snipped the stitches keeping it in place, then drew it out all the way. Eww! Unfortunately the stitches stay in until next week.
Now, my hubby has a GoreTex mesh patch (made here in Flagstaff) holding things together. Yes, it was that big. His original scar was about 8 inches long. Now it’s about 10 inches long. Those of you who have seen the movie Total Recall might remember the character called “Quatto”, a mutant being living in the stomach of a “host”. We named the hernia Quatto.
Now Hizzoner has to strap on a “binder” to, in reality, hold things together and in place while his body knits tissue into this mesh. He calls it a girdle, but I’ve never seen any girdle look or act like this. Today the surgeon said Hizzoner could remove the binder for sleeping but if he needs to get up to go to the bathroom, to be sure to strap himself back in it. If it were me, I’d just wear it all the time. I hope he does. I don’t think either one of us want to see him go through this again.

As for me, I was diagnosed in August with thyroid problems. the words “thyroid cancer” have been bantered about by a couple of doctors, but as things with the thyroid can be slow, I’ve had to wait and have occasional scans done to monitor the situation.
What I find strange, but logical, is that the function of the thyroid is totally different than this problem of fast growing, questionable nodule/growths’. You can have a beautifully functioning thyroid and still have masses and nodules in the tissue itself. Or, like me, you can have a thyroid that is waxing and waning, ready to give it up at the least suggestion along with other problems. At least I know why I’ve been having days where I have no energy what-so-ever.
I just wish my brain would stop thinking of all the things I want to do when my body just wants to make like a slug. For now I just have to wait for the next scan before decisions are made. One of the doctors said I would grow tired of waiting and just want it removed before something actually required surgery. At first I thought he was nuts for saying that. Now, I’m not so sure that he isn’t spot-on.

And for those who have asked me, yes-in-deedy-do…Mr. Bran has returned! He came back about 10 days ago, with the Mrs., but no youngsters. Clearly the kids thought more of the summer place and decided to stay. But Bran is now on his regular routine, stopping by for an egg or a mouse from a trap, or the odd leftover hot dog.
Here’s the proof:

I have to admit…my steps back to the house were a bit lighter after seeing my friend return. Summer just didn’t seem the same without him watching over my comings and goings at the barn and in the garden. Thanks, Buddy.

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Playing Catch-Up

I thought I would post a few photos of what all the holiday storms left us around the place. I would have posted them sooner but between working through the storms – shoveling, making trails out to the sheep, splitting wood for the woodburner as well as keeping it going as the heater went out, then trying to get to the roof to keep it clear. Add to that all my excitement of the new granddaughter and concern my DD was OK.
I will admit it did take its toll on me. I started to have skipped heartbeats and heart pounding way too hard for my taste, sending me to our doctor who then stated I was doing way too much. I got the “You’re doing way to much, you Fool!” speech from the doctor and I knew she was right. She then told the DH that, for this year at least, no shoveling, plowing, etc. for either one of us. When I mentioned the tractor was down as well as the Hired-Hand-With-Benefits she just said, “Good! Now you’ll have to find someone to plow you out!” If there is one person I don’t want to piss-off it’s our family Dr. 🙂

So, we hired people…

(Above) The barn and driveway before plowing.
I don’t think we’ll see the BBQ or Smoker until Spring. And that pile on the back deck was before we had guys come to shovel off the roof!
Bringing in the Big One out into the pasture so I can get feed in to the sheep. I had enough feed to get through the storms, but for some reason the sheep insisted I continue to feed them. Funny that. 🙂 Can you say “Reseeding the pasture”?
The girls on an outing from the barn. They don’t like it that they are standing on two feet of compacted snow. And they want to go back in. Silly girls! Get some sunshine while you can!

Tucco, the Mule. Tucco is boarding at our neighbor’s place and has taken to hang out near the Boys pen for company as he’s by himself.

