Saying goodbye to a dog as a non-dog person

For 12 years our yellow lab drove me crazy. Did I love him?  Yes.  Was I the one who fed him, walked him and picked up after him?  Yes.  But did he drive me crazy?  Yes – and I drove him crazy, too.  I loved him, and sometimes my heart swelled for him, but the times he had accidents in the houes, shed all over my clothes, would get out of a gate that wasn’t quite latched all the way, and would bark (literally) at shadows drove me crazy sometimes.  But there were times too — especially when I was healing from my illness – I took comfort from him sleeping near me while I rested on the couch.

Today we said goodbye to him.  It was time.  He had arthritis, dementia, incontinence and was basically unhappy (ears down_ all the time and lived only to eat twice per day, which isn’t a great life.  So after discussing it for months, we did it today.  It was incredibly peaceful.  The vet had a room with a couch and a carpet and pleasant lighting.  She spent 10 minutes petting him, then gave him a sedative.  When he was so drowsy his tongue was hiding out of the side of his mouth, she administered the sedative while we petted him and told him he was a good boy.  He died moments later.

That was three hours ago, and even though I am not a big lover of dogs (I like dogs, I just am not a worshipper of them) I feel awful for him and there is a hole here.  In short, it is painful.  I miss him already.  Hopefully he is at peace.

The book I wrote about my experience as a dog owner when I like dogs but am not crazy about all things dogs.  There won’t be a sequel – it’s too painful right now 🙂

Saying goodbye to a dog as a non-dog person

Loved, loved, loved (!) the movie “Fire at Sea!” Notes:

I love movies (like Moonlight) where the director believes in the intelligence of his/her audience while telling a powerful story and delivering a powerful message.  For me, “Fire at Sea” was that way.  It was a movie that was comfortable delivery subtle comments and with letting a scene slowly unfold, where it is comfortable showing the doctor give an ultrasound for five minutes or just showing four workers stare out at sea.  It is a wonderful, powerful movie and the most beautiful film that way since “The Great Beauty.”  Some observations (with some spoilers):

  • The beginning of the movie we see the boy making a weapon and hunting birds, but at the end of the movie he is merely singing to the bird – shows our ability to change our ways.
  • The doctor makes a comment that it is the responsibility of all of us to help the immigrants (who are dying).
  • The doctor, during the ultrasound, can’t make out the sex of the second child since they are too intertwined.  “But don’t worry, we’ll get it.”  He patiently, patiently seeks the sex.  I see that scene as stating we are all intertwined and too intertwined, and it will take patience and diligence and care and perserverence to resolve our/this problem.  I also see the scene later in the movie where the woman takes a full five minutes to carefully make her bed as again emphasizing that things take time and persistence and patience.
  • The boy is having struggles rowing – his friend throws his a lifeline so he is not crushed by the boats, then rows him to safety.  That is, we all need a helping hand and we need to offer a helping hand.
  • The boy has a lazy eye, so he works to correct his vision from 20/100 to 20/30 by wearing the eye patch. Later, when he is sea sick he is told to to go the sea when there are high waves to get his sea stomach.  That is, we have a problem (the refugee crisis) but we can fix it with work.
  • The woman wishes for a little health that day, like we all want to be healthy and happy (including the refugees).  It’s not too much to ask.

I’d love to watch this movie again – these are just a few observations off the top of my head a day later and I am sure there are more.

It is a tragic tale but one that also offers help and a nudge for us to help.  I wish we in the US were helping more (at a time when Donald Trump wants to do less!) – I am going to write my congress person about that.  Those poor souls – and the scene of the people dead at the bottom of the boat was awful but moving, like watching the Holocaust images in some ways (and to the people who died in such misery, the result is the same).

The movie makes me want to move to Sicily 🙂

Finally, it has been a great year for documentaries.  OJ: Made in America, 13th and I Am Not Your Negro were all wonderful and deserving; my vote for Oscar this year though is this one (“Fire at Sea”).

Loved, loved, loved (!) the movie “Fire at Sea!” Notes:

Feeling soooo grateful for 48 years and counting

I was teased a lot as a kid.  

I was short, very skinny and extremely hyper (when Oprah ran a special on Attention Deficit Disorder, several friends called to say I had ADHD 🙂 ).  

But something happened late in my teen years.  I grew overnight to 5’11”, put on 30 pounds of muscle so I was trim instead of skinny, and calmed down.  I started dressing more stylishly.  Even my facial features changed (Wife M looks at pictures of me and says she can’t believe it is the same person).  Personality wise,  I become less impetuous, and my tolerance of others improved.  Suddenly, some of the girls who had teased me as a kid were asking me out in college, and I was approached by strangers. All that has no meaning now, except it is much better memories than the ones I had where I was teased, and it has given me a lot of confidence in myself as I age.  In the early years, I oversteered – I became a little cocky.  But after a few years that too calmed down into quiet confidence, and then I met my future Wife M.  

