For those who’ve been rejected…

I honestly don’t know where to start.  I just saw a headline about Aetna Insurance.  Basically, a former medical director, who was also a doctor, admitted under oath that he never read a patient’s chart before denying or approving coverage of treatments.  Instead, he followed what he stated was “Aetna training” in which nurses would read the charts then make recommendations to the doctor.  Don’t get me wrong….I love me some nurses, but I would expect a doctor to make the final review and decision.  A doctor who is informed about the condition and the corresponding treatments.  This doctor admitted he knew very little about the condition and nothing about the treatment that he denied.  This is frightening.  At the end of the day, if the doctor signs his name on the document, it’s his butt on the line, not the nurses.  I’m glad he is being investigated now.  To read the article click here:  Former Aetna Medical Director Admits to Never Reading Patient File

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I’ve written many blogs in the past about insurance.  I’ve always felt so blessed to have good insurance.  Just two years ago, my employer switched us from an insurance company I had been with for 23 years to Aetna.  I was scared.  I grew up with Aetna, but change in healthcare when you have a chronic illnesses is scary.  I tried to be proactive to ensure that my Cosentyx (the biologic I was taking at the time) would be covered.  I was assured that it would be.  I was told there would be no problem.  When it came time to refill my prescription, I was denied by Aetna.  I called again and spoke to a customer service representative who tried to tell me the reason for the denial was because their doctors wanted to make sure I was taking the “safest drug possible”.  As if my previous insurance and current rheumatologist allowed me to take a dangerous drug??!!! UGH!   I responded with my knowledge of step therapy, prescription benefit managers, and rebates and that I would not be bullied into going on a less expensive medication OR a biosimilar drug when the drug I had been taking was working for me.  When I finished, the rep was silent.  I had to ask if he was still there.  He replied, “Wow. You know a lot about this.”  I fought for what I needed, got my doctor’s office involved, and still got my drug two weeks late.  Two painful weeks later.  These insurance companies hope that people don’t know a lot about their procedures and policies.  Years ago, I was ignorant regarding step therapy and PBMs and thought that science was the reason that I had to trial and fail certain drugs before being allowed to try a drug on a higher tier.  Uh, nope!  Let me explain how it really works.

Pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies can’t talk to each other.  So an industry called Prescription Benefits Managers  (PBM) came into existence.  PBM’s are the middlemen who go between the insurance companies and the pharmacy companies to negotiate better prices for consumers.  Sounds good, right?  Wrong.  PBMs manufacture nothing, but make a ton of money off of drugs through rebates.  There used to be a lot of PBMs but most have consolidated into larger companies.  The three most popular are CVS Caremark, Express scripts, and OptumRX and they control most of the market.  This is how they do it.

A drug company has a drug that they want to sell for $100.  The PBM will say the price is too high and they won’t put the drug on their formulary unless they drop the price to $80.  That sounds good for the consumer, right?  But wait….The PBM may still reject the price, so the pharma company will then offer a discounted price of $80 and then offer the PBM a rebate of $20.  Suddenly, the PBM will add this to their drug formulary  and the drug can be prescribed by doctors and covered by insurance.  Ironically, the patient still pays the $80 price, even though the PBM is technically getting it for $60.  So the total cost savings is kept from the patient.  The problem with all of this is that there is a lack of transparency over this negotiation process.  For example.  The drug I used to take, Cosentyx is listed at $18,000.  According to step therapy, I needed to fail on Enbrel and Humira and 4 other biologic drugs which are the preferred brand name drugs prior to starting Cosentyx.  These drugs cost less and offer large rebates to PBMs to ensure a higher ranking than Cosentyx.  So the drug that helped control my pain and swelling cost is $18,000/month.  My insurance was billed $12,000/month and my copay was a percentage of that cost.  Does the drug really cost that much??  No one really knows.  Cosentyx is not a preferred drug so to get on a formulary, it has to raise the cost of the drug to pay the PBM a bigger rebate.  So in reality the drug might not actually cost less than $18,000 but since the PBMs require a large rebate to get a drug on their formulary, pharma companies jack the prices of prescription drugs to make money while paying off the middleman.  There is no transparency.  It’s pretty shady.

