Super Women

May 5th, 2022 5 comments

PregnantWoman-1024x683

 

I have never felt more powerful than when I gave birth the first time.  I couldn’t sleep for days, and it was the endorphins, not a colicky baby that kept me awake, at least for first several days.    I was super woman.  I had conceived and grown a full term baby boy inside my body.  There is nothing in this world more powerful than that.

My son was born 1 year and 2 days after I was married. We just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary and my son’s 49th birthday.  He was round and perfect and he looked just like my father in law.  My husband and I waited for him with open arms and he was loved by us and all of our extended family.

At 23, I was ready for my first baby.  I had graduated from nursing school, had my career and found the love of my life.  We were on our way as a family.  We struggled and worked and did just fine.

Fast forward 17 years from 1973.   I had 2 sons by then, so I was superwoman twice.  I have been doubly empowered by the birth of my sons.  There were no pregnancies after that until after I turned 40 years old.  I was working as an ER nurse and Mike was working as a US Customs inspector.  We had a good life and the news of this pregnancy floored us!   But, we both welcomed the chance to be parents one more time.  In fact, we were ecstatic!   My mother had a baby at 42, and he brought great joy to their lives.  Just maybe this was our chance to do the same.

When I was about 3 months along and after I had announced this pregnancy to family, I began to bleed, just a little bit.  It was Christmas time and so I kept an eye on it for a few days to get through the holidays.  Then I got checked.  My OBS couldn’t hear a heartbeat and she did an ultrasound.  The fetus was not normal.  There was no question that this pregnancy was over and I needed a therapeutic abortion/aka D&C.  This decision was made between my doctor and me, and my husband was advised after the decision was made.  He and I were absolutely devastated by this turn of events, and he fully supported whatever I decided and did.   It broke my heart and stole away all our plans of a new baby.  As it turned out, my pregnancy was abnormal from the beginning.  I had an hidatidiform molar pregnancy.  This is when a fertilized egg develops abnormally and sometimes grows too rapidly, developing teeth, hair etc, but never forming a normal baby.  If left growing to term, it can affect the health of the Mom, or even cause cancer.  No matter the details.  This was a deeply painful and personal experience, and I did not need input from a man or politicians or intrusive laws and  regulations.  This was between my doctor and me.  Aside from my husband, this was nobody’s business except mine.

Every single pregnancy is extremely personal and powerful.  Woman Power makes us perfect for making our own decisions.  We have this incredible ability to sustain and grow cells inside us to form a full size baby, and we also have the brain power to decide if that is what we want or if the timing is right or even if it is safe.  The circumstances around a pregnancy can make a huge difference to a woman.  Questions a woman may ask herself are….. Will this pregnancy add to my life and love, or will it destroy anything I have planned for my future?  Will it kill me?  Will it be like the brute who raped me?  Will I be able to support and love it?  Will I be rejected by my family if I have it?  Will the father have anything more to do with me?  Will I be able to work?  Will the medication I have been on affect it? Am I able to care for this very deformed baby?  Am I too young to give birth? (in the case of children being impregnated, they need professional counseling and parental or guardian guidance).  The reasons to continue a pregnancy or terminate it are innumerable, and endless.  And it is different for every woman and her circumstances.

When I heard the recent news of the SCOTUS plans to revoke Roe vs Wade, I nearly exploded.  I remember when Catholics were forbidden birth control and I saw the results.  Women having their 12th or 15th baby came to our Catholic Hospital delivery room in Boston, where I trained as a nurse in the late 60s.  They were exhausted, stretched out and bored with the process of delivery.  Some were irate, and once medicated their “real” feelings came out in words that no good Catholic woman would ever have used if not medicated.  These were not terms of endearment, or Catholic prayers.  The Church didn’t even allow tubal ligation. If a woman wanted that she had to go elsewhere and the husband had to sign papers “allowing” it.  I am getting triggered just remembering all this and how incredibly archaic and sexist it is.

Believe it or not, I hate abortions too.  I can’t think of a single woman who would say she likes or loves abortions.  They are painful both physically and emotionally.   But, we do embrace our own power over reproduction decisions and abortion is part of that.

If we want to end abortions, we MUST take care of what causes them.  MEN for one thing…..the people who too often do the duty and walk away.  Make the men equally responsible, because it takes two parts to make a zygot…the precursor to an embryo.  Also, make insurances pay for all forms birth control….condoms, IUDs, Birth Control pills, tubal ligations, vasectomies, or anything else a woman wants or needs to stop pregnancies from happening in the first place.  Fund day care (either employers of the government) because it easily takes TWO to support a baby these days…and many single Moms can’t afford daycare.  Fund pre school in every State.  Women know how to live their best lives after making their own decisions, so stop allowing politicians to make those decisions for them.  Provide sex education early and often.  Abstinence is a lovely lofty concept(ion) idea, but it is as unrealistic as Santa Claus. Human hormones win out.  Even with all of these precautions, we still need safe abortions accessible for all women, not just the rich.  No precaution against pregnancy is 100% effective.

And, don’t ever assume YOU know what is best for any woman. As an RN, I have advised a number of women on their options, but I have never presumed I know what is best for them.  Again, it is their business, not mine or yours or any politicians.   Unless she has asked for your thoughts, keep your gigantic traps shut and step back, except to support her choice.  A woman knows what is best for herself, her body, her family and her future.  It is none of your damned business, it is hers.

Half of US citizens are women. We have a ton of power.  It is time to get loud.  Don’t back down on this, because it is just one of many dominoes in the line.

 

 

Married 50 years

April 28th, 2022 No comments
April 29, 1970

April 29, 1970

 

 

 
I can’t believe it, not at all.  On April 29, my husband and I will  celebrate 50 years married.  I won’t lie…it hasn’t all been perfect.  It’s been messy and neat and everything in between, but it has been pretty darned good.  We are proud of us together for so long.

younthands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week is also my husbands 74th birthday and the next day was my brother’s 74th birthday, then my oldest sons 49th birthday.  I spoke with my brother today.  His comments all skirted around that dirty three letter O word…(old).  How did we get this old?  When did we get this old?  What about our kids, they are getting old too!  We don’t know how much time we have left. on and on….

