Monday, May 22, 2017

Day 2706

Dot is giving us quite a roller coaster ride. Yesterday evening and even early this morning we were feeding her with a syringe. She wouldn't even drink water. When she took her morning pills around 7 AM, I couldn't get her to eat anything. I was feeling discouraged, but we went ahead and took our morning walk anyway. Nothing seems to dissuade Dot from going on these walks. Dot went to sleep for a few hours when we returned. When she woke up, she went straight to her bowl in the kitchen and ate a full cup of kibble. When she finished eating, she went to her water bowl and drank quite a bit of water. I was amazed.

Dot had such difficulty eating this weekend that we were going to cancel tomorrow's appointment at the cancer center. There didn't seem to be much point in doing more tests if she'd given up eating. I was actually just about to call and cancel the appointment when Dot started eating again. This will be the second time that Dot has returned from the brink. What happened today was remarkably similar to what happened when she stopped eating a month ago.

I may have to revise my thinking. For a long time I've been convinced that Dot's extensive nerve damage was making it hard for her to swallow. I thought her throat was partially paralyzed. When we were feeding her with the syringe yesterday I noticed that her swallowing reflex was completely normal. As we slowly squirted the liquid down her throat, she swallowed it without any problem. When I watched her eating this morning, she seemed to be swallowing normally too.

We've known Dot was getting senile for a long time. Maybe her eating problem is all in her brain. Sometimes when she walks up to her food bowl I can almost imagine her thinking "what is this and why am I standing here." Perhaps when she gets really hungry, the rusty synapses in her brain make a connection and she remembers what eating is all about. I really have no idea what is going on, but I'm happy that Dot has continued eating normally for the rest of the day.

When she and Dash were sleeping this afternoon, I went to Central Market and got a few tasty things to encourage Dot to eat while she's taking her pills. Dot loves chicken tenders. She eagerly ate two chicken tenders while we were doing the pill routine this afternoon. We're going to continue giving her a syringe full of the Dogsure liquid supplement in the morning. She seems to like it and maybe this is what provided the catalyst to get her eating again.

It still seems like I spend my entire day feeding, walking, and worrying about these dogs. Dot has become a very high maintenance girl. Some days seem futile, but other days like today make everything Janet and I do seem worthwhile. Everyone says you will know when your dog is ready to cross over to the other side. Dot is not ready yet.

Rosco is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Day 2705

Dot didn't bounce back today. I tried everything I could think of, but she just wasn't interested in eating. Two day ago she was eating more than enough to sustain her. Now, we are right back to where we were a month ago. It all happened rather suddenly. Jeez. It doesn't seem like a month has passed since we initially became convinced that her body was shutting down. I was so proud of Dot's remarkable comeback. She was determined to beat the odds.

I'm worried again. If Dot can't eat, she doesn't have long. She was even having trouble drinking water today. For the first time, we used a syringe to make sure she was getting enough water and wasn't becoming dehydrated. We took her outside and used a large syringe to slowly squirt water down her throat. I was surprised at how well this worked. We had to give her the water slowly so she wouldn't choke on it, but she did swallow normally and seemed to appreciated the water.

Later in the day it occurred to me that we could use the same technique to make sure she got some food too. We still had a can of the Dogsure liquid supplement we bought the first time she stopped eating. She drank about a third of the can using the syringe and at least for a few moments, seemed to regain her interest in food. We were able to get her to eat a little bit of fresh salmon Janet went out and got for her this morning. Nothing else worked today. Dot wasn't eating ham, cheese, turkey, or the Ultramix stew.

Surprisingly, Dot still wanted her walks. The weather was cool after some severe storms last night and Dot was eager to go to the park. I didn't think she'd have the energy, since she wasn't eating, but she did surprisingly well. These short walks are very important to her.

Last night's thunderstorm woke everyone up except for Dot. She slept through the whole thing. Dash, on the other hand, was terrified. I finally got him to come under the covers with me and he calmed down a bit since he couldn't see the lightning anymore. He could still hear the thunder though. This was some of the loudest thunder I've ever heard. It sounded like mortar rounds landing next to the house. Dash curled up next to me and shivered and shook for the rest of the night.

We try not to leave Dot alone anymore. I went to the gym right after breakfast while Janet was doing some things around the house. When I returned, she left to do her errands. I was surprised to look up while I was on the hand bike today and realize I was the only person in the entire gym. I don't think this has ever happened before. It's a very large gym and there's always somebody there. Janet told me later that it was graduation weekend and that the old people who frequent this gym were probably watching their children or grandchildren graduate. Sounds plausible.

I hope Dot's appetite returns tomorrow. She's got to eat something. It would break my heart to have to put a dog down that wasn't ready to go. I'm not giving up on Dot yet. She came back from the brink once before and maybe she will again. When I walked Dot this evening I could see her determination. We'll give it everything we've got tomorrow.

Casey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Day 2704

There are good days and there are bad days. Dot had trouble eating again today. For some inexplicable reason, all the progress we'd made this week was gone. I could tell she was hungry, but when she attempted to chew something, it just fell out of her mouth. I really tried to interest her in food, but all she ate was a little broth from a can of the Ultramix chicken and potato stew, a few crackers, and the cheese I gave her with her pills. She wouldn't even eat the turkey slices today. This has happened before, but it is always discouraging. Maybe Dot's appetite will return when it's time for her evening pills in about an hour, but at this point it doesn't look hopeful.

When I wasn't trying to feed Dot, I ran my normal Saturday errands. I got a garden hose at Home Depot so I could wash my car again. I threw away the old hose last month after it developed a leak, but never got around to replacing it. I filled the car with gas. I must have really been out and about last week. I used four gallons of gas instead of the three I used the previous week. I've been buying bulk items like paper towels and laundry detergent at Sam's Club for many years. The items never change, but the prices have almost doubled in the past decade. I don't get it when people talk about how low inflation is. I'm not an economist, but when prices for almost everything you use have doubled, that's inflation to me.

I washed the car and did a little yard work while Dot was sleeping. It was so disheartening that I couldn't get Dot to eat today. I've gotten used to her appetite kicking in late in the day, but it just didn't happen. I always look for a rational explanation to everything, but sometimes there just isn't one. Advanced age has its own set of rules. If you're looking for logic and order, you probably won't find it in the aging process. Things just fall apart and not always in the ways you might expect.

Maybe Dot will wake up hungry and start eating again tomorrow morning. I hope so. I can't force feed her though. When she has no desire to eat for any length of time, I have to realize that she is telling me it is time to go. I'm going to remain optimistic though.  Dot is resting calmly now and doesn't appear to be in any distress. She took a nice walk today. I just need to keep her eating.

This is one of those days where midnight is rapidly approaching and I'm not even close to being ready for bed myself. I have a feeling that I have more to say, but it will have to wait until tomorrow.

Harley is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, May 19, 2017

Day 2703

It's even harder to tell what day it is now that I'm not going out to breakfast on Friday morning. I'll have to say that my pancakes were pretty good though. They were better than any restaurant pancakes. The only problem was that I had to reheat them in the microwave half a dozen times because every time I took a bite, Dot wanted to go outside.

Dot's new schedule is perplexing. She generally wakes up in a good mood. We take our early morning walk and sometimes she eats a little while Dash is eating his breakfast. By the time I give Dot her morning pills, Dash is usually taking a nap. After taking her pills, I try to feed Dot again, but usually she isn't hungry. She doesn't want to rest either. I might as well just skip breakfast because I'm constantly moving Dot around for the first hour or so after she takes her medication. She doesn't seems to be uncomfortable. She is just restless. We walk around a lot. I figure this is good exercise for her. Eventually she gets tired and goes into a deep sleep. She sleeps more soundly during this period of time than she does at night. By the time I wake her up for her afternoon pills her appetite has generally returned. She eats most of her food between 4 and 6 PM. Sometimes she'll eat more as the evening progresses. If I'm lucky, she'll take a nap when I'm writing the blog and then just when I'm getting ready for bed, she becomes active again.

