Monday, August 30, 2010

Why I Hate Goodbyes

Rest in peace, Johnny (Hesa Dandy Investment). You were the best horse I ever had -- and probably will ever own. You had the biggest heart, the biggest personality. I hope we did you right in the 11 years you spent with us. My heart is hurting and I miss you.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Waiting Game

The hopefulness from Friday's post is long gone. This weekend is going to be one long waiting game.

Johnny crashed last evening. He was doing so well. We were talking about keeping Monday's vet appointment to follow up on blood work and make sure the levels were back up to where they should be.

Then he stopped eating, got very lethargic and was having a hard time moving around. Another very long drive to Pea Ridge for a Friday night vet visit. Everything seemed to go downhill from there. Johnny was staggering around. His blood panel came back much worse than Wednesday, with two items very high and two others very low. And then he started displaying a few neurological signs of liver failure.

I confess: I spent some time online last night scaring myself by researching a few things.
I confess: There were many tears shed. I had to say goodbye to Johnny at the vet's, not knowing if he would make it through the night.
I confess: I truly thought he would be gone this morning.

The vet is stumped as to what is causing his symptoms. We're keeping him comfortable, he's on a dose of steroids. But I really don't know how long those will help him.
And so the waiting game goes on. Only, it's not a game.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Yellow is a nice color. Just not when it's the color of your horse's eye whites and gums.
We've finally had a break in the heat wave and Wednesday's forecast was for temperatures in the 80s, so I decided to tag along on a group ride out in Flag Springs. When I went to get my gelding from the pasture, he didn't seem at all excited or even happy to see me. Weird. This horse would crawl in your pocket if he was small enough (he's 16 hands but thinks he's a pup). Checking him out, he was lethargic and I thought his eyes looked funny. With a closer look, the whites were actually a deep yellow. His gums were yellow, too.
Jaundice. Not good. So instead of going on a relaxing trail ride on a beautiful day, we loaded Johnny up and headed to the vet's 45 minutes away. Of course, worst-case scenarios were going through my head.
The vet was great & very thorough. Other than the jaundice and depressed attitude, everything else checked out fine: heart, lungs, gut. The blood panel showed that two elements related to the liver were quite elevated. The vet settled on one of two scenarios: Johnny either ingested a toxin (ie, a weed in the pasture) or he had a stone blocking the bile duct. While both are serious, the latter would be more expensive and complicated to treat. We went ahead & treated Johnny as if he'd eaten something toxic: banamine for the inflammation, antibiotics, and a nasty batch of charcoal tubed into his stomach. The charcoal worked its way through his system and ((hopefully)) absorbed the toxins. Several hundred dollars and hours later, we were on our way home.

Today--almost 48 hours later--he seems to be doing better and perking up. He's happy to see me, is getting spoiled rotten with oats, treats and a hay buffet. I have everything crossed that he will recover.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Heading toward the end of August! Which means two things:

1. I have magazine deadlines coming up. No worries: interviews are mostly done and the writing is going well. I'm actually supposed to be writing right now, but you know how that goes; there's always "something else" that can get done! Like the workout I still have to do but am delaying by writing this blog. Procrastination, anyone?

2. It's almost Labor Day weekend -- which means the second of my two annual trips to Springfield, Illinois, is coming up for two AMA Flat Track Grand National Championship races. I can't wait!

I'll leave you with a sneak peek of the September issue of Connection magazine. I'm a lucky girl and have two articles in this one again -- including the cover story about Camp Barnabas.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Let's face it. I'm hooked on my Blackberry. When I was visiting Brenda in Chicago, she expressed her worry about what I would do when I went home. (Note the sarcasm, people.)

See, when I am at my house, I do not have cell service. That's just one of the reasons I call it the "black hole." True story. Some people don't believe me -- until they come and visit me. The hollows around here are notorious for leaving civilization behind.

I can get cell service if I go to the top of one of the hills behind my house. If you stand in certain places and hold your breath (maybe say a little prayer), you can get a few bars on the cell phone.

Today marked almost a whole week without my Blackberry. And I was miserable without it. No Google Map. No mobile Facebook. No texts from certain people who bring a smile to my face.
My insurance covered a replacement Blackberry and advertised "2-3 day service." I could do that. Two days turned into three. Three turned to five, and suddenly it was Saturday, and the US Postal Service finally announced my replacement was in Philadelphia.
I checked the tracking Monday morning, thinking the package would be somewhere like St. Louis. Nope. Better! It was at my post office, scheduled to be delivered to my mailbox! Awesome.

I was so disappointed when I opened the mailbox and found...junk mail.
I checked with the post office on a planned trip to town, but no dice. The postmaster didn't have anything for me. WHERE the heck was my Blackberry, did the mailman inconveniently forget to put it in my box? I gave up...maybe better luck Tuesday.
Turns out the mailman delivered the package to the wrong mailbox. I finally retrieved the package and scooted to the high spot where I could get cell service. Not so simple! The phone still had to be activated. Which gets kind of complicated when a) you're deaf and can't just pick up the phone and call the 1-888 number and b) you don't HAVE cell service by a landline.
With my dad's patient help, I finally got it activated, so now I'm back in business! I owe a few people text messages, and I plan to get back to working the Crackberry full speed ahead tomorrow!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tuning In

Still amazed at all the "new" sounds coming through these days.

