Used to be a ‘new’ Jersey Girl   : now A Colorado Girl

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Turning the Corner to Fall?


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Just mostly thoughts today. Our weather has suddenly turned from scorching heat to mild temperatures in the high 70's, dipping even into the high 50's at night. The mornings are cool and and not as sticky. It feels wonderful! But, I am not ready for summer to give way to fall just yet. Say it isn't so!

Although this makes for great windows-open-sleeping-weather, the pool is currently suffering. Now it's down to 78 degrees. However, this week we are starting the process of getting a pool heater installed. We've struggled over the years with the decision: to get one or not? We finally came to the conclusion that pool time is something we enjoy immensely and we are not getting the full potential out of  the pool because of the August downslide. There is also the problem with the beginning of the season and waiting for the water temperature to rise enough to be swimmable. The heater will bridge the gap on both sides, allowing us several more weeks to take advantage of the short season.

As I type, Dennis is out prepping the area for the heater which is due in today. Dennis and Jean own the local pool store, Aqua Tech, where we get all our pool supplies and have our water tested each week. He also opens and closes the pool every year for us. Since we've been on board with them our pool has been sparkling clean with no problems. Not only are they great at what they do, but they are just great people. The heater process will probably take several weeks since we have to coordinate with the company providing the propane and also the electrician. Hopefully it will all come together smoothly and we'll be back to comfortable nighttime laps soon. 

Alex is doing pretty good today. I could tell yesterday that the treatment was affecting him. I could see it in his eyes—tired and not up to snuff, but he still ate his evening meal and was pretty happy other than being a bit more lethargic and sleepy than usual. Since they inject the drugs right into his veins I can imagine he would feel it almost immediately. Kind of like a junkie shooting up (although I have no clue what that would actually feel like).  He has eaten and now his eyes look much better. Just maybe we'll get through this one without any bad side effects.

We're supposed to be getting rain tomorrow which is why I mowed the grass today. It has slowed its growth down and only needs to be mown every couple of weeks now—yet another sign of impending fall. The grass smells so sweet this time of year that I wish I could bottle the scent. I'd call it "Sweet August Meadow Grass." 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Update on Alex

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Alex is doing really well. His chemo treatment of ten days ago did not affect him hardly at all and he had a very good week! Finally! His appetite has picked up and he is now eating real dog kibble with chicken as opposed to only dog biscuits and treats and chicken and rice. His activity level is back to normal and he's like his old self. I hate to even say these things out loud (or should I say write them down for all to read) because I might be jinxing him. There is always that chance that he could backslide again, and it's in the back of my mind. I keep pushing it away, but it's still there. I don't dwell on it; I just take each day as it comes and every day is a gift. Especially when he's feeling so good.

This morning he had another appointment and another treatment. The doc proclaimed his lymph nodes "perfect." This week he was given the same drug that he had so much trouble with the last time he had it, so they gave him a smaller dose and hopefully he will tolerate it well. Fingers crossed. It was so nice to have the week "off" last week and have it be such a good and positive week for him. It makes my heart glad to see him feeling so good.

Last week's weight: 91.2

This week's weight: 95.6 — Yeah for Alex!

He has five more weekly treatments, then we move to every other week.

We're moving forward with our plans to go to the cabin. I've talked to the doctor about it and he sees no reason why Alex can't go. He might need a treatment while we're gone but we can do that at CSU Veterinary Hospital in Ft. Collins. Rick's business trip to Amsterdam in the beginning of September is not happening, allowing us to leave for the cabin sooner than we had originally planned and right now we are looking at September 14th through the 27th, arriving home on the 29th. That leaves one whole month before we go to Mexico--if all goes according to plan until then. I am hoping that either my sister or friend Carolyn can housesit for us during that time because we refuse to put Alex in the kennel. If neither one can come than I don't think our little Mexican getaway is going to happen. 

Thank you all for caring!



Photo: Water lily at Skylands (where else??)

Friday, July 19, 2013


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Remission. Such a lovely word, don't you think? How about complete remission? That's what the vet told me today at Alex's chemotherapy appointment. What great news!!! All his lymph nodes are normal size. Of course, now that we've gotten the cancer knocked back we have to keep it there. We have two more rounds of chemo in this cycle and then we have to repeat the weekly cycle again with the same drugs. If all goes well after that we can go to every other week treatments. 

