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It was my hope and belief that May's blog would be back onto the topics of audio or video but, unfortunately, this is not the case.  Life can be like that.

After weeks of deteriorating medical numbers, Deb ended up the Emergency Room of Norfolk General Hospital operated by Sentara.  They are the backup to the Cleveland Clinic and made the call for her to come in and we are so very grateful that they did.  They immediately determined that Deb was in serious heart failure and that the best thing to do was to get her to Cleveland as they know her history the best.  They provided excellent care while we waited for a bed in Cleveland.  Ground transportation was out of the question.

This required Deb and I to guarantee the payment of the emergency flight to Cleveland and the associated ambulances in the event Medicare (as is required under Virginia Disability Program) does not pay.  It required pre-authorization which was not an option Friday night - Saturday morning.  We have taken the leap of faith that they will as the potential bill is $20,000.  Being given that choice on Saturday night at 10 PM when the flight was to be at 9 AM Sunday morning was torture.  There was a delay as we were stunned.

The Cleveland Clinic team has turned Debbie upside down and inside out with all the battery of tests they have to find a way to treat her condition.  While they have managed to control certain aspects of the failure (they alone could have resulted in death) they could not find them all.  They turned to Canada where a new experimental system is being used to assist in diagnostics.

Unfortunately, this Sunday morning the results came back, and like all the other tests, negative.  This means there are no further treatment options known to man at this time. 

Cleveland Clinic has proposed a second heart transplant and, with Deb's permission, they have begun that process.  A second transplant is rare and, in the scheme of things, not an absolute priorty when compared to those seeking a first.  There is no guarantee that it will happen at all.

I am writing about this today as her transplanted heart has already been a 3 year battle of ups and downs.  All the while, like so many others, the owner has been trying to operate their small business in an environment of mail order and other less favorable competitive factors.  My wife has been an incredible trooper through all of this and has been learning how to counsel families going through difficult and long-term illnesses. She wants to help others now that she can no longer work in the medical field.  (She was both an EMT and later a phlebotomist.)

We in small businesses are human and have our share of events like yourself.  Your patronage is exactly at the core of supporting small businesses as we try to care for you and our employees notwithstanding our personal struggles. It's not a click of a button, stuff put on a conveyor belt by robots (and that... is coming my friends) and dumped on your porch in whatever weather in the prying eyes of pirates.

So, as I wrote in December's blog, Living on the Edge of Science, the question now stands "Shall we Try Again?"  The ultimate decision to try, with no guarantees, now rests in the heart and hands of my wife, Debbie.  The costs will be substantial. 

I would certainly appreciate whatever support you can provide to us.  My staff would also as we are, once again, possibly in for a ride.  Make it possible.  Back onto the Edge of Science.


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This month's blog has been a most difficult one to write and it has taken me quite a while to find the words that may help you understand me a little better and in the process, help you understand your feelings with life's events and challenges with our best friends.

I found something, recently, that was a beautiful way of expressing our relationship to animals and in this case, pets.  Let me just repeat it here:  In Hawaiian, you don't call yourself your pet's owner, you are their Kahu.  Kahu has many meanings among them are guardian, protector, steward, or beloved attendant. Basically, someone who is entrusted with the safe keeping of something precious, something cherished. What a Kahu protects is not their property.  What they protect is a part of their soul.  

Using this as a framework for understanding, the next element comes from spending some years with a Hopi Shaman who was most enlightening about a great many things.  One of those was to understand that animals too possess Spirit which some may call Souls.  I have reflected on that, particularly when people experience the grief, the schism, of their death in which I believe part of them remains in you and a part of you moves on with them.  I came to understand the Native American perspective of realizing it is rather arrogant to think our species is the only one that has souls.  The more we watch, the more that is revealed. 

There is, however, a unique bond between a rider and their horse. Unlike smaller animals over which you can easily have physical control (dominion), the relationship with a horse requires trust. It is, with its might, capable of easily dispatching you. Likewise, with the blind spots of a horse being directly ahead and directly behind, you become their eyes and in you they place their trust that you will bring them to no harm. A horse and a rider become one.  And, unlike many other animals, this relationship can last many years and, in my case, nearly 25 years.

As it is in the title of George Harrison's Album, "All Things Must Pass."  And so it was for me on March 18th when I discovered my mare, Roulette, was in trouble in the early morning.  The general term Colic is applied when there are gut issues with a horse.  We first used our basic pain medication that we have on hand but also called for an emergency visit by our vet.  His initial approach was to try to clear the gut with both a relaxing medication and fluid.  We watched her and walked her around and she seemingly responded well.  I treated her to grass and dandelions she rarely got, brushed her out completely which she always enjoyed, and walked on the property she never could go.  After a good hour, things began to go wrong again.  Another emergency visit quickly turned less promising and all we could hope for is her to roll herself out of it.  We continued through the rest of the day to work with her but it became apparent that we could not resolve the problem and that she was in a good amount of pain.  Late in the day it became apparent that either I put her down or risk her suffering through the night, not for her benefit, but mine.  I took my clips of her mane and tail and said our goodbyes.  As her partner, I could not let her suffer any further, and ended her life in the early evening after a final check indicated multiple organ failures were in progress.  I had her buried on the farm the next morning near Deb's personal horse, Tigger, whom we lost Christmas Eve two years ago.  They were pasture buddies.  Needless to say, it's been a difficult month for Deb and I. 

I'm sharing some of our pictures of her and me and, like many of you have experienced on a smaller scale, her last picture which pretty much says it all.  So, I tried to be a good Kahu and, in the end, a part of my Soul went with her.


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What many people don't know about my wife, Debbie, is that she has several miniature horses that have been used in therapy for autistic or handicapped children and others. 

Milky Way was exceptional at pulling a cart and he loved doing so.  With Debbie's medical challenges, this had become more difficult as there is a lot of work tacking up a horse to draw a cart or wagon.  Both Debbie and Milky Way loved to give to others and they did so many times.  It will be difficult to look into the pasture and not see his face. 

Born 4/26/1996, Milky Way was Deb's first ever horse and was the one to make her dream of owning horses a reality. (But really, they own us!) She bought Milky Way when he was a couple of months old, so they “grew” up together. I reckon they taught each other!

They showed for a couple of years, and even went to Nationals! Milky Way introduced her to some amazing horsey friends. Life happened, and they stopped showing. But she would still use Milk to teach others to drive. He was a good and patient teacher for this task. He taught the art of gentle hands and soft voice.

Milky Way was Nyte’s general from day one. Nyte is another miniature of ours. Wherever Nyte went, Milk would be found to be at his right shoulder. As Nyte has aged, Milky Way would be the one to keep him safe from everyone else. Milky Way took this job seriously. Nyte will be lost without his best friend.

Milky Way loved to go for drives! And he loved to go FAST! Driving will never be quite the same again. Run fast and free, Milk! You will be sorely missed here by us all! -Lou

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