The horse show sounds were a bit overwhelming. The loudspeaker was very uncomfortable for me and I did end up turning the processor off a few times to give myself a break. My friends "caught" me reacting to some sounds, and I think I impressed them with my skills. (Or maybe not!) The advantage of being exposed to the loud (at least for me) environment meant that I am now up to Program 2 of 4 on the processor already. I think my audiologist will be happy.

Baxter makes a lot more noise than I realized. Slurping the water. Shaking himself makes his dog tag jingle. Scratching himself. And I've discovered that he "talks" to me when he is bored and I am busy working on the computer or the horseshoe art or whatever. I've succeeded in confusing the poor dog by reacting when he yips at me. The first time I looked at him when he "talked," he looked a little taken aback. The second time, he was confused. Then he thought he was in trouble. So funny.

I've also started working harder on training him to do the "service dog" thing. Now that I can hear things like the microwave or oven timer beep, the phone ring, or someone knocking at the door, it's easier to reinforce the training and make him react to sounds. It's good for him to have a job, and it might come in handy someday when I want to travel with him.

Enough about that dog.

During yesterday's drive to & from Tulsa, I played with the car radio! Awesome. I love the stations that "scroll" the musician and song titles while they play a song. So far, I've tagged Lady Antebellum and the Zac Brown Band as favorites. While I liked the lyrics to Carrie Underwood's "Undo It," I did NOT like her music when I heard it. I didn't like Keith Urban, either. It's kind of fun to be able to listen and decide what I do and don't like!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tulsa Time

I'm heading to Tulsa to tag along with some friends who are horse shopping & watch some of the NSBA World Show. Shopping is NOT on the least the sort of shopping where money exchanges hands. I can look though, right?? It will be fun to see friends I haven't seen in a very long time.

I haven't been to a horse show since the AQHA World Show in 2008. For a person who used to go to almost all the big shows to work, that's a very, very long time. I'm still doing the equine massage on a limited basis -- and only doing farm calls.

Kind of an interesting shift. I quit the copywriting world in July 2000 to do the equine massage. Now, 10 years later, I seem to have quit the AQHA world to do freelance writing. Funny how things seem to come full circle.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Everyday Noise

Hard to believe we are halfway through August already! And this is only my second blog of the month.

Yesterday was a fabulous day. I got my new cochlear implant speech processor -- the Nucleus Freedom. I had the implant surgery in 1990; however, my last speech processor broke down more than a year ago. The processors are pricey little things.

Anyways. Yesterday was THE day. When the audiologist finished programming my processor (yes, I am part robot -- each of the 22 electrodes in the cochlea is individually programmed) and turned it on, it was awesome! Everything was a little bit "loud" at first -- something of a shock to my nerves and brain. But the longer I wore it, the "smoother" everything seemed.

(Want the in-depth scoop? Google "cochlear implant" or "Nucleus Freedom cochlear implant." That will give you more than you ever wanted to know.)

Right now, I am marveling at the sound of my computer keys clicking and trying to figure out if there's a bird singing outside or something.

Suddenly, I'm hearing little things you probably take for granted, like the ding of an arriving elevator, the heartbeat of your car's turn signal, the sound coffee makes when you're pouring it into a mug.
Baxter makes a lot of noise slurping his water.
It's easier to scan your items at the WalMart self checkout when you can hear the scanner beep!
I can hear vehicles approaching on the road.
I took Baxter swimming in the creek yesterday evening, and was amazed at how much noise we made with the splashing, and how much noise HE made when he shook the water off himself.

I can't understand speech, but it does help my lipreading skills and my speech is probably going to get clearer as time goes on.

It's going to be a continual learning process. I currently have four levels of "programs" on my speech processor, each one progresses a little bit wider in the levels of things I can hear. Not necessarily "louder," but more like a threshold. It's hard to explain without getting too scientific. The more I have it turned on, the better I will get at using it.

So far, I LOVE it. I've only turned it off twice: once to go to bed last night and once this morning when I could not stand the roar of the vacuum cleaner. I'm sure there will be other times where I will cherish the silence. It's kind of a nice perk to be able to do both.

Right now, I have the windows open at my house, and it was pretty cool to hear a truck coming up the road -- and knowing what it was before it came into view!

I'm sure there will be several conversations in my future that go like this:
Me: "What's that noise?"
Hearing Person: "What? What noise?"
Me: "That noise."
And since I don't know what it is (or how to really mimic sounds), I can't really explain what I am trying to get the hearing person to identify. And since it's probably an everyday noise they've tuned out, well, you get the idea.

Call me bionic woman or whatever. But I'm certainly smiling!

Monday, August 2, 2010

So Long, Chicago

Chicago is in the rear view mirror. I miss my Chicago girls already!

And this big guy, too. (Shh, don't tell Baxter!)

We went to the Morton Arboretum on Sunday--it was a gorgeous day and we let Sophia burn off some of that famous two-year-old energy in the children's area. I got this awesome shot of her by pure luck of coaxing my point-and-shoot camera to time it perfectly: Now that I'm back in Iowa, I finished up some magazine articles for the September issue of Connection magazine. Can't wait to see them paired up in layouts with the photos. Which reminds me: I seriously need to get a move on with that online portfolio I keep talking about.