Friday, February 28, 2014

Day 1536

The only thing worse than a sick dog is a dog who doesn't realize he's sick. I decided today that the best way to keep Dash calm and sedate is to keep his routine as close to normal as possible. All the complicated instructions the vet gave me just seem to agitate him. He hates going out in the back yard on a leash. Using the logic that the meadow behind our house is really just an extended back yard, I took Dash on a short walk today. It made a world of difference. He got to smell his favorite bushes. He did his business much quicker than he would have in the yard. And, best of all, he was calm. When we got back home, he was a good dog for the rest of the day. A lot of people don't understand Dalmatians. You've got to meet them halfway to get anything accomplished. Dash and I have an understanding now. He'll still get his walks. In return, he'll walk nicely on a harness and keep his incision away from stray branches. As long as he gets to go outside, he seems fine with these shorter, more sedate walks.

It was a very busy day. The tree trimmers arrived promptly at 9 AM to clean up the trees that were damaged by last December's ice storm. I'm glad I finally got this taken care of, because eventually one of the precariously attached tree limbs would have broken loose and fallen on my neighbor's car. The tree looks much better now. My only problem was when I had to negotiate a truce between the tree trimmers and a neighboring fence contractor when they both wanted to park their trucks in the alley at the same time. As I expected, Dot slept through the whole thing. I wonder if they make hearing aids for dogs. Dot's hearing definitely isn't as good as it used to be.

I realized today that being able to get out of the house myself, even for a few short minutes, can make a big difference. I didn't even make a quick trip to the bank or post office today and the day seemed to drag on forever. Staying housebound for a while gives me an opportunity to observe Dash under a wide variety of different conditions and make sure he won't do anything stupid. So far, he's been an excellent patient. There is still no swelling at the incision site, so I don't think hemorrhaging is going to be a problem. Now that Dash and I have agreed to compromise on a few important points, he is being very calm and reasonable. Let's hope this continues.

My writing assignment today was long and complex. I'm still not finished with it. Maybe I'll get up early and do my editing tomorrow morning. I definitely don't like these assignments hanging over my head during the weekend. Tomorrow, I'll see if I can catch up on a few household chores as well. Maybe I'll even get to go to the gym again later this weekend.

Dash is still on pain pills, but he already seems better than he did yesterday when we brought him home. The little guy is a trooper. I only wish I could bounce back as quickly as he's doing. I'm just barely hanging in there these days. Bounce is no longer part of my vocabulary.

Connor is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Day 1535

Dash is back home again. After all he's been through this week, he's acting amazingly normal. Too normal perhaps. When the cancer center released him late this afternoon, the doctors gave us a predicable speech about things dogs should never do right after surgery. They shouldn't jump up on the kitchen counters. They shouldn't race around the back yard like a maniac. They shouldn't hop up on the bed or the furniture. They shouldn't shake their head violently like dogs typically do when they get wet. As you might expect, it didn't take Dash ten minutes to violate all these rules once we had returned home again. He's a Dalmatian, after all. I have to keep him on a leash, even in the back yard, for the next several days. Even restrained on a leash with his special new harness, it didn't take Dash two minutes to find a dead bird in our backyard.

One of the hardest things in the days ahead will be keeping Dash from scratching at his incision with his hind legs. The surgeon did such a good job of sewing him up again, that it's hard to tell that Dash has a long incision running the length of his neck. We can't use the cone of shame, or other common way of protecting the neck, because it would rub against the incision. He's not supposed to have anything touching his neck while the wound heals. Luckily, he's not one of those dogs that is obsessed with pulling his stitches out. If I watch him carefully, I think everything will be OK.

We should have the pathology report within the next five days, and that will determine what happens next. For now, it's just nice to have our little guy back home again. I won't be going out to the breakfast restaurant tomorrow morning. I won't be going anywhere actually. Janet and I will coordinate our schedules so that one of us is home at all times. This essentially means that I will be housebound for a while. It's not that big a deal. This is more or less how I live anyway.

I got a jury summons in the mail today. It's a nuisance getting selected for jury duty. I never get picked to sit on a panel, but I've got to go downtown and spend the day sitting in the jury pool room anyway. Lawyers just don't seem to want me on their juries. I would think that after years of sitting in the jury pool room reading old magazines, I would become exempt from jury duty at some point. That's not how the system works though. You never know. One of these days, some lawyer just might want an unpredictable, opinionated writer on their jury.

Tomorrow will be so busy that I probably won't even notice not leaving the house. There's still lots of work to do. The tree trimmers are coming tomorrow too. Ordinarily, something like this might upset the dogs, but Dot doesn't hear too well anymore and she'll probably sleep through the whole thing. Dash was never bothered by workmen in the yard anyway.

Dash should get a little better with each passing day. FedEx delivered a brand new supply of Hepatitis-C pills this morning. There's food in the refrigerator and plenty of work to keep me busy. Life is good.

Princess is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Day 1534

I got a phone call form Dash's surgeon at about 3 PM this afternoon. He told me that the procedure went as planned. Surgeons are different than other doctors. They are very matter-of-fact, displaying little of the warmth and empathy that veterinarians are famous for. I actually like this. I usually misinterpret emotion and empathy anyway, so I prefer sticking to the facts. The facts in this case were fantastic. The surgeon was able to remove the entire tumor with no serious hemorrhaging issues. Hemorrhaging is typically a problem with thyroid tumors, since these fast growing cancers quickly develop their own vascular system, which can cause serious bleeding problems when the tumor is removed. Dash is resting in the ICU now. The hospital will keep him under observation for several days to make sure there is not any internal bleeding, and then he will be released.