I let him pour it all out then I said…”I guess I look at it differently.  I wonder what is coming next”   I am a great planner.  Admittedly, I am more of a planner than a doer these days, but eventually, once the decent weather sets in here in Maine, we will do something.  We plan to make reservations to go camping at Acadia NP sometime this summer.  We also are planning a little family party here on July 23….maybe around 20 of the McClearys getting together to visit, eat and swim.  It’s been too long.  The last gathering was for my mothers funeral and that was overshadowed with loss and sadness.  BUT, when my beautiful parents had their 50th, and then their 60th wedding anniversaries, the party was right here in my back yard….eating, playing and just plain raising hell. We all love a good party.

I do have plans.  I am limited physically for doing a lot of activities, but as long as Mike is willing to tow our trailer,  and I can get my carcass into our truck and throw a few clothes and food in, I am game.  I will go anywhere camping, or even for a few days of sightseeing.  I don’t need swanky hotels…I just need my little tow along house/trailer.  And I suppose I could do with a comfy hotel room for a night or two, although it is not necessary nor what I prefer.

Parties and traveling have been two of the best parts of our union.  Our 2 favorite trips were the first time we took our little granddaughter, almost 5 years old, to Disneyworld. We went with our pop up camper from Maine to Orlando, and what a great time.  She was a seasoned traveler at that age, because of her ‘circumstances’, living in different places with her mother …moving often.  But, this trip was all about her…and the fun we would have.  It was amazing, and so was she.

Long after she was grown and she decided we weren’t cool enough to go camping with anymore, Mike retired from work and we spent a year or so working for the US Census (2010).  All of that income went into special savings and we took a month long trip out west to Wyoming and Montana.  We saw Yellowstone NP and Glaciers NP, among others.  It was an  adventure and we had an absolute blast.  We took our favorite dog of all time, Louie, with us.  We camped in casino and Walmart parking lots, and various NP campgrounds and a few private ones.  I can’t describe the awe we felt for this experience.  It was truly THE camping adventure  of our life time.

We have had fun times and hard times.  I have fumbled through some health issues and currently fiddle around with arthritis….daily.  But, Mike remains incredibly healthy.  He keeps our yard and home in working order and he walks every day with our newest little pooch Stanley.  I do the piddly stuff like dishes, folding laundry, picking up….it all works out.  Just don’t look too closely for dust around the house.  We have all read the old poem  “Dust if you must”  https://www.ellenbailey.com/poems/ellen_218.htm

There have been challenges with our kids as teens, and a bit beyond.  Also some of his family have been downright cruel and nasty, with a desire and determination to get all of the family estate.  They succeeded, and we have moved on..no use or time for nasty destructive people in our lives.  So, yeah…life gets real and it isn’t perfect, but we work our way through.

He has supported and encouraged me through 10 years of volunteer Patient Safety work, sometimes traveling with me to far off places, like San Diego, Atlanta and DC.  And when he worked as a US Customs officer,  I went with him to a union meeting in Honolulu and spent a month temporarily living in Montreal and 3 months in DC when he was on a temporary assignment.

Before we moved back to Bangor, ME for good in 1987 (where we started out as newlyweds in 1970) we had moved to and lived in 3 other towns, 5 previous houses, and several apartments.  Mike always worked at a port of entry and I worked many jobs as a nurse in big and small hospitals, and also in doctors offices and a paper mill.   We moved often for about 10 years when our kids were young,  and then we settled back home in Bangor, ME on Pearl St.   Our lives have been full and fun with travel,interesting work and things to do and see.

We have raised 2 bright, funny and hard working, dog loving sons as well.  Their humor, kindness and intelligence is our reward for being their mother and father.   I wouldn’t change one thing about them, although they might debate that.

All of this is just a glimpse of what our lives together have been like and how and where we spent it.  But, the important thing is that we ain’t done yet.  I’m not sure where we will go next or what we will do, but we will plan and do something, and it will be together.  Neither of us would know any other way to do it.

Love helps us to figure things out.  I recommend it.

Happy 50th Anniversary to us!

50 years later

50 years later

0ld hands

 

 

 

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Taking out the trash

January 14th, 2022 1 comment

Open photo

The familiar black trash bins sit at the end of every driveway on my street every Friday morning. The only change of pick up days is if there is a holiday.   These bins are provided to us by the city (of course paid for with tax dollars).   If we don’t get our bins out on time, we miss trash pick up and there are no “special” services if you call to whine to the public works folks about it.   It occurred to me today that without rules about trash, my neighborhood would be full of rats, raccoons,  and other hungry wild animals.    My property value would drop, and we might be afraid to let our pets outside or take a walk in the neighborhood because of vermin.  When people leave a pile of garbage or trash on the curbside that does not fit into our special bins, it doesn’t get picked up by the city trash collector.  It sits there until the offender hauls it off themselves or they pay someone to come and haul it off to the dump,  The old fashioned “trip to the dump” isn’t what it use to be…our load of garbage is weighed and charged by the pound.   We pay our city taxes for a trash collection benefit, but there are a lot of rules attached.  I looked up and down my street this morning, and not one driveway was without their trash bin at the roadside. Not one. Because there are penalties and inconveniences if you do not obey the rules, people just do it.No description available.

I don’t know all of my neighbors, and I don’t know their political leanings (except for the ones who put those grotesque Trump flags out during the last election), but I do know they care about getting their trash picked up and keeping this neighborhood decent and clean.  In order to accomplish neighborhood hygiene, we all have to live by the rules of garbage pick up in the city.

What would happen if they decided that these rules infringe on their freedom, or that it is unconstitutional to make them have trash collection on Friday (or whatever day their nighborhood pick up is).   My guess is that the neighborhood would go in the crapper.

Can anyone else see that this is  similar to what is actually happening to our healthcare system because of COVID and the freedom lovers who have decided they will not get vaccinated?  Should we start to financially penalize unvaccinated patients who get sick with COVID.  I’m starting to think so.  Their actions are stressing our healthcare system to the hilt…and people with other health issues cannot get needed care.  Also, we are all paying for their care…all of us, in one way or another, because they want their freedoms…to not vaccinate.

