Monday, March 31, 2014

Day 1567

Dot may have slowed down quite a bit, but she hasn't lost her ability to bark at repairmen. She barked nonstop while the HVAC guys were here this morning. It's kind of embarrassing that I don't really have the ability to keep her quiet, but that's just the way it is. Dot is the matriarch of the family and she's protecting the house. That's the way she sees it anyway.

Luckily most of the work was outside today. They guys are used to her now anyway. I'm more worried that she'll work herself into a frenzy and have a stroke or something. I put a blanket over her dog gate, so she couldn't actually see the workmen. That helped a little, but she still knew they were there. 

Dash is one-third of the way through his radiation treatment now. His oncologist is very pleased with his progress. The Palladia chemo pills will continue quite a while after the radiation is finished, but so far Dash has had no problems with this part of the treatment either. Dot is the problem girl now. We've got to figure out if there is blood in her stools, and if so, why. I took a sample to the vet this morning, but the results were inconclusive. We'll do another test tomorrow when I take her for her acupuncture appointment.

I wish my Monday work load was more consistent. Some Monday's I'm swamped, and other days like today, there isn't much going on at all. There were no writing assignments today, but I did have one extensive website update to complete. With no competing deadlines, I completed this update with time to spare.

I walked Dot and Dash separately this evening and both Dogs seemed happier. Dot walks extremely slowly now, but she still enjoys being outside. Without the irritation of Dash continually tugging to go in the opposite direction, she actually took a longer walk this evening. Dash took a much longer walk, without the necessity of turning back as soon as Dot gets tired. I'd do this back-to-back walk everyday, except that it takes a lot more time.

We'll see what April brings our way. I like the warmer weather and I'm getting used to all the dog transportation issues. A little variety might be nice. Only the good kind of variety though. I don't need any more health issues or home repair problems. Small things will suffice. A different flavor of ice cream for dessert, or the occasional new magazine in the mail is all the variety I need.

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

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Day 1566

Today was a catch up day. I went up on the roof and swept away the remains of last week's thunderstorm. I charged camera batteries and updated software. I did some cleaning. I even made it back to the gym. Since it was such a nice day outside, the gym was practically empty. Between walking the dogs, cleaning standing water off the roof, and my first full workout in several weeks, I was pretty tired.

I can't say I actually enjoyed any of this activity, but it all needed to be done.  Although I do spend a lot of time staring aimlessly into a computer screen, I'm not a lazy person. I continue to push myself, and am determined to never become an overweight Walmart shopper or a professional victim. I remain convinced that we all determine our own destiny. Each and every one of us.

I'm starting to worry about Dot again. I've noticed that her stools have been darker than normal this week. It's not the dreaded tarry black that indicates internal bleeding, but still it's not normal. I'll get a lab test done to make sure nothing's wrong. Dot is so absolutely consistent about everything, that anything abnormal stands out like a sore thumb. Now that Dash is sick, I depend on Dot more than ever as a source of stability. Luckily she is.

It's hard to believe that April is just around the corner. So far, 2014 has zipped by amazingly fast. We seemed to have survived the Winter. The trees in the back yard are turning green again. Most of the shrubs and ground cover survived. The roof shows no signs of leaking and I'm beginning to think that the roofers did a better job than I initially thought they did. If Dash and I can just put our health problems behind us, it might turn out to be a very good year.

Right now, I'll just settle for another good week. Dash resumes his radiation treatments tomorrow.  While he's away, the HVAC guys will be getting the AC ready for Summer. I need to see if I can get Dot's vet appointment rescheduled for Tuesday. And then on Thursday, I've got a doctor's appointment of my own. I'm sure that in between all this, there will be articles to write and websites to revise. It will definitely be a busy week, but it will be April. April is always one of my favorite times of year in Texas.

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

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Day 1565

I cooked a family breakfast while Janet walked the dogs this morning. I suspect that this renewed interest in food is temporary, but I might as well take advantage of it while it lasts. I do make a good omelet. I opted not to take advantage of today's beautiful weather and do more yard work. Even though the lawn mower beckoned me to give it a first trial run for 2014, I left the infernal machine alone. I can't postpone the inevitable much longer though. Everything is green and growing like crazy now. I think Spring is here for good.

Janet got some sheets for the bed that were made out of bamboo when she was on vacation. They are supposed to be softer than cotton, yet more durable. I heard similar claims of durability about bamboo flooring when I was considering having bamboo hardwood floors installed several years ago. I never realized you could do so much with bamboo. You can eat the stuff too. At any rate, I put the new bamboo sheets on today. We'll see how well they hold up to the Dalmatian durability test.

