17 Days

Its been 17 days since we’ve had to put down our sweet Lexie. I’d like to take this time to write about some of the thoughts that constantly run through my mind daily. All of this is freeflow and unorganized.

Its still raw, it still hurts, and we miss her so much. We know that these feelings will turn less painful over time. We know that at some point we will remember her with laughter and smiles. But for now the house is too quiet. No more paws clicks running about the wood floor. Every time I get up from the couch, my shadow isn’t there to follow… seemingly saying “I go too?”. I used to carefully grab my keys because I knew the jingle would cause her to perk up and come running to see what I was doing… now I grab my keys and there is no response. I haven’t had a reason to open the front door in 17 days. No one comes running when I open loaves of bread or bags of chips.

Husband and I were outside on Christmas day to do some chores and she wasn’t out there with us exploring. I’ve missed her pawing at me to cover her with a blanket. No warm body to snuggle with after I get home from work in the mornings. No one makes mouth smacking noises before bed anymore (it was always so annoying but of course I miss it now).

Its so weird to spend 12 years caring for another being, trying our best to put her needs above our own, making sure she gets everything she needs to be well fed, comfortable, and loved; and go straight to having no more of these duties. There’s no more making sure she’s been fed and pottied before we leave the house. No more waking in the middle of my sleep to let her out. No more walks. No more snuggles. No more trips to the mailbox together. No more hugs. No more baths. No more saving the bread heels for her. She really was the best pup we could’ve asked for, and we miss her so much.

I just hope that she knew how loved she was. I hope she wasn’t scared as she passed. And I hope she found comfort knowing that we were right there with her as she took her last breath.

Cruising the ABC Islands: Bonaire

I haven’t posted a picture of our ship yet, here she is in port at Curacao:

The third port was Bonaire. We originally wanted to rent some golf carts through Bonaire Cruisers but when we emailed them a couple days prior to port they advised that they had no cart left for rental. Husband had been reading posts on cruisecritics and saw that another couple had just done this and really liked it. Google reviews further reinforced that it was a good choice, so we were a bit bummed that we weren’t able to secure a cart.

When we got off the ship, we had planned on walking around and shopping again. We took our time that morning, had breakfast in the Luminae and ended up disembarking around 9 or 9:30am.

Once we got off the ship there was a line of tents with businesses pushing taxi services, tours, and other types of services. The last tent on the line was Bonaire Cruisers. I stopped in and asked the nice lady if they happened to have any cancellations and she told us that she had several no shows and showed us the way to the rental office. Sometimes it pays to leave the ship a little later than everyone else!

This golf cart tour was really neat. Its self-guided and you can choose where you want to go, for how long, and when you want to make stops. There was a north loop and a south loop. We chose the south loop because it was a shorter journey and we had wanted to see the salt mines. Bonaire Cruisers had told us this loop was an hour and a half without stops and it ended up taking us about 2 and a half hours. We made several stops, our golf cart was a little pokey, and we spent a fair amount of time at Lac Beach.

The drive took us through town, by the airport, past many diving sites, the Cargill salt mines, the slave huts, Lac Beach, and back around to town again. Here are some of the photos I took:

One of the holding areas for the Cargill Salt Mines. The water was pink.
The white mounds are all salt from the mines
These are the Slave Huts at White Pan, they were made in the 1850s for the slaves that were working in the salt flats. They were very tiny, as you can see by the small truck parked near them.
Wild flamingos we saw on the drive, they were all over the salt ponds
Lac Beach – probably the prettiest water I’ve ever seen
This is what the right side of the roadway looked like driving down the coast, all pretty bright blue waters.
Goat we saw on a goat farm on our way back into town

Now Lac Beach was gorgeous. There were a bunch of places to windsurf and kite surf, there was a place to get food and drinks, and technically there were facilities there. The facilities had no toilet paper — it appeared as if they didn’t do that sort of thing… and they were very gross. I did need use them and I was lucky I happened to have my own toilet paper (old habits die hard). I DID NOT sit on those seats though… I’m not a risk taker like that! So if you go there, just be forewarned!

All in all, Bonaire was one of our favorite stops. We had a lot of fun renting the golf carts and really liked that it was self guided. Afterwards, we stopped in at a salt shop to buy some Bonaire cooking and bath salts. We then returned to the ship for the night.

I might make another post about Grand Cayman and our time aboard, but we chose not to get off the ship at that stop. There was some weather issues that changed our port and tendering situation was not ideal. Basically, to be able to get to Georgetown we would have needed to tender to shore at Spotts Beach and then take a bus into town. We were supposed to have tendered directly into Georgetown but the port was closed for weather.

Cruising the ABC Islands: Curacao

Yes, I know that our cruise isn’t going in alphabetical order, the type A personality in me had some issue with that. Next port of call was Curacao. Husband and I didn’t have anything planned for this stop other than some walking and shopping.

