Saturday, May 18, 2013
At least, one would assume so given that: This morning I walked a mile and a scootch loop, with one crutch, and that used as a cane for more than half of the distance; This afternoon I walked a half mile with the cane only, and not too many rest stops along the way; At home I hardly need the cane at all, other than on the stairs; And now I’m comfortable enough sitting at my office computer to go back into my raw photo files and spend a pleasant half hour or so editing the following images from a ramble around the farm in Essex where Ben lives, back in October:
Friday, May 3, 2013
Yes! I did it! I did it! YES! Today I cleaned the catboxes! All of them! From Sally’s two on the third floor…. To Ted’s first-floor cage-enclosed covered-top oversize and the open box by the half-bath off the living room (relic of paranoid Squash’s immutable refusal to go to the basement where the departed Smedley used to ambush him)…. To the paired lineup of eight, count ‘em, eight big boxes in the basement. Did them all. Did them all standing, leaning over on the cane with the bad leg stretched out behind me, except for Ted’s. Ted’s needed kneeling and bending forward, a maneuver I’ve been practicing for a week, getting the various body parts slowly accustomed to the required range of motion, and by golly, it went perfectly. Even getting back up on my feet was no problem. I DID IT! and I feel fine, not stressed by the extra efforts at all. The hip is as comfortable as it began the day, arising from a good night’s sleep in the lift chair – which is where I plan to continue sleeping for at least another week or two before I try the bed again. It really is making a huge difference. I feel like singing! Well, I did but it scared the cats, so I stopped. And dancing is right out for now, even with my trusty cane. So I shall settle for spamming friends with my good news and sitting about smirking in triumph. Sure doesn’t hurt to save the ten bucks a day I was paying for the service, either.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
The hip recovery moves on apace, with much progress and one small setback. I’ve had the okay to drive for a week-plus and have been enjoying it: going over to visit the horse, running errands, just getting out and about on my own, and relishing the liberation. I wouldn’t be comfortable driving any more than local distances yet, but in time my leash should lengthen and eventually begone. My physical limitations on movement are likewise easing; I can safely and comfortably bend forward farther than 90 degrees now, and continue to add increments of flexibility within the confines of what my body’s reactions tell me is appropriate. My stamina is still small but I try to push its bounds gently on my daily walks – still taken with one crutch for now, rather than the cane that serves me indoors, for safety’s sake and because I tire more rapidly when caning rather than crutching on an outdoor expedition. I plan tomorrow morning to try, for the first time since shortly before the surgery, to clean the cats’ litter boxes myself, a task requiring kneeling and bending as well as stair-climbing. Easing into the motions and positions necessary for this have been part of my PT routines for the last week and now it’s time to see if I’m ready. If it’s too soon, I’ll call the woman who’s been doing it for me and let her know she needs to keep on, but I’m hoping to win back that further bit of independence. My physical therapy at home has ended, as my therapist and I agree that I can take my rehab from here without her further guidance. I’ll miss Kristin’s wonderful help and direction; this recovery wouldn’t have gone nearly as well without her assistance, and I made sure to tell her so. So, all in all, it’s a happy story, except for one thing: I must retreat from sleeping in my bed. For the last few days I’ve awakened with discomfort in my hip, and yesterday it was edging into outright pain territory; indeed, the hip ached all morning, enough that I forbore the usual round of exercises and eventually gave in and took an oxycodone, something I hadn’t needed to do for quite a long time. I have tried to find a comfortable way to sleep on my right side, my usual presurgical position, but no arrangement of legs and pillows has produced a workable solution. I suspect I’m rolling over to side from back during sleep and stressing a joint not yet ready for that. So last night I went to bed in the lift chair where I’d spent the first nights sleeping at home, and was decently comfortable, enough so to sleep well till my first bathroom-run wakeup. Then I moved to the living room, to the narrow confines of the couch, with no room to lie other than flat and straight on my back, and slept well there. I got up this morning with a much more comfortable hip. Eureka! Of course, it’s not all sunshine and kittens; now my left knee is grumbly, perhaps from being stretched out straight all night instead of slightly bent over a pillow. So I’ll try a knee pillow for it tonight and see if that’s what it wants. I daresay setbacks are only to be expected, but they still annoy me.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
