Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Yesterday (Monday) our Soldotna Vet, Dr. Meezie Hermansen, was still concerned about one blood result…Skruffy’s Red Blood Cell count has continued to decline, while everything else leveled out and got better. For instance, her blood sugar is down to 125+, and we reduced her insulin to 2 units from 3 twice per day. Her White Blood Cell count is coming down, but still high from the the combination of pancreatitis and her still healing anal gland. She suggested that Skruffy have a high density ultrasound, and the best machine and the best Vet to do it was up in Anchorage at the Anchorage Veterinary Clinic and Animal Hospital, the Vet is Linda Chang, who just happened to graduate from the same Veterinary College in Colorado as Dr. Hermansen, though a few years before her. (They have a ultrasound machine in Soldotna, but it is not as good for what was needed.)
We have been staying at the Diamond M Ranch RV Resort (park), and extended Monday morning for two more days. It is a 300+ mile round trip to Anchorage, a good 3 hours each way. We left at 10 am for a 2:30 pm appointment, and stopped for gas at Fred Meyer (30 cent discount due to our rewards card, $2.39 a gallon), and then we stopped by Soldotna Animal Hospital to get our Amazon Package for the blood sugar tester for Skruffy, then we got to Anchorage an hour early. They got is in right on time, and Dr. Chang did a wonderful job explaining Skruffy’s test results.
We continually see signs of the “old Skruffy” coming through…like when we were leaving the Clinic in Anchorage today and a Doberman walks in…she gave that Doberman a good barking at. Now this Doberman could have had Skruffy for lunch…but it just looked at her, she trots out of the place like, “Take That!” Yep, Skruffy is coming back!
Tomorrow we go back to Fred Meyer for one night, so we can get clothes washed, and groceries bought before we go to Homer on Thursday. We have reservations for the 1sth through the 5th…but we might check in a day early.
Sunday, June 26, 2016
Skruffy’s primary Veterinarian, Dr. Marie “Meezie” Hermansen, was born into a commercial fishing family. Born in Soldotna, she was raised just 20 miles southwest from where the Animal Hospital is today. Her family are set-net fisherman from way back…before Alaska was a state. Her father Alfred was born in Alaska in the 1920’s, and was a proud World War II veteran, and he was a fisherman, as were at least one of his brothers, Herman. Both Alfred and Herman were born and raised right here in the same area. This place is the family's home, and Meezie’s entire family were raised as fisherman...it is what they are. Meezie has openly said that she has been a fisherman since she got out of diapers. Here is a quote from something she wrote that was published on the “The Alaska Salmon Alliance” website:
I have fished every Upper Cook Inlet salmon season of my life. Forty-five years, minus however long I was in diapers. I have never lived without fishing. I have never lived without fish.
Seasons have been bountiful. Nets sunk. Fighting against wind and tide and regulations to get our gear in on time. Long hours spent bent over picking sockeye after sockeye until my hands were sore, my back was sore, my being was sore — and I smiled. It was the best kind of sore.
Seasons have been bleak. Waterhauls and a narrative running from, “it’s still early,” to “everything is running late this year,” to “well, there’s always next year.”
Good years or bad, it has all been satisfying. Fishing is not just something I do, it is who I am. It is my passion. And my identity.Alaska State Regulations have hurt the fisherman’s way of life. As a youngster, her family could fish just about anytime the fish were running…now they are limited to just certain days, with that calendar set in March, as if the regulator “know” in March what the fish will be doing in July and August. Then there was the recent attempt to ban set-nets all together…until the Alaska Supreme Court declared that attempt to be unconstitutional. Meezie expressed to us, and it shows in her poems and writings, that she fears that one day, her way of life will be taken away from her.
Meezie went to college in Oregon, and then Veterinarian School at Colorado State University, graduating in 1997. She returned home to Soldotna after graduation to start the career she loves in the place she loves. She joined the Soldotna Animal Hospital staff in November 1999. At work she is very professional, yet in a very friendly, unstuffy way. She wears jeans, casual shirt, and (sometimes) adorns her white doctor lab coat . About being a Vet she writes (again, from The Alaska Salmon Alliance) :
I strove to become a veterinarian, and it is a profession I am extremely proud of. I love my work, yet here is the difference. I became a veterinarian. I was born a fisherman. People ask what it is like, being a woman commercial fisherman. I tell them I don’t know. I am not trying to be cryptic; the truth is, I knew I was a fisherman before I knew I was a woman.