Now that the snows have subsided and the weather is turning nicer so we have mudpools and muck everywhere, it’s time to prep for my DH’s surgery this next week. I’ve loaded the barn with hay and feed, there’s another cord of wood out back, and the walks are clear. I feel better about not having to worry about those things as well as my DH. I guess there’s only one thing to worry about now…

…how the heck am I supposed to have him around the house for 6 to 8 weeks, recovering and keep my sanity? 😉

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Under Re-Construction

My computer has decided to go Walkabout, so entries may be few and far between until it is fixed. Please bear with me.

Also, there is another reason I may not be blogging much in the near future:

All summer long my poor Hired-Hand-With-Benefits had been having intestinal problems. We’d try this or that OTC medication, or eliminating one food or another to see if that helped – all to no avail. This past month I finally put my foot down and made him go to our doctor. All sorts of tests were run from blood test to cultures to CAT Scans (as if he doesn’t get scanned by the cats enough around here!) to rule out any growth or obstruction.
Last week, while he was out of town naturally, the Dr.’s office called to ask if we could come in as soon as he got back. Sure thing…I made the appointment without even asking him. I remember the doctor mentioning diverticulitis, but in the same breath she mentioned an aneurysm had been found on the artery to the spleen. We immediately got an appointment to see a thoracic surgeon who looked at the CAT films and decided the aneurysm was not in immediate danger of rupture. Still, my DH is not allowed to lift anything over 20 lbs. or strain. That meant not to do anything, at least where I’m concerned.
We saw the surgeon this week to determine what to do. At first he recommended a “Wait and See” plan of action…until I asked about flying long distances to visit relatives. When he heard that he changed to doing a spleenectomy as the aneurysm is right where the artery goes into the spleen. He’ll be fine until the surgery date (Jan. 5th) as the aneurysm had started to calcify – a sign he’s had it a while and the body was trying to “repair” it.

So, now we’re doing pre-surgery stuff like another more in-depth CAT scan, ultrasound of arteries in the neck, banking blood and a stress test as it’s been a while since anyone got a good look “under the hood”.
Naturally, I’m bouncing off the walls. I try to keep busy and DH even goes in to work (OK’d by the Thoracic
Surgeon) as he realizes he needs to keep himself occupied so he doesn’t dwell on up-coming events.
I can’t help but think that all the plans we made such as going to New Zealand to be there for the birth of our granddaughter, etc., even not going to Black Sheep Gathering to save money to go to NZ…well, all plans we had made, were not fulfilled for a reason. had there been no stomach problems, this might have gone undetected or worse, burst flying way above the Earth somewhere over the Pacific. Some One has been watching out and watching over us.
…..Thank You!

And should I be slow in answering any emails you send it’s just all this computer business. I really do believe my computer has been chatting with my car….They must all be incahoots with each other, darn it! Let’s hope the sheep don’t get wind of all of this or they may start to mutiny for lack of their shepherdess’ attentions.

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Thursday afternoon, when making my way to our mailbox, I spied something on our steps. It was a small-ish package. Normally, our regular mailman places packages on our steps if he knows I’m home and the weather is good. It saves him from carrying packages down to our door – above and beyond for a rural route delivery although lately he has been carrying the larger boxes to the door, knowing I can’t lift them.
I could not even imagine what I was in store for! The box was from a fellow Shetland sheep breeder who lives in Upstate New York. Yes, folks…New York has much more to offer than just “New York”…but I digress, for now. I opened the package and in it was a half-pint jar of Melanie’s home made strawberry jam (from New York strawberries) and a pint of Melanie’s farm/home made New York State Maple Syrup made from her very own Sugar Maple trees! Along with the two yummy-I-may-not-share-with-anyone treats was the nicest Get Well card from herself. She’ll never know just how much she made my day!

You see, I was made (born) in Upstate New York. 😉 And, I went to one of the State University of New York’s upstate campuses for my degree as well. So…really good things come from Upstate New York! 🙂 And I have really enjoyed reading Melanie’s blog because I know of what she speaks…not only about common trials and tribulations of living the country life, but when she describes areas she’s been to, I actually know where they are! This makes reading her entries even more enjoyable – much like I love to read my daughter’s blog about her escapades in New Zealand as I actually know where things are whe she describes them. Thank you, Melanie…from the bottom of another Upstate person’s heart! You have given me a real treat!

