Gina Is Well

Gina is well.

We have returned from the vet and Gina was given an “all clear” on her ultrasound – liver, kidneys, bladder, gallbladder, spleen, and everything in between are all good and in fact in “excellent” condition, according to the vet who did the ultrasound. Gina is well!

She did mention that because Gina is a “big girl” (although, “quite petite for a Bernese”) the scope only reaches 10cm or 5in in depth, so could there be issues, yes.. but she said that looking at the other organs and the surrounding tissues, she says it seems that it is unlikely (at the moment) that anything is lurking beyond the range of the ultrasound scope.

She handled the procedure well – she’s a pro, having had many ultrasounds in our quest to figure out her tummy issues etc – and the vet and techs were all enamored with her, of course. Even one of the resident vet office cats came to check her out.

So, after discussion and a quick research on my phone, we have found the generic (US-based) form of the Forekor 28 that we were giving Gina in Germany, and we have started her on that. It’s also LOADS cheaper, so when (not if!) her levels drop on this, we can easily keep it up without breaking the bank – not that it would ever stop us from getting her medication, of course, we love our Ginabear to the moon and back.

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Weather out there was gloomy and dark and stormy – a good day to be inside, snuggled and warm with a nice cup of tea.

Gina concurs.

Steps Forward – An Update

Steps Forward

I felt it was time to have a little update on life in the “milburbs” and things happening.

First off – Odin has made some remarkable progress with meeting new dogs and making friends. Besides our friend Max, who is his absolute BEST BUDDY EVER, he has now made friends with some other dogs – including some WHITE dogs (which he had issue with before) and some very excitable dogs (which he also had issue with before) and while we are still careful with the meet-and-greet process (Even at the dog park) he has made some really awesome steps forward in his behaviour. Dealing with dogs on our walks has also become more manageable (not totally great yet, but getting there) now that he’s got Max in his life, and we often meet them and walk with them (walk bonding is the best way to get dogs to calm and become friends) on long walks and he used to get silly about seeing a dog in the distance, now he wiggles his butt and barks (but that’s also the influence of Azzie and Gina, who bark even when they know the dog as well!) and when he knows it’s Max he is SO HAPPY he leaps about and wiggles and smiles and pokes all his friends with his nose.

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My husband got to see how far he had come (because he’s not there for the day-to-day work that I do with them) on 2 occasions now – once at the beach when he met a couple of VERY energetic and noisy dogs for the first time (a friend of his from work brought her two) and again at the dog park (when he met another dog for the first time, who belonged to a friend of my husband’s)

The dogs had an absolute BLAST at the beach, as well – their first ever time. They ran and ran and dug in the sand and swam and were utterly exhausted by the end of the morning. They made new friends, and found a new place to be wild and free and happy. It was a magical morning.

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In other, slightly more worrying news.

Ever since we got Gina, she has had a slightly elevated protein level – kidneys/liver were the main culprits. In Germany, one of the reasons the vets suggested she be spayed (She was still intact when we adopted her, age 3) was because the levels climbed and she started having hormonal issues and multiple “heats” in a row and they were scared it would lead to pyometra or something cancerous (Bernese are prone to cancers, unfortunately) so we had that done and while the levels dropped, they were still just SLIGHTLY above average.

We went to various vets in Germany (due to moving, not due to any issues) and each one gave us the same diagnosis and suggested a medication that could help. In the EU it is called “Fortekor 28” and it was very expensive, but we put her on it and it helped a great deal to keep her levels regulated. Still slightly above average, but never dangerous.

Then, upon moving to the USA, the new vets (both military and civilian) said they wouldn’t put her on the medication (which we eventually found had a nice well-priced generic version) until they had done their own tests… so when she had to have blood tests done to check that the Lyme disease (which she had picked up in Germany thanks to the diabolical ticks there) was all cleared out of her system, they indicated higher levels than she had previously, because she had not been on the tablets since we left Germany. The vet (who we settled on) said not to worry and we could wait and see until her annual heartworm tests were done. So, a few months ago when the heartworm tests were done (negative!) they also drew extra to test her levels.. they were quite high (in the 800’s when they SHOULD be under 100 – as that’s where her levels had been before, when I checked on her previous labs from Germany) but unfortunately the vet who we were working with had a family emergency and left the practice where he worked! A few weeks later, we knew we had to bring her in for her “senior” panel (As she is now over 7 years old) and asked them to test again. They did and this time her levels in her liver were dangerously high (over 1000…. ) so tomorrow we go to the vet to get an ultrasound of her liver/kidneys to check for masses.

I am trying to be calm, trying to be positive – hoping they find nothing and we can just put her back on the fortekor (or generic alternative) and it will bring them back down to good levels again.

