I started to write this, I can’t remember when, but obviously it was a while ago. I try not to bother with personal trials and tribulations, but that does not give one a true accounting of what it’s like trying to maintain a small horse ranch in a lousy economy, nor does it explain my long absence. At any rate August was the beginning of a very difficult time. The horses are all just fine (thank you Lord for that at least). The difficulties all started with my father who lives with me. His dementia seemed to be gaining ground at a rapid rate. He turned 90 in July, and as everyone who sees him remarks, a very strong 90, still I became increasingly concerned about him. Well the day came when he landed in a ditch on his way home from town. Now you have to understand that we live on top of a ridge on a very bad dirt road. The rains, which we were very happy to receive, have dug a rather deep trench on the side of one of the steeper hills. A neighbor found him, called me, and I raced down the hill. He was fine, but couldn’t get out of the car. My neighbor went, and got another neighbor who called the sheriff, who got an ambulance up our road. Father had some abrasions, and was lying in the back of his jeep. We got him to the hospital who declared him fit for duty. That evening however I noticed weakness on his right side, and his vision seemed to be distorted probably causing the accident in the first place. I called his doctor the next morning, and told them I believed he might have suffered a mild stroke causing him to run off the road.
Off we went to the doctors’ office, and then back to the hospital for a CT scan. When the nurse asked to see me I knew something was up, and not in a good way. They showed me the CT scan, which was quite alarming. He had an enormous subdural hematoma covering about half his brain. The pressure against his brain was causing all the symptoms of dementia that had become so pronounced, and the weakness on his right side. He sustained a serious fall in January, ending up with a baseball size hematoma above his left eye. At the time a CT scan showed no subdural bleeding. He is a heart patient, and in addition to BP meds, he took blood thinners. His cardiologist changed his meds stating the obvious, that the chance of his dying of a stroke was less than his dying from a fall. He kept him on aspirin which in turn allowed the then unknown bleeder to slowly build up in his brain.
By the time they get everything arranged for him to be medi-vaced for surgery in Albuquerque (he is 90 after all, and finding a surgeon willing to do the surgery was a feat in itself), it was late in the afternoon. I have 16 horses, and various other animals to feed so going with him was out of the question. I got April to stay at the ranch, and I drove to Albuquerque the next morning. Of course when I got there (it’s a 3 hour drive) he’s out of surgery, sitting up, and looking quite pleased with himself. The change was amazing. Overnight I had my father back. He had gotten to the point of barely talking at all, now he was a veritable chatterbox. There were a thousand little things that were signs of a bleeder I had no clue about.
I stayed with him in the hospital for a week, and lucky that I did. They were going to release him to a re-hab hospital when he suddenly started talking gibberish. His salt levels bottomed out, and they had to pump him full of salt before releasing him. Finally he went to re-hab, and I went home. I was exhausted, and of course I also caught a bug. If you want to get sick the best place to catch a bug is visiting someone in the hospital. I sent April home, and spent the next two weeks catching up on all the things I didn’t do while in Albuquerque.
Now it’s about this time that I tend to forget exactly what happened when. I get father home two weeks later, and there are doctors’ appointments, and physical therapy twice a week. In betwixt, and between I try taking care of the ranch. Rudy’s truck is breaking down every other week, leaving very little in the way of money to feed everyone. Starting in August he tries getting his health card renewed (told you I couldn’t remember what happened when). He himself is a heart patient (thanks to his father who passed on some not so wonderful genes). Now wonderful DOT has changed the rules, (without notifying anyone of course), and it’s a month later when he finally submits to a stress test (you don’t want to know all he had to go through to get to that point). I send him to Father’s cardiologist, who said he had to have a cath done. He has seven stints at this point in his life, so what’s a few more. We of course don’t have insurance so managing to keep our ranch on a wing, and a prayer, is going to take a lot more prayers. Little did we know how many prayers that was going to turn out to be.
Two weeks after I get my father back from the hospital I’m taking my husband up to the hospital in Roswell. Unfortunately, that didn’t turn out so good. Adajar did the cath, and then told me he needed to medi-vac Rudy to Albuquerque for by-pass surgery. Isn’t life wonderful? An $18k bill has now escalated to $31K, plus $74K for the helicopter ride to Albuquerque, and he hasn’t even had surgery yet. Adajar showed me 4 or 5 blockages some of which were actually in stints. Once again I have to go home to feed, and drive back to Albuquerque in the morning. At least this time it’s at Presbyterian. I know where that hospital is since I’ve been there so many times both with Rudy, and my father. Once again April stays with the horses, and by the time I get to Albuquerque Rudy’s out of surgery. Unlike my father he is quite out of it. They did a double by-pass, and repaired a hole in his heart. The cool thing was that he was held together with crazy glue. Yeah no stitches! Once again I stay overnight at the hospital. I’m getting real good at this staying at hospitals when there’s nothing wrong with me. This time however I do go home for a bit planning to go back on Saturday. I have way too much to do, and there are appointments I have to take Father to.
I’m just about ready to leave for Albuquerque when I get a call from the hospital telling me Rudy is back in surgery. When they sat him up for morning rounds he dumped a ton of blood through one of his chest tubes. Ok maybe not a ton, but way more than he should have. They rushed him into surgery, and that’s all the nurse knew at that time. Needless to say I flew up to Albuquerque without the aid of wings. By the time I got there he was out of surgery, and stable once again. His surgeon was more or less still stunned. In his entire career (he’s no spring chicken either) he had only seen this happen twice before. It was so unusual whenever I would run into another Doctor or nurse, they would comment on it. What happened was one of the chest tubes poked a hole in his heart causing it to bleed profusely. They cracked him open again repaired this second hole, and wired his breastbone together with a plate. They stapled him back together, and added two more chest tubes. This extended his stay in the hospital making his recovery a bit more difficult. He also had a hole in his lung from another chest tube but that was healing on it’s own.
Finally I get to bring Rudy home, but before that happens April comes over to the house for a minute. She has been spending a lot of time at her parents because of her mother who still can’t walk from her strokes. She can barely breath, and keeps pressing her chest. She told me she started having difficulty around midnight. I of course yell at her telling her she needs to see a doctor. She tells me she has an appt with Suzanne at the clinic here, but wanted to come over for a bit. I chase her out of the barn, and tell her to go to see Suzanne now. A bit later I get a call from her saying that they want to take her to the hospital because she had a heart attack. We get everything arranged with animals, her mother, etc., and off she goes to Ruidoso, and then to Albuquerque. Turns out some of her meds were interfering with her Asthma stressing her heart to the point of a heart attack.
Everyone is now on the mend, and doing well. The first month Rudy was home was the worst, because he couldn’t do anything. He’s still home, but able to do much more now that his six weeks are over. Actually his being home has allowed me to be able to catch up down at the barn. He has been making the trips to town for water freeing me to work on stalls. He also got the truck running better. I replaced my first U-joint with him guiding me. Then he replaced gaskets on the exhaust system, and got rid of one of the broken tail pipes. We still have to replace tie-rod ends but have to get another part to do that properly. Father has finished his physical therapy, and most of his doctor’s appts. Rudy got his health card though he won’t be able to go back to work for another month (insurance carriers say you have to stay home for 90 days even though his doctor has released him for work). April is doing better, but is still having issues. Her mother had another stroke so George is looking for a part time job close to home. Patti can’t walk again, can’t use the phone or the computer, and has difficulty talking, slurring her speech. She had just gotten to the point of being able to walk to the bathroom, and the front door before this last stroke. I do what I can to help, but unfortunately this is just going to keep happening. She’ll get better, then have another stroke, get better, and on, and on, till finally she’ll have one too many strokes, and will die. That was the way my grandmother went. The thing of it is she’s a year younger than I am myself. I complain about the things I can no longer do, and she just wants to be able to go to the bathroom by herself. It makes one appreciate all the things you can do (so stop complaining!).
Now you understand why I have been remiss in writing. I still have no idea how we’re going to pay for all this, but I can’t worry about that. I have too much to do just trying to keep the ranch going. I have yet to hear back from Presbyterian after I sent them all kinds of financial information. Oh I almost forgot I had to get our taxes done during this time too. Needless to say I waited till the last minute.
Next post I will talk about what has been going on at the ranch all this time. Plenty has been going on which is a good thing or I would probably be fit only for the funny farm. Because of the ranch we have little to no money, and because of the ranch we have a wonderful life. The horses are both our downfall, and our salvation. They make life worth living, bringing both joy, and laughter to our crazy life, and trust me we need lots of laughter!