So now I’m hearing that in addition to PBMs raising the costs of drugs while claiming to lower them, insurance companies are denying coverage for patients without having a doctor review medical records.  It’s all so sketchy and disheartening.  Our politicians claim we have the “best health care in the world”.   I know we are luckier than most countries but the health care companies that are supposed to be transparent according to the law are simply bilking sick people while lining their pockets.

I went to Capitol Hill with the American College of Rheumatology in September, 2017 to speak to representatives about the lack of transparency of PBMs and the high cost of drugs.  One legislative aide said, ‘a company has the right to make money’ and then  ‘it’s hard to say that step therapy with biologic drugs isn’t right because patients don’t often respond to them the same way”.  I agree in the USA a company has the right to make money, but at what cost??  Is it more “right” to expect patients to live in pain and suffer, like I did for 7 years, until I finally found a drug that finally helped me??  All the while the PBMs are causing drug costs to rise while making millions for doing basically nothing but demanding rebates.

Denying patients with deadly or chronic illnesses the right to try new drugs on the market is so unfair and cruel.  It’s even worse when it’s confirmed  that insurance company doctors are following company protocol when making decisions instead of researching the best outcome & treatments for the patient.  That is even more cruel. So the sick get sicker and the rich get richer. Hmmmmm….Maybe we should start running drug companies the way they run schools.  Schools don’t get full funding unless all their students score proficient on standardized tests.  Maybe drug companies, insurance companies, and PBMs don’t get all their money until they cure all of their patients!!  Wouldn’t that be interesting….

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Just say no…

I am still able to work full time.  I feel blessed for many reasons.  First, I love my career as a speech-language pathologist.  Second, I’m lucky to have such good health insurance. Third, I can still physically work.  I admit it is getting harder, and I am beyond hurting at the end of the day, but it is still doable.  In addition to working part time, I also see private clients two nights a week (sometimes turning my day into 12 hours out of the house).  I volunteer for some organizations and activities for my schools.  There are weeks in which I leave at 7:00 am and don’t get home until 7:15 pm or later.  I work extra hours to pay for the dog’s medical needs and I volunteer because I have difficulty saying no to people when they ask me to help.  I guess it’s time I learn.

After going through some recent illnesses, I’ve basically drained all my physical resources.  I’m exhausted and having issues with my joints and breathing.  I’m getting treatments but my energy has dropped to nil.  After talking with my doctor, I realized I have to cut way back.  Reluctantly, I’m resigning from several organizations that I volunteer for and I’m cutting back on anything else that takes extra time and energy I do not have.  I feel terrible guilt, but I just can’t do it anymore.

I so wish I could stop working extra hours, but I see no way to manage Georgia’s needs without extra funds right now.  Maybe I’ll start playing the lottery in my new found free-time.

It’s going to be tough to not say yes anymore.

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…..and all I got was a good parking spot.

While shopping, I overheard someone complaining how they needed to park in the handicapped spot at the drug store because they sprained their ankle and it hurt to walk.  A sprained ankle hurts like hell.  I get it.  You see my joints feel like they are sprained and/or broken most of the time.  They swell, ache, and get red hot on a regular basis.  The funny thing is, I lived in this pain for YEARS before I ever thought about getting a handicapped parking spot.  I didn’t want to take a spot away from someone who would need it more than me.  My rheumatologist suggested that I get a placard because I was an itinerant therapist who traveled between 6 schools.  Some days, I had to park 4 or 5 blocks away from the building while carrying all of my materials only to find the janitor was parking his Hummer in the handicapped spot so it wouldn’t get scraped up on the street.  I reluctantly filled out the application and I cried when it arrived in the mail.  I then had to complain to the one school to keep the normally abled janitor from parking in the spot I needed.  My email complaining was forwarded to an entire staff as “Here is a reason why no one should park in the handicapped spots”.  I was gutted that someone  decided to “out” me as a person with an illness who needed an accommodation.  When I spoke to her about it, she left work because she was so devastated that she hurt my feelings.  She went home, as I sat in a back office typing up reports while I cried my eyes out.  I’ve had a serious complex about my parking situations ever since.