She’s our First Fur Kid, and to lose her would be devastating on so many levels.

Reflection and listening

Ok. I am not someone who is too proud to admit that I was not wrong but perhaps too hasty in my reactions.

So, I won’t apologise for my disappointment, but I will apologise for my soap box rant about it. I’m allowed my opinion, and so are you.

Upon reflection, and listening to arguments and comments from ALL sides of this whole discussion – I am starting to understand why this happened. I still don’t LIKE the outcome, and I am still very disappointed… but I am really starting to see the reasons and reasoning for what has happened.

I’m still anxious about things in the future – environmental issues especially, because there is no denying that the progress made is definitely going to be threatened under this new rule – but I am going to try and open my mind a bit more to understand the sad steps and PC bullshit that has led this country to this point.

There’s no right side in this, both sides are to blame for this.

Let’s move on.

I am so disappointed.

At this point I don’t really care if this post loses me “friends” – if you can’t allow me to have an opinion other than your own then I’m afraid we can’t be friends anyway.

I’m not one for political rants or even conversations about it as I am usually totally apathetic when it comes to politics. I tend to err on the side of “I don’t like politicians and I don’t see their point.” but really, USA? You chose Trump? Even after everything he has said and done? Even after all the warnings and red flags? Even knowing what will happen when he steps up to that big white house on the hill? He’s in it for himself, USA. He does not CARE about the “people” – unless they are the wealthy people that can fund his idiotic and terrible projects.

I am so disappointed.

All I can hear is, “Electrolytes! It’s what plants need!” and I hear the doom of your once great nation.

Doom

Doom.

 

I am so disappointed.

My heart is actually sore. Seriously.

You go from Obama – no scandals in 8 years, intelligent, compassionate, highly amusing and intellectual – to that  soft, orange, butter-faced, small-handed, ignorant, misogynist, racist, bigoted, low-IQ, money-grabbing, power-hungry, backward-thinking BUFFOON! Really?

Have you seen “Idiocracy” yet? If you haven’t, do yourself a favour and go find it. Watch it. Weep for your country, because it’s coming. Even Wall-E was a kind of portent of the future.

It’s coming.

 

I am so utterly disappointed I feel sick to my stomach, and so sad.

 

Two Sides

Heading into winter, my favourite season of the year, there are two sides to it and I embrace both equally passionately: The Cold and Dark, and the Warm and Comfy. 6583f3cef53ea929e1811bebcaa8c560e387072a63b739b34c1cc3ba6666e50e

I am just as happy to be out in the cold air, in a dark forest, silence thick as the snow, looking for tracks and places where the deer sleep with my dogs around me sniffing the trail and leaping about in the snow, as I am to be in thick, warm socks, snug and warm clothing and a big soft jersey, with a hot cup of tea or hot chocolate, enjoying good music or some tv shows or a movie, with my dogs snoring around my feet.

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Winter, for me, is a time of reflection and silence, and also a time of comfort and care for oneself, two sides as to everything. I become even more of a hermit in the dark months, than I am normally in the summer and spring. This winter will be different, as it doesn’t get very cold here and there is minimal snow (or so it seemed last year when we first got here – but there are mutterings from locals that “this one” could be a harsh one… I won’t hold my breath, but I would be pleasantly surprised) and I will also (once again) have my husband with me for a change.

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Halloween, Samhain, is the start of MY time of the year, when I truly become “myself”, and I will relish every crisp morning, and cold evening and downpour and icy wind for the next couple of months. I will try and “store” the cold feelings in my head, so I can remember them when I’m sweltering in the Georgia summer yet again.

I still remember every single winter I saw in Germany. Each one was different, and each place we lived was different as well. The forests and fields will stay with me for the rest of my life – there is nothing like Germany in the deep winter, and I clung to the memory of those icy, dark days when our first summer rolled in here in the South. It helped a little bit. A smidgen.

The time has come for warm gloves and hats and scarves and winter boots and good jackets, and I cannot wait for it!

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And one day soon, when our dreams come true (and, oh, they will come true) we will live in Colorado and I’ll get my snow and the dogs will learn to pull a sled and we’ll have a fireplace and a little cabin in the woods.

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Poor little Azzie

My poor little Azzie monster, she got herself another hot spot AND an ear infection at the same time, in BOTH ears. Thanks, Georgia summer.

This hot spot was so enormous that the vet was astounded at the size of it.

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They had to sedate her to shave the area, and to apply all the ointments and shots and the medication to her ears. The vet said that she would be a bit “strange” after the sedation, for at least 24 hours. Bernese Mountain Dogs are very sensitive to the effects of anesthetic and sedation, and generally need less to get them “out” than most other breeds, so it’s more than 24 hours since she came round from the sedation and she’s still not quite “herself” yet.

