Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Little RV Prepares to Leave Oregon

Tomorrow we are heading north.  We've been here in the Portland area nearly 5 weeks now.  We were able to spend time with my daughter and her family and we welcomed our newest granddaughter. Clementine and her big brother Camden are pictured to the right. 
We really enjoyed some wonderful fall weather and got to know the area.  
Our last two weeks here were spent at Ainsworth State Park.  Ainsworth is a very green park with lots of trees and hiking trails.  Grant really enjoyed the trails.

We have located a lot in the Olympia, Washington area that we plan to rent for the remainder of the year so we can spend the holidays with family.  All three of us have medical and/or dental appointments coming up in November and December.  The price for the lot is reasonable and far less expensive than RV parks on a nightly or weekly basis.   It works out to $15 a night with full hookups. 

So, today we will say goodbye for now to the kids and get ready to go north in the morning. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Medical Mystery Potentially Solved in the Little RV

We've been desperate to figure out what is causing Grant to be sick and itchy.  His tummy has been upset and rumbling so badly we can hear it across the room.  He's been itching like crazy and scratching his head until it bleeds again.  It's awful for him but also frustrating for us.  

A couple of weeks ago after discovering his medication contained corn starch, I made many phone calls to find his prescription medication from a manufacturer who produces it without corn starch.  Grant is allergic to corn.  I found Costco carries two brands without corn starch and I purchased a new 60-day supply.  We replaced the old ones that had corn starch in them that day and started using the new ones.  

I recently learned that an ingredient in many medications and and some probiotics/enzyme products called cellulose is most often made out of corn or soy plants so I checked his new prescription for cellulose and discovered we had again been given a brand with corn starch.  I stopped giving him the medication and called Costco to arrange and exchange for the correct product which I picked up yesterday at no charge.  

On Friday morning Grant threw up and the only thing he had eaten was a chicken jerky treat.  He was itching terribly and making his head bleed again.  At my wits end I started digging up information.  

Grant has been eating the same dog treats for several years.  At the time we discovered his allergies they were the only ones he could have.  The treats are Dogswell brand Chicken Jerky.  To my horror I discovered they are made in China and, as you may have seen on the news, jerky treats made in China are responsible for over 600 deaths of dogs since January.  There are many brands of jerky treats made in China and some of those companies have voluntarily recalled their products but many are still available on the market.  

After reading multiple articles I learned the symptoms caused by these treats can be anything from skin irritation, hives, itching, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, kidney or liver failure and death. 

I'm disgusted that the food that we trust and pay so much for and that is touted as natural and healthy is killing our pets. The FDA cannot nail down the actual source of the problem so they are not recalling the products and they are still out there on the store shelves.  
Grant hasn't had anything to eat except freshly cooked chicken since Friday.  No treats, no medications, no probiotics and he seems much better.  He is still itching but not as badly and there has been no more vomiting. His other tummy symptoms are also improving but not completely resolved.  We're starting slowly with his food and will introduce things a little at a time to see if he reacts. I am hopeful we have finally found the source of his itching and perhaps even his digestive problems.  

Last night Grant was feeling well enough that he wanted to play ball.  Things are looking up!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Yet Another Update on the Little RV's Holding Tank Problems

If you're new to our blog of just want a refresher (hahahah) you can read about our holding tank woes here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here and here.  The short story is we have been having problems with our holding tanks for nearly 18 months now and the only way to fix them is to install electric tank valves.  We have had several different repair shops attempt to fix them and/or replace them and all have failed. Currently our black and one gray tank will not completely close and leak continuously. 

Our current repair shop has sent an estimate to DRV  for the replacement of the valves with electric and DRV has denied the estimate stating it is too expensive.  This prompted me to write a heartfelt email to DRV letting them know how much it has cost us over the past 18 months to deal with these problems.  I also let them know that I has spoken with the Oregon Office of the Attorney General and was told that if the problem began and repairs were attempted during the warranty period DRV was obligated to continue to repair the problem.  
Their response was simply, "We are obligated to repair, not “ upgrade” , I have no problem replacing the valves if needed, if you choose to upgrade to electric, the upcharge will be at your expense."  

