Health, Military

A stem to stern skin exam… German style…

I don’t have anything to report travel wise this week, as Bill is away on another business trip. He left for Bavaria on Thursday and will be gone until this Friday. I hate it when he travels without me, but at least we have a trip upcoming. I’ve been trying to make the best of my alone time by sprucing up the garden furniture. Yesterday, I put teak oil on it, and I have plans to add a sealant. However, it looks like it’s going to rain, so maybe it’s just as well that Bill isn’t home.

Before Bill left for his trip to Bavaria, he visited a doctor in Mainz. Several months ago, I noticed a spot on his skin that looked weird. He showed it to his military doc, and she referred him to a dermatologist. Or, she told him to go see one. He had to find one on his own, since he’s retired from the military.

Bill scheduled a visit with a doctor in Mainz, but she had to cancel his appointment because she was sick. I believe the original appointment was supposed to happen in March. The appointment was rescheduled for May 3, and Bill dutifully went in on Wednesday morning. He said the waiting room was full of people.

When he made his appointment, he was advised that he could either pay 50 euros for a spot check, or pay 120 euros for a full exam, complete with high resolution photos. As Bill is a very white guy who’s of a certain age, he went with the 120 euro option. Bill described the procedure to me after it was all done.

He went in, met the doctor and showed her the spots that were questionable. She had him strip completely naked (though I don’t know if he had to keep wearing a face mask). She stayed in the room while he disrobed. Then, she methodically checked his entire body, to include all of the places the sun doesn’t shine– between his toes, on his gums, under his balls, and probably between his ass crack, too.

She took photos of four or five places, then had him get dressed, again while she was in the room. The whole thing took about an hour. Afterwards, she said the questionable spots were not of concern, but she had noticed that he had fungus on his feet. Bill probably blushed and said, “Yes, I have a problem with athlete’s foot.”

“I’ll prescribe you something for that. You must apply it three times a day until the fungus is gone, and wash your socks in hot water.” I think he should just get new socks, if you ask me.

After the appointment, he paid the 120 euros, then went to a nearby pharmacy and got the foot medicine. That was another 17 euros. He’ll file the bill with our insurance and probably get the money back. Still, I thought that was pretty affordable for such a thorough exam. I probably should visit her myself, given that I’m as white as he is. I don’t like doctors, though.

It was a lucky thing that he had enough euros on him, though, because the doctor’s office only takes EC credit cards (European). Our cards are American. I tried to get Bill to open a German bank account so we could get local cards, but he ignored my advice. Of course, now German banks don’t like messing with Americans, thanks to our crazy ass tax reporting laws.

Anyway, I’m glad his skin is healthy, for now. I ordered him a couple of new Irish flat caps to help keep his scalp skin cancer free. I’m sure they’ll come in handy on our trip next month. He sure can rock a flat cap! The ones in the photos are summer weight, as opposed to the wool tweed one he usually wears in cold weather. Aran Sweater Market for the win.

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Health, Sundays

Bill is all gimpy and grumpy today…

We ended up not going out to dinner last night, because yesterday morning, Bill fell while he was walking Noyzi. He turned his ankle. Then he put on shoes and went to work for a couple of hours, which made the pain and his mobility in the ankle worse.

When Bill got home from work, he was complaining about the pain. So I said that maybe we should just stay in so he could rest his ankle. This week is going to be very busy for him at work, and then on Thursday, he’s going on a TDY assignment that will last until the following weekend. He’ll be working nights, which will be hell for him, because he’s very much a day person whose brain goes down with the sun.

I’ll be sitting at home, probably shopping for more stuff to take on our trip or put in the garden…

I just bought a new hairdryer, not for my hair, but for the freezer. Our kitchen has an old fridge and it has to be defrosted. I decided using a hairdryer was the best way to accomplish that goal, since the fridge can’t be easily unplugged, because itโ€™s built into the wall. And I got a new hairbrush, too, with an olive wood handle and boar hair bristles. It’s taking time to get used to it.

At least it’s sunny and somewhat warm out today. I took Noyzi for a walk and got some pretty new flower pictures for my photo stream. Here are a few for your own amusement. The last three photos are of the creek in our village. I’m glad I can count on my very fastidious neighbors to provide me with some lovely flowers to shoot with my camera. If anything, they’re a reminder that winter is finally over.

