Sunday, April 23, 2017

Day 2677

Yesterday was a fluke. The rare burst of energy Dot experienced appears to have vanished. She woke up shaky this morning and had trouble standing. She had difficulty swallowing her pills again. And an hour after finishing her breakfast, she threw up. Dot didn't seem to be in pain, but she did seem tired. The only remedy I could think of was a day of rest.

While Dot rested, I worked. The rug she threw up on needed to be cleaned. The sheets needed to be changed. And I really needed to get up on the roof and inspect the recent repairs. There was a lot of standing water to remove, but for the most part, the new patches have held up well. The crew missed two spots, but that wasn't surprising. They always miss something. I cleaned everything up and made a mental note to call the roofers again. I still think it would have been more effective to re-coat the entire roof with the new material, instead of coming out again and again to make patches. Eventually they will have re-coated the entire roof anyway.

By the time I got to the gym, I was already tired. I tried my best to keep my heart rate up and did end up burning a few more calories. I think one of the reasons my workout seems to be deteriorating is that I'm getting better on the basketball court. It use to take me forever to sink my self imposed quota of free throws and now I can make my shots fairly quickly. You'd think I'd just stay on the court longer, but I always do everything exactly the same. Once I've finished a routine that hasn't changed in several years, I'm out of there and on my way home. Things would probably be different if I actually enjoyed going to the gym.

It was an absolutely beautiful day today with clear blue skies and a nice breeze. It's too bad Dot wasn't feeling better. She loves this type of weather. Dash got a nice walk today and since Dot did perk up a bit as the day progressed, I took her out for a very short walk around sunset. I should have gone out and looked at the stars tonight because the sky was as clear as its been in months. Evenings are a fixed point in time though. I always have the blog to write. I feel compelled to never skip a day, and if a choice needs to be made, the blog always comes first.

Tomorrow morning, Dot comes first. We have an appointment to take her downtown to the physical therapy vet to get her evaluated and hopefully fitted for a doggie wheelchair. I think the plan is to try both two wheel and four wheel varieties. I'm not sure how Dot will respond to either. Some dogs know what to do immediately when fitted with wheels and others just stand there. There is definitely a learning curve with these things. Spot had a wheelchair towards the end of his life and he was always tipping it over by trying to walk up and over curbs. It helps if you have a dog who likes to walk in a straight line.

I wonder how long the allergy season will last this year? My nose is running. My eyes are watering. And I've completely used up my little bottle of Visine. I'll have to run down to CVS and get a new bottle tomorrow because I can't stand rubbing my eyes all day.

I sure hope I have some good news to report tomorrow about Dot's wheelchair. She loves to be outside, but just can't stand up very well. Maybe a set of wheels will help.

Wyatt is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Day 2676

I was unlocking the back door and getting ready to take Dot outside this morning when much to my surprise I see her walking toward me. She had gotten up all by herself and was headed toward the door on her own. I was amazed. She hasn't done this for months. It was as if she was telling us "don't count me out yet." Her surprising show of strength continued for most of the day. Dot ate all her food today and had two good walks.

Dash was in good spirits as well. I think the dogs liked the cooler weather. The weather was a surprise as well. A cold front rolled in overnight and the temperature was in the low 50's when we woke up. The severe weather the bank teller was warning me about yesterday finally arrived late last night, but all we got was a lot of rain. Luckily, the hail storms and tornado warnings were to the North of us.

I spent most of the day doing mindless chores, but I did find time to take a camera down to the lake without the dogs. Cool overcast days are perfect photography weather. I was hoping to capture a Great Blue Heron or some Great Egrets, but they were nowhere to be found today. I did see a mother Wood Duck with three little ducklings, so my excursion wasn't entirely in vain. There are an abundance of animals in the park, but I don't see as many when I walk Dash these days. He's not as adventurous as he used to be, so we seldom venture off one well worn path. I've given up trying to get Dash to do something new. He is very stubborn.