A few people, including family members, laughed at me when they found out I had a handicapped parking placard.  I don’t look sick.  I’m not in a wheelchair and I only sporadically use a cane, so in their minds, I am not a valid handicap parking spot user. Then I met people who just assume everyone NOT in a wheelchair is using someone else handicap placard.  It seems everyone who doesn’t use  handicapped parking see themselves as experts on the subject.  I often hear complaints that stores have too many or too few handicapped spots.  I see cars pull into the spots with the blue lines (for people to get out of vans with ramps) without hesitation.  I also see the dirty looks I get as I limp away from my spot.

I recently complained at work about people parking in handicapped spots and ironically the person who parked there, didn’t realize it was handicapped because the plow team didn’t clear the spot and she couldn’t see the blue lines under the snow (this spot doesn’t have a sign in addition to the lines).  Ironically, her car wasn’t the one I was complaining about.  Worst of all, everyone knew I had to be the one who complained because I’m the only staff member who does have a valid handicapped placard.  How funny is it that I felt guilty complaining about people parking in the handicapped spots without valid tags?

I’ve been off my biologic drug for over 3 weeks due to bronchitis, so swelling is out of control.  I was walking out to my car at the end of the work day and was so happy that I didn’t have to walk very far because it hurt so much.  If I have to live with incurable autoimmune diseases that make my joints look like this:

 

 

 

the least I deserve is to have a good parking spot.

Check it out

…..my latest blog on The Mighty.  Read about my life with Georgia Grace.

 

I always write about myself as a person living with multiple chronic illnesses (rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, Graves’ disease, high blood pressure, and disseminated superficial actinic porokeratosis), but today I am going in another direction. My beautiful dog, Georgia Grace is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who also lives with debilitating chronic illnesses. We make a chronic dynamic duo and this is our story…..

(Click here to read the rest of our story on The Mighty)

 

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I resist….

Ok….being chronically ill is hard enough.  Then along comes cold and flu season.  Ugh…I would bathe in hand sanitizer if I could.  No matter what I try, washing hands, hand sanitizers, avoiding sick people, taking immuoboosters……I still get sick.  This time, however, was a real learning experience.  I started feeling sick 7 days ago.  I thought I would try to go to the doctor on Friday, but my dog was really not right.  I canceled and took her to the vet instead.  At the time, her condition was way more serious than mine.  I also figured that they wouldn’t give my immunocompromised self antibiotics after only 2 days of not feeling well.  It is crazy that I still have to fight for antibiotics.  Anyway….

So Saturday my primary doctor is not open, so I went to a walk-in clinic.  The doctor looks at me and seems shocked that I didn’t know that I had both a sinus infection and bronchitis.  To be honest, I felt sick but I wasn’t “super sick”.  I normally take Z-pack but have noticed that it takes me a long time to get better when I take it.  So the doctor convinced me to take a strong antibiotic called augmentin. Now, we’re all familiar with augmentin.  It’s that super strong antibiotic that is a combination of amoxicillin and clavulanate.  I hate it because it messes with my stomach, so I always try to avoid it.  This time, I decided to take the stronger medication in hopes that I would recover quicker.  The doctor wisely told me I would feel better after the second dose.  That sounded fantastic.

Well, the second dose came and went.  I still felt lousy, but on the third day, I suddenly spiked a fever.  Not overly high 100.8, but enough to add to my misery.  Suddenly the body aches exploded and my sinuses decided to release.  The chills and sweats were horrible.  I ended up taking the next two days off of work because honestly, I was a total wreck.  Walking upstairs to use the bathroom was too hard, so I had to crawl.  I couldn’t eat much but I was drinking.  I felt worse than I did prior to starting the antibiotics. So I forced myself into the shower and drove back to the clinic.  Now why didn’t I go back to my regular doctor?  Well, she does not like that I go to a walk-in clinic and honestly, today, I couldn’t take the judgment I knew I would get.  I see the same nurses and doctors at the clinic.  They make me get a chest X-ray to rule out pneumonia (which was my fear…thank goodness unfounded).  What is the diagnosis??  My bronchitis and sinus infections got worse. Apparently, augmentin did NOTHING for me except help me get sicker (excuse the grammar, I’m fuzzy).

