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.