I noticed today that the camera I am using now was only saving images at 180 DPI. I did a Google search to learn how to change the setting to 300 DPI like I was used to and discovered that dots per inch was no longer considered a meaningful number. For the most part, camera manufacturers had just abandoned it, just like depth of field scales and aperture rings on the lens. None of this makes sense to me. What if you wanted to print a picture straight from your camera without processing it in Photoshop? Wouldn't it would be handy to have a 300 DPI image then? Nope. I was wrong about that as well. Evidently modern printers automatically scale the image to the paper size you have selected and all of the processing I've learned to do over the years is no longer necessary. It's weird to feel so out of date. It's even weirder to still like the old way of doing things better.

We've had a lot of rain lately and I hope that the new patches on the roof are doing well. I haven't even been up to check on them yet. I haven't done a lot of things that I used to do routinely because I seem to be perpetually tired. Janet seems to feel the same way. When the chores are finished and the dogs have been taken care of, we fall asleep instantly.

It's too wet to mow the grass and too muddy to spend much effort cleaning the house. I guess I'll just go to the gym tomorrow. Maybe I need a personal trainer or at least a class or two. I walk constantly and am very active when I go to the gym, but I'm still losing muscle mass. I've gone from feeling pleased that I could still wear the same sizes I wore in college to being slightly alarmed. I definitely don't want to wind up like Dot. It's harder to build muscle as you age, but it is not impossible. I used to blame muscle atrophy on the statin drugs I was taking, but it's entirely possible that I'm just not working out hard enough.

I hope Dot has another good day tomorrow. There is really no explanation for the burst of energy she had today. A good day is a gift. I can't think of anything we did differently today, but it sure would be nice if our luck continues tomorrow.

Mindy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, April 21, 2017

Day 2675

I stayed home and made French Toast this morning. As expected, Dot remained active after her morning walk. She needed to go outside twice while I was fixing breakfast and then just as I thought things were settling down, she pooped and made a big mess as she struggled to get up. I took everything off the stove, got some wet rages to clean her up, and fitted her with the spare harness we have for occasions like this. After I got everything cleaned up and started a new load of laundry, I warmed up my breakfast in the microwave and finished my meal. Basically, it was just a normal morning.

The good news is that Dash seems back to normal. His appetite has returned and he didn't seem nauseous at all. By 10:30, both dogs were ready for a nap. I made sure they were sleeping soundly and then ran my morning errands. While I was at the bank, a teller asked me if I was trying to get everything done before it started to rain. "It's going to rain," I asked? She told me that there was a severe weather warning and that there was going to be hail in the afternoon.

Since I avoid rain at all costs, I hurried to get everything done before the bad weather started. I picked up dinner at Central Market and swung by the vet to get Dash's blood pressure medication on the way home. It really didn't look like bad weather was on the way to me, so I checked the weather radar as soon as I got home. The only storm clouds I saw were in Oklahoma. I wonder where the bank teller got her information? She seemed convinced that something bad was about to happen.

The only bad thing that happened today was that the automated garbage truck driver crushed my can again and failed to empty all the trash. There were still two bags in the bottom of the badly dented can when I went to retrieve it. I hope we haven't lost our good driver. For the past three months we've had a very good driver who knew how to operate the high tech truck properly. Now we're back to square one. I hope today's driver was just a temporary replacement. From the looks of things he made a mess of the entire street. After making sure the dogs were still asleep, I took the abandoned trash bags to a dumpster. I'll have to ask the city for a new can again too. I wish the sanitation department could master these new trucks they've got. It shouldn't be that hard to get the trash in the truck.

Dot slept for a long time today. She didn't wake up until mid-afternoon, but after that, she kept me busy for the rest of the day. Dot was eager to walk this afternoon, even though she can barely move. I really hope we are successful at fitting her for a wheelchair next week. Her rear legs have been weak for a long time, but now she is starting to lose muscle coordination. If I don't hold her up properly using the harness, her rear legs start to drag. It's amazing that she still wants to walk, because it seems so difficult.

It's been a long day, but at least we made it through another week. Next week is going to be busy. Dot has a major cancer recheck and we've got a lot of questions for the oncologist. Hopefully Dot will have a new wheelchair next week as well. At least we will test her to see if she would benefit from wheels. If I have time, I'm going to replace the hard drive on my office computer with a higher capacity drive. I'm out of space. I found a place that offers same day service on drive upgrades. I'm sure I can go a day without a computer these days. That's all in the future though. All I'm worried about tomorrow is making sure Dash holds down his dinner and Dot can swallow her pills.

