Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Bittersweet Birthday



So, my inside kitties are 14 years old today. Well, we say today. We found them under our back porch steps, and when their mother disappeared a couple days later, we brought them inside. That was on September 19th, 1999. We think they were only about 2 weeks or so old, so we just decided to use September 1st as their birthday.

Out of a litter of six kittens, we ended up keeping four, two boys and two girls. Sadly, we had to say goodbye to Major, one of the brothers, on this past February 1st. He got sick very quickly, going into full-blown renal failure in less than a week. When giving him sub-q fluids didn't  bring about any improvement, and he completely stopped eating, we knew the time had come to say goodbye.

I've never had a pet as long as we've had these guys, and I've never had to make the decision to let one go. It’s the hardest thing I've ever had to do, and seven months later, my husband and I both still miss Major like crazy. We love his brother Blondie and sisters Eddie and Face, but there was something extra special about Major. He was a big fat lovable monster. Even Blondie still misses him as his sisters aren't really interested in taking Major’s place as his wrestling partner.


Happy Birthday to my little gang: Eddie, Face, Blondie and the late great Major.


Major aka Stumpy aka Retardo Montalban

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Returning Soon



I have been down (blog-wise) for various reasons for over a year now and am working on getting this thing going again. I plan on posting regularly beginning in September. So, come back and check out the blog on September 1st.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Trying to Get Healthy


OK, so here we are, a bit over a month since the hubby's "mild" heart attack, and I've lost six pounds. Yeah, I know. That's a good thing, pat-on-the-back and all that, but what I can't figure out is why I've only lost six pounds. I mean, seriously? Six pounds? Come on. I've eaten more celery in the past month than in all my....well...several years on earth previously. And I've been lots more active, what with the garden going full-tilt (working like crazy with those blasted tomato plants so they wouldn't die....and they haven't), and my pet sitting business picking up a bit (doing a lot of dog walking lately, and those darn dogs just don't believe in getting their business done none too quickly either).

I do admit to a small treat here and there. Like tonight for instance. Tonight I'm going to make one of my special milk shakes: some chocolate ice cream (not a lot, it's a small drink), a bit of milk, and some chocolate-espresso wine. I guess I could give up my milk shakes completely for a while; speed up the weight loss process a bit.

Ya' know, six pounds in a month really isn't too bad at all. **pat on the back**


Monday, June 18, 2012

Things I (Probably) Wouldn't Be Saying If I Had Kids Instead of Cats


Being a cat mom instead of a regular/"normal" mom, I have found myself saying things to my cats that I'm sure I'd never have to say to a young'un. Or would I?

- "Stop sniffing your sister's/brother's butt."

- "Stop biting your sister/brother on the neck. I don't think she/he likes it."

- "Hold still so I can pull this hair out of your butthole."

- "Why in the world would you want to eat a plastic bag in the first place?"

- "You can sit on my chest, but please turn around so I don't have to stare at your butthole."

- "No, you can't sit on my lap while I'm using the bathroom."

- "If you would chew your food, you probably wouldn't puke most of it back up on the living room carpet."

- "Stop beating on the door. You are not sleeping with us tonight."

- "Must you sit there and stare at me for hours at a time? Really?"

- "Stop eating my hair."

Oh, the life of a cat mom.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Gardening 2012 - Part 3


So, here are the latest pictures from my garden.

 The potatoes are growing like crazy. 




I added the second tire to each stack, put in more soil, then promptly had to return to the store for even more soil. Bought their last five bags. Sure hope they get more in soon.



The peas are doing great, and I will have to move some of them to another box so I can get them all tied up and climbing. The black radishes are doing OK. Thinned them out a bit and we'll see what happens. 



The box in back was onions, but only about three ever came up, and they never grew. Bad batch of seeds maybe? Who knows. I am transferring some of the peas to that box and will go from there. The box in front is a late planting of a small breed of carrot. They are coming up well and will have to be thinned out.



My red and yellow bell pepper plants. They started looking a tiny bit sickly, even though there was already a pepper on one, so I decided it might be best to split them up. 



They are now in two separate buckets. 
Here's hoping they will thrive with the extra room




My tomato plants never really grew much, and the leaves on the bottom of them started turning yellow. After talking with a friend about what the problem might be, I went out and bought some Miracle-Gro and have given them one dose so far (and removed the yellowing leaves). They're already showing lots of improvement, and when I researched the issue on the internet, most things I found said it could be a low nitrogen issue. Guess the plant food was the right idea.  



