Hope For My Chronic Pain

On February 27 I posted a blog about my chronic pain. About 3 months ago I made the decision to find a new doctor and I was lucky enough to find Dr Paul Moniz in Farmington, MO. He didn’t waste anytime addressing my health issues. He has my piercing edema under control and referred me to a cardiologist to address my heart problem and that has been addressed.

I had asked him to order X-rays of my ankle because I wanted to make sure no stress fractures were present. He took one look at my ankle and immediately ordered a work up of my ankle and X-Rays. When he saw them he referred me to Dr Christopher Sloan, podiatrist, of Farmington.

My appointment was today and I am ecstatic with the news I received. Seems I have bone build up on the right side of my right ankle the size of a ping ball, and smaller bone build up on the left, and my heel has some abnormalities. He said the X-rays of my foot were quite evident of how painful it was for me to walk and that he would like to do an ankle replacement. He informed me that ankle replacements had been available for almost 25 years.

He continued to say I would be pain free and could walk normal. He went over everything with me very thoroughly and I agreed to let him do the procedure on October 27.

Needless to say I walked out of his office on cloud 9. Once I got into the truck and put the key in the ignition I teared up. For 40 years I have not known what it was like to walk without pain and I was looking at the possibility of finally getting that opportunity. I was saddened to think that because I wasn’t proactive and basically given up, that I could be living that dream years ago. I could only imagine how much it would improve my quality of life. Time will tell.

In closing I would like to encourage anyone in the same position as me to not be afraid to change doctors or at least get a second or even third opinion. Don’t give up hope even if you have exhausted every possible avenue. Try again in a couple of years. They are making new medical advancements every day and you never know when they might develop a way to address your problem. Don’t give up like I did. To think it might have cost me 10, 15 or 20 years of enjoying being pain free is a hard pill to swallow but it’s better late than never. Good luck!

Life Is Like A River

“Surrender to the flow of the River of Life, yet do not float down the river like a leaf or log. While neither attempting to resist life nor to hurry it, become the rudder and use your energy to correct your course to avoid the whirlpools and undertow.” – Johnathan Lockwood Huie

I spend as much time as I can exploring the rivers of Missouri. I am mesmerized by their beauty and amazed by how much they are like life itself.

Like life a river is long and winding filled with adventure and obstacles. It ebbs and flows, builds and falls. Like life it can be rough and at other times be calm and peaceful. One minute you can be making your way through a calm pool of water and at the end of it you find yourself thrust into the rapids dodging rocks and trees trying to keep your boat upright.

The river can be calm and pristine flowing within its banks then the spring rains can transform it into a raging torrent of water causing it to surge out of its banks destroying everything in its path.

Life is full of mystery and the unknown and the river is full of the same. As you approach a bend in the river you know not of what lies ahead of you. Like in life you can only hope that you are prepared for anything that the river places before you. Will you fail or will you be victorious?

Little Red Wagon

“If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there would be a shortage of fishing poles.” Doug Larson

For those of you who don’t know me, I live to fish. There is nothing as relaxing as sitting on the bank kicked back waiting to catch the new state record.

I do most of my fishing from my kayak. I can go a lot more places and I can fish water that I can’t get to on foot. However, there is a lake in Bonne Terre City Park they call Lakeview. It has a paved walking track all the way around it. At dusk lights come on to illuminate the track.

Well my dilemma was I had to park a long way from where I fished. I had to come up with some way to make it easy to pack my gear out there. Then it hit me. A little red wagon. I always wanted a wagon when I was a child and never got one. One day at a resale shop in Farmington I spotted one. At the age of 64 I finally got my little red wagon.

I took it home and started thinking what modifications needed to be done on it. Luckily all it needed was 2 rod holders. Once installed I was in business. It had seat belts installed to use on children and they work great to strap my gear down. It worked out great and it makes it a lot easier to pack my gear into my fishing spot.

“Many men go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” – Henry David Thoreau

Mother Nature and Respect

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Walden Henry David Thoreau

The definition of nature is the material world, especially as surrounding humankind and existing independently of human activities. It is also defined as the phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations. One could say that nature is everything.

There is a saying “Stop and smell the roses.” Relax and take time to enjoy or appreciate the beauty of life. Stop stressing out, overthinking or complaining. My version is “Stop and drink of the beauty of nature.”

As spring draws near camping season comes into view. The weekend warriors who live in the cities and suburbs will begin their assault upon the campgrounds. They appear in the parks pulling their 30 foot campers loaded with all the amenities of home. I don’t think this is what Thoreau had in mind when he advocated that people leave their urban and industrialized areas to explore nature. He felt that “modern life” robbed people of their best selfs and that living in harmony with nature was essential. In today’s society the campgrounds are so overpopulated that they are nothing more than smaller communities of which they were trying to leave behind.

In Missouri the rivers and Ozark streams become heavily congested with weekend floaters occupying rafts, inner tubes, kayaks, and boats. Sadly the amount of litter left behind is mind boggling. Thoreau often wrote about the importance of preserving the wilderness and the importance of living in harmony with nature. His ideas are completely lost on the minds of the majority of weekend revelers. One can see the evidence if they float the rivers on Monday morning. Sandbars and gravel bars are littered with aluminum cans, trash, and an occasional tent. It doesn’t have to be this way. If you pack it in pack it out. It is that simple. My motto is is,”Leave it better than you found it.”

We as a whole need to learn to respect Mother Earth and what she has given us. Preserve the magnificent beauty of Mother Earth so that future generations can enjoy it. We don’t know what we have until it is gone.

“I love nature partly because she is not a man, but a retreat from him. None of his institutions control or pervade her. There a different kind of right prevails. In her midst I can be glad with an entire gladness. If this world were all man, I could not stretch myself, I should lose all hope. He is constraint, she is freedom to me. He makes me wish for another world. She makes me content with this.” – Henry David Thoreau’s Journal

MDC Once Again Under Attack!

The Missouri Conservation and Use Tax is once again under attack. ‘This money goes directly to support forest and wildlife conservation efforts. Out of every $8 of taxable goods one penny goes for conservation.

In the early 70s Missouri citizens petitioned to get the tax placed on the ballot. They succeeded, it passed and was implemented on July 1, 1977. Then in 1999 state officials attempted to divert the money collected to pay refunds to taxpayers to only have the Missouri Supreme Court rule that the money could only be used for conservation and not be considered part of the states total revenues.

When I was a child there were a lot of areas of Missouri where it was rare to see a deer or a turkey. I grew up fishing the Big River and bass fishing was mediocre.

In 1977 when the money was allocated to the MDC, things began to change. A little slow at first but soon things began to improve. Due to responsible conservation efforts game became more abundant. Hunters were allotted more tags to fill for deer and turkey. Bass fishing became more rewarding. Money started coming in from out of state hunters who wanted to take advantage of our good hunting. Out of state fisherman also traveled to Missouri to take advantage of our excellent fishing. New land was bought and more public hunting areas and river accesses were made available. New conservation areas were established. Other states began to take notice and implemented programs in their states that the MDC had created.

Now Republican Chris Dinkins of District 144 has introduced two constitutional amendments that could destroy the improvements that have been made. HJR 108 and HJR 112. She says it is in an effort to rein in the overgrown bureaucracy of the MDC and make the department more accountable to the people.

HJR 108 would give the voters the opportunity to change the Missouri Conservation Commission. Presently the commission has four members who are appointed by the governor. Her amendment would change that number to nine nonpartisan members. Voters would elect one member from the current MDC districts and the governor would appoint one member to the commission. I thought she wanted to rein in bureaucracy within the department but this would only add to it causing more bureaucratic red tape.

HJR 112, if passed by voters, would take two thirds of the money and pass it on to other areas in need. The Missouri Supreme Court has already ruled that the money could only be used for conservation and can not be considered part of the states total revenues. Lawsuits? I know the voters are voting on it but the voters passed it in the first place.

She points out that the MDC has a savings account balance of almost 100 million dollars. Sounds to me like they are being pretty responsible. Representative Dinkins that’s let me point out that a savings account is usually used for emergencies. How much of that money was contributed from the Conservation Sales and Use Tax and how much from the sale of licenses, tags, ammo, etc.? If the economy tanks the MDC could go through that money pretty quickly in an effort to keep its programs afloat. Did you ever think of that are better yet do you even care? She says the MDC continues to attack the civil liberties of this state but cites no references. If you are going to throw the sportsmen of this state under the bus at least tell us why? Since you represent Reynolds county I would be suspect it has something to do with the battle between feral hog hunters and the MDC. So your solution is to punish all sportsman of the state of Missouri?

I hope the sportsmen in this state takes a long hard look at what is going on here and the impact these two amendments will have on bird hunting, deer hunting, turkey hunting, fishing and all the other programs offered by the MDC. Are we going to stand by and let this destroy all the accomplishments the MDC has made since 1977. I for one hope not.

Chronic Pain

Pain is the body’s way of telling the brain we are still alive. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

I have wrestled with the idea of addressing this subject for sometime. I think I can speak for the majority of us who suffer from chronic pain syndrome when I say we aren’t looking for sympathy or pity. We just want you to understand what we are dealing with. Too many think we are overreacting and are just cry babies. I am here to tell you the pain is real and can be relentless at times.

Mine began when I crushed my heel, broke my ankle and instep in 1979. My toes were about the only thing that were spared. The doctor who treated me said he didn’t think I would walk again and if I managed to do so it would be with the assistance of a cane. He was wrong on both counts.

The bones healed but the pain never really stopped. It just got worse. It has wreaked havoc on my quality of life. I have reached a point where all I want to do is sit on my arse and keep my foot elevated to combat the pain.

On those days I force myself to get up, put on my big boy panties and deal with it. Some days are harder than others. The pain is not only physical but emotional as well. I have to fight off depression daily but I can say I have remained victorious in that battle. I get tired of hurting. I try to remember what life was like without pain. It keeps me awake at night and causes fatigue. It becomes a chore just to go to town 3 miles away. Negative thoughts try to creep in but I have learned to keep them at bay with positive thoughts. It can be quite the emotional battle that some days drain me mentally and physically.

Recently I have had to start the day using a cane but once I am up and moving for about an hour and the foot loosens up I can lose the cane. There are mornings that I have to work diligently to get my foot in a boot. The majority of my pain is caused by inflammation and arthritis.

I have enrolled in pain management with little success. I was on hydrocodone for ten years until one morning I got up and took myself off it. It basically just dulled my pain and I was afraid of what it was doing to my body. I wasn’t getting any real benefit from it. I have tried ointments and even used horse liniment that gives short lived temporary relief never completely eradicating the pain.

I contribute my ability to cope with CPS to my love of nature, fishing and kayaking. They keep me motivated to deal with it and to keep on trucking.

I am by no means the only one who suffers from CPS and we all have different ways of combating it. Just please be aware that for the majority of us the pain is real. Our quality of life sucks and we become cranky and hard to be around. We don’t mean to be but the fatigue and pain sometimes become so unbearable we lash out even though it against our better judgement.

No doubt you all know someone who suffers from CPS. Please don’t offer us pity or sympathy. Instead try to understand us and be a positive force in our life. Help us through the rough spots. There are days that an “atta boy” or hug can ease the pain, give us hope and brighten our days. Please don’t judge us just try to understand us.

Lazy Man’s Stew

Decided to do something different this time. For those who know me they know I love to cook and Dutch Oven cooking is my method of madness.

I would normally do this in a bean pot on a wood stove but I like to let it cook all day and this particular day I didn’t have that luxury. I make a fire pit out of rims and a 10 inch dutch fits snugly in the center of the rim. Works perfect.

The reason I call it Lazy Man’s Stew is because for the most part you are just opening cans.

1 pound top sirloin steak

3 tbsps olive oil

2 tbsps minced garlic

1 medium onion (diced)

12 oz Heinz mushroom gravy

24 oz beef broth

4 tbsps Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tbsp salt

1/2 tbsp pepper

1/2 tsp curry

2 medium potatoes (cut in 1/4 inch cubes)

15 oz canned carrots

15 oz canned green beans

15 oz canned corn

2 glasses Elderberry wine

Add olive oil to Dutch oven and when it gets hot add onions and minced garlic. Cook,stir frequently, until onion is clear.

Then add meat.

Now pour your first glass of wine. (optional)

When meat is cooked add the gravy and beef broth. Then add the remaining ingredients.

Bring to a rolling boil and cook for twenty minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Pour your second glass of wine. (optional)

Lower heat (I raise the pot higher off the fire) and let simmer for an hour. Remove from fire and let sit for 10 minutes then serve.

As you can see I always use my finest China.

How many does it serve? Depends on how hungry you are.

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog. Feel free to give me some feedback in the comments.

Is It Old Age?

The country is more of a wilderness, more of a wild solitude, in the winter than in the summer. The wild comes out. The urban, the cultivated, is hidden or negatived.” – John Burroughs

I am a lover of the winter. The beauty of Mother Earth covered in fresh snow causes the spirit within me to move and feel alive.

I turn 66 in a couple of months. My body is occupied by arthritis caused by years of abuse. The cold wind cuts through me like it never has before. It magnifies the pain within my joints and makes everyday life more difficult. I guess it was just a matter of time.

For the first time in my life I am actually looking forward to the spring temperatures that will usher my old friend winter out and let the warming air of spring begin to blow across Mother Earth.

It is partially fueled by my love of the river and searching for that elusive record bass. Camping on a gravel bar partaking of the delicious scents of the river. Engrossed in the tranquility and peace that soothes my soul and enriches my spirit. Gazing into the beauty of the night sky hoping to see a falling star. Listening to the nocturnal creatures that are found along the banks of the river as they go about foraging for food and warning others of the intruder among them.

Floating down the river in my yak experiencing the transformation to spring. Marveling at the beauty of the river influenced by the changing season. The redbud and the dogwood begin to paint the countryside with their blooms manifesting on the branches that were bare in the winter months. The warmth of the sun soothes my arthritic joints as I wonder who had been here before me.

Yes it is hard for me to imagine but I am actually looking forward to the coming of spring and saying goodbye to my old friend winter.

Life Can Be Bittersweet

As we grow older it is inevitable that we will face the fact that those tasks in life that we were able to do are no longer within our capabilities. Believe me it is a hard pill to swallow. Unfortunately we tend to refuse to recognize this. We are in denial and keep telling ourselves we can do it. By choosing this path we don’t always do what is best and prolong the inevitable. Just recently I found myself guilty of doing this very thing.

In 2003 I became a full time farrier. I built my business up to a point where I was doing around 1400 head of horses a year or roughly 30 head a week. During the summer you would find me under horses six days a week. During this time I saw so many horses that were never trained and wasting away in a pasture. Something I said I would never do, or so I thought.

I had purchased a cutting horse bred filly. She was quite the handful but managed to break her and had her going well under saddle. I lost her in a divorce and figured I would never see her again.

I began having breathing problems and my energy levels suffered immensely. This was a part of my life for three years, off and on. Finally I couldn’t go anymore. My “get along” had got up and left. It turned out I was bleeding to death internally. My body only had a third of the blood it needed circulating through my veins. The whole time I was struggling to stay under horses to make my living. The doctor told me he had no good explanation as to why I was still alive and that there was probably some damage done to my organs. To make a long story short I recovered but my pulmonologist informed me she thought I had some lung damage. It was evident in my shortness of breath and lack of energy.

Then one day I was given the opportunity to buy my filly, now a mare, back. She had a filly on her side. I brought them home thinking I would break the filly. My health issues changed everything. I kept telling myself I would get better and have the horse I had always dreamed about.

Unfortunately I was in full blown denial. I was becoming one of those people I had always despised just letting her talents go to waste.

Then in January I lost my beloved ride dog Kate. Reality slapped me square in the face. I wasn’t being fair to my filly. At the same time I was wrestling with the realization that I was no longer able to do what I could once do.

I finally admitted my training days were over and I made some phone calls. Some very good friends who I knew would give them both a good home, agreed to take them. They are going to use the mare for breeding and break the filly. I guess it is only fitting that the mare would be the last horse I would break.

Tough Choice For Pet Owners

I wrestled with writing about this particular subject but I felt it might be beneficial to other pet owners facing this tough decision. I was faced with it in November 2019 and again in January 2020.

To euthanize or let nature take its course. It’s a very tough decision and when you do decide you almost always second guess yourself. Did I make the right decision? Who knows what the right decision is? We really don’t have anyway of knowing for sure. We have to ask ourselves if we are keeping them alive for them or for us. They can’t talk so we really don’t know if they are suffering.

In my case the first decision came when my Great Pyrenees, Eros, was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer. The veterinarian gave me my options. Treat with steroids, chemotherapy or euthanasia. I didn’t want to put him through chemo so I opted for steroids and pain pills.

Eros responded well the first 3 days. Then he had a couple bad days. He began to get worse. I knew I had to make a decision and it was gut wrenching. I weighed the pros and cons and looking at them I asked myself if I was keeping him alive for me or him. In my case I decided it was for me so I made an appointment for him to cross the bridge.

I almost waited too long. The night before he got down and the only way he could get up was if I lifted him up on his legs. I practically had to carry him to the truck and load him to go to the vet’s office.

They had a room for us to go to without going through the waiting room. It was nice but just seemed such a cold impersonal place for him to take his last breath. I got down on the floor and held him as the vet injected him with the death serum. It was over quickly.

My second decision came in January 2020. My beloved Australian Shepherd, my ride dog, had developed a strange cough. I made Kate an appointment at the vets. I was afraid it was heart worms but that test came back negative. They decided to take some X-Rays. Her lungs were riddled with tumors. This was a Wednesday and when I asked the vet how long he thought she had he said a week two weeks tops. With Eros fresh in my mind I made the first appointment they had available. It was for Monday of the following week.

The vet had prescribed her some pain pills to help make her comfortable. Friday morning I needed to go to town so I took Kate with me. She had a rough time getting in the truck. We headed to town. Little did I know this would be our last ride together.

Back at the house I had to literally pick her up and set her on the ground. That’s when I noticed the spark was gone from her eyes. She got worse as the night progressed. I am not going to go into detail but the last 15 minutes of her life was not pretty. She took her last breath at 12:21 a.m. at home with just me and her.

I had hoped Eros would pass in his sleep but the memory of his death isn’t marred by a death struggle. I will always have Kate’s terrible fight haunting me.

I don’t second guess myself on my decision for Eros anymore. I had made the right decision with Kate but the appointment was too late.

For anyone having to make this decision I hope my experience helps you with your decision. Most of all I hope you don’t ever second guess yourself.

If you choose euthanasia promise yourself you will be there with them when they take their last breath. You being there helps their anxiety. Please don’t let them take their last breath alone with strangers. You owe them that much.

In Memory Of

Eros

Kate