I was stunned.  Apparently they are willing to pay to have the valves changed out again (the third time) but not replace them with the electric type.  I wonder how much they are willing to spend on changing out the valves repeatedly for an indefinite period before they finally pay for the electric type?  

At what point do we give up and pay to get them installed ourselves?  Am I cutting my nose off despite my face?  I guess I'm not there yet.  To me there is a principal here and I'm feeling like they are just pushing back in hopes we will go away and they'll be off the hook.  

I have now filed a complaint with the AG's office.  Once again, we are waiting.  The repair shop is trying to get something worked out with DRV, some of our parts have still not arrived, and we are going to move up to Washington for medical appointments soon.  We have rescheduled our repairs for the week before Thanksgiving.  

I dream of leaving for warmer places after Christmas with a fully functioning RV.  Is that really so much to ask?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Clementine's Guardian Angel

Someone has been on my mind a tremendous amount of the time lately.  Her name was Judi and she was the best friend I ever had.  Judi was the most practical, down to earth, logical and reasonable person I have had the pleasure to meet.  We met at work over 30 years ago but became friends when several of us from the office went to Reno for a long weekend.  We clicked and were dear friends from then on.  I called her Judith and she called me Juliette.

 Not long after that trip Judi was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She beat it that time and went 12 years cancer free before it came back.
Judi and Grant, her last Christmas with us

When Rob and I met Judi and I were already friends and they hit it off as well.  Judi spent a lot of time with us.  She would come and spend weekends and we would do projects around the house.  Major projects like deck building.  We had no idea what we were doing but we figured it out as we went along.  I have some awesome memories from those times.  

Judi wasn't so lucky the second time she was diagnosed.  Although she fought it for several years, when the cancer began to spread we knew she would eventually lose the battle.  We had an agreement that when the time came she would come to our house for her last days.  Judi has two grown children and I am so grateful to them for allowing me to keep that promise. She's been gone for several years not but the impact she made on my life and on the lives everyone she met can't be measured.  I miss her every day.

Why has Judi been on my mind so much these days?  Our newest granddaughter Clementine, was born on her birthday, October 1st.  I'm pretty sure Clementine has a very special guardian angel. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

It's Moving Day for the Little RV

We need a change of scenery and a less expensive place to park the Little RV.  Only 17 miles from our current location is Ainsworth State Park.  Yesterday we drove out to the park to see if we might like to move there.  It's a small park with full hookups. The price per night dropped on October 1st to just $16 per night.  Less than half of what we have been paying at the private park. The park closes for the season at the end of the month but there is a 14-day stay limit which coincidentally, will run out on the last day of the month. 

We're moving this morning after Rob gets up and we are finished buttoning up the Little RV.  I'm hoping for some beautiful fall photos for the blog later this week.

We had another rough day with Grant yesterday.  He had some pretty brutal tummy problems starting at 5am.  This led me to the decision to stop his commercial dog food and put him on home cooked  ground beef and quinoa.  He loved it and so far there have been no ill effects.  Bonus! Grant also rode in the truck for about an hour and did not have any itching or other reactions.  Guess those hours of cleaning the truck paid off. 

I finished another hat yesterday.  Clementine needed a pumpkin hat for her fall wardrobe. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Grant - The Saga Continues

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny Fall day.  Rob has been cooped up in the Little RV for so long he really needed to get out and get some air and a change of scenery.  So, we three got in the truck and started out on an adventure.  Before we even managed to get out of the RV park Grant had started scratching his face and was bleeding and crying. Back home we went!

