Post #18 11042019

Today marks a full two months Spiritdog has been on the fenben (fenbendazole) chemotherapy treatment. I have been charting the daily dose given (always between 600-650 mg of Panacur C, which contains 22% fenben, so delivers ~ 140-150 mg of fenben). I am also paying close attention to his behavior/response to treatment.

What I record on a monthly chart each day is his energy level, appetite, stool consistency as well as note anything else that is unusual.

So far, so good. His energy level is excellent, his appetite great and stools have been mostly firm. The only hiccup in this regard is I began adding turmeric (mixed in a coconut oil with a bit of black pepper, which is supposed to help with turmeric adsorption in the body) and began with too much – probably a full heaping tablespoon in his dog food and his stools became soft, ill formed. His body could not process the change that rapidly.

So, I stopped giving him turmeric all together to give him a breather. That was about a week ago and his stools are gradually becoming better formed. In another week, if all is well, I will give it another try but with maybe a ¼ teaspoon and slowly build up to perhaps a tablespoon each day. Will see how it goes.

Stepping back from all this, what I am engaged in here is what could be called “bucking up,” meaning staying in the game for the long haul, doing what needs to be done day in day out, doing the work that it takes to meet a challenge and see it through to its ultimate conclusion. Bucking up is one of the practices in my new book, 11 Life Practices/An Old Man’s Stories of Light, Love, Joy, headed for publication sometime around the end of this year.

This effort to support Spirit in healing his cancer is my current opportunity to practice “bucking up.”

Another, not so obvious optional quality of bucking up is cheerfulness. It is one thing to trudge along in a long term effort weighted down by a sense of obligation, or perhaps even resentment if one is feeling forced to do what needs to be done. It is quite another to buck up with a smile in our hearts and a capacity to have fun with it, even having a sense of humor about it all (which alludes to another life Practice I have called Lightening Up).

When we can adopt an attitude (another of the Life Practices I have termed, Choosing our Attitude, choosing one that best suits whatever situation we are facing) that includes cheerfulness, our staying power is magnified enormously. Instead of a feeling that we are trudging through Jell-O, we are, instead, engaged in doing what Love does (another one of the Life Practices). We feel joy in our hearts as we go about the work, which now feels like an opportunity rather than a burden.

This is how I feel about supporting Spirit through his journey with cancer, not unlike the journey I took while supporting Dianna in her 17 year struggle with cancer (what my first book, Dianna’s Way was about).

So, why am I getting to do this journey again?

My sense is to practice doing what Love does by supporting one I love as they go through a rough patch helping them create and experience the best life they can live. Unsurprisingly, this allows me to create and experience the best life I can live too. What could be better, more satisfying then helping those you love live their best life?

Joy.

What I can see now is the practice of bucking up provides us with the opportunity to practice all 11 practices I have identified in my book.

Stepping back even further, choosing to be in this reality (physical form) could be looked at as our ultimate opportunity to buck up!

What better way to live our lives than being immersed in a challenge that captures our attention and energy, one that brings us all that life has to offer? Life’s blessing.

 

Post # 14 07/30/2019 New Information about CBD as a Chemo Treatment

I am a paying member of Consumer Labs, www.consumerlabs.com , an on line source of information about supplements –and they just came out with a report on CBD oil and its uses that changed my thinking about when to administer it to Spirit.

Here are the major takeaways for me in this report:

  1. Most of the research into the value of using CBD oil to treat medical conditions such as cancer is done at very high doses (like 20 mg CBD per kilogram of body weight – about 800 mg/day for Spirit!)– far above my 45-50 mg/day dose I am using for Spirit. However, at these levels, one must start to be concerned about side effects, like affecting kidney function, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.
  2. To be most effective, because CBD is fat soluable, adsorption is 5-15 times higher when given with or right after a high fat meal rather than on an empty stomach! The meal should contain 500-600 calories of fat to be helpful.
  3. With a high fat meal accompanying the CBD, the half life of CBD in the body almost doubles from 24 hours to 39 hours.
  4. CBD at the levels I am giving does not materially aid in sleeping better.
  5. Preliminary science and antidotal evidence suggests CBD does have anti cancer properties and enhances the body’s immune system response to cancer.
  6. There is also early evidence it can help with seizures, pain, anxiety, inflammation and likely other ailments too. Not my focus here, so I will not go into all the data about these conditions.
  7. Half life of CBD in the body, after hitting maximum levels in 2-5 hours, is 18-32 hours and, with continued dosing, much longer than that. So daily dosing, as I am doing with Spirit, would maintain a high level of CBD essentially all the time.
  8. CBD can interact with other medications in a negative way. Too complicated to go into here but one needs to do one’s homework and consult with others before proceeding. In Spirit’s case, he is not on any other meds so clear sailing here.
  9. As to who to buy CBD from, CL offers some information that will be helpful to some I am sure. I am already satisfied I have an excellent source with Nuleaf Naturals and will stick with them.

Based on this information, I am encouraged that the dosing level and schedule is a) not going to do any harm and b) may actually do what I am hoping – that this dose may have a positive impact on cancer metastases in Spirit – no, it not nearly as high as some studies have used but it is significantly higher than the usual – and will be doing it regularly and for a long period of time so…….who knows.

I have also immediately shifted to giving him his CBD dose right after his evening meal rather than at bedtime.

I also have added two heaping tablespoons of coconut oil to his food (worth about ~400 calories of fat). Coupled with the fat content of his regular dog food (Wellness Core dry dog food + Wellness Core canned dog food to hide his daily garlic pills for fleas and ticks + cooked hamburger + boiled egg) am confident I am up in the 500-600 calorie of fat range.

Nothing left to do now but buck up, continue with the program each and every day (practice #10, bucking up).

 

Post #13 07/26/2019 Protecting Radiated Wound Areas During Healing/Chemo Period

Below are some photos of how I protect his leg while it has no fur to protect it while we are out on our walks; this protection is done in three layers:

  1. First I lay a pad of Telfa on the wound area (available at any pharmacy, it is a non stick, soft pad that is needed while the skin in the wound area is reforming after radiation; once the skin is intact and healthy, could stop doing this step although I like the gentle protective layer it provides).
  2. I then wrap a couple of layers of Gentle Wrap to further protect the wound area, and to hold the Telfa in place. This wrap sticks to itself so is easy to work with (available at CVS).
  3. Finally, I cover the wrap with a couple of two inch wide double sided (sticks to itself ) Velcro strips that act as an “armor plate” to prevent brush and brambles from harming the wound and to keep the wrap in place.

 

The photos below show the bare leg, then with the gentle wrap over the Telfa pad and finally, with the Velcro strips as protection for the wrap. At the end of this post, I show photos of the products being used here.

The materials I am using both to protect the leg wound and the Aloe product I spray on several times a day to promote healing are shown at the end of this post.

 

 

 

 

 

When the wound condition allows, this approach is infinitely better than the array of dog boots out there, which are clumsy, rarely stay on for long, and are not fully water proof anyway. Of course, a boot was needed when the wound on his leg was still open after surgery, and his activity had to be highly restricted anyway. This period was a real headache for us both. So, boots do serve a purpose.

I should say when we walk, he is always off leash because we go to places where there are rarely people or cars, places with woods, fields, rabbits, deer, and other wildlife one would expect in this part of the world. We also go out in all kinds of weather, rain or shine, cold or hot; could be a blizzard or pouring rain but he still needs to poop. So, we go.

When we are out walking, I let him lay in puddles to cool off, walk through streams, and do whatever makes him happy. I am going to remove the wrap as soon as we get home, dry him off and spray his wound areas with Aloe Vera anyway.

These walks are his time.

His time to nose around, pee 50 times, explore the world, poop of course, and simply enjoy being alive. I want him to have a life worth living so I give him as much time as I have or he seems to need. When he is done, he tells me by lying down next to the car – in the shade during the summer, in the sun during winter.

Before cancer, I walked with him and we both got exercise; now, I have to restrict his activity until his hair grows back. I have found the best way to do this is for me to hang around the car or sit in it, maybe listening to music or read a book. Then he simply meanders around on his own at a gentle pace.