The port in Curacao is actually quite a walk from the downtown shopping area of Curacao. It was a very warm and sunny day and both husband and I wrongly chose to wear flip flops for this adventure. After about 2 hours of walking about, our feet were tired and we were in desperate need of a shower.

Here is the Floating Queen Emma Bridge (to the left)

We actually didn’t end up doing one bit of shopping in Curacao, we did dip into some stores here and there to leach off the free air conditioning and there was one stop at a diamond dealer where I was mildly interested, but in the end no money was spent.

I will say, we might have actually bought a ring at Diamonds International had the salesman not immediately picked out his biggest ring for me to peruse. I was in the market for a smaller, daintier ring and it was quite the turn off to be hoisted a huge multi-diamond band as the first piece to try.

Originally we had planned on stopping at the McDonald’s downtown for lunch just to do something kind of fun (since their prices in other countries are usually outrageous and they offer different menus items), but we ended up there too early for lunch. I did see part of the breakfast menu and it was pretty expensive for something called a “Double McGriller”. (I think that’s what they called it).

A photo of the downtown area
More downtown
I’m not sure who the woman in this photo is. She kept posing and refused to leave the big “A” even though no one was photographing her. I ended up finally just taking the picture with her in it.

After spending a few hours in port we returned to the ship for lunch, some rest, and some dinner.

I “think” we had the Lawn Club for dinner on board, but all my days have run together. If we did, we both likely had the filet for dinner. I believe I had a baked potato on the side and our appetizer was half a BBQ chicken pizza and half a margherita pizza. The Lawn Club is one of our favorite places to eat on board. Its located at the top of the ship on floor 15, and has an outdoor seating style. I do think it costs money for most people on board to go to, but we have the specialty dining package because we know we will take full advantage of it. Next is Bonaire!

Cruising the ABC Islands: Aruba

Hello All! I’m writing this post from my stateroom aboard the Celebrity Silhouette on the last at sea day of the cruise. This morning I’m enjoying a cup of coffee as the morning sun shines through my balcony. This cruise has been so nice. Again, a very welcome distraction from normal life. None of this would have been as enjoyable or even possible without my ileostomy. Lil Guy has been fairly well behaved this trip, he did decide to get a little angry so I am fighting some minor skin irritations. I think this is mostly down to the difference in wearing the appliance during the cold winter weather versus being active outside during the hot humid days on the islands.

The first port of call was Aruba. We had a ton of fun here. We chose to do an excursion where we UTV’d out to the Natural Pools. Now we’ve been on Celebrity excursions before; last year we did an “Off Road Jeep Adventure” which was marked “moderately strenuous” and touted the ability to “experience the rugged terrain of the Mexican jungle”. THAT excursion was not strenuous at all… it was much like driving down the dirt road to our house when the county hasn’t graded it in a while. HA. So, when we saw this excursion marked moderately strenuous we didn’t have high expectations.

Boy, were we wrong. This was really cool, very rugged, and took us to some pretty cool places. The tour started off in the city of Oranjestad, went to Arikok National Park, up the dusty mountainside to the natural pool, and then back down to the Bushiribana Ruins where there is an abandoned gold mine and a beach. The natural pool was closed due to rough waters, but it was still cool to see. We also saw wild goats in Arikok National Park. By the time we got to the gold mine ruins we were about ready to be done with the tour due to all the jostling. Taking photos was difficult because the ride was so bumpy but here’s a few:

Wild goats
Natural Pool in Arikok National Park
Abandoned Gold Mine at Bushiribana

We had so much fun! It was a 4 hr tour, so again, we were pretty ready to be done by the end of it. After we got back to the ship, both of us took a nap! We were in that port for a full 12 hours but we decided to eat dinner on the ship at the Luminae, This is a specialty restaurant for the suite guests. Dinner was good. I am having a hard time remembering exactly when and what we ate, but I believe I had french onion soup and roasted chicken with a squash puree. Husband had a beef short rib appetizer which I tasted. It was very good.

Most nights we’ve been super tired and have gone to bed early. The night before this we stayed up late to see a late night comedy show. It was better than we had anticipated, but that late night plus an early exciting excursion made for an early turn in. Stay tuned for individual posts and photos from Curacao, Bonaire, and some sea day activities!

Took Some Time…

As you may have noticed, it has been quite a while since I’ve update my blog. I’ve had some major life changes in the last couple weeks. For starters, I went back to work. This included catching up on a bunch of training that I missed while I was on sick leave and working a few of my normal midnight shifts. Currently, the husband and I are aboard the Celebrity Silhouette cruising the ABC islands and Grand Cayman; a full update on that will come later.

What I mostly wanted to write about and the biggest life change is that we lost our dear dog last week on December 10th. It has taken me a while to gather my words on this subject. I sat down yesterday to try and write an update and I still just wasn’t ready.

