The Healing Is Coming Along Nicely

Today, marked a milestone for my husband as he continues to heal.  He walked to the top of the hill near our house and back home again.  A forty-five minute walk in the neighborhood was quite an accomplishment for him as his back surgery was just twelve days ago.  As we began the walk, he said his legs felt weak, but he had no pain.  By the time we finished the walk, he said he felt stronger than he had when we first started out.  This evening, we walked around our block twice.  I continue to marvel at how well he is doing.  We had a full day of having the car serviced and dinner out.  He said today he felt the best he has in a very long time.  This is excellent news!

It is so good to have my man back at my side for our daily walks.  Even better, he is no longer suffering and in pain when he walks.  For the most part, our roles have reversed somewhat.  I now walk the dog, and he carries the poop bag.  (Someone has to do it.)   I told Boston there would be a new sheriff in town just before "The Boss" had his surgery.  "The Boss," my name to Boston for his master, is much more lenient when it comes to discipline where the "The Boy" or Boston is concerned.  I think Jim feels a bit guilty that the dog can't run free after all the bunnies that populate the neighborhood, so he will allow Boston to charge after a bunny until he comes to the end of his leash.  A few times, I've been afraid the dog would topple Jim over as he charges off.

I, on the other hand, like a well disciplined dog as a walking companion.  So, the task of getting this dog to heel in a highly distractible environment has been one I have been working on these few weeks.  I am training Boston, rather late in his life, to stay by my side while walking without thinking he is free to run as if he were at the dog park.  I am using a gentle leader collar and treats to accomplish my training goals.  The treats always work.  He is coming along nicely in his training, but he hates the gentle leader.  I have always enjoyed walking my dogs, but Boston has always been a challenge for me, so while Jim's back is healing, Boston and I are learning to walk together.

The first few days after surgery are never great, and Jim had a rough couple of days after surgery.  In the long run though, we are amazed at how quickly he has recovered from back surgery.  That being said, I hope he never ever has to have another surgery such as this again.  It is just too hard on the body.  It is also hard on the caretaker.  We have made it through thus far and are looking forward to many more days of good health ahead of us.

On this past Saturday, Jim was taken to lunch by his dinner crew.  Three former colleagues of his drove up from Pueblo to take him to lunch.  These guys, all retired teachers from the school where Jim was principal, have met for dinner once a month for the past four or five years.  It was great for Jim to have them come to his new stomping grounds to take him out.  Thankfully, I thought to grab my phone and take a photo of these four fine educators gathered on our back deck. They  sometimes laugh and call themselves ROMEOS or Retired Old Men Eating Out.  One thing is for sure, when they get together, the conversation is rich with laughter and discussion of all types of subjects.  They were good medicine for Jim.

All in all, the summer has not been a bad one.  We are both healing and becoming more healthy.  We enjoy our new home and the beautiful setting in which we live.  We love the climate where we live.  In the mornings and evenings, we feel the cool mountain breezes as we walk or sit on the deck and listen to rustling aspen leaves on the trees that give us beautiful shade and privacy.  The last week has been especially cool and lovely as we have had just enough rain in our part of town to really green up the lawn and cool off the evenings.  Our a/c bills are much lower than they were in Pueblo, and so are our water bills.  We are happy for that.  We look forward to August and are not ready to see this summer come to an end.

I am doing much, much better health wise.  I am now taking pancreatic enzymes with every meal.  I no longer have pain.  The enzymes seem to be working.  I am so thankful for that.  Thankfully, I have good insurance.  I say that with true gratitude.  I can't imagine what my bills would be like these past few months of constant medical tests and doctor visits without good insurance.  The medicine I am on would have cost over $1400 without insurance.  I am only talking about my medical bills.  Jim's medical bills are not doubt astronomical also.  Again, thank heavens for our good supplemental insurance plans.  I know this is a hot topic these days and don't wish to create a political discussion with these statements.  I am just grateful that we are able to secure good medical plans for ourselves during our retirement years.  I realize that many in our age group are not able to do so.

One last word:  Thank you blogging friends, and all my other friends also, for all of your well wishes as Jim and I have faced health challenges this past few months.  Your words of support and concern have meant more than you know.  Forgive me for not reading your blogs as faithfully as I would like.  Hopefully, life will slow down soon, and we will all be back to normal.

How I Fill My Days

Gone are quiet mornings that began whenever my husband I felt like getting out of bed.  Gone are the days when we leisurely read the paper, slowly sipped coffee, and ate breakfast when we got around to it.  Gone are the mornings when we had no schedule.  Things have changed, big time, since Boston, our 13 week old puppy became a member of the household.

These days, we are up, out of bed,  and down the stairs at the sound of the first yelp that emits from our puppy's mouth at about 6:30 every morning.  He lets us know, in no uncertain terms, that he is awake, tired of being in his kennel, and ready to get outside to do his business.

We have a schedule these days, and it is a demanding one.  It has been set by an equally demanding little creature who is challenging us on who will really run the household.

Early in the morning, we are now out walking the dog.  If you see me, be forewarned, my appearance may appear unkept.  As I walk the neighborhood in weird outfits that I throw on when I get out of bed, I remind myself of a quote by Barbara Ueland, "If I did not wear torn pants, orthopedic shoes, frantic disheveled hair, that is to say, if I did not tone down my beauty, people would go mad.  Married men would run amuck."

The truth is, I look this way because I am a bit frazzled these days.  I walk the dog several times a day.  In between walks, I am trying to keep Boston's puppy mouth full of toys rather than then having him chew on my expensive furniture.  I am mopping up the floor.  I am feeling like the mother of a very active toddler.  I am busy.  I am tired.

A former colleague asked me today why I felt the need to take on a 15 year commitment at this point in my life.  I guess no one had put it that way before.  We have taken on a 15 year commitment by getting a new dog.  That is a long time.  My husband and I will be really old in 15 years.  I hope we both live 15 more years.  I hope the dog lives 15 more years.

For now, my husband and I are filling our days by caring for a new puppy.  We know we are the ones who are benefitting from taking these twice daily walks.  We comment about how we certainly would not be out walking if it were not for the dog.  We are filling up our days with new duties, new experiences, and at times we wonder if we were crazy to take on a task like training a new puppy when we were getting quite settled into a quiet retirement schedule.  Wish us well.  We need it!

Meet Boston

 The following were on my list to get done this fall:
  1. Take a trip to New England to see the autumn leaves and to visit with friends and family.
  2. Get a puppy.

I began my search for a puppy before we left on vacation, but thought it would take at least a month after we got home to find the perfect fit.  Well, that was not the case.  On my husband's first day home, he looked at ads in the newspaper for golden retrieve pups.  He was just doing the preliminary research so we could  get serious about finding our new pet.  It seems that we didn't need to search long.  The very first litter of golden retriever pups that we went to visit had the one that stole our hearts.  (Of course, that was easy.  We love golden retrievers, and who doesn't love a puppy?)

The nice family who owned our new pup's mom had named the one we picked out Titan.  I loved him for his combination of spunk, independence, and sweetness.  He seemed to stand out in the litter of ten.  He won my heart, but I walked away for a few hours to think about it.  Ok, the truth is I had to go directly to the bank to take out the cash to purchase my new little bundle of love.  We also had to go to the pet store to buy a kennel, toys, food, treats, or in other words, to begin to make sure our puppy had everything he might need to be happy.

We also needed to think about naming our addition to the family. Boston was the first name that popped into my mind.  We had just returned from our visit to that wonderful city.  The breeders were originally from Boston.  Boston seemed to be the perfect name for our third golden retriever.

We were heartbroken when we had to put our dear 11 year old Buster down due to a cancer we didn't even know he had just three days after the death of Julie in 2010.  (You can read about  Buster here.)  We missed our dear companion so much for so long, but both of us knew we just weren't ready to get another dog.  We had agreed that Fall 2011 would be a good time to start looking for a dog.

It didn't take us long.  Boston won us over the minute we saw him.  Now, we are training a new puppy.  What were we thinking?  We are spending a lot of time in the yard, a place he already prefers to be, trying to housebreak him.  He has earned an "A" from me in that department.  He is doing nicely.  At night, we are enduring the first few nights of kennel training.  He slept through the night last night.

I forgot how much time a puppy takes, but it is all worth it.  I really don't know how I made it so long without a dog in the house.  We needed new life in this place.  We needed something to look after, to train, to love, to watch grow.  It is hard to be sad with a puppy in the house.  "There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face."  ~Ben Williams

*  My daughter Keicha also added two new puppies to her household recently.  I knew as soon as I saw pictures of her beautiful Sophie, that I too would soon succumb to "puppy love."  You can read about her new addition here.