Because this is the nature of GR’s, he does not go far from where I am, ranging out not more than, say, 50 yards or so. I can almost always keep him in sight and if he is out of sight too long, I whistle him back.

I have an e-collar on him with three options: send him a brief shock, a longer one if the situation calls for it, or, as is true 99% of the time, simply a high pitched noise only he can hear but is startling to him. Finally, he comes to a just a whistle extremely well too.

I might have to shock him 1-2 times/yr these days (if he decides to chase people, another dog, or a car). If he sees and wants to chase a deer (like any bird dog, he gives up within 50 yards and comes back) or some turkeys, l let him have his fun.

We understand each other.

Post #12 07/17/2019 Done with Radiation, on to Chemotherapy

 

Back to the practical side after my deep dive into the spiritual side of this adventure, caring for Spirit, my dog, who has cancer.

To review, I had the lump on his leg surgically removed to the degree possible. Because the cancer is enmeshed in his ligaments, tendons and nerves, clear margins are not possible (only amputation of the entire leg offers that option). What the surgery did do is cut down on the size of the mass radiation had to kill, making radiation more effective.

What the radiation treatments did hopefully accomplish is completely kill localized cancer cells in his jaw and leg. This buys us time to continue CBD oil as a possible natural chemotherapy to deal with cancer cells throughout his body, or at least keep them at bay.

Maybe.

There is some early science, but not much, to indicate this may be effective.

I am going to assume this is true and have begun with 45-50 mg/day as the dose he needs to do that, again, with no science to back this up – simply what I concluded after perusing suggested dosages based on vague, anecdotal reports.

I will do this for a year.

If he is doing well, with no new evidence of cancer, will decide then whether to continue at this dose level or shift to a lower, maintenance level of maybe half as much …… probably for as long as he lives – two thirds of all Golden Retrievers eventually die of cancer so why stop if it seems to be working?

 

Post #11 07042019

It was 11 years ago today that I was writing a many page letter to my wife, Dianna, after she died on February 20, 2008 at 7:04 AM.

As recounted in my book, Dianna’s Way, a memoir about our life together, I was deeply immersed in grief over her death and this letter was my way of completing my relationship with her (practice #9 in my second book, Creating a Life that Works/11 Practices, currently being edited).

It has been my experience that when someone we love dies, our grief often includes an element of feeling guilty about something in that relationship. Not surprising. Few of us express Love perfectly in every moment of every day.

However, the beauty of guilt is it invites us to create and experience forgiveness, of self, of others.

This act opens the door wide to completing our relationships.

Simply put, the steps to completing our relationships are to a) notice there is something amiss in the relationship, b) own it (take responsibility for our own feelings, words and actions), c) forgive ourselves, then, if the shoe fits (if they have harmed us) forgive them too, d) share our completeness when appropriate, e) repair any damage we have done as best we can, f) honor their choices about whether to complete with us or not, without being bound by their choices.

 

So that was then and this is now.

I guess I never thought about it this way before but I had to complete my relationship with my dog, Spirit, too. This is an amazing insight for me!

In retrospect, completing is exactly what I did when I recognized I was transmitting negative energy into his psyche and body with my fear-filled thoughts and feelings about him dying of cancer.

Just by noticing my own negative energy, forgiving myself for harboring them, letting them go and creating a positive, constructive energy, both within my heart and mind as well as expressed in action, I could achieve completion with him. Now the way was open to moving forward with a practical, constructive plan of healing.

Of course, in all of this, I will continue to honor his choices in this matter, which may mean him choosing to end his life in a few months or not. I have no say in his choices.

Repairing the damage is simply doing what Love does (practice #5).

In this situation, this means doing whatever I am able to support him in his healing process.

This began with the insight that there was a practical way forward that had some possibility of success: radiation on the two tumor sites to kill the cancer cells in those locations, followed by an experimental CBD oil based chemotherapy for the next year – and, of course, all the associated support he needs in the form of wound healing, good diet, exercise and, in general providing a life he loves living.