The most important thing now is to find out the results from the pathology report. The tumor is sent off to a lab for analysis and they determine exactly what kind of cancer it is. It often takes up to two weeks to get these results and they will determine what happens next. Certain types of cancers will require no further treatment. Other types will require radiation to eradicate the remaining malignant cells. The most aggressive forms of cancer might require a combination of radiation and chemotherapy. That's all in the future though. For now, Dash is doing well. The surgeon was very pleased and said it was very lucky that we caught this tumor so early. He said that two or three months from now, the outcome might have been very different.

The ironic thing about this whole situation is that a tick might have saved Dash's life. Vets are always trying to get me to use a flea and tick preventative like Frontline on Dot and Dash. I am very reluctant to do this, because both dogs have very sensitive skin and when I have used these topical preventatives in the past, their skin quickly becomes red and raw. Instead, I check the dogs carefully for ticks every evening. That's how I found the tumor.

It was amazing that I got any work done at all today, since most of my time was consumed with the dogs. When I wasn't up at the cancer center with Dash, I was over at the physical therapy center with Dot. Dot is the good news dog of the week. She has completely recovered from her episode of eating the bedroom carpet and seems to have more energy now. Her new perkiness may be the result of a new drug we are trying that is supposed to reduce the onset of Canine Cognitive Dysfnction. I guess this is what they call Alzheimers in dogs. The active ingredient in this product is supposed to protect nerve cells in the brain from damage associated with excessive calcium levels. Some vets are very skeptical, saying that the apoaequorin that that is supposed to prevent dementia will never even reach the brain in a pill and is destroyed by the dog's stomach acid instead. All I know is that Dot is definitely perkier and more alert this week.

I got a call from the specialty pharmacy today saying that my second shipment of Sovaldi and Rabavirin will arrive by FedEx tomorrow. This means I am already one third of the way through my 12-week treatment. The way they ship these pills, you'd think I was receiving a shipment of gold coins. As much as the Sovaldi costs, they might as well be sending me gold coins.

On a totally unrelated note, Baidu shares surged in after hours trading after the company released fourth quarter results that were much better than analysts expected. Yay! I still own some Baidu stock. Maybe this fortuitous turn of events will help me pay for Dash. Hepatitis-C and cancer have certainly taught me one thing: modern medicine is breathtakingly expensive. It may be worth it though. Dash and I are both still alive. Thanks for all the kind words I received from you guys today. It means a lot to me that you are thinking about Dash.

Bingo is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Day 1533

Dash goes in for surgery tomorrow morning. The CAT Scan was fairly conclusive. The bad news is that he does have thyroid cancer. The good news is that the tumor does not appear to have metastasized yet. Dash's lungs are clear. There are no signs that the cancer has spread beyond the thyroid gland itself. From all appearances, this is an encapsulated tumor, which makes it much easier to remove.

I have been very impressed with the team at the cancer center. We have talked with a soft tissue specialist, an oncologist, and the surgeon who will be operating on Dash tomorrow. These doctors are clear, concise, and have a well defined plan that will give Dash a good change to live a normal life again. They make no promises though. All three told us that with any cancer, you don't really know what you're dealing with until you make the incision and take a look at it. They did appear confident that surgery was the best option in this case.

If the surgery is successful, they said there is a high probability that Dash will still need radiation therapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells. Radiation treatments would not begin until two or three weeks after the surgery is completed. He might need three radiation treatments a week for three weeks. This is going to be very expensive. I only hope it works.

The weather is turning cold again. The temperature is already dropping and it is supposed to be below freezing by sunrise. Some reports says we might get freezing rain again. I certainly hope not. I asked the folks at the surgery center if Dash would be OK if the power went out tomorrow. They looked at me like I was some sort of alarmist nut. Well, of course I'm an alarmist nut. I just wanted to make sure they had a backup plan.

I was able to get all my work completed, despite the trips back and forth to the cancer center. Writing this blog day in and day out appears to have helped my writing in other areas as well. I get my assignments finished now no matter what happens. If I worked this hard back in the days when I was a creative type at the big ad agencies, I would probably own a big agency now, instead of leaving behind a legacy as the agency troublemaker.

All that is ancient history now. I've been on my own for over twenty years. I can't say that my little company has exactly set the world on fire, but it pays the bills. I can fix the furnace on cold days. I can fix the roof on wet days. And I can take care of the dogs on troublesome days like this. That's all that really matters. Wish us luck tomorrow and keep Dash in your prayers.

Cookie is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Monday, February 24, 2014

Day 1532

False start day. We got up extra early this morning, so we could negotiate feeding one dog while the other was fasting. Usually, this involves taking the fasting dog on a walk right after we get up, while the second dog stays home and eats breakfast. I walked Dash while Janet fed Dot, and then we were off to see the oncologist. Janet and I were both impressed with the doctor, who was very knowledgeable and explained Dash's thyroid issues in a way that was easy to understand. He was almost certain that Dash will require surgery, but wanted a CAT Scan to confirm his diagnosis and provide an accurate map for the surgeon.