How well is my recovery going? So well that yesterday, in three separate ventures, I walked with just one crutch a total of almost a mile. I can take several steps independent of any aid. My pain level has dropped to occasional minor discomfort, needing only Tylenol once in a while; my flexibility is increasing daily; my strength ditto. I’ll be seeing the surgeon on Tuesday for follow-up; I hope and expect to be given the green light to drive – freedom at last! I’m ready to get back to work full time. Getting back to doing horse chores no doubt will take another month or more of further strengthening, but it too will come soon, I’m sure. I am forever grateful to all the people who’ve helped me through this process: the medical professionals, the friends who’ve been doing so much for the housebound invalid, the folks who’ve cared for my animals when I couldn’t, and all who’ve offered moral support. I could never have gotten through this without you all! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Major advances today during physical therapy. I’ve felt a significant surge in my ability to ambulate over the last few days, a marked lessening of the need for even one crutch’s support. When my PT arrived I demonstrated this for her: I walked entirely unassisted for four steps, right-left-right-left; turned with the crutch, and walked four unassisted steps back. Now, mind you, they were shorter than my normal stride, but neither were they hobbling gimps; they were real steps. A day shy of three weeks post-op, I walked without aid. Kristin was gobsmacked. She’s been surprised and delighted all along at how well I’ve progressed, but this just amazed her. I then tried ambulating with my cane rather than the crutch. It’s not as reliably steady a feel, but no problem; let me get a few days farther along and I’ll be caning merrily around the house; for now, I prefer the greater security of the crutch. We went downstairs to the garage so I could practice getting in and out of my car under her supervision, both passenger and driver side. Piece of cake. We went for a walk outside, me back on both crutches for safety’s sake though I needed very little of their support, down the driveway as far as the mailbox, then instead of turning back we kept going onward down the exit drive all the way to the street, a doubling of distance. I stuck my toe over the property line in triumph, then we marched back up-slope to my condo, moving right along. Well, yes, yes, I was a bit winded by the time we got back, but oh! What an invigorating expedition it was! To be fully back to myself, able to do everything as I had before the hip went to hell – able to muck a stall, push a loaded wheelbarrow, haul hay and shavings and grain – I know is still some months away. But by golly, I’m going to get there, and do it faster than your average bear. A confession: I did take one oxycodone today, a couple of hours before PT, because the exercises and house chores I did in the morning got me to hurting. But this doesn’t depress me; it’s not a defeat; it’s merely being sensible, not trying to be a hero. I doubt I’ll need another today; I’ll go on tomorrow and thereafter without taking any unless I push myself too far and need the relief; and I have no doubt that I’m very nearly done with that drug.
What a difference a day makes! Yesterday was another day of no oxycodone, any modest discomfort eased with ice and Tylenol, of following faithfully the prescribed exercises and even expanding upon them, of walking outside despite the chill in the air, of resting when tired and enjoying quiet amusements. Last night’s sleep, taken in the lift-recliner? The best so far; just one wakeup after the first hour and a half, then back to five deep and restful hours. I drifted up to wakefulness, arose eventually and fed the cats, then crawled into my bed upstairs and drifted back down for another hour-plus slumber. Today when my physical therapist comes I’ll ask her to assess whether I’m ready to move up from one crutch to a cane, at least indoors. I see my surgeon next Tuesday and hopefully will be given permission to drive. Recovery marches on!