Most of all, what Spirit, and any dog we have in our lives, most wants, most keenly requests, most appreciates, is always open and ready for, is that we be present to them in whatever moments we are willing to give (practice #1).

They, themselves, are masters at this practice, so teachers for us whenever we choose to be a willing student.

Doing what Love does also includes shifting my attitude to a positive, constructive frame (practice #7). There is a possible way we can achieve healing. No guarantees, the future is unknown, he may live a year or five. I don’t know. What I do know is, no matter how it turns out, I will have no regrets about everything I am doing now. Whatever happens, I will have done everything I could have done.

So, now we are in the phase of bucking up (practice #10), doing whatever it takes over the long haul.

We also know, given how this reality is designed, all of us are here only for a little while. We all leave this reality one day.

If I live that long, one day, I will experience Spirit dying, whether at age 8 or 15 or anywhere in between. When I held that squirming little puppy in my arms for the first time, I knew I was signing up for this experience too, that I would likely have the opportunity, painful as this always is, to practice letting go. (practice #8).

Life provides us with life, an amazing game to play.

 

So, why am I getting all this practice at care giving?

Life brings us the experience we need to expand our capacity for being and expressing. Nothing in life is an accident, not even “accidents.”

So, why me?

Why now?

I am naturally inclined to lean toward the mental, rational, side of experiencing life. I often love thinking about life rather than living it.

Care giving brings me back into life, into being present; how would I know if someone needs help if I am not paying attention? When present to what is, and what is is someone I love, who is in need, I am drawn into my own emotional nature, my emotional sensitivity, expressed as empathy, compassion.

Keeps me in touch with my heart.

All I need to do is pay attention to what it is saying, moment to moment.

So, care giving offers a perfect venue for practicing not only listening to my heart but to practice all of these practices.

Perfect.

 

 

Post # 10 06252019

A few days ago, I brought Spirit in for a checkup at the Animal Cancer and Imaging Center in Canton, MI.

Mostly, good news.

The only bad news is it could take 6-12 months for his hair to grow back in his radiated tumor locations.

And it might not grow back completely.

What?

I don’t mind the cosmetic aspect of it – who cares – but this means these areas have less protection from cuts and abrasions that could happen out walking, or anywhere for that matter. Not thrilled about this. Also means I will have to continue indefinitely with Aloe sprays, wrapping his leg for walks, and being careful about where we walk – romps through the woods would be not too smart right now.

Otherwise, good news.

The vet could not be absolutely sure but she thought the tumor on his jaw was a soft tissue sarcoma that had begun to penetrate into the bone rather than osteosarcoma (bone cancer, originating in the bone itself and which is incurable and aggressive). She based her opinion on the CT scan – so not the definitive diagnosis one would get from an actual biopsy. As the reader may remember from earlier posts, a needle biopsy did verify a sarcoma but could not distinguish between a soft tissue sarcoma and osteosarcoma. No certainty here but, still, I choose to be optimistic.

And, no more plastic cone around his neck!!!! (By the way, early on, I modified a store bought cone with too many mostly unworkable snaps on it and had a shoemaker sew Velcro strips on it so I could take it off and put it on in a couple of seconds. Still, both Spirit and I hated that cone!)

They also said his wounds are healing nicely. No reason for concern so far.

They had no real advice about how to administer CBD – outside their area of expertise, but they did give me some nice plastic 3 ml syringes I can use to administer it.

They did not disagree with my proposed approach of giving Spirit the entire daily dose at one time.

My strategy is based on watching how nurses administered chemo drugs to Dianna (my deceased wife). Her chemo drugs were not spread out over an entire day (although one was given in a slow drip injection through a port she carried around all day because that one could damage her heart if given all at once. None of this is an issue with CBD as it has no known serious side effects other than possible drowsiness, lethargy, etc.)

So, to allow Spirit to live his normal life as much as possible, I have decided to give him his entire dose at bedtime.

My reasoning is, this approach will:

  1. a) Aid in his sleeping (one common effect of CBD is reduced anxiety and drowsiness).
  2. b) CBD + sleep could be synergistic – both have healing characteristics.
  3. c) The effects will be mostly worn off by morning and he can enjoy being his normal self all day long.