Last Monday-Wednesday I was at training and my husband was working in his new office. I got up in the middle of the night Tuesday morning, as I do, and I woke up Lexie to go outside to potty (I believe this is the first time I’m using her name). The difference this morning was that she was already awake, and instead of being in her bed, she was laying on the floor in front of her bed, perched and staring into space. I asked her to come with me to potty… she didn’t move. I figured her legs were giving her issues so I helped her to stand and she followed me to the front door. When I let her out, she just stood on the porch for a few minutes like she was confused. Finally she decided to do her business and we went to bed.

When we woke up for the day a few hours later, she was still acting a little off; she swayed when she walked and was doing weird things with her front paws like turning them in and flipping them. That morning she also refused to eat her normal food. She would take a cookie and water, but not her food. I told the husband what had happened the night before and he decided to work from home to watch her. I checked in on her a few times throughout the day and husband said he was able to get her to eat a bit more food (not HER food, but the Fresh Pet we keep on hand in the freezer in cases of emergency; she will usually always eat that). She still was not eating full meals, and she was lethargic and swaying when she walked. I was concerned that maybe she had a stroke during the night or something like that, however as the day went on, she seemed to get a little bit better. I even checked our Nest door cam and saw her choose to jump up on the higher porch platform to the door instead of taking the normal steps. Husband thought she was doing better too so he went into the office for a bit to get some things done.

I believe he left the house around 2 or 3 pm, I returned home about 5:30 pm from training. I found Lexie lying on the ground in front of the couch; she was having difficulty breathing, had thrown up, and had bloody stool coming from her. I believe she may have fallen trying to get off the couch, but her legs were under her as if she had simply laid down. She was unable to get up on her own, support her weight, or walk. I immediately called husband and he rushed home to help me get her to the emergency vet.

I was unable to pick her up on my own – with my recent abdominal surgery I still have to be careful, however I did try. I believe I may have slightly torn something when I was attempting to pick her up because I was in a lot of pain for the next 3 days at my midline incision.

I waited with her and petted her, kept telling her it would be okay and that we were going to get her some help. I attempted to clean her up the best that I could. She didn’t seem to be very cognizant of what was going on… she was awake but not alert. It was terribly heartbreaking. I called her vet, lucky that they were still open, and they advised me where to take her. I called that ER vet and they said she needed to be seen ASAP. I knew this fact as soon as I walked in the door. You know, there are so many times I’ve wondered “should she go to the vet? or do we wait it out?”. Our assumption was always: if she is eating and drinking water on her own, wait it out. But this time; when I arrived home from work, I had no question.

Husband got home and lifted her to the sink so I could wash her hind end up quickly before we drove her to the ER vet. The last bath we would give her.

We got to the ER Vet and a man came out to take her from husbands arms. They carried her directly to a room and started treatment. Then came the paperwork “sign here stating you agree to pay us, sign here stating you do not want her resuscitated, sign here to approve further treatments”. The female veterinarian came in and advised us that Lexie was a very sick girl. She was anemic and getting close to needing a tranfusion, she was hemorrhaging internally from somewhere. The vet pointedly asked us if she had gotten into any rat poison. While we do live in the country, and do have bait traps, they are very well contained and Lexie was always with someone when she was outside. But we let them run the blood coagulation test just to see (a simply poisoning would be easier to treat). Test came back fine, it was not rat poison.

The vet came in and told us that the blood was just pouring out of her internally and even with aggressive treatment and a hospital stay, she could not promise that she would make it through it.

Our baby was dying.

Lexie was 12 years old. We had given her the best life that we could. We loved her fully every single day of her life and made sure that she knew that. Husband and I decided to let her go.

They brought her into our little waiting room on a cart, she was still having a hard time breathing. They put her to sleep while we stroked her head and told her we were so sorry. We told her again that we loved her. Her breathing slowed, and her body relaxed. We closed her eyes for her. We were both an absolute wreck.

I had been doing pretty well holding it together up until this point. Everything before this point was emergency services… that’s what I do… I was in work mode, getting the job done. But watching her take her last breath was not work mode, this was every single emotion hitting me at once. The vet was going to try and take her back but I was crying hard, so she just left the room to give us more time.

They took imprints of her paws and gave them to us. We chose to have her cremated. It was the most awful feeling leaving her there at that building; she wasn’t coming home with us. We both felt empty. We both had a hard time getting to sleep that night.

The next day was rough. I was in my last day of training, and I had to take a certification exam. Hopefully I passed. I don’t think I listened to a single word that was taught that day. I got home afterwards and pulled my truck into the garage. I had stopped to get hot chocolate for husband and I, but he had gone back out to the office. I decided I couldn’t go into the house alone quite yet so I turned the truck back on and drove to work to submit my time card.

