Thursday, August 21, 2014

Day 1710

I've been asking my veterinarian friends how they treat incontinence in dogs and almost every one of them has given me a different answer. Some prefer to use estrogen products like Incurin. Others would rather use Proin, which is actually a type of decongestant called Phenylpropanolamine. There are herbal remedies, surgical solutions, specific exercise regimes, grain free diets, and a host of other alternatives that may or may not be effective. It's frustrating that nobody seems to agree on the cause of Dot's incontinence or the best way to treat it. For now, I just try convince myself that she's getting a little better, one day at a time.

Dot is certainly improving physically. We had a nice walk this morning and she was able to go almost twenty minutes on the underwater treadmill today. I was real pleased with her progress until I got home and read another article that said too much exercise could actually cause incontinence in some dogs. I feel like I'm dealing with an information overload. There are way too many things that might be causing problems and no simple solution.

There were quite a few website problems to deal with today. One client thought she had malware on her site. Another sent me a bio to upload that was so long it could have been a short novel. Everyone is worried about getting a bad review on Yelp. Increasingly, I am being asked to do things that have nothing to do with design. I try to roll with the punches and adapt to changing times, but this certainly isn't what I started out doing.

I'm getting to where I hate to even turn on the TV these days. The news is a continual barrage of riots, Ebola virus scares, terrorism atrocities, forest fires, floods, and unbridled stupidity. No wonder so many people are poorly informed. You just don't want to know about a lot of this stuff. It's too depressing. My solution is to watch a lot of old Top Gear and Dr. Who re-runs on BBC. Other people prefer Netflix or Candy Crush Saga. Anything is probably better than the sobering reality that we are all on the verge of complete chaos.

At least it's Friday tomorrow. I'm going to have a delicious breakfast and get a haircut. I'm hoping that Dot is going to make it through the night without peeing on something. Surely something good will happen tomorrow. When I was walking the dogs this morning I noticed the meadows were filled with little white Rain Lilies that just appeared out of nowhere. That's kind of how life is. You get a bad thunderstorm that scares the dogs and then a few days later there are all these pretty Rain Lilies.

Cookie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Day 1709

Dash spent the day at the cancer center getting re-evaluated. Although he got an excellent report and is still cancer-free, his oncologist wants to continue his chemotherapy regime for at least two more months. I was hoping that he might be finished with his treatment today, but I guess two more months will be OK. The Palladia drug seems to be very effective and doctors are enthusiastic about using it for the types of cancers that Dot and Dash have. I asked if Dot would need the Palladia too, and it doesn't seem to be necessary in her case. Her tumor has finally been positively identified as a gastrointestinal stromal tumor, which responds well to Palladia, but the oncologist still thinks the tumor was removed early enough that it had not metastasized yet. The Palladia pills do not appear to have any side effects on Dash. The only side effects are on your wallet. The pills are quite expensive.

Both doctors I talked to today seem a bit puzzled about Dot's incontinence. They said if it was just caused by the IV fluids she received while she was in the ICU, it should have cleared up by now. Everybody thinks we should wait the full six weeks before considering alternative treatment, but it's starting to look like this might be more complex than we initially thought. Incontinence can be caused by old age, neurological problems, and a host of other issues. The trauma of surgery might have triggered an underlying condition that was already there. I read an article about incontinence in dogs the other day and found at least six different very plausible reasons why Dot might be experiencing this right now. It is all very confusing.

Dash is doing better with Janet as his trainer than he was with me at dog training class. She continues to take him to the Wednesday evening classes while I stay home with Dot. Both dogs are very sensitive to our own attitudes. Maybe Dash can tell that I was never that enthusiastic about school and class myself. I've never liked people telling me what to do. I'm glad he is doing well however. Maybe he'll eventually start winning ribbons again. Dash is a very smart dog. During his first year at training class he won all kinds of obedience ribbons. Then he got bored and didn't seem to like the exercises anymore. Maybe it was me who just got bored and didn't like the exercises anymore.

This week is going quickly. I really need to get a haircut, but I can't seem to find the time. It definitely won't be tomorrow. Dot has another physical therapy season tomorrow and believe it or not, I've still got work to do.  Maybe I can find time on Friday. If I had to choose between getting a haircut and going out for breakfast though, I'd definitely go for the breakfast.

