Saturday, March 21, 2020

Craziness at Tarawood Acres

A lot has happened between my last post and now. The big story is the COVID-19 pandemic.

I’ve spent the past two weeks in utter agony. But not because of Covid-19.

The SquatchHers had one of our Squatch Chats at the Wilderness Bar in Bigfork on Saturday, March 7th. I wasn’t expecting to be able to be there due to my attendance as a delegate to the DFL Organizing Unit Conference in Deer River that day which was scheduled from 10-3. The Squatch Chat was scheduled from 2-4. Well, the conference ended early, and I was able to make it after all. It was great fun! We had lots of folks tell us their stories and we made a couple of connections with reporters for local newspapers. 

One of those reporters accompanied us the next day on a hike through a logging road not far from my house. It was a beautiful morning: the sun was shining; the temperature was warming and I felt pretty dog-gone good considering my physical ailments of late. So, I put on my waterproof boots and we set out. As time went on the “road” predictably became more slippery and muddy. My feet stayed dry, but the loose fit did not support my feel or legs well. I made the four-mile hike alright just feeling pretty tired at the end. The next morning, I woke up to severe stiffness and soreness. The next day was even worse. By Wednesday and Thursday, I was on the floor most of the time crying in agony. My groin was now added to the areas on my left side which were tormenting me.

Nikki arrived on the 9th and began destructing my bathroom as I was go-ferring back and forth to Bigfork to acquire items from the hardware store and pick up Charlie, my new extra pair of hands for hard labor. In between bouts of breathless pain, I cooked, hobbled up and down the basement stairs to tend to dogs, and played with Kola who had the run of the upstairs. Then I tried to sit with Maren, my daughter and be somewhat social.

By Thursday morning, it was clear SOMETHING had to be done. I went to the Bigfork Hospital and saw an urgent care doctor who thankfully gave me a small Rx for pain killers and received Battlefield acupuncture (via my ears) from the resident chiropractor. It seemed to help, and I was able to drive into Grand Rapids on Sunday to pick up some groceries and dog food in advance of the surging COVID-19 pandemic.

Monday, I went back to see my primary doctor, who put me on prednisone. I also saw the chiropractor again, and this time got needles implanted all over my back and backs of my knees. I have to say that the pain had been so intense, I could barely hold a conversation. I couldn’t sit or stand or lie down comfortably.

Later that day, my wonderful neighbor, Barry, came over and carried my three 50-pound bags of dog food downstairs for me. Sadly, his dog went missing on Friday the 13th and is still missing.

On Wednesday I went back to the chiropractor who did more acupuncture. In collaboration with my primary doc, they are trying to figure out what is wrong with me. The theory right now is a labral tear in my hip, along with a bulging disk, SI Joint misalignment, and meniscus tear—all on the left side.

Ever since my precious dog Buddy jerked me off my feet last April and sent me to the ER, I’ve been struggling with injuries. Plantar fasciitis in my right foot which I’ve suffered with for years is thought to be a factor in misaligning my SI joint on the left. I’ve had mild knee issues for years, but after an MRI (which wasn’t covered by insurance), I am also diagnosed with a torn meniscus in my left knee. Also exacerbated by falling.

Getting bit on the left calf during the pack attack on Nanook on Halloween did not help either. That injury prevented me from getting the surgery on my knee before the end of the year. Now it’s on hold indefinitely. Halloween used to be my favorite time of year. I’m not so sure now.

Topping that off, it looks like I have a subcutaneous and large varicose vein between the dog bite puncture sites (which still are not completely healed) and that also hurts. I need to go to a specialist in Grand Rapids for that. Not a high priority right now, let me tell you!

The first round of prednisone a few months ago had the lucky side effect of not only helping my SI joint, but also eliminating my plantar fasciitis! Oh, happy days! Until….the four mile hike to find Bigfoot injured my right foot again. This time along the outside edge of my foot. So, my left side is compensating AGAIN for the pain, and seems to be the catalyst for the new traumas.