Is this whole country going into the crapper because of COVID?  Just yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that it was unconstitutional to mandate vaccines or weekly testing for employers of over 100 people.  These justices have no science education, or other expertise in the control of infectious diseases.  They are not statisticians.  They do not have entire panels and boards of experts advising them on the pandemic.  The SCOTUS should not be making any ruling on a pandemic…that should only be done with the guidance of experts.  It is interesting to me that the employees of the Supreme court DO have a mandate for vaccination/or weekly testing in house. 

So, the SCOTUS just gave employers back their FREEDOMS (or DUMBS) to not have COVID rules.  What will happen now?   More employees will get sick with COVID and spread it to other workers.  Their workplaces will be contaminated by COVID.  People will go out sick and their productivity will suffer.  And most importantly, more will die.  How many?  Thousands…tens of thousands?

Every single one of us has been brought up with rules.  We learn them almost from the time we are born.  It is because we are of superior intelligence….superior to animals and plants.  We know there are boundaries in our lives and we live within them and because of them.  We have rules in school, rules at work, rules in our families, rules in our communities, States and country.  We have rules about driving a car or owning a gun and paying taxes.  Rules are what keep us safe and in the case of pandemic….alive.

I have always thought that this was the greatest country in the world.  But by my observations, that seems to be slipping away.  We need to do better at taking out the trash.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/13/us/politics/supreme-court-biden-vaccine-mandate.html

https://www.bangormaine.gov/trash

http://www.civics.ks.gov/kansas/citizenship/responsibilities-of-citizens.html

 

 

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Until Death (or COVID) do us part

December 11th, 2021 1 comment

I took those vows almost 50 years ago, and have kept them even during some rocky times.  I meant them then, and I mean them now.  My husband is so lucky that I DO!  I am also very lucky.

But, isn’t that vow kind of a human thing, not just a wedding vow?  It’s a promise and commitment to all of the people important to us?  I will stick by my kids until death do us part.  I cared for my parents until death did us part.  Even my pets…..they are mine until they cross the doggie or kitty rainbow bridge.

Death is so final,  so profound and so incredibly heartbreaking.  How would I feel if a loved one died of COVID because they were not vaccinated?  I am pretty sure I would be grief stricken and heartbroken first, but then I would be royally POed!  I would be very very angry with them, because they could have avoided it. I think that would be natural, something like if a loved one shockingly committed suicide.

I have read about couples and families in the newspaper who have essentially died together because of COVID.  It seems that is taking the vows to an extreme.   Some became ill together with COVID, and one died while the other survived.  They were Parents, spouses, sons, daughters, …..all of them.  They were loved and cherished by the families that they left behind….their survivors grieving and drop jaw shocked that this horrid virus killed their loved one.  Some of them seemed not to have seen it coming.  Why?  Were they wearing  blinders?  Wasn’t their decision to not vaccinate a conscious decision? Was their decision science or politically based?   There is nothing hidden about the risks of COVID..it is all out there for the public to see.  The news of it has consumed newspapers, television and internet media.

There are simply no excuses anymore. There just aren’t.  There are no political, religious, family, social, scientific, make believe, conspiracy theory, or other kinds of excuses for not getting vaccinated.  There are even very  few medical reasons to not get vaccinated.  The reasons TO get vaccinated are never ending.

1. Not dying  is #1

2. Avoid getting COVID

3. To be able to live your life

4. To avoid being hospitalized

5. To keep everyone around you safer (family, coworkers, friends, students, church families, etc)

6. To show respect for everyone, including strangers

7. To save our hospitals ability to continue to serve

8. To give nurses and doctors back their lives

9. To stop this damnable pandemic.

I could go on and on. We have all heard it all.  All of us are pretty much experts on the up side of being vaccinated.  But, there are still too many who reject vaccinations and are confident if they get sick that a stupid worming pill, or peroxide, or mouthwash, or some other bogus cure is there for them.  But, there isn’t a cure.  There is treatment, and it works on some, but not on all.  The antibodies, and steriods and  antivirals have promise, but there is

no known cure for COVID at this time….is that clear?

One thing that COVID can do, and do quickly, is kill you or me or someone you love.  It does this over several days, or weeks…and it can be torturous and horrid.  When we read all those stories about loved ones dying of COVID, generally they did not do that without suffering, no matter what the obituary says.  There is the air hunger and lack of oxygen and a plunging pulse oxygen level.  That means that the victim is pulling for all they are worth to get enough air. When they can’t do it on their own anymore, because their lungs are full of COVID infection, they collapse….or if they are in a hospital they get the ventilator and with that goes the endotracheal tube, and multiple IVs, mind and body numbing drugs, and central lines, and urinary catheters etc.  Then there is the constant turning or “proning” of the patient to improve lung capacity, cupping (pounding upon) the back to loosen secretions, and skin care, hygiene, and monitoring etc. The saddest part of all this is that most of the time, family cannot be with you..that means those who have vowed to be with you “until death do you part” cannot be with you at all, because you are so contagious.  That is extreme suffering. Hospital nurses and doctors deal with this every single day.  It is their constant reality….the suffering and death of COVID victims. Some healthcare workers have contracted COVID themselves prior to the availability of vaccines.  And yes some have died.

COVID  is nothing I would want to share with my husband, sons, neighbors, or my nurse or doctor….

Death is something we will all experience, but why flirt with it by not vaccinating. We were given intelligence for a reason.

Get Vaccinated.  And, the life you save may be your own or someone very close to you.

Please.

https://atriumhealth.org/dailydose/2021/10/01/covid-19-roundtable-what-really-happens-when-you-go-on-a-ventilator

https://www.health.com/condition/infectious-diseases/coronavirus/icu-nurse-covid-19-patients-intubated-video

 

 

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MAINERS FOR HEALTHCARE AND PUBLIC HEALTH

September 9th, 2021 2 comments

MAINERS FOR HEALTHCARE AND PUBLIC HEALTH

I think I will start a new coalition called M4HC+PH…the title above.  The members will be like me…Mainers who are all vaccinated, taking precautions, doing all we can to avoid COVID. I think we are the reasonable, sensible Mainers here.  The new groups in Maine called mainers against mask mandates  or the alliance against healthcare mandates, should just rename themselves….how about mainers 4 COVID or mainers against public health.  That would be so much more accurate.