If this was not enough…Meezie is also a Poet and a Writer and a Photographer. She is very active in the FisherPoets Gathering held each year in Astoria, Oregon. From their website, they say that the gathering is:
A celebration of the commercial fishing industry in poetry, prose and song, the FisherPoets Gathering has attracted fisherpoets and their many fans to Astoria, Oregon the last weekend of February since 1998.
Meezie is also an author. We bought her book, Brain Sand, and yes mom, I read it…most of it. Me, the retired Librarian who could count the number of fiction books he has read on his hands and one foot, yet I would need another person to count the number of non-fiction books…but I probably would only need their hands to go along with my hands and feet. Does not mean I don’t read…I just don’t read very many books…I read lot’s of news sites, lots of websites, lots of blogs...just not books. However, Meezie’s book is my kind of book…short, easy to read, deep meaning, and personal. (Click here for information on how to get a copy of her book)
We appreciate everything ALL of the folks at Soldotna Animal Hospital did for our Skruffy girl. Had we lost her, or even if we do loose her still since she is not totally out of danger yet, we know in our hearts that she was in great hands, especially under the care of Dr. Marie “Meezie” Hermansen, a Vet, a writer, but most of all, a fisherman. Frankly, we find you to be an amazing person! Thank you so much Dr. Hermansen…err…FISHERMAN Meezie Hermansen. We love ya…good luck with this year’s harvest…with every year’s harvest. May your nets be full, and we hope that the politicians and regulators will allow you to live your life, that you can always be you. And keep taking care of all those puppies and kitties and anything else that comes through the doors of the Soldotna Animal Hospital. And most of all…thank you for that kiss that I got Saturday when I got back from the store…the first kiss that Skruffy had given me in many days. I look forward to many many more, and we have you to thank for that.
Bubba, get out of the picture, they want “ME” to sing!
That’s our Skruffy this morning (Sunday) telling Dr. Meezie THANKS!
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------If you want more information about Alaska set-net fisherman and how they catch their fish, click here (this is a typical set-net family). And remember, this video was done on a clear, calm day…but it gives you an idea of the work involved. Now imagine doing this in a storm…with high winds…with the hours counting down before you have to have your nets out of the water and catch up on the shore. Also, these are commercial fisherman…their harvest, as that of a farmer, is sold and becomes food on the table for you and I.
Also, here is a video of Dr. Meezie reading at the FisherPoet Gathering a few years ago. There are a few others, but the sound on this one is the best I could find.
Friday, June 24, 2016
We are taking a break from our travels for perhaps a week, definitely four days. After three nights at the Fred Meyer in Soldotna, which, by-the-way was not bad for a parking lot boondock, it was not relaxing by any means as we dealt with Skruffy's crisis. The good thing about Fred Meyer, they had a free dump station…bad thing, being free, the dump station brings in lots and lots of RVs who don't stay the night, but use the dump station. They have a 3 night stay limit due to city regulations, and they have young ladies who go around taking down license plates, and talking to the RVers. We can go back after three nights of being away, and we might…depends upon Skruffy’s tests on Monday, and “IF” our Amazon package arrives at the Vets Office so we can do our own blood sugar tests on her.
We lucked out with this RV park, I mean “Resort” (Diamond M Ranch Resort). It is a family owned, family run operation (three generations)…and they really give it a family touch. See that spiral stairway and deck upstairs? They have a pot luck every Saturday night…a fish fry pot luck, during the summer, and other events too. Problem is, up the stairs is the only way up there, and that rules Marcia out. I don’t think they would let me take the food downstairs and allow us to eat in the 1960 Mercedes-Benz 190B Ponton! (I could try, but I doubt that would acceptable…)
(Skruffy in her better days back in May…but she was probably sick then and we did not know it!)
Be assured that Skruffy is doing well, but not totally out of the woods until a few more test results come back within the proper guidelines for a little 12+ pound dog. In-other-words, there “could” be more going on than the diabetes and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) that she has been diagnosed with. Diabetes will be a lifelong issue dealt with through medications and diet. The pancreatitis is being dealt with through diet, and so far she is responding well to it. The pancreatitis "might" be something we have to watch out for from here on out...depends on how tests come out over the next number of months.
Thursday, June 23, 2016
Skruffy came home for a trial run around 10 am. She ate 3 oz of food, wanted more, drank up to a half cup of water, wanted more, and KEPT it all down, did her double business outside with ease, and is happy to be home. And we are extremely happy to have her home for a good portion of the day.