Monday, April 15, 2013
It was another night of broken sleep last night, one of the worst since I came home from the hospital, and yet its very brokenness encourages me. I have, in fact, slept remarkably well since the first night or two at home. Oh, I’ve had to get up two or three times for a bathroom run each night, but that was my pattern before the surgery, and I’ve fallen swiftly back to sleep most times and slept deeply. I credit a good part of my rapid recovery to such restful nights’ restorative powers. Over the last few days, as I’ve tried with indifferent success off and on to move from the lift-chair recliner to my own bed, I’ve also been weaning myself off the oxycodone. Yesterday, for the first time since the operation, I took none at all, just a couple of Tylenol for the minor discomfort that bothers me at times. I do wonder whether it’s the opioid withdrawal, however modest its effects given my low dosage and limited time on the things, that’s playing havoc with my sleeping, rather than the place where I lay myself down, since last night said place didn’t seem to make much difference. If I’m right and withdrawal rather than positional discomfort is what’s keeping me awake, then in a few days, when the body’s readjusted to its drugfree state, I should do just fine wherever I settle for the night. In the meantime, I can and do nap when I feel like it, and it’s amazing how much reading you can get done in the wee hours with no competing distractions. Oh, and I feel stronger when I walk now, which is entirely with one crutch; the crutch takes very little of the left leg’s burden at each step. The thought did flit through my mind this morning: “Time to downshift to a cane?” but that may be too much too soon; I’ll discuss it with my physical therapist this week.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Ups and downs, ups and downs, there’s been a fair passel of ‘em over the last 24 hours. I hit the recliner*-sack early (for me) last night but couldn’t quite drift off; the left leg was twitchy. Finally I gave in and took half an Ativan (my fallback prescription for restless leg on the rare occasions nothing else will work) and decided, what the heck, let’s try the bed again. So up the stairs I hitched, got settled, and drifted off to a good four hours of deep sleep. Who’dathunkit, huh? When I woke for the inevitable bathroom run around 5:00 a.m. I decided to finish the night in the recliner. So down the stairs I hobbled, got settled – and discovered that, after hours of unaccustomed stretching out of the leg, the hip was now achy. Sigh…. Up to the drug stash; one 5 mg oxycodone down the hatch; back into the recliner, and down into Morpheus’s welcoming arms…. At 8:00 a.m. the rumbling of the basement garage door opening sent the cats clumped asleep on me fleeing wildly and I woke up in time to greet the friend delivering groceries. We chatted, she departed, and I decided to feed the frightened felines, most of whom emerged from their hiding places by the time I’d finished dishing out the morning meal. I carried Sally’s up to her second-floor realm, eyed the abandoned bed across the hall, and decided what the heck, I’m up here anyway, so heaved myself back in and dozed off. The arrival an hour later of the woman who’s cleaning the catboxes for me woke me up and I stumped back downstairs for breakfast and some reading for pleasure, then proofread a job. That done, I assembled a batch of paperwork and lurched up to the second-floor office and its computers to take care of various banking, bill-paying and bookkeeping that needed doing. Given how uncomfortable the office chair is for me, even padded with a pillow, I’d been dreading the duty, but it had to be done. Well, at least Sally was happy about the hour I spent in there; I sure wasn’t. I had to get up and stand or crutch-walk about now and then to get through what all had to be completed, but completed it was at last and I could lumber back downstairs, suck down another oxycodone, fix myself a much-belated lunch, and collapse into the living room recliner, icepack at hip, rest and repast restoring me to comfort and good humor. It’s a damned good thing I set up the mini-office downstairs before the operation; there’s no way I could do extended work in the upstairs office, not for almost a month before the operation, in fact; not now; and not, I suspect, for some time to come. So it’s been a time of ups and downs, stairwise, physically, and emotionally as I contemplate what I can accomplish now on one crutch (got the plants watered, even upstairs where I have to fill the can at the bathtub faucet, an awkward process even with two good legs), what the accomplishment takes out of me, how far I’ve come and how far I still have to go. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ *I may have been unclear in previous missives: I have two recliners at present. The sleeper is on loan from a friend and lives in the front room downstairs; my own recliner, less comfortable for sleeping but just fine for lolling about, lives in my living room, flanked by side tables for laptop and printer/scanner and facing the television.
Friday, April 12, 2013
Last night I tried sleeping in my own bed, having prepared it with the occupational therapist’s help with the necessary hip precautions designed to keep one from putting certain torsional pressures on the healing joint. It did not go well. Oh, it seemed comfortable at first, though a bit odd to have my upper body only slightly raised on my own slim wedge pillow, instead of the larger angle the recliner provides. But I soon discovered that, even when I put a pillow under my left knee, that whole limb, from hip on down to ankle, was not enjoying lying flat. I started getting the occasional spasm of restless leg, and no amount or variation of repositioning within what was feasible could relieve my left leg’s discontent. The hip itself began to ache. So finally, after an hour and a half of trying to get beyond uneasy intermittent dozing to real sleep, I gave up and hobbled down to the trusty recliner, where I spent the rest of a blissfully comfortable, soundly sleeping night. I’m going to try taking a nap on the bed this afternoon, see if I can retrain myself to sleep there, and hope that it won’t take until the hip precautions are finally lifted and I can again sleep as I prefer, curled on my right side, to be at ease. Or maybe I’ll just invest in my own sleeper-recliner so I can give back my friend Annette’s generous loan of my present salvation and still get a good night’s sleep. My recovery has been going so swiftly and so well, it’s no doubt salutary to be reminded now and then that I am, in fact, getting over a major insult to the old body.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Doing well, is what it is. Yesterday was a down day, tired and achy; not surprising given how strenuously I’d overdone things Tuesday, and the discomfort was exacerbated by attempting to wean myself entirely off the oxycodone. After a discussion with my surgeon’s office I did take a couple of minimal doses to help rest and icing work their magic. So this morning I find my energy restored, my comfort re-established, and so far no need to take any analgesic despite having done the usual morning chores and the first set of PT exercises. I won’t try to be a hero if I get significantly achy, but hope to go opioid-free today; we’ll see. Today will be a good day to work on the one job I have, do some light reading, and otherwise continue convalescing. And tonight, a next step, hopefully: sleep in my own bed rather than the recliner!