Got my corn planted. Doesn't look like much, but most of it is really growing. Two at the bottom have died, but that was my fault. Should have kept the area more uphill and should have moved more of the dirt/grass out down there. They ended up with lots of standing water and that's probably what did it. But, you learn from the mistakes and do better next year.  




It's a bean. I get my crates from a local produce stand, and some of them will have a bean or two still stick in the bottom, caught on the wooden slats and such. So, I decided to look at that as a gift and try planting them. This is one of the first ones I planted. I have others planted in around the tomatoes and peppers, seeing if they will come up. If they do, I will carefully transplant them, maybe in with the corn so they can grow up the stalks. I may have green beans this year as well. Cool. 



Google tries to watch what I'm doing sometimes, but once the water hose is pulled out, 
he doesn't usually stick around for long.




Better than any old French manicure if you ask me.
:-)




Saturday, June 2, 2012

Worst. Week. Ever. (Part Three...final part, I promise)


So, here it finally is, the third and final part of my long-winded report on the Bell family's worst week ever.

When last we left our blog, Chris (the hubs) and I were patiently (well, kinda patiently) waiting for him to be taken down to the cath lab. Finally, a nurse came in to do the little shave thing that he was so looking forward to. (I have to say, she was wonderful and very good at keeping things modest for the hubs. She moved the blankets around as needed, and nothing "private" was every exposed to her even. Great job.) Once she got the area shaved, she then brought in the bed to take him downstairs. This woman was not only great at the shaving thing, but at the bed moving thing as well. When I had to wheel Chris into the ER on Tuesday morning, I was hitting the doorjambs and such. She wheeled that bed out of the small room through the small door, down the hallway, into the elevator, etc. without so much as a bump. Awesome.

Once we got downstairs, there was a bit of a wait there before they finally took him back for the procedure. I sat in the small waiting room with these tiny windows that looked out over a rooftop and a wall (with a small patch of sky if you leaned in and looked straight up), and sat down to wait. I tried to read, then I got on Facebook for a bit, then I just sat. It of course seemed like I sat there forever, but it really wasn't too terribly long.

{Side note: It started storming like crazy while I was waiting. I could hear the thunder, see a bit of the flashes of lightning through the little windows, hear the rain pounding. I thought how it kinda figured a storm would hit then as the windows in the hubby's room upstairs had this great view of the mountains that I just knew would make for some great pictures if it stormed while we were there (almost always have my camera with me). No way to get any good pictures in the waiting room, and of course the storm was over by the time we got back upstairs, and though we had rain off and on, we never did have another storm.}

OK, back to my story. I guess about 30 minutes had gone by when someone came in (the PA maybe, or something, so many professionals and I was having trouble keeping everyone straight in my head), and he told me that they had found a 70% blockage in one of the arteries of Chris' heart. They were going to put in a stent to open up the blockage, which would take about 30 minutes. Modern medicine is an amazing thing. I think start to finish, the whole procedure (cath and stent) took about an hour, maybe a bit more.

After all was done, Chris had to lay perfectly still in the recovery area for about 30 minutes or so with the pressure dressing on his groin area where they had cut into the artery. That was no problem of course, since with all the drugs and stuff in him, he was pretty much passed out cold. He'd jolt awake for a second, then go right back out again. Then they took off the dressing and put the new one on (I had to head on up to his room for that as I wasn't allowed to be in there) and he was brought back to his room. The moved him over to his bed and he had to lie still again for about 4 hours. He could move his arms a bit, and could raise up some (no more than about 30 degrees they said), but nothing else. He was awake enough for a bit to eat supper, which I had to feed him (a fact he's going to be thrilled to know I shared) and then he was pretty much out for the rest of the night. Well, not counting the times he would jerk awake when someone would come in the room to check vitals, take blood, etc.

The next morning, the nurse had him sit up and they checked his BP, then checked it with him standing. Then the nurse had him get up and walk around with her for a bit. We were at the hospital until that afternoon while they got paperwork on him done (had the wrong GP listed and we had to correct that or they would have sent his records to someone who's never even seen him), gave us prescriptions for some new meds, etc. Follow-up appointments were made and we packed up and were sent on our way.

About 60 hours after the hubs first  hit the floor on Tuesday morning, maybe 59 hours after we'd first walked into the local ER, we were on our way home. Less than three days. It amazes me how fast modern medicine can sometimes work.

So, that's pretty much what happened last week. We now have new meds added to the ever-growing list that the hubs has to take. We're also trying to keep more healthy food around, which is hard when you have pretty  much no money and the healthy stuff seems to cost so much more than the bad stuff. I've also gotten a bit paranoid and every little ache and pain that the hubs gets, I worry about what's causing it. I have put my AFLAC training on hold at least until his first follow-up appointment which takes place next week. I don't mind being out and about near home, where he can get hold of me if needed, but I'm NOT going to be off in Hickory or Hendersonville, a good hour or two away, and have something happen. I'm sticking close to home.