Our new group will not be against or anti anything.  We will be FOR the elimination of COVID, FOR masks as recommended, FOR vaccinations, FOR life, FOR healthy kids/students, FOR our future as a State and as citizens.  Bucking science will not be part of our new group.  Backing solid science and data for the elimination of COVID will be the focus of our group. All like minded people, regardless of their political/religious or other affiliations will be welcome.  We are all the human race after all.

So, who’s in?  The majority of Mainers who are eligible have been vaccinated.  I think they are in.  The majority of unvaccinated are the ones getting COVID..the new Delta variant…and being hospitalized, going on ventilators and dying. Sadly, they are the ones perpetuating this pandemic.   It’s too late for them to be in.  A little less anti ism and more FOR ism could have helped them live a longer healthier life.  Maybe some of the ones who have not yet welcomed COVID into their lives yet will join us.

I am most sorry for the vaccinated but vulnerable people who have become infected with Delta, because not enough people got vaccinated. Not everyone can build a robust immunity even after full vaccination. But, because they were vaccinated, they are less likely to suffer serious COVID and will hopefully recover. They are very welcome to our new coalition.

I don’t pretend to be an expert, but I do listen to experts…the people who have worked their entire lives studying science and infectious diseases.  I have a healthy regard for their words of advice, and I am extremely grateful for their expertise.   Only people who feel this same way are welcome to my new alliance.  We have been too quiet and polite about the loud, conspiracy theory spreading  ANTI- everything- to- do- with- the- elimination- of -COVID folks

It’s time to make some noise.

Who’s in?

 

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So, you’re not getting the vaccination? REALLY?

July 12th, 2021 No comments

 

Vaccines | Covid-19Photo From the Maine CDC site.

Over the past year and a half, we have separated from each other and frozen in fear of a deadly and very contagious virus, COVID 19.  At least, those of us who read the reports and watched the stats and understood what they meant were scared…I think.  We watched our tvs and read the news and social media with horror and sadness as the death toll climbed in the US and then in our own State of Maine.  My tiny hometown made national news, and they were not happy about that.  The “Millinocket Wedding” was covered by all the national news media including newspapers, TV and internet news. My hometown friends reminded me that the wedding was actually not held in Millinocket, it was in East Millinocket, and the reception was at a rural lake resort.  They were appalled that this infamous outbreak was credited to their community.  Unfortunately, they did suffer because of it and many of their citizens were affected.  The Millinocket Regional Hospital started COVID  sites and became a COVID care center.  Just this morning that hospital was listed as having the highest rate of employee vaccinations.  I am so proud of them, for that and for other ways they have worked to put this pandemic behind us.

Some of the things we as a population have done to stop COVID are screening, masks, sanitizing ,separating and distancing, closing public places, limiting public transportation and travel.   Finally, we have vaccination. Although I practiced all of the previous preventative steps,  vaccination was the one thing that I honestly welcomed with open arms.  The ones available are not perfect.  No vaccine is.  They are also not fully approved by the FDA, but the steps and formalities for that approval will take time. And truthfully, the FDA has approved some drugs (like the new Alzheimers drug that costs $52,000 a dose and isn’t proven to work) that do not work or are very dangerous.  Opioids are another example.    Much has been made of the side effects of the vaccine.  Granted there have been some and rarely, they can be serious. The CDC are reviewing issues with pericarditis currently.   But the numbers of serious reactions are extremely low, and not commonplace.  They are significant to the folks who suffer them, but the big picture tells us this…The vaccinations work well, are mostly safe and the numbers of new infections, hospitalizations and deaths are plummeting. Well over 90% of those current COVID patients who are hospitalized are the unvaccinated.  Also, almost all of those who are currently dying with COVID are unvaccinated.    Vaccines are doing their job.  People I have known and respected all my life are reluctant…some of them are healthcare professionals.  This astounds me honestly.  After what we have been through as a State and country over the past 18 months, it is alarming that healthcare workers are not gettting vaccinated, and they are speaking out against the vaccine!  What about the greater good!

My brother had COVID.  He was very sick, and long phone conversations he finally called 911 and went to the hospital, where he spent 3 days recovering.  He was one of the lucky ones. He survived, but he had symptoms for months afterward.  And, it wasn’t just him, his sons extended family all became infected, including his pregnant wife. They had a Thanksgiving gathering in the middle of a pandemic. One sick child came and everyone at that gathering got COVID.   None of them required hospitalization, but some of them were quite sick.  After the vaccine became available, my brother told me that he had “done his own research” and he had decided that he didn’t need the vaccine. Instead of arguing with him , I asked him to get his doctors opinion, knowing that he respected her a great deal.  She advised him to get it, and he did.  He had no issues with it. His sickness was at least 3 months behind him when he got vaccinated.   There is scientific fact that although natural immunity from having COVID is real, it does not protect against the newer strains.

There are countries crying for more vaccine.  It has been reported that not one family in India has been spared in their current COVID pandemic.  They are struggling to deal with the dead bodies.  Hospital conditions are horrendous.  They don’t have enough ventilators or medicine.  They would make great sacrifices for vaccine, and here in the US, we have a surplus because of vaccine reluctance.

I regard this pandemic as a war…that is the one thing I agree with DJT about.  We have the generals (healthcare workers and scientists) to help us get through it.  And we also have the arsenal….vaccine. But, we the people are the army.  We’ve had tremendous dedicated leadership here in Maine and so our rates are extremely low and falling every day.  The numbers are falling because of vaccine. All of the prior  measures just maintained us until the vaccine was available ….before now, the rates of infections fluctuated all the time.

None of us can control the people around us and what they do as far as vaccination goes. But, as patients, we can ask for vaccinated healthcare providers.  And we can get vaccinated ourselves.  We can also help those who are hesitant to vaccinate by telling them about our own experience with the vaccine.

We are moving on and moving forward, but the Delta variant is on our tail.   Please get vaccinated!

 

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Rocky Homecoming (with an update)

April 20th, 2021 No comments

No photo description available.

