Post #24 02282020

To recap, I quit smoking cigarettes in early December. After 80+ years of life with a normal 120/80 blood pressure or lower, in less than three months (November 2019 to January 2020) it inexplicably skyrocketed to 170-180/100-140 accompanied by almost daily headaches, lousy sleep and brain fog – not to mention gaining 20 pounds (I was within 10 pounds of my target weight too).

Why?

My doctors (family doctor, pulmonary specialist, and cardiologist) had no idea.

But I think I know why.

Increased stress is one common cause of HBP, and the only one that makes any sense for me, given my circumstances.

Like anyone else, I have my own basket of worries/stressors: Spiritdog having cancer, spending too much money, worry about running out of it before I die, the car broke down again, my DVD player won’t work, blah blah blah.

But my biggest psychological shift came in November when I went from working on my book to completing the book. My focus, purpose, means to contribute to others, evaporated. Suddenly, I was without purpose. It was as if I retired from work I loved only to come face to face with a deep sense of emptiness. What to do with my life?

But it gets worse. In the past, regardless of whatever stresses I happened to be dealing with, cigarettes have always provided me with a reliable everyday go to tool for handling it (though I did not realize tobacco was fulfilling this role in my life). Suddenly I had no tools at all.

So, as I see it, I have created a story about my life (no purpose, et. al.) that makes me feel anxious, stressed. Medically this stress acts to constrict my blood vessels, producing high blood pressure. And I am bereft of my lifelong tool (tobacco) for handling it.

Let’s assume this is all true. What do I do now?

  1. My most immediate action must be to reduce life threatening HBP ASAP. (HBP increases risk of heart attack and stroke significantly). The quickest way I see of doing this is HBP drugs to replace the drug I used to use, tobacco.

 

My doctor prescribed Lovastan (L), a Western HBP medication and I learned, through a friend, about an Eastern HBP medication called Mukta Vati (MV). It is an ancient herbal mixture routinely used in the east for HBP.

 

With my doctor’s knowledge and concurrence, I began taking both to see if I can get my BP down to my goal of 120/80. By 2/28/20, my BP has gradually dropped from ~ 150/90 to ~ 120/70, which is good. But, inexplicably, the daily BP variation can be as high as 30 points in my systolic pressure and 15 points in my diastolic pressure, considerably greater than it should be – a mystery.

 

When I reported these swings to the cardiologist I was sent to for follow up testing, he added a prescription for 5 mg of Amlodipine (A) to supplement the 50 mg of Losartan (L) and the 4 capsules/day of Mukta Vati (MV) I was already taking.

 

(By the way, after running an EKG on me, he declared I must have had a heart attack in the past as he could see heart damage. I told him I could not recall any episode of heart pain unless it would be when my wife died, breaking my heart. He looked at my quizzically and we moved on. I subsequently cancelled all the tests he had scheduled – stress test, echocardiogram, chest X-ray, pulmonary function test, blood work. Why do all this stuff in a hospital when at least half the people are already sick, it is still flu season, here comes the corona virus, and me with COPD? I will do it all when the flu season blows over.)

 

I decided to follow my own drug protocol, given I now had a home BP machine to track my BP daily, even hourly. I did not want to add A, another drug, further confusing my body and the data too. How can I know which drug it doing what while taking three of them at the same time?

 

So, instead of adding A, I substituted it for L on 3/1 instead. I also dropped MV from 4 to 3 capsules/day. I did this because my average BP readings had been dropping into the 110-140/60-80 range during the 3/2 to 3/13 period. When my BP stayed in the 120/70 range, I stopped taking A all together and reduced MV from 3 to 2 capsules/day on 3/13. Now I was down to only MV.

 

I could do all this drug manipulation and modification because I have a home BP monitor, taking readings 2-3 times/day and, like any good engineer, recording the data on a running graph so it is easy to see how things are treading.

 

As of 3/16/20, my BP has been running in the 110-120/60-70 range. I have cut my MV back to one capsule/day. If this trend continues, will discontinue it completely and will have achieved my goal of being off all BP drugs.

 

I still have two concerns: a) my daily systolic pressure can still swing 10-15 points and my diastolic ~10 points. No answer for this as yet, and b) need to make sure my home machine is giving me good numbers. So will bring it in to compare to my doctor’s equipment soon.

 

So, why has my BP dropped back to my historical normal?

 

Will explore this question in my next post.

Post #23 02092020

Since I quit smoking on 12/2/2019 I have had a miserable two months of lousy sleep, periodic headaches, a sense of despair (even though my physical life is, quite frankly, one of relative ease and abundance compared to so many others suffering all over the world). Then I (accidentally) discovered I have inordinately high blood pressure! My frequent headaches are a symptom of HBP but I did not know that. Besides, BP is supposed to go down when one quits smoking!

On the positive side, my lungs do appear happy with the change, almost no phlegm, no coughing. Saving money with no trips to the tobacco shop, no shivering out in the garage while smoking in the winter (in past 25 years, have never smoked a cigarette inside my house) and no time wasted on rolling cigarettes or smoking them either. (Although hand rolling cigarettes can sometimes be experienced as a form of meditation.)

However, peeking into an unknown future, I would rather die the slow death of COPD (but still able to choose if and when to end it myself) than the possible sudden incapacitation of a heart attack or, much worse, a stroke that might suddenly steal my capacity/agency to make choices. I do NOT want to spend my life or money on a nursing home, nor on expensive end of life medical expenses. I have already purchased my long term care plan for $700, a well made .38 revolver and a box of metal jacketed bullets. (They don’t sell them individually.)

In any case, my goal is to get my BP down to a safe level.

After some research, I learn the principle causes of HBP are:

Smoking. (This is contraindicated for my situation given my BP was normal a month before I quit and sky high afterwards.)

Being overweight or obese. (I am a bit overweight but the same weight I was when my BP reading was normal only 3 months ago)

Lack of physical activity. (Walk my dog twice/day + do aerobics on an elliptical at home alternating with weight training- not in shape to do a marathon but not a slug either – same as I was 3 months ago)

Too much salt in the diet. (My diet is unchanged from three months ago and don’t eat processed food, the source of most dietary salt.)

Too much alcohol consumption (meaning more than 1 to 2 drinks per day) (I drink very little)

Stress. (Interesting possibility!)

Older age. (I am only 3 months older than I was when my blood pressure was normal!)

Genetics (have the same genes now I had three months ago!)

The possibility of stress being the source of my HBP got me to reflecting on my life.

I finished my book in November, quit smoking in December.

For the past five years, my principle daily motivation was writing the book. I would get up in the morning; eagerly go to my journal, my Morning Pages (this title taken from the excellent book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron) and write 2, 3, 4, sometimes even 5 pages in my 8 1/2X 11 notebooks. I so looked forward to this, perhaps my favorite part of the day. I loved to write there in the garage at my work bench, in silence (Spiritdog still snoozing), armed with a hot cup of coffee and a cigarette or two or three. For me, it was Heaven on earth. Pure joy.

It is not a stretch to say that my latest book, 11 Life Practices/An Old Man’s Stories of Light, Love, Joy, was first imagined, and put down on paper (using my beloved Pentel Artist’s pen, 0.4 mm thickness) in my journal. Then, after meditating, walking Spiritdog, doing my daily exercise, the next few hours were devoted to converting those insights and revelations into readable copy on my computer.

When I get up in the morning now, I am lucky if I can fill a single page of my journal. No cigarettes, but no ideas or excitement either. Some days, I literally have nothing to say at all. There is nothing exciting to fill up my morning, or day, either. Tasks here and there of course, errands now and then but …………

 

So, here is my story:

My daily life has been tipped over, spilling away the meaning in my life. Now I understand why I have gone into an emotional tailspin.

Suddenly, my life feels empty and meaningless. I feel anxious, even despondent, at a loss with what to do with myself. The fun, satisfaction, thrill of creating something new has disappeared from my experience. What am I to do with me, my energy, my time? No surprise that my stress level has skyrocketed.

At the same time, my lifelong way of relieving stress is gone. My cigarettes!