Blackjack is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Day 1708

I've been sleepy all day. Dot woke me up about 3 AM needing to go outside and then I had trouble getting back to sleep again. After three uneventful nights of restful sleep, I thought we had put most of Dot's incontinence issues behind us. Evidently not. Rehabilitation is not an exact science. There are still good days and bad days and today was not one of the better ones. When we went for our physical therapy session later in the day, I asked the vet why Dot appeared to be regressing. She said Dot probably just drank too much water later in the evening yesterday and said I should start withholding her water around 7 PM until her kidneys started concentrating urine normally again. Maybe it's as simple as that. Actually, I did let Dot drink water later in the evening last night because I thought she was back to normal. I need to remember to be patient.

It wasn't all bad news though. Dot had another good day on the underwater treadmill and continues to get stronger. I walked the dogs together again this evening and Dot had no trouble keeping up with Dash. Physically, she's doing great. She just pees all over the place. Despite the lingering incontinence issues, I'm still reluctant to give her estrogen. It would be so much better if she can resolve this on her own.

Sometimes it seems like these dog problems are never ending. Exactly one year ago Dot was having some serious issues with seizures. We managed to get those issues resolved and then Dash got sick. Dash appears to have made a complete recovery from his cancer, but he's still under treatment. In fact, he goes back to the cancer center tomorrow for another evaluation. We're hoping that Dash's oncologist will give us the green light to discontinue the chemotherapy. They're going to do an ultrasound tomorrow and if everything looks good, he might be finished with his cancer treatment entirely. We'll follow the doctor's recommendations though. We've come this far and Dash is doing well. If he needs more treatment, that's what he'll get.

You'd hardly know it was Janet's birthday today. She left for work early after we each walked a dog around sunrise. We still don't walk them together in the morning, because Dash likes to walk much further than Dot can manage in the mornings. When Janet came home from work later in the evening we had chocolate Sprinkles cupcakes and opened presents. Then it was time to waterproof the bed again. Our birthdays may not be glamorous anymore, but we've got a lot to be thankful for. Both our dogs have survived some pretty serious illnesses and are happy to be alive. We're also managing to stay reasonably healthy ourselves. We're all survivors. At this point in our lives, that's enough.

Spot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, August 18, 2014

Day 1707

Today was a mixed bag. I walked the dogs together again for the first time in over a month. I had to slow Dash down a bit, but generally everything went fine. I'll try this again tomorrow. If I can go back to walking both dogs together, it will simplify things a bit. We won't have to get up so early every morning and Janet can go back to her regular schedule. I was so pleased with Dot's progress that I became over confident and let her roam around the house unsupervised while I was eating dinner. She promptly peed on the carpet in the bedroom. I was surprised, since we'd just returned from a walk and Dot hadn't had any prior accidents today. I guess it's hard to predict when a dog with a weak bladder is going to need to go. Maybe she just drank too much water with her dinner. I'm not going to let a little pee dampen a great day. Dot is still making fantastic progress. Last night was the third night in a row that we all slept peacefully and woke up in a dry bed. Dot had lots of energy today and was eager to take her walks. Hopefully, tomorrow will be even better.

I took care of most of the weekend's unfinished errands today. After a trip to the post office, the pharmacy, the bank, and the grocery store, I went to Sprinkles to get cupcakes for a birthday celebration. I've never been to this store when there wasn't a long line. Even at 2:30 in the afternoon on a workday there was a long line. I was gone longer than I expected, so I thought that Dot might have had an accident while I was gone. Nope. No problems at all. Unbeknownst to me, she was saving it up for dinnertime.

I've more or less lost interest in collecting things, so I don't visit eBay much anymore. I keep getting notices to change my password though after the big security breach, so today I finally got around to changing it. Out of curiosity I checked a few of the categories I used to follow. Nobody was bidding on anything and prices were much lower than they used to be. All my collectible treasures had fallen out of fashion. I guess it makes sense that nobody would collect film cameras anymore when you can't even buy film for them. The same thing probably goes for model trains. Why would you be interested in trains if you'd never ridden in one? Even though there were bargains galore, I wasn't tempted to bid on anything. I just felt old.

Dot has another physical therapy day tomorrow. It's too bad she can't just go to the gym with me. It would sure save time if she could work on strengthening her legs while a worked on strengthening my shoulder. I guess I shouldn't worry about running out of time though. I've got plenty of time. I just can't figure out what to do with it.

