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 #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?

 

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.

 
 
 And so Chili, my last Golden Retriever, did.
 
As each one who has chosen to be in my life has.
 
Hurts my heart each time they leave. 
 
Why do dogs live such short lives>
 
So we can learn the minutes of life can be counted though we don’t know how many we will have together … and maybe … learn something about making them count.
 
So, we might learn something about Appreciation and Gratitude and Love.
 
So, we might learn something about the meaning of life.
 
They do all this without saying a word.
 
Amazing.

 I got up this morning with a new thought about Spirit coming.

I will be picking him up when he is seven weeks old near the end of June.

The thought was that he will be my last dog.

A very simple thought uncluttered by emotion. Sort of like, oh, the sun has come up already ……  and more like something I know, not just something I think. Something obvious.

This feels like a shift within me.

When my last Golden Retriever,Chile, showed up, I wondered which one of us would leave this reality first. That was a first time thought for me too. Well, Chili suddenly left on June 23, 2011.  

Now, with this dog, it is different again. If my intuition is correct, there will be no other dog for me after Spirit. He will be my last partner along the trails, fields and woods we will explore together.

So what? one might say.

Nothing monumental and yet monumental at the same time. We all die. Nothing interesting about this. But, what might we do about the quality of our living? A much more interesting question.

The quality of our living is deeply affected by how conscious we are of the preciousness of life, by our capacity to be in a space of Appreciation.

If Spirit is to be my last dog, then he is offering me an opportunity to embrace the limited number of minutes we will have together more consciously and at a feeling level too. We may not know how many minutes there will be but we do know they can be counted – they are not infinite.

This insight changes everything.

 

God, this dog is talking to me already and he has not quite been born yet.

But, soon.