Joe is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Day 2674

Good grief. Now Dash is throwing up. When I walked into the office early this morning and noticed last night's dinner on the floor, my first response was "which dog did this." It became obvious very quickly who the culprit was. As soon as we took Dash outside to pee, he threw up again on the porch. Unfortunately one of the symptoms associated with Old Dog Vestibular Disease is nausea or vomiting. When Dash had his Vestibular seizures back in February, I had hoped that he would make a full recovery. He still may, but his doctor warned me that sometimes symptoms could last for months.

I called Dash's oncologist to see what to do next and he prescribed an anti nausea medication. We're not supposed to use the medication unless he throws up again. At least we have a plan now. I feel better knowing what caused the vomiting and what to do when it happens again. Hopefully, we can keep this controlled. We have dozens of easily washable rugs throughout the house, but Dash inevitably heads straight for the carpet when he has an upset stomach. The pills are expensive too. Basically, every time Dash vomits it costs $20.

Dealing with two sick dogs at the same time can be nerve racking. If one dog is pooping in the bedroom while the other is vomiting in the kitchen, who do you deal with first? I usually have to stay with Dot, since she can't walk on her own, but I've got to keep an eye on Dash as well. I have to leave the back door open when I take Dot outside to pee, and often Dash will follow behind if he has an upset stomach and start eating grass. Eating grass is a sure fire way to start vomiting again. I waited until both dogs were sleeping soundly before I drove up to the cancer center to pick up Dash's meds. If the dogs are awake, all bets are off.

I didn't feed Dash much today and made sure he had a very bland diet. So far, he has held everything down. It's a bigger deal when Dash vomits than it is with most dogs. He takes phenobarbital to control epileptic seizures and it is important that he gets the proper dose every single day. If he throws up one of his pills, you have to skip a day and risk a seizure, because you definitely don't want to overdose a dog with phenobarbital. I probably know enough about pills now to pass a pharmacy exam. I never dreamed that keeping your dog healthy could become so complicated.

I doubt that I'll be able to go out for breakfast tomorrow. Dot's schedule seems to have changed. She is very restless early in the morning now. It frustrates her that she can't walk on her own. On most days she doesn't settle down and go back to sleep until almost 11 AM. I guess I could go out to lunch, but I never eat lunch anymore. We'll see what happens tomorrow. If the day is anything like today, it will be a three ring circus.

If burnout starts to seem completely normal, have you transcended burnout, or have you just entered your own private Twilight Zone? I really don't know. I haven't traveled down this road before.

Wilson is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Day 2673

Dot threw up again last night and still seemed to be having trouble swallowing her pills this morning. Things are changing and I'm still trying to figure out how to adapt. Since putting her meds inside a small ball of canned dog food doesn't seems to work anymore, we're going to try cheese. Dot has always loved cheese. If cheese doesn't work, we can always try to boil a chicken breast and then cube the meat into small pieces we can use to hide a pill. One way or another, Dot still needs to take her meds.

I don't remember aging being quite as stressful with our other dogs. Maybe it was though. I tend to blot out things I don't want to remember. Spot lived to be fourteen. Like Dot, he lived through major spinal surgery and intestinal cancer. The surgery was successful, but cancer detection methods weren't as good back then and the cancer returned. Petey died suddenly of kidney failure and Greta never made it out of the hospital after a cancerous lobe of her liver was removed. Dot has lived longer than any dog we've ever had, but I doubt she'll make it to her next birthday. It's really sad to see this chapter of her life and mine coming to a close.

Occasionally, I'll look at old movies of Dot and Dash running and jumping over things. They were both very athletic and loved the dog park. Those years seem so long ago. Life has become so much smaller. Lately, we just try to make it through the day. Success is a day where Dot is able to hold down her food and enjoy a very short assisted walk to the end of our street. I've gotten so used to dealing with her incontinence that it just seems normal now. I can almost read Dot's mind by now. A glance tells me when she is in pain or when she needs to pee. We have become very close. I know she wants to continue. I just don't know how long she can.

Since there weren't any writing or website jobs today, I decided to get caught up on my bookkeeping. It's sobering to compare this year's billing to earlier years. Truthfully, there isn't much left of the business anymore. I just can't bring myself to formally close it. When friends of mine have found themselves in a similar situation, some of them have turned to teaching. I taught as an adjunct professor years ago, but couldn't imagine doing it anymore. I've become far too reclusive.