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
And it’s a good one. At the moment I’m sitting quietly, resting and icing an achy hip. But fear not – the ache, and it’s a mild one, is from what I’ve already done this morning: Got up, washed, dressed. Fed the cats, the first time I’ve been able to do that myself – yes, including taking one bowl upstairs to Sally’s realm. Tossed a bag of laundry down to the basement, then followed it down and started the wash going. Gone up to the second floor again to fetch down some clothing. Had an extensive physical therapy session, including another trip to the basement to flip the laundry from washer to dryer. I now have approval to walk with one crutch whenever I wish. My PT is amazed at how well I’m doing – after all, at this time two weeks ago I was having the surgery. So, yes, all in all, things are going very well indeed. If it turns nice this afternoon I will go outside for a bit of a walk; yesterday was gorgeous and I went out three times, walking short distances each venture but the total was probably a good city block’s length, if not more. Right, right – don’t get cocky. But I daresay optimistic is okay.
Friday, April 5, 2013
I hitched upstairs to my office this morning, to get something and say hello to the cat who lives in that part of the townhouse. While there I succumbed to temptation and turned on my main computer, if only to download and dispose of all the email that’s accumulated since I shut it down late on March 26th. Of course I couldn’t leave it at that; I wound up sitting down to pay some bills online as well as sort and dispose of the mail backlog. Hoo boy. My hip is NOT ready to spend time in an office chair, not even with a plump pillow intervening. It was a relief to finish the tasks and get back to the relative comfort of the recliner, where I plan to spend the rest of the day. Here I’m much more at ease, and here I’ll be working on my first proofreading job since the surgery. It’s promised to be not too long, not too difficult, and not urgent, so it should be a good test run to see how resuming work will go. Dunno if I’ll try to repeat yesterday’s walk outside; the day isn’t quite as pleasant. But I’m tempted to give it a go. Perhaps it would make a good mid-read break from the proofing. Baby steps, O impatient patient; baby steps.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
As I keep reminding myself, that’s good advice, and its truth is evident this evening. After today’s triumphant walk, I spent the rest of the afternoon resting in my faithful recliner, quietly reading, and felt good enough at suppertime to heat up one of those meals-in-a-bag on the stove and hand-wash the dishes after I’d finished eating. Now I’m tired and a little achey and not inclined to do anything more strenuous this evening than sit here and read. So much for giant leaps forward. But I’ll take what I can get and be grateful.
Another great step forward today – I walked outside this afternoon. My physical therapist asked me if I wanted to try, and by golly I was ready. So she slid rubber-soled slippers onto my feet and out the front door we went, me in my nightgown and robe, she at my side, ready to catch me. But no fear of falling! I peg-legged it down the stairs and crutched merrily down the driveway, employing an alternating-crutch-swing technique that let me power up to a respectable speed with a substantial stride. We went all the way to the mailbox stand so I could send out an envelope, then headed right back before I could overdo it. I had no trouble getting back up the front stairs; wasn’t even all that tired or sore at the end of today’s grand adventure. It was wonderful. Fresh air and sunshine! Being able to walk straight and free without constantly having to maneuver around stuff! Out! We decided not to bother with the usual round of exercises, since I’d already done one set that morning and the walk was enough for the afternoon; if I feel up to it I’ll do another set this evening. I have the therapist’s okay to try this again tomorrow, solo, with the promise not to overdo it. Huzzah!
