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Carbon Monoxide, A Close Call (How to Protect Yourself)

The other morning I received a concerning message from a client of mine who had just moved to Mexico with her family. With her permission to share our conversation, my hope is to continue to educate others about the silent and deadly dangers of carbon monoxide, and to share some simple and practical tips to protect yourself and your loved ones from this lethal gas.

Being an informed renter or owner cannot be overstated, nor can the extreme importance of protecting yourself and your loved ones with not just one CO detector, but several, as you will read below. 

Client: Hi Katie, I just wanted you to know the CO alarmS saved our lives last night. Grateful for your emphasis on those.

Me: Hi!! OMG, this just gave me chills…my goodness, what happened?

Client: The top of the boiler was not connected at all. We think they installed it wrong and the part that goes on the top to the vent is missing. We don’t know why it would have been thrown away, it’s really strange.

Me: And your hot water heater is inside the house, I take it?

Client: Yes. I have two alarms in the laundry room and the extra one caught it.

Me: It’s so important to have more than one unit, I am going to re-emphasis this in my next article about carbon monoxide awareness and safety.

Client: We were out to eat late and it was going off when we got home.

Me: So one unit did not pick it up?

Client: The boiler is elevated on a shelf and the one sitting on the top of the washer caught it first before the gas fell lower to the one plugged into the wall. The bedroom alarms didn’t go off so I think it caught it right away. So scary though.

Me: Without naming your or you family, my I share this information on my website and social media as yet another Carbon Monoxide Awareness PSA?

Client: Of course.

Me: …and why having the unitS right at the source (in addition to your sleeping spaces) is so very important, otherwise that CO gas would have ultimately traveled to the other living spaces.

Client: I know! We had just asked to have the handyman fix the exhaust because it was all janky before but then he messed it up worse.

Carbon Monoxide, Another Close Call (How to Protect Yourself)

Me: I am breathing through all of this…as you know all too well, the outcome could have been far worse, sorry to point out the obvious. It is clearly a sensitive topic for me and a trauma of sorts at that, with my husband almost having lost his life to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Client: It’s ok. Yes I am aware. Sorry to cause your adrenaline to spike. I just feel grateful for you and wanted you to know that your story made a impact on us.

Me: No, I don’t want you to feel sorry, please, and even questioned whether or not to send that… I am just being totally honest. I am so grateful to know that in my being vocal about what happened, that so many people have been given the knowledge as to how & why to protect themselves with such a simple, tiny and affordable device. Emphasizing the absolute importance of having more than one carbon monoxide alarm in the direct area of the gas appliance cannot be understated. My adrenaline is calmed with the gratitude of knowing that you and your family are okay.

Client: I really appreciate you sharing. My husband did a ton of research yesterday and is teaching the guy who installs the boilers for everyone around here and he’s saying that my husband solved this problem for him. I think we may have just saved a lot of lives, honesty. 

Me: Thank God you brought all of those CO monitorsI am so grateful that you and your family were protected. I am going to write another article…not a fun one to write, but I must.

Client: I think we fixed it.

Carbon Monoxide, A Close Call (How to Protect Yourself)

Me: And that is of course venting outside of your home?

Client: Yes, much more calm and CO free. Thank you Katie!

How to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones Against Carbon Monoxide:

  • Invest in as many carbon monoxide alarms as you feel is prudent to protect yourself and your loved ones for both home and travel. The link opens to the alarms that we personally use. Do your own research and buy the ones that you feel are best for you and your family. I am not a carbon monoxide alarm expert, just a gal that wants to warn and inform others based on my own personal experience. 
  • Get a carbon monoxide alarm for each room of your home that contains appliances that burn gas, oil, coal or wood. We personally also like to have (and recommend having) one in each of the occupied bedrooms. Carbon Monoxide, A Close Call (How to Protect Yourself)
  • Follow the manufacture’s guidelines for the CO alarms that you have.
  • Have all gas-producing appliances checked regularly by a qualified, skilled technician and keep them well maintained.
  • Don’t use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time.
  • Never use a charcoal grill indoors.
  • Don’t use any gas-powered engines (mowers, weed trimmers, snow blowers, chain saws, small engines, or generators) in an enclosed space.
  • Don’t burn anything in a fireplace that isn’t vented.
  • Don’t use any gasoline-powered engine close to a window, door, or vent.
  • Don’t sleep in any room or space with an unvented gas or kerosene space heater.
  • Carbon Monoxide Alarms make great gifts for: Christmas, Birthdays, Anniversaries, graduation, children going off to college, schools, science rooms, college dorms, assisted living facilities, gyms, restaurants, cruise ships, travel, camping…