I am very grateful that this was nothing malignant, or difficult to treat. So we’ll get through this post-sedation funk with my poor little Azzie, and hope the hotspot clears up as quickly as the last one did.

As20161026_145844 I write this, she is sitting close by my chair, resting against my legs. When she is … lucid… she has become even more of my big fluffy black shadow dog than she was before. When she’s in sleep mode (which is about 90% of the time at the moment, due to the sedation after effects) she plops down anywhere and tries to find a comfy position. The first night was the worst – she could NOT get comfortable. She cried and whimpered and whined from the moment she saw me down the end of the passage at the vet office and came running – wobbling is more descriptive – to me, until about 4 am the next morning. It was a difficult few days as my husband had to be up incredibly early in the morning and neither of us got any sleep in our worry and care of her, but she is feeling much better, thankfully. The other two dogs were very worried about her, and they didn’t sleep so well either. Weirdly, Gina has been much more her “old self” (before we got Azzie) while this has been going on. It’s like as Azzie’s loud, proud and crazy personality lulled, Miss Gina’s personality rose to fill the “gap” created. She’s been playing with Odin in the mornings (and at the dog park) and is very feisty and silly and runs around outside and does her own thing – investigating bushes and rushing forward on the walks to walk next to Odin, who is always in the lead… while Azzie has fallen right back behind me, and sometimes just stops and stands there thinking about things. It’s a strange phenomenon, and one I should speak to my friend Nicole about at some point – is it normal? I know Gina kinda went into an aloof state when we got Azzie – I think she thought she would always be an “only child” as she had been for the first 3 years of her life before we adopted her.

In a way, I’m hoping that this will help Azzie slow down just a little and grow up just a little, so that her personality can balance with Gina’s, and Odin’s, and they can become a balanced “pack” and be happier in their interactions with the world and other dogs. But if the “old” Azzie comes back I am still just as happy – I just want her to be herself again. This quiet, non reacting version of my poor little Azzie bear is just downright WEIRD, and she barely wags her tail – but that’s getting a little better now. She stares off into space a little bit, but not as bad as yesterday, and she at least responds to her name now.

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Snippet 17

The Beast raises his shaggy haired arms with muscles twitching and sweat sliding

Between his fingers twines a snake with eyes like sapphires and teeth like diamonds

And pearls of venom dribble from tips of fangs and the hiss escapes like sibilant whispers

Of black words and black thoughts and black deeds with shadowed wings and sharpness

Like knives of iron and quick slick slices and cold plumes of crystal breath rushing

With force of gale and gust and grabbing hands snatching and snarling and scratching

Skeletal branches against the giant Moon’s light with bats alight and eyes glowing

In the pitch black undergrowth with clicks and snicks and snaps and crackles and cackles

Of stooped women in ragged black clothes with gnarled hands and wise gazes that fix

Upon your face they delve and dive into your life and do not allow lies and liars

Betwixt the veil and the shadow and the land you live on and in and over and under

Ground yourself in the old and the deep and the cruel and the kind and the wheel

That continues on even after death after misery after tragedy after loss and tread softly

As the Moon slides down below the tree line and you are left with nothing but the warmth of your heart and the burning knowledge in your head.

 

 

My favourite colour is October

Living in the Northern Hemisphere, I’ve come to appreciate the changing of the seasons in this Northerly way – October is the start of my favourite part of the year, this cooler part of the Wheel of Seasons. October is Autumn (I still call it that, and I don’t think I will ever call it “Fall” despite only hearing that from everyone here.) and it means turning leaves, quieting forests, crisp cold mornings and evenings, gathering animals, the last harvests. and the feeling that the veil is thinning.

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Soon, the rain will come, the dark skies and icy wind, muddy paths and wet shoes. The feeling of needing to be silent, thoughtful, ponderous, solitary. Warm clothes, warm drinks, hearty food. I know I will be baking more bread, making more soups and stews, and adding my home-grown dried herbs and spices to it all.

If last year here was anything to go by, it will not even be a pale cousin of what this time of year is like in Germany, but I’m happy just to be able to wear a jersey or coat outside. And boots. I can’t wait to wear my boots and thick socks and take the dogs into the deep forests, where it’s dark and quiet and you feel like you are being watched: Because you are!20150319_090516

On more mundane things, I have a few updates:

I’ve completed Part I of my school and now wait for them to unlock Part II. Not much more to do now – but thankfully, I get time added for this Part II, or I’d never get it done by the deadline from the previous Sections.

Sitting here at my desk without anything to do butwait, I find a kind of peace. A quiet before the storm. The gathering of strength and resolve before the last stretch. A day where I can do what I feel like, at my own pace, on my own time. No demands on me today. My time is my own. So I’m listening to some awesome music to get me in the October mood, and I think I might just go and bake a cake or some bread or something. Or maybe just a brew of oranges and cinnamon to make the house smell like magic.

Another update: We’ve been here for 1 year and 6 days, as of today. My birthday passed quietly. A weekday with the same old routine. It was perfect. Dogs and I discovered a new set of trails, and we’ve been enjoying the cooler mornings – which means longer walks for them. Beginning of November means I’ll have been away from home for 5 years now. December will mean 6 years married to this unique, interesting, adventurous, kind, keen, caring and comfortable man of mine.

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I miss home. When decisions are made and we settle somewhere, I will definitely be going home for a holiday on my own. My blood sings for my home turf, my home earth, my home hearth, my home heart. More lost beloved fur family, and more lost human family while I have been gone. I just hope my Mardi girl can hold out until I can see her again. I still ache when I think of not saying goodbye to my wee Macky boy. Knowing he, and the ones who went before, all lived long, happy lives, loved and spoiled and cared for, doesn’t make it any easier on my heart.

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Macky
My beautiful Mardi Gras
My beautiful Mardi Gras

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other, little updates: Odin and Azzie and Gina have made some friends – most importantly is Maximus. He’s a 7 year old Husky mix and he’s absolutely beautiful and gentle and my dogs adore him. Odin also adores his owner, Ellie, and seems to be quite besotted with her. He gives her a full body waggle when he sees her – which is rare for people outside his “pack”, and he did this right from the first time he met her and Max at the dog park.  We also met 2 youngsters (today, actually) called Zeus and Athena, and they seem to get along well too.

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Don’t believe the hype

Generally, I don’t believe the hype when it comes to “miracle pills” that will change your life and you don’t have to do ANYTHING. I feel that you have to work at everything – especially when it comes to weight loss and your health.

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Through my blogging connections, I got offered a “chance” to try the latest “miracle” weight loss tablet taking the world by storm. According to the ever-commercial Dr. Oz, this new plant is the BEST EVER and he is “thrilled” to endorse it “to the max” and all that usual hype.

I thought, why not. Who knows,
this time it might actually do something. It was supposedly all “natural” and the tablets I have also had added chromium to support blood sugar levels as well. Not that I have an issue with that, but it couldn’t hurt. I have tried a few types of plant based weight loss products before, and in every single case I had zero positive results. Mostly, nothing negative, but definitely nothing positive and definitely NO results as hyped in the commercials. I go into everything like this with a healthy dose of skepticism.

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Don’t believe the hype! Forskolin Plus + with chromium from Naturewise

So, I received my bottle of Naturewise Forskolin Plus+ with added Chromium with a little bit of trepidation, but with a small measure of hopeful anticipation. I didn’t need to lose much weight – just a few pounds to get to my goal – so I thought perhaps this could help me overcome that last little plateau that I had been fighting with for months, as it was hyped to the point of “You could lose up to 30 lbs in one month!” and other wild claims backed up with before and after photos.  As per usual, right?

So I measured myself, and took my initial weight and the next day I began with a half dosage – I tend to be very wary when I begin a regimen like this. Yes, half dose probably wasn’t going to do much, but I’d read of people who dropped to a half dose after initially doing the full dose, and they had majorly good results. I tried this for a week. Nothing happened. I fluctuated as per normal… 1 pound up, 2 pounds down, 1 pound up again, 2 pounds up. Same old, same old. I did, if I think about it, notice that I wasn’t as “snacky” as I was before. There was some measure of control of my appetite and cravings. After a week of nothing happening, I decided to try the full dosage.

Bad move. Not only did I GAIN weight (and I changed NOTHING – my diet, my portions, my exercise levels) I also became heavily bloated, and had a terribly upset stomach for the 5 days that I have been on the full dose. I tried to match these symptoms with other variables… but nothing was as constant in my daily diet as these tablets that I was now taking “as suggested” by the manufacturers.

I’ve gained over 5 pounds and I am now as heavy as I was 2 months ago, before I even started fighting with these “last few pounds” that I was so hopeful the forskolin would help me to get rid of.

So, I’ve stopped taking it. This morning I awoke with such painful stomach cramps that I knew that it was just not working for me. I have a tough-as-nails system, generally, and I can get away with just about anything, but clearly this little plant (related to mint – which doesn’t normally upset my innards in any way) is way too much for me.

I am disappointed, to say the least – BUT, not surprised, being the pessimist that I am.

Lesson learned. Don’t believe the hype.

Back to hard work and portion control and a little bit of will power. If the Georgia weather would just play along, I will even start running again.

 

And wow, just had some major deja vu typing this post!