And that brings to mind all of the other Shetland sheep breeder/friends I have made…these people are some of the nicest, caring people I have ever met or chatted with. They may not know you very well, or very personally, but have your barn burn down with all your hay, or have surgery that lays you up for months and these people are there for you! Just like family. In fact, I am a very big believer that your “family” is really the people you surround yourself with. And between my family (both closely related and added branches to our “Tree”), and my very dear friends both close by and far away, and the new friends I have made over the past few years of raising Shetland sheep, plus others I have made friends with through common ground, I consider myself very fortunate. Very fortunate indeed.

While I was in the hospital, it was the Shetland Sheep-people who broke the hospital’s record for the number of get-well wishes sent to one person in one stay at the hospital. When the volunteer who had been bringing all the wishes up to my room told me that I just smiled. And friends who sent flowers and cards and called have made this recovery easier for me than it could have been.

So, I wish to say thank you both to Melanie, and to ALL of you…my dear Friends & Family. It’s because of your support that I am 3 months ahead of “normal” in my recovery. I couldn’t have done it without all of you!

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I still have a week to go before I see the surgeon for my first post-surgery appointment. But I have found that time is really going very s-l-o-w-l-y when you’re not allowed to do much. Oh, don’t get me wrong…I’ve loved catching up on my reading, but I haven’t been allowed to bend, or pick up anything. You never really realize just how much you do bend or twist your spine until you’re told not to. My DH has been a gem doing everything I can’t and also helping me to remember things like not to bend over to pet a cat. He’s OK, but it’s driving me nuts! (Which he says is a short way to go – yuck, yuck)

I haven’t been able to spin, or do laundry, or reach down to give one of the wee beasties a pet, let alone do anything with the sheep. I know this will pass. I know if I’m good now, I will be able to do these things soon. It’s just when you’re anxious to get moving and can’t it’s very frustrating. But I have given my word to the Dr., my DH and family, and all of my friends that I will NOT over-do and will do as I’m told…for now.

One thing I do accomplish is walk. That is the most important thing to do with this sort of spin surgery…walk. Now that it’s been very warm and the Monsoons are starting to form, I have taken to walking about a mile to a mile and a half each morning. And it’s been lovely! I can walk without any pain other than normal post-surgery pain/discomfort – no feelings as if someone were driving an iron spike up my spine with each step as before the surgery. It’s wonderful! I can’t imagine why I put it off for so long. But I have only been allowed to walk on the more level areas around our place making my routes somewhat limiting. I’m hoping that after next week I will have healed enough to start on some of the hill-ish trails instead of the roadsides where I now travel. Even from the shoulders of the road I’ve been treated to all sorts of birds and flora of this area. The roadside was absolutely alive with finches this morning – all singing merrily before the hot part of the day sets in.

I have really missed the sheep. With my DH back to work this week after taking some time off to help me recover, I do get to walk down to the barn at lunchtime to make sure everyone has fresh water. (And no, I do not carry or pull a hose around – we have it set where I can just turn on the faucet and fill the water-tank.) But I have to watch myself that the sheep don’t bowl me over in the process. I can just hear them saying, “Oh, there you are! We’ve been wondering what happened to you. Please come back as The Man doesn’t feed us as much as you do.” I mention to Amanda that she will be totally svelte by the time I can take over again and won’t it be nice for her to be that slim again. She just says “Humpf!” and walks off. Silly sheep.

I think the one who has had a harder time with my recovery than me is my buddy, Shadow. After the first night home from the hospital and trying to get pillows adjusted between and around my legs, plus turning over “log-roll” fashion to protect the back, I found that I could not cope with cats trying to lay all over me too. So, the cats were banished from the bedroom via the gate closing them out. The one most affected by this has been Shadow. He always, as in every night, would walk up towards my face and curl up in the crook of my arm to sleep. And every night he tries to slip past my DH to get up to that spot and settle in before he’s noticed and removed. The other night he made it…Ralph had left the gate open just a wee bit too long and whoosh!…Shad was next to me before we could bat an eye. Ralph let him stay with me until he was finished with his shower, then the poor cat was unceremoniously booted out of the bedroom. He spent a good deal of the night sleeping on the other side of the gate, calling to me softly every once and a while letting me know he really wanted to be next to me.