I had a ton of small errands to run today. I'm starting to see that price must be more important than quality to people. It doesn't really matter what type of store you're in, there are slightly inferior products in the shelves in an effort to keep prices from going up. This brand substitution is most obvious in grocery stores, but you see it everywhere. Prices are more or less the same, but there are different brands on the shelves. Or maybe the brands are the same, but there is less in the box. There is always an effort to make you think you're getting a bargain, when you really aren't. Personally, I'd rather see prices go up than quality go down, but that's just me.

Since my new diet has forced me to read what is on the label, I've noticed that once you're out of the produce aisles in a grocery store, there's virtually nothing healthy on the shelves. The amount of salt and sugar in most packaged food is simply astounding. About the only thing this country exports to the rest of the world these days are pop culture and bad food. It's ironic. As Starbucks, McDonald's, and Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises spring up in every corner of the globe, our gift to the world has been diabetes, heart disease, and poorly behaved children.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a vegan, I don't do yoga, and I still love a good cheeseburger. It just seems like if we put even a tiny amount of effort into eating healthier, the grocery store aisles wouldn't be filled with fat people reaching for big bags of stuff that will make them even fatter. I've learned my lesson about moderation. I'm never going to eat at The Cheesecake Factory again.

I don't know what I'm going to do about walking the dogs this summer. It's already too hot for Dot. About halfway through an already shortened evening walk, Dot decided she'd had enough. She refused to walk any further while Dash was ready to walk another mile. I had a devil of a time getting the two dogs home again. Maybe I'll just walk Dot in the mornings now, when it's a bit cooler. She still does pretty well in the morning.

It looks like I'll finally have time to go back to the gym tomorrow. I bet it will be like starting over. I haven't been in quite a while now.

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

Friday, March 28, 2014

Day 1564

I got up early to meet the HVAC guy this morning and just about the time he was supposed to arrive, I got a phone call saying he was sick. We postponed everything until Monday and I went out for breakfast instead. Today's breakfast was strangely unsatisfying, since I was already prepared to do something else. As many of you already know, spontaneity is not one of my strong points.

This was another radiation therapy day for Dash. They've been getting his treatments done early this week, so he's usually ready to come home again around noon. I continue to be amazed by how well he's handling all this. Truthfully, I think he's handling the cancer much better than I am. Of course, Dash doesn't really know he has cancer. I'm fairly certain he just thinks he's going to a weird kind of doggie day care.

The weather was bad today, so I got a lot of writing done. Even by Texas standards, this was a strange day. We had bright sunshine, misty dampness, and a severe thunderstorm, all within a single day. The weatherman on TV said that a cold front had moved through the area, but the temperature still seemed pretty warm to me. When the cold fronts start feeling warm, you know that Spring is here.

Everything worked out pretty well today. I got Dash taken care of during the sunny part of the day, and returned home to write during the rainy part of the day. Even the thunderstorm wasn't very traumatic, since the dogs were so sleepy that they didn't even notice most of it.

I wish I wasn't such a hypochondriac.  I had an upset stomach and severe case of heartburn for most of the day. I couldn't decide whether this was caused by all the pills I've been taking, or if I'd just eaten some bad food yesterday. Of course, it could just be stress. Sick dogs, lots of bills to pay, and unpredictable weather have never been among my favorite things.

At least the weekend is here. I look forward to two days of doing as little as possible. Dot's new harness came in the mail today. We got her a special full body harness just like Dash's. Now both dogs will look like search and rescue pros when we take them on walks. Dot never tries to escape like Dash, but this new harness will be good for her as well, since it provides an extra level of support.

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

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Day 1563

Dash got himself in a snit today when he discovered that it was Dot who was going to the vet instead of him. He's been getting all the attention lately, so I think he just assumed that all car rides are automatically reserved for him now. Dot needs attention too, so we resumed our acupuncture and water therapy sessions for the first time in several weeks. Dot did very well in the tank today and seemed quite relaxed during her acupuncture session as well. I think she enjoyed having a day out by herself.

My accountant called today and said that the good news was that I was getting a tax refund this year, but the bad news was that I wouldn't be getting much. Taxes used to upset me and I would fret about them endlessly. I don't even care anymore. I trust my accountant and I don't really want to think about taxes anymore. If I need to write a check, I write a check. If I get money back, it is quickly gone anyway. Either way, it's not going to change my life much.

I wish I hadn't told the HVAC guy to come over tomorrow, because now I won't be able to go out for my regular Friday breakfast. I guess I forgot it was Friday tomorrow. Dash will be away getting another radiation treatment in the morning, but this will probably make Dot bark at the HVAC guy even more. She gets real serious about protecting the house when she knows she's on her own. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep the peace and convince Dot to settle down. She's way too old to work herself into a frenzy over a repairman in the house.

I finally convinced one of my writing clients to let me choose my own subject matter. I wrote my first self-generated article today and hope they like it. I realize that I won't always be able to choose what I write about, but it will be nice when I can. I really prefer working this way.