UPDATE

May 8, 2021

This handsome dude Rocky has recuperated beautifully.  His amazing personality is coming back.  His first 10 days or so back home, he was on a ton of medication, including anti anxiety drugs.  He wasn’t himself, but he was certainly aware and secure in his home and back with his humans.  Every day, his legs got stronger and he walked more steadily. His appetite has improved and with some enticing (chicken and raw carrots) he is eating well.   About 9 days post op, he had a day of vomiting.  He was coming off some of his medication.  The emergency vet in Brewer, ME examined him and said he looked good and he gave him an anti emetic shot.  That was the end of the vomiting, and he came off all meds.  His interest in his surroundings grew, and a few days ago, he found his favorite squeaky ball and brought it to Brian. Last night, he visited us in our home for the first time since his surgery. We have been visiting him on his turf before this.  Because he is doing so well, it is tempting to let him play and jump and run around, but he is still in his 4 weeks of recovery and mostly “bed rest”.  He spends most of his day in his little doggie rehab bed, except to go outside for potty breaks.  Very soon, Brian can set Rocky loose on the world and throw a ball for him to fetch.  He will be able to go outside in our back yard when he visits, and give Stanley a run for his money.  This is all good news and all of us are thrilled with his recovery.

  GOOOOOOOD BOY ROCKY!!

April 20, 2021

So the little pickle head Rocky is coming home today.  Rocky has spent some grueling hours away from his human Brian and suffering through pain, paralysis, incontinence, lonliness, and anxiety, but he will prevail!  He is my new hero. Brian has set up a little Rocky rehab in his apartment, and he got him a nice new harness with a back handle on it.

My previous blog described what he went through on Friday April 16.  Since then I have spoken with a representative of the Maine Veterinary Medical Center.  I struggled to stay civil, but I did.  She explained that

1. there was a dog even worse off than Rocky that day that they had to tend to first, and

2. an employee called in and had tested positive for COVID just before they threw Brian and Rocky out.

She further explained that the pre MRI and surgery work up takes 2.5 to 3 hours, and I asked about the waiting around for an additional 3 hours and she went on to explain about the sicker dog.  I asked why if it was going to be that long they didn’t send Rocky to Boston earlier.  She failed to explain that  to me adequately.

My opinion is this.  Everything that they did to and for Rocky was to prep him for an MRI and surgery, that they never performed.  Then to top it off (that Rocky and his serious issues were at the bottom of the triage heap), someone called from home with a positive COVID test.  The person was not in the clinic.  There is no risk to animals for COVID.  The neruo team who was going to do procedures on Rocky was at no more risk at 2pm than they were at 8am …while they worked together on a different  sicker dog.  But, they made an administrative choice to shut down the neuro team and procedures at 2pm.  I hope they all enjoyed their weekend.

Then without medicating Rocky, they put him in Brian’s car and sent them on their way to Boston.  Rocky thrashed and struggled against the cone and the IV for the whole trip.  She claimed that medicating a neuro dog is a two edged sword, and can interfere with an up coming neuro exam.  Anxiety and thrashing around in the throes of new paralysis and incontinence because of a bulging disc can also cause problems.  It was inhumane to do that to him.

Today, after excellent care at the Angell Veternary Hospital in Boston, Rocky will come home.  He is walking, but he still has left leg weakness.  It should resolve once the swelling and bruising from the disc issue and surgery are healed.  He will need help with a few things and will have to lay low for about a month.

In a month, I hope to see that bouncy big brute run into my house and scan for changes.  After giving him a good rub and scratching,  I want to give him a special treat of boiled chicken, that I suppose he will have to share with his little buddy Stanley.  Stanley will be coached prior to Rocky’s first visit to take it easy on him and to share his favorite prickly ball.  It is the favorite toy of all the dogs in our lives.  Good times are coming.

I will credit MVMC for refunding all of their charges aside from diagnostics like blood work and xrays, and “portables”, like that pesky IV catheter in his front leg.  So, there was a reasonable refund to the account. I am ok with that since the labs and xrays would have been done at the Boston clinic prior to surgery in any case.

Thank you to all the great friends and contacts who have followed this sad and frustrating saga of Rocky’s troubles. Every one of you knows the love of a dog and how important they are in our lives.

 

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May DOGS be with you

April 18th, 2021 1 comment

No photo description available.

L to R Stanley, Leroy, Rocky

Lady, Moxie, Brady, Tanya, Puggy, Rico, Willow, Louie, Rocky, Stanley and Leroy….all dogs in my life.  My life would have been much emptier and lonelier without all of them.  I loved them all, differently and for varied lengths of time.  But no question, they have been an essential and beloved part of my life.  They never failed me, never envied or resented me, never stopped being loyal and loving. Dogs are much better than hooomans that way.

I know a lot of people who do not have dogs, and I feel a little sorry for them.  I don’t think they understand what they are missing out on.  Dogs instinctively know which people are good, and which ones are dog lovers.  I totally understand why some people don’t have dogs.  Their living space, their jobs, their own moving about, and their circumstances just don’t allow it.  Of course some people can’t or shouldn’t have dogs.  But some people just don’t like them.  Now those people are really hard to understand.  It is best that people who do not love dogs don’t get them.  Dogs are better off without them.

I have loved dogs since I was a little kid.  I love their faces, their eyes, their licks, their constant and reliable love. their comedy, their barks and howls and their zest for all things in life like food, play and fun.  The loyalty of a dog can’t be matched.  The trust, and the affection can’t be overstated.  Our current 7 pound Shih Tsu notwithstanding.   Stanley is a silky, cuddly, and very needy slutty little guy, wanting to be held, rubbed, scratched, and played with.  We love it, and him.  He has been with us for 3 great years now and I can’t imagine our home without him….eye boogers, messy hair and all.

Our love for dogs has been passed on to our kids.

Leroy is my son Andrew’s dog. Now he is a bit of a challenge. All of us have called him an a^^ho^e a few times.   He likes to use his teeth. But, he looks at me with his adoring eyes, imploring me to stroke and pet him and hold him.  When he comes to my home to visit, he immediately climbs into my lap and looks at me with his big black eyes waiting for affection.  He loves us and he is lovable, even with his quirks.  He is a work in progress.