I left Dash at the clinic to get the scan done and went home to eat breakfast and get some work done. Shortly after I got home, I got a call from the clinic saying that I needed to come back and pick up Dash again. They told me that both of the CAT Scan technicians were out sick today and there was nobody to run the machine. WTF? How could they not already know this when I was up at the clinic just an hour earlier? This is a cancer clinic and diagnosing things using a CAT Scanner is a big part of what they do. The machine is essential. At any rate, the doctor was very embarrassed by the situation and promised to get it sorted out, so I could re-schedule quickly.

It simply astounds me how often people fail to have any sort of a back-up plan these days. Individuals, companies, and even our entire country just seem to lurch through life on a wing and a prayer, hoping that everything will be OK. Here is this multimillion dollar machine that the clinic depends on and everything comes to a grinding halt when a technician's kid gets sick? This shouldn't happen. Worst of all, nobody at the cancer clinic appeared to even know that the technician had called in sick until after I had left Dash and returned home. At least they didn't pre-intubate him with drugs before they discovered their error. I always try to have a back up plan. When I go on a photo shoot, I always take three camera bodies and an extra strobe power pack, just in case something breaks. I have my own 4-G hotspot with me at all times, so I am never dead in the water during a power outage. When I was younger, there was a time when I had three cars, just to make sure that a dead battery or breakdown would never put me out of commission. OK, I shouldn't be sanctimonious here. I also liked cars a lot.

The rest of the day was just a normal Monday. I finished two articles and already have two more on deck for tomorrow. There was a long, involved website update which required a lot of Photoshop work. Facebook is destroying what remains of my website business. The pictures I get these days are horrible. Since it's so easy to upload your baby and cat pictures on Facebook, people just think that this is what I do as well. They don't seem to understand that I have to crop, re-size, and color correct every single picture they send me in Photoshop. I can't even batch process, since I usually get thirty different bad cell phone photos, all in their own unique format. Progress is weird. All it means for me is that my own job gets harder.

Tomorrow, we'll start over. We'll get up early again and feed one dog while the fasting dog is out taking a quick walk. I'll get mired in rush hour traffic again as I take Dash to the clinic for his early morning appointment. They've promised me that the all important CAT Scan technician will actually be there this time. Hopefully, everything will go smoothly.

Nora is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Day 1531

Dot and Dash had a great day. Our mild Springlike weather continues, making it possible to give the dogs several long walks, in addition to the trip to the dog park they'd both been anticipating. It was beautiful today. The redbud and dogwood trees are already starting to bloom, and if you looked closely, you could see tiny green buds on most of the other trees as well. I hope all this early growth isn't cut short by a final hard freeze, but it usually is. That's just the nature of things in Texas.

When the dogs had finished smelling every tree at the dog park, we came home and I finished the writing assignment that threw me a curve yesterday. It all seemed to go smoothly this time and within an hour I was ready to go to the gym.

I think my shoulder might be as good as it's going to get. I was able to go back to my old workout routine this afternoon and everything seemed fine. The shoulder still hurt, but it hurt before the injury too. The important thing was that it was able to bear weight and wasn't falling out of the socket anymore. I'm more careful now and try not to do things that would pull my right arm away from my body. All in all, I think it is better to stay active. If I babied the shoulder too much and did nothing, it would probably be worse on my body in the long run than what I'm doing now.

Janet fixed cheeseburgers for dinner. I did eat a kale salad as a token gesture to good health, but that was about it. There are few things better than a good cheeseburger and fried onion rings. It's not the healthiest thing in the world, but you could do a lot worse. Good lean beef, artisan cheddar cheese, some fresh heirloom tomato slices, and a little arugula on a freshly  baked whole grain bun. That sounds healthy doesn't it?  There's got to be more to life than oatmeal and kale. If I can ever get my liver working properly again, I might even enjoy the ocassional glass of wine with dinner again. That would be nice.

Tomorrow is the big day. We can't feed Dash anything after 10 PM tonight, since he will probably have to be anesthetized for his CAT scan tomorrow. I'm trying to keep an open mind, since almost anything could happen. Depending on what the oncologist finds, he could come home with a bottle of pills to take for a week and be good to go, or he could be rushed into emergency surgery. I don't know how parents with small children handle these situations as well as the do. We've had a lifetime of different Dalmatians, and I always remember the medical emergencies the most vividly. Spot had a tumor inside his spinal cord and I thought he might be paralyzed for life. It was a long, tough surgery, but he bounced back to lead a normal life. Much later, he was back on the operating table again with intestinal cancer. A six inch section of his small intestine was removed and he survived that as well. Petey almost died after he got pancreatitis from eating a duck's foot he found in the park. Greta did die after liver surgery failed to completely eliminate the cancer that was growing there. I'm hoping for the best with Dash. He had a very tough life before we rescued and adopted him. We promised him that things would be better now, and we'll continue to do our best to keep that promise.

Joey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Day 1530

Where did today go? It seems like I got up and all of the sudden, it's time to go to bed again. I certainly didn't do that much. The big event of the day was giving the dogs a bath. The neighborhood dog washing place that lost its lease several months ago has reopened in a new location. We always like to support neighborhood businesses, but I sure wish this place was back at its old location. I don't think I'd visit this new place after dark. We encountered some pretty strange people wandering around in the parking lot.