Went back at 5, getting there about 4:30, and I went inside and told them we were early, but did not to bring her in until they were ready...to just give me a call when ready and we will bring her in. 20 minutes later I get the call...walk in and two minutes later the vet, Dr. Bowser (can't make this up folks) who owns the hospital...first graduate of the Vet School from the University of Florida (not just first graduating class, but alphabetical he was first) found out how she did, had tech give her insulin after testing 235 blood sugar count, and we talked some more and all three of us walked out the door. She passed her test, she is home! She has already eaten another 3 oz of food and another half cup of water. Almost time for her final 2-3 oz of food...and she has had a lot of sleep and rest. Every once in awhile she will just look up at me to be sure I am really there.
Back at 8 am for complete blood work...teach us how to give shot, and we will see how it goes from there.
We also have to move to Wal-Mart tomorrow because we used up our three days at Fred Meyers. It is only 7 miles down the road...so not too hectic of a move. I scouted it out yesterday and it is a nice Wal-Mart.
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Now if this isn’t the look of, “Hey Dad, I want to get the Heck out of Here”, then I am missing something. It is hard to give a dog back who does not want to go…especially a dog who will start wondering, “What did I do wrong to deserve this…”
The drive over from Seward to Soldotna yesterday was 90 miles, 2 hours, and the poor girl just struggled during most of it. We stopped twice for her to pee, to upchuck, and to be put back in Marcia’s lap again. She did sleep for nearly 20 minutes, but she was not comfortable at all. For the last 45 minutes she was down on the ground, sitting by the water dish…but we decided water was out of the question, and the Vet reaffirmed our decision when we got there. (She did get about a tablespoon of water to wet her mouth once)
This morning we were there promptly at 8:30, and they finally brought her out. She was a little better, but a bit groggy. I took her out for a short walk, where she did her business, the first poop she had done in 48 hours…but not much.
Back inside she just felt sleepy in Marcia’s arms. We had little reaction out of her, but we saw that she was a bit better. The Vet, Meezi Hermansen, told us that her blood sugar had dropped from high 700’s to the low 400’s. “We can drop it faster, but that is not good for her,” she said. We need to get more poop out of her, but it was good that she did get what she did out of her. And we need to run some more blood tests later.
So we said our good byes, and left her there…and frankly, she did not seem to care because she was still not feeling that well. We went off to breakfast, and back to the motorhome.
At 2:15 we returned for nearly a 2 hour stay. Gotta say…at first the little girl felt stronger, but a bit out of it. Then I took her outside for another walk, and she got on the grass and did her lady-like squat, and we walked a bit, and she even ran…but the IV bothered her too much for that, and then we heard a dog, and I said, “Go ahead, give them a holler…” And she did, numerous times…the old Skruffy was coming back. We go back inside and she is held by mom, and held by dad, and she held by mom, and held by dad. Other dogs come in and she gives them a few barks. And then this Bull Dog and her mom come up to the counter…and this was a huge Bull Dog. Well, it starts talking to Skruffy, and Skruffy talks back, and they are both making a bunch of racket. And we ask her to settle down as the Bull Dog’s mom is asking her to calm down…and the Bull Dog lets out one more, so Skruffy lets out one more. I say, “She a girl, they always want the final word…” The Bull Dog lets out another, and the lady says, “Both females want the last word…don’t know how long this will go on.”
They did another blood test on her around 3:00. Meezie the Vet comes to see us around 3:45 and has the results. She said she was able to manipulate her poop out, did not give her an enema, and she went out and emptied the rest on her own. (glad I did not have to pick that on up!) I asked her about us ordering a Blood Glucose Monitoring System from Amazon and having it delivered to the Animal Hospital in care of her, and readily agrees…the AlphaTrak is what they use, and she is glad that we are taking the testing serious. We will have the ability to download software which will track the results, hooking the monitor up to the computer. This can be easily shared with Vets when we need to see one. (Got it ordered before I did the blog, will be in early next week...no later than the 30th) The medicine will probably be over-the-counter at Walgreens.