But my point is this —  if life had been taken away at 10, 15 or even 20 or 25, I’d never had a chance to change, to evolve, not only looks wise but personality wise (I am a much wiser person I think then even in my 20s).  My life would have been — and =eople would remember me as — a small, opinionated, high-strung, homely kid with glasses.

It is such a gift to be given a long life, to change and evolve, to grow as a person.  Not everyone gets that chance. So I am very grateful. And how many kids or young adults have died who didn’t get a chance to evolve.  Which is one of the many reasons I love the idea of forgiveness and thinking the best of young people, and why our incarceration and imprisonment of so many young men and women is devestating, and one of many reasons of why wars are so tragic.

Feeling soooo grateful for 48 years and counting

Why humans are doomed to extinction – because our own s*** don’t stink

I have been bussing to appointments today, and am noticing how especially awful traffic is as people drive for Christmas-related reasons. Despite all the fears in Seattle of global warming, so many of us hop in cars. We hop on planes, we drive places, we eat meat (which contributes a ton to global warming), we order things from Amazon that have to be shipped from far away. Human beings are not able to control themselves until the crisis is real and immediate – we fear global warming and say we need to control it, but don’t as a mass take steps as individuals to control it. And buy the time the Earth can no longer sustain humans it will be too late. In short, we are doomed to extinction in the years ahead. We will be like those early forms of life that helped create oxygen but died off because of oxygen – we are creating global warming and will die from it while blaming the republicans and Chinese for global warming while riding in our cars, planes and boats.

Why humans are doomed to extinction – because our own s*** don’t stink

Sometimes I love Mobile devices

A man approached me today – his car broke down and did I know which bus to take to a nearby city? In fact, I Didn’t but thanks to the miracle of the mobile device and Google Maps, was able to tell him which three busses to take. He wanted to know if 6 bucks would cover the fare – it did, according to my device. he was relieved, and for a moment all was well. I was happy that a cell phone and 2 minutes of research could help him.

Sometimes I love Mobile devices

Am feeling more and more worried about the future of American workers…

Time was, a person could teach or work in a factory or do just about anything and make an honest living.  Most of that evaporated long ago, but in the past 20 years there was still hope – a person could be a programmer.  But as more and more programming becomes increasingly complex yet more automated, I am thinking that in the long-term there will be a fewer programming jobs with just a few highly paid IT jobs, and everyone else will be working menial and low-paying jobs where it is hard to make a living.  I feel like a century from now, we are all going to be serfs again, with a few business titans owning everything and the rest of us fighting for scraps and eating government subsidized fast food (i.e. poison).  The problem with humans automating things is we don’t make life easier for the masses – we make it more pleasant for the elite while the rest of us have to scrape to find increasingly difficult to find jobs.  I am not sure what my kids or my grandkids are going to do, let alone me in my golden years.  I hope I am wrong…

Am feeling more and more worried about the future of American workers…

Ooooohhh, this is what all the fuss about Shingles is about

I’ve had Shingles twice before and never knew what the big fuss was about it.  The first was a small patch that itched a lot but otherwise I seemed fine, and the second time was similar but with a little more fatigue/pain, although I am always tired and in pain so a little more of that isn’t a huge deal.  But I’ve come down with Shingles a third time and I am startging to understand the fuss.  I have a series of red patches along my right chest and back (including under the arm) that flat out hurt, like a burn, and I am really sore.  I am not sure if it is related (I am sure it is) but I am itching and tender at invisible places in m body: for example, my right tricep is tender (i.e. hurts to the touch) and itches but nothing is there.  I have a few places like that on m body (left ankle, right shoulder, etc.).  Some of those spots come and go, but others (like the ankle and tricep) are persistent…  I am certain that I still have a fairly mild case, but at least now understand/get why some people are truly miserable with Shingles…

I visited the doctor on Friday (they squeezed me in since I was still in the 72 hour critical window for treatment), and I am on antiviral medicine which doesn’t seem to be helping but then again who is to say if it is or not (i.e. maybe it would be worse without the medicine).  She also asked about my stress; honestly, I am in a very stressful part of my life (stress being relative). I have chronic health issues, am spending a lot of time in doctors offices while working full time with fatigue, we are having financial stress since Wife M is in school full-time and my earnings have been cut in half since my diagnosis in 2011, and my current employer is having serious financial difficulty which means I am likely back on the job trail again and explaining why I am on my fifth job in 5 years.  Sigh. 🙂  The best way to cure the stress will be to get a stable job and to stabilize our financial situation (which will be much better next year when wife M has graduated).  I am not bitter about anything – there is just a lot of stress I am trying to manage.  🙂

The last two times I had Shingles were in 1990 during college finals, and three years ago when I joined a high-stress company as a manager (I literally was thrown into the fire day 1 for a chaotic company).

Ooooohhh, this is what all the fuss about Shingles is about

Have to suppress the memory of feeling alone during my lung disease following the post-election outrage

It has been a little challenging to be around friends and family this week, as everyone is up in arms about Donald Trump being elected. Emotions are running very high, and people are posting all kinds of stuff and going to the protests and professing strong emotions/crying.  We are a funny breed – people are in near hysterics about our President, but with a few exceptions I heard little more than chitchat when I went through my serious lung disease five years ago (i.e. some family was there (especially my sister), my wife and kids were there of course, and a few friends reached out, but I definitely didn’t see an outcry 🙂 ).  Again, we are a funny breed – someone we know goes through a serious illness and we send a few “let me know if I can do anything” notes, but Donald Trump is elected and there is an outpouring of emotion.  It is hard not to feel something about that, in essence that my life is less important to most people than the presidential election. Kind of strange to think about, and again gives me a sense of perspective as to how much to invest of myself in those people around me.  And that I have to be my own best ally and best friend, and can’t invest my sense of self-worth in the emotions or care of the broader base of people in my life.

From my perspective, Donald Trump is less real and less scary to me as a person than the disease that lurks in my lungs and which can erupt at any time.  Donald Trump might be crazy, but he is far less likely to kill or maim me than the lung.  Thus, I feel a little less emotionally invested than the devestated people around me.  

Have to suppress the memory of feeling alone during my lung disease following the post-election outrage

Thoughts on Venice (from 2013)

We spent a day in Venice in 2013, and here are my memories from it…

I loved St. Peter’s Square, the large white cathedral often seen in movies.  It was a beautiful square and a beautiful church.  I love that when I see it in movies that it takes me back to my visit there.

Movies don’t capture the smell of Venice, which wasn’t pleasant.  The water doesn’t smell good, and there is a lot of exhaust hanging about. I felt like I needed to wash my skin off from the exhaust.

It is incredibly easy to get lost on the walkways.  THere are so many back ways that look alike (not in a bad way) and they are quiet, so it is easy to lose my way 🙂

It is a wonderful, sad city.  Sad in that there is *a lot* of motorboat traffic on the main ways, it was choked with tourists in parts of town, and the water is dirty (garbage floating in it).  Wonderful in that it is fun to be there because of its fame, and it is Italy (I love Italy).

The back water ways were dreamy.  Quiet, peaceful, surreal.

With global warming and the city sinking, I can’t imagine it will be there 100s of years from nbow.

I love Italy.  I love the pace of life, the food, the apprecation for life (food, conversation, coffee, clothes, wine, etc.), that dressing is an art (you don’t see Italians in yoga pants and tennis shoes), and even the heat.  My two favorite countries I’ve spent time in are Italy and France, and I love the people and cultures of both places.  Venice was not my favorite Italian city, but it is part of Italy and I love Italy.

Thoughts on Venice (from 2013)

It has been 5 years to the day since I saw the thoracic surgeon – I feel incredibly lucky

5 years ago this week my pulmonologist referred me to a thoracic surgeon for a lung biopsy after a high resolution ct scan (HRCT) without contrast showed all kinds of “ground glass” speckles in my lungs.  The specks were everywhere, and I remember the doctor scrolling up and down through the image and my lungs looking like a starry sky (where the stars were something that shouldn’t be there 🙂 ) and thinking how strange it was to be looking at all those marks and realizing that was my lung.  

They got me into the surgeon two days later, and the surgeon (who was awesome) made a few comments that were memorable… One was that the complications risk were generally low but that I had very sick lungs so it was important to be aware there could be complications from the surgery, and the other was when we asked him if he had any educated guesses as to what I had he looked at the scan, shook his head and said “it could be anything.”  Five days later I had the surgery, and I still have the scars (they look like Walt’s scars in breaking bad, and I’m always surprised when I catch an image of them in the mirror at how noticable they are).  Those were scary times and I was looking at a very real possiblity of having something fatal.

Fast forward five years and I am remarkably — miraculously — healthy. I  still have lung disease and I now have autoimmune disease (which appeared later) and I will never be the same, but I am reasonably fit and look very healthy and – most importantly — am alive and not on an oxygen tank (50-50 chance of dying or having a crippling condition, which when its lungs can mean a lifetime of supplemental oxygen).    I was looking at the real possibility of lymphoma, untreatable lung disease or lung cancer and it turned out that my disease responded well to treatment (it is not curable, and was possibly treatable, and it turned it did respond to treatment).

In two words, I feel “incredibly lucky.”

It has been 5 years to the day since I saw the thoracic surgeon – I feel incredibly lucky