The dogs are nice and clean again though. That's good. They are about the only thing in the house that's clean. I changed the sheets on the bed and did a load of towels, but that's as close to cleaning as I got. The house is still a mess.

My worries about Dash have distracted me. It's hard to believe that he could actually be sick, especially since he looks and acts completely normal. Cancer can be that way. One of my neighbors was playing golf and working in his garden one week, and the next week he was dead. Lots of Dalmatians in the rescue program have had cancer over the years. Few beat the disease entirely, but many were able to live many more happy and active years after treatment.

I've reluctantly learned to trust doctors as a result of my own liver problems. Hepatitis C has few if any symptoms until the very end. It is easy to lull yourself into a sense of false security, since you still feel good as the disease progresses. Hepatitis C is serious though, just like cancer. I've learned now, that if my doctor is worried, I need to be worried too. That's why Dash is going to get the best possible care, starting immediately. Most people and pets don't die from cancer. They die from waiting too long to diagnose and start treating it.

I thought I'd do my monthly assignment for my writer's group this afternoon, but the writing took a different direction than I expected and it surprised me. Oops. I'll finish the piece tomorrow. Why tomorrow? Well, that's when it's due. I procrastinate about everything except my pets.

I noticed that my next door neighbor hired somebody to rake up all their leaves this weekend. Now, they'll probably be mad when my own leaves start blowing back into their yard, as they inevitably will. I hate to rake up all my leaves just yet though. They've been a great way to cover up all the dirt in the back yard and keep the dogs from getting too muddy when they run outside on a rainy day. As soon as the leaves are raked up, I'll need to re-landscape again, since the grass is all dead.

I'm staring at a growing pile of tax documents sitting on the corner of my desk. Is it that time of year again already? I procrastinate with taxes too. I quit doing them myself years ago, but now I find it hard to even gather up all the information for my accountant. There is just no satisfaction in giving the government money it is sure to waste.

Maggie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Friday, February 21, 2014

Day 1529

It was an absolutely normal Friday. Normal is good. There was no dog crisis. There was no impossible deadline crisis. There was no crisis at all. The dogs are enjoying the Springlike weather. We had a great walk this morning and my shoulder has finally gotten strong enough to try walking both dogs together again. Maybe I just got lucky today when I walked Dot and Dash together for the first time in weeks, but my shoulder gave me no problems. Knock on wood.

I had time for an enjoyable breakfast at my favorite restaurant and picked up some tasty food for the weekend at Central Market afterwards. Since I got started early this morning, there was still plenty of time to finish all my assignments.

I was finally able to get my tree trimmer to commit to a date for cleaning up the broken tree limbs from  last December's ice storm. I don't know why this has taken so long, but everything seems to take a long time these days. There is quite a bit of damage and I'm sure the tree guy will try to convince me to saw down the entire tree. I don't want to do that. The large old Oak has been around for over 100 years and I think it's got a few years left.

My liver doctor called this morning and told me that the initial test results looked good and that I should continue taking the pills. Jeez, I wouldn't think stopping was even an option. When I first received the medication, I read right on the bottle of the expensive pills that if you didn't complete the entire twelve week treatment regime, the virus would just become more resistant. We definitely don't want that.

Dash acted so normal today that it's hard to imagine that he still might be very, very sick. I'm dreading the appointment with the oncologist on Monday morning. His assessment of the situation could snap me back to reality very quickly. For now, we'll concentrate on having a nice weekend. The weather still looks good, so he'll get a trip to his favorite dog park. Unfortunately, he'll also get a bath. If Dash has to have surgery, he might not be able to have a bath for a long time. Janet says we might as well make sure he's clean now.

I learned something new about LED light bulbs today. Unbeknownst to me, most of the electrical energy supplied to an LED bulb is converted to heat rather than light. I guess this explains why most of these bulbs have large metal heat sink fins around the circumference of the bulb. At any rate, even though these high-tech bulbs use far less energy than a normal incandescent bulb, they must dissipate lot more heat than an equivalent incandescent. So, where does all this heat go? Well, it often goes straight to the thermal protection switch inside the fixture and ruins it. This is basically why the can light in my bathroom has started blinking on and off and why a similar fixture in my office burned out a few months ago. So the "last forever" LED lights don't last forever after all. And they burn up your fixtures in the process. Is all this advanced technology even necessary? I was perfectly happy with my land line phone, cassette tapes, and an IBM Selectric typewriter.

Lizzy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Day 1528

OK. We're making progress. I've scheduled a consultation with an oncologist first thing Monday morning. After this initial evaluation, Dash will get a CAT Scan later the same day. If necessary, we've arranged for a joint consultation between the oncologist and a soft tissue surgeon. My philosophy for just about everything is to hope for the best while preparing for the worst. That's what I'm trying to do here.

It turns out that they didn't check my viral loads when I went to the hepatologist today. The nurse said that I hadn't been taking the pills long enough to see whether they were helping me. All they wanted to do today was to make sure they weren't harming me. I guess that makes sense. I would be very surprised if the pills were actually harming me. I feel fine. Dash seems to feel fine too, so maybe things aren't always as simple as they seem.

Dash has reverted to getting us up in the middle of the night again. Just when I think his digestion is back to normal, he has another of these episodes. We certainly aren't getting much sleep this week. I asked the vet if Dash's loose stools could have anything to do with his thyroid issues and she didn't know. She said anything was possible. I think both dogs have been going to the vet so frequently this month that everyone is starting to get Dot and Dash's stories confused. We thought we had some recent x-rays to send over to the oncologist today, but it turned out they were Dot's x-rays.

After a short break, I have returned to my insane writing schedule. The constant writing, plus all the website updates and dog issues are starting to take their toll. I'm tired. There are a lot of things that just aren't getting done the way they should. Ordinarily, I would have fixed the faulty can light in the bathroom by now. Not even close on that one. I still haven't gotten the damaged Oak tree in the back yard cleaned up after December's ice storm. I ended up fixing the hole Dot that ate in the carpet with Duct Tape. It looks like crap and Janet says we're living in Honey Boo Boo's house now, but at least there are no more dangerous loose edges that the dogs might eat again. It's going to take a while to get a new carpet put in. Getting the dog health issues resolved has to come first. There's so much furniture that would need to be moved before a new carpet could be installed that I dread even dealing with the whole thing. I don't know who to call anyway. My favorite carpet company went out of business five years ago. Nothing is simple anymore.

I was really hoping to get Dash in to see the oncologist tomorrow, but maybe waiting until Monday is for the best. He still acts and feels pretty normal. At least now, we'll have a chance to take him to his favorite dog park over the weekend and spend some quality time with him. If he does end up needing surgery and radiation therapy, he's going to have a pretty rough Spring.

Odie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Day 1527

I feel sick to my stomach. The pathology report came back today and Dash has some sort of thyroid tumor. We don't know yet whether the tumor is benign or malignant, but either way it is bad news. In all likelihood, the tumor will have to be surgically removed. If the tumor is cancerous, we will have to act fast, since some thyroid tumors grow quite aggressively. With the help of our vet, we are looking for the best available surgeon now. Dash will probably need a CT scan, nuclear scintigraphy, and possibly a biopsy prior to making a decision about surgery. If the tumor still moves freely in the neck and has not metastasized, removal should be relatively simply. If the tumor has already established its own blood supply and spread through adjoining tissue, the surgery will be much more risky. Even if the surgery is successful, there's a good chance that chemotherapy or radiation will be required afterwards as well.

Let's just hope it isn't cancer. Poor Dash hasn't gotten a lot of breaks in life. When we adopted him in the Spring of 2006, he was not a healthy dog. He had serious skin allergies, kidney stones, and recurring digestive problems. We nursed him back to good health and then he began to have epileptic seizures. His seizures are well controlled now and his coat looks great. These medical issues weren't the worst of his problems though. About five years ago, Dash was attacked by a viscous dog in the neighborhood and almost killed. It required three surgeries, months of physical therapy, and a lot of loving care to get him back on his feet again. After all this, the last thing our boy needs now is cancer.

I have to accept the reality that we have two very high maintenance dogs now. Dot is incredibly resilient, but she is very old now and has all the problems associated with old age. She hasn't given up though, and still seems to love her life. I think the water therapy and acupuncture are really helping. She is much more mobile and active than many other Dalmatians her age. She did great on the underwater treadmill today. Watching her go through her paces, it would be easy to imagine that she was 8 instead of 13 or 14. With both dogs, we're going to have to take things one day at a time from this point forward. Dot had a very good day today. Dash, not so good.

I didn't go to my networking breakfast this morning. I had other things on my mind. I'm beginning to realize that other than the breakfast itself, this group has very little to offer my company. I've been around long enough to realize that few, if any, of these people will ever have a need for my rather specialized services. Don't get me wrong. They are all nice folks and I enjoy chatting with them on mornings when I'm awake. I'm just not a morning person though and never will be. I've tried everything on the breakfast menu and had an opportunity to try on all my old suits again. That was fun. The Giorgio Armani and Valentino suits still look great after all these years. The Jhane Barnes looked ridiculous. I'm trying to think of valid reasons to continue to get up this early, but I can't think of many.

I go for my first evaluation tomorrow to see how well the new Hepatitis-C treatment is working. Mostly this will be more blood tests. I really hope this advanced treatment is successful. At a point in my life where so many things seem pointless, it would be nice to know that there was at least one instance where I was doing exactly the right thing at exactly the right time.

Spot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Day 1526

Another stressful day. We've known for some time that Dash has a lipoma in his neck. These fatty tumors are very common in dogs and most of them are benign. When I took Dash for his antigen shot today, his vet thought that the lipoma had grown a bit and wanted to run some tests to make sure it wasn't malignant. She aspirated cells from several sections of the tumor and sent them off to a pathologist for analysis. We should know the results before the end of the week. If the growth is a normal fatty lipoma we don't need to do anything. If the cells are abnormal or malignant, more tests and even surgery may be required.

I certainly hope the growth isn't cancer. We have had two dogs that have had cancer. Spot, our first Dalmatian, remained cancer free after some serious surgery that removed six inches of his intestines. Gretta wasn't so lucky. She died two days after a surgeon tried to remove a cancerous lobe from her liver. She didn't even make it home from the surgery center. Hopefully, the growth in Dash's throat is benign. It is in a difficult place, right next to his carotid artery. It would take a very skilled surgeon to successfully remove it.