This type of activity is not conducive to getting much done. It's not great for getting a lot of sleep either, because now there's an additional trip outside to pee every morning around 2 AM. We've learned to adapt to the incontinence, the mobility problems, and the eating difficulties. It makes you wonder what's going to happen next though.

After Dot went to sleep, I drove to Central Market and got some food for the weekend. They were having some kind of celebration of southern cooking, so there were all kinds of tasty new items in the Chef Prepared section. We seldom cook anymore, so something new in the deli section is always a treat. Tonight we had grilled shrimp and Andouille sausage over a bed of smoked grits and red onions. It would have taken hours to make something like this at home. Cooking is overrated.

Dot's changing moods throughout the day make me wonder how the pain pills actually work. I would think by giving her the medication every eight hours, that she would be pain free all the time. Maybe the pills don't really last eight hours though. Maybe it takes a long time for the medication to actually enter her bloodstream. I hope Dot's restless periods aren't just times where she is still in pain. This will be a question for the oncologist when we go back to the cancer center for a recheck next Tuesday. Cancer pain and neurological pain are very different. I'd like to learn more about what is actually happening when we give her these pills.

There are supposed to be thunderstorms tonight. I can see them on the radar West of Fort Worth. Let's hope the go to the North or South of us. I'm not in the mood for thunderstorms.

Holly is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Day 2702

Dash's bloodwork came back today and his triglyceride levels were sky high. This wasn't just a little spike. The tests showed triglyceride levels that were ten times higher than they should be. Dash's vet wanted us to change his diet immediately. This should be interesting. Dash is picky about food already. I can see him turning up his nose at the special low fat diet.

Abnormally high triglyceride levels can mean a lot of things. Sometimes the levels are high if the blood test are done right after a meal. Other times they are an indicator of poor thyroid function, pancreatitis, or liver disease. Hopefully, we just tested Dash too soon after a meal. We'll have to test him again in a couple of weeks. He'll have to fast this time. That's always fun. Dash hates to miss a meal.

I wish Dot and Dash could eat the same thing. Life is complicated enough as it is. Now we have to feed Dot a high calorie, high fat diet and Dash needs to eat just the opposite. The triglyceride levels could have become elevated just from all the food Dash steals out of Dot's bowl. At any rate, we need to get this under control. One sick dog at a time is plenty.

Dot still isn't eating in the morning. This makes giving her morning set of pills quite a challenge. It always worries me when Dot refuses to eat. So far, her appetite always seems to return late in the day, but I'm sure there will come a day when Dot quits eating completely. I don't know why Dot has adopted this strange new schedule, but I'm trying to adapt to it. I never used to appreciate how consistant the dogs were about just about everything. They always ate at the same time, walked at the same time, and slept at the same time. Now any semblance of consistency is out the window. Every day is a new day.

I bought some audio gear online today. I could justify the purchase because the gear was on sale and I got a tremendous bargain. That wasn't the reason though. I bought the stuff because I was frustrated. I always buy gear when I'm frustrated. The gear doesn't necessarily make me take more photographs or write more songs, but I always hope it will. I remember when I used to spend almost every evening writing and recording songs. Those were good times. Maybe someday the urge to write and record will return. I want to be ready when it does.

This week has gone quickly. I almost forgot to take the trash out to the curb this evening. It didn't seem like Thursday. I won't be going out to breakfast in the morning. Like songwriting, that activity has been postponed until sometime in an indefinite future. I do have pancake mix though and there are sausages in the freezer. It's always easy for me to eat. I just wish it was equally easy for Dot.