I’m sorry, Shadow…soon, Buddy, soon…I miss you, too!

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Yes! It’s me! 🙂 I finally have it together enough to attempt a post.

First off, I wish to say a big “Thank You” to my daughter and my husband for posting to the blog to let everyone know what was going on. They have been so supportive! I don’t know what I’ve done right to deserve such a nice family. Even our wonderful NZ Branch of the family tree was of great support just by calling to see how I was and how things were going. What a great family!

And to YOU…all my friends…the greetings and the cards and flowers have been wonderful. You will never know how touched I am at the out-pouring of care and support I have received from all of you.
While I was in the hospital, one of the volunteers who delivers flowers, the computer greetings, cards, gifts, etc. said to me that “we” had set a new record for the hospital! At no other time had any one patient received so many “Get Well Wishes” via their computer site. 🙂 WooHoo! I just calmly mentioned that they just weren’t used to Shetland sheep people – some of the most “wonderfulest” people around…along with family, etc. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

The surgery went very well, although the hospital stay could have been much better. I was so glad to get home last Friday – to my own bed, way-better food, and no one waking me up every two hours for something like vitals, or take these pills, etc. That’s a whole other story. I have come to the conclusion that I just can see how anyone gets well in a hospital. 😉 It did end up that the disc was so damaged that the neurosurgeon did have to remove it. Before the surgery, he mentioned that if it could be saved it would be. Ah, well…se la vie! Everything else went as he had planned.

And yes, the horrid pain down the backs of my legs and in the lower back is, in a word, gone! I do have pain from the procedure but that diminishes a bit each day so I can actually visualize becoming “normal” (whatever that is) down the road. The major pain that came with the surgery came from feeling like my legs had been used in some sort of “Pull the Turkey Wishbone” game like we do at Thanksgiving. It feels as if someone grabbed one leg, someone else the other leg…then there was a contest to see who could win. The pain and the muscle aches reminded me of an extreme case of muscle soreness as you would get from not having ridden a horse for years, then ridden one for 24 hours straight. Thank Heavens for medications is all I can say. 😉

I know my DH can hardly wait for me to be able to get back working with our little sheep again. It will be a very long time before I will be allowed to lift anything greater than 10 lbs., so he’ll have to be on the job for a while still. He’s learning how to be a shepherd the hard way: The Total Immersion Method of Sheepkeeping! 🙂 Over breakfast this morning he told me that they won’t come hear him yet – that they run as a herd around him when he’s down there. I told him it’s just because they are not used to him and soon, with the aid of cookies, they will come to trust him as they do me.

As I watched out the window yesterday at my wonderful husband leading Skittles back into the fold area, luring him with bits of cookies, I thought to myself….

I am so very grateful for these wonderful little sheep. I don’t think I would have ever been able to go through all of this with “normal” sized sheep. 🙂 And I am even more grateful for this wonderful man I married over 30 years ago and a caring daughter, too.
(And the wonderful friends I have as well!) …I am truly blessed!

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A few photos

Kelly here again – Kathy is recovering well from her back surgery. Today she was very chatty and sounded almost back to normal (although she is still in some pain, and moving around stiffly). I was surprised she didn’t have my father feeding her bonbons to speed her recovery!

Dad was nice enough to upload a few pictures to Flickr:
flowers, view 1
flowers, view 2
Kathy in bed

I know she has appreciated all of your warm wishes and happy thoughts – and hopefully she’ll be able to tell you so herself in a few more days.

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Kelly here – I’m Kathy’s daughter. She and my father (the DH) have asked me to update you on her progress:

Kathy’s surgery went just fine. She told my father that she doesn’t have pain shooting down her legs anymore; she just feels some pain from the surgery itself, but she’s got “good drugs” for that. She’s expected to be in the hospital for two days (I think that means she’ll be home on Friday). I talked to her a few minutes ago. She’s groggy, of course, but she sounds just fine.