This list is not exhaustive, but is the best that my personal experience and a cursory google review could come up with. Are there any more tips that you could add? If so, please share them in the Comment’s Section below. It takes a village to look out for each other. 

In peace, safety, health and happiness,

~Katie O’Grady

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It's a Dog's Life~Lessons from Luna Love ❤️

The road to adoption came to us in the form of an 10-month-old, 8-pound, white “ferocious” fluff ball of a sweetheart named Luna…aka Luna Love ❤️.

We had long wanted to bring a second dog into our home, but the timing and circumstances just weren’t right…until it was. 

We knew that part of our moving from San Pancho to San Miguel de Allende would include welcoming another sentient being of love into our home, and without a doubt, a rescue.

Luna and her brother had belonged to a family who unfortunately could no longer afford to feed them. Thankfully, they did the right thing and took them to a vet’s office rather than abandoning them on the street. The veterinarian notified a woman here in SMA who is very involved in dog rescues and fostering, and viola (serendipity and luck), Luna and The O’Grady Family’s paths crossed!

We had four fun-filled home day visits with Luna including one sleepover—pillows, blankets, chew toys and all–required by her very careful and loving foster Mother, who without hesitation selected us to be Luna’s family upon seeing the love we had for her, and she for us.

Luna Love is a such a gift. She reminds us daily of the importance of staying in the moment and honoring the natural rhythm of life. Who doesn’t want to have their tummy rubbed, take multiple naps, hang out in the garden to watch the birds, and listen to the sounds of Mother Nature?

Thank you Luna, for the gift of you ❤️

It's a Dog's Life~Lessons from Luna Love ❤️

I asked my son Liam, “what was the best part of and greatest lesson from Luna”. Wide-eyed and thoughtful, he said, “Mama, that anything is possible.” 

Yes, son, it is.

It was an interesting adjustment for Seamus, our then 90-pound, 7-year-old chocolate lab…RIP. He was walking around with a ball in his mouth, wondering what all of this meant for him. Was she a friend, a replacement, his competition? Why could Luna sit in Mom’s lap and he couldn’t? I could see him wondering if he was no longer the only reigning furry family member in Casa O’Grady…what in the world is going on, his expression spoke to me.

It's a Dog's Life~Lessons from Luna Love ❤️

Seamus will always be my Big Brown Bear King. It was now time for us to welcome a Queen into our home–and a pint-sized one at that! A love of a Gentle Giant, I knew that Seamus would accept Luna into his heart as he did with every other living being he met, small and large alike. You, Seamus, could never ever be replaced.

 

 

Life indeed changed for Seamus, but for the better. Normally an outside dog because of his size and the fact that our daughter is allergic, his allowed inside space expanded and I found myself doing more and more sweeping! The Roomba has been one of my greatest saviors in this pet and human parenting gig, lol! 

Tiny water bowl inside for Luna? Seamus got one too. Novelty toys the foster mom brought over for Luna? Seamus’s toys too. Extra attention (yes, more than normal!) for Seamus to equal all of the hugs and kisses Luna was getting? Absolutely! I became a dog’s slobber toy. Luna’s 8-pound kisses were one thing, but I now felt obligated to let Seamus lather me with his big slobbery love more than I normally did. For sure I was ready for a good shower at the end of the day! #itsadogslife

We went to the pet store and bought Seamus the world’s largest bone…a conciliatory gift of sorts to comfort his questioning heart at this time of transition. 

We made sure Seamus knew that he was loved like always, and that the addition of Luna to our family only had benefits for him!