So now I wonder, is my body resistant to antibiotics?  Could be.  I’m now on levaquin, steroids, and inhaler, a nasal spray, and tessalon perles.   I’m not coughing like crazy due to the perles, but I’m WIDE AWAKE due to the high dose of steroids I’m on.  *SIGH*  I’m also home from work for the rest of the week.  I’m annoyed about that because I know I will fall behind, but I also know that a speech-language pathologist working in a room the size of a closet with a hacking cough, sweating from fever and chills, with laryngitis is not what my students or colleagues need.  Hell, it’s not what my body needs.  Thankfully my RA and fibro are playing nice right now, otherwise, I’d be in a way sorrier situation.

I probably shouldn’t be blogging and trying to get some rest, but I’m still in shock that a tried and true antibiotic doesn’t work for me.  Could it be this strain of bronchitis?  Could it be I’ve built up a resistance to it?  Honestly, I take antibiotics maybe twice a year, if that.  Nothing else seems to work….

Alright, enough pondering.  The dog’s snoring is starting to lull me to sleep.  At least her antibiotics have helped her get better and she is eating again!  I hope you are all faring cold and flu season better than I am.  Be well friends.

When it rains…..

So my heart is still aching over losing my cat, Isabella.  I’ve been having trouble sleeping. It’s so difficult holding an animal that you adore while they pass away.  Things got better when I knew her ashes were back home with my parents.  I know she had a good life, but not being able to sleep was a way my brain was processing things.  Lack of good sleep takes its toll on my body.  The fatigue has been cumbersome.

I returned to my home after the holidays and we were hit by a “cyclone snow bomb” in the NorthEast.  I have to laugh because the meteorologists predicted 1-3 inches of snow but -0 degree weather with windchill.  When you live with RA, you have routines to make life easier, especially if snow is in the equation. I should know by now that meteorologists are hardly ever right!! I live in a town home and have a driveway that butts up to a shared alley/driveway.  Normally, if there is going to be a lot of snow, I will park in the driveway so I don’t have to shovel it and can focus on the alley.  Well, 1-3 inches is no big deal, so I parked in my garage.  Five or six inches of snow later, and I am kicking myself because I had to shovel a LOT of snow.  Thankfully, my neighbor helped me out.  Regardless, my elbows, wrists, and shoulders ached terribly and guess what…..I couldn’t sleep again due to the pain.

Then the dog got sick.  Georgia was refusing to eat.  I was almost late to work multiple days because I had to spoon feed her before getting insulin into her.  I was thinking it was due to diabetic ketoacidosis so I rushed her into the vet.  Nope.  Not her diabetes.  She has a massive ulcer on her tongue.  What it is from is still up for debate.  Could be a chemical burn from licking/eating something (rock salt, or possibly essential oils my cats knocked over) or it could be a cancerous tumor. We’re treating it as a burn and taking it from there.  I get the dog home and now she is on 18 pills a day, 2 shots of insulin, a “pain relieving mouthwash” and two blood glucose tests daily. All of this in addition to taking care of myself.  Seriously, enough is enough, right??  Nope….

I wake up on Saturday feeling like a brick house fell on me and I’m coughing a lot.  I hadn’t been feeling good but living with RA, I always feel like I am sick.  I drag myself out of bed and go to a walk-in clinic because it is a weekend.  Turns out I have bronchitis (that was my guess) and a sinus infection (I didn’t see that one coming but once I was told, then I felt it).  The doctor looks at me and asks why I didn’t come in sooner.  I almost fell off the table.  I always feel like I have the flu.  The cough made me think something was wrong but if I wasn’t coughing, I probably wouldn’t have gone in for a few more days.  I think the doctor thought I was crazy.  People have no idea what it feels like living with chronic illness.

