Monday, December 31, 2012

A sad year

2012 is drawing to an end, an end I am looking forward to as it was not a good year.

Sadly poor darling dearest Carter passed away on 8 December this year, he is so missed by us all. I am waiting for the time when I can think of him without wishing with all my heart that he was here still as he gladdened so many hearts with just his presence and I want that love to envelope me time and again.

We were blessed to have had Carter as our companion for over 11 years of his 12 year life. One day I will be able to tell his tale, as he had a varied life with us, but that is for another day. I feel his spirit and soul with me every day, for which I am thankful.

2012 was also the year that I spent 6 months unemployed, which will hopefully change early in the new year. It was also the year that DH spent 6 months working on our place in France. Much as he annoys the heck out of me at times, I am rudderless and lonely without him here and this length of time was far too long - we won't be parted for this long again.

I am sure 2012 brought many good things too but I am so looking forward to the new year with it's fresh starts and fresh hopes and dreams.

Onwards and upwards my friends!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Time and Patience

“The strongest of all warriors are these two: Time and Patience” Leo Tolstoy

 Well, I have been struggling with these two warriors for a while now. However, not all is bad, so I must sometimes remind myself to count my blessings for the friends, family and creatures I have supporting me.

DH has been in France working on our place since June. Patience waiting for him to come home - he still doesn't know when that will be :(

Patience in trying to find work, struggling on this front: interviews (multiple sometimes for the same job at various stages) but no success (yet). I have another interview this afternoon which I would really love, not only because I need and want work but also because it is just up my street experience-wise, as well as with what the company does. A good match!  If I am successful I will of course tell more.

Time and Patience in waiting for Carter to heal and repair. I know that he won't be back to his old self as he's getting older and I try to look on every day now as a blessing. But it's hard. I wish he was a youngster again so that we would have all this time together again - but that won't happen either. I just try and focus on his wonderful character and nature and all of the love he has given us - and we in return - and the lovely memories we have together. And he's still here, happily mooching along, but I worry.

I also sometimes need to give myself a slap around the face and a boot up the backside to stop feeling sorry for  myself and get on with it!  That I will do right now and get my chores done so that I can prepare for the interview and know I have a meal in the slow cooker to come home to, along with a neat and tidy home to bring a smile to my face - well, Carter will do that as I walk in, but it's always nice to have good surroundings to collapse into and pick up my knitting :)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Many many happy returns Carter-boy!

My dearest darling Carter is twelve years old today!

Many happy returns (and gravy bones!) and here's to many more :) xxx

Friday, October 12, 2012

Autumn fruitfulness

Well, it must be autumn: sunshine, rain, mists, apples, baking... lit fire!

I came across this fabulous recipe for a cider and apple cake in our local Devon Life magazine and just had to bake it, especially as I had some Normandy cider in the house, and a need for some warmth and comfort.

Killerton Cider & Apple Cake

55g/2oz sultanas

150ml/5fl oz dry cider
1 large cooking apple, peeled cored and chopped
115g/4oz butter, softened
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
115g/4oz light muscovado sugar
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
225g/8oz stoneground flour, white or wholemeal (I used ordinary plain flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp demerara sugar

  • Preheat oven to 180C/gas 5. Lightly butter a 20cm/8in cake tin.
  • Roughly dice the apples to the same size as the sultanas and mix these two ingredients with the cider in a bowl.
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter, muscovado sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, a little at a time.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl.
  • Gently fold the flour mixture into the creamed butter, followed by the soaked fruit and cider.
  • Gently mix until well incorporated, then spoon into the prepared tin.
  • Quickly sprinkle the demerara sugar over the top and bake for 45-60 minutes (I baked it for just 45 minutes and think it's just right) or until well risen and cooked through.
  • leave to cool in the tin for 5 mins and then turn out and leave to cool - if you can!

Lovely!  It's Carter's 12th birthday tomorrow (13th October) so perhaps I should share this with him? Hmm, sultanas are a no no for dogs, so I'll have to eat it all by myself!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I have had so many, many messages of support and hugs that this very emotional time has been made less frightening knowing so many lovely peeps were thinking of us.