It's a Dog's Life~Lessons from Luna Love ❤️

We bought Luna her own pack of pint-sized chew bones, but she was more interested in Seamus’s–imagine that, little bugger!

It's a Dog's Life~Lessons from Luna Love ❤️

It’s a Dog’s Life~Lessons from Luna Love ❤️:

1. Slow down, look at the birds, smell the flowers, study the bugs, take a nap in the sun

2. Don’t take things too seriously–laugh everyday, be silly, be playful, have fun

3. Nothing is more important than friendship, communion, community and family

4. Cultivate and nurture your friendships, value the love in your life

5. Live in the moment, take it all in–it’s your here and your now that really matters

6. There is always more room in your heart for love and happiness

7. Love your tribe without restraint and unconditionally

Luna is a true gift to us. I have a distinct feeling that we are to her as well. ☘️

It's a Dog's Life~Lessons from Luna Love ❤️

Luna Love seeing snow for the first time in Utah

It's a Dog's Life~Lessons from Luna Love ❤️

Adopt A Dog in SMA:

If you will be relocating to or even just visiting San Miguel de Allende (or any other region of Mexico), there are plenty of fur babies looking for a loving home. No doubt you too have space for more fun and joy in your life. 

Contacting Yo ❤️ Animalitos is one of many ways to bring some more love, fun and laughter into your home. 

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*Protect yourself and your loved ones with Carbon Monoxide Detectors for both home and travel *

 

 

 

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Granddaughter of Former Chief of US-Mexico Border Immigrates to Mexico

As the granddaughter of a former Chief of the US-Mexico Border, the story of why my husband, our 8-year old-twins and I decided to immigrate to Mexico in 2012 from the States is one that I am compelled to tell. 

Burnt out on the consumerist, rat-race grind of life in Southern California, we left San Diego with nothing but a car and trailer full of our “essential belongings” after having sold, donated, gifted and tossed the rest. 

Our remaining earthly treasures included every lego known to mankind, our twins’ organic mattresses, a large-screened tv and the bicycles you can see hanging off the back of our boat! Our 95-pound chocolate lab Seamus rode in the back seat right behind Frank, panting and slobbering in excitement on the entire 4-day drive down!

A sight to see we were, something like a scene from the sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies! 

Roots

Growing up a half an hour away from the San Diego-Tijuana Border gifted me with a bilingual-bicultural upbringing and hence an ability to move easily between both worlds. Communicating in both Spanish and English at school, work and play has always been my norm since I was a very little girl.

I have always had a profound love and respect for Mexico–for her people, her magic and her fervent sense of community. I value and treasure the freedom and safety I feel immersed in Mexico’s rich culture. 

With my parents working outside of the home in their careers as Psychologist and School Teacher, MariaElena (our co-CEO of the family) was a blessing of a second mother to me. She cared for me as if I was her own until the age of five when my parent’s painful yet necessary parting of ways took us away from each other.

It was with MarieElena, that the template of my life was established–a life destined to be immersed in Mexico and with her people. Crossing the border as a teenager in the 80’s to go clubbing in Tijuana or to head further down south to Puerto Nuevo for lobster and off-roading in the sand dunes formed a huge part of the tapestry of my youth.

My husband Frank and I leased a 30 by 60 piece of sand in Bahia de Los Angeles where our twins Mairead and Liam spent many a barefoot vacation enjoying freedom and discovery to their heart’s content. 

Granddaughter of A Former Chief of US-Mexico Border Immigrates to Mexico

“Big Joe”, Former Chief of US-Mexico Border

Dressed in his signature crisp-collared Oxford shirt, ironed slacks and shiny leather shoes no matter the occasion, my “Big Joe” as we affectionately referred to him, was a thoughtful, bright, witty gentleman with no time or concern for nonsense. His words were concise and powerful, leaving an echo in the rooms in which they were spoken. 

My relationship and time spent with my Grandfather was one of the most significant influences in my love for and connection to Mexico. 

He modeled such a deep respect and brotherhood for our south of the border neighbors, that I too could not help but fall in love with a land and a people so magnificently rich in corazón y alma (heart and soul).