So, life is a bit overwhelming right now.  Focusing on getting rest, drinking liquids, and taking it easy.  The body aches are pretty serious and of course, I have to stop taking my biologic drug until I get better.  It kind of stinks to be me right now.  Nursing Georgia is going well because she is a good patient.  We have a follow up tomorrow and hopefully, the tongue will be healing and we won’t need to see an veterinary oncologist.  Here is a photo of Georgia before diabetes and just the other day.  She’s been through the ringer but still smiles when she sees me, even at the vet’s office.  We are quite the team.  Wish us luck that we both get better sooner rather than later.26730652_10215857483896208_2554054361533709398_n

Ciao Bella….

I feel like I’ve turned into an animal blogger lately.  My pet’s health has been as stressful over the years.  My Lola passed after living with multiple illnesses, Georgia lives with multiple chronic illnesses, and my sweet, sweet Isabella has been battling lymphoma for the roughly 2 years.  Today, Isabella lost that fight.

I met Isabella over 12 years ago.  199144_1014574250816_3227_nShe was a stray that lived on my street.  Multiple people were feeding her and my elderly neighbors were encouraging me to take her in.  I already had Lola and wasn’t sure if I wanted to take her on, but I was positive I wouldn’t let her be outside in the winter.  I ended up having the decision made for me when an elderly neighbor entered my home (without knocking) and proudly announced, ‘Honey, I found your cat outside!’.  She dropped Isabella, who promptly ran into my basement.  Decision made, I had two cats.  Two female cats who never got along.  Isabella never got along with other animals.  She was a fierce hunter who viewed all other animals as adversaries.  She hunted my poor Lola too many times, so I had to put up a gate to keep them separated when I wasn’t home.  It was a gate both of them could easily cross, but they never did.

Georgia, the dog,  joined us when Isabella was around 4 or 5.  She tolerated her because of me.  The only reason I got a puppy instead of a rescue dog was specifically because of Isabella.  I figured if the dog grew up with the her, things would go smoother.  It was as smooth as it could be with a rambunctious puppy and a crotchety cat.  Lola always protected Georgia and vice versa.

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My only whole group photo. Isabella is on the steps.

Isabella was turning into my Jan Brady, the classic middle child.  I always made an effort to spend time just with her.  I let her go outside with me and she seldom wandered.  She was never outside unattended because squirrels and birds were too tempting for her to hunt.  She loved laying in the garden in wait for her pray.  I sprayed a hose on her many times to let a bird go.  She was happy to be an indoor cat for the most part, but she loved those outdoor adventures.

 

My furry family always traveled with me to visit my parents over the holidays, one year, Isabella hid when it was time to go (she hated car rides and probably the outfits I dressed her in for the Christmas cards).

 

I ended up leaving her with my parents temporarily….or so I thought.  Turned out that Isabella was much happier as an only child.  Georgia and Lola were also happier without her.  My parents fell in love with Isabella so I made the decision to leave her with them permanently.  She lived with me for a total of 6 years, and the last 6 with my parents.  Isabella knew nothing but love.  She was their Bella and they adored her.  I should note that my mom is allergic to cats, but that didn’t stop her for opening their home to her.  Isabella was treated like a queen and my parents enjoyed having a cat.

