Monday, February 20, 2017

Day 2625 - President's Day

Holidays that move around from year to year confuse me. I'm old enough to remember when Washington's birthday was celebrated on February 22, which happened to be the day he was actually born. Now, in an effort to give people more three day weekends, this birthday is celebrated on the third Monday in February. We don't call it Washington's birthday anymore though, because Lincoln's birthday and Washington's have been rolled into a single postal holiday, simply called President's Day. If it weren't for the fact that we didn't get any mail today, I would never have realized that today was a holiday at all.

I definitely realized that we were having a thunderstorm last night. The thunder and lightning woke up Dot and Dash but I think it was the wind that woke me up. I checked the weather radar and quickly realized that it was going to be a long night. Dot calmed down when I closed a door that gave her a view of the storm. After I covered Dash with a blanket, he seemed to relax as well. I think the dogs weathered the storm better than I did. I was nervous until the wind subsided because I was afraid that one of our trees would come crashing down. I stayed on the floor with Dot until she went back to sleep, which was probably a mistake, since I woke up with a sore shoulder. By morning, the storm was largely over, but I was very tired.

The storm wasn't the only strange thing that happened last night. When I woke up this morning I noticed what looked like a pile of dirt on the bathroom floor. Where did this come from? On closer inspection, the dirt turned out to be a small ant hill, populated with hundreds of tiny sweet ants crawling around. Apparently the ants invaded the house through a small crack in the tile floor. I found some bug spray, killed the ants , and cleaned up the mess. Hopefully, they won't come back. I have a feeling that last night's torrential rains flooded the ants home and forced them inside. Either that, or the ants were already in the house and just waiting for the right time to cause havoc.

There isn't much to do on a rainy day, so after making a few minor website updates, I was faced with vacuuming the house. Why not? I knew I couldn't avoid this unpleasant task forever, so I got to work. The canister filled with dirt quickly and the house still looked dirty. Cleaning things would be much more satisfying if they actually looked clean when you were finished. I was temped to leave the vacuum cleaner running in the bathroom in hopes of sucking up all the remaining ants, but I knew the ants would outsmart me anyway. They're probably already plotting their next move.

Janet brought home burgers tonight. They were delicious, but I'm always surprised that what would have seemed a normal sized meal ten years ago, now leaves me stuffed. I need to start ordering children's meals. I don't know if it's natural for your appetite to decrease as you age, but mine certainly has. I should have cut the burger in half and had the other half for tomorrow's dinner.

I'm sure Dash wishes we were feeding him cheeseburgers. He was still finicky with his food today. I have no idea what is going on. Janet bought a different brand today to see if he liked that. He ate the new food just fine, but we now have four different brands of food for Dash. It's getting confusing. Dot will still eat anything, even if it takes her all day to chew her meal. The food goes in one end and comes out the other. That's how I spend my day.

I think the weather is supposed to clear up tomorrow. If it does, I may actually get something done.

Odie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Day 2624

I usually check the dogs on the baby monitor before I start my workout at the gym. Typically they're just sleeping, but today I heard Dot yelping like she was in pain and saw Dash looking around with a worried look. I turned around and went back home again, wishing it wasn't a fifteen minute drive. The house was quiet when I arrived home, but Dot was resting in an awkward position on her dog bed. She must have tried to get up while I was gone and twisted one of her rear legs. On a good day, Dot can still get up on her own. On a bad day she can't. It used to be pretty safe to leave the house for a few hours when the dogs were taking their morning nap. They both sleep soundly and would typically still be snoring on their beds when I returned. That's all changed in the past month or so. Dot is a lot more restless now and doesn't sleep as soundly. Since the oncologist thought that the restless might be caused by discomfort, I was hoping that the Gabapentin might help. If the drug makes her as limp as a wet washrag though, it only makes matters worse.

When I got the dogs up, everything seemed fine. Dot was able to walk and both dogs were eager for me to feed them their lunch. I think Dot's yelping was more of a panic attack than an injury. She has grown very dependent on me and doesn't like to wake up and find me gone. I took the dogs outside to pee, fed them their lunch, and then cleaned up after Dot when she decided to poop while she was eating. After lunch we walked around for a while until Dot got tired and then they were both ready to take a nap again. After making sure that Dot was relaxed and resting in a comfortable position, I got in the car and went back to the gym. This time the trip was a success. It's always a balancing act to care for Dot while still finding a little time for myself. I'm almost always nearby when Dot needs me, but I do need to occasionally get out of the house.