I was supposed to go back to the chiropractor this past Thursday but decided to reschedule to Monday. Hopefully, the hospital be allowing him to practice and won’t close him down because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Or maybe that’s OK too. The prednisone really seems to be helping me a lot! I’m on my 7th day of 9-day dose and even have cut down significantly on the pain meds. I’m hoping today is a zero- pain med day.

I still have pain, but it’s mostly a background threat. Mobility is dutifully restricted lest I pay the consequences. But I’m ambulatory and still able to get the dogs in and out mostly OK. Sitting here now is starting to hurt a bit more than I’m able to tolerate, so I’m going to go take a bit of a break and walk around.

I should probably back up a bit.

Saturday, February 29th I took off to the city (Minneapolis) for a 3-night visit. This was the first time I’d been away from the house overnight since moving here in the middle of November of 2018! My ex-husband, Dan, drove up and took two days off work to babysit the dogs so I could do this. What a wonderful guy! I was feeling pretty darn good physically and made the 4+ hour trip in pretty good shape. I stayed with a friend the first night and she threw a small party for me. The second day was spent with my daughter Kristin and then dinner at Phil’s (my first ex-husband). He made me King Crab legs, so I was treated to another wonderful meal I didn’t have to cook. I stayed there overnight in the “guest” bedroom which was a virtual shrine to his deceased parents.  I slept in the bed that belonged to his dad. I wasn’t very comfy, but I managed. Monday, I spent the day with some other friends and went shopping and out to lunch with them.

I stayed overnight at Nikki’s on Monday night and again we went out for dinner at a local diner. During my visit I drove all over the place: in rush hour traffic on 35W, out west to St. Bonifacius and Chaska. It all came right back to me. Almost like I’d never left.

I returned home on Tuesday to find that Dan had fixed my refrigerator which had been dinging non-stop due to some electrical problem. All pets were fine, and all was well. We didn’t get to spend any time together because I was delayed picking up Maren for the return trip. All in all, I wasn’t in too bad of shape, and had a great time.I promised everyone I’d do it again before another 15 months go by—but now we might all be  in lockdown due to the pandemic. 

Nikki left on Friday the 13th after the destruction and reconstruction of my bathroom to at least functional. Going for a couple days without a bathroom for us all was quite an experience! Necessity is indeed the mother of invention! Trekking out on slippery snow and ice behind the shed with a bucket, bags, TP etc. to squat while in desperate pain wasn’t exactly a healing journey for me. By the time Nikki left with Maren, there was growing concern about the pandemic. Nikki stopped all along the way back to the city to give me reports of the chaos and empty grocery shelves depleted of all paper and sanitizing products.

So, today, the whole nation is in a state of confusion and panic. The POTUS is a blundering asshole who has made things worse from the get-go, and we are facing stock market crashes, unemployment, social isolation, and lack of medical supplies as well as COVID-19 testing. The nation is woefully unprepared for this, and the outlook is grim. Yet, some people are quite cavalier about it. From where I sit it seems like it’s mostly Trumpsters, Republicans and young people out on Spring Break. It’s quite discouraging to know that Trump has shut down the very departments that could have made this all easier. It’s tough to know that he and others were aware a long time ago of the impending problem and LIED to the American people for profit and reelection reasons. Unfathomably, his minions stubbornly adore him. He and his cronies are ugly, deplorable human viruses upon the rest of us regular people.  We must figure out a way to eliminate these  micro and macro viruses. Either that, or we are doomed. Maybe that would be a good thing. As whole populations of people hide, and life as we know it grinds to a halt, the earth is starting to recover astonishingly fast from the decline in pollution!