Roughly 2 years ago, Isabella was diagnosed with lymphoma.  I was told she could make it about 2 years…and honestly, she kicked cancer’s butt the whole time.  Yesterday was Christmas, and it was obvious that Isabella was not well.  I barely slept last night because I was so worried about her.  I kept covering her with a towel because I was afraid she was cold.  I got her in for a vet visit early.  He examined her and said she was really too sick to do anything more.  She still had some spunk, but you could tell she was exhausted, wheezing, and weak.  I had no choice, but to help her cross the Rainbow Bridge.  I held her for over an hour telling her how loved she was, how sorry I as that I couldn’t make her better, and I sang her a stupid song that I made up for her years ago.  Georgia and Lola had songs I could sing to them, so obviously, I had to make one up for Bells.  I held her for a long time.  At one point, she looked at me and placed her paw on my face.  That was very un-Isabella.  Since I left her with my parents, she rarely looked me in the eye.  She was not a touchy-feely animal.  Until the end, I was the only one who could really hold her for any period of time.  That brief touch let me know that she knew she was loved and that she loved me, too.  I don’t know if she was fully ready because of her fiesty spirit, but she trusted me to take care of her. I held her as she crossed the bridge and then I held her some more.

 

 

My heart aches today, but I will never regret one moment having her in my life.  Rest in peace my fierce, beautiful warrior.  If you see Lola up there, be nice to her.  They say black cats are unlucky, but I am so lucky you found me!  You will be missed my Bella.  I’ll see you on the other side.

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Isabella Rossellini Conway 12/26/2017

Looking forward to a long winter’s nap…

It’s been a rough couple of weeks.  The dog’s diabetes diagnosis (see my previous blog It’s been a while…) and the stress of handling it caused me to flare HARD.  A medrol dose of prednisone and a lot of rest has gotten me in better shape.  I don’t feel great, but then again, I never feel great.  I guess the perfect word to describe how I feel is “meh”.  How sad is it that “meh” is my new normal.  I am trying to be optimistic that my new-is biologic will get me back to where I was a few weeks ago.  Time will tell.  I’m getting used to my new morning routine with Georgia.  Getting up earlier than usual is hard, but it’s going ok.  Her diabetes is slowly becoming manageable.  She is back to her bossy and funny self.  She even chased a cat the other day.  She’s getting treatment that she needs and it’s obvious how good she is feeling.  Oh how I wish that could happen with me.

I’m excited to have 10 days off over the holidays.  I will visit with my family and friends and try to rest a lot.  I usually write lists about what I am going to accomplish, but this time, I’m writing list of things I am going to accomplish from my childhood bedroom in my parents house.

  • Binge watch Stranger Things and the Flash
  • Read a book or two
  • Nap
  • Avoid watching the news
  • Nap
  • Work on Georgia’s book
  • Nap
  • Nap
  • Nap

In years past, I would take a trip, go shopping at outlets, and do dinner and drinks with friends every night.  I still hope to do some of those things…..after a nice long nap!

Thank you to everyone for your support of this blog.  It means so much.  If wish you all a happy holiday season no matter what you celebrate.  I also hope you have a happy, healthy, and pain free 2018!

 

 

It’s been a while…

It’s been a while since I have written.  I’ve had a serious case of writer’s block and honestly, since switching to my latest biologic drug, I’ve felt pretty good.  Maybe I was feeling cocky.  Maybe I was feeling lucky.  Maybe I am only inspired to write when I am in pain.  Today I am inspired and I am in pain.  You see 2017 has been a craptastic year in many ways.  Whenever things are going well, life seems to smack me hard.  This time, it hit hard and broke my heart.

I’ve written many times about Georgia Grace, my 8 year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  23473169_10215316483811544_2051780795757797242_nShe is the epitome of a #spooniedog.  She battles a neurological disease called Syringomyelia, hip dysplasia, arthritis, chronic ear and eye infections, dry eye syndrome, and chronic skin infections.  In March of this year, she was also diagnosed with chronic valvular disease.  That last diagnosis really broke my heart….because I have no way of fixing her (literal) broken heart. She takes 15 pills a day, receives acupuncture, and is the poster child for canine cannabinoids.  It’s a lot to manage, but has become our normal.  I can typically look at Georgia and know what is bothering her.  Usually a quick medication adjustment and she is fine again.

A few weeks ago, I started to notice that Georgia was fairly mopey, guzzling water and very clingy.  We had a change in weather, so that tends to trigger syringomyelia flares.  I chalked it up to that.  Adjusted her meds and kept watch.  The excessive water drinking continued and my neighbor mentioned that she thought she had lost a lot of weight.  I knew that was a sign of something being wrong.  I had a feeling we were looking at diabetes or something worse.