The bird decoys on the cars are working. I haven't cleaned bird poop off either car for over three days now. Of course there's always a chance that the warm weather has just caused the troublesome bird to move elsewhere. I'd prefer to think it was my brilliant idea that stopped the bird from making a big mess on the car every morning.

This week went very quickly, but the time can't go quickly enough for me these days. I'll be so glad when Dash's cancer treatments and my own Hepatitis C treatments are a thing of the past.

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

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Day 1562

Don't ever let me apply for a job on a haz-mat crew. I hate dealing with hazardous substances. Every time I have to don the purple rubber gloves and go through the elaborate clean up procedures to give Dash his chemotherapy pills, I expect something dire to happen. Logically, I think the warnings are ridiculous overkill, but I follow them anyway. I'm superstitious. Why are these pills so dangerous? I understand why you wouldn't want to break the pills apart or crush them to sprinkle on food, but they have a wax coating like most pills. Wouldn't this coating make the pills safe to touch? I don't get it. And if the pills come with such extensive warnings, why wouldn't the doctors just want to give them to the dogs while they were at the clinic?

Like I said, I'm superstitious though, so I take the extra time to do every single silly safety procedure. Since the primary adverse side effect of the chemo pills is anemia and the primary adverse side effect of my own Hepatitis C pills is also anemia, I definitely don't want a case of double anemia. Luckily, my own reluctance to administer the pills is the only side effect we are seeing so far. Dash is handling his treatment much better than I ever expected. He actually seems to look forward to going to the cancer center. He shows no adverse effects from being anesthetized every two days for the radiation treatments. He still has lots of energy. And as we near the end of week two, the dreaded chemo pills don't appear to be bothering him either.

It was a very busy day, although at the end of the day, it didn't seem like I'd accomplished much. There were still lingering website problems to resolve stemming from some incorrect DNS settings that took several sites down overnight. There were some tax issues to resolve with my accountant. There were dogs to transport. Photos to retouch in Photoshop. And since it rained today, a car to wash. I don't know why I waste so much time keeping my car clean. It's kind of a thankless job, since the dogs continually get the inside muddy and the rain gets the outside even muddier. The car is still one small thing I have complete control over though. I can impose order on it, so I do. I wish I could impose the same rigid order on the rest of my life, but I can't. When it's John vs. the world, the world usually wins.

When I was trying to resolve my client's website problems this morning, I realized that even in a world where everyone is using the same Wordpress template, it's still good to have coding skills. After getting nowhere talking to tech support for half an hour, I finally realized that the only way to get the outcome I wanted was to re-write some code myself and bypass the new restrictions the hosting company had placed on the site. I don't know how long the patch will work, but it works now.

Tomorrow, Dot gets to be the center of attention again. I've had to skip her acupuncture and water therapy sessions for several weeks, due to Dash's cancer treatments, but I was finally able to get her rescheduled on a day where Dash rests. Since her physical therapy is obviously helping her, I'd really hate to abandon it at this point. Hopefully it won't rain again tomorrow. I'd hate to wash my car two days in a row.
Bubba is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Day 1561

There are too many things to remember. Did I take my pills this morning? Have I watered the new grass? Did I make a test print to keep the large printer from clogging? Is it the right day for Dash's chemo pills? Have I answered all my e-mail? Have I folded the clothes in the dryer? Did I pay the utility bills? Are there any clean towels left? Are my camera batteries charged? Where are my reading glasses? Is there enough gas in the car? The list goes on and on. I would like to have a day, or a month, or even a year with nothing to remember at all. That's not going to happen though.

On busy work days, I forget a lot of routine things. On slower days, I try to catch up. I never remember everything though. Try as I may, there are still days when we're completely out of garbage bags, or the milk in the refrigerator has gone bad. It's easier to remember things that happen every day. I never forget breakfast and always make the bed in the morning. Things that only happen periodically are more problematic. I really have to keep my wits about me to avoid giving Dash his cancer medicine on the wrong day. Taking my own pills at the right time can be a problem as well. I write all important things down in an online calendar, but frequently forget to check the calendar. Clients that feed me work every day usually get great service, but clients who only need things every month or so occasionally get forgotten about.

I do best on simple days like today. Several clients asked me direct questions and I answered them on the spot. I got a request for an article and I wrote it immediately. Why not? I wasn't doing anything else at the time. I paid a small stack of bills, went to the post office, and took the dogs on a long walk. I did remember to water the new grass and even cooked an omelet using up some leftover sausage and spicy vegetables from the weekend. This seemed like plenty to do for one day.