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Tonight I washed my hair. Let me step back and try that again. Tonight I washed my hair!!!!!! It’s been a week since I could say that, and it’s just been AWFUL to feel how dirty it’s become, how grubby I’ve felt. Just a week? It feels like forever! So a little while ago I grabbed a bath towel from the half-bath, stripped down at the kitchen sink (crutches propped nearby), leaned over, and let that hot clean water run over my tacky head. Lather. Scrub. Rinse. REPEAT, luxuriating in the sensation of layer after layer of accumulated dreck washing away. I quit after two rounds, though I daresay my graying mane could have done with a third, if not a fourth; didn’t want to overdo it. Instead I toweled, rerobed into my night clothes, and crutched back to the half-bath to hang up the towel and brush my CLEAN(er) hair. It was necessary to resist trying to dance with crutches. Singing was on the program, though, along with a giant smile. We’ll see if I’ll be up to doing that every day – although I must say, now that I’m settled into my recliner, I feel fine. But even if it’s only every other day, still the psychological boost from accomplishing this is marvelous.
It really does make a difference. Until last night, my post-surgical nights have been a jumble of fitful broken sleep, never more than a couple of hours at a time of true slumber. No surprise, that, in the hospital; at home, though, it didn’t get much better. The living room recliner, where I’d planned to sleep, turned out to be neck-crimpingly uncomfortable for very long. I transferred myself, the first night, around 2:00 a.m., to the couch. The transfer process itself was slow, clumsy, curse-riddled, but ultimately successful enough that I decided to continue there. In daylight the setup got rearranged to something usefully better. It still wasn’t all that comfortable; I still slept fitfully; but it would do till I felt strong enough to go upstairs to my own bed. Trouble is, that couch is low enough to make getting up for the bathroom runs difficult. Last night, having awakened a couple of hours after settling in, I almost fell back in mid-rise. My stiff body ached. That was it. I pulled the blanket off and crutched out to the dining/front area where my last hope sat: another recliner, kindly lent to me by the good friend who’d hauled me to and from the hospital. This recliner is all upholstered (no hard wooden arms), and motorized to lift one up or gently settle one back at whatever preferred angle. Into this I settled, and proceeded to sleep deeply and well for a good three hours, then after the inevitable bathroom run for another blissful four. I awoke refreshed and minus most of the usual stiffness. Even the two cats lying on my lap didn’t make anything hurt. Okay, all right, I hear you saying “What took you so long, you looney?” -- a legitimate question, to which I reply that the first time I tried sleeping in it I got a neck crick; the position of the head roll at the top was just wrong enough not to work for me. So while I’ve been enjoying lounging in it as a change of pace from my own recliner, and found it perfect for dining from at Sunday’s feast, it didn’t register as a bed for the night till all other options were exhausted. What made it work this time was hitting upon just the right pillow – a thin, near-worn-out, floppy but still serviceable dogbone neck pillow that had been my mother’s for many years. With that in place, sleep came to stay. And the ultimate goal: my own bed? I want to get stronger and steadier first, but the physical therapist took me upstairs yesterday and I have the go-ahead, with suitable precautions, to get back into it when I feel ready. Hopefully a few more good nights’ sleep in my wonderful friend’s wonderful recliner will do the trick.
Monday, April 1, 2013
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
So this is (almost) it. 24 hours till I, as they say, go under the knife. How am I doing? Surprisingly well, actually. Between so many people telling me of friends and acquaintances who’ve done wonderfully with a hip replacement, my own excellent prior experiences with this hospital and its personnel, and the frank and full explanations of my surgeon and his staff, I’m confident this will go well. I anticipate my own stubborn determination coupled with the help of others will see me through a swift and thorough recovery. No doubt, as the time for departure gets closer, I’ll be having some eeps, some shivers of apprehension; but mostly I’m just feeling “Hell, yeh, let’s get it done!”