Our village is having Maifeuer– a bonfire– tonight in the Mother’s Day Shack on the northern edge of town. They will have sausages and beer on offer, as they light a bonfire, I guess, in honor of Whit Sunday. I might like to attend the event, but Bill says he can’t walk that far… He’s also been feeling guilty about not going to work today. Hello! It’s SUNDAY!!!!

Edited to add: My German friend reminds me that the bonfire wasn’t for Whit Sunday/Monday. It was for Walpurgisnacht… which I had completely forgotten about. You’d think after so many years living here, I wouldn’t forget these holidays. But sometimes, we’re not in town, and we never seem to take part in the festivities. I would have liked to have gone to the bonfire last night, but it was probably better to stay home and drink wine. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Today, there’s a picnic going on, as it’s a holiday in Germany… but not for Americans.

I guess it just goes to show you that some Soldiers never really clock out. Bill is always going to have a “mission first” mentality, much to my occasional annoyance. I do appreciate that he has such a strong work ethic, but sometimes it’s a good thing to realize that the world won’t stop if you take a break and rest up. And given the condition of his ankle, that might be a good idea, because he won’t have the chance next weekend.

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Health

He made it to ten years! Happy “gotcha day”, Arran!

Since I’ve been writing about my dog, Arran’s, canine chemotherapy progress in this blog, I think this is the right place to share the happy news. Our sweet Arran, who was diagnosed with B cell lymphoma in October 2022, has now officially been in our family for ten years! He is officially now the dog we’ve had for the longest time. I feel quite certain that if it weren’t for our local veterinarians, our sweet Arran would no longer be with us.

Naturally, I’m very happy that Arran has spent ten years with us. Our other beagle, Zane, was getting close to his tenth anniversary when he, too, got lymphoma. We lost him on August 31, 2019, just one week after he was diagnosed with cancer. I think Zane’s lymphoma was both more advanced and more aggressive than Arran’s has been. We never had the opportunity to try chemotherapy with him.

I donโ€™t think Zane was quite as strong as Arran is. I also believe Zane came from a puppy mill, while Arran came from hunters who apparently were trying to breed the perfect hunting dog. He wasn’t the perfect hunting dog for them, but he is a very strong, resilient dog, who is very attached to us. Consequently, he’s really been fighting to stay with us.

Below is a photo I took on the day we adopted him, January 12, 2013. He’s sitting next to Zane in the house we were renting in Sanford, North Carolina. We had lost his predecessor, MacGregor, to a very aggressive spinal tumor on December 18, 2012. Arran was named “CD” by the rescue, and “Marley” by his first adoptive family. We decided to name him Arran after a beautiful island in Scotland we saw on our tenth anniversary cruise in Scotland. The news about MacGregor’s surprise spinal tumor had interrupted that wonderful and long awaited trip. I was still enchanted by how beautiful Scotland is, and how much at home I felt there. Arran, likewise, is beautiful, colorful, funny, mischievous, and very special… like the Island of Arran is.

I don’t know exactly how old Arran was in the above photo, but I would guess he was at least four, as he was previously adopted and returned to Triangle Beagle Rescue out of Raleigh, North Carolina. From the very beginning, our “Tribeagle” been sweet, adorable, and loving. He’s also been quite a troublemaker at times, and a real scrapper. I would say that his tendency to get into trouble is one reason why he’s still with us today. Below is a photo I took this morning. He was hunting for crumbs until the table.

He’s now at about week fourteen of his chemo. As you can see from the video, taken a couple of days ago, he’s still very interested in living… and eating! We owe a lot to our vets in the neighboring village of Wallau for providing such excellent and affordable care.

Our rascally “chowhound”, Arran!

When we decided to get treatment for Arran’s lymphoma, I really only hoped we’d get to celebrate ten years with our loving hound. As I look at him right now, he’s waiting impatiently for me to finish typing this, so we can take a walk. He’s still obviously very invested in living his life.

Obviously, not every dog will respond to treatment as well as Arran has, but we sure are glad we gave it a try. And now, we’re just going to focus on enjoying having him, for however long we can.