I sent her these cheery flowers, and thankfully for once the time difference between Arizona and New Zealand worked in my favor as they were waiting for her when she was brought up from recovery. Whew!

I heard from my father today as he rushed home after the surgery to feed the sheep! He was in such a rush to take care of the brood that he got himself muddy. I’m sure the sheep appreciated the yummy hay he provided, though.

Sorry to steal your updatin’ thunder, Tina and Michelle – I’m sure Kathy will be able to update you herself soon!!

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I thought I would let you all know that I’ve decided to go Walk-about to the local medical center. 😉 Hopefully, this won’t be too long of a trek and I’ll be back posting in no time!

There’s not much to report from the Farm right now…other than it’s hot and very, very dry. The sheep have been spending a good deal of time in the barn where it stays cool most of the day. The door is open and they can go in to a communal loafing area. It seems to be the “Teenagers” – Loretta, Colin and Ailee, who like the barn most of all. There are fans going inside as well so they not only have air movement, but fewer summer flies bothering them. (I have noticed that the flies don’t bother them much with their sheep-coats on.)

I thought I would show everyone this picture of that poor Mama duck who lost her brood to the coyotes. She’s in what’s left of our neighbor’s “tank”…which is now almost completely dried up. If this were a normal year, monsoons would start up around the 4th of July and go until August. Days would start out hot, then by noon thunderstorms would develope and a nice cooling rain would come making the evenings chilly. Even with as hot as it’s been we’ve still had to have a light blanket on the bed.

I’m not sure if Ralph will attempt blogging on MY blog, but I promise – as soon as I’m able I will tell you all about my visit to “Chez FMC” (Flagstaff Medical Center).

And Mr. Skittles has promised me that he’ll keep an eye on things for me while I’m gone.

Thanks, Skit! 🙂

PS: I will have my DH let either (or both) Tina or Michelle know how things went/are going and they have graciously offerred to post news for interested people. I consider myself truly blessed having two friends like these! I love you both! 🙂

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No, I haven’t forgotten everyone. I’m sorry I haven’t been blogging for a while, but I have a good excuse. 🙂 I’ve been trying to think ahead of myself and try to accomplish as much as I can before my up-coming surgery. I’m trying to get my computer desk cleaned off and not just by throwing everything in a drawer either. Then there’s always the laundry and ironing. Add to that small things like ordering the eartags for this year’s lamb crop. Well, the list goes on and on.
And in the midst of trying to get things done around Oleo Acres (one of the Cheaper Spreads), I’ve been making trips into town for blood tests, x-rays, and assorted other medical necessities. I find myself sitting down for a bit of a break and slipping off for a short, er, power-nap. Well, that shoots the day in the butt.
Oh, I don’t want to give you the wrong impression here. In no way do I wish to become a Superwoman, although it sure would be great to fly from here to there and see through walls. I wonder if there’s a Superwoman ironing secret that would allow me to blast through the umpteen shirts I need to iron for my DH. That would be great! I do want to have as much of these little things done as I can to make it easier on my DH, the cats and the sheep as well as myself. I will rest better knowing that I won’t have to come home to many little things that I won’t be able to do for a while. And a few friends have told me I need not to concern myself with anything other than healing properly without pushing myself. Who? Moi?
So, that’s why I haven’t been blogging a lot lately.
My mother used to say, “I am a mother. I worry, worry, worry.” We used to tease her about how she would worry about everything and all of us. Now that I am older, a wife and a mother, I fully understand what my mother meant. She wasn’t worrying…she was multitasking! A woman ahead of her time. She just didn’t have a catchy phrase to describe what she did.

So, that’s what’s been going on around here. Nothing exciting except for winning Lauren’s neat story contest. (And where that story came from…well, let’s just say that pain meds were involved and we’ll leave it at that!) I’m here. I’m just trying to get all my ducks in a row with just two weeks to train them.

I wonder if sheep can be trained to do housework? Hmmm

Did I hear someone say “cookies”?

(Skittles running for the barn!)

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