Skippy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Day 2701

I'm starting to feel overwhelmed with dog problems. Dash threw up again today. Good grief. The dog had a complete physical exam yesterday and passed with flying colors. I don't know why he's throwing up. I don't think the vets do either. He doesn't seem nauseous. His appetite is still good. He wasn't even eating grass this morning. He just walked to the back door like he needed to pee and threw up instead. Since he's still acting normal, I'm not going to give him a Cerenia pill tonight. We'll see what happens.

Dot's new routine now includes a trip outside at 2 AM. After she pees or wanders around for a while in the dark, she seems fine for the rest of the night. I'm not wild about this nocturnal schedule, but it beats peeing in her bed like she used to. I wish Dot would eat in the morning. It would make it a lot easier to take her morning pills. Again, although this situation isn't ideal, it's OK. Dot seems to regain her appetite late in the afternoon and by the time we all go to bed, she has usually eaten a reasonable amount.

I paid some bills and took them to the post office this afternoon. On the way home I picked up prescriptions for Dot and Dash at two different locations. Our kitchen looks like a pharmacy now. There is a big box of pills for Dot, another box for Dash, and a third box for me. Janet is the lucky one. She only has to take a single prescription. It's hard to keep track of all these pills. It seems like I'm renewing something almost every day.

I spent about an hour trying to remove the scratch on my car with polishing compound. It looks much better now, but I can still see the scratch. Door dings and small scratches are inevitable when you live in a large city, but they still irritate me. I want the car to be perfect. I feel the same way about guitars, cameras, and electronic equipment. Sometimes I think I spend more time cleaning things than actually using them.

One thing that isn't clean is the house. It rained again last night and every time I take Dot outside, she tracks mud in the living room. I need a third hand. I used to wipe the dog's paws before they came in the house on rainy days, but now I'm using both hands to hold Dot's special harness. I guess it doesn't really matter. The rugs get cleaned often enough anyway when Dot pees on them. We really need the landscape guy to hurry up and put the new grass in the back yard. Grass would cut down on the mud tracked in the house considerably.

Dot is still very weak and can't stand without assistance, but she appears stable now. She's eating. She's barking. She's pooping. I don't know how long she has left, but for now she's a happy dog.

Susie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Day 2700

Dash is doing pretty well for a dog about to celebrate his twelfth birthday. The vet didn't discover anything alarming during his annual exam. The lumps and bumps are just benign lipomas. The cloudiness in his eye is getting worse, but he can still see well. Blood pressure is OK. His heart murmur has not gotten worse. Just about the only surprise was a mild infection on the inside of his lip, which he got an antibiotic shot for. I think I got the bigger surprise. When we got home, I discovered that someone had scratched the paint on my car in the parking lot.

I was worried about leaving Dot alone during Dash's exam, but she did pretty well. She was awake when I left, but was still resting calmly when I returned. Dot is still eating, which is nothing short of remarkable. I'm still spending most of the day feeding Dot dozens of little meals, but she's finally getting the nutrition she needs. I had to get the prescription for Dot's pain medication renewed today. When her oncologist prescribed the powerful meds, I think she was convinced that Dot only had a few days left. She was really surprised when I called and told her that Dot was eating again and needed a refill. I'm sure that the new pain medication is partially responsible for the return of Dot's appetite. Maybe there is another explanation, but I think that it might have simply been too painful for Dot to eat.

I wish I could think of something that would actually make Dot stronger. Her rear legs have gotten even weaker and she is totally dependent on me for mobility now. The good news is that Dot trusts me completely and knows that I will be there when she needs me. The bad news is that Dot trusts me completely and knows that I will be there when she needs me. Now that she is feeling a little better, she is barking for me to come lift her up and take her somewhere every five minutes. Since she is a bit senile, we spend quite a bit of time just wandering around aimlessly. Aimless wandering counts as exercise though. Maybe it will help keep her muscle atrophy from becoming even worse.