I wonder sometimes if Dash will be our last dog. Caring for two aging cancer survivors has been more tiring than I ever imagined. My Dad had a little Dachshund who was his constant companion until the day he died. Little dogs are easier to take care of though and tend to live longer. Dalmatians are extremely active dogs and deserve to be with an equally active person. I don't know if I have the energy for another Dalmatian, but I could never imagine having anything else.

I never made it up on the roof today. I never got my bone density scan either. Dot was restless. I was slow. It's amazing we made it through the day at all. I'm hoping that we both get a burst of renewed energy tomorrow.

Marley is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Day 2672

Sometimes I wonder what I'd do if I didn't have dogs to take care of. I'd probably be making plans to view the solar eclipse this August. Maybe I'd try to reconnect with NASA and get myself invited to a few space launches again. I might go back to school and take some classes, although that is increasingly doubtful. Universities have become very strange. There's a good chance I might do nothing at all. My Dad had all sorts of plans for his retirement, but his health gradually declined and he ended up spending most of his time watching college basketball on a small TV in his living room. You never know what the future has in store for you. I see little point in making elaborate plans. I do have dogs to take care of. For the moment, this seems to be as valid a way to spend my days as anything else I could think of.

Today was a big improvement over yesterday. The skies have cleared and my rugs are drying out again. I think I have figured out why my breakfast smoothie tastes weird. The bananas aren't ripe. Dot didn't make a major mess in the house today, although the day isn't over yet. I even managed to get quite a bit of work done and all my client's websites are up to date.

I had to pick up some new city tags for Dash today. I wonder why it took me four years to realize that city pet registration was free for senior citizens. I guess I don't like to think of myself as a senior citizen. In my own mind, I'm still a nineteen year old with a rapidly failing mind and body. There's probably a lot of other free stuff I could take advantage of if I looked. I probably won't. I'm not the kind of guy who's looking for a free dessert at Luby's or half price matinee movie tickets. Let me know if anybody has senior citizen pricing on guitars or Ferrari's though. I might be interested.

Dot is having trouble taking her pills now. This is not good. We've been putting her pills inside a small ball of wet dog food, but in the past several days she's started spitting it out. For some reason, Dot is having trouble with soft foods now. First it was banana slices and now it's the "meatball" we make for her to take her meds. I'm going to have to figure out a better way to make sure she takes her pills. Oddly, Dot is still able to eat dry food just fine if the pieces are small. I never thought she'd lose the ability to chew soft things like bananas, but the aging process is full of mysteries.

I paid a bunch of bills today and took them to the post office. I'm probably never going to switch to online payments. I don't really need to go to the bank and post office anymore. There are apps on my phone that would let me bypass these errands. I guess I just like the ritual. Going to the post office gets me out of the house for a little while. I can see if there's anything new in the neighborhood while listening to NPR on the radio for a few minutes. These small outings and my Friday breakfast keep things in balance.

If the weather stays nice, I'll go up on the roof tomorrow and see whether the new patches survived the rain. I probably should go get that bone density scan at the doctor's office, but I hate sitting in the waiting room, so maybe I'll wait a while. I hope Dot has a good day. That's really all that matters.

Mattie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, April 17, 2017

Day 2671

What a miserable day. There were thunderstorms and heavy rain all day long. Dash refused to go outside and pee, becoming more and more frustrated as the day progressed. Dot had no problem going out in the rain. I don't even think she knew it was raining most of the time. We went out over and over again, getting soaking wet each time. Even though she had ample time to pee outside, Dot still chose to pee inside. It was one of those days. I sure wish I'd remembered to bring the rugs that were drying on the clothesline back inside last night, because now they are all wet again. Neither dog would relax today. They didn't like the rain and they seemed irritated at me for not making it stop.

I hope the new roof patches had time to cure properly. In theory, everything should be fine since they had at least three days to dry before today's rain, but things do not always go as planned. Once it rained less than twenty four hours after the roofers arrived and the coating they applied just dissolved and washed away. Roofers are always trying to convince me how great these new high tech coatings are on a flat roof, but I still think the original tar and gravel roof I had when I bought the house was better.