Both husband and I are still upset and missing our girl. We will for a while. The pain has been eased a bit with this cruise- we are away from home and away from the silence. A nice distraction. I don’t think we know what to expect when we get home.

No matter how much you try to prepare yourself, you will never be ready to lose a loved one. We knew it was coming, it didn’t matter. It still hurts. I know some people believe “oh, its just a dog”. Yeah, she was a dog — but she was our life for 12 years. We do not know life together without her. We are traversing new ground. We will have to relearn our routines. The first morning after she passed I didn’t know what to do with my time. I just stood in the kitchen, in the quiet until it was time to leave. I suppose we will have many more experiences like this in the coming weeks — times where we don’t know what to do. We will get through it, but it does really suck.

We love you old girl.

Bits and Bobs

I had my first little bag leak the other day! I noticed it really early so it wasn’t a mess. I had just finished 45 minutes of jogging on the treadmill and I saw it at the bottom side of the baseplate. I had planned on getting groceries after the gym but I instead chose to go home and shower for a bag change. I’ve discovered that my body stops digestion while I’m working out and for a little while thereafter. So, even though I had a bowl of cereal right before the gym, and I was at the gym for an hour and a half, I didn’t have any issues taking the time to shower before doing a bag change. I did notice that the back of the baseplate had a weird speckled appearance, but that could be what it always looks like after exercising/sweating and I just have never seen it before. I wasn’t really upset about the leak because I realized that I was supposed to have changed it when I woke up that day anyways and I forgot to. So it had been 3 days since my last change.

I’m back in Hollister bags and I’m finding myself wanting the Coloplast ones back — I will probably reach out to the ostomy nurse and see if she can change my prescription again. It would be nice to have both Hollister and Coloplast on hand to choose which I’d like to wear.

I ended up taking a little over a week off from the gym, partly because of the holiday/gearing up for my return to work and partly because I was starting to notice a lot of soreness in my abdominal area. I figured it would be a good idea to back off a bit. However, now my legs are really sore from my run. I really surprised myself though, as again I didn’t want to go to the gym. I sat in the gym parking lot talking to my mom on the phone for a bit before I grumbled and accepted my fate. I had just under 4 hours of sleep after my midnight shift the night before but I still did 45 minutes and had a 13-14 minute mile each mile (3.3 miles).

Now, that sounds pretty slow but I’m a slow runner. Also, I’m NOT a runner by any means. I’d say I ran a little more than half of it and briskly walked the rest. I pay more attention to my heart rate when I’m running than my speed, and THAT still needs a lot of work. I was maxed out for a while at 204 bpm, which isn’t good. Usually when I see that I try to go back down to a brisk walk for a minute or two to lower my heart rate. Despite poor cardio health, I have been able to get my run up to a 5.2 speed, I am still trying to push myself.

My goal is to have a decent heart rate while running and to be able to run the whole time I’m on the treadmill; now I can only run about a mile at a time before I stop to walk. I do keep reminding myself that this is better than when I started running in 2016, I was flaring and on steroids while training for a physical fitness employment test. I could only run for a minute at a time before I had to stop to catch my breath. Maybe some day I will be a runner… who knows?

I had a day full of training for work yesterday and then I have to go back to midnights shift the next two nights. I jetted home on my lunch break to check on dear dog yesterday and the little shit had climb UNDER the baby gate that keeps her off the carpet. She had also jumped up on the bed. Luckily there were no accidents on the carpet… but she’s not as disabled as she’d lead you to believe. Old dog, my ass….

Back to Work

Well, I’ve officially had 4 shifts back at work. The work came back easily; it’s like riding a bike. Of course my first night I got the pleasure of dealing with two of our difficult regulars. WELCOME BACK!!

I’m on day 2 of my 3 day 12 hour midnight shift weekend and I’m riding the struggle bus. It’s me and dear dog this week without the husband. I got about 6 hours of sleep today, being woken every 2 hours. Fitbit gave me a sleep score of 67. Weee!!

Current status: guzzling coffee, watching The Office reruns, and preparing my mental state for work tonight. Eminem radio on Pandora will also help.

So tonight I plan to leave some noise on for dear dog (maybe the TV or Pandora), and I might put her in a diaper. I’m assuming she will have an accident while I’m gone, but I do plan to take her out on a walk before I leave so hopefully it helps her sleep for most of it.

Tomorrow morning I have to rush back to let her out and then go back out for an appointment. THEN I have to try and figure out how to stay awake and switch myself back to day shift for training on Tuesday. Then back to midnights on Wednesday and Thursday, and back to days for more training after that. FLIP FLOP FLIP FLOP.

I just assume I’m gonna have a rough week. It is, what it is. Unfortunately I’m almost completely tapered off steroids… 5mg is not nearly enough to give me that roid energy.

So, here’s to everyone else riding the struggle bus with me this week! Get yaself some coffee!!