Today's drug is supposed to be easy on the system, so my fingers are crossed that he doesn't get any ill side effects this time. Our oncology vet is going to be off next Thursday and Friday, and since the drug will once again be the same one he had last week that didn't go over so well, he's giving Alex the week off and we'll go the following Tuesday instead of our normal Friday. He'll also reduce the dosage he gives him the next time because of Alex's reaction to it. 

So right now things are looking very good for Mr. Alex! Keep the good thoughts coming his way--he still has a long way to go.


Photo: Umbrella at the Cafe del Mar, Cartagena.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Critter Update


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 This colorful tiny lizard was at the foot of the tree where I toss food out for the birds this morning. When I first saw him I thought he was a plastic toy, as those kinds of things pop up in my yard on a regular basis from the kids that lived here years and years ago. But he was real enough and very pretty. I've never seen one like him before.


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First off is an update on Alex. I'm glad I had that moment swimming on Saturday night because the past two days have pretty much been hell. Alex had a bad reaction to the chemo treatment and spent two miserable days not eating, having diarrhea, and basically lying around feeling crappy. It was scary. We plied him with anti-nausea meds and anti-diarrheal meds. Last week he had one off day; this week he had two. The vet said this is not uncommon at all and we just have to ride it through. Thank goodness today he is much better, eating a little and barking and wagging his tail again. He's not on the top of his game, but way better than he was. I try to let it not affect my life but it does. My stomach churns and I worry that we are doing the right thing. After all, Alex can't tell us if it's all worth it or not. It weighs on me. Heavily.

The vet visit last Friday went well and he declared Alex in partial remission from the lymphoma. He said that one set of lymph nodes on the front of his chest were still a little more enlarged than they should be but not by much. He was thrilled with his progress! Yeah! Now I can't even feel his nodes they are so far down. So, that's the good news. As long as he has more good days than bad ones I think he'd agree it's worth it.

We have a bear in the neighborhood. A big one if the information coming from two of neighbors is correct. Aileen said he looked like a big black refrigerator. Kim has seen it too, but not me. Not yet.

The fox (or a fox) is still living under the deck. I saw it just the other day and it looks bushy-tailed and healthy. It has not been a problem at all except for the turkey foot I found in the yard. I was wondering why I hadn't seen any turkeys in a very long time. I'm afraid the fox is dining rather well. I can't do anything about that. It's nature at work. 

I have to fish a frog out of the pool quite frequently in the morning. 

Not much is going on right now. I am in the role of care giver and there isn't much space for me. I don't like it, but there it is.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Tilting with Frequent Flyer Miles

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Double Dragons

My little world tilted on its axis big time last Saturday. Rick and I were sitting outside on the deck BBQing when Alex walked up and wanted to be petted. I threw my arms around his neck like I've don a zillion and two times and gave him a bit sloppy kiss on the top of his head. And that's when my world wobbled. I felt big swellings under his neck. My heart just sunk to my feet because I've been there before with our dog Sailor. I looked at Rick and I know my face must have shown all the agony I was feeling. A quick check of other lymph nodes gave us the rest of the picture. Alex must have lymphoma. Damn. Where did that come from all of a sudden?

I took him in to our vet as soon as I could on Monday and after drawing a small sample from two different lymph nodes, the vet was pretty sure we really were dealing with cancer. Not that I didn't already know that in my heart. 

The particular vet that I saw was not my preferred vet of choice in our clinic, but she is good. She loves Alex and thinks he's a sweet boy who is exemplary of the breed. She told me she is an advocate of positive thinking and I should be thinking that he is going to beat this instead of the other way around. It's hard to envision since the last time we faced lymphoma in a dog it did not go well. She said Alex has a stash of "frequent flyer miles" he hasn't used up yet. He certainly beat the odds last year in March when he had his spleen removed and it was cancer. At that time they had given him 8 months before a recurrence of the cancer.