Tomorrow will be busier, since it's another radiation treatment day for Dash. Wednesday used to be Dot's acupuncture and water therapy day, but I've moved that to Thursday, since it's about the only free day left. The HVAC guys are coming out Friday to rewire the connection to the air conditioner compressor in the back yard. The Summer Texas sun is murder on exposed wiring and the existing wiring doesn't look like it will last another season. I definitely don't want to have to deal with a broken AC this Summer. Too bad the HVAC guys couldn't fix the blinking LED can lights in the bathroom as well. It would be nice to kill two birds with one stone.

This afternoon, I noticed a squirrel digging up one of the new Liriope plants I planted this weekend. Why do these critters continue to torment me? On one of our recent walks, a large possum refused to give ground on the trail and the dogs got way too interested. I thought we were going to have an epic possum battle. Pretty soon it will be warm enough for the snakes to reappear. I think in my next life, I'll live in a downtown high-rise.

Petey is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Monday, March 24, 2014

Day 1560

Do you guys hate passwords as much as I do? When is someone going to figure out how to use the little cameras built into our computers to do a retinal scan and be done with passwords? I can never remember my passwords any more. There are so many of them these days. You can't use the time honored practice of using the same password for everything anymore either. Everyone had their own conventions and standards. Some want a minimum of six characters. Others demand ten characters. More and more sites are demanding a combination of upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers, and special symbols. This wouldn't be so bad if everyone could agree on what a special symbol was. If I decide to use an underscore, the next person will demand an ampersand instead. It's driving me crazy.

I mention this only because one of my clients was asked to change the IP address where all their domains were pointed. We had to log into the Network Solutions control panel to move the DNS and neither of us could remember our passwords or User ID. We couldn't even remember who's account we were using. The client requested a password reset on his account and somehow Network Solutions ended up resetting my account instead. Every time I deal with Network Solutions, I vow to move the rest of my domains to GoDaddy. Making any kind of a change that involves Network Solutions usually takes up half my day.

Dash is so good about going to the cancer center for his radiation treatments. They love him up at the center and always tell me what a sweet dog he is. Dash is a social dog. I think he likes going for radiation treatments because he gets to play with other dogs while he waits for his turn with the radiation machine. That says something about how bored he must be spending the day with me. If getting treated for cancer is preferable to sitting under a writer's desk, that tells me that the writer's life might be way too boring. In fairness, Dash used to play with Dot a lot. Now Dot is getting too old and doesn't like to play much. No wonder Dash likes to go to the dog park so much.

The weather is getting a lot warmer, but it still seems pretty weird to me. When I take the dogs out early in the morning, there is still frost on the plants. By the time I take them out in the evening again it is 80 degrees. Where else but Texas would you use your furnace in the morning and your air conditioner in the afternoon?

Mondays provide a continual reminder that I'm working mostly to pay the bills these days. Very little of what I do is fun anymore. It used to be fun, but times have changed radically. Creative work has become so commoditized and marginalized that very few folks like me get to pretend they're the Wizard of Oz anymore. Instead, I feel a lot like Sisyphus, endlessly pushing that giant boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down again. Every time I take Dash to the cancer center, I remember why I keep pushing that rock up the hill. Work may be mindless, but it's not pointless. It pays the bills.

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

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Day 1559

Weekends come with a bonus these days. There are no complicated cancer protocols to follow on weekends. Dash gets a little rest and the dogs can just be normal dogs. Even though it was a normal weekend filled with the usual weekend chores, it seemed much easier to deal with than the previous week.

Since the weather was nice, I thought I'd do some gardening and finish up what the landscaping guys forgot. I went to Home Depot and bought a couple of flats of Liriope to fill in a few bare areas. I thought the landscape guys were going to do this themselves, but apparently we weren't on the same wavelength. They did have extra Monkey Grass in their bid, but when I told them to fill in the bare areas, they started on the East side of the yard and methodically worked their way West. I thought they'd start with the worst looking areas and proceed to slightly less shabby areas until the Liriope ran out. There would have been plenty of ground cover to go around if they'd done this. Instead, they just told me that they ran out of Liriope before they even reached the big bare spot on the West side of the yard.

I should never do gardening. I'm somewhat of a perfectionist and I hate mud and dirt. Gardening is all about mud and dirt, so I always make a bigger mess than I anticipate. It took a while, but the yard now looks the way I imagined it would. I also took some of the white pea gravel I had the guys add to the path and moved it to the small decorative circles that serve as sculpture bases. Just like the Liriope, there was already plenty of pea gravel to accomplish what I wanted. The landscapers just didn't seem to know what I wanted to do with it.  I found the extra gravel I needed under the garbage cans behind the back fence. It wasn't doing much good there, so I shoveled it into buckets and moved it to the two circular areas on either side of the curving path. After I was finished, there was still plenty of left-over gravel.

