Monday, 22 April 2013

What a week we've had!

We have had a horrible week this week, mostly because of our animals. Last Monday as posted we lost our cat Horrace, who finally succumbed to old age at 21 years plus.  Later that night our Labrador Tyson became ill.

Tyson - The Boy!

He started having fits a few months ago and after a few visits to the veterinary surgeon, and blood tests being sent off to Ankara it was decided that he was diabetic. He was started on a course of tablets and a hideously expensive special diet. All went well for the first month apart from the night we forgot to put the butter away, having had jacket potatoes for tea. Needless to say Tyson found it, ate it and suffered fits again the following morning.

After a second month of being quite stable, and after discussion with the vet it was agreed that we could introduce some brown bread and yogurt to his diet in attempt to eke out the expensive biscuit he was having. That night and the following morning he gratefully received his bowl of food with the new ingredients added. During the following 24 hours he had 5 fits. So back to exclusively having his special diet.

We then had a settled and stable month with him. That is until Monday, when for no apparent reason - as in, he had not stolen anything different to eat to our knowledge the fits restarted, and in the following 36 hours he suffered 11 fits. On Tuesday I went to see our veterinary surgeon and agreed to take Tyson there on Thursday for further tests.

Early on Thursday we arrived at the vets, where his blood sugars were taken and were reading 48 at 08.45 am. Normal blood sugars for a dog are 70 - 120 so this was very low, but was before his breakfast. An intravenous line was put in a vein and he was attached to a dextrose solution drip. I could not imagine him keeping the line in for long so opted to stay with him, in an effort to keep him calm and still. Keeping 43 kilos of Labrador still for 5 hours is definitely not a fun thing to be doing.

After the drip had run for an hour, and he was allowed to eat his breakfast his blood sugars had risen as you would expect to 74 - better. After the next hour when they were checked however, and in spite of the dextrose solution still running, they had dropped to 55 - why?  After 900 ml of dextrose has been administered over a 4  hour period the blood sugars had dropped to 51.

Next an ultra sound was done on his digestive system, and this showed that there was a problem with his pancreas. So further blood tests were taken to see if this was an infection, or something more sinister.

Tyson exhausted by it all on his return from the vets with his shaved side from having an ultra sound investigation

At 2.00 pm I was finally able to take him home to await the test results. The vet called later and said he wanted to see me face to face to discuss the results, so the next morning I went back down the hill fully expecting to be hearing the worst and arranging for a home visit to do the dreadful deed for the second time that week.

I underestimated Serkan our wonderful vet who instead diagnosed Functional Islet Cell tumours, and although there is no cure for this, which I understand is tumours on the pancreas causing it to over produce insulin, therefore playing havoc with the blood sugar levels. If the blood sugars get too high, he has fits, if they get too low, he twitches and wobbles and falls over. Serkan prescribed steroid tablets daily for 3 months and feeding him 4 or 5 times a day as a means to manage the blood sugar levels.

On Friday we commenced this regime, he has his tablet daily and we feed him at 6.00 am, 12.00, 6.00 pm and again at midnight, and fingers crossed at the moment he is much better.

He is hungry all the time and it is an endless battle keeping him away from anything which in his opinion is edible. When I cook I have to keep everything at the back of the worktops, if you open the fridge or the dishwasher his head is straight in it. For the same reason I have to open the oven door with one hand and put in/get out whatever I am cooking, whilst holding him back with the other. He is a very large, muscly, strong dog so we are battling all the time.

We have to be careful about him getting over excited or playing around with the other two dogs because this lowers his blood sugars and he gets wobbly or falls over. Of course this means one of us being here all the time at the moment and goodness alone knows what we will do when we have to return to Antalya on Friday to collect our paperwork from the British Consulate for the wedding. Not to mention that we have 20 odd people coming over for our wedding in a couple of weeks!

To make matters even worse we have been living with an empty pool for over a week now as it needed re-grouting this year, so none of the dogs are able to wander in the garden as they normally do because they quite often fall in the pool and are all becoming coiled springs through boredom. It is actually an extremely stressful time for us. I am much more stressed by all of this than by our wedding which is in 3 weeks time. But at least we still have our boy, and somehow I'm sure we'll manage to get everything done.

If any readers have experienced living with a dog suffering from Functional Islet Cell Tumours, we would love to hear from them as to how they managed.

Monday, 15 April 2013

A sad day for the fogies - farewell to our cat Horrace

Today is a very sad day for the fogies, earlier today we had to take our 21 year old cat Horrace to be put to sleep. Regular readers of our blog will probably have read our previous post about Horrace, and how lucky he was to come to Turkey with us when we came here.

Against all the odds Horrace survived the journey with us to start our new life, and even more incredibly became stronger day by day after we arrived. Last year he enjoyed better health than he had for years, and he loved to wander up the mountain every day after breakfast returning again at tea-time - 5.00 pm on the dot.