Sitting in his living room overlooking Mission Bay, he would speak to me of his many adventures, of his life on our family’s dairy farm in Chula Vista, of the beautiful horses in his care, and how at the age of 14 he left his home to become a cowboy on the last ranch that spanned the US-American border. 

Family historians share with me that he was considered the “Paul Revere of Chula Vista” by warning the Otay Valley on horseback of impending rain that ultimately ended up bursting the Sweetwater Dam.

I would listen in awe, taking mental notes of these sacred conversations, knowing that I was bearing witness to a living history book. 

My Grandpa Joe was as tough as nails and lived his life to the fullest until the age of 94.

Chief of US/Mexico Border

A Living History Book

We would drive down to Rosarito Beach on weekends for an early dinner at El Nido and I would marvel with pride and joy at my Grandfather’s ability to conduct himself so eloquently in both languages and cultures. Sitting in front of the open, wood-fired oven where quail, whole potatoes and lobster tails would cook, my Grandpa turned the ordinary into magic.

His affinity for conversation, his charisma, thoughtful ways and sharp sense of humor made for a dynamic that simply attracted people to him. It felt good to be in his company and I was lucky enough to be his granddaughter. 

Granddaughter of A Former Chief of US-Mexico Border Immigrates to Mexico

Although my Grandfather passed before I began my teaching career, I know that he would have been so very proud that I had chosen to go into a line of work that shares the beauty of the Spanish language and culture with the youth of today. 

Life in Mexico

I thank my beloved Grandfather for setting the bar high, for leading by example and showing me a love and respect for Mexico that is forever imprinted in my heart and has forever changed the trajectory of my life.

Life in Mexico WAKES you up from whatever slumber you might have previously found yourself in, RESETS your outlook and REMINDS you that true, mindful, engaged living results from paying attention and participating in a life of design.

Mi Querido México, thank you for taking my family in, for welcoming us with open arms. These past ten years have been one heck of an adventure and we are better people for it. 

!Viva México!

~Katie 

Looking for an excellent read on US-Mexico Border Relations? Vanishing Frontiers: The Forces Driving Mexico and The United States Together  

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Famous Seamus: A Tale of a Dog's Immigration to Mexico

 “To call him a dog hardly seems to do him justice, though inasmuch as he had four legs, a tail, and barked, I admit he was, to all outward appearances. But to those who knew him well, he was a perfect gentleman.” ~Hermione Gingold

Similar to a few of my other difficult-to-write pieces: Living with Life-Threatening Food Allergies, A Story of Hope, Spinal Surgery in Mexico~From Wheelchair to Walking and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning~The Silent Killer, this story will be not just hard, but heartbreaking, for me to put into print.

But I must.

I owe it to Seamus, to our family and to our children to honor his memory and legacy, to memorialize this sentient being that was so much more than “just a dog”…to tell his story.

This is my tribute to you, Seamies…

Seamus, My 38th Birthday Gift!

Our three-year-old twins Mairead and Liam were just starting to sleep through the night when my husband Frank surprised me with the grandest 38th birthday gift of all–a chocolate lab puppy! Working as a firefighter and away from home for days and sometimes weeks on end, he wanted to bring a gentle dog with a big bark into our family.

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

Living in San Diego at the time, we traveled up to Bonsall for the four required visits, until at last, at 9-weeks old, we were able to bring Seamus home to begin his life as an O’Grady!                                      

Fate Smiled at Destiny

Seamus was from a litter of nine chocolate, roly poly, running, jumping, kissing, wagging balls of Labrador love. While it was difficult to pick just one, serendipity was at play as Seamus chose us, and we him.

He buried himself in between our twin toddler’s car seats on the way home, butt up, tail wagging incessantly, coming up for many slobbery kisses, only to return again quickly to his chosen position.

Although Liam and Mairead were a bit overwhelmed and cautious at first with this energetic, playful, new presence in their lives (that quickly became and surpassed their size!) the three of them became the best of buddies in no time at all.