When my wife, Dianna died, I was in a similar situation. I went from being married to an amazing woman, and having the honor of being her caregiver 24 hours/day to, in a single moment, having no one, suddenly without a purpose for being. Yet, throughout the subsequent years of grieving and sorting out my life, my blood pressure remained absolutely normal. I was smoking in those days.

In contrast, during this stressful period, my BP has gone from lifelong readings of 120/80 or less, to 160-190/100-160 when untreated with medication. So, today, I am taking 50 mg/day of Losartan and my average BP is still 140-170/80-90; better but still not good. Of course, the dose can be increased. BUT, I am not willing to accept lifelong HBP medications to achieve something I had naturally without drugs only three months ago.

So, where do I go from here to find my way back to normal BP without medication?

Post #22 02022020

Since quitting smoking on 12/2/2019, my approach is to take it one day at a time, recognizing that each day I can find a different way to respond to life events (a phone call, capping off dinner, having a beer, etc…) that used to trigger a cigarette I am re-wiring my brain for living life without tobacco.

Summarizing some sage advice from others who have traveled this road already:

Every smoke-free day I complete I am teaching myself how to live my life without cigarettes. Bit by bit, I’m re-wiring my brain, reprogramming my responses to daily events that trigger the urge to smoke by choosing something other than smoking when the urge surfaces.

Over the course of my first smoke-free year, I’ll encounter – and have a chance to clear – most of the events and situations (triggers) in my daily life that I have associated with smoking.

Practice is a necessary part of recovery from nicotine addiction. There is no getting around it, so try to relax and let time help me. I built my smoking habit through years of practice, and now I must build the nonsmoking me in the same way. The more practice I put between myself and that last cigarette I smoked, the stronger I’ll become.

Nobody said it would be easy.

On the other hand, when I look around the world and see what others are enduring, it puts my petty whining in perspective.

Time for me to Buck Up (practice #10 in my book), Lighten Up (practice #11)

Then, on 1/17/2020, a shocking turn of events.

While in a CVS pharmacy to get a shingles vaccine, I checked out my blood pressure on their store BP monitor. My blood pressure has always been normal and the last check up at my doctor’s office on 10/29/2019 was 117/74. I expected about the same this time so I could not believe my eyes when all three times I checked it, that CVS machine gave readings in the 190+/160+ range!!!!!

A couple of days later, I had my BP checked at my doctor’s office: 168/100!!! Still ridiculously high. The next day, for the first time in my life, I started taking a high blood pressure medication (losartan, 50 mg/day).

I also immediately purchased a home BP monitor on Amazon (Omron, recommended by my doctor, cost $50, and so far, am very happy with how it works, ease of use, though have yet to compare the results to the doctor’s machine, and durability is unknown.)

Unfortunately, during the two weeks since taking the medication, my blood pressure has stayed in an unacceptably high range – 145-180/90-100 – and the readings are erratic (the machine or reality – have no way of knowing yet anyway) so will be seeing the doctor again in a couple of days.

Besides, one’s blood pressure should go down when one quits smoking (smoking constricts blood vessels), not up.

So, what is going on?

Post #21 01152020

In my last post, I brought up the emotional turmoil I was feeling since I quit smoking on 12/2/2019.

How to describe it?

Periodic, almost daily, headaches (before this, I have had probably 5 headaches in my entire life), a discouraging absence of passion to do anything. No motivation, no focus, no enthusiasm. The opposite of how I usually feel about life, how I greet each day.  Worst of all, the quality of my sleep, which has almost always been excellent, has fallen off a cliff. Drifting in and out, most of the night, waking up still tired.

This all came as a complete surprise to me. I had no plan whatsoever for dealing with it.

On top of the emotional disorientation, which persisted through December, I hosted a family gathering for the holidays. About 2-3 days later, I began experiencing chills, lack of energy, headaches. The flu coming on? I immediately fell into taking long naps (2-3 hours), mega doses of vitamin C (3000 mg at a time, 2-3 times per day) and Echinacea 6-8 capsules/day). After 3-4 days, I began feeling better. So I have apparently dodged that bullet, whatever it was.

While physically OK again, I am still dealing with the same emotional funk.