Without waiting for pathology report to come back positive for lymphoma I went ahead and scheduled an appointment for Alex at the specialty vet for Friday, which given the holiday week was the best that I could manage. And, not the same place I had taken Sailor for treatment. That particular ER/Specialty vet is a toxic environment. We have never had a positive experience any time we have taken our dogs there. The oncology vet that practices there must have been a former enemy of mine in another lifetime and we were destined to act it all out again in this one. She hated me on first sight.

Another vet that works there and mostly for emergency situations is also not a fan of mine. I took our dog Bode in who happened to have a fast spreading cancer. He told me my dog was basically dying when two days prior to that I had no idea he was sick. And Bode was very sick. They took samples and he said he'd call with the result. Bode was still alive and doing "ok" a week later and I still had not heard back about the biopsies. When I called the vet got on the phone with me and said (his words) "I didn't call because I thought that dog would be dead by now." Thanks, #######. 

ANYWAY … we took Alex to the same ER/specialty vet in Paramus, NJ  that saw him through his spleen surgery last year, only this time we saw the oncologist, Dr. Dennis Bailey. I read his resume on line and it looked good including that fact that he had two cats named Laverne & Shirley. He was very blunt and to the point and explained everything to us. He was a little worried given Alex's history with his spleen cancer and wanted to do a barrage of tests to make sure we were treating him correctly. He wanted us to leave him for the day. If he passed his screenings for lung, heart, kidney, liver and any other type of cancer infiltration into those body organs then they would go ahead and take a bone marrow sample and yet another lymph node sample to be sure it was lymphoma and not another form of histocytic cancer that can mimic lymphoma. He said he would call if they found anything  that would alter our course.

We left the poor dog and came home. Every hour that went by I began to feel better and better. This is the time when you don't want the phone to ring because it would most likely be bearing bad news. When Dr. Bailey finally called us at 3:30 p.m. he had good news for us. Alex had been x-rayed, ultra sounded, urine tested, bone marrow tested and had passed with flying colors!! Hurrah! We still won't know on the lymph biopsy until next week, but he said that given what they saw on ultrasound (or what they didn't see) led him to believe that this cancer is totally unrelated to what he had last year. You go Al! If the biopsy shows something other than lymphoma, all that means is a different course of treatment.

With the barrage of testing done and out of the way, they gave Alex his first chemotherapy treatment, which he will undergo every week. They don't use the same drugs every time and according to the statistics, 80% of dogs respond favorably. Too bad Sailor was not in that percentile. Hopefully Alex still has enough frequent flyer miles stored up to beat this this thing, if only for a while. We can only try.

Might I just add that this treatment protocol is hideously expensive and that new carpeting we were going to put in this year is not going to happen. You might think we are crazy, but our dogs are our children. Alex has way too much life left inside him to just let him slip away without trying. It's the least we can do after all the joy he has given us over the years. He's our Boo-Dog. 

He's pretty much exhausted from his trials of yesterday and maybe a little bit high on the prednisone that we started today, but we can already feel the swelling receding a little. Whether it's the swelling around the nodes or the nodes themselves we don't know. But there is a difference. When I put my hands on him I can feel the heat rising from the node areas. His body is working really hard to fight and we applaud him. 

So, that's my little curve ball.

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Alex in May

On the flip side of my world is something equally as disturbing. I know I've mentioned Donna and Larry before on this blog. They are our friends that live year-round up where we have our cabin and we pay them to look in on our place every few weeks or so. Larry had a bad heart attack a few months back and with that had also suffered kidney failure and one lung collapsed. He was on and off of dialysis and the last we heard he was in therapy but not bouncing back as quickly as they hoped.

He died on July 1st. The bizarre thing is that on that night, I had a dream that he had died. Completely out of the blue, and a very disturbing dream. I told Rick about it the next morning. I didn't really think too much about it as I have strange dreams all at the time. When I heard on the 4th of July of his passing, I completely freaked out. I still am freaked out. Just too weird. He will be greatly missed.


Welcome, I'm Lynne. You know me better as a 'new' Jersey Girl. But now I've moved back to my 'home' state and I am living in NoCo (Northern Colorado).This blog will be about my thoughts, good food, and of course, dogs.

© 2006-2018 Lynne Robinson All photography and text on this blog is copyright. For use or reproduction please ask me first.

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