 

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

Honoring our Irish heritage and love of traditional Celtic names, ‘Seamus‘ was ever-so-fitting for this handsome, destined-to-be addition to our O’Grady family. My dinner time calls would now be “Mairead…Liam, Seamus”…

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

They say you can approximate the adult size of a puppy by its paws. At 9 weeks old, Seamus’s were huge and by 6 months he was practically full grown, knocking over everything in his path with that big tail and chewing through all of our shoes one by one.

Famous Seamus Immigrates to Mexico

Seamus moved to Mexico when he was five years old, making the four-day drive down South with Frank, drooling the entire car ride down on the back of his neck.

From San Diego to San Pancho and San Miguel de Allende to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle–with many Stateside and Baja trips in between–Seamus lived an amazingly full and adventurous life! He was a well-traveled dog with a 12-year life story that contained plenty of O’Grady shenanigans!

 

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

Our Gentle Giant

If you were ever lucky enough to be in the presence of this Gentle Giant, you would have known what a special, wise, kind soul he was…a noble gentleman, a comedian, a loyal playmate, a never-do-harm pup with a heart of gold. 

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

Born a water dog, Seamus’s favorite place in the world was the ocean. That, and being with his family…especially in the ocean.

Seamus Gets A Sister

Seamus wasn’t what one would call a lap dog (we never told him that), weighing in at 95 pounds of slobbery love! We not only wanted him to have a canine companion, but also for our children to experience the gift of adoption and the taking in of another sentient being–this time a much smaller one.

Seamus had been an “only dog” for the first seven years of his life and while he was initially excited to have what he thought was a temporary playdate in Luna, he went through a period of acting rather concerned about this new addition to our family, bringing me more treats and toys than the norm.

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

Seamus soon realized that Luna Love had a permanent status in The O’Grady Clan and that he now needed to share the attention, walks, toys and pats on the head.

He handled it like the noble gentleman he was and graciously welcomed Luna into his family with lots of kisses, love barks and tail chasing around our yard!

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

What Happened?

Our sweet boy had battled skin ailments most his life–made worse in the jungle heat–and in the last year of his life had been diagnosed with hypothyroidism for which he was receiving treatment. In spite of those real challenges, he was a very happy, active boy…a sweet, lovable lab. While he was in his senior years at almost 12, he surprisingly did not have any joint or musculature issues. In fact, on one of our stateside trips, Seamus had a thorough check-up including a head to toe x-ray whereupon the vet stated that he had the bones of a 5-year-old dog! We were grateful to know that he wasn’t suffering from the hip issues that lots of large breed dogs usually do as they age. 

On the Sunday morning before Valentine’s Day 2019, instead of being greeted by my normally goofy and happy pup, I found him sitting sideways at the top of our back door steps, clearly in discomfort and not interested in eating at all.

He looked up at me with sadness in his eyes, turned away and laid his head back down. My heart was in my throat, knowing that something was seriously wrong with my boy. 

I went outside to get a better look and saw that his left hind leg was swollen and retracted, unable to stand or walk unassisted.

What had happened???

Was he stung by a scorpion? Did he somehow fall, twist or break his leg? Was he bitten by a snake?

My mind went through all of the possibilities of what could have happened to Seamus, who just one day before seemed fine on his afternoon walk. While he was slowing down, he was still mobile and always up for some playtime at the beach.

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

 

Seeing my big, sweet boy in obvious distress and pain, trying to navigate those 95 pounds on three legs, was heartbreaking, to say the least.

We took Seamus to the vet, fearing that our day had arrived or was soon in sight, but Dr. Jorge said to give it a few days with anti-inflammatory injections and oral meds at home. And so we did, willing to do anything to give him some more time with us–as long as it was free from pain and suffering.

Dr. Jorge ruled out any venomous poisoning or bone break, conjecturing that Seamus might have tripped and fallen and therefore perhaps sprained his leg, but to me, it seemed to be much more serious.

A Mother’s Intuition~It Was Time

I knew in my heart that we likely weren’t going to come out of this one with dry eyes or intact hearts, even for as much as I wanted to deny the reality right in front of us.