Everything looks great now, but my gardening efforts took so much longer than I anticipated that I didn't make it to the gym after all. By the way my shoulder feels now, I probably got more exercise gardening than I would have at the gym anyway.

I'll be real glad when my Hepatitis C treatments are finished. Now that my Hemoglobin levels are low, I find that I'm frequently getting nosebleeds in addition to waking up with a cold every morning. When I was making the bed this morning, I leaned over to straighten the sheets and noticed little drops of blood on the pillows. "What the hell," I thought. "Where is this blood coming from?" Then I realized that it was dripping from my nose. It's a nuisance, but a very minor nuisance compared to getting a liver transplant sometime later in life.

Janet and I tried to attach our little bird scarecrows to small suction cups to make them easier to place on the cars. It was an idea that should have worked, since the suction cups seemed to stick easily to a variety of things around the house. They wouldn't stick to the cars though. I don't know why. Oh, well. This was a minor failure. The yard looks nice. The dogs are relaxed and happy. It was a nice weekend.

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

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Day 1558

We went up and photographed dogs at the Dalmatian Rescue kennel today. One of the dogs was actually being adopted while we were there and it was nice to see him go to his new home. There aren't as many abandoned Dalmatians anymore. I think the irresponsible people have moved on to other breeds. That's a good thing. Most of the Dalmatians who get adopted now go to homes that have had a Dalmatian before. These people love and understand the breed and the dogs find good homes. I'm sure there are still people who see a popular movie and end up wanting a dog for all the wrong reasons. At least that dog isn't a Dalmatian now. Hopefully, Disney won't make any more 101 Dalmatian movies. That movie was largely responsible for the surge in abandoned Dalmatians in 1996.

The weather got cooler again today. This is the time of year when Janet keeps turning on the air conditioner and I keep turning on the heater. Back and forth we go. During these in-between times, I'm always cold and she's always hot. In a month or so, there will be no more ambiguity. By the time June arrives, everybody will be in agreement again. Texas summers are hot.

Our water bill is going to be high next month. One of the things about new grass is that you have to water it constantly. It's ironic. We got the grass to keep the dogs from getting muddy, but now that the entire yard is a soggy mess, the dogs get muddy anyway. Hopefully, the grass will last a little longer than it did last year. The landscape guys treated for grubs again, but grubs are a perennial problem in Texas. No matter what we do, we always seem to have grubs.

I thought Janet would laugh at my idea of putting a little scarecrow on my car mirrors to ward off the pooping redbird. She apparently liked the idea though, because when she was shopping today, she got a bunch of little rubber birds at the Dollar Store and now her car has little bird scarecrows on the mirrors as well. The mailman will probably think we are crazy.

I need to go to the gym tomorrow. I need to figure out how to resume going during the week as well. Now that it appears my liver is improving, the real challenge will be avoid slipping back to my old unhealthy ways. I've always been able to rise to the occasion during difficult times. I'm a big advocate of that old "When the going gets tough, the tough get going" adage. When the danger is over, I'm a terrible backslider though. I definitely don't exercise and eat Kale for the sheer joy of it. At heart, I'm more of a bacon and beer kind of guy.

Brooke is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Friday, March 21, 2014

Day 1557

The FedEx delivery guy was late this morning. Dash finished his radiation treatment early. The landscaping guy said he was coming back at 9 AM this morning to pick up all the bagged up leaves from yesterday. He must have come at some other time. All I know is that the leaves are gone now. I don't know why scheduling has become so difficult lately. Nothing seems to happen at the appointed time anymore. Basically, it was one of those "hurry up and wait" kind of days. It's amazing that I got anything done at all.

Dash continues to do well with his radiation treatments. Other than seeming a little tired, he appears to be completely normal. I'm starting to notice a lot of the same people are sitting in the lobby whenever I go to pick Dash up. There are apparently a lot of people like me who take their dog in three times a week for radiation treatments. I wonder if the other people think the cancer treatments are as expensive as I do. Probably so. What are you going to do though? It's the only game in town.

I found a small metal clockwork toy that I bought in Germany years ago and placed it on my car's driver's side mirror in hopes that it would serve as a makeshift scarecrow and frighten the troublesome pooping bird away. The plan seemed to work, since the bird didn't poop on my car all day. You'd think that I'd have better things to do than worry about this bird, but it irritates me.

Of course this small bird isn't the only thing that irritates me. I've pretty much turned into a grumpy old man. Cyclists who insist on riding their bicycles on busy city streets irritate me. People who let their aggressive dogs run loose in the park behind our house irritate me. My large printer irritates me. I could go and on, but it's Friday. The weekend is finally here and weekends seldom irritate me at all.

Spring officially arrives this weekend. That's a good thing. I think it's already here in Dallas. It got up to 81 degrees today. I was too busy to go out for breakfast this morning, but maybe I'll get to go back to the gym this Sunday.  On the other hand, maybe I'll just take a nap.