Thursday, March 21, 2013
I’ve been trying to keep up with as much of my life’s routines as possible, despite my debility’s steady narrowing of their scope, giving ground only grudgingly. But yesterday and today, the pain has won two battles. Battle the First: Cavalry Maneuvers It’s been over a month now that I surrendered the stall mucking and other heavy lifting to hired help. Renee’s done a wonderful job of it at a remarkably reasonable price, and I’m fortunate to have her tending to Ben’s swamp. But still I clung to feeding lunch to Ben and his two white buddies, and to bringing the big brown doofus into his stall at night. Yesterday that ended. Tuesday’s nasty storm left the farm awash in heavy snow with half-concealed stretches of ice. I arrived already in pain, heaved myself from the car into the barn, collected the lunch grain, hobbled out to the top of the short driveway sloping down to the run-in…. And stood there, staring at the impossible terrain I’d have to negotiate without falling. Stood there, leaning on my cane, and began to sob with pain and frustration and fear of falling: “I can’t do this I can’t do this I can’t do this….” The horses gazed eagerly up at me. Food human! Lunch is coming! I looked down at them, frozen in place: “I can’t do this I can’t do this I can’t do this….” But of course I did do it, I found a way, swinging wide across the bordering lawn, clinging to the fence when, after agonizing inching, I reached it, my feet and cane sinking erratically into the crusty snow with every cautious tiny step. I did what had to be done, I made it back up the slope to safety, and I faced reality: I cannot do this anymore. So I’ve made the necessary arrangements, put into operation now the plan I’d devised for post-op. The pain has won this round. Battle the Second: Operation Cleanup Cleaning litterboxes daily is one downside of maintaining a feline tribe in residence, but one I’ve never minded, even though it requires trudging from top to bottom of my four-level townhouse. It’s been awkward and uncomfortable having to do the necessary bending and kneeling with a bum hip and, lately, equally grumpy knee, but quite manageable. Until today. Today was different. Today, I awoke to life without ibuprofen. I’ve been taken off it for the remainder of the run-up to the surgery, and while I do have hydrocodone to tide me over the difference in pain control is hideously apparent. The knee especially stabs me with every step, to the point that I fear falling at any moment I’m moving and not holding on to something solid. As you may imagine, cleaning litterboxes and descending stairs with bucket of gleanings in hand was flat-out awful this morning. I did it, because it had to be done. I won’t do it again, though, until I’m healed enough from the surgery to manage it. Once again, my post-op planning has a solution in place, and the person I’d lined up to hire for long-term litter mucking, taking over from my friend’s short-term kind help, will start doing it tomorrow. I hate hate hate having to be dependent. I’m not thrilled about the extra expense, either. But reality doesn’t give a damn about that. Let me rather be grateful that I do have solutions to hand, and focus on reaching the point that I no longer need them. The pain has won some battles, but I will win this war.
Friday, March 1, 2013
…than discovering that the new pain relief prescription (Relafen) you’ve just started this morning is not merely less effective than the old one (ibuprofen); that it is, in fact, damn near useless and that your bum hip savages you every time you move it? What’s worse is checking with your pharmacist and learning that, because the new stuff is taken in a 24-hour dose, you’ll have to wait till tomorrow morning to go back on the old stuff. Why, yes. Yes, I am feeling rather sorry for myself at the moment. Although, to be scrupulously honest, I must confess that in desperation I dug out my in-case-of-emergency-only supply of OxyContin (kept on hand for those times when yet another dental crisis erupts on a weekend or holiday) and took one. Hopefully that will settle things down enough for me to get through what otherwise promises to be a most unpleasant day and night. Hip replacement surgery is looking a whole lot more attractive now.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Saw an orthopedist today for persistent hip pain and got the verdict I was afraid I’d hear: I need a total hip replacement. Oh, it doesn’t have to be right away; I can put it off till I just can’t live with the discomfort and restrictions any more. But, having looked at the x-ray and seen the wear-and-tear damage to the joint for myself, it’s a matter of when, not if. Crap. I did not need to hear that.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Commander came to me in November 2009. His then owner, Rick, had fought him through his first battle with founder, had won the gallant Morgan back to soundness, but wanted to ride more aggressively than he felt would be fair to Commander. So when our paths chanced to cross and I learned the Mighty Morgan needed a new home; when Rick saw the home I could offer, and the large amiable Thoroughbred Commander could be buddies with, we struck a simple deal: Commander became my horse "for one dollar in hand and other valuable consideration." That consideration was a loving lifelong home where Rick was welcome to come visit whenever he wished. It was a good deal for all concerned, and for a year and a half, till the founder struck again, it was unalloyed fun. Even during the roller coaster ride of the disease there were long stretches of good times. The bad times expanded; the good times dwindled; but Commander never lost his inner fire, nor the love of those who knew him. I kept Rick informed about Commander's health, of course, and Rick visited as often as he could, always offering me moral support and trust in my judgment for Commander's care. On Sunday, when it became apparent that this was likely to be the end, Rick came to see his old friend for the last time and say goodbye. He chose not to be present for the euthanasia, a decision I respected and concurred with. When it was over I called Rick, as he'd requested, got his voicemail, and said what had to be said; later that day sent him the death notice email, the text of which is this blog's preceding post; and in the evening received the reply below, published here with his consent. Truly, Commander was well loved. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Laura: I was thinking about Commander, as I often do, today a little after 10:00am. Somehow I knew he was gone. The phone never rang, but about 11:20am I noticed a voicemail on my phone. I listened with some trepidation, and when I heard your sad voice it was confirmed. It's sad to say goodbye to an old friend. For me, he will always be that one great horse! He was not for everyone, but he was perfect for me. I always felt I could ride that horse safely through anything, and I did, although, many would question my judgement at times :o)! But he would always go willingly. I have had him in water up to his back, and one time I turned him into a submarine when I misjudged how deep the river was. We stepped in and his head disappeared under the water. I suppose that is why I would let him get away with ground shenanigans that most horse owners frown on. Frankly, I liked it and he knew it because we had a relationship and an understanding. Although he could be a handful for some adults, he carried on his back evryone from inexperienced riders to young children. He would be gentle as a kitten with those who were most delicate. He was so kind and gentle to a little boy with down syndrome that lived next door, and I saw him with his muzzle gently move a baby kitten back and to the side when it wandered into his hay pile. Then there was the day Carol tried to take his mare, and he chased her onto a manure pile and kept her there! He knew the difference. Part of what I loved about him was also what frustrated me about him...he was so smart. He needed to be busy with something. Even my last visit with him, he was so "Commander" as I entered the barn he was gazing out the window. Not one other horse was interested in the wild weather out side, but Commander always enjoyed a view. Commander had a few owners, and bounced around a bit in his youth, but he found two people that would love and understand him. I was the right person for many years, but Commander hit the jackpot when he found you. I have to tell you that my heart always felt good about Commander going to you. You gave him the best care, love and respect. Like I said, he was not a horse for just anyone, but you were without a doubt, the right person for him. Like I said, Commander is probably the smartest horse we will ever know, and he was a good judge of character. You are a wonderful person and you gave him a wonderful life. Being there when he needed you most and making a very tough decision are just recent examples of your great care. He will be missed. Every time we open our hearts to great love, we also open our hearts to great sadness....but it is always worth it. It is sad to say goodbye to an old friend, but we are blessed to have had such a friend to say good bye to. I hope he is on green pastures running like the wind reborn to his healthy youthful self. And someday I hope to see him again...I told him as much. Thank you for loving him. He knew it and appreciated it! Rick
Monday, February 18, 2013
Commander went to his rest this morning at a little past 10:00, ending his drawn-out, roller-coaster, ultimately unwinnable battle with founder. He walked slowly but resolutely out of the barn, into the sunlight, and stood foursquare with his head high as we gave him our last gift. Commander slipped swiftly, peacefully into surcease from pain. He died with dignity, with his pride and spirit intact, and with a cookie in his mouth. He will be missed.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Drove over through the bitter wind and snow to the barn an hour ago. Commander looked bad. Make that awful. There’s no hope. I figured as much yesterday, but now it’s official. The vet is making the arrangements for tomorrow. His former owner will be coming over to say goodbye today. Commander is still full of himself, full of attitude and appetite, and as soon as I’d dumped fresh shavings, before I even had a chance to spread them, he slung himself over them to piss. That’s himself, all right. Founder sucks.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Commander’s got an abscess. That’s the good news. The Mighty Morgan had been looking very good recently, the best he’s been in a while – going out for turnout feisty and upheaded and attitudinal. But last evening he came in gimpy on his left front, and today when I arrived at midday he was hobbling, barely able to put the foot down. When the vet arrived and assessed him she found a soft spot in the toe area, and a bit of digging broke it open to release the bloody crud within. We soaked his foot in hot water, Epsom salts and Betadine, then Helen wrapped a thick pad of cotton onto his misshapen hoof rather than putting the boot back on. Commander was clearly much more comfortable after all that and we left him quietly munching hay in Ben’s stall, where I’d put him earlier to give better light for the vet. He’ll continue to convalesce there, on daily doses of antibiotics, and Ben can make do with spending a couple of nights in the MM’s dimmer, less-windowed stall. The bad news? The abscess is right at the tip of the coffin bone, a tip already perilously close to breaking through the sole. This could be the last straw, the final episode in Commander’s long battle with founder. We’ll see how he does over the next couple of days; I’ll check in with Helen on Monday with a status report; and we’ll go from there wherever the path takes us. We’ve already discussed making arrangements for euthanasia.