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Waiting for test results. Feeling pretty sick

Sure enough, blood work indicated diabetes.  I was sent home with insulin and needles and told someone would contact me about the rest of her blood work results.  My head was reeling.  I thought it was bad news, but something we could treat.  The next day, test results indicated that Georgia had diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially deadly complication of diabetes,  and she needed to be hospitalized right away.  Suddenly, I went from thinking, “I can do this” to OMG…..my dog may die.

I was faced with a huge financial bill and no guarantee that Georgia was going to survive.  I canceled my Thanksgiving plans which included spending time with my parents and family, as well as my 30th High School reunion (all of which are located 2 hours away).  I needed to stay close to the vet hospital in case a decision needed to be made about Georgia’s life. I would never let her cross the Rainbow Bridge without me.  The vet hospital didn’t give me much hope.  Her heart condition caused complications with the treatment of IV fluids and they had to stop it.  Eventually, she stabilized and they tried a more conservative treatment.  The entire time I was told that she may not respond due to all of her medical issues.  I literally felt my heart breaking.  Georgia Grace is a warrior who battles diseases that would topple the strongest of men (or women), and she never complains.  I wasn’t going to see her in the hospital because she has terrible separation anxiety.  The hospital encouraged me to come and see her Thanksgiving day.  She needed to be carried away from me because she was determined go with me when I left.  She kept sitting by my purse no matter where I moved it to.  23795831_10215411959078366_8172862047408054690_nI suddenly realized she knows that I take the purse when I leave, so she stayed close.  I felt so guilty leaving her.  That night she complained and fussed all night.  The vet tech told me she started showing some feistiness after I left.  After 3 days in the hospital, I was finally told they were “cautiously optimistic” that Georgia would recover.  She ended up coming home at 9:00 pm on the 4th day of her stay.  Nine pounds lighter, exhausted, and with an arms length of directions for me to follow.  The look on her face when she realized she was leaving with me was priceless.

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Let’s go home!

Now we have a new morning routine that includes blood glucose checks, food, and insulin.  It takes me almost 45 minutes on average to be able to stand up in the morning, so now I am getting up even earlier to get her routine completed.  As you can guess…..my body is finally rebelling.  Two days after bringing Georgia home, I had a huge flare. The stress and lack of sleep took its toll.  My knees, elbows, hands, and shoulders literally burn with pain.  It seemed my Fibromyalgia and RA were fighting for dominance.  I’m still not sure who won, but I know it wasn’t me. I slept almost 16 hours with braces on my joints so I could actually cope with the pain.  A week later, and I’m still struggling.  I fear a call to my rheumatologist is in order because things are not getting better and simple tasks like dressing, showering, and taking care of a #spooniedog are just about impossible.  I see cortisone shots and prednisone in my future and it’s not making me happy.

Someone said that Georgia’s medical conditions are not good for my health. I brush it off because I will never regret one moment I’ve spent with Georgia. She has taught me so much about myself and how I deal with my chronic illness.  She is an inspiration and a positive light in my life even when we are both struggling.

I have to thank my amazing neighbors and friends for helping me when I needed it and inviting me to be a part of their Thanksgivings so I wouldn’t be alone.  I also have to thank the Cavalier Brigade who helped take the financial stress of the hospital bill off of my shoulders.  Georgia and I have made friends in the cavalier rescue world and I am eternally grateful for their support.  Finally, I have to thank my family who checked in on me and talked me off the ledge a few times.  It’s been a rough few weeks but hopefully I will get past this flare and get back to better days.  Time will tell.

Being a spoonie is hard.  Being a spoonie with a pet spoonie is extra hard, but it’s worth it.  Georgia’s purpose on Earth is to love and be loved.  Lucky for me, I get to love her the most.

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Thanksgiving at the animal hospital.  Love you to the moon and back Georgia.