Post # 27 05302020

For the past few months, I have been noticing new tumor growth on Spiritdog’s lower jaw and right rear leg, the exact same locations of the original tumors treated with radiation in May, 2019. Subsequent biopsies of both locations confirmed the recurrence (or continuance) of sarcomas. So, sorry to say, the result of treating him with both radiation and fenbendazole has been quite disappointing.

And it is what it is.

I decided to do palliative radiation at the Michigan State University Small Animal Clinic consisting of five treatments, each one a week apart, beginning with last Thursday. The goal is to provide him with more pain free time at a cost of ~ $3000. Is it worth it? Today he acts like a normal healthy middle aged dog, so, for me, the hope of keeping him that way longer makes it a yes.

After the radiation treatments, I will also look into some form of additional treatment even including chemotherapy if I can find a modality that offers minimal side effects with extended quality of life. Maybe metronomic chemotherapy using either cytoxan or Palladia, perhaps alternating it with fenben, perhaps not, or ….. something else?

How am I dealing with this turn of events? Like any human being, I bounce back and forth. I try to follow Spiritdog’s example, living in the present, saturated with appreciation, gratitude and the joy of being with him. In this present, he is acting like a perfectly healthy dog. And sometimes I manufacture stress by sliding into my fear of him dying, even mourning his death, creating stories about the future that obliterate being present, evaporating joy.

As a quick reminder about how our body responds to our stories, from Premier Health, (www.premierhealth.com. Feb 5, 2017): As your body perceives stress, your adrenal glands make and release the hormone cortisol into your bloodstream. Often called the “stress hormone,” cortisol causes an increase in your heart rate and blood pressure.

Fortunately, I can objectively watch myself generating stress because I take my blood pressure daily with my home monitor (usually twice, in the AM and PM). I plot the data on a graph so I can see both how my BP changes daily and over time.

So, how has my concerns about Spiritdog affected my blood pressure? Bounced it up to a higher average it seems.

I confounded my own data however because during this same time I also stopped taking one pill/day of Mukta Vati, a stress reducing herbal mixture. My “before” BP was averaging ~110/65 and when I stopped taking it (and began stressing about spirit fueled by the latest diagnosis), my BP has drifted up to ~125/80, some days lower, some days higher, with morning readings almost always lower than evening readings.

One’s blood pressure matters.

From the American Heart Association: The Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial, known as SPRINT, studied more than 9,300 people older than age 50 who had high blood pressure and at least one other risk factor for heart disease. By using medicines to reduce systolic blood pressure to below 120, instead of below 140:

  • rates of heart attack, heart failure and stroke went down 30 percent; and
  • rates of death from those conditions dropped nearly 25 percent.

I could start taking MV again but am going to wait a couple more weeks to see if I can practice being more conscious of my stories and let go of those that do not serve my well being.

Everyone should have a home blood pressure monitor.

It is inexpensive, reliable and offers valuable data not only about the health of our body but also insight into the workings of our brain.

Post #26 05032020

To re-cap, I had finally reached a state of mind that results in a reduced stress level as measured by my blood pressure, now routinely 120/80 or less, without relying on cigarettes or any other drug.

How did I do that?

An insight comes to mind from the Est Training (now Landmark Forum) I attended so long ago (1980).  The punch line to that four day training was simple, startling: Life is empty and meaningless! The point being that it is up to each one of us to create meaning…… every day, in every moment.

And, a companion insight offered by Seth, as channeled by Jane Roberts, taken from The Nature of Personal Reality.

You are given the gifts of the gods,
you create your reality
according to your beliefs.
Yours is the creative energy
that makes your world.
There are no limitations to the self
except those you believe in.

Finally, there is the excerpt from my own book (11 Life Practices, practice #3, Life is Recreation):

The reality we experience is always personal and subjective.

About this we have no choice. It is the way our sensory system/brain is designed.

We could call this one of the rules governing this reality.

Rather than resist this feature of our reality, we do well to embrace it and use it to our advantage. Because we are creative beings, every moment is an opportunity to re-create new stories about ourselves, our lives and imagine new futures for ourselves.

In other words, we can’t help being story tellers. The very act of sensing reality and processing that data in our brain creates a story. It is the way we experience “reality.” However because we have created it, we also have the capacity to recreate it, i.e., to create a different story about ourselves, our current life experience.

So, returning to my high blood pressure episode, my story at the time was: the moment I completed my book, my purpose for “getting up in the morning” was gone. Suddenly I was experiencing my life as being empty and meaningless.

But (my story continues) I am a goal driven being. What do I do when I no longer have a goal?