Now I reckon the dance with meds and treatments gets going big time. We're still dealing with the Fibromyalgia, Hemachromatosis, and Type II Diabetes (although the Diabetes fight has been going pretty well). Now we have to deal with the heart stuff. He does have a family history which I got clarified through his dad recently (his dad had a heart attack and triple bypass at 47, his granddad had a heart attack at 36 or 37 then died from one at 41). That all just means we need to be even more vigilant.

I am also going to try and get past the paranoia thing, but it may take a while. Until then, I'm just taking deep breaths whenever I can, tending to my garden, and researching like crazy. Always new stuff going on in the medical world.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Worst. Week. Ever. (Part Two)


(On my last post, I said I would continue my story "tomorrow". Well, you know how they say tomorrow never comes? In this case, it came the day after.)

OK, where was I? Oh yeah....

So, by the time I got to the Heart Tower at Memorial Mission in Asheville, the hubs was all settled in his room and the cardiologist had already come in to see him. They came in not long after I arrived and did yet another ultrasound as well. (And I do have to say, I forgot that a chest x-ray had been done in the ER here in Spruce Pine as well. They were really on the ball.) I was a bit blind-sided though when Chris told me that he'd had a "mild" heart attack after all. (If you ask me, the word "mild" should never be connected to the phrase "heart attack".)

Here's the gist of what happened: The electrical signals in his heart got messed up somehow causing his heart rate to go up. The heart tried to compensate, but was not able to d/t a possible blockage (they did not know for sure at that time), which caused the heart attack. We had thought they would do a stress test, but instead they were going to do a heart catheterization the next day. For those who may not know what this procedure entails, you can check it out on Wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardiac_catheterization) if you'd like. The short of it though is that they cut into the femoral artery in the groin area (something that thrilled the hubs to no end for sure) and the catheter is inserted through there and up into the heart. They then inject a dye and see what's what. Sound scary? Yeah, it did to me as well.

That first night at the hospital was pretty miserable. I stayed there with him, trying to sleep on one of those recliners they have in the room. Mostly I lay there in the dark, staring out the window at the flashing red lights on top of the two cell towers across the way. The hubs didn't sleep much either. Besides all the stress of the situation, people were coming into the room every so often to check his vitals, take more blood for tests, etc. I was freezing as well, but wouldn't let them turn up the thermostat since the hubs was comfortable. It's easy to add more blankets, and bless the nurse who brought me one from the warming cabinet. He was a sweetie. (And, I do so want one of those cabinets in my house.)

Anyway, made the trip back home the next morning (Wednesday) to check on the cats, grab a quick shower, grab change of clothes for the hubs (they were saying he'd probably be going home on Thursday) and then headed right back to the hospital. (For those who don't know the area, it's a bit over an hour drive.) They still hadn't taken the hubs down to the cath lab. It's kinda one of those hurry-up-and-wait situations. You know  you're going that day, just not exactly when.

(As it is now getting late, and I still haven't had a good night's sleep since we got home last week, I'm ending this here. Yeah, I know. Maybe if I shortened it up, put in less detail, I'd have it all out there now. But, hey...this is me. I'm a talker. So, hopefully, I will be back with the rest of the story tomorrow. Not promising that of course, but I will at least try.)    :-)



Monday, May 28, 2012

Worst. Week. Ever. (Part One)

It could be said that last week was the worst week ever in the Bell household. It was definitely the scariest for us.

The week started off like any other. Sunday was a day of finally getting my garden started, and I was pretty proud of my work. Monday evening brought the monthly meeting of the Mayland Writers' Group, which is always a good thing. The rest of the week was to consist of pet sitting and a scheduled AFLAC training session in Hickory, which I was actually looking forward to.

Then came 2:30 on Tuesday morning. I was awakened by a loud thump. I looked over the edge of the bed to see Chris, my husband, laying on the floor, passed out. He came out of it pretty quickly, but something obviously wasn't right. Now, the passing out thing had happened before, right after one of his phlebotomy appointments. They had taken that pint of blood even though his blood pressure was very low that day. So, a few steps down the hall and he hit the floor. That's what I thought this might be, a low BP issue, but he couldn't snap completely out of it this time. He tried to lay down for a bit, but couldn't get comfortable. He had a bit of pressure in his chest, but no pain. He had a bruise starting up on the left side of his back where he hit the bed frame (we have a water bed, lots of wood) and another on his right arm where he hit the air purifier, so there was a bit of pain there. But his hands and forearms were hurting, finger tips going numb. That was odd.