Big Boy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Day 1556

Such a busy day. It wasn't a bad day though. Even though I had way too much to do, the day was full of encouraging signs. I was happy to see that Dash seems to tolerate his chemotherapy medicine. So far, I've seen none of the possible side effects that the oncologist warned me about. Dash didn't start vomiting today. He doesn't have diarrhea. And he doesn't appear overly tired. A bad reaction could still appear over time, but at least we're off to a good start. If Dash was going to have an immediate adverse reaction to the drugs, I would have seen something by now.

My own Hepatitis C treatment seems to be going equally well. I learned today that my viral load numbers have decreased from a baseline of over 5 million IU/ML in January to just 18 IU/ML today. This sounds pretty dramatic, but the numbers have to go all the way to zero and stay there for two months before I am considered cured. If even a small amount of the virus remains, it will eventually start replicating again and I'll be right back to where I was when I started. Considering that I'm only halfway through my treatment, I'm very encouraged though. I have every reason to believe that my numbers eventually will go to zero

The back yard looks much better now. The landscapers spent most of the day planting new grass, putting fresh gravel on the paths, and removing all the Winter leaves. Just getting rid of all the leaves made a huge improvement. The landscapers are pretty good about sticking to their estimate, but I've got to remember that everything is à la carte. If you think of something extra you want them to do once they're here, you're going to get charged for it. Needless to say, as the yard starts to take shape, I always think of additional things that need to be done. So, the job went over budget today, but I guess it was my fault. A least the yard looks nice for a change.

I wish work wasn't keeping me so busy this Spring, but I'm definitely not turning any jobs down. I need the money. Now, when a check comes in, I think "this will help pay for Dash's surgery," or "hey, here's a month of pills." With Dot's carpet eating incident and Dash's cancer, the vet bills are pretty staggering. As high as the costs are, I'm still amazed at how reasonable they are compared to what the same procedure would cost for a human. The veterinary specialists Dot and Dash see are every bit as good as any human doctor I've seen, and their equipment is even better. The difference in cost can all be attributed to health insurance and malpractice insurance. Everything about human medicine is hugely inflated to cover these costs.

Dash resumes his radiation treatment tomorrow. I think he enjoyed his day off. I know I enjoyed the day off. A trip back and forth to the cancer center can make a busy day much busier. I picked up Janet at the airport this evening, so life should return to a semblance of normalcy. When you've got problems, it's always good to have two people to solve them.

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

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Day 1555

It's still dark when we leave for the cancer center in the morning. By the time we arrive, the sun is just starting to rise. I get Dash checked in and then take him to pee in a grassy area near the building. The people at the clinic are smart. They let the dogs stay in a doggie-day-care environment where they can play with other dogs until it is their turn for treatment. Then as soon as the anesthesia has worn off after the treatment, they feed the dogs. This is all to build up a positive association about coming to this place over and over again. The plan seems to work. So far, Dash actually seems to like coming to the cancer center. Both dogs hate going to the regular vet, where they are frequently kept isolated in cages while they wait.

I've spent enough time around doctors to realize that they always surprise you with something after your treatment has started. I'm convinced they gloss over a few details, just to make sure you won't freak out and abandon your treatment plans altogether. Today's surprise was a pair of special purple gloves in the bag with Dash's chemotherapy pills. I asked what the gloves were for and the nurse told me that I was to wear them to avoid touching the pills. I was also to keep Dot in another room while I administered the pills to Dash, just to make sure she didn't eat them by mistake. Yup. These gloves would have definitely freaked me out, if I'd known about this procedure in advance. I guess I've always known that chemotherapy drugs are basically poison, but I never thought they were so dangerous that you couldn't touch them with your bare hands. The nurse said the gloves were no big deal, but that was just like my own liver doctors telling me that the occasional heart attack patients have a while taking the Hepatitis C treatment is no big deal either.

Dash didn't seem to have any side effects from today's treatment. There was no coughing at all today. He had plenty of energy on his evening walk with Dot as well. We'll see how he does with the chemo pills. I put on the purple gloves and gave him his first pills with dinner this evening. So far, everyting seems fine.

Tomorrow, Dash gets to rest and won't go back to the cancer center until Friday. Thursday will still be busy though. The landscaping guys are coming over in the morning to clean up the back yard and plant new grass. Later in the day, I need to go to Baylor and have some more blood work done to monitor the progress of my Hepatitis C treatment. Janet's coming home tomorrow too, so I'll need to go to the airport and pick her up.

I need to find an effective way to manage all the pills that are accumulating on the kitchen counter. I take thirteen different pills every morning and another seven every night. Dash takes phenobarbital, thyroid supplements, and allopurinol, in addition to the three new chemotherapy pills. Dot takes a couple of pills to boost cognitive function and ward off dementia. If I ever get these pills mixed up, we're all in big trouble.