Dr. Meezie goes over the test results…many things are looking good, a few of the results shift the wrong way, but she feels that this is the result of the IV fluids. So she wants to keep Skruffy for another night, run the test again tomorrow afternoon. The one that worries her the most, but not too much of a worry, is that her White Blood count had climbed slightly…probably because we took Skruffy off her antibiotics with her condition deteriorating…as we should she adds. She is going to try a different medication, and she is fairly certain Skruffy can go home tomorrow evening. In the meantime, both Marcia and I are learning more and more about dogs with diabetes. It is something we will be living with for a long time…we hope. There is no cure, it is going to be maintenance. It will not be easy, but we will do it. I only hope that she doesn’t get tired of me poking her every day…
Thanks to all for their prayers and concern. It was a close one. Here are the signs to look for with a dog who is headed down the Diabetes pathway, and information about Doggie Diabetes: (From pets.webmd.com)
What Type of Diabetes Do Most Dogs Get?Diabetes can be classified as either Type 1 (lack of insulin production) or Type II (impaired insulin production along with an inadequate response to the hormone.)
The most common form of the disease in dogs is Type 1, insulin-dependent diabetes, which occurs when the pancreas is incapable of producing or secreting adequate levels of insulin. Dogs who have Type I require insulin therapy to survive. Type II diabetes is found in cats and is a lack of normal response to insulin.
What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs?The following symptoms should be investigated as they could be indicators that your dog has diabetes:
- Change in appetite
- Excessive thirst/increase in water consumption
- Weight loss
- Increased urination
- Unusually sweet-smelling or fruity breath
- Urinary tract infections
- Cataract formation, blindness
- Chronic skin infections
What Causes Diabetes in Dogs?The exact cause of diabetes is unknown. However, autoimmune disease, genetics, obesity, chronic pancreatitis, certain medications and abnormal protein deposits in the pancreas can play a major role in the development of the disease.
Which Dogs Are Prone to Diabetes?It is thought that obese dogs and female dogs may run a greater risk of developing diabetes later in life (6-9 years of age). Some breeds may also run a greater risk, including Australian terriers, standard and miniature schnauzers, dachshunds, poodles, keeshonds and samoyeds. Juvenile diabetes can also be seen and is particularly prevalent in golden retrievers and keeshonds.
NOTE: Before her anal gland problem, Skruffy had exhibited: a) Excessive thirst/increase in water consumption, b) Weight loss (but our Vet asked us to get her down to under 14 pounds, so we thought this was us), c) Increased urination, d) Unusually sweet-smelling or fruity breath (actually Marcia thought her breath smelled like fish for a few days). After her anal gland problem, she started to exhibit other symptoms, but we thought it was the result of the medication...we were so wrong.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Skruffy went WAY DOWN HILL last night, tossed up a big fur-ball, could not hold water down. Vet in Seward is out for a week, so off we went to Soldotna. Ran some blood test and she is chronic diabetic, her poop is blocking her colon (if poop was the only problem, we would be happy), she needs fluids, has dropped a pound in past week even though she was eating (until yesterday). The next 24-48 hours are critical…please, pray for our little Skruffy dog, and for us to have the strength to handle whatever is next…
This is how she was just a few days after I first got her…rescuing her off the streets.
One of many favorite pictures…taken when her and I took off from Arkansas, headed to Indiana to get a lift put on our first motorhome so that Marcia, who had just undergone hip surgery, could get into the motorhome. Skruffy was and is my little helper. Dog owners and dog lovers know that a dog holds a special place in the heart of its owner. Unlike a child who you raise, love and cherish, but you turn lose upon the world to make a life for themselves…a dog always needs an owner to provide for it…and in exchange, they always give unfeigned love, quick to forgive and forget, and always happy to see you…until they are sick.
Family who read this, or read a text first, please understand that if I talk, you won’t understand a word I would say through the weeping and tears. Love you all…love Skruffy too.
To all who comment, they will be read, doubt they will be answered for now.
Today marks our eighth day in Seward, and we have seen four cruise boats now. Today it was the Norwegian Sun, operated by Norwegian Cruise Line. This boat can also carry over 2,000 passengers, and nearly 1,000 crew members. One thing about when these large cruise ships come into port…our Internet through Verizon is shot to heck because the passengers and crew use up the cell towers on us.
For the second time I found a young couple embracing as the cruise ship goes by…perhaps they were reminiscing about when they once were on a cruise ship, perhaps dreaming about a time they want to be on a cruise ship, or perhaps they just saw too many episodes of the “Love Boat”. (If you don’t know what the Love Boat is, click here)
My fascination with them is strictly photogenic…they make for a great picture. Finding the right shot as it passes in front of the scenic landscape…and this boat by far is the most colorful, and reflected in the waters more than the others.
This ship also snuck in early in the morning, backing into the harbor. Why some back in, while others go face first and back out is anyone’s guess. With this one, the schedule said it was to dock at 7 am, but when the sun is up at 4 am, and it is light all night long, 7 am feels like it does all night…no darkness equals less sleep, so you get up when you decide to get up.
A bit of perspective…got this little boat passing the big boat. It is like a mosquito in size.
By 9:30 it was down at the entry to Resurrection Bay. Looks like it is headed for that mountain shore, but it is staying in the deep channel of the bay, slowly turning to the right and headed out to the Pacific Ocean.
Previously showed a picture of Mount Marathon where the Mount Marathon Race will be held on July 4th, bringing around 30,000 people to this small community. (We will be long gone, over in Homer by then.) Well, thought I would bring a bit of perspective to this too.
The hikers are up where the green just starts to disappear along the trail on the left side of the mountain. One heck of a mountain...and the record is like 44 minutes!
At precisely midnight, the start of the longest day of the year, the moon starts to peek its full head over the mountain top.
Welcome to the first day of summer…what a way to start our summer.
Sometimes timing is everything…yes, that is a small boat between the moon and the moon’s reflection.
Just sitting in the motorhome, enjoying the view, waiting for my laptop to charge up so that I could finish the blog. I look up and see this white reflection in the water and think, “Where is this coming from???” Then, “Oh Marcia, look at what we get!!!” I grab the camera and run out. Came in to show Marcia the first batch of shots, got Skruffy and we went out for the latter bunch, getting the picture of boat crossing the reflection. All of the previous nights we had put the cover over the front window by 11:30. Not tonight…thank goodness.
Sunday, June 19, 2016
The rain got a bit heavy last night, and lasted well into this afternoon. Around 4 pm it stopped, there were patches of blue skies, and the rain stopped, and the ground dried up. Around 3 pm I headed over to the library to download some more movies to our kindles. Without power, we don’t have TV, and have been watching a few movies on our kindles. Watched “My Cousin Vinny”, which we had to rent (not on Amazon Prime) while we had the generator on, otherwise, we watched everything else on one of our two kindles. Without solar power due to clouds, we had the generator on for about 6+ hours today, instead of 2+. (We always have it on in the morning for coffee, for about 30 minutes, then about 90 minutes in the evening.)
Got a picture of the Cruise Ship that came in Sunday morning sometime…did not hear it over the rain. This one “backed in” to the harbor…now that is different. I guess it wants to make a quick get-a-way later in the evening. This is an eleven deck, 2,000 passenger cruise ship MS Noordam of the Holland America Line. Noordam is named for the northern compass point, and the other ships like it are the Oosterdam, Westerdam, and Zuiderdam.
Around 8:30 I heard a whistle blow, and the ship had left the harbor and started down Resurrection Bay toward the Pacific Ocean. Kind of like it when it has to turn around, but sure did not want to get up that early to watch it back into harbor at who knows what time this morning, especially in the rain.
Not very much to take pictures of today due to the rain, and frankly, it was fairly cool until the wind stopped about the time the ship pulled out. Tomorrow should be a bit better, and much better starting on Tuesday. Not sure when we are headed over to Homer, might hang around for the warm weather coming in on Tuesday for a few days. Nice not having a set schedule…
Now I know what it is like when the bluest sky of the day is at 10 pm at night. Wish I knew how to stop the rain that falls on my daughter… She went into the ER today with pains in her right side. After a number of hours and a number of test, they released her without knowing what causes the pain. It “could” be the appendix, but the test have not confirmed a bad appendix. Sometimes it rains and pours, and you just can’t stop it…no matter how much you want things to change…
Saturday, June 18, 2016
WOW, what a change one day makes! This is how it has been all day, slight rain from time to time, can’t see across the bay, but can see most of the of the boats that pass by. No Cruise ships today…should be another large one in tomorrow.
The amount of people out and about was down by 90%…and when they did come out, they typically went right back in again. I went to the store, and went to the public library to download some movies to our kindles…that was about it. We will stay here in Seward through Monday, perhaps beyond, but for sure through Monday. We do not have hookups, and we dumped our tanks and filled up our water yesterday, so we will be fine until Tuesday.
Just can’t imagine how things are on a day like this with these folks…or with the Cruise Ship passengers who paid mega bucks, and won’t see much. As for us, we can sit it out and wait until things clear up.