I joined this website called Alignable as a favor to a friend who was already a member. I guess this place is kind of a LinkedIn alternative and is supposed to help get you business leads. I spent about five minutes setting up a profile and then promptly forgot about the site. Apparently, it didn't forget about me. Now I'm getting messages from old co-workers and suppliers saying "good to hear from you again" and asking me how my business is doing. I hate to tell them that business sucks, so I just reply that it was good to hear from them too. I wonder how all these people heard about this site before I did. It appears that everybody else is already there. At any rate, I'm not expecting much. I never got any business from LinkedIn and I probably won't from this place either. Real business leads still come from word of mouth referrals.

My fitness tracker sends me messages every morning telling me that I'm not getting enough sleep. Jeez. Tell me something that I don't already know. Feeding and tending to Dot's needs and writing the blog basically take up the entire day. When you add something extra like Dash's annual exam or a big website update, I'm automatically behind. Needless to say, I didn't get to take a nap with the dogs today. Maybe tomorrow will be less hectic.

When Dot's oncologist prescribed her new pain medication, she told me that a younger dog could never take these meds because it would eventually kill them. The oncologist wasn't worried about Dot because she genuinely thought she only had a few days left. The goal was just to make her final days pain free. Now that Dot is slowly and steadily improving, I'm wondering how long Dot can take these powerful pills before the side effects start to cancel out the benefits. Catch 22. There's always a catch to everything, isn't there.

Liberty is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, May 15, 2017

Day 2699

Our complex routine is starting to feel normal now. We always get up early on weekdays. The dogs get their morning walks before anyone gets fed to reduce the risk of someone throwing up their breakfast. If Dash doesn't try to eat grass on his walk, he's usually OK for the day. When we get home again, Dash gets fed while I make the bed and get things ready to feed Dot. I wait until Janet has left for work and Dash has settled down for his morning nap before I try to feed Dot. It's much easier to get Dot to take her pills when everything is calm and quiet. Janet usually eats breakfast while I'm still asleep. I don't eat my own breakfast until everything else is done.

Dot is never hungry in the morning, but it is getting easier to give her the pills she needs. Three times a day, I wrap the pills in a small piece of her favorite cheese. Between each pill she gets piece of turkey, a small slice of cheese, or a bite of tasty canned dog food. She's grown to enjoy this ritual and doesn't fight me anymore when I open her mouth to pop a pill inside. Maybe the array of tasty treats I've prepared seems like tapas or dim sum to her. I hope so. I'm trying to make staying alive as enjoyable as possible.

Dot and Dash were both active this morning. I had a hard time fixing my smoothie. Dot must be feeling better because she's started barking again. She barks when she needs attention now. Sometimes she needs to go outside and pee. Other times she wants me to put a little food in her bowl. She'll bark if she's frustrated too. It keeps me busy. I finished my breakfast around 11 AM this morning. Considering that I'd actually gotten up at 6 AM, I should have just called my smoothie lunch.

I'm either going to get really good at caring for aging dogs or go stark raving mad. It could go either way. I'm still amazed at how much time it takes to feed a dog who has difficulty eating. It takes at least thirty minutes each time I give Dot her pills and there are numerous small meals throughout the day. Sometimes Dot will eat a few bites, want me to take her outside, and then come in and eat a few more bites. We'll repeat this sequence again and again. Patience and persistence are paying off though. Dot seems noticeably stronger now that she's eating again. She's not eating enough to gain any weight, but we're working on that.

Since there always a few hours during the day when both dogs are sleeping soundly, I thought this might be a good time to catch up on my own sleep as well. Why not? I only had one small website update to make today and I finished that job in less time than it took me to give Dot her morning pills. The way things stand right now, I've got plenty of time to sleep during the day. I took a nap with Dot and Dash this afternoon and I do feel more rested. I'm pretty sure I'll be doing this again.

I hope Dot is sleeping well when I take Dash for his annual exam tomorrow. There really isn't a good time to leave the house anymore, but I try to time things the best I can. Dash has problems too, so I've got lots of questions for the vet. I'd love to get this house running smoothly again. Keeping Dot well nourished and Dash as healthy as we can would be a good start.

Sadie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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