Pringles is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Day 1554

Reality is starting to kick in. Radiation therapy is not like going to doggie day care. Dash came home today with a number of small florescent green marks on his body, supposedly to help guide or position the radiation robot. He seemed more tired than usual and was coughing a bit. The oncologist said this was completely normal, but it reminded me of my own hepatologist, who keeps telling me that waking up feeling like you have a bad case of the flu every morning during Hepatitis C treatment is completely normal too. Things like this are probably where that old "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" cliche came from in the first place.

This is going to be a very long Spring. One of the common side effects of radiation treatment is diarrhea. One of the common side effects of Hepatitis C treatment are flu-like symptoms. Both therapies cause fatigue. Oh, well. I wasn't planning on running a 5K anytime soon, and Dash likes to sleep a lot anyway. I suspect we will both be OK.

The traffic is a lot lighter at 7 AM than it is at 7:30 AM. Everybody seems to go to work at exactly the same time. At 6 AM the roads are empty. 7 AM is OK, but by 7:30 the roads are getting crowded. By 8:30 AM, it's gridlock. If you still commute to work every day, you have my sympathies. I've worked out of the house for so long now, that I don't think I could do it anymore. All that being said, it was definitely worth getting up a little earlier this morning. The trip to the cancer center was a lot easier than yesterday. The trip home at 3 PM wasn't bad either. People usually don't come home this early. I try to avoid rush hour at all costs these days.

Although it wasn't a normal day for Dash, it was business as usual for me and Dot. We ate breakfast together and took a walk after I dropped Dash off at the cancer center. I wrote two articles, updated a website, paid some bills, went to the bank, picked up a prescription at the pharmacy, and mailed some letters at the post office. This is where I took today's picture. It used to be a regular No Parking sign. Over the years, shrubs grew up around the sign and covered up the word that spelled Parking. Now, the sign just says No. It pretty well sums up my feelings on most days.

Tomorrow, Dash goes back to the cancer center again. This will be the only time when his treatments are back to back like this. After tomorrow, we begin going on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Hopefully, giving Dash a rest between treatments and taking the weekends off will help. I've canceled Dot's acupuncture session tomorrow. There's only so much I can do. Next week I'll see if I can re-schedule things so she continues to get her therapy as well.

Nick is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, March 17, 2014

Day 1553

Things went smoothly today. I got up early and took Dash to the cancer center for his second CAT scan. This time they wanted to see the results after surgery, so they could accurately target where they wanted the radiation beam to go. Since I left the house right after we got up, neither dog had time to realize that we were off schedule and that they hadn't been fed. It all worked out better than I thought.

I returned home to feed and walk Dot and try to get some work done before going back to the cancer center later in the day to pick Dash up again. I need to get this new routine down to a science, because I will be doing it three times a week for a long time. The main thing I learned today was that I need to leave a little earlier. Rush hour traffic in Dallas is terrible.

I actually got quite a bit done today. I finally got all my tax records in order and took them over to my accountant. I boxed up the defective UP fitness band and took it over to UPS to return it to Jawbone. I called several people on the phone in an attempt to resolve a couple of medical issues of my own, and then I updated two websites. 

By the time I got these chores finished, it was time to go pick up Dash again. The oncologist went over the CAT scan images with me and told me that Dash was an ideal candidate for the treatment he will be receiving. Even though thyroid cancers can be very aggressive, he thought we had caught the cancer early enough so that Dash should be able to live a full, normal life after treatment. There are no signs that the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body. All the radiation and chemotherapy Dash will be receiving are just to ensure that every stray carcinoma cell is destroyed. Everyone tells me that radiation and chemotherapy are easier on dogs than they are on humans. I'm not so sure about this though. I doubt that anybody ever asked a dog about how they felt. Dogs probably just don't complain as much as humans. At any rate, the fact that a very good oncologist is so positive about the Dash's outcome is good news. I've been through cancer with dogs before and often the doctors aren't encouraging at all.

Our roller coaster weather cycle has returned to Spring mode. It was clear and warm today and I'm starting to see wildflowers in bloom everywhere. In less than a month, the meadows behind our house will be a rainbow of rich colors. There are few things prettier than a Texas Spring. I've witnessed Spring arrive in a variety of different places and I'd have to say that the wildflowers here are even prettier than they are in Colorado.

I don't know if I'll ever get back to the gym again. I'm not even going to worry about it for the moment. If I can deal with Dash's cancer treatments every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, while still getting my work finished I'll be a happy camper. The added stress of all this will probably keep my weight in check anyway. Some people gain weight under stress. I tend to lose weight.