I anticipate that this could get very ugly though. I have food and water and TP for a while, but not for months. I am soooo glad I have lots of wood for the firebox, and I don't have mortgage payments. I am grateful for Nikki’s help in assuring that all the critical functions of this house are working, especially the toilet. I’m grateful that I like to isolate socially for the most part anyway and so my life isn’t really much different than before COVID-19. I’m content with the dogs, my internet, and TV, and books—for now. Yes, I’ve gotten lonely too. But the more I live alone, the more I like it. I like company, but I also like being alone. And if it comes to having to deal with unwanted guests, well, I have that under control too. I moved from one guns 'n dogs community to another!

I do know that my body and emotional mind is having trouble coping with all the renovations being tackled here. It usually takes me a good week or so after Nikki leaves to clean up the mess and recover. There is sooo much more to be done too. I just hope between the medical bills and other expenses that I can afford to get some kind of fencing around the yard this spring so that these poor dogs can chase a ball and frisbee once more.

This enforced confinement has been tough on them. Angel and Tanka have picked up the habit of eating poop, so I have to be out with them every second and cannot turn my back while they are in their runs to monitor and clean up.

Mita and Angel were the agents of Nanook’s death on Halloween, which has diminished my trust and love for them both. Despite Buddy’s antics which propelled me further down this physical declination, I do love him. And he doesn’t eat poop! He also did not participate in the attack on Nanook. Kiki and he get along great and share a run. They play well together so they are getting some exercise. Of all the dogs, I feel closest to Kiki.

I can go down her throat to retrieve a piece of rawhide, which I cannot do with Buddy, and she melts in bliss when I pet her. She did not participate in the Nanook carnage either. All she wants is to be next to me. Tanka is a neurotic goof ball. He lives to fetch. So, I throw a rubber ball or tennis ball or toy inside almost every day now. It’s not much, but it’s something.

I’m down to one cat: Shilo. Maren noted that she never thought Shilo would be the last cat standing. Me either. But, Tootsie had to be put down December 16th. Thank God Rainey was here for a couple weeks and went with me to the vet. Poor Tootsie is now in a plastic bag in my downstairs freezer awaiting the ground to thaw so I can bury her. Baby, the stray that I let in and took care of went to live with Nikki but did NOT work out well. He ended up living outside and then disappeared. I’ve been DONE with cats for years, but they seem to find me wherever I am. I am determined to “just say NO!” next time--and I don’t doubt there will be a next time. There are too many damn cats in this country. They are an invasive species and kill untold millions of birds etc. It’s not that I don’t like them, I just don’t want them around anymore. I will keep Shilo until she’s ready to go, and I do love her despite her eating disorder (which drives me nuts). And she's much happier being an only kitty.

As much as I love and adore Kola, having her here from the October 23rd to December 13th put a significant strain on me. She needed a LOT of attention, potty training, and during that time I took her in for shots and spaying. My mental health was definitely deteriorating with the combination of stress, renovations, winter shoveling, ice dams, meniscus pain, visitors (Rainey was here for two weeks with her remaining dog Peppy) Nikki and Maren. The unrelenting pain and stress of this past winter have transitioned into a new challenge: how to get the outside work done that needs to be done as well as pay for it, while trying to deal with my physical problems, and now a global pandemic!

Despite all this, I love where I live. I love the woods; I love my home. I feel somewhat sad and lonely at times because I’ve lost my life partners—at least the dynamics of our relationships have changed. Dan and Nikki no longer live with me, and I think our relationships are actually better for that fact. Thankfully, I have not been abandoned by them. I’m becoming resigned to the fact that I’m turning 65 this year, and don’t have a lot of time left on this planet, even if I live to be quite old. I am dismayed at the possibility that I may not be physically up to living here for as long as I’d hoped. I worry about my dogs. I worry about my daughters. I worry about Nikki. I worry about Dan.  I know worry won’t solve anything but anticipating possible future scenarios must be considered. That's how I like to reframe worry. I want to be prepared to survive at least, if not thrive for the near future. I want to be able to leave some kind of legacy and hope for those I leave behind.

For now, It’s one day at a time here. And today is a very good day with a LOT less pain.