If any of you have had to switch to Obamacare, you have my sympathies. I'm on Medicare now, and even though the government has had decades to work out all the kinks, Medicare is still a huge mess. I'm almost certain that Obamacare will be worse, since it's brand new. I found out today that even though I enrolled in Medicare over six months ago, none of my claims have been processed. Apparently Medicare still thinks my "employer" is paying for my health insurance, not realizing of course that I have been my own employer for over twenty years. The group insurance plan I discontinued last June when I enrolled in Medicare is still listed as my primary health insurance and Medicare is listed as secondary insurance on Medicare's own website. After calling three different numbers and sitting on hold for almost an hour, I finally ended up talking to someone who understood my problem. They have an entire department dedicated to resolving these type of problems because they are so commonplace. I think it's called the Coordination of Benefits Department. The lady I talked to was very nice and told me that she had updated my records to indicate that Medicare was now my primary insurance. She never told me how the group plan I discontinued over six months ago had gotten into the system however. Evidently mistakes like these are quite common when you are self-employed. When I asked if there was anything else I needed to do, the lady casually mentioned that I needed to have all my doctors submit their claims again. "But you already have all their information," I said. "Can't you just reprocess it?" No can do, the lady told me. The doctors will have to start over and resubmit all their claims. They'll have to wait ten days before they do this too. That's how long it takes for the government databases to be updated with the new information they entered today.

A can light in the bathroom ceiling burned out this morning. I got a ladder and looked at the fixture, but couldn't find anything wrong. I hate to call an electrician because they will charge me $300 or more to do something simple that I could do myself.  I hate to do this job myself either. If I remember correctly, the last time I tried to fix something up on the ceiling was when I managed to get my neck out of joint and had to go to physical therapy for three months. Whatever happened to the fixture also managed to ruin one of my fancy new LED light bulbs. These LED bulbs are supposed to be indestructible and last forever. Apparently not.

Maybe tomorrow will be better. I can't think of many good things that happened today at all.

Bailey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Monday, February 17, 2014

Day 1525 - President's Day

Yup. It did turn out to be a cleaning day. I kind of figured it would. I spent the day doing a host of little things that I've been putting off for months. I cleaned soap scum off the shower tiles. I took the handles off the bathroom faucets so I could clean off the accumulated soap and mold that had gotten inside the fixtures. I cleaned the toilet. I went to Home Depot and bought a new garden hose and spray nozzle to replace the leaky one in the back yard. I cleaned the bird shit off my car again. None of this was very exciting, but since I have the same degree of affection for cleaning toilets as I do for most recent presidents, I guess it made sense to do these things on President's Day.

I finally figured out were to find the serial number on my UP band, so I could write Jawbone and ask them to send me a new one. Then I saw something on the Internet about how to revive a dead Jawbone battery. I followed the instructions and amazingly the band started to charge again. I'd already sent the letter saying that the band was broken, of course. It remains to be seen whether they'll send me a new one.

I don't know whether my shoulder is ever going to get better. I was so worried about walking the dogs and working out at the gym, but it is the simple, unavoidable things that are the problem. Making the bed is a problem. Putting on socks is a problem. I climbed up on the roof today to sweep off some water, and that was definitely a problem. I've had a shoulder that tended to go out of joint for at least ten years. If I was careful, it never really hindered me much. My recent injury was definitely the worst I've had, but there have been others. I can make the muscles around the shoulder stronger, but that's about all. The ball and socket joint has been loose for a long time and will probably always be loose.

The dogs are finally learning to sleep in late. Now that they are mastering this new routine, it's back to work. Janet will return to getting up at the crack of dawn tomorrow and the dogs will be confused again. Maybe we'll all go back to sleep for another hour after Janet leaves for work. It's hard for me to come up with a good reason to get up early. What is the point? I usually have lots to do, but I can set my own schedule. Hey, why get up early when you have the option of staying up late?

I saw my first Daffodils today. I bet they won't last long. This always happens in Texas. The flowers get confused and then Mother Nature lets them know who's boss with one final blast of arctic weather.

Lexi is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Day 1524

Dash is a smart dog. When he was having his incontinence problems recently, he learned that if he scratched at the back door with his paw, we would come running to let him out. That little scratching noise would wake me from a sound sleep, because I knew that if I didn't get there in time, Dash would poop in the house. Now that Dash is completely better, he has remembered what a quick response he gets from scratching at the back door. Now he scratches at the back door whenever he wants anything. It's irritating. Since his bowels have been a bit unpredictable as long as he's been with us, I still come running, only to discover that Dash has cleverly gotten me out of bed for a dog treat or an early walk. He has become particularly bad with this behavior on weekends when the rest of the family likes to sleep in a little longer. Although Dash spends half his life sleeping, he apparently doesn't understand the concept of sleeping in. Sunday's are a great time to sleep in, but Dash was determined to get us out of bed and walking in the park by 6:30 AM. Eventually he won this battle.

It was a nice day, but Dash still should have cut us a little slack. Would it kill him to sleep a little longer on Sunday morning? Jeez, doesn't he know that he gets to go to the dog park on Sunday's anyway? At any rate, the day got off to an earlier start than I had hoped, but it wasn't a bad day. The dogs got their walk. Everybody had a nice breakfast. Janet and I did a few chores around the house. And then we all went to the dog park.

