Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. Thomas Edison

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Zeus update

I talked to the vet today and it sounds like Zeus is going to make it! He still isn’t wanting to eat but he is vomiting less and having less diarrhea as well and if he can keep his meds down tonight without barfing them back up then we should be able to bring him home tomorrow. So I am still keeping my fingers crossed but it sounds great.

Zeus in happier times

A ray of hope

We finally got Zeus into the vet. We would have done it sooner but no one would take us without money, and we don’t have any. After finally getting a hold of our friend who has a mobile vet service, she steered us in the direction of Douglas County Low Cost Veterinary Services, a low cost animal clinic in Roseburg, and after just a few phone calls we had everything arranged and got our ailing old guy in the back of the Subaru. The people at the clinic are really awesome and we very quickly got a positive stool sample for salmon poisoning, in fact, he was full of ‘flukes’ as they call them. So he is going to have at least a two night hospital stay, get pumped full of antibiotics and IV fluids, but it looks much better now, so we are all feeling much more optimistic. We will keep praying, but hopefully, hopefully, we will have our beloved doggie back in a few days. Keep your fingers crossed.

Losing a friend

Our ‘old’ dog Zeus, who is maybe 9 years old, has stopped eating and is showing signs that death is fast approaching. He vomits up everything we give him, he is just a bag of bones now. It would seem that he wants to die at this point. A few days ago he was happy, going on walks, catching Frisbees, eating voraciously, being obnoxious towards every neighbor dog or squirrel. He is a Plot Hound which means that he has a loud, braying bark and rambunctious personality. When we moved out here to the river in August, he and I started swimming together for the first time (he is my Fiancee’s dog but he and I quickly established our own bond after a while) and I was really looking forward to doing that with him this summer. Doesn’t look too hopeful that I will get that chance.

It is so strange, since we moved here all of our dogs have had at least a brush with death. Caesar managed to survive blue-green algae poisoning our very first day on the river, then dear Pompey died a few months ago when he asphyxiated on garbage he had gotten into. Now Zeus seemingly has stomach cancer or something equally horrible. We haven’t been able to take him to the vet since we have no money and they won’t accept payments. However, Brook’s friend is one of the main vets there and has her own mobile veterinary clinic so we are hoping she will come out and see him tonight. Our guess is that he will need to be put down. I keep hoping (as we all do, I’m sure) that she will get him on some antibiotics and he will make a full recovery, but it just seems unlikely.

So we are all giving Zeus our attention in shifts, he has someone loving him at every moment now. He groans a lot. Poor soul. I just wish I could give him some peace. It will come soon, no doubt, but for now we are going to make him comfortable and give him our undivided attention.

Zeus enjoying some sunshine

A good weekend.

Trying out a pain patch this weekend. Pretty interesting. I have been very relaxed (physically) this weekend, although I feel loopy enough to get kind of cranky at times. All of my pain – except my damned right shoulder – has been removed. It is amazing though that the only thing that will make my shoulder stop hurting is prescription strength Ibuprofen multiple times a day. Nothing – not one of the powerful pain killers I have been taking seems to be able to lessen the pain in the right shoulder, and I have been taking double doses of each! Holy crap, that will tell you something about the type of pain I have. No massage will loosen it up, no pain killers will touch it, in fact the only things that will help it are anti-inflammatories and acupuncture. Luckily I can afford the Ibuprofen right now, and soon I may be able to get back into acupuncture again.

It has been a good weekend just being able to reduce about 75% of my pain issues. I get about two hours of relief for every Ibuprofen I take, so that ends up being about six hours each day nearly pain-free. That is one thing I really do appreciate about the pain patch is the constant relief – no peaks and valleys between doses. Unfortunately, it is not something I can do very often because it is meant to be on for 72 hours, during which time I cannot drive or do anything that is remotely dangerous, so I will probably only take it in the future when I am in really dire straights.

That is really what a life of chronic pain is all about – compromise. You do the best that you can but often it is the lesser of multiple evils. Pain relief means reduced mobility – no driving, no outdoor adventures, and not much of a brain either – although I am writing this under the influence of the patch and (I think) managing to be fairly coherent. I have learned to adjust to doing things while under the influence of whatever pain relieving drugs I am on. I used to never read or write while high, but now I have figured out how to do it out of sheer necessity.

I don’t like admitting that I have to do all this, but at the same time I am not ashamed. The options are a life of sheer agony, pain and exhaustion. Drugs actually give me a higher quality of life simply by reducing my pain and allowing me to function. There are worse things than addiction, in my opinion. The pain I have suffered made my life a living hell, and there were many, many times (especially in Winter) when I was truly close to suicide. Drugs have given me my life back.

Yet despite having to engage in what I have termed “enforced drug addiction”, I live a pretty productive life. I am a loving father who takes great care of his kids, a devoted and loyal partner to Brook, a successful mountaineer and rock-climber, a published author, a budding film maker, and when my pain was not as severe as it is today, a great employee. Now I am doing pretty well in school, I write excellent papers (I have gotten A’s or B’s on virtually every first draft of every essay I have written in writing 121 or 122). Believe me, if I could make my pain disappear, the pain killers, the anti-inflammatories and patches would all disappear with them. I still have hope that someday I can live like that.

I am thankful to have this relief. At this moment, sitting here at my desk writing, I feel almost no pain. If I didn’t have the patch on, if I hadn’t taken an Ibuprofen an hour ago, I would have pain levels that would probably keep me from getting up and writing, I would probably be on the couch moaning and not doing anything.

A good weekend. A weekend with less pain.

JuJu and Daddy

An example

Just wanted to post a short bit about my shoulder. I have had this really crunchy group of tendons attached to my right scapula, and no matter how much I rubbed it, it wouldn’t get better. So I took one of my juggling balls and put it on the ground and spent – literally – hours rolling it under my shoulder, trying desperately to get it to ease, but I should have known better. I actually slept for hours with the ball under my shoulder, and now, today, my right shoulder is incredibly swollen and tender. I have a huge red bruise from where I rubbed it.

Red and swollen

Ouch!