Lucy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Day 1706

We had another peaceful night with no incontinence accidents. Unfortunately, it wasn't going to be a peaceful day. About 5:30 AM a big thunderstorm rolled in that seemed to meet the dog's storm phobia threshold. Once the thunder and lightning started, all bets were off. This was going to be one of those all day rains with very few dry interludes to take the dogs outside to do their business. Even though I could tell they needed to go, Dot and Dash wouldn't even stick their head out the back door. Dot couldn't hold it and ended up pooping on the living room floor. Dash stubbornly refused to go until the rain stopped. About an hour after breakfast there was a brief break in the storm and I took him out to the park. Luckily, he did his business quickly, because a huge thunderclap sent us both running back to the house within minutes.

The weather was so terrible that I didn't even bother to go to the gym. Traffic is a nightmare when it rains in Dallas and I'd just as soon avoid it whenever I can. Instead of working out, I got out the Stratocaster and played guitar for a while. I need to get the guitar out of the case more often. Like many things I used to do well, I really need to practice. It doesn't help that the carpal tunnel in my wrist has gotten worse. I couldn't play for a full evening anymore. The wrist just hurts too much. I was thinking that shooting baskets at the gym was helping my carpal tunnel syndrome, but apparently different muscles are used playing guitar. Even though I didn't have the guitar out for a long time, it's was still enjoyable to play a little blues on a rainy day.

After I convinced myself that I was no longer guitar hero material, I did what any geek would do on a rainy day: I updated software and recharged batteries. When all the computers and tablets were up to date, I vacuumed the house. Since I hadn't cleaned anything since before Dot's surgery, the carpets were filthy. I guess it makes sense to clean the carpets whenever you wash the dogs. Both get dirty at about the same rate. Everything is clean now. We've got clean dogs, clean sheets, clean carpets, and clean towels. It won't last long. As soon as Dash discovers how soft the ground is in the back yard after all this rain, he's sure to dig a big hole.

The weather is supposed to be nice tomorrow. If it is, I'll finish the list of errands I was planning to do today. There are bills to pay, prescriptions to pick up, a refrigerator to restock with fresh vegetables, and maybe a trip to the gym. It looks like it is going to be a busy week. Janet and Dot have birthdays this month as well.

It's almost time to get the bed prepared for another unpredictable night. This whole ritual is strangely reminiscent of camping. I'm not sure exactly when we can trust Dot again, because she's not talking. Waterproofing the bed sure beats replacing the mattress though, so we'll probably continue adding the waterproof layers long after we really have to. I wouldn't be surprised if this ends up becoming one more insane thing I continue to do forever without questioning, just like sweeping all the water off the roof after it rains. Yep, I've got to do that tomorrow too.

Toby is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Day 1705

Yay! Dot made it all the way through the night without an accident. I think she was as happy as we were to wake up in a dry bed this morning. I'm not sure whether last night was just a happy accident, or whether Dot has finally turned the corner. All I know is that it was sure nice to get a good night's sleep for a change. Hopefully, things are getting back to normal. I'm still going to waterproof the bed tonight though. There's no point in being overconfident.

Getting her incontinence issues under control isn't the only sign that Dot is getting better. She gets stronger every day. Our daily walks continue to get longer and we are beginning to get back to many of our old routines. Dot is eating normally now and gaining weight. The tremor in her left rear leg isn't as pronounced and she can negotiate steps fairly normally now. Considering how old she is and how serious her condition was, it's kind of amazing to watch her make such a full recovery. The tumor must have been bothering her for quite a while, because she acts like a giant burden has been lifted. She's still going to need quite a bit of physical therapy to regain her strength, but she doesn't need to worry about regaining her happiness. It's pretty obvious that she's happy right now.

Both dogs got a bath today, which probably explains why it rained this afternoon. Whenever the dogs are clean, something happens almost immediately to get them dirty again. Dash is worse about getting dirty than Dot, because he loves to dig holes in the dirt. I would have blamed the holes that mysteriously appeared in the yard last night on him, but I knew he was sleeping in the bed with the rest of us. I shouldn't have worried about the dogs getting dirty. Neither of them like to go out in the rain anyway.

The sudden thunderstorm was pretty bad in some parts of the city, but luckily we didn't lose our power like some in other parts of town. By sunset the rainclouds had moved north and I was able to give both dogs their regular evening walk. It was actually a pretty normal day. I went to the grocery store, did a few chores around the house and then we had a nice dinner. The washing machine was quieter than usual today. Hopefully Dot will have another normal night and there will be no need for lots of laundry tomorrow either.

