Feb 25, 2014

Oscar, You will be missed

Patiently waiting at the driv-thru

Yummy reward for waiting

My favorite picture.
After a battle with an injured foot that went septic in spite of all we did to treat, it we had to let Oscar go this afternoon, 2/24/2014.   I am so grateful for the care and concern that Dr Foster showed all of us as well as Oscar. All through this battle Dr Foster has been available to us, honest with us about what was happening and what our options were. We could not have had a better experience going through a very difficult ordeal.

Feb 22, 2014

Repost of an excellent artcle on parenting

Could You Be the Prodigal?

Could You Be the Prodigal?In a world where parents indulge their kids with everything they want, it would seem that these kids would be especially grateful.  Instead, a generation has become selfish, self-centered, and unprepared for real life.

A dictionary definition of a “prodigal” is “one who spends or gives lavishly and foolishly.”  You may think your teenager is acting like a prodigal these days, but have you considered that according to this definition, you may be the prodigal yourself?

Many parents lavishly and foolishly give material things to their kids. Some say it is their “right” to spoil their kids — and there is truth to that.  The truth is not as much regarding the parent’s rights, but that, yes, it will spoil their kids.  Unbridled spending on kids can lead to selfish attitudes and feelings of entitlement on the part of the teen.  And such kids are in for a rude awakening when real life comes calling.

Sometimes a parent is being extra generous out of an “I’m giving my child what I lacked as a child” attitude. Or, perhaps the gifts are being used as leverage to improve the attitudes and cooperation of the teenager.  In either case, the kids on the receiving end can become pretty comfortable with such generosity.  It can lead to immaturity, irresponsibility, selfishness and a hard time understanding finances and the obligations of real life when they become adults. In other words, spoiled kids later become spoiled adults.

I know it’s tough for loving parents to limit their giving of material things to their children, especially when they have it to give.  But they may want to keep it in check to prevent the kind of damage that I see every day in some of the teens who are sent to our Heartlight residential program.  For them it can take months of therapy and doing without material things to bring them back down to earth.
The biblical story of the Prodigal in Luke 15 wonderfully illustrates such a turnabout in thinking for a pampered, selfish child who suddenly faced the realities of life.

In Luke 15:12 the son in the story says, ”Father, give me my share of the estate.”  For whatever reason, this young man had a “give me” sense of entitlement that was pretty demanding. It was probably because he never had a need for anything for as long as he had lived. The family was obviously wealthy.

So, as was the custom in those days, the father went ahead and gave him his portion of the estate. The son gleefully took it all and moved away.  But he had soon spent his entire inheritance, all of it, on riotous living.  What a great lesson in finance!  Though he was given so much, he lost it all in a very short period of time.

Then, half-starved and thinking that his gold-digger friends would help him out in his time of need, he found out differently.  In Luke 15:16 it says, ”…but no one gave him anything.” Whether they were acting as selfish as he was, or just fed up with him, their denials told him that he needed to do something different from now on, or else he wouldn’t survive. The very next verse brings it all home.
In Luke 15:17 it says, “…he came to his senses…”  He saw the light.  When the money ran out and everyone stopped feeding this young man’s foolishness, he faced some pretty important decisions in his life.  It helped him realize his predicament and he quickly discovered what life is all about, perhaps for the very first time.

The point is…it took a very traumatic experience for him to come to his senses.  Before he could get past his prodigal mindset, he had to hit rock bottom.  Then he finally began thinking more clearly about finances and about the basic necessities of life.

Could you be the one responsible for your own teen becoming a prodigal?  Moreover, could you be the one acting like a prodigal yourself?  You are if you are catering to your teen’s every financial want or need without teaching them the value of work and how to wisely manage their own money.  Perhaps it’s time to take a look at your finances and begin to limit your giving to your teen, before it contributes to them becoming a prodigal.

By the way, a good way to counteract selfishness and financial foolishness in a teen is to teach them to give of themselves and a portion of their finances to others who are in need.  Take them down to the local mission to volunteer in the food line.  Require that they help an elderly friend or a shut-in neighbor once a week.  Take them on a short-term mission trip to a place in the world where kids have nothing.  When they interact with others who are helpless and in desperate need, they soon realize (without having to hit rock bottom themselves), how important it is to manage their own life and their money.

If you’re an adult prodigal, you may want to shift gears to lavish upon your kids every good thing they need in life, not everything they want.  One good thing they desperately need is to learn how to make money and manage finances on their own.  They’ll have to go without all the goodies you’ve financed in the past, but it’s a lesson they’ll thank you for one day.

About the Author
Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, a residential counseling center for struggling teens located in Longview, Texas.  He has been married to his wife, Jan, for 39 years, has two kids, and 4 grandkids.  He lives in Longview, Texas with the Heartlight staff, 60 high school kids, 25 horses, his dog, Stitch, 2 llamas, and a prized donkey named Toy.  His past involvement as a youth pastor, Young Life area director, and living with over 2,500 teens, has prepared Mark to share his insights and wisdom about parenting pre-teens and adolescents.
Visit www.HeartlightMinistries.org to find out more about the residential counseling center for teens, or call Heartlight directly at 903. 668.2173.  For more information and helpful other resources for moms and dads, visit www.ParentingTodaysTeens.org, It’s filled with ideas and tools to help you become a more effective parent. Here you will also find a station near you where you can listen to the Parenting Today’s Teens radio broadcast, or download the podcast of the most recent programs.