Arran on the day we brought him home from Raleigh, North Carolina. It was exactly ten years ago, today!

Anyway… I thought I’d just share the news. We have hit an unprecedented milestone. And for that, Arran deserves a walk with his big Kosovar pal, Noyzi. He sure is a fighter! And he’s still so very beautiful to me, even if he does pee on the floor and get us up at 3:00am for his breakfast.

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Health

Chemo treatment number five!

Here’s a short Veteran’s Day post to update everyone about Arran. He had his fifth infusion of Vincristine yesterday. We also got the first bill for his first two treatments on October 13th and October 20th. I thought some readers might be interested in knowing what chemo for dogs costs in Germany.

Arran is still doing very well. We took a short walk yesterday, mainly because I had things I needed to do. On Wednesday, he demanded a longer walk. When I told the vet, she was delighted to hear it. He also gained a little weight last week, because we gave him a little more food. Last week, he had lost weight, and the vet said he wasn’t too skinny, but seeing him lose weight worried her a little. But his weight loss isn’t because he doesn’t want to eat. On the contrary, he wakes us up in the middle of the night and insists on eating. So, when he gained a little weight, we showed that he can gain weight, which the vet was glad about, although he doesn’t need to for health reasons.

She did a blood test that indicates that he’s making improvements internally. His red blood cell count is still low, but it’s higher than it was in the previous weeks. He is not in remission yet, but he’s definitely much better than he was a month ago. And, like I’ve said, our goal is to get him to January, and his tenth year with us. Whatever else he gets is “gravy”.

Below are two photos from yesterday…

He looks a bit more relaxed this week. Arran shrieked once when the vet put in the catheter, but she was very pleased by how well he tolerates the treatments, which last about 30 minutes. Sure, he’d rather be somewhere else for those 30 minutes, but once they’re over, he can take walks, eat, play with his toys, and catch peanuts, like he did last night…

He’s feeling much better now!

I also want to share the bill we got yesterday. I posted it on Facebook and shocked my friends! In the USA, this would have been much, much higher.

This bill is equal to about $285.14 in US dollars, since the dollar and euro are about equal in value right now. It covers two IV push treatments of Vincristine, 20 Endoxan tablets (another chemo drug), 20 Prednisolone tablets (20 mg), 40 Prednisolone tablets (5 mg), two blood tests, catheterization, hygiene, and 19 percent tax. The tax we could get refunded, since we are Americans here on SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) status, as opposed to being “regular residents”. All we have to do is turn in a VAT form (value added tax) to omit the taxes (45 euros). I’m not sure if we’ll bother.

Since this bill was tallied, he’s had three more treatments. I predict the bill is still under 1000 euros. It’s crazy that veterinary and other medical care in the United States is so expensive. However, I am really glad Arran is able to access this treatment now. He’s still very sharp and wants to live, and this treatment is giving him the chance at a good quality of life for however long he has left.

Well… Bill has called me to breakfast, so off I go. I think we’ll have a nice holiday weekend!

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Health

Canine chemo treatment number four…

Yesterday started out sunny and pleasant, but later became overcast and a little depressing. I took the dogs for a walk, noticing that some kind of event was going on at the local church. A lot of people were dressed in black. I wondered if maybe there was a funeral going on, even though our town has a cemetery with a chapel.

It was Thursday, which meant that Arran had a chemo appointment in the afternoon. It was his fourth. Arran has been doing surprisingly well with the lymphoma treatments. He willingly scarfs down his medications, mainly because he’s always hungry due to the steroids, and because I wrap the pills in yummy things like chicken, peanut butter, or beef.

Arran and I got the vet’s office early and met a couple of local ladies who thought he was adorable. They asked me many questions, and we were hampered by our masks and our mutually terrible German/English skills. That is, they spoke perfect German and limited English, and I speak perfect English, and very limited German. But I did manage to tell them a little about Arran, and one of the ladies told me about her dog, who is 12 years old and was evidently at home.

My dog was totally eating up the attention, trembling a little either due to nerves, or the slightly chilly weather… or maybe both. He willingly went to the ladies, and enjoyed being the center of attention as they called him “Schatzi” and petted him. He’s still such a gorgeous dog, with a beautiful, lush, thick, glossy coat. But he’s also clearly an elderly gent.

For a moment, I wondered if I should tell them why we were there, but then realized that people can be judgmental about dogs getting cancer treatments, especially when they’re as old as Arran obviously is.

I will admit that Arran did look a little sad and scared at the vet’s office, and maybe some folks might think it’s wrong for him to be subjected to cancer treatments. What other people don’t see, though, is the way Arran is the rest of the time, when he’s not at the vet’s office. They wouldn’t have seen him jumping excitedly when I held up the dog “seatbelt” before we left the house, or dancing around for his food, or on his morning walk, when he wanted to go the long way… They wouldn’t have seen him giving me sweet beagle kisses at the table, or snuggling with Bill. Obviously, Arran isn’t sorry to be alive.

In the end, I decided to keep my mouth shut. It wasn’t their business, anyway…

Before long, the vet called us into her office in Haus B, where we had the conversation about Arran’s slimmer physique. She drew some blood, then inserted the catheter and gave him his first dose. Then, we went back to a chair where she had set up a bed for Arran. He laid down and, just like a champ, took the next two IV push infusions. Half an hour later, we were done. Arran was happy to get into the car and go home, where he enjoyed his evening rations and a nap before his favorite person came home from work.

In the past few weeks, Arran has lost a couple of kilos, which he could easily afford to do. He gained a lot of weight during the lockdowns and was, at one point, up to about 19 kilos. Now he’s getting back to his fighting weight, but I think we’re going to either get him regular food, or feed him more of his senior food. Last week, he weighed 17.6 kilos– down from 17.8 the week prior, and yesterday, he was 17.2 kilos.

The vet asked if he was eating. I said, “Yes! He constantly wants to eat. Should I feed him more?” She said no, that he’s not too skinny yet. I guess the disease and the treatments are making him use more calories. That, and he’s moving more, because he’s not so lethargic.

Arran is still not obviously suffering from the treatments. Yes, he wants to eat all the time, but that was also true before he got sick. The one change is that now he’s more insistent, and he gets us up in the middle of the night because he’s hungry. This morning, he woke us at 2:30am. He wanted some of our breakfast a little later, too. Now, he’s gone back to bed, as I listen to a classic jazz song and wonder if I should try to record it.

I love fall. I like to savor these cozy days. Especially since I know that our time with sweet Arran is growing shorter. But I can’t say that I’m sorry we’re giving him this extra time. I think he’s grateful for this time, because he’s still engaged with life. I don’t regret treating him. I know that if we hadn’t done this, by now he would already be a memory.

Below are a few photos of Arran taken during her chemo treatment… This represents about a half an hour of his week. The rest of the time, he’s decidedly more cheerful and cute, as he appears in the last photo, sitting on the bench of our table. Two weeks ago, he couldn’t jump up there by himself. Now, he can jump up there, and on our bed, where he’s gone back to sleeping.

He’s not done fighting yet. So we’re going to help him for as long as he wants to fight.

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Health, markets

Chemo, COVID, and another weekly market…

This week has really flown by. Here it is, Friday morning, and it’s time to write another blog post for my “travel/German living” blog.

Last time I posted, I mentioned that Bill wasn’t feeling well. In that post, I wrote that he was suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue from two back to back TDYs, and some kind of respiratory illness that wasn’t COVID. Well, it turned out we were wrong. Bill went to work on Monday, and learned that a couple of his colleagues who had been at the conference in Bavaria had come down with COVID. Since he still wasn’t feeling well himself, Bill decided to test. Sure enough, he had a positive result, so he’s been working from home for the rest of the week.

He’s actually feeling fine now, and never got very sick with the virus. He didn’t have a fever at all, never lost his sense of taste or smell, and aside from some coughing and fatigue, hasn’t been much worse for wear. Yesterday, because he’s over the virus, he took Arran in for his chemo treatment, and we attended the weekly market, although we made sure to stay on the periphery of the crowd. He’s working from home today, too, because his boss told him to, but he’s pretty much recovered from the sickness. I haven’t been sick at all, perhaps because I had COVID myself back in July. While Bill was at the vet’s office, he was masked, as everyone is required to be in any healthcare setting in Germany.

Arran is still doing well with his lymphoma treatment. His blood test didn’t reveal any progress, per se, toward technical remission, but we can see a difference in his energy level. For instance, a few days ago, I was eating a sandwich on my bed, and Arran managed to jump up on the bed by himself. He has pretty much quit doing that lately, but before he got sick, he always slept on our bed. He’s also been jumping up on the bench of our Eckbank Gruppe, which he always did when he was well. I know a lot of people wouldn’t want a dog sitting next to them on a bench or sleeping in bed with them, but for us, it’s a normal thing. I’m just glad Noyzi doesn’t do it, because he’s a lot bigger and hairier.

We had gorgeous weather yesterday for the market, so we went down for about an hour or so. We got some cheese, cold cuts, and beautiful produce. Maybe I’ll make a homemade tomato sauce today and we’ll make lasagne or manicotti. Of course, we also enjoyed some local wines, and waved to our neighbors. I really love the weekly market. I know the markets are common in larger towns, but our little neighborhood is unusually close knit, so the market is intimate and convivial.

Our town manager is always there to oversee everything, too. I think he does a great job. He’s very active on social media, and approachable. This is something we didn’t experience when we lived near Stuttgart. I didn’t know who the town managers were in our previous neighborhoods, nor did we have weekly events like we do in Breckenheim. But then, I don’t know if what we have in Breckenheim is the norm for the Wiesbaden area, either. I’ve noticed there’s been an uptick in events here just over the last year or so, but then, we did have to deal with COVID restrictions. Anyway, Bill and I both really like that they do these events here, and we have enjoyed meeting some of the locals with whom we share space.

Below are some photos from this week. First, are a few shots of our Arran, who is obviously feeling much better. Bill asked about the bill for his treatment so far, and the vet said there’s no pressure to settle up at this point. As Americans, we are allowed to use a “VAT” form, which exempts us from having to pay local taxes for the treatment. Whether or not to accept VAT forms is voluntary on the part of local merchants, since it involves paperwork for them. But it sure is nice for us when they do that, especially for expensive things like non-routine veterinary care, or big purchases like furniture.

This week, I read an article in the Washington Post about a woman who got expensive cancer treatment for her dog. She got a lot of rude comments from people, which I ranted about. Last night, she left me a very nice comment on my post, which you can read here. In any case, so far Arran is doing well, and we’ve been enjoying some priceless time with him. I also don’t expect that his care will cost as much as it would in the United States. As soon as we have a bill, I will confirm or deny that expectation for the curious.

And here are some shots from the market… Someone had some heavenly smelling bread. It smelled like garlic bread. I never did find the source, but they were also selling waffles with powdered sugar that reminded me of the early 90s, when I worked at Busch Gardens making waffle cones. I worked in “Germany”, and wore a dirndl. Little did I know what the future would hold.

Bill found some lovely Italian cheeses and cold cuts, as well as gorgeous, colorful produce… but I was there for the wine.

For some reason, the editor isn’t letting me put comments on the photos… Luckily, most of them are self explanatory. I did notice the Gastatte sign for the first time yesterday. Breckenheim has little signs on its historic buildings, as well as “stumbling stones” (Stolpersteine), placed in honor of local Jewish people who were victims of the Holocaust. The stones are now making appearances all over Europe. You can search my blog for more information on those.

Since Bill is feeling better, maybe we can get out of the house this weekend. We do have plans to carve pumpkins for Halloween this year, since we have new German neighbors with small children who requested it. I’ll post about that when the time comes. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Health

German style chemotherapy!

Before I get accused of posting “clickbait”, I want to make it clear that this post is not about Bill or me. It’s about our elderly beagle mix, Arran, who was recently diagnosed with B cell lymphoma. I’ve been posting up to the minute updates on my main blog, but I wanted to post here for those who hit this blog because they’re specifically looking for information about life in Germany. I have a very different “audience” for this blog, although it seems like most of my readers come here to read about our trips to the nude spas. ๐Ÿ˜‰

A week ago, I posted about how we were trying to arrange chemo for Arran to treat his cancer. Originally, we thought we’d rather just make him comfortable, because he’s already about 13 or 14 years old. We thought the vet would just prescribe prednisone or prednisolone for him, to help ease the symptoms of the lymphoma. For some reason, the vet said they didn’t usually do that. Then I noticed that Arran didn’t seem ready to go to the Rainbow Bridge. He was still pretty active, and B cell lymphoma supposedly responds to treatment better than T cell lymphoma does. I was also curious about canine chemo, since Arran is our fourth dog to have cancer and our second to have lymphoma. Our first lymphoma casualty was Zane, who died just one week post diagnosis.

Bill finally got ahold of the vet on Monday, and she ordered the necessary drugs for Arran. He’s been at Grafenwoehr all week, on a business trip. He will be gone again this coming week. I was very worried that Arran would get much sicker and die while Bill was gone. Everything I’ve read on the Internet tells me that Arran should have already died by now. But, as I’ve explained many times, Arran is a real fighter, and he’s not ready to go yet.

I brought Arran to the office on Thursday at 3:00, but had to stop by on Wednesday to get analgesics for him, as his lymph nodes had gotten so large that he was having trouble moving without pain. In Germany, COVID restrictions have been relaxed almost everywhere, except in doctors’ offices and other healthcare delivery facilities, and on trains and busses. So when we arrived on Thursday, I had to wait for the clinic to open, then get a beeper and wait outside to be called. I was the first one there, because I really wanted to get the appointment over with. I hate afternoon vet appointments. I find them exhausting. I’d rather go to the vet in the morning, so it’s done. When we had Zane, I was constantly taking him to the vet for allergy shots, so this is a familiar routine for me, except for the face masks, which are still required in doctors’ offices.

Arran went into the exam room and the vet quickly put in a catheter, then drew some blood. She later told us he was a bit anemic, which was concerning to her, although not all that uncommon for lymphoma patients. She told us to bring him in if he was in pain, short of breath, or had pale gums. Then she administered the first of several syringe vials of diluted Vincristine, which is a chemo drug. She explained the rest of the protocol to me and even printed out a schedule. Arran will come back for another dose of Vincristine on Thursday of the coming week. At home, he will get Prednisolone and Endoxan (known as Cytoxan in the US). The Endoxan is a chemo drug in pill form, and I’m supposed to wear gloves when I give it to him, and when I clean up his waste.

The vet asked about my schedule. I told her the only thing we have planned is for November 16th through the 20th. The 16th is our 20th wedding anniversary, so we are planning a trip to Ribeauville, France. The dogs will be coming with us. We have been to Ribeauville a bunch of times and have stayed in the apartment we rented several times. The owner is very dog friendly, so I feel comfortable in going there with the boys. I don’t care if we just sit there and drink wine and eat macaroons and madeleines. I would have liked to have planned something grander for the occasion, but there will be time for that later, when the chemo sessions are over. The effects of chemo, unfortunately, are temporary. But they will hopefully buy us some time.

After the first dose of Vincristine, we moved to an infusion room– a tiny little booth with chairs and an IV stand in it. It looked like the room had been built on to the side of the building, as there was a sconce on the wall that was obviously originally meant for outdoors. I thought maybe Arran would get an IV bag, but they used more syringes. It was surprisingly easy.

About an hour later, we were finished, and Arran culminated the treatment by releasing a rancid fart. Thankfully, the tiny room had a window in it. The receptionist said we could pay next week, since the vet had to ask the owner of the practice how much the treatment would cost. We aren’t too concerned about the money, because vet care is cheaper here than it is in the US, and because we actually have the money to spend. Living in Germany has been surprisingly lucrative for us.

When we got home, Arran, who had been obviously ailing before the appointment, actually wanted his dinner. Much to my surprise, he willingly ate kibble for the first time in over a week. I had been giving him chicken all week, and he’d had a little bit of bloody diarrhea. I was a little worried about how he’d handle the chemo, but he just ate his dinner and went to bed. I had put a blanket on the floor, and he made a bed and fell fast asleep.

At about 1:00am, he woke me up, because he needed to pee. I let him out, and he wanted a snack. I gave him a little more kibble, and we went back to bed until 4:00am, when he needed to pee again. Then, at 6:00am, I got up and made coffee. Both dogs came down to the kitchen for their breakfast. Again, this was a change, because for the past few weeks, Arran has been increasingly reluctant to rise in the mornings, and hasn’t been wanting to eat his breakfast. But on Friday morning, it was like old times. Because it was raining, we didn’t go for a walk yesterday. However, he was obviously feeling much better. His lymph nodes shrank noticeably, and he was eager to eat. He never managed to jump up on the bed by himself, but he didn’t cry when I helped him up, as he did on Wednesday.

By Friday afternoon, Arran was looking really good. All week, he’d been waiting in the foyer, hoping Bill would come home. Bill has been away on business all week, though, so Arran would be left disappointed. Last night, Bill came home, and I got a video of the reunion. I would say it was worth the price of the chemo for that alone. If you look carefully at the featured photo, you can see that Arran’s lymph nodes in his hind legs are swollen. Those nodes have now shrunk significantly. One is no longer detectable, and the other is about half as big as it was. I gave him more Endoxan and Prednisolone today. These are the same drugs often used for humans, but in veterinary medicine, they are given in much smaller doses. The goal is preserve quality of life, rather than curing the disease. Even if we cured Arran, he’s old enough that he could die of natural causes, anyway. So far, we haven’t observed any truly bad side effects from the drugs, although they can and do cause side effects for some dogs.

What a change! This was taken last night. He’s obviously feeling a lot better.
He was so happy to see Bill!

There is a high speed animal hospital near us called Tierklinik Hofheim. I’ve mentioned it a few times, and we have used it for Zane and Arran, although Noyzi hasn’t been there yet. They have an oncology department. If Arran had a more complicated case, or was much younger, I’d probably take him there for treatment. They have the ability to get test results faster than our regular vet does, and they no doubt have a lot more experience with treating cancer. But, again, Arran is already an old guy, so we’re not inclined to be heroic. We just want to get him to a point at which we can both be with him when he’s ready to shove off of the mortal coil. If he can make it to January, and celebrate ten years with us, that would be icing on the cake. Many dogs who get chemo for B cell lymphoma survive for a year. I’m not sure that will happen for Arran, due to his age, and the fact that his treatment was a bit delayed.

I’m not sure if we have any plans for the rest of the day. The weather is pretty crappy today. It’s raining, although it’s not cold outside. So this will probably do it for today’s activities… I’ve already spent time on the phone talking to USAA again, because they declined a charge Bill and I both tried to make to pay for Ribeauville. Calling USAA is always an annoying experience, especially since the lady I spoke to answered the phone as if someone spiked her oatmeal with crack, or something. But, as I’m writing this, the doorbell rang, probably with the latex gloves I ordered. Arran barked, and hurried down the stairs, as if cancer had never darkened his door. So I’d say that so far, Arran is doing very well. It’s very nice to see!

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Health, Schwarzwald

Baiersbronn in the Black Forestโ€“ Bareiss Style! Part three

Thursday morning, it was time to try breakfast at the Hotel Bareiss for the very first time. As it was our first time, we weren’t sure what the process was. A huge, full, breakfast buffet is available in the hotel restaurant, but a few folks also took advantage of the small, continental breakfast in the pool area. We didn’t do this on any morning we were at the hotel because we were staying in the Landhaus. If we stayed in the main hotel, I might have enjoyed eating down there.

On the first morning, the staff told us to sit where we sat the night before. Like other resorts with board programs, the Hotel Bareiss has assigned seating for meals. There, on our table, was a basket for picking up bread. We ordered coffee, and then tackled the enormous selection in the buffet. I counted over 20 kinds of bread, plus pastries, fruits, vegetables, shrimp, smoked salmon, smoked trout, and a huge meat counter, where there were many different cold cuts and sauces. There were lots of juices, sparkling and still water, and of course, Sekt! There were cereals, crepes, heart shaped waffles, and sausages. Eggs can also be made to order. I took advantage of that option on two of our five mornings at the hotel. Most days, my eyes were bigger than my stomach… which is quite a feat!

After breakfast, we decided to make our way to Stuttgart, figuring we would be arriving in time for lunch. Our dentist has an office on Calwer Strasse, which is a pretty nice address downtown. It so happened that the Historic Volksfest was going on. Bill and I had attended this fun little festival in 2018. Like the Cannstatter Wasen, the Volksfest has rides and attractions, but it’s much smaller and tamer than the big fