Parting Of The Ways…

Parting Of The Ways…

I’ve been so preoccupied with bringing my dogs blog somewhat up to date that I’ve pretty much let every else go. However I made a decision that is huge (for me at least) and even though I’m relieved by it at the same time I feel as if the sword of Damocles is hanging over my head.

I’ve been unhappy with my small Catholic parish for quite some time. Some of the parishioners would openly mimic the former priest if he made a gaffe in speaking during his homily. I’m a creature of habit and always sat on the left in the 8th pew back from the alter. This “influential” family sat in the 6th pew and I’d watch them giggle, talk amongst themselves and shake their heads the few times the priest misspoke. He was at the podium on our side of the church so I know he saw them. Not sure what it is about the elite in my community because a wealthy and highly respected family had my dog before me and suffice it to say they were not good to her. The priest was like me, an outsider, or as the locals call us “flatlanders”. I was quite sad when he announced earlier in the summer that he’d requested to be relieved of his duties at the parish and the diocese had granted it.The parish had an ice cream social for him as a going away gesture and (4) people came. It was sickening considering it was following the more heavily attended Sunday mass and  people were already there.

The his replacement came whom I’ve dubbed Father Granola. I think I wrote about him a few posts back. The parishioners fawn over him yet he’s got the personality of a turnip.But, he’s a native Mainer. This is his first parish assignment as he was previously a hospital and college chaplain. He’s not a young priest direct from the seminary as he’s mid 40’s but he’s only been a priest for about 10 years.The first night he offered mass he streamlined it by cutting out announcements and things he felt weren’t necessary, like the names of the recently deceased. He stares at the ceiling most of the time and speaks in such a flat monotone that I personally struggle to stay awake. I could probably tolerate all of that but I simply cannot tolerate the BS that goes on with the members of the parish. The hypocritical behaviors and outright meanness has taken its toll on me. I realize every church has its own unique character, or “flavor.” Some congregations are very traditional, while others are more informal in how they express their beliefs. Some may see themselves as very conservative in theology, while others may be more moderate or even progressive. Having said that, I’ve never been a member of a church where  parishioners are so openly repugnant and adults in their 60’s  mock a priest for saying the wrong word or mislabeling the name of a town. Who in their right mind behaves like that? Maybe children in second grade but not intelligent adults. It’s not a Catholic thing, a Methodist thing, a Jewish thing ~ it’s an ugly thing. A perfect example of abhorrent behavior. I just cannot sit there every Saturday night listening to a priest talk about organic seeds and watch people gush over it. Yet at the same time I feel disloyal, as if I’m passing judgement on others when I shouldn’t be. I feel guilt for walking away from the only religion I’ve ever known but in all honesty, I don’t know it anymore nor do I understand it. I don’t necessarily believe that the only way you can have God in your life is by entering a building once a week. He doesn’t live there. He doesn’t have a bedroom set up behind the alter. I think God is within us; He makes us who we are and defines our values and guides our moral compass.

This whole thing is causing me more angst than I anticipated. If there was another Catholic church I’d simply go there but the next closest one is 55 miles and I’m not making a 110 mile round trip. I don’t like all the driving I do now and am not adding another weekly trip into the mix.

In time I might have the answer ~ then again I might not.

On a brighter note, some of you might have read my posts during a recent (3) day blog challenge. I focused on Blue, a (6) month old puppy found October 2, 2015, on the outskirts of the woods near Sunday River Ski Resort in the Western Mountains of Maine. His muzzle had been taped shut. The ACO took him to Bethel Animal Hospital  where he was treated for an extended period of time.

blueHe was saved by one of my veterinarian’s, Dr. Gary Stuer,  who owns BAH. Dr. Stuer said the most remarkable thing about Blue was his ability to love. He was adopted by a wonderful family and on October 8 will be at my veterinarian’s Open House. I’m definitely going and hope to get a lot of pictures of this remarkable boy. We should all have the capacity to forgive and love like this abused yet loving pup. The name of his forever family has remained confidential as Blue’s abuser has not been identified. The HSUS has offered a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of this despicable person.

I’m not a savvy blogger  so unsure of menus, icons etc. Please click to see my German Shepherd’s blog, Sasha’s Journey, which I’ve created to chronicle her unique and complicated medical issues which include stem cell therapy. She has a You Tube channel, also called Sasha’s Journey,  which covers her journey from onset until present day. Please check both of them out and if you find them interesting, please subscribe and follow. Sasha is a work in progress but most of all, very much loved!

So I Give Up….

So I Give Up….

*I’m writing this post because I cannot figure out how to put a widget on here ~ pretty sad. Or funny depending on my mood at the time.*

I won’t write how long I sat at my laptop today trying to figure out HOW to put a widget for my German Shepherd’s blog on this one. It would be the ultimate embarrassment if I did. I definitely need those “dummy books” more than I thought. It’s just one of those simple things that one encounters in life that totally confuses you and when you see how it’s done you say, “Oh duhhhh@me”.

I’ve written a few times about my dogs, specifically Sasha and her rather unique medical problems. She had stem cell therapy in April 2016 ~ and a whole bunch of other things. I’ve  decided in my next life I need to marry a veterinarian. Ironically, I found a picture of her today when she was having an MRI of her spine in April. Wow was I shocked!

S_9-20 MRI, 4-11-16 .jpg

When I first began researching treatments for Sasha, I primarily went to vet school websites and avoided “Mary Sue’s Dog Blog” because I wanted the most accurate information I could find. I’ve come to learn that vets are sometimes not as open as they could be. Having said that, I did rely on both FB pages, blogs and You Tube videos of dogs that had stem cell therapy (SCT) because it gave me the opportunity to see real dogs in their home environment. Often the veterinarian sites show dogs in a clinical setting. Looking back I’m surprised my family didn’t hold an intervention because I had so many YT videos on the television ~ sometimes for hours. Many of them were done  by people in other countries; there were Spanish, Italian and Russian. It didn’t make a difference that I didn’t know what they were saying because both their body language and the dog’s behavior gave me the answers I was looking for.

I originally had a Facebook page for her where she had over 200 followers but Facebook is not the venue for me and subsequently I deactivated it. I’ve been transitioning Sasha’s story over to her blog, starting it in March when her medical journey began.

I belong to both Sasha and her litter sister Inga whose parents were imported from Germany. I call them “The Germs” ~ because I think I’m rather funny at times. The Germs actually have a variety of names. Inga Patrice is Annika Von Den Westlichen Bergen and Sasha Clarice is Angel Von Den Westlichen Bergen. To me however they’re just Ring Ding and Sash. Even though my late dog Callie was truly my soul mate, aware of my every emotion, The Germs also keep me going ~ just in a different way. Their soulful brown eyes and head on my lap have enabled me to weather many a PTSD trigger. PTSD is in a way my cross to bear but these dogs by my side have eased that burden. perhaps that doesn’t make sense to everyone but those who have a special relationship with a dog will understand.

Up until a Fibrocartilaginous Embolism (FCE), also known as a spinal stroke, hit Sasha in 2011, both dogs and I were actively involved in Schutzhund training and completion. Going to the club was our weekend getaways. Sasha was just shy of earning Sch3 (which is the top-level) when she was paralyzed by the FCE.


She made an 85-90% recovery after fast intervention by a veterinary neurosurgeon followed by months of physical therapy. While no longer able to compete, she nonetheless remained active all year-long. She was still an excellent tracker, hiked with me in spring and fall, swam like a fish every summer, and tagged along when I snowshoe in winter. Even now, with all the medical issues that have just piled on her one after another, she remains so resilient that I just want to cry at times.

So I’m posting this because I know a few of you are dog people and would like to invite you to check her out her blog, Sasha’s Journey. She also has a You Tube channel which is also called Sasha’s Journey. If  interested, please subscribe. I really do give a lot of information and use hyperlinks frequently. Maybe when WP Live Chat resumes on September 26 I can get one of the tech kiddos to walk me through the widget thing ~ if I have any marbles left by then.


❤️❤️My Germs❤️❤️

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PTSD and Sudden Triggers…

PTSD and Sudden Triggers…

I guess I should write about this as it’s affected deeply me for weeks. I was sailing along doing well as far as my PTSD. The severe flooding I experienced in 2012 after being fired from my job for reporting workplace violations seemed to have resolved. It was a good thing because I still haven’t found a new therapist. I had one and hit it off well but my insurance won’t cover her. Something about she has the wrong type of accreditation; she’s an LCPC as opposed to a LCSW. In the Western Mountains of Maine there aren’t many choices unless one wants to drive an hour to see a therapist. I’ve found my insurance company reasonable in the past so intend to ask them for a reconsideration. I was just so busy between getting my German Shepherd’s blog up (BTW that’s not her picture up there), traveling for her weekly treatments and grad school beginning at the end of July with a required (10) day stay at one of their campuses.

Then out of the blue an email crossed my path about mid August. The story was so horrific that I was triggered immediately.  I mean, I could literally feel it  spread through my body ~ both cold and warm at the same time. The abuse this 4 year old girl suffered was very similar to what I had endured. Although I never thought my name was Idiot, I had been called it many times. In the past if I was triggered that intensely I withdrew for a while until I could get my emotions in check. However because of my dog’s medical issues I had veterinarian appointments so hiding out at home wasn’t an option. Dogs are very important to me as I never really knew unconditional love, no make that love in any form, until I emancipated myself and adopted my first shelter dog. It’s been a dog that’s gotten me through some of the worst times of my life so not keeping her appointments wasn’t  an option. Then in the past when I’ve been emotionally fragile due to triggers I’ve found solace in the Catholic church but this summer I’ve taken, for lack of a better word, a sabbatical from it  for several reasons. It’s a small parish where everyone knows your name (like Cheers ) yet they are mean, spiteful and unkind. So much so that the previous priest asked to be reassigned. He was replaced with a granola priest who I’m convinced will have the parishioners out there planting a church garden next spring. Plus he stares at the ceiling and speaks in a dull monotone (he’s only 40). Yet the parishioners fawn over him like  high schoolers at a prom. I was in the departing line one time and heard the couple in front of me telling him how wonderful it was to have a priest that, “Is one of us”. They were referring to him being a native of Maine whereas the previous priest was, God forbid, a transplant (like me). Then next up our diocese settled a sexual abuse case from many years ago and it came out that they would have settled earlier but  wanted the victims to sign a confidentiality agreement to never discuss the abuse which the now adult victims vehemently refused to do. If anyone has read some of my past posts, then you know I had a similar situation where I wouldn’t sign that type of agreement. I was flabbergasted as it was my understanding that the church was no longer “covering” up sexual abuse by priests. Guess I was wrong and it left me very unsettled.  So seeking comfort in the church wasn’t an option either.

Instead I’ve thrown myself into writing Sasha’s blog, sometimes for 8 hours straight.  It had originally been a Facebook page where she had over 200 followers but Facebook is simply not the venue for me so I deactivated my account. Since Sasha’s medical journey began in March 2016 that’s where I started the blog. Yet, when I’m not taking her to the vet I ignore people and stay home. I don’t have a lot of friends. Strike that. I have one good friend and some acquaintances. I haven’t talked to my good friend since I read about this abused child. I just don’t feel like engaging in banal conversation. Perhaps that makes me sound terrible but I’m trying to focus on what’s best for me for once instead of doing what other people expect of me. I never liked making small talk anyway but especially when I’m upset.

I don’t know if anyone has read the article about this poor child but here’s a link  to the horror she was subjected to.

Anyway, that’s where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. I still haven’t figured out how to put a share widget on this page for my dog’s blog but when WordPress Live Chat comes to life again on September 26 I’ll try and remember to initiate a chat before 7pm ET. I usually forget about it till long after that. Or, maybe I’ll just order one of these books. Seriously I’m a fan of the “Dummy” books.

I am going out on a no-dog related adventure next week. My iPhone 5S must have known Apple was launching a new one because it died ~ as in deader than a doornail. I’m a visual person so want to see the size difference between the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The only thing I DO know is that if you opt for monthly payments through Apple you get Apple Care free. Verizon has a similar deal. Whereas if you buy it outright you get nothing, nada, zilch.


No significance to this cat picture other than I like it so much I used it as my screensaver at most of my jobs.


Chronic Pain & Pills…

Chronic Pain & Pills…

Playing devil’s advocate for tonight. I was reading our local online paper and saw that a 30 something couple had been arrested for trafficking in narcotics and numerous individuals were indicted for  drug related offenses. What bothers me is because some individuals CHOOSE to traffic in narcotics, honest people with serious and  chronic pain issues are often denied prescriptions. I have an older family member who was prescribed  Vicodin monthly. He worked hard his entire life as a blue collar worker hence physical labor. Of the 47 years he worked, 40 were as an OTR (over the road) tractor trailer driver. He literally lived all week in his truck and was in a sitting position with knees bent for at least (11) hours a day. I’m sure that when he started driving many years ago, the DOT rules were not regulated as they are today. In 1991 and continuing into early 1992  he was sick for months yet because of his strong work ethic wouldn’t take off. When he finally went to his PCP he was diagnosed with general fatigue but I knew that wasn’t it.  I practically had to force him to go for a second opinion. After an exam and basic blood tests, that physician also said it was fatigue. My nursing instinct however told me it was something more ~ I just didn’t know what or whom to turn to. Then one night at work it hit me. I saw a pamphlet in the hospital about Lyme Disease , a disease the medical community was learning about. As I read the pamphlet I suddenly remembered he has been bitten by a tick the previous summer and had the distinctive red bull’s eye rash. I took him to see an Infectious Disease doctor who, with the help of a specific blood test, diagnosed him with Stage 3, or late disseminated, Lyme disease. This stage can cause long-term joint inflammation (Lyme arthritis) usually in the knees along with a host of other complications, many of which he has experienced years later. In 1996 and again in 2000 he had  episodes of Bell’s Palsy, a possible occurrence of Stage 3 Lyme Disease than can occur years later. Fortunately both times he was treated and it resolved. His severe and often debilitating arthritis however has not been resolved despite injections of cortisone to his knees. Because of its severity he has been treated by a rheumatologist for nearly fifteen years. In addition to the knee injections the rheumatologist prescribed Vicodin. My  family member never used it when he was still driving but now that he’s retired takes it on an infrequent basis. Some days he needs it two or three times while other days only once or not at all. He chooses not to take the Vicodin daily because he doesn’t want to develop a dependence (just because we get older doesn’t necessarily mean we get stupid). Plus at age 73 he is of the generation that simply doesn’t take pills. Instead he opted to take it as needed, using plain Tylenol or homeopathic arnica in between. His specialist of fifteen years is under the umbrella of a Maine hospital. My family member went for his six month checkup a few months ago and learned the practice had implemented blood drug screening tests for anyone on narcotics. When his test came back with less Vicodin in his system (because he didn’t take it every single day), he was cut off completely. Told he was not taking them as often as he should even though the prescription label clearly said “every six hours as needed“.  As needed means just that ~ when you have severe discomfort/pain. It does not mean take it on a schedule. He was questioned by a rather nasty office nurse  as to what he was doing with the Vicodin. Was he selling or sharing? In my professional opinion she crossed a line and when I learned of her interrogative questioning tactics  I went ballistic. Her approach and accusing manner was unacceptable so I called the practice manager to complain. I had to leave a voicemail and ended with a request that the physician call. When one week passed without a return phone call from anyone, I called and again had to leave a voicemail. I gave it another 10 days then sent a certified letter to my family member’s doctor. He finally called us and explained that he is being monitored by the hospital he works for (as were other doctors under that healthcare umbrella who treat pain) and that the blood tests and stopping the Vicodin were the hospital’s rules – not his personal ones. He went on to say that the people who either fake pain to obtain narcotics to sell or those with real pain who supplement their income by selling some of their prescription has made a HUGE impact for doctors like him, a board certified rheumatologist  who specializes in treating chronic pain. It’s a terrible situation for an honest person to be in. They know one can become addicted so don’t “overindulge” and because they choose to stay on the safe side find themselves penalized without ANY prescription pain medication. Finally the rheumatologist prescribed something which is NOT effective for his arthritic pain and only causes constipation so he simply doesn’t it. All because of the people in society who choose to traffic which in my opinion include those with genuine pain who sell part of their prescription. Selling/trading/sharing YOUR prescription medication is illegal any way you look at it, whether it’s a narcotic or some leftover antibiotics from an infected tooth. And because people sell drugs for whatever reason, those with severe pain have to suffer. I keep reading articles blaming the pharmaceutical companies for manufacturing such powerful medications and blaming physicians for prescribing them. My feeling is ~ society NEEDS pain medication for people who live with chronic pain on a daily basis. I am thankful that drugs are manufactured that would help me retain some quality of life should I develop an extremely painful disease. We should not be penalized however because of those who CHOOSE to engage in trafficking. No person with severe, debilitating pain should be denied relief yet they are. Unlike traffickers, chronic pain is not our CHOICE.  

Now I watch my family member suffer in his retirement years, when he should be enjoying himself. Instead, just rising from a chair causes him pain. He can barely do anything with his hands because they are so painful. It hurts me to see a 73 year old man who worked 47 years, 40 of which were spent in the confined cab of a tractor trailer, not be able to enjoy  simple everyday things because of severe pain. He wants to visit family in TN this summer but is concerned about the pain, wondering if he will be able to participate in doing things with them. This is absolutely heartbreaking.

I think that’s why the medical marijuana movement has gained such momentum. Honest people with real pain issues need help and if they can’t get it from their medical provider then what alternative do they have? It’s a very slippery slope. I truly feel for those caught up in it. My family member said he would take medical marijuana which nearly blew my socks off. For him to say that tells me he is in agony. I’ll wait awhile and broach the subject with him again and if he still expresses interest than I’ll have to see how one goes about doing it in Maine.