In my next post, I will detour from the practical to the spiritual, investigating why I have found so much of my life devoted to care giving cancer patients, first for my wife, now for Spirit.

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Post #9 06192019

Today, am going to talk about the results of my research into using CBD oil for cancer treatment – for my dog, Spirit.

To review, he had two soft tissue sarcomas, one on his rear leg just above his paw and the other on his lower jaw.

I began my research through www.dogsnaturally.com and articles by Blake Armstrong and took it from there, checking various CBD oil provider websites, www.holistapet.com being one that provided a guide for dosing CBD oil for serious illnesses in dogs. One might want to also check out Armstrong’s website, cannabissupplementsforpets.com .

I finally arrived at 45-50 mg/day for Spirit, a 90 pound dog. I am using the guideline suggested on the Holistapet website for “medicinal use”. Is this the perfect dose for killing cancer cells? No one knows.

As to duration, I arbitrarily decided to do this for about one year.

Why?

In humans, chemotherapy can be over any time period but usually lasts around 6 months. I decided a lot can happen in a year so pick that as a target and see how it goes.

Ultimately, I decided to order $1000 worth of full spectrum organic CO2 extracted CBD oil from www.NuLeaf . It showed up at my door two days later, six dark 50 ml bottles, each one containing 2450 mg of the oil.

After lots of comparing, I chose Nuleaf Naturals because:

  1. a) They had the widest spectrum oil (7 components versus 4 for the others I checked – and since no one knows which components might contribute to activity, right now, more components is better, as far as I am concerned). I discovered this when I compared their analysis to that from other companies.
  2. b) Their product is extracted from their own organically grown hemp in Colorado (provided pesticide and herbicide analyses when requested showing no detectable biocides – can I prove what I have in my hands has the same analysis? No. But at least they have some data – and they sent it to me. The other companies I researched either had no data, or ignored my requests for it, or maybe were not using organically grown hemp or … who knows).
  3. c) Their oil is extracted using carbon dioxide instead of hydrocarbons – more expensive process but no chance of undesirable chemical residues either. (There are other companies using this process too, and some that don’t.)
  4. d) When I called, a human being actually answered the phone, answered my questions, and did what they said they would do when I asked for this information or that data. I was never able to reach a human being at any of the other companies I called.
  5. e) They offer higher concentrations of CBD than many other companies. This was of value to me as I want to administer a relatively concentrated dose of CBD oil in a small volume. With their 2450 mg/50 ml bottle I can squirt a 1 ml dose with a plastic syringe (no needle of course) into his mouth pretty easily.

I’m not suggesting there aren’t other good companies out there – Holista Pet, King Kanine, Hemp Your Pet and surely others too – and some of them even have better websites than Nuleaf (dosing charts for example) but I did not see others with a better product or customer service.

I make zero claims about being an expert about any of this. It is the Wild West out there with little science behind any of it. Does CBD oil actually kill cancer cells? Maybe. What dosing is best? Anyone’s guess.

Still, given the lay of the land here, I am satisfied with my choice.

Tomorrow we go for a checkup at the Animal Cancer and Imaging Center in Canton, Michigan.

 

It has been a bit over two weeks since radiation treatments ended for Spirit and he is slowly beginning to “come back to himself.”

Today, for the first time in a long time, he picked up a tennis ball and wanted to play ………. until he kind of realized he is not ready to play yet. Looked at me for a moment, dropped the ball and stared at me with a dumb look on his face, like “What the hell am I thinking here!” I almost had to laugh.

The underside of his jaw is still completely hairless and the right side of his lower jaw, where the tumor was located, is still swollen. That is drool hanging down off his jaw in the photo.

A week ago, he wouldn’t let me touch it.

While it must still be tender, he did lay his head on my shoulder the other day as we were driving to our walking place. Before all this happened, his habit was to ride in the car with his front feet on the center console, paw me when he wanted me to pet him, and nuzzling into my neck now and then too – so it is nice to notice he is able to do that a little bit again. A week ago, he was laying on the back seat of my minivan, period.