I found the following comments while doing research into the characteristics of nicotine withdrawal:

People who have successfully quit the habit often talk about the “icky threes” of quitting. These include:

  • 3 days. The worst period of physical withdrawal. (not really that bad for me – I had spent months re-wiring my brain to not smoking prior to my quit day.)
  • 3 weeks. The time when physical withdrawal is waning and the psychological withdrawal takes over. (Oh yeah!)
  • 3 months. Sometimes referred to as “the blahs,” at 3 months post-quit-date some of the newness of quitting wears off, and some people wonder, “Is that all there is?” This is a common time for relapse to occur. (hmmmmm)

I am definitely in the last phase, an emotional state aptly named, “the blahs.”

My approach for now:

  1. So be it. This is how I feel. Be fully present to it (practice #1/ A Beginner’s Mind). In other words, do not put a happy face on it, or grin and bear it. Rather, acknowledge how I really feel, be willing to fully experience it and see if whether Werner Erhard nailed it when he said, “Whatever we are willing to fully experience disappears.” Has been true for me in the past. Will see how it goes now.
  2. Choose a more useful attitude about it all. (Practice #7, Choosing Our Attitude, in my book). Yes, the feelings I am having suck. However, each day is another day I have not responded to the million cues a smoker gets to have a cigarette by having a cigarette. Each day I am re- wiring my brain to behave as a non smoker. Each day without smoking is another success. Each day, my body, especially my lungs, are gaining time to heal, another day it is no longer under siege. Another day gifted to my body.

It is a beginning.

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 #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 #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.

 

 

 

To pick up where we left off, the biopsy done by my local vet on spirit’s leg showed it to be a grade I sarcoma. Good news. If it has to be cancer, a sarcoma like this is not as aggressive as other types, so slower to metastasize – and grade I is much better than grade II or III, where the prognosis is not as good.

I take him up to MSU SAC, oncology section (Michigan State University Small Animal Clinic, a 75 minute drive north from where we live).

As to the tumor on his lower jaw, a needle biopsy done at MSU Small Animal Clinic indicates it, too, is a sarcoma but not clear about what kind. We would need to do a biopsy on that to find out.

More scans are done on his lungs and other organs and it appears the cancer has not yet metastasized so, at this moment in time, he seems to have two localized tumors.

I appear to have three choices: a) do nothing and watch him die in a few months or b) they can lop off a chunk of his jaw and remove the entirety of his hind leg (dogs get along just fine with three legs they say) or c) I can opt to do radiation on both tumors and see how it goes.

We are at a crossroad.

Options a) and b) are out of the question for me.

If I just did not have enough money to do anything else, I would have to let him die but, though I can ill afford it, I do have the money to do more.

As to option b), my heart says no.

I would not want to live without a part of my jaw or a missing leg.

Many others, both human and dogs, have lost even more of their body parts and not only survive but thrive, going on to live extraordinary lives. Bless them; I have nothing but admiration for those with that kind of determination, courage and love of life.

But I am not willing to do that to myself. I guess life does not mean that much to me? I can’t say. I just know it is not for me. When I stare into his eyes, in my heart I know it is not for him either.

Sometimes we get to choose which cross we want to carry. This is one of those times.

I choose option c, radiation.

It is going to be very expensive and time consuming, thousands of dollars requiring 18 daily trips on consecutive days to the radiation facility, which for us, is a 75 minute drive to Canton, a western suburb of Detroit (if the traffic is light; who knows how long in rush hour). And he will have to be sedated 18 times, day after day, which worries me.

Any wounds he has must heal before starting radiation or there will not be enough healthy tissue left to ever heal. I decide not to biopsy the jaw tumor, creating another wound that has to heal.

The tumor on his jaw is small but growing. The tumor on his leg is pretty big already. Since the biopsy on his leg left is already an open wound, we agree we might as well remove as much of the leg tumor as possible (no possibility for clear margins though – too many tendons, ligaments and nerves in the way) and leave the tumor on his jaw untouched – what’s to be gained by creating another, even harder wound to heal.

Time is of the essence. No point of in doing radiation once metastasis has occurred.

So, they do the tumor removal on his leg and now it becomes a waiting game.

Will his wound heal soon enough for us to accomplish the radiation protocol before metastasis occurs?

Will just have to bet it works out.