We put Grant inside and gave him a Benadryl (with no soy or corn starch) and started emptying the truck of its contents.  Obviously whatever set the itching off was in the truck.  We removed his doggie hammock, blew the truck out with the air compressor, vacuumed and scrubbed every square inch with simple green.  The cleaning frenzy took three hours.  I'm washing the hammock and the rugs that go on top of the hammock.  Whatever it is, I hope we were able to obliterate it!

Grant has not scratched his face and head since we got him out of the truck.  He's pretty perky this morning. 

We think Rob will be ready to move by the end of the week.  We considered staying here a while longer but it's quite expensive.  The weekly rate is $260 and we are on week three already.  We can convert to a monthly rate but that requires a criminal background check, a credit check, and several application forms.  Oh, did I mention the background and credit checks cost $30 per person.  Come on!  It's a nice enough park but not that nice.  

Our repairs were scheduled to be done today but had to be cancelled because the parts are not at the repair shop yet. We have no idea when the parts for our repairs will arrive and when or if the valve replacement will be done but we would like it all done at the same time so we only have to move out once.  
We'd really like to make a trip somewhere warmer and sunnier but not too far away.  I have no idea where that is but I'm working on it.  Wherever we go we must have full hook-ups because our black tank valve seems to be leaking all the time now.  

Life is good even though we have ISSUES.  I'm sitting here in front of the fireplace in my chair and in my jammies, with my blanket and giant mug of coffee.  It's quiet and the fog is starting to burn off.  Grant is sleeping by my feet and I think I'll go see my grandkids today. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Things are Looking Up in the Little RV

Rob is much better and slooooooooowly starting to eat bland, solid food.  He was awake a good part of the day too.  That was a bonus!  

Grant is better as well.  I stopped giving him his medication three days ago and I haven't seen him scratching his head at all.  It's healing well and I am so glad. 

I spent a good part of my day yesterday online and on the telephone trying to find his medication without corn starch in it.  I was finally successful.  Costco carries two brands that do not have corn starch.  I had his prescription transferred and will pick it up this morning.  

As for his dog food, I think I will continue on with the food we have been giving him and wait to see if the medication change does the trick.  I don't want to make too many changes on once. 

After I finish my errands I'm going to see the kids.  I need a baby fix. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Breakthrough and a Meltdown in the Little RV

Rob is on the mend!  He had much less pain yesterday and was able to stop his pain medication.  We are making progress.  Now if we can just get all the pain meds out of his system so he stops having vivid dreams and acting them out in his sleep! 

On the other hand, Grant has come undone.  Yesterday I noticed he had blood on his face and after a closer inspection I found he had scratched his head so intensely that he actually has two open wounds on his head.  

After making this discovery I had a meltdown.  

I've done a lot of thinking since yesterday and have decided we need to go back to home cooked food for Grant.  I'm not looking forward to cooking for him again but I certainly can't watch him suffer like this.  When I think back this itching started in Connecticut which is where he had a tick on his face in the area he scratches.  He also started his new dog food around the same time.  

Yesterday I dug out the labels on everything that goes into Grant's body.  I read the ingredients and did some research online and discovered one of his medications has corn starch in it.  Grant is allergic to corn among many other things.  I did check when he first started the medication but I think the generic has changed and now contains corn starch.   Basically, I don't know what is causing this itching so I think going back to square one is the only option. 

On the up side, I get to visit with my daughter and her family today.  I've been eager to get my hands on little Clementine!

Here's an update on our RV Repairs.  We were scheduled to be in Junction City for repairs on Monday but we will not be going.  Most of the parts have not arrived.  They were ordered more than 6 weeks ago but for whatever reason they are not here.  I will spare you all of the gory details.   