Feb 21, 2014

Update on Oscar, hopes dashed

Our hopes that Oscar was turning the corner after his reaction to the medicine have been dashed.  The vet examined his foot this morning and was still very concerned about the paw staying cold.  Even though the pain has greatly decreased and he seems to have perked up and is even bearing some weight on that foot and the abscess seems to be draining he believes, and I agree, that the cold foot is a major concern and indicates a circulatory problem.

After consulting with a specialist O does not have a good prognosis. If circulation does not improve within the next few days it could turn to gangrene.  

At this point our goal is to get the circulation going in that foot.  Soaking and massaging the tissue to help drain it as well as keeping him on the antibiotics and as pain free and comfortable as possible.

It's hard to accept that his time with us may be coming to a close.  We're praying for physical healing for Oscar. 

The Bible tells us,  "Luke 12:6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God." 

I believe that the creator of the universe, who keeps track of the sparrow when it falls and counts the hair on my head cares for Oscar and understands our pain.  It is only with His strength that I can comfort my daughter who is grieving the possible loss of her furry friend.   I think a sudden and quick death would be preferable to caring for him for days, seeing what we think is improvement only to hit the valley of death again.  The uncertainty and wait is so stressful.

Feb 20, 2014

What we do and go through for our Fur-Baby, the long version

 About 6 weeks ago Oscar came in one evening completely lame in his right front foot.  I thought it was probably a mild sprain and treated him for several days with aspirin.   It didn't help.
 So a trip to the vets was in order.  After a very painful, for Oscar, exam the vet thought it was probably a sprain and put him on a better anti-inflammatory.  Which he took faithfully with no improvement. 

Fast forward 12 days...Taking Oscar back to the vets this afternoon. The pain meds that he has been on for over a week are not helping. He is not eating well and is really miserable. This is really hard on Sarah, these 2 have grown up together. We got him as a pup a few weeks before she turned 3. He'll be 13 on March 11. The past 5 years or so he has had allergies that turned into skin infections and now he has a lame leg that is not responding to treatment. I hope we can find out today what is wrong and get meds to keep him comfortable for as long as possible. We don't want to selfishly prolong his life if it is something bad, but it's so hard when an animal has been like another sibling. If you're inclined would you say a prayer for all of us?

That afternoon...Just got back from the vets with Oscar. Thanks for all your kind words and prayers.
Dr Foster took an x-ray and there is no cancer which is what we were afraid of. Instead he thinks that O has an abscess in that paw. So he's on antibiotics for 2 weeks at least plus his pain meds and he needs to have that foot soaked in Epsom salts twice a day. So it looks like Oscar will be with us for a while longer!!

Two days later...Oscar feels terrible, constant crying in pain.  It's worse at night.  I'm calling the vet to see if there is something he can take to help him relax and sleep especially at night.

That evening...The vet prescribed a mild sedative to help him sleep tonight.  It's an old, well tolerated drug.  Hope we can get some sleep tonight. 

Have you heard of Restless Leg Syndrome?  Last night we experienced what I'm calling "Uncontrolled Barking Syndrome" (UBS).  With his foot so painful, Oscar, and the rest of us, haven't been getting much sleep.  the video above is just a fraction of the barking he was doing.

Having a drug make you feel all disoriented and weird is bad enough.  And as a human you can at least communicate how you are feeling and understand what is happening.   Imagine your fur-baby going through that.  They. Can't. understand..

Anyway, "UBS" came on within an hour of Oscar taking the sedative.  Preceded by rapid, shallow breathing and the  loss of control of his tongue.

UBS lasted for 10-15 minutes at a time with only about a 10 minute respite.  At first we thought it was just him talking in his sleep.  But when it went on & on & on we knew something was amiss. The barking lasted from about 9 p.m. until midnight.  Finally, quiet, sleep.  For Oscar. Around 2:30 this morning he slid off the bed and is still sleeping where he landed  8 hours later.  (I snatched a couple of hours here and there.)

After talking with his vet, who is befuddled by this entire problem, not just the drug reaction, I'm taking him back in tomorrow for further evaluation.

As I finish writing this post Oscar is still very groggy and unsteady on his feet.  24 hours after that one. small. dose.

Some friends have suggested I find another vet.  I understand and appreciate their concern.  I want the best for Oscar.  But I've had drug reactions myself.  It wasn't the doctors fault.  You don't know you're allergic to something until you take it and react.  So I view it the same for my canine child.

His foot is finally draining, he's let Sarah soak and massage the gunk out of his foot twice today.  The pain in the foot is much, much better.  I think he's on the mend.

We'll visit the vet again in the morning to let the doc and his colleagues check him out as we head to the weekend.

I leave you with a few recent pics of our "Monster Dog"

He chooses to sleep this way...

and sit like this...

He's the best dog I've ever known.