Something was strange with my breakfast smoothie this morning. I used exactly the same ingredients as I always do, but the beverage tasted very different. Did I get a bad banana? Is the Vitamix broken and not blending properly? I don't have a clue. Some people might not have even noticed the change in flavor, but inconsistency is a red flag to me. I may not notice many things in life, but I am very aware of inconsistencies. You'd think I'd be used to random changes by now, but I'm not. If I find something I like, I want it to stay the same forever.

I had a ton of errands to run today, but I didn't do any of them. Rainy days are basically a three ring circus around here. I always have to leave the back door open when I take Dot outside. Both of my hands are occupied holding Dot up, and if I stop to close the door, she'll fall over. Inevitably, Dash will wander outside just far enough to get his paws muddy and then go back inside again before I have a chance to clean him up. The entire day was like this. Dash wouldn't actually go out in the yard and pee. He would just stand in a puddle at the edge of the porch.

Since both dogs are scared of thunder and lightning, I ended up spending hours sitting with them in a corner trying to keep them calm. I wonder if they make me nervous or I make them nervous. I could care less about the thunder, but I fret about the power going out or a tree falling on the roof. Whenever there's a thunderstorm I always realize that I have failed to charge all my devices. The phones and tablets are charged now, but it probably doesn't matter. I think the weather is supposed to be nice for the rest of the week.

Maybe some sense of normalcy will return tomorrow. I hope so. I've had enough of this rain. There are websites I need to update. I've got to pick up some meds for Dash. There's a stack of bills that need to be paid. I need to get a bone density scan. I'm sure there are other things I've forgotten. I forget a lot these days. We'll start with the important stuff. If I can get Dot to pee without making a huge mess, I'm ready for anything.

Bella is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Day 2670 - Easter

It hasn't seemed like Easter for a long time. When I was young, I remember Easter baskets and going to sunrise services in our pajamas. We could get away with pajamas because the service was held at a drive-in theater. We stayed in the car and listened though one of those speakers that clamped to your window. I think the choir and the preacher were up on the roof of the concession stand. Since the service was outside, we actually did see the sun rise.

That was a long, long time ago. Now, what I remember most about Easter are the hordes of people that descend on the park for egg hunts and family picnics. I never realized that Easter picnics are a big deal, but apparently they are. Easter is the busiest day of the year in the park. I kind of dread walking Dash on this day because there are tons of loose dogs and copious amounts of candy and chocolates strewn in the grass. We did OK today until some kid flew a drone right over our head and it scared Dash. That was the end of the walk for us. Dash turned around and immediately set a course for home.

My gym is closed on holidays, so I got my exercise cleaning the house. Vacuuming has replaced mowing the grass as the chore I hate the most. It has become almost impossible to keep things clean with all the traction rugs we've spread everywhere for Dot. Some of the rugs are thin, so they get sucked up and jam the vacuum. Others are porous, so dirt gets under them. You've almost got to clean the house twice. The rugs need to be cleaned and then they need to be pulled up so you can clean under them as well. The Dyson Animal does pretty well with pet hair, but it sure is heavy. I'm always tripping over the cord as well. I think going to the gym would have been a lot easier.

I caught the end of the tribute to the Bee Gees on TV this evening. Barry Gibb can still sing. Jeez, the guy has to be over 70 now. I'm amazed at how well the music of my generation has held up over the years. I still think we had the best music growing up. Many of the greats have died over the years, but the Rolling Stones are still performing. Paul McCartney is still performing. And Barry Gibb can still hit the high notes.

Janet cooked a fabulous Easter dinner tonight. Elaborate meals are a rarity now. We are both old and tired and generally it just isn't worth the trouble. Mostly we just eat take-out these days. It was a treat to sit down and enjoy a really nice home cooked meal. It was kind of like getting an Easter basket when I was a kid. Even the dogs were well behaved this evening. I immediately forgot the aches and pains of vacuuming.

Although Dot continues to get weaker, she had a surprisingly good walk this evening. It probably helped that I waited until sunset when the weather was cooler. We'll see how tomorrow goes. We don't even try to make it to the back door anymore. I just put some puppy training pads next to her bed and let her pee there as soon as I get her up in the morning. Things keep changing and I continue to improvise in an effort to make the best of things.

Becker is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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