The rain that was supposed to arrive today got delayed. Now, we're supposed to get some severe weather starting at about 1 AM this morning. I wish the tree guys had already come out to trim our trees. One of the main reasons I wanted to remove the dead limbs is that I'm always afraid that they're going to fall in a strong wind. Maybe the storm won't be a bad as the weatherman on TV is predicting. Sometimes I think they make things sound alarming to get more viewers. Of course, Texas weather actually is alarming, so I never ignore what the weatherman says.

I don't know what to do about Dash. He has gotten finicky about his food again. This is nothing new. It has been going on for years. We'll find a healthy diet that Dash likes and after enthusiastically eating it for months and months, he'll abruptly stop and refuse to touch the stuff. We look for a new diet and the whole process starts all over again. I've asked every vet I know what causes this behavior but have never really received a satisfactory answer. Sometimes Dash will refuse to eat something in the morning and then enthusiastically scarf the same food down in the afternoon. Nothing is simple at our house.

I didn't even bother with vacuuming this weekend. Every time I thought about getting out the vacuum cleaner, the dogs were sleeping peacefully and I didn't want to disrupt things. Sleeping peacefully is the Holy Grail around here. When the dogs are asleep, maybe I've got time to take a nap myself, or even get something productive done. Actually, Dot is asleep right now, so maybe this is my opportunity.

Spot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Day 2623

I'm not so sure about the Gabapentin. Dot slept soundly last night after her first dose, but within an hour after receiving her second dose this morning, her entire body seemed to go limp and she could hardly stand up. Later in the day when the drug started to wear off she started to return to normal. There is no room for error with Dot. If the side effect of a drug is to make a dog sleepy, it will probably knock Dot out cold. The doctor did say that the Gabapentin might make Dot a bit lethargic. She didn't say it would turn her into a wet washrag. I don't want Dot to be in an pain, but she does need to be able to walk. Maybe we'll just give Dot the Gabapentin before bedtime. I'll call the oncologist on Monday, but I suspect that she'll just say that Dot needs time to get used to the drug. That's what doctors always say.

The app that lets me bypass the checkout line at the grocery store crashed while I was shopping today. So much for technology. I had to check out the old fashioned way and I'm still wondering whether the purchases I made before the app crashed are floating around in the cloud somewhere. Before the app crashed I noticed that there had recently been a software update. Why do people keep "improving" things that already work perfectly. This happens again and again with software and apps on my phone. I'll have an app that I really like and then an automatic software upgrade will ruin it.

I think we're having an early Spring. It's only the middle of February and the temperature is getting close to 80 degrees. Judging from the number of people in the park today, this unusually warm Winter is pretty popular. I'm not sure the dogs agree. They both like the cold weather and days like this make them uncomfortable. I had to run the air conditioner today to keep Dot from panting. The sweet spot for Dot is very small. The weather has to be just right. She can't overexert herself, but she still needs to keep moving to prevent further muscle atrophy. Too many drugs knock her out and too few leave her painful. It's a delicate balance.

My new WiFi scale that measures everything indicates that my stress levels are continuing to rise. I don't know what to do. I feel responsible for the dogs and almost every day there is a new surprise. My diet is deteriorating too. That doesn't help. When everything is going well it's easy to eat Quinoa and Kale. When I'm under stress I gravitate toward comfort foods like ice cream and waffles.

I definitely need to go to the gym tomorrow, but the weather forecast says there are going to be thunderstorms. If it rains, I seldom go anywhere. I don't like to drive in the rain and I worry that my two storm phobic dogs are going to freak out. I suspect that my sweet spot is even smaller than Dot's. I can function well in almost any circumstance, but everything needs to be perfect before I'm happy.

Dash wouldn't eat his breakfast this morning, but then took a long, energetic walk. This evening he enthusiastically ate the same food he refused this morning, but refused to leave the back yard when it was time for his evening walk. I don't know what is going on. I keep thinking that the doctors might have missed something important when he was sick, but than again this odd behavior might just be Dash's normal personality.