Our repair representative was finally able to speak to DRV about our holding tank problems.  They have asked for an estimate for changing us to electric gate valves.  Hopefully this is a good sign.  So it seems we will be staying here in Troutdale for a while longer.  At least you won't hear me complaining about that!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Updates, Rain, Clementine, ER Visits and Life in General

A couple of weeks ago we headed north to Olympia for some medical appointments for Rob and vet and groomer appointments for Grant.  I was able to visit with my parents, do a little shopping and get our mail.  We stayed at the casino campground again.  It's a nice, quiet place to stay.  For the most part we only had 5 or 6 fellow campers.  

Terror struck that Friday afternoon when we discovered we had Velcro campers.  Two new campers came in and choose to park on either side of us.  Seriously?  There were at least 30 other open spaces.  I just don't understand.

We were having some really stormy weather at that time because we  were getting the remnants of Typhoon Usagi by way of China.   

We had planned to move to the Portland area the following day but decided to go immediately instead.  The weather wasn't awful at that point but the forecast called for heavy rain and wind for Saturday so we hooked up and hit the road.  

On the way down I called an RV park in Vancouver we had found online.  When we arrived we decided it just wasn't for us because it was very pet UNfriendly and very crowded.  We took a pull-through and spent the night planning to find a different spot elsewhere this morning.  We arrived and set up in the pouring rain.  The site was just long enough to allow us to stay hooked up to the truck.  That's a good thing!  

We did have quite a problem getting our water hooked up last night.  The last time we got the Little RV back from the shop we noticed the 90 degree brass fitting we have on the water inlet was turned and a bit crooked.  We couldn't get it to stop leaking last night so Rob had to take it apart.  It seems in addition to turning it they actually crushed it inward and damaged the fitting on the RV.   

We did find new digs later that morning and paid for a weeks stay with the option for another week. We are in a very nice campground along the Sandy River.  Not so far from the kid's house but with full hook-ups which we seem to have a really hard time finding in the Portland area.  AND...there is a place to walk the dog. 

I don't believe I gave you the details of our last RV repair visit.  I probably just couldn't face thinking about it at the time. We are still having trouble with out holding tank valve cables.  The repair representative has told us there is nothing more they can do to fix them aside from installing electric gate valves.  The cables are far too long to work correctly and two of them are not closing properly again.  There is really nothing worse than taking the cap off your sewer outlet and getting wet feet.  Not cool, not cool at all.   

Aside from the problems we are having with our holding tanks the repairmen broke a light fixture, damaged some of the crown molding in the kitchen and attempted to hide it by slapping it back up broken and crooked.  There are several parts they had to order and will install when we are back in Junction City for the work.  I have asked them to work with DRV to get all of the proper approvals and parts for the RV before we arrive so it can be completed in one trip.  We are really getting tired of being tied to that area because we have to return over and over for repairs.  I'm not optimistic.  

We are in our second week at the park in Troutdale, Oregon.  We have enjoyed our time here.  The weather over the last few days has been spectacular.  It's cool, clear and the leaves are turning.  I love fall.  We are close to the kids and things we need and we are fairly close to the emergency room.  

Unfortunately we have had two occasions to visit the ER in the last few days.  Rob is having some undiagnosed, severe abdominal pain and is on clear liquids and pain meds.  When he eats or drinks anything other than clear liquids it causes increased pain.  He told me my life would never be dull if I married him.  He was so right.  We are currently in waiting to see if it will clear up by resting his gut.  Time will tell. 

I've had a couple of chances to see little Clementine in the last few days.  She's a week old today and so sweet.  Check out the hair!
The day she was born I made her a cow hat.  Mom picked the pattern our and I whipped it up.  
Camden has requested a baby bull hat and we picked out the yarn together.  I have work to do.  Today is a very rainy day so it's a good day to crochet.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Intruducing Clementine!

Tuesday October 1st our newest granddaughter arrived.  She was born at 11:34 pm and her name is Clementine.  She weighs 7 lb 4 oz and is 20 inches long.  I think she's perfect!
Camden meets Clementine for the first time. It was love at first sight.
 Now I'm off to the hospital for a quick visit.