Tuesday, March 22, 2022

'Glass half full'

Since my last post, it feels like tsunami wave after tsunami wave has tried to swamp me. That's why it has taken so long to write this update, but I need to do it for my own record-keeping, if nothing else!

On Monday night, March 14, my sister texted me from my parents' in alarm. When helping Dad get ready for bed for the first time, she noticed his left leg was discolored and swollen; had I seen that when I was here? No! I encouraged her to call the 24/7 home care line. It took awhile, but a nurse finally came by. She didn't think it was ER-worthy, but definitely thought he should go to the hospital the next day for a Doppler to check for clots. In the meantime, my sister learned that my parents both noticed the swelling earlier; thank God my sister helped that night and initiated medical intervention! Glass half full.

Early the next morning my sister called, sobbing, "Mike is dead!" Our niece has just called to break the news; the night before my step-brother had been taken to the hospital with shortness of breath, and then suddenly expired. Thank God Mike had enlisted a friend to drive him up to see Dad while I was there for one final visit. Glass half full.
One final visit, just ten days before Mike died

But there was no time to sit in shock. My sister was facilitating getting Dad to the hospital while my mom dithered. Once there, Dad was diagnosed with multiple clots in his left leg and one in his lungs, put on blood thinners and scheduled for surgery the next day.

At home, Blaise was getting worse. That evening Rick decided to x-ray her for broken bones to help with diagnosis/prognosis/treatment – and saw, not broken bones, but extra bones. Blaise was PREGNANT with twins!
See the lamb spines along her belly line?

The "x-ray techs"

Given Blaise's dire and deteriorating condition and the fact that the weekend before I had given her dexathasone, this was rather heartbreaking news; I didn't have much hope for a successful outcome for any of the lives involved.

Much later that night, Rick already in bed and heading there myself, I decided to go down and check on Blaise one more time. I'd found her cast and unable to right herself a couple times, and was giving her gruel by oral syringe against her will just to keep her alive; I was too invested to quit now. When I looked in on her, she looked terrible – and then I noticed THIS!

I quickly called Rick (thank goodness for cell phones!) and told him to bring lambing equipment, towels, and a coat (I'd not donned one for what I thought would be a quick check). Given Blaise' small size and weak condition, Rick told me I'd have to go in since my hands are smaller. It took a lot, but I finally managed to pull out lamb #2, an even flashier black spotty girl but sadly unresponsive. Still, I had one live lamb. Glass half full.

Blaise had no milk, so Rick gave Bette some oxytocin and milked her. Up to the house we went with Bling, who we tube-fed through the night. The next morning I dashed to town for powdered colostrum and lamb milk replacer, and I have been my wee charge's personal servant ever since, taking lots of photos along the way. (I might even share them here . . . someday!) And with continued support (Rick has given IV fluids and antibiotics), Blaise has s-l-o-w-l-y started improving. I am no longer force-feeding her, nor do I worry about her getting cast. She will never mother Bling, but at least she's alive. Glass half full.
Blaise seeing her lamb for the first time since her birth. "Who are you?"

"Get away from me." (Fortunately she was too weak to hurt Bling.)

A family portrait

On Friday I got another shock, this one not nice at all. I was walking back to the house after picking up a package at the gate, and saw Poppy playing with something limp in the wooded lot. Afraid she'd found Bling's twin (I didn't know where Rick had buried it), I called her off and went to investigate. It was a dead lamb all right, but the wrong color; it was moorit with a dusting of white hairs on its head. Fearing that Bernadette had lambed, I put the lamb up out of Poppy's reach and ran down to the Ram-ada Inn to check, even while another possibility came to mind and was confirmed by Bernie's still-pregnant condition. Bette had given birth to twin ewe lambs. Where the second one had been for a week was a mystery; there was no sign of trauma or predation. Had she survived her birth but died unnoticed and abandoned when Rick and Brian moved Bette and Boop to the barn? I was heartsick. Not being here for Bette's lambing had resulted in the loss of two ewe lambs, 50% of my lambs so far. Digging deep, I remind myself that Bette's surviving lamb is a big, growthy girl. Glass half full.
Taken the day I found the dead lamb, Boop's one-week birthday.

Meanwhile, a flurry texts and calls from my sister kept me updated on Dad's condition in the hospital. The clots in his leg were dealt with surgically and with a filter in the major vein, but his strength and will were failing. With information from his hospitalist, he and Mom decided that he would go home to hospice care, and my sister was a dynamo getting things ready for his return via ambulance on Sunday morning. My step-brother's memorial service is this coming Sunday; we are flying down for that, and to hopefully have some time with Dad. Nothing is guaranteed at this point; we are all going day to day. I am so glad my sister is able to be there at this time.

And wouldn't you know it? Bernadette is looking suspiciously close to lambing now. I am praying that she delivers tonight, so I can ensure that her lamb(s) are stable and nursing well before we leave.


Mama Pea said...

Omigosh, Michelle! I hardly know what to say. "When it rains, it pours" seems wildly understated at this point in your life. Will Brian be available to take care of everything while you and Rick are gone?

Leigh said...

Oh Michelle, so much thrown at you all at once. It's exhausting, I know. Thank you for sharing it all with us. Praying for you.

Mountaingmom said...

Oh Michelle, your plate is too full. Sending as much virtual energy to you as I can. Take a moment to take care of yourself as well or you won't be able to take care of everyone and everything else.

Michelle said...

Mama Pea, we're all going; Brian hopes to see his grandpa one last time. Good friends are stepping in to take care of all the critters, including Poppy and the bottle lamb, but I worry about leaving them with a probable lambing AND an old and increasingly feeble ewe.....

Exhausting, yes, Leigh; I think that is the best one-word description. I have been exhausted for five and a half weeks straight.

Fran, I don't even know what that means anymore. I still find moments of joy and beauty, get my daily steps in, and after a lapse am trying to get back to eating more soundly, if that counts.

wyomingheart said...

Sending prayers and strength for your days ahead.

Jeanne said...

Michelle, I'm so sad for you with all that has happened. I knew there was a reason for your not writing a post, but didn't dream that it could be this bad. God be with you and your family - parents, sister, Rick and Brian, and mostly you, though, for strength to carry on.

Deb Hillyer said...

Michelle. So glad that you and your family will be able to see your Dad. May God's comfort surround you during this sad time.

Florida Farm Girl said...

Oh, dear girl. What a load. Do the best you can with all this daunting news. Give your Dad and Mom a hug for me. Hugs to you too, dear one.

Tim B. Inman said...

The light at the end of your tunnel seems to be an oncoming freight train! Yikes. Hang in there. You're drinking from a fire hose right now. Peace and Grace!

marlane said...

What an incredible roller coaster ride....

Retired Knitter said...

WOW, you must be exhausted! That much happening in so short a time is just crazy. Sorry about the baby lamb that didn’t make it. Hoping this all settles out a bit - although with your dad’s situation, that is going to be a roller coaster ride. Repeat after me: One foot in front of the other. One foot in front of the other.

A :-) said...

Oh man . . . I'm so sorry about your step brother, and that your dad is now on hospice. I'm glad all of you are going this weekend, even though it's challenging with the animals. Tough decisions all the way around. Sending you hugs and positive energy, and holding you in the light of comfort and strength. Hang in, sister.

Wanda said...

I’m so sorry that you’re going through so many difficult trials in breathtaking succession. Praying for you, my friend.