Rocky is one of my all time favorites.  He is my son Brian’s French Bulldog.  I remember 5 years ago when he brought him to meet us the first time, and the tiny black guy with the huge ears ran into my living room SIDEWAYS.  He had been flown from FL to Portland ME where Brian picked him up.  He arrived here full of energy and bounce.  He took to our old dog Louie like a magnet, although Louie wasn’t thrilled with this bouncy energetic new arrival.  He was a hyper and nervous little guy, but very lovable.  We puppysat him several times overnight and he kept Mike up most of the those nights.  He attached himself to Brian and staying anywhere different was hard for the pup.  But, he loves us, and as he has matured, he knows us and our house…and he can detect ANY change in our home (sounds, sights, smells) with a 2 second scan when he comes to visit. He is smart and well mannered.  When Stanley came into our home after Louie’s demise, Rocky was patient and sweet.  Stan took a few chunks out of Rocky and he still played with him gently. Stanley is the dominatrix now, and controls all things, like toys and food, around his friend Rocky.

Rocky started having weird pain a few weeks ago.  If he barked or moved suddenly, he would cry out.  His regular vet suspected something in his spine, early last week,  and gave anti-inflammatory and pain medications. He warned that if he had a sudden difficulty using his legs (paralysis) or incontinence, that it was an emergency and he would need to see the dog neurologist. The closest one is 120 miles away near Portland ME.  Well, the worst happened this past Friday.  He jumped down off Brian’s bed and then he couldn’t use his front legs, and he was very wobbly.  At 530am on April 16, Brian set out to Scarborough, ME to see a neuro doctor on an emergency basis.  He arrived at 8am.  Rocky was processed and examined.   He had peed in his crate, so that incontinence was new, and he couldn’t use any of his legs by then.  The plan was that they would do the MRI as soon as the specialist was available “but he sees other animals by appointment.  We will try to squeeze him in between appointments. It might be after noontime before we can do the MRI and if needed, surgery”.  Brian was impatient but did what he thought he had to do and waited, and waited and waited.  He waited SIX hours for this so called “emergency” clinic to do what was verbally contracted.  He gave them a credit card to seal the deal and they took a deposit for 50% of estimated cost, which was $5000.  They never did what was verbally and financially contracted.

My experience as a retired ER triage nurse is that emergency cases precede non emergency cases.  Sudden onset paralysis and incontinence is very much an emergency.

Rocky got an IV, blood work and an xray.  Beyond that I don’t know what they did. Rocky is by nature a very anxious dog.  He hates riding in the car and he hates confinement.   He would have been better off staying with his beloved owner in the car.  It was a crappy spring day with rain and snow and cold.  Brian sat it his car except for bathroom breaks and a quick trip to McDonalds waiting for his best friend to be taken care of.  His clothes were all wet and damp for most of the day.   He also reserved a room at a nearby hotel because the weather was worsening.  It was a long agonizing wait. The hotel told him he could check in at 130, so he did go over there to do so. When he got there, they said it would be 2pm before he could check in, so the call came while he waited in yet another parking lot in the cold rain and snow.  The call came from the vet clinic while he waited there.

At 2pm, the clinic  staff called him and said that “the neuro team has been put under quarantine. Rocky has to go to Boston to be taken care of.”  Although I have seen the notice on the clinic’s webpage, I still think that the timing of this quarantine is suspect…mid afternoon on a Friday.  What had they done all morning long?  Did they do procedures on non emergent cases or see non emergent cases while my son sat in his freezing car (because of COVID precautions) and while Rocky was confined to a cage with new onset paralysis and incontinence?  I want to know.

Would taking care of Rocky have increased the COVID risk to the staff of that  so called emergency clinic? The notice below appeared after I posted my quarantine questions TWICE on the Maine Veterinary Medical Center Facebook page and both times they were removed.  I also messaged them and did not get a response to my questions.

After that clinic robbed Brian of $1300 and replaced the rest of the $5000 deposit, they delivered Rocky to his car.  His crate had pee in it, so he placed Rocky on the backseat floor on some pee pads.  He had a cone around his neck because of the IV catheter in his fore paw.  He couldn’t use his legs, but he flopped around and hyperventilated for over 2 hours on that back floor on the way from Scarborough to the Boston Angell Veterinary Hospital in Boston.

https://www.mspca.org/medical-centers/angell-animal-medical-center-boston/

He was struggling against the IV and cone, and had not been sufficiently medicated in advance of this transfer.  When I checked on Brian with a phone call, I could hear Rocky’s raspy hyperventilation in the back ground.  It broke my heart in two.  And it pissed me off.  Why did they do this to Rocky and Brian?

May be an image of dog

Rocky in the back seat of Brian’s car.

The most important part of this story is that Rocky is finally taken care of at the Boston clinic.  After about 6 hours of nasty travel, and 6 hours of waiting, Rocky was finally where he needed to be in the first place.  He had an MRI yesterday morning that exposed a bulging disc in his neck. That was compressing his nerves and causing his symptoms.  Frenchies are apparently notorious for this injury.  His surgery was done immediately, and he is recovering in Boston.  As soon as he can stand, walk and pee, he can come home.  The report from the doctor this morning indicates that he may be coming home tomorrow.  Brian came home yesterday after spending Friday night in Boston.  He was too exhausted to come home on Friday night.

Oh, a little more icing on the disaster cake, the hotel in Scarborough ME is refusing to refund money for that reservation, that was never used.

Brian didn’t have the fight in him to deal with any of this injustice. He was focused on his boy.  But I have the fight in me.  I am in contact with a “vet tech practice manager of the Maine Veterinary Medical Center”.  She used all of her credentialing initials behind her name and her title in her email to impress me I suppose.  She offered an appointment to talk with me on the phone ….suggesting two times  tomorrow.  I was too pissed to wait. I want it all in writing anyway. It is very important to document these issues…..to Brian, to me, and to anyone who might want to engage them to care for their pets.  I hope they learn something from what I plan to do.

My goals are these

1. Rocky will be home, with his best friend Brian, in a comfortable secure warm safe setting.  Brian is going to set up our portable play pen with padding on the floor and his comfy bed, so he can’t be too active for a month or so.  He will go out to pee and poop and be fed, loved, and pampered the rest of the time.  Thank goodness Brian works at home.