After suffering in this anxiety driven state of mind, “wringing my hands” for several weeks, I suddenly (and accidentally) discovered I had super high blood pressure. This turned out to be a gift, a startling wake up call.  Once I realized I had HBP after a lifetime of normal blood pressure, I dove into the research. How could this happen, I wanted to know.

What I discovered is stress is a leading cause of high blood pressure.

  1. Now I got it. The anxiety and emotional distress of losing my sense of purpose left me feeling life was, indeed, empty and meaningless. This story created stress, which generated my high blood pressure.

What is my way forward? What can I do about it?

Once again, Spiritdog was/is my savior, my teacher.

When I look into his eyes, touch his fur, in the blink of an eye I lurch out of the past/future, into  being now-here, where joy lives. He wakes me up! He does for me what meditation can do, or sometimes the sun breaking over the trees on the eastern horizon, or sunlight shimmering across the surface of the lake, can do. But Spiritdog is highly reliable and always available. He, himself, is always in this space of being in every moment, and he is always at my side.

Being now-here, being, itself, is enough reason for appreciation, gratitude and joy he says without speaking.

The way forward is being now –here, he says without speaking.

When we are being now-here, the need for stories disappears. So do the stories themselves.

So the safe place in any storm is being now – here, returning us to joy.

 

And I love being goal oriented, having a sense of purpose. I don’t need to give this up; I can simply put my doing where it belongs, in the context of being. I can recognize I am whole and complete, with or without goals, that life is whole and complete as it is without me adding any of my stuff to it. And I can also pay attention, notice opportunities that offer me the possibility of making a difference, of contributing to the whole, that excite my passion ….. and show up by pouring my energy into actualizing them (practice #6 in 11 Life Practices).

Earlier in life I did this by practicing engineering, solving technical problems, and toward being an activist, doing what I could to solve this problem or that one, and later it was toward supporting groups of people in becoming high performance teams. In this later phase of my life, my passion has been devoted to writing. I wrote books, Dianna’s Way, then 11 Life Practices and now it is to write this, right now, right here. More fundamentally, writing has been a thread throughout my life, a way for me to explore my own personal reality.

But, none of this replaces being now-here, drenched in appreciation, gratitude, and joy. It is simply the content of my life that is fun to do.

So, as I see it, the way to handle stress on a day to day basis without using drugs, whether cigarettes, weed, or Prozac, is twofold:

  1. Practice being now-here.
  2. Be patient, paying attention to opportunities for contributing to the whole. Then show up!

Summarizing, life is bound to be up and down, exciting and boring, challenging and sleep inducing, projects start and end, careers begin and end. But no matter how things are going in the plan b) category, our back up is always the capacity to avail ourselves of plan a). No matter what we are up to in life, if we always nurture the capacity to be now-here, and practice it (why it is practice #1 in Life Practices), we are going to be OK.

 

 

 

 

 

Post #25 03272020 Results of Campaign to Reduce High Blood Pressure

I have achieved my BP goal of 120/80 (currently ~110-120/60-70) and without wild swings.

I have learned some variation is normal. In fact, my research says to take at least 2, better 3 readings on my home monitor each time I take readings, then discard the first one, which will usually be significantly higher (I have found this to be true) and count the succeeding readings as valid, and average them.

Importantly, I have also eliminated both Losartan and Amlodipine and, after a two week period of time, eliminated the single morning capsule of Mukta Vati (MV) as well.

It has taken me 3-4 months but I am finally medication free with normal blood pressure, as I was last November before I quit smoking cigarettes.

By the way, the claim for MV is it can, with some months of use, actually cure HBP. Is this true? Have no idea.  But, since western meds promise lifetime dependence and since my goal is to get off ALL meds, I decided to continue with MV a while longer. Now, whether due to MV or something else, my blood pressure has returned to normal.

It’s worth noting there is a key difference between these eastern and western drug options.

Our body produces a surge of hormones when we are feeling stressed or anxious. These hormones temporarily increase our blood pressure by causing our heart to beat faster and our blood vessels to narrow. If we are in a continual state of stress, this condition then persists, resulting in hypertension as a health condition (HBP).

Mukta Vati (reportedly) acts to reduce our feelings of stress, thus preventing the hormone surge that constricts our blood vessels from occurring in the first place; the result, no HBP. Western HBP drugs, on the other hand, simply open/relax the blood vessels being constricted in various ways through chemical means. They do nothing to reduce the feelings of stress, itself.

So the former is treating the “cause” of blood vessel restriction while the latter is treating the “symptom.”  Both work but in different ways.

But I say “cause” because the hormonally generated stress going on in my body is not the root cause of my HBP. Whatever is creating my feelings of stress is the root cause. Based on my own insight into what my mind is up to, I have concluded the root cause of my stress is the story about my life circumstances that I, myself, created, and then interpreted/experienced as being stressful.