Maybe the weather forecast is wrong. I'm hoping that it doesn't rain. The roof is clean and dry and the dogs are happy. Rain will spoil everything.

Bailey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, February 17, 2017

Day 2622

I'd hate to be in the restaurant business. Customers are fickle. Reviews are seldom fair. And employee turnover is unbelievable. I ate breakfast this morning at a place I haven't visited for several months and there wasn't a single familiar face. The entire staff was new. The food had actually improved, so maybe the staff changes were a good thing. Like I say, I don't understand the restaurant business at all.

Most of the day was spent taking Dot to her appointment at the cancer center. Janet was able to take some time off work today to help me transport Dot. Having two people in the car seemed to help. Janet sat in the back with Dot and was able to calm her down when she became agitated and tried to move around. Dot arrived for her exam a lot calmer than she usually does, but her blood pressure was still a little high.

We got some more bad news today. Her cancer is progressing and there are now four tumors growing in her liver. There were only three the last time we checked. The oncologist told us that Dot's liver and kidneys are still functioning normally and that even though the cancer was growing, it was growing slowly. She is starting to feel some discomfort though, so we added Gabapentin to her growing list of meds. The oncologist also wants to go back to testing Dot once a month, since the cancer could always start growing faster at any time.

While we were at the hospital we saw a family who had to make the decision to put their dog down. It was sad to watch them say their goodbyes. The dog actually looked in better shape than Dot, but I'm sure there was more to the story than we were seeing. They always tell you that your dog will let you know when it's time to go, but sometimes they don't. It's a big responsibility when you have to make that decision for them. I dread the day when we are faced with making this decision. Hopefully, Dot will make her wishes very clear. Right now it is obvious that Dot still loves life and wants to keep on going. As the cancer continues to grow, things will inevitably become more confusing.

When we got home today Janet asked me if I knew that Dot's oncologist was deaf. "What makes you think she is deaf," I asked. "Well, she was reading your lips," Janet told me. Have I ever mentioned that I'm not very observant. I could tell you exactly what shade of brown Dot's poop was today and I would notice instantly if you moved any of the books on my bookshelf, but I'm not very good at reading faces. Chances are if I met you on the street, I wouldn't even recognize you. I can never tell when people are happy or sad either. I guess it's a good thing that I'm seldom aware when people are mad at me.

We've got a long weekend coming up. I hope this means that everybody will get a little more sleep. The oncologist wants me to watch Dot closely this weekend to make sure that the Gabapentin doesn't make Dot lethargic and lose energy. "But how can I tell," I asked? "She doesn't have any energy right now." I think all Dot's doctors are amazed that she's still alive.

Lexi is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Day 2621

I need sleep. Dot gets frustrated now when she can't get up and circle around to find a new sleep position at night. All dogs do this, and Dot keeps trying even though it is difficult for her to move. Usually, I wake up before she has twisted herself into an awkward position. I help her do the little twirling motion that Dash does effortlessly five times a night and then we all go back to sleep. Lately, I've discovered that if Dot becomes agitated at night it is wise to take her outside to pee. If it's clear outside, I try to identify constellations in the night sky as she slowly walks around the yard, looking for the right spot. By the time I've gotten her settled into her bed again, I'm usually wide awake. Probably people with small babies find their sleep disrupted like this all the time, but it's a new experience for me.

Dash is acting weird again. We discontinued his anti-nausea medication a few days ago, so maybe he's feeling dizzy again. He didn't want to walk this morning and this afternoon he refused to leave the back yard. Sometimes it's hard to tell if Dash is sick or just being stubborn. I tried a second time to give Dash an evening walk after I'd had my own dinner and this time he was eager to go. He wasn't unsteady and nothing seemed abnormal at all. Go figure. I still think that the hesitation to move or walk might have something to do with his seizures, but I'm not a vet. Now I've got one more question to ask the doctors when I take Dot to the cancer center for her ultrasound scan tomorrow.

I wasn't really busy today and I thought seriously about taking a long nap to catch up on sleep, but Dot had other ideas. She's restless now during the day and frequently wants me to take her outside. Since she's incontinent, I don't want to ignore her, since it just causes her to pee or poop in the house. In and out we go, over and over again. When Dot is outside, she just wanders around aimlessly, smelling all the leaves on the ground. It takes a lot of patience to be her rear legs.

I wonder if life will ever return to normal again. Probably not. I feel lucky that I am still healthy enough to help the dogs during their senior years. Many of my friends have already had serious medical problems and would have difficulty lifting a Dalmatian. When I was a kid, my parents were healthy, but they both started falling apart when they were about my age. I wonder how many more good years I've got? Helping Dot walk is actually great exercise. Too bad the stress I'm experiencing probably negates most of the benefits of this strenuous physical activity.

I'm thinking of going somewhere new for breakfast tomorrow. I've been eating the same thing for several months now and even though it's delicious, I'm getting bored. I'm not even sure what I'm hungry for anymore. Maybe the food doesn't even matter. The whole idea of going out was just to have something to look forward to. A pleasant ritual that I can repeat on a weekly basis is much more important than the food.

I hope that Dot's cancer re-check goes well tomorrow. There have been some significant changes since her last exam and none of them are encouraging.

Joshua is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Day 2620

Today was the opposite of yesterday. The sky was clear and there was hardly any wind at all. Even though Dot seemed weak when she woke up, she enjoyed her walk this morning. As far as I can tell, Dash seems back to normal. The only reminder of his scary seizure episode is a huge vet bill.

Since the weather was so nice today, I went up on the roof to assess the situation. It's much easier to remove the standing water now that all the leaves are gone. It didn't take long to figure out why my pump wasn't working yesterday. It had gotten tipped over and was just pumping air. After I removed the water, I noticed a few new areas where the elastomer coating had peeled away. It looks like I'm going to have this problem forever. It's time to call the roofer again.

It's time to call the tree guy too. He promised to have my trees trimmed this month and the month is already halfway over. Hey, maybe he's planning on getting started tomorrow. I just don't have a lot of faith in work crews. A big chunk of my life is spent reminding people about things they forgot. In fairness, people spend a lot of time reminding me of thing I've forgotten too. Life has just become too complicated to remember everything.

Yesterday I sent out invoices. Today I paid bills. I wish the money coming in equaled the money going out, but it never does. This month was even worse than usual because my car insurance was due and Dash ran up a big bill at the cancer center. At least the stock market is still going up. I hope investors don't become discouraged and sell everything when the tax cuts they are anticipating don't materialize as quickly as they hoped. I'd like to think that the market sees prosperity ahead, but I'm cynical enough to realize that traders are probably just taking advantage of a short term opportunity. This rally kind of feels like a bubble that's about to burst.

I spent more time than usual cleaning up poop today.  It's much easier to clean up the mess when Dot is asleep. You just quietly slide out the disposable puppy training pad she's sleeping on, roll it up, and put it in a plastic bag. Usually I can lift her hips a bit and slide in a new pad without even waking her up. When Dot's awake, it's a whole different story. She panics and tries to get up, typically smearing the poop all over the place. We had two accidents today when Dot was waking up. I spent a lot of time doing laundry.

I picked up some Thai food on the way back from the post office today, but forgot we still had a pork roast in the refrigerator. I wish I was organized enough to label all the leftovers. I hate for food to go to waste, but I often forget about stuff that gets pushed to the back. I also sometimes forget to eat the oldest food first. I need a few big Tupperware containers with the day of the week on them. If there was something in the refrigerator that said Thursday on it, I would eat it tomorrow. I wouldn't care what was in the container.

Maybe we'll get two clear days in a row. The dogs are always easier to deal with on a clear, sunny day. I'm easier to deal with too. If I can't see my shadow, it's not a good day.

Lucky is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Day 2619 - Valentine's Day

We woke up this morning to the sound of rain on the roof. It was raining quite hard, so walking the dogs was out of the question. Apparently, Dot and Dash thought going out in the yard was out of the question too. Dot peed on the porch and Dash wouldn't go outside at all. I don't blame them. It was wet and very cold.

I was hoping that the rain would quit before I made my annual trip to Sprinkles to get Valentine's cupcakes, but it never did. Actually, the rain turned out to be a good thing this year, because there wasn't a line. There is almost always a long line at this place. I can't even remember how long Valentine's Day cupcakes have been a tradition at our house, but it's been a long time. On the way home I stopped at Central Market and got an orchid in a pot. I joined a long line of tired looking men holding flowers and chocolates. The men were from all walks of life, but they all had that slightly confused look in their eye that told me they weren't sure if they got the right thing. Of course we did the right thing. We didn't forget.

Sick dogs and an all day rain aren't a good combination. Dot seemed totally unaware of the rain and took just as long looking for the right place to pee as she does on a warm sunny day. I just about froze taking her outside today. Dash did his business quickly, but always managed to find the muddiest part of the yard before he came inside again. I was constantly cleaning dogs, floors, and rugs today. This weather certainly isn't doing me any favors. My cold seems to be getting worse.

Work continues to be slow, but I did manage to get my February invoices in the mail today. It occurred to me this weekend that I'd be a lot busier if I actually started looking for work. Like that's ever going to happen. I hate cold calling. Most of my friends and contemporaries have retired. And millennials irritate me. I don't think websites really matter anymore either. When everybody has one, they just become a contemporary version of a Yellow Pages ad. People are spending all their time on Facebook anyway. I mostly visit websites to find an address or a phone number these days. The design of the website doesn't matter nearly as much as how easy it is to navigate. Like it or not, what I do has become a commodity.

The stock market hit another all time high today. I hope this rally continues, but I suspect that it won't. It's always hard to know when to sell. You want to ride a rally as long as you can, but you don't want to be the last one to leave a sinking ship. My opinion changes from day to day. Tax cuts and deregulation will definitely be good for business, but chaos isn't good for anyone. Maybe I should sell a few things just in case.

I sure hope it warms up tomorrow. The combination of dark gray skies, wet dogs, and a bitterly cold wind do nothing to improve my mood. The cupcakes sure were delicious though, and I think Janet liked the flower.

Dot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, February 13, 2017

Day 2618

I don't know why I even bother to get Dash's blood pressure tested. He gets so agitated riding in the car that his blood pressure is almost always elevated by the time we arrive at our destination. Today, he was even worse than usual, whining and barking in my ear all the way to the cancer center. He didn't even calm down once we arrived. Needless to say, his blood pressure was high. The only times I've ever been able to get an accurate reading on Dash is when he's already in the hospital for an extended stay.

Dash eventually calmed down a little, but by then the nurses had already moved on to their next patients. While I sat in a room waiting for the doctor to arrive with his evaluation, Dash fixated on a jar full of dog treats sitting on a counter and started barking all over again. He was basically just a bad dog today, but the doctor did say that his condition had dramatically improved. Nobody seemed terribly worried that Dash's blood pressure was high, which made me wonder why I was spending my afternoon taking Dash to the vet. I did have to admit that Dash appeared healthy though. I wish there was a way to test Dash's blood pressure at home when he actually was relaxed, but human blood pressure monitors don't work on dogs, and veterinary monitors are very expensive and hard to use. For the time being, I think we're all going to assume that Dash's medications are working.

I took the images that I shot yesterday over to the client, but we had a hard time transferring them to the office server. Fewer and fewer computers seem to have an SDHC card slot anymore. Even Apple has dropped the SD card slot on their latest laptops. This makes no sense to me at all. You've got to have a way to conveniently move pictures from the camera to the computer. I doubt that computer makers care much about professional photographers these days. They've all realized that the vast majority of their customers take pictures with their phones. Eventually, we found an older computer in the back of the building that still had a card slot and transferred the images. I apologized for how big the file folder was, but the art director wanted RAW files. Hey, at least all the images got transferred before somebody accidentally erased them.

I wish I could think of a way to help Dot grow stronger. It would be nice if there was something that kept her mentally alert too. With each passing week she seems to become a little weaker. There really isn't much I can do at this point. Dot still enjoys her meals and we take our slow daily walk to the end of the street, but she spends a lot more of her time sleeping these days. She just doesn't have the energy anymore. This year feels like a long goodbye. I just hope I can make the transition as pleasant and pain free as possible. This Friday we go back to the cancer center for another ultrasound scan. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that her cancer had advanced significantly. It feels that way.

I still can't tell whether I've got a cold or allergies. It seems like my eyes have been watering and I've been sneezing for weeks now. It's a bit early for Spring allergies, but I don't have all the usual symptoms of a cold either. At any rate, I wish the red nose and itchy eyes would go away. I'm probably just run down. A week with eight hours of sleep every night would probably cure everything.

Tessa is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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