2. I will get a full detailed explanation from the clinic in Scarborough, ME for why Rocky was put at the bottom of the heap for care on Friday morning.  I will also get full reimbursement for what they charged the credit card.  Their “care” ended up doing more harm than good.  It caused great anxiety and panic in Rocky and it delayed the care and treatment that he needed right away.  They failed to honor their verbal contract with Brian.  The photo of Rocky above is clearly proof of that. I also hope they learn from this huge mistake and that their future clients are better cared for.

3. If the Maine clinic is not cooperative with my goals, I will write a full report to the Maine veterinary licensing board, and perhaps call the media about this disaster.  And it was a real disaster.  I will give an honest and accurate detailed report about this incident.  It was cruel,dismissive and harmful treatment of my son and his dog.  I understand COVID restrictions and precautions. I am an RN (I have initials and credentials too),a certified contact tracer and a retired ER nurse.  I understand proper triage.  I also understand COVID contact tracing and quarantine advisement.  But I still find a SIX hour wait for emergency diagnostics and care/surgery because of sudden onset paralysis and incontinence unacceptable.  The timing of that quarantine is suspect at the very least.

Today we wait on a progress report about Rocky.  Stanly, Leroy, and the humans around me are all worried and keeping him in our hearts and sending best wishes for a speedy and uncomplicated recovery.

 

 

 

Moderna Royalty

March 5th, 2021 No comments

covidvaccineTomorrow February 25, my husband Mike and I will get our second dose of Moderna COVID vaccine.  We have both hitched a lot of things to that wagon.  I’m not sure if it is wise to do that, but everybody has to have hope.

We think that after we are fully vaccinated (barring a need for a 3rd vaccine to cover new variants of COVID 19) we can plan.  You see, we are 71 and 72 years old.  We aren’t  kids anymore if you get my drift. We know that we are headed into our twilight years.  So, we don’t have all the time in the world ahead of us.

Since February 2020 we have not socialized with anyone except our sons.  Even that makes us nervous sometimes.  Andrew works at a business that makes masks and trade show displays.  He was exposed to a co worker who tested positive for COVID.  He quarantined for 10 days and tested negative. Andrew always wears a mask when he visits.  Brian does some Ubering as a side line to his regular remote tech support job.  He follows all the precautions when driving strangers in his car, but he doesn’t wear a mask here in my home.  Mike and I don’t wear masks inside our home either.  Even though I know this is possibly risky behavior, we have managed to stay uninfected.  I love my kids, and they are great company,  but I need to greet my public at some point.

So, we have planned to make plans.  We feel that we will be protected from COVID after shot #2.  We will give it a couple of weeks to rev up our immune systems, and then we want to do SOMETHING!….ANYTHING!

My weekly trips to Mardens, our local refuse/retail store, will resume!  I always see people I know there.  Will I recognized them with masks on?  I’m not sure about that.  But, I will buy something…anything just because I can.  It will be nice to see my brother and his family, and my neighbors, up close enough to talk.   We also like the Casino in town, and the one in CT.  I have been bugging Mike to scope the local one out for us, but he won’t do that until he is fully vaccinated.  So, in a few weeks he can do that.  Once he is confident that it is safe, I will go in too.  My planning also includes google searching campgrounds on the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec.  Right now the Canadian border is still closed to travelers.  But, maybe once I have proof of vaccinations, like we have for our dogs, we can get in.  I hope PM Trudeau looks at their rules and accommodates us and other Americans who admire and respect them and their ability to keep their own COVID cases and deaths at a minimum.   Rolling our old travel trailer up the road and maybe into Canada will be a huge sign for us that things are looking up.

Later date…

Now we are a full week out from our second Moderna COVID vaccination. Admittedly, that was not a blast.  I got very sick, with aching, joint pain, fever and headache. As I struggled to get up to use the bathroom, I was cheering on my new immune powers.  I babied myself, drank a lot of liquids and took Tylenol and Advil.  Then the morning of day 3 after the vaccine, I sweat it out, like any fever.  Since then I have been feeling pretty powerful.  I’m pretty sure I can feel my immunity building…my COVID fighting muscles.  It is like a Superwoman power.  In all seriousness, and in case you can’t tell,  I am very excited and proud of my newfound immunity.  I know I can still catch the beastly disease, but it will be a whimper of a virus instead of a raging killer virus.  And, I know I can still spread it if I do contract it, so I will continue to wear my mask, distance and avoid crowds, until the experts give a green light to normalcy.  The experts do not include the governor of Texas or Mississippi.

I also got a local reaction to the injection.  My upper arm turned bright red and hard, and OMG, it itched.  The reaction was a little larger than a softball in circumference, but every day it shrinks.  Today, 8 days out,  it is about the size of a 50 cent piece.

Hard red itchy local reaction to Moderna vaccination

Hard red itchy local reaction to Moderna vaccination

When I was a little kid, I hated shots.  I was scared to death of them. During a visit to relatives in Brooklyn NY, when I was about 5 years old, I got tricked into a trip to the doctors and a big shot of Penicillin.  I was promised all sorts of fun and treats by my father and my uncle, to get me to that doctors office without a fuss.  But, I will never forget that, and how betrayed and angry I was.  Apparently, I had strep throat, and a shot was how it got treated back then. I learned then to hate shots.

This round of 2 vaccines were about as welcome as any shots could be.  I LOVED my 2 Moderna shots.  I know how the power of the shots can help me and my family to move forward after many months of isolation.  I spent hours online competing with every other over 70 Mainer, to get clinic appointments for Mike and me.  I was elated to find the jackpot at the ‘slots’ for shots for us, and driving to our appointments, I felt so excited.  I was proud of our scientists for developing these vaccines, I was grateful for the efficient shipping and distribution, and people who organized the clinics and who administered the vaccinations, and I was relieved that I was getting the protection that every Mainer needs to pull us out of this pandemic threat.  It is  hard to describe how happy Mike and I were to get our Moderna super powers.

COVID is a public health problem, and the vaccinations are a public health solution.  We have to cheer each other on while stumbling to our herd immunity.  If we can help others to find or get to a clinic, we should do that.  If we are able to volunteer in some capacity at a clinic, that would help too.   In Maine we have tremendous and thoughtful leadership, who are making the vaccination rules.  They are guided by science and population needs.  The clinics are extremely well organized and they will operate for as long as there is a need.  President Biden says there will be enough vaccine for every adult in the country by the end of May.  That is very exciting and encouraging news.

As soon as you can, go get your superpowers at your local COVID vaccination clinic!  And keep on keeping on with masks, distancing, hand washing and avoiding crowds.  There is a light at the end of this tunnel.

Preserve your immunization card, but do not laminate it.  There are lines to document future vaccines. You may need this for travel, and medical records.

Preserve your immunization card, but do not laminate it. There are lines to document future vaccines. You may need this for travel, and medical records.

 

 

 

The Insane Scramble for Vaccine and how it can be corrupted.

February 11th, 2021 No comments

Two weeks ago, my husband Mike and I enthusiastically received our first Covid 19 vaccines.  I had spent hours online messing with a clunky website to find just the right time and place.  I lucked out.  We have spent months staying in our bubble, and following all of the precautionary rules when we dared to venture out.  Both of us were like 2 little kids at Christmas time going to get our shots.  We know it isn’t going to be a fast lane trip back to our normal lives, but it at least allows us to plan.  We are hoping for the absolutely best result for these vaccines. Our nurse was sharp, efficient and very clear with her instructions.

We have been very lucky throughout this pandemic.  We have a comfortable warm clean home.  We have all the food we need, and since we are retired, our income didn’t change. Most importantly, neither of us has gotten sick with COVID.  Other than extended isolation, we have nothing to complain about.  When I see the stories about loss, devastation and death on TV or in the newspapers, it breaks my heart.  Any and all of the faults in our society have been exacerbated by the pandemic.  Poverty, joblessness, healthcare inequity, loss of lives and livelihoods, and all the rest have been magnified.

And who takes care of the sickest and dying COVID patients? And who gives COVID vaccines?  Nurses do.   Nurses don’t care about being called heroes.  They just want the supplies and support to do the very important job they need to do.  They are doing that job selflessly. They are taking care of our human societal, physical and emotional messes, every single day.  Because COVID is so contagious and deadly, family members are not allowed to visit with horribly sick and sometimes dying patients.  So, the nurses step in.  Giving excellent, hygienic, compassionate, efficient and professional care isn’t enough during this pandemic.  Nurses are giving LOVE.  They are surrogate family members.  They give comfort, with touch, with words and yes, with tears.   Every molecule of nurses is being used during this pandemic.  Yet, those same nurses have sometimes been forced to work without proper protective equipment or adequate staffing levels. They have worked overtime, sometimes day after day. They risk their own health and that of their families. Most go home from work, worried about bringing COVID to their own families.  Some have lived in travel trailers, motel rooms, basements or garages, so they would not infect their own families.  Some of these self sacrificing nurses have become very sick.    Too many have even given their lives.  I coauthored the following blog with a fellow nurse, last April 2020.

Nurses lives are not negotiable

And yet………..this has happened.

Deaths of Healthcare workers.

Nurses at Maine Medical Center are organizing a union.  Their courage and activism is amazing.  In the mid 1980s I was instrumental in organizing a union in Calais Maine.  We had solid reasons to organize, mostly involving patient safety.  The purpose of this article is not to detail that, but suffice to say, nurses are stronger in a union.  And, patients are safer if their bedside nurses are organized and have a strong unified voice.

This week I read this op ed written by Bill Nemitz, in the Portland Press Herald.

Bill Nemitz Op ed about Maine Medical Center

He had received a tip that  contracted union busters at Maine Medical Center had been immunized there.  Now that doesn’t seem like such a big deal, on the face of it.  But, consider this.  We are in the middle of a pandemic.  Those union busters have been imported from out of State by MMC to stop the organizing efforts of the MMC nurses. Their right to organize is supported by Labor laws. The entire State is in a huge flux of trying to get our most vulnerable citizens vaccinated.  The efforts to vaccinate Maine started in December.  The promised amount of vaccine can’t be met.  The vaccine supply was exaggerated by the prior president’s administration.  So, understandably, Governor Mills and her State CDC officials have worked very hard to 1. vaccinate those at highest risk first, and 2. to be fair and equitable. With promises of eventual vaccine availability, they have been forced for now, to strictly reserve available vaccine for those at highest risk and for Maine citizens only.  The established levels of priority are according to greatest risk.  The first level was front line healthcare workers (workers who do patient facing work) and long term care/ assisted living residents.  They are definitely the highest risk for infection.  Maine Medical Center used their power, money and might and vaccinated all of their employees…there are 22,000 of them, and they included out of State contract employees, like the union busters.  And of course, once they get dose #1, then need dose #2.   44,000 doses of vaccine.  Doses were given to remote workers, to contract employees, to billing clerks and office workers.   I don’t have the final tally of doses used, but it is too high.  How many of those recipients never set foot in the same room with patients.  Too many.  And today I learned that not every front line nurse has gotten even their first dose!

How many of those doses should have gone into the arms of frail seniors, or other high risk Maine citizens.  The abuse of power and blatant elitism of this act is disgusting.  MMC did not have the right to do this, even though they had their hands on all of that vaccine.  If all of what I have seen and read about this is true, then this abuse of power that should be punishable by law.

But, it is done. And this is the ironic thing.  The nurses of MMC and from all around the country have been called heroes.  They don’t think of themselves that way. They do what nurses do.  They are no nonsense, self sacrificing and dedicated to their patients.  If asked, and if there was a need, most of those nurses would have given up their own vaccine for a vulnerable Maine senior, like me, or to someone else who was at a much higher risk of illness. I know this.  I know it, because when I was a  young nurse, I would have done the same and I know this because I know NURSES!  Nurses have given, and given, and given during this pandemic.  And they will give some more.  Every day, nurses around this country have held the hands of the dying COVID patients, while the voices of grieving family members come into the room virtually, on an IPAD or a cell phone.  The nurse gives the loving human touch that the families are not allowed to give because of the pandemic.  Safety comes first.   None of those nurses have ever seen the magnitude of suffering and death that this pandemic has brought, and yet they stay.  Some call this heroism.  I just call it being a nurse.

If you know a working nurse, thank her.  If you have a way to support the nurses of MMC, support them now.  If you have a need, they will be there for you.

 

 

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