Over the next several days, Seamus continued to suffer and decline. His breathing became labored, he lost interest in eating, could not relieve himself without assistance, and then began to hemorrhage.

We knew it was time. Time to do only what love propels you to do. Time to do the right thing. Time to do the humane thing. Time to release Seamus from the physical condition that now held his body captive in pain with no apparent hope of improvement.

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

In a “perfect world” or a “best case scenario”, maybe Seamus would have passed in his sleep. But life and death are not so neat and tidy and they certainly have their own timeline.

I believe that Seamus wanted us to each have our own individual and then our family time to say our goodbyes, and we did.

Thank you, Seamus, for the gift of you…thank you for picking Valentine’s Day, a day of love and friendship, as your day to transition from one energy form to another. Thank you for the undeniable impact you have forever left on our hearts. 

Rainbow Bridge, Valentine’s Day 2019

I laid with Seamus throughout the day, in those last hours with my sweet boy in this realm between life and death.

I brought him warm, lavender infused towels from the dryer and sang, talked, laughed and cried with him–telling him all of the funny stories about his life as a 9-week-old puppy up to now, this very moment as my senior pup, hours before his rainbow crossing. I named all of the people and animals that loved him, each and every one by their first name. He looked at me with acknowledgment and understanding, hugged me, wrapped his paws around my arms, smiled, snorted and slobbered with all the energy he could muster up. Noble and gallant to the very end, my gentle giant.

I asked Frank to bring home the largest bone he could find, but Seamus was not interested in it at all.

 

We picked our children up after school, came home to get Seamus, and the five of us drove to the vet’s office for our 4:00 appointment, nothing but the sounds of stifled sniffles and Seamus’s panting audible in the car. 

To say that the next few hours, days, weeks, months, (and yes, now even years) were and have been profoundly painful for our family, would be an understatement. We each lost a huge part of our hearts and lives that fateful day, knowing however that the memory and love of our Famous Seamus will always be with us no matter where we go. 

From my husband Frank:

Our dog Seamus had to leave us this afternoon.
If there were ever a dog to represent unconditional love he was it.
He taught me many lessons regarding being happy in a moment. I do and will miss him mightily. 
I hear the ocean outside my window, and I feel his physical absence palpably…but, I know he is free from that pain he tolerated with no complaint and he is happy and at peace.
He grew up with my babies, he was one of our babies, he was part of our O’Grady Tribe. I am so grateful to be part of a family that stayed with him until the end, grateful to Dr. Jorge at Pets and Vets in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle for his sincere compassion and care and his tenderness not only with Seamus but with us. My hope is that we can all carry forward a bit some love, tolerance and compassion in this oftentimes hard world we live in. I have to say that I marvel at the strength of our children.
They were with Seamus until the end…laying with him on the floor of the vet’s office, giving him their hearts and love with hugs, petting and no shortage of tears until well after his heart stopped beating.
Seamus died literally surrounded with love and touches…and touches and love were what he lived for.
My family, Seamus included, give me reason to marvel every day.
It is beautiful outside and I will reflect on Seamus’s life, my children, Liam and Mairead, my amazing wife Katie and us as the family we are often throughout this day.
Peace and love to all of you.

Farewell Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant

We had Seamus cremated and released his ashes into the ocean blue, his favorite playground.

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

On this particular day, in this particular spot out in the middle of Bahía de Banderas, there were both whales and dolphins gathered together, splashing and playing around. We knew Seamus would be in good company here.

Seamus, my precious Chocolate Lab and best furry gift ever, you will always be our Gentle Giant, our Guardian Angel, our Big Brown Bear…a part of our hearts and family forever. 

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

The Cycle of Life

The life and and death of our Famous Seamus is a powerful reminder of the transient nature of life, that all things have their time and place…their beginning and their end. Life is a precious and fragile gift.

That same puppy face that we saw the first day we met Seamus in 2007 was the very same puppy face we kissed goodbye as Seamus took his last breath on Valentine’s Day, 2019.

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

“Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears,
but laugh and talk to me as if I were
beside you.
I loved you so…
‘Twas heaven here with you.”