On Thursday, I take a break from the dog's medical issues to deal with my own. I get another blood test to check my hemoglobin levels. I have a feeling that the side effects of the Hepatitis C treatment people warned me about are finally starting to kick in. My nose runs continually now and I feel like I have a constant cold. There are also occasional chest pains. By the end of June, all this should be behind me though. By then, Dash  and I should both be cured.

Allie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Day 1552

I'm usually completely oblivious to anything that's not on my "to do" list. Whenever Janet travels, I become painfully aware that there is a lot more on her list than I thought. I've been going to the store quite a bit lately because I realize we've run out of something that is not usually on my list. So, wherever you are in the sunny Caribbean, thanks for looking out for me. Life is easier when you only have to remember half the stuff that needs to be done.

The only productive thing I did today was write a letter of resignation and formally end my membership in the Wednesday morning networking group. In fairness, this is a great group of guys, and I'm sure what they do makes perfect sense for them. I'm just not a group person and probably never will be. I thought it was time I finally admitted that I was just going to these meetings for the bacon. Hey, I like breakfast a lot more than I like business. What's wrong with that?

The rain finally stopped today, but that doesn't mean that Spring has returned. It actually got colder. A lot colder! I had to get out the duck down ski jacket again for our morning walk. I wonder how many more of these extreme hot cold cycles we are going to go through before the warm weather is finally here to stay? Even the landscape guy told me yesterday that this is the weirdest Winter he has ever seen.

Tomorrow is going to be interesting. Dash needs to fast because I'm taking him to the cancer center in the morning for another CAT scan. Both dogs need to go on a walk right after they get up, so they will poop and pee. The only thing Dot and Dash think about when they wake up in the morning is food. So how do I feed Dot without Dash noticing? I guess she'll just have to wait until I get back from dropping Dash off for his CT scan. It won't be so bad Dot. I'm not eating my own breakfast until I get back anyway.

I was going to get my taxes ready this afternoon and drop them off with my accountant on my way back from the cancer center. That didn't happen. The day just got away from me. Maybe I can still get all the files ready after breakfast tomorrow and drop everything off at the accountant's office on my way to pick Dash up later in the afternoon. That sounds like a good plan, unless a paying job magically appears overnight.

I need to figure out how to change the alarm on the clock radio. Janet gets up early and it's been going off at 4:45 AM every morning. It would probably only take me five minutes to find the instructions on Google for disabling the stupid thing, but so far it's been easier to just hit the snooze button.

Ruthie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Day 1551

The landscaping guy came over this morning and gave me an estimate for cleaning up the back yard. The price seemed reasonable, so I told him to go ahead. The inside of our house is still messy, but as least the outside will look nice for a few months. I don't know why grass dies so quickly in our yard. We care for it well and it gets plenty of water. I think we just don't get enough direct sun. I should have planted the entire yard in Liriope. We call the stuff Monkey Grass, and it's just about the only thing that grows well in our yard.

As soon as the landscaping guys left, the rain started. It was one of those all-day rains. As the day progressed, the air continued to get colder and the skies got greyer. The dogs hate this kind of weather. They want to go outside, but they hate to get wet. They won't even go off the porch when it's actually raining. To get them to do their business, I have to constantly watch the weather radar and look for little windows where the rain stops for a few minutes. I did manage to find a couple of five minute windows so Dot and Dash could take a short walk behind the house and pee and poop, but that was about it. For the most part, it just rained and rained.

Today would have been a good day to clean the house or watch a movie, but I wasn't that ambitious. Mostly I just took naps with the dogs. I did change the sheets, pay some bills, do a couple of loads of laundry, and make a call to find out why the NTTA had charged me too much for toll-road usage. Then I ran out of energy. I could have done a lot more today.

I'm not at my best during cold rainy days. I definitely grateful that the roof doesn't leak anymore though. At least the house was warm and dry. The weather report says that the rain will continue through tomorrow, so I need to come with a way to avoid cabin fever. I'm not one one of those folks who can watch an entire season of Breaking Bad in one sitting, so I tend to go stir-crazy. Dot and Dash certainly don't help matters during long downpours. They both think that I somehow can control the rain. I'm continually letting them in and out, but they are convinced that I can make the rain stop the same way I can open refrigerator doors and fill their food bowls. They keep giving me this "make it stop" look. Dalmatians are not very patient.

You'd think that there would be tons of room in the bed when Janet is gone, but the dogs always discover ways to stretch out even further than usual to soak up the extra space. I had no room at all last night. Maybe nature will surprise me with a nice day in the morning. Maybe I'll surprise myself and cook a fancy breakfast. Who knows? Dash seems to like his new "rescue dog" harness and wants to wear it around the house. That certainly surprised me. Maybe it makes him feel secure.

Carmine is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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