Monday, February 21, 2011


It's been a week since my last post and a lot has happened.

The weather finally cooperated and Tom left for Arizona last Tuesday to move my sister Karen back to Arkansas. He arrived in Kingman last Wednesday about 11:00am, packed the car, critters (with an 's') and all, and was back on the road headed home by noon. They arrived in time for dinner on Thursday.

So...where to start? Karen is not well.

Some background (although the actual time frame is unclear to me since Karen and I had not spoken for about 30 years until about 3 years ago): 1) bypass surgery a number of years ago rendering her disabled; 2) a heart attack sometime around 2001; 3) most recently (last September) started having angina again (although I really don't know the difference between a heart attack and angina) and visited the doctor for a check up. Doc found blocked arteries which required 3 stents; 4) and finally a couple of weeks ago had a mini-stroke which caused temporary blindness and a seizure.

Today...Karen is currently taking about 15 different daily medications, some of which are taken multiple times per day (and you all know how I feel about physicians over-medicating patients). She is experiencing what I would consider severe side-effects - extreme sleepiness (she sleeps about 20 hours a day) and double vision (which would make me vomit after one episode). Tom was reading through her drug bibliography and found that the side effects for three of the medications are extreme sleepiness and/or muscle weakness and blurred vision, so she is getting a triple whammy from three of those drugs that produce two of those side effects. One of those is an anti-seizure drug which her doctor prescribed 'just in case', even though the seizure she had was a result of the mini-stroke and not likely to occur independently. Her doctor told her that her body would 'adjust' to the drugs.

< rant >

Can someone please convince me that taking 15 separate drugs is remotely 'good for you'? How can someone's body even begin to assimilate all that crap flowing through your system without some severe negative effects. Obviously it can't because she has become nearly non-functional. Medicine is supposed to help you heal, not make you sicker!

< /rant >

Karen brought critters with her.

Dusty, her cat, is really a phantom. We never see her. Even when Karen lived with us a couple of years ago, we rarely saw Dusty. She is a 'domesticated' feral and the only human she trusts is Karen.

Then there is Buster aka Crack Dog aka Thing. Karen acquired Buster, er Crack Dog sometime around the end of December. She said she thought he was a Shi Tzu, but Tom and I think he is a Lhasa Apso, but the heavier side of the breed (about 15 to 16 pounds). Poor Buster is a candidate for Cesar Millan's Dog Pychology Center. He is incredibly !!HYPER!!, whines incessantly and jumps on anyone for attention. By Friday afternoon, less than 24 hours of his arrival, I was ready for a double martini for me and doggie valium for Buster. To be fair, Buster is still adjusting to his new environment and starting to settle down a little bit, but Karen's inability to engage and interact with him with exercise, grooming, one-on-one attention and the strong discipline he needs simply exacerbates the problem.

This is Buster aka Crack Dog aka Thing...


I know. Nasty. Nearly all the hair on his body is matted. Last Friday, Tom held him still while I used clippers to get rid of the long hair around his eyes. I also shaved the hair from his tallywacker (I LOVE that word!) and the matted hair from his entire groin area, and low and behold he was able to finally lift his leg more than two inches off the ground to pee and has stopped peeing on his own feet.

But Sunday was worse. Tom took both the dogs out in the morning and when I got up and went looking for Tom, I found him out on the patio giving Buster a butt bath with the hose, some shampoo and a sponge. Later that afternoon, I was given the privilege of shaving Buster's butt.

This week, Buster will be 'groomed', i.e. shaved by a professional who knows what she is doing and whose clippers will actually penetrate the mats.

Also this week, Karen will make an appointment with a physician for an assessment of her current condition, review her short- and long-term prognosis, explore her options and discuss the wisdom and necessity of all those medications. She is nearly bed-ridden from the drug side effects and her quality of life and well being is so substandard right now that she is considering cutting out all of the medications altogether in order to live out the rest of her life somewhat normally. What decision she ultimately makes after a visit with a physician may be a little different.

I have no idea what is going to happen or what will transpire. Right now I can only face this transition day to day.

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