On days like these, you can be easily fooled into thinking that Spring has already arrived. Almost every year, there is a week in February when the weather is so nice that trees start to bud and a few hardy flowers begin to poke through the soil. Inevitably, just when things are starting to look green, there is a final Winter freeze that kills all the early growth. It happened last year, and it will probably happen again this year. That's just the way it is in Texas. Eventually, it all gets sorted out and by April the meadows behind our house are thick with wildflowers. April and May are usually wonderful, but by June I will be complaining again about how hot Texas gets in the Summer.

I made it back to the gym this afternoon and started doing some of my old routines again. It's amazing how quickly a few idle weeks can throw you off your stride. It hasn't been that long, but I can already tell that my strength and endurance aren't as good as they used to be. The shoulder still hurts a bit, but the inflamation is all gone, so I think it's time to start working on the muscles again. If I waited for my shoulder to feel completely normal again, I'd be waiting for a long, long time. It's never going to be completely normal again.

Janet has the day off tomorrow. I hope she decides it's a lazy day instead of a housecleaning day.

Joshua is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Day 1523

I got a pleasant surprise this morning. I received a publisher's proof of my entry in the upcoming SXSW Cookbook. I was amazed. My recipe looked really good. Somebody had actually followed the directions and cooked the recipe, just so they could photograph it for the cookbook. I didn't know they were going to do that. I also didn't know that they were going to give me a really nice write up that made me look like much more than a reclusive guy who works at home with his dogs.

Maybe I was more back in the days when I routinely used to attend SXSW. I couldn't even afford to go to SXSW anymore. The festival wasn't a star studded event like Sundance back then, but it was still a big deal. The year they asked me to be a speaker at the event, fellow speakers included folks like Steven Soderbergh and Matthew McConaughey. I'm without a doubt the least famous person to have a recipe in this illustrious cookbook, which includes recipes by luminaries like Guy Kawasaki and Randi Zuckerberg. It's an honor to be included. I felt kind of the same way when Paypal selected me to be a spokesperson for their advertising a few years ago. I'm kind of a ghost now, but it's nice to be remembered.

It felt like Spring today. Temperatures were in the seventies and there was a nice breeze. Weather like this always brings a ton of people out to the park behind my house. For years, the place used to be a quiet wooded area and then one year the city passed a big bond issue to revitalize the park. Now the park is a popular destination for people from all over the area. With people come problems. Almost every time there's a really nice day I see fire and rescue folks on the lake rescuing swimmers and unlucky folks who managed to sink their kayaks. I don't know what happened today, but while I was giving Dot and Dash their evening walk I saw a large firetruck with seven firemen, a fire department rescue boat, a police car, and an ambulance. I hope everybody was OK, but it didn't look good.

My second Jawbone UP band has broken. I've gotten hooked on wearing these diminutive activity trackers, but they sure don't last very long. Janet and my stockbroker have had their bands go kaput on them too. I wonder why they can't make the batteries in these things last longer. That's usually what goes wrong. One day you wake up and realize the battery just won't charge anymore and you're just wearing a silly looking loop of rubber.

I'm so happy that Dot has made a complete recovery from what could have been a very serious accident. Dalmatians must have iron stomachs. Spot ate broken glass and lived. Petey ate several birds and some rather large barbecued rib bones. Greta just gnawed on the legs of my prized Palazzetti Tomasa dining room chairs, which didn't hurt her at all, but it sure made me sick.

It definitely looks like a dog park day tomorrow. The weather is absolutely fabulous this weekend. At least temporarily, the ground hog is forgiven.

Lucky is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, February 14, 2014

Day 1522 - Valentine's Day

To a dog, Valentine's Day is just like any other day, except that sometimes you get dressed up in silly costumes, and other times you get an extra treat after dinner. Ours usually get a Sprinkles dog cupcake. These look exactly like the Sprinkles cupcakes for people, except that they are for dogs. I hope they are made with dog safe ingredients and aren't packed with sugar. I've never really asked. Dot and Dash sure like them though.

This morning, when I was driving home from my breakfast restaurant, I noticed a lot of men washing their cars, so I decided to wash mine as well. Men seem to like to wash cars, especially on a nice day. There is something satisfying about a clean car. It is well within the realm of possibility. A clean house is nothing but a pipe dream. With two Dalmatians and clutter everywhere, I've given up on ever having a clean house.

Dot is just about back to normal now. Her eyes are bright and her energy has returned. The only problem I'm having now is figuring out where to keep her, so she'll be safe when I have to leave the house. When I look around the house, there are lots and lots of cloth or leather things a dog could chew on if they got in one of those frantic chewing moods. For now, I put up some dog gates and confine her in a hallway area where there are brick floors. There is no need to confine Dash, but since he likes to sleep on the bed when we're gone, he ends up being confined too. Dot's temporary hallway pen blocks his exit. Neither dog seems to mind this arrangement since they sleep most of the day anyway.

The complex boarding arrangements add even even additional time to my daily dog care routines. Now that I'm walking each dog separately and creating separate spaces for them every time I leave the house, there doesn't seem to be much time for anything else. No sane person would spend this much time being a dog butler, but you guys probably figured out that I'm not entirely sane quite a while ago.