I still don’t touch his jaw though.

His leg, the other tumor site, is still hairless too but I don’t think there is much, if any, pain there anymore. Looks bad but don’t think it feels bad for him.

 

Because this leg wound is unprotected by a fur layer, each time we go for a walk, I put a Telfa non stick pad on it, hold it in place with Nexcare gentle wrap (sticks to itself), then cover that with a couple of two inch wide self sticking Velcro strips that protect against damage to his skin from brush, etc. Works very well, leaves him free to walk normally and infinitely better than the various medi boots out there, which are clumsy, always coming off and are not water proof anyway.

This routine works well whether it is raining out, or he takes a dip in a creek or whatever. As soon as we get home from our walk, I take all of it off, dry his leg with a paper towel if necessary, save the Velcro for the next time and dispose of the rest of it.

After this is done, I spray his leg (and jaw) with a wonderful Aloe Vera Spray product I found on Amazon (www.sevenminerals.com ). This is a great product for applying healing Aloe Vera without having to touch the area. A godsend for helping Spirit’s jaw, in particular. Now, when I start to spray, he lifts his head up and back so I can apply it – obviously it feels really good to him.

Next time, we will talk about my CBD oil chemotherapy experiment.

Blog post #7 06072019

So far, I have been talking about the day to day nitty gritty of caring for Spirit as we proceed through his healing process.

But, as it always is, it is my healing process too, if we broaden the meaning to include creating a more integrated, conscious self as a “healing process.”

All of us experience being divisible in this reality as “you and me.” However, the underlying reality is we are also and always in life together, indivisible, part of a mysterious whole. Our pathway toward a more fully integrated way of being, expressing, and experiencing this is to practice. (Practice #4 in my upcoming book, currently in editing, tentatively titled, Creating a Life that Works/11 life Practices.

In this book, we explore how this reality is put together and how we might practice playing this game in this more fully conscious way.

I have titled these practices as follows:

Part I Being (Practices in being more fully who we are)

  1. A Beginning Place/Being Now-Here (practice being present to what is)
  2. Our Inner Voice     (practice listening to our inner voice)
  3. Life is Re-creation (practice noticing the stories we are always creating)
  4. Me and We (practice experiencing being one with Infinite Being expressing)

Part II Expressing Being (the practices of playing the game with our words and actions)

  1. Doing What Love Does (this is Love with a capital L, how God expresses Love)
  2. Showing Up
  3. Choosing our Attitude
  4. Letting go
  5. Completing (practice disappearing upsets in our relationships)
  6. Bucking Up (practice fulfilling the promise of any long term commitment)
  7. Lightening Up

What I am discovering is we have the opportunity to practice most of these practices almost every day! It may be true that we could be practicing all of them every day. Perhaps, even in every moment!?

In any event, I am going to report how I experience engaging in these practices as Spirit and I go through our healing process together.

Why?

Reporting helps me to practice. And, who needs to practice more than me?

And, when would be a better time than now?

I am 80 years old. Probably shouldn’t wait much longer! J

 

So, let’s take a look at how these practices appear in one daily life, my own.

 

This particular life adventure began when I noticed what is: a lump on Spirit’s rear leg, then not long after that, another one on his lower jaw. (Practice #1)

What first emerged out of this awareness was noticing my own contribution to his illness. I realized I had long been busy creating a reality about him getting cancer with my fear of him getting cancer. (Practice #3, noticing my own story, reported in an earlier post.)

Next, I chose to let that (debilitating) story go. (Practice #8).

I consciously chose to create a new story. (Practice #3 again): I will treat this as a challenge, as an opportunity for healing. I would chart a new course, sailing toward an unknown shore, to be sure.

I may not know the outcome but am open to whatever Life brings, with love in my heart, grateful for each moment we have together. (Practice #7)

I could have let nature take its course and let him die (in a few months, I was told).

When I looked into his liquid brown eyes, my heart spoke, loud and clear (Practice #2).

I will spend whatever resources I am able to give him a chance at life (Practice #5).