This suggests that it is our mind that generates our physical condition. While, I am going to say this is true this time, is this always true? Maybe. But I’m not going to claim that here.

Even if it is true that my mind is the source of my stress and its effects, I still need to find a healthier, interim way to manage stress than smoking cigarettes until I can sort out what I am creating and why. Maybe this is the backup role MV will play in my life going forward because there are bound to be periods of high stress in any life, even in a life well lived. For sure we all need stress management tools to get us through rough patches in life to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke or other serious physical damage.

Some people resort to alcohol or illegal drugs, or stay within the law with anti-depressants, anti-anxiety and/or other legal drugs. Others use marijuana or CBD oil. And, of course, western HBP medications chemically open the blood vessels to reduce BP. But, with no judgment intended, my ultimate goal is to learn how to use my own mind/body/soul to naturally reduce stress while using MV as an interim aid (weeks, months at most). Without using any other drugs at all.

In other words, I can use MV to deal with the weather of my life (periodic upsets) but I want to manage the climate of my life by creating new, healthier, life sustaining, joyful stories about myself, my life, stories consistent with experiencing meaning, fulfillment, and satisfaction (so naturally reducing stress).

Meanwhile, since I have the home monitor, might as well make use of it by maintaining a daily log of my BP measurements, taking it several times a day. I want to see how it changes, what BP range I am living with, what activities affect it, up or down. It has become an invaluable tool for tracking my experiments in managing stress.

I learned something else too. Another reason for using a home BP monitor on a regular basis is HBP is a silent killer usually without any symptoms at all. So the monitor has become an elegant way to check on my level of stress that costs almost nothing. (The Omron unit I own cost $50).

Now that I have eliminated my drug dependence, first cigarettes, then HBP medications, and finally MV, while living with a normal BP, I will examine the story I have created about myself and my life in my next post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post #20 01022020

Post #20 is my first post for 2020; nice symmetry.

This post also marks a shift from a 100% focus on just my dog, Spirit, to exploring other facets of my life.

 

On 12/2/2019, I smoked my last cigarette.

I smoked my first one when I was 13 years old on a cold, clear winter night in 1951. It was a Lucky Strike, snitched from the poker table where my dad and his friends were taking a break from their annual New Year holiday marathon poker session in Dearborn, Michigan.

I slipped out of the house with my single cigarette and a book of matches in my coat pocket. I can still feel that snow squeaking under my feet; see the cyclone wire fence paralleling the sidewalk, my breath puffing out into the black night air. I stopped under a street lamp to light up, then took my first ever drag.

Oooooh. Suddenly I tumbled into a wonder world. Bliss. Safer, more secure somehow, a space without sharp edges. This felt familiar to me in some diffuse, blurred way. Did I smoke in other incarnations? Did I know then what I was feeling now? That I had a new friend I could always count on to deliver, calm, peace, joy, relief, comfort, even a keener insight into life?

I never looked back.

Some 400,000 cigarettes later, I smoked my last one a month ago in a cold garage, snuggled up in my winter coat. I liked that one too. I remember liking them all save those few I smoked while suffering from one illness or another.

Why quit now, at age 81?

I have been pleasing my brain for my entire life but at the cost of abusing my body, especially my lungs. I could see the possibility of one day having to choose between breathing and smoking. I already have COPD. Not going to live my life dragging around an oxygen tank, which is why I bought a .38 last summer, paying $700 for my long term health care plan. A bargain I would say.

Still, why not do an experiment? Give my lungs a chance to some healing. See what life is like without smoking. If I don’t like it, I can always go back to it.

My process for quitting was/is elegant and simple: Pick out a date a few months away, occasionally remind myself I am quitting, and when exactly, and why exactly. I was giving myself plenty of time to practice re-wiring my brain so on “that day” I would already see myself as a non smoker. There were times during these months I was anxious for the day to come. I was already feeling like a non smoker.

When “that day” arrived, I quit cold turkey. It was easy. Since then, I hardly think about smoking – to be generous, maybe it has surfaced as a momentary desire a half dozen times during the past month.

I did buy some licorice candy and licorice root (to chew on) because I had heard it helps with cravings. Maybe it does. I like the root best, no sugar plus it provides oral satisfaction while chewing on the root. Nice.

What has not been easy at all, however, is the emotional turmoil I have been experiencing ever since. Ouch!

No energy, no motivation, no focus, no desire. Lousy sleep during the night so wind up taking long naps during the day too. And in the past couple of days, coming down with …. something. Chills, coughing, feeling delicate, vulnerable. I am devouring thousands of milligrams of Vitamin C, Echinacea.

So this is where I am at today.

There is always tomorrow.

Well, usually.

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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