No doubt there are many folks who would say ‘its only a dog’ but there are many of us that feel very differently about the animals we chose to have around us. We have no kids and I have always presumed that ours are our child replacements. However, many people over the last week or two have said they feel the same and yet they have children too - so perhaps it’s just a human emotion some have and some don’t.

Anyway, as I wrote last week, Carter had a CT scan, where the surgeons inserted a catheter with a pressure sensor into his jugular vein in his neck and drew that down into the heart. This was to provide final evidence that what Carter was suffering from was pericarditis (an inflammation of the sac around the heart, the pericardium) rather than cancer, which wouldn’t give the same sort of pressure results I gather.

He went straight into surgery where the surgeons removed virtually all of the pericardium which would allow any fluid being built up to disspate within the body and be drawn away naturally into body cells. The type of pericarditis he had was constrictive, meaning the sac wasn’t expanding as it should, probably from previous scarring (he had something similar just over a year ago) - this can also be caused by cancer cells, which is why he had to undergo two days of tests before the decision was made to operate.

After the operation, which took about an hour, Carter went into intensive care where he was on an opium (well, opioid drug of some kind!) drip and had a chest drain to remove any air and fluid that built up after the op.

He came out of intensive care after a couple of days and the drain was finally removed on Saturday and he was given the all clear to come home yesterday (Monday) to carry on his recuperation with us. We were so excited, I was bouncing like a child!!

If I was excited, you should have seen Carter when the vet brought him out to us in the waiting room at Langley. He was chattering and shivering and so so happy to see us both :) I was a bit shocked by the extreme shaving - I’m sure as little as possible was done, but his entire torso is shaved apart from a 2 inch wide strip just off centre down his spine. And the colour! Blue rinse is one way of describing this… all from the chemicals they used in the op to keep him sterile. And he can’t have a bath, understandably, due to his many staples and stitches (both up the side of his chest and on his neck). But we don’t care what he looks like: it’s Carter. And now he’s home :))))

I didn’t know until yesterday, but after the op, he was unable to walk at all and had to be carried outside to have a wee. Carter has always had a tendency to slightly drag his back legs, nothing serious but it always just seemed his back legs were a little lazy! Turns out he has some kind of neurological issue that means he cannot use his hind legs very well, and in fact as he gets older this, along with the expected arthritis, has reduced his mobility only a little, but he hasn’t been able to jump into the car at all recently. He was also beginning to 'knuckle', turning his toes under and not realising he was standing on them (like a clenched knuckle) - this he hasn't done since he came home which makes the vet's comments that it may have been triggered by the build up of fluid on nerves a possibility.

Luckily, he can walk well again now without aid, he is a bit wobbly but that is to be expected. The vets have put him onto metacam, which is like ibuprofen (a non steroid pain killer) which we think is really helping his movement as he seems to have a spring in his step which wasn’t there before!

In all, about 10kg of fluid was removed from his chest and heart cavities (some immediately, and some has built up day by day whilst he was in Langley) and he now weighs a mere 35kg - the lightest he had been before was 38kg (and the heaviest 44kg, when a French vet very tactfully said ‘your dog eez fat’!), which considering he is a tall golden retriever wasn’t a problem. We’ve tried to keep him ever so slightly under weight over the past couple of years to help with his joints as he gets older - and we all know how goldies are led by their stomachs!!

So, there you have it, the full tale of woe and joy. I'm sitting here typing this with Carter fast asleep at my feet - a placce I hope he'll be for a long time to come :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Feeling all wrung out

DH and I have been through a rollercoaster of a ride for the past few days thanks to our darling Carter.

Just over a year ago, Carter suffered from a case of pericarditis where the pericardium (the sac around the heart) becomes inflamed and cannot deal with the fluid created by the body and pumped by the heart (not just blood) so the fluid starts to build up both in the pericardium and in the abdomen. Ultimately this would cause heart failure.

The wonderful vets at Bristol vet school saved his life - our lovely vet diagnosed the problem and knew Carter would be in better hands in Bristol (thanks heavens for pet insurance!).

And it was the teamwork of our vet and Bristol that have done it again.

Carter was admitted as an emergency case on Saturday and has today had an operation to remove the pericardium after many many tests - where cancer seemed to be likely, and thank goodness wasn't found. He is now in intensive care so we have a hill yet to climb, but it doesn't seem so daunting anymore....