~Isla Paschal Richardson

Love hurts, love extracts her price and stretches our hearts in unimaginable ways, changes the mosaic and trajectory of who we are.

Lucky are we to experience it in its fullest, most unconditional form. 

Feelings of profound sadness and loss don’t go away on their own, if ever at all. Expressing them with the written word is one of the ways in which I choose to process through them…to journey through the waves of deep mourning to arrive to where only memories of laughter, adventure, kisses and warm, furry snuggles remain…that is my hope. 

RIP My King. We Love You Forever and A Day…

 

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Carbon Monoxide~The Silent Killer

While we consider ourselves to be fairly seasoned and informed travelers, never once did we think that packing a carbon monoxide detector was an essential and life-saving item until tragedy struck and my husband was severely poisoned by carbon monoxide at a hotel in Lake Chapala, Mexico in 2017.

After dropping our children off at their much-anticipated 6th grade camp outside of Guadalajara, Frank and I set out to enjoy our weekend together, knowing that our twins would be in the good hands and company of their camp counselors and classmates and that we would get to enjoy some time together.

But instead of spending our weekend sightseeing and relaxing, we spent it fighting for Frank’s life at both an ER and a Hyperbaric Chamber Facility in downtown Guadalajara. 

Confirmation of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

After working at his computer for several hours next to an open window in our hotel room, Frank was overcome by severe visual disturbances, full-body weakness, confusion, headache, difficulty speaking, extreme nausea and a ghost-like, white color to his skin.

Carbon Monoxide~The Silent Killer

Confirmation by the hotel itself that two carbon monoxide leaks had been found in the hot water heater just outside our bedroom window, together with all of Frank’s symptoms, hospital diagnostics and treatment, verified that carbon monoxide poisoning was in fact the culprit.

Do mistakes and bad things happen? Absolutely.

So does gross negligence.

A simple and affordable installation of a CO detector would have easily prevented this tragedy, not to mention the proper checks and maintenance of the hot water heater by the hotel management and owners themselves–who, as an important aside–both buried their heads in the sand, denying and deflecting any negligence and responsibility. The owner went so far as to state on social media that it was “something else” that nearly killed my husband. 

Shameful, careless, and deadly, to say the least. 

Only removal from the carbon monoxide itself, oxygen therapy in the ER, and back-to-back hyperbaric chamber treatments in a private clinic (that we had to wait until the next day to get into) would save Frank’s life. Friends of ours from Puerto Vallarta showed up at the ER to help us in any way they could and I will forever ever be grateful for their loving kindness in one of the scariest and darkest times of our lives.

Carbon Monoxide~The Silent Killer

As a result of this terrifying experience, where my husband’s life was spared (not all are), we now ALWAYS travel with carbon monoxide detectors in addition to outfitting our home with them. We have CO alarms in each of our bedrooms and next to any gas-fueled appliances–i.e. the stove, clothes dryer and hot water heater.

Even if your hot water heater is outside the house, it is highly advisable to have a CO monitor in close proximity to where it is located, as well as check it periodically for proper functioning. 

Please protect yourself and your loved ones with CO alarms for both home and travel safety. Carbon monoxide is odorless, and cannot be seen or heard. The first sign of poisoning is severe illness, or worse, death. 

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

If one is suddenly overcome with nausea, headache, vision disturbances, confusion and other mind-boggling symptoms, consider a CO exposure and get OUT of the room/building ASAP (and to a medical facility) until authorities can perform necessary tests, repairs and assure that the area is safe to return to.

Don’t rely on the hotel, vacation rental, airbnb or even a loved one’s home where you might be visiting to have done the proper and required maintenance checks of all gas-fueled appliances. It is important to also consider possible exposures by neighboring structures. Simply bring your own CO monitors for your and your loved one’s safety and peace of mind.

*Carbon monoxide is silent, odorless and tasteless*

Carbon Monoxide~The Silent Killer

I hope this information saves just one life. Please share it with your friends, family, workplace and community. 

Get your CO monitors today and make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for battery replacement and equipment checks.

With gratitude for this one precious life,

~Katie O’Grady

 

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