After a bit, he finally decided it might be a good idea to go to the ER. Besides the numbness and pain in his hands and arms, he just couldn't get his breath. And when he tried to get up to go take a shower (something he just felt he HAD to do before going to the hospital), he couldn't make it there. Walking from one room to another was a chore that made him nearly pass out again. So, I got us dressed, moved the truck so that it was a straight shot from the front door to the passenger door, shoved all his meds into a bag to take with us, and drove us to the local hospital. I reckon we got there about 3:30am.

At the hospital, I had to get a wheelchair and bring him inside. Walking was pretty much impossible for him. The nurse triaged him, trying to get him to slow down his breathing to no avail, and sent him on back. When they got him hooked up to the monitor, his BP was high and his heart rate was 213 beats per minute (bpm). Normal resting heart rate is 60 - 90 bpm, so this was definitely not good. They put him on oxygen, managed to get an IV inserted, and gave him something to get his heart rate to slow down. It finally started working and he was pretty well normal.

EKG's were done (several) and an ultrasound of his heart was done. He was admitted, being told he would be there for at least 12 hours so they could monitor his heart. Blood was taken, of course, for various tests, and not long after they got him in his room and served him breakfast, his GP came in and said there was some concern with some sort of enzyme level. It's something that goes up when there is a heart attack. We were assured that he did not have a heart attack, but that he (the doctor) didn't want to take any chances and so was ordering an ambulance to take him to the hospital in Asheville. He wanted him to see a cardio specialist and though he could wait and see one here, it wouldn't happen until Friday and the doc didn't want him to wait that long.

So, they piled him into an ambulance while I ran off to get some stuff together (clothes and such), quickly feed the cats, and see if I could get a pet sitting client of mine to prepay me so I could put gas in the truck (she did without hesitation...I have some great clients) otherwise I would probably not make it to Asheville.  Then I was off to rush to the Heart Center at Mission Hospital where, unbeknownst to me, we would be spending the next couple of days.

{Wow, that's a lot. I will continue the saga of our worst week ever tomorrow.}

Monday, May 21, 2012

Gardening 2012 - Part 2


So, after nine bags of topsoil, I still need more. Sheesh. I thought I'd estimated correctly. Guess not. But, that's OK. I got most of the stuff planted, the rest will just have to be done later this week.


I had planned on only doing one, maybe two tires with potatoes this year. My friend Meredith called her in-laws and got me some seed potatoes. A lot of seed potatoes. I now have three tires planted with potatoes, plus enough left over to pass along to my friend Judith. Cool.



I got these crates free from a local produce stand. The two in back are planted with peas (on the left) and green onions. The one in front is planted with black radishes (had to use a bit of garden fabric to block the gaps on the sides of that one). These are sitting by my back deck. My idea, if it works, is to tie twine from the lid of the one holding the peas up to the railing of the deck for the vines to grow up. We'll see if it works.

I'm doing the tire and crate thing since kneeling on the ground with my arthritic knees is not an easy thing. These containers are pretty low to the ground, but will still make it easier when it comes time to harvest, especially the tires as they will be stacked up 3 high and, in theory, you can just push them over to get at the potatoes. Plus, my yard has a very limited area that would be good for planting, so I'm able to plant more in containers.

My pepper plants; one red pepper and one yellow pepper. Wanted green peppers actually, but no one seemed to have any. But, it's more expensive to buy red or yellow peppers than green ones, so I might as well grow those.


My tomato plants. There are three in there right now, but one is so tiny, I might just take it out and throw it away. I'm also thinking about getting cages for these as well as the peppers instead of using the stake and twine set up I did last time. Right now, I'm just waiting to see how they do.



Yes, I have corn seeds planted in cat food cans. I'm sprouting them here, then will plant them somewhere in the yard; just haven't figured out exactly where yet. Hopefully I'll know by the time they're big enough to actually plant.

I am going to be getting another crate for more radishes. Or, I have these big wooden containers that held boat motor parts when I worked at OMC, and I may just drag one of those to the back yard. I have red radish seeds as well as small carrot seeds that I'm hoping to plant as well. I'm not putting any root veggies directly into the ground because the last time I did, everything got eaten. I had a lot of potatoes planted and every single one I dug up had teeth marks in it. Obviously my vole hunting cat wasn't too diligent that year.

Besides the small bit of planting I have left to do, now the whole waiting thing starts.   **sigh**