Recently he has not been eating very well, and we have been trying everything imaginable to encourage him. We have cooked him chicken, bought him livers which he has eaten cooked and raw, we have even had our friend Ertan hunt rabbits for us - his favourite food from his old hunting years. But he continued to lose his appetite and his weight. He did not, however lose his fondness for his favourite place - the mountain beside our house and right up to yesterday he disappeared up there for the day.

Today we had to make the decision, and took him to our wonderful vet Serkan, who agreed that his day was done. His poor, tired body was in complete shutdown and he only had hours or at most days left. I have nothing but praise for the method Serkan uses for putting animals to sleep, first giving an intramuscular injection which made him relax, a second making  him unconscious, before the final intravenous needle, which by then he knew nothing about.

 I am sorry if I am upsetting some readers by including these facts, but after some not very pleasant experiences with pets in the UK, I feel it is worthy of mention. I have never known a vet who cares for the animals he treats as Serkan does, even giving him a kiss goodbye before the final injection. His compassion is second to none.

It is ironic that yesterday marked the anniversary of our arrival here, so we absolutely made the right call to bring him with us, he had a complete and wonderful year, he loved it here.

So now we have to adjust to a life without Horrace and it will be hard. He was larger than life and a wonderful character, but we both believe he is now waiting for us with our other friends at Rainbow Bridge. RIP Horrace you dear, dear boy.

Horrace 11th February 2013

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigour; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Retired - I don't think so .......

It makes me smile to think we have come to Turkey to retire. So far it has been quite hard work and at the moment this shows no signs of abating. OK so we bought our property as a new build knowing there was no garden - just rocks, heavy clay soil and not much else, but in our ignorance we were looking forward to the challenge.

No David - you're not retired just yet ..........

Almost a year on we really don't seem to be a lot further forward but I am going by the guise that often things get worse before they get better, but we have three main obstacles.

The first is the quantity of stone in and under the soil. We have dug out rocks of sizes that ancient tribes would have used as magaliths. These stones are in heaps all over the back garden at the moment which makes our garden look extremely untidy.

The second problem is the dogs! Apart from trampling over the soil we are trying to prepare, the puppy eats plants!  So anything that is smaller than a solid bush or isn't spiky is immediately pulled out and carted away to some quiet corner to be chewed to pieces. The German Shepherd we took in last year ate most of the irrigation system when she arrived, and the puppy has finished off most of the bits she missed!

..... the booty ready for transporting to Uzumlu

The third obstacle is finances. If we had the budget to have landscape gardeners in or even to be able to afford large and established plants life could be so much easier, providing us with an instant beautiful garden. Sadly this is not the case so we slowly soldier on trying to do the best we can. 

So it was a major result recently when we came across somebody who was needing to get rid of three small palm trees - free to anyone who would take them away. So off we went to dig up the trees with a pair of gloves and a spade. This was of course the royal 'we' as I am pretty useless when it comes to digging. I am however, an extremely good supervisor so I went along anyway to fulfil that role.

David did an admirable job of digging them up, a friend helped him and provided the transport to bring them back to Uzumlu from Calis, and they are now looking marvellous in our garden by the pool. If they will survive the transfer only time will tell, but fingers crossed.

........ and now planted in our garden - fingers crossed it survives

We have decided to give up the battle with the dogs on the plant beds around the pool and we have spent the last two days removing all the small plants, levelling the area and preparing it to lay a membrane with stones on top. We have been out to buy the membrane and the stones should be delivered later today. This should improve that part of the garden considerably with the added bonus of being low maintenance so we should then be able to leave it pretty well alone and spend our time on improving the rest of the garden.

The soil around the pool area is now ready for the membrane and stones to be laid

We had always intended growing vegetables and fruit, and did manage to grow some last year with a modicum of success. But this year we are attempting to copy a more Turkish way of growing them in gullies so that they are easily watered, because last year watering was extremely time consuming and quite hard work each day throughout the summer.

So far we have peas and broad beans plants which are now in flower, and we have sown spinach, beetroot, coriander and radish seeds in the garden, all of which are starting to show. We have tomato, pepper and cucumber plants waiting to go out and have sown more tomato and pepper seeds in trays, as well as basil, chives, parsley, beans and some flowers. Some of the fruit trees are now in flower as are some of the strawberry plants so high hopes for this year's produce. Famous last words - again time will tell.

The peas and broad beans are flowering now

It is certainly wonderful to see everything starting to come back to life after the winter, and the trees regaining their foliage and coming into flower.

On top of the huge project of our garden the wedding of course draws ever closer and preparations are heavily underway.Today we have been all the way to Antalya to visit the British Consulate to obtain our certificates of non-impediment which is essential paperwork to allow us to be married here in Turkey. We then need to return in three weeks to collect it and to have it stamped by the Turkish authorities. We will then be able to visit the Registrar to make the final arrangements for the day.

At the moment I think we must have both been crazy people to buy a property with no established garden and even crazier to think of getting married. But hey ho never a dull moment here.