It's looks like I'll have time to go to the gym again tomorrow. I certainly need the exercise, but somehow a long nap sounds a lot better.

Pogo is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, August 15, 2014

Day 1704

The day passed surprisingly quickly, considering how little I actually got accomplished. I had a pleasant pre-dawn walk with the dogs. When the sun came up, I had an equally pleasant breakfast at my favorite restaurant. Maybe I'm just imagining things, but Dot's incontinence seems to be improving a bit. We almost made it till 4 AM this morning before she had to go outside. There were no accidents during the day either. I don't tempt fate though. I still take Dot outside every two or three hours.

It's amazing how quickly the temperature rises once the sun comes up. We start the day in the low 70's and end it in the high 90's. There's an equally big difference between inside and outside temperatures. I'm usually too cold inside and too hot outside. The dogs seem to feel the same way, so we spend the day going outside to warm up and then back inside to cool down again.

My two errands for the day both involved staying in compliance with the law. I got new city tags for Dot so she's legal for another year. I usually get the tags when she has her annual exam, but we had to postpone the exam and accompanying shots because of her recent surgery. Hopefully, the new tags should put an end to the late notices I've been getting from the city. Next on the list was getting a new registration sticker for my car. The government isn't good at many things, but they're ruthlessly efficient at making sure your dogs and cars are registered.

The dogs are going to get a bath this weekend. Dot has peed on herself far too often and Dash is just dirty. At this time of year, some of the native grass in the park becomes covered with a sticky substance that inevitably gets on the dogs as we walk along the trails. Maybe these plants regenerate by using dogs to spread their seeds far and wide. It sure is a mess though. After very walk, I have to clean all this sticky stuff off their legs and paws before we go inside.

Another thing that happens at this time of year is that the possums return to the yard and start digging big holes in the grass. I don't know what they're looking for, but they sure make a mess. It's hard enough keeping the grass growing in the August heat, but this week's assault by hungry possums has just about decimated the St. Augustine grass in the back yard.  I try to keep the lawn watered, but sometimes I think that the soft, damp ground just makes it easier for the possums to dig.

It would be nice to sleep in late tomorrow morning, but I doubt that we'll get the opportunity. Once I get up to let Dot out at 3 or 4 in the morning, it's hard to get back to sleep again. We're making progress though. We've gone from 2 AM to 3 AM and now 4 AM. Pretty soon we might just make it through the night.

Freckles is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Day 1703

Today was pretty nice. The odd thing was that it was almost exactly the same as yesterday, which was terrible. This happens to me a lot. I guess when you lead a fairly regimented life, little nuances can make all the difference. Dash's tail quit bleeding today. That made a difference. With his tail on the mend, I didn't have to keep him away from all the things in the house that are difficult to clean. Dot had a good day too. She still has to go outside to pee about every three hours, but we were better coordinated today and there were no accidents. Work was still boring and repetitious, but today's tasks consisted of small successes instead of small roadblocks and failures. Forward progress can make a big difference in almost any line of work.

Dot had a fantastic physical therapy session this afternoon. She was able to stay on the underwater treadmill for almost fifteen minutes and seemed strong and sure footed the entire time. Her left rear leg doesn't seem as shaky as it did last week either. The vet also said that it was very unlikely that Dot had Cushing's Disease or serious kidney problems based on her recent lab work. This as all encouraging. If we can learn to deal with the incontinence issues, I think everything is headed in the right direction.

Early mornings are quite pretty. It is quiet and serene outside without the ubiquitous Dallas traffic and lawn mower noise. The predawn light is soft and things photograph well. Best of all, the temperature is almost always at least twenty degrees cooler than it is later in the day. I need to remember to get up extra early next Monday. There will be a rare conjunction of Jupiter and Venus low in the Eastern sky just before sunrise. I never thought I'd enjoy getting up this early, but after a week of waking up in the middle of the night to let Dot outside to pee and change the waterproof pads on the bed, sunrise seems almost decadently late.

Dot's condition has improved so much that I no longer feel bad about going out for breakfast on Friday. It's odd that going out for breakfast on Friday morning has become an important part of my week, but like I said earlier, it's the little nuances that can make all the difference. The vet said it would be OK to give Dot a bath this weekend. I didn't tell Dot that though. She had a good day too and I didn't want to ruin it for her.

Elliot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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