I paid a bunch of bills this afternoon and now I feel poor again. Money seems to flow in and out of my hands like the tide. I need more lucky breaks like I got at the grocery store this morning. I ended up getting a $30 Filet mignon for $9 because somebody mistakenly mislabeled it. I didn't even realized that I had selected such an exclusive little piece of beef until I heard two butchers conferring about the price. They were good to their word and let me have the price marked on the case. I think they took that $9 sign down as soon as I left.

It looks like we've got a three day weekend with decent weather coming up. I'm still not sure what President's Day is all about, but I'll take any excuse I can get not to work. Who knows, the dogs might even get two trips to the dog park.

Dash is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Day 1521

Dot is OK. After spending the day getting a series of Barium x-rays to determine if her digestive system was still functioning properly, the radiologist finally gave her a clean bill of health and she was able to come home again. Everybody told me that we were extremely lucky that she was able to throw up the last big mass of carpet last night. The spongy, fibrous mass effectively blocked any solids from going into her intestines, which was a good thing. It didn't look like she had any long strands of fiber in her intestines at all. If she wasn't able to throw this mass up, it would have had to be removed surgically from her stomach.

All's well that ends well, but now I can't really trust Dot in the house when I'm gone anymore. Who knows when this frantic compulsion to eat something like this will return? We've got to figure out what is causing these episodes. The best guess so far is that she has acid reflux. I wouldn't be surprised if this was the problem. I had a bad case of acid reflux myself once. It took a long time to find the cause and eliminate it, but it can be done.

It was good that work was slow today, because it gave me time for the trips back and forth to the vet and other errands that I wouldn't have had time for if it was a normal day. Traffic was terrible today, but I wasn't in a hurry so it didn't matter. I decided to get Sprinkles cupcakes today, instead of waiting in the insanely long Valentine's Day lines tomorrow. What the hell. These cupcakes will still be just as fresh tomorrow. I'm tired of standing in line for two hours or more just to buy some very overpriced cupcakes. Apparently other people had the same idea, because there was still a line. It was a reasonable line though. I was out of there in twenty minutes.

This week I'm glad I live in Texas. They may be having record snowfalls in New York, but it was 70 degrees in Dallas today. I think the nice weather is expected to last through the weekend too. I heard several people talk about playing golf this weekend. I'm sure the cold weather will return, but I'm a happy camper now. This is one of the weirdest Winters that I can remember. We continue to bounce back and forth between freezing and sweating and nobody knows why.

At least we don't have sinkholes in Texas. I was shocked to see all those historic Corvettes get swallowed up by a huge sinkhole in Kentucky. Florida has a lot of sinkholes too. All we have are tornadoes. If Dot's condition continues to improve, I'm going out for a good breakfast tomorrow. It's been a long week and I need a break. Dot's not getting anywhere near anything cloth when I leave though. No more carpet eating! I think I'll pen her up in the brick hallway. I'm getting ahead of myself though. First we have to see how she does tonight.

Tessa is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Day 1520

It was a stressful day. Dot is not getting better. When I took her on her morning walk, she threw up some of the carpet she ate. About three hours later, she threw up even more carpet scraps. I took her back to the vet and she said that even though it was a good thing that she was able throw up most of the carpet she ate, she wasn't out of the woods yet. Carpet is apparently one of the worst things a dog can eat because long strings of the fabric tend to stay intact. It is these long strings that can cause serious problems if they get into the intestines.

The vet said I ought to try feeding her small amounts of a bland canned dog food like Hills ID four times a day, to encourage her to pass the rest of the debris through her system. Unfortunately, she couldn't hold the canned food down and threw up again. We'll be watching Dot carefully tonight and taking her back to the vet first thing in the morning for a series of Barium x-rays to determine if there is a blockage. Hopefully, she'll be able to pass everything, because if she can't, she'll have to have abdominal surgery. Our first Dalmatian had to have abdominal surgery and it was extremely difficult to get his digestive processes working again afterwards. He almost died.

Dash, of course, is still waking us up in a panic at three in the morning to go outside and poop. We're still not sure what is wrong with him either. My shoulder is taking its own sweet time to heal as well. Life goes on, but this is definitely not the best February I can remember.

I went to the networking breakfast this morning, mostly because Dot seemed perfectly fine when I woke up. She actually seemed perfectly fine when I returned. It wasn't until about 10:30 AM that she started throwing up carpet scraps. This morning's meeting was actually pretty interesting. There was no formal agenda and we just sat around and talked about how much our respective industries had changed in the last decade. It was oddly reassuring to realize that everybody else was facing the same jarring, tumultuous changes that I am.

Dot is resting calmly now. She threw up some more carpet right after I finished my dinner this evening, but she is breathing normally and her stomach is not distended. If she starts throwing up violently, we'll have to take her to the emergency vet tonight, but hopefully that won't happen. She actually appears more comfortable now after she threw up the most recent batch of carpet.  The odd thing is that she now appears to have thrown up more carpet than she actually ate. Poor girl. She's got to be really uncomfortable.

Hopefully, things will start looking up tomorrow. I saw the sun again this evening while I was walking Dash. That's always a good sign.

Lucy is today's Dalmatian of the Day

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