Many, without the money to do anything else would have to make the heartbreaking decision to let him go (practice #8 again, and a much tougher row to hoe). How blessed we are that I have enough energy and money to use help from the veterinary profession for the treatments needed. I feel incredibly grateful.

Doing what Love does, in this situation, asks that I step up to meet the challenge (Practice # 6). I must be willing to provide my daily, even hourly, attention to his well being over the many months, perhaps even years to come. This is not going to be a quick fix but a long journey through surgery, radiation, and whatever other means I can bring to the table. (Practice #10).

One day, as I am looking at him sleeping peacefully, lost to the world, it occurs to me that I am doing this for him …. and for me ………. and what is the difference? What works for him works for me too. We are engaged in a win-win game together. Everything I feel for him I feel for me too. (Practice #4). I feel complete with him in this moment. (Practice # 9)

It also occurs to me one day, things could be so much worse.

His cancer is treatable, appears not to have metastasized, his appetite is good, his poops are good, he sleeps a lot (a key healing activity all by itself), loves being petted and is still excited by deer crossing a field, or a rabbit standing on the road, or when the plumber or a friend comes to the door.

He loves life.

Enough motivation for me.

So, whether he decides to leave in a few months and stays with me for many more years to come, I feel blessed. I feel cheered by this challenge, even joy! (Practice #11)

 

Two practices I have touched on, completing (practice #9) and the practice of being me and we (practice #4) warrant a bit more comment.

Unlike with my human relationships, which are more prone to fall in and out of completion, I am essentially almost always complete with Spirit.

How do I know this?

Whenever I look at him, there is a smile in my heart.

If there is an occasional incompleteness, if something needs repair, it is always within me (my fear based thoughts about losing him being one example). But, day in, day out, being complete with Spirit is our normal state of being together.

 

Robin Wall Kimmerer (Professor, State University of New York and author, Gathering Moss and Braiding Sweetgrass) proposes using the word, Ki as the singular pronoun to use when referring to non human life. This gets rid of “it” as in I ran over “it’ with my car or “it” landed on my birdfeeder or….

 

Naturally, as she notes, the plural of ki is a word we already have, kin! Perfect!

So, Spirit is Ki.

But I am Ki, too.

Each of us is part of the All That Is, Infinite Being expressing. Spirit expresses as Spirit, I as me, each of us, as who we are being in this reality.

We are all kin.

While in this duality reality of light/dark, large/small, good/bad, right/wrong, we mostly experience being me and “other.” But some magical moments, at least, I experience being both me and we. (Practice #4) He has given me so, so many such moments.

And he sleeps here at my feet, healing his body. So far, anyway, he is choosing to stay here, with me in this life.

 

 

 

The role of radiation is not likely to be a cure. Spirit will have to heal his own body, just as we all must do. But the radiation treatments are buying him the time to do exactly that. My job is to support him as best I can in both practical and spiritual ways.

Spiritdog is now deep into the radiation treatment protocol of 18 days of radiation on both his jaw and rear leg. Today he will have completed treatment #10.

So far, I have noticed no ill effects at all – his appetite, bowel movements, energy level are all pretty normal.

However, certainly his experience has changed radically: no treats in the morning (to prevent possible vomiting when he is sedated prior to being irradiated), which he dearly misses, being doped up every morning with trazadone instead (requested by staff; he is a very energetic 90 pound dog who is hard to handle by the diminutive female technicians at the center – they love him but don’t want to be hurt by him either), then coming out of treatment pretty groggy for the rest of the afternoon.

So, all his days are different than they used to be.

Well, mine too. The heart of every weekday is spent going back and forth to Canton, Michigan, a trip I could now almost do in my sleep.

However, all this is about to take yet another turn as the side effects of the radiation itself begin to set in during the second half of the treatment process, and effects that will persist for weeks after the treatment has been completed.

What are these side effects?

I am about to find out.

My now deceased wife endured many courses of radiation (along with surgeries and chemo) during her 17 year battle with cancer so I have some observer background to help me out. But, of course, she never had to be sedated and, after all, she was not a dog (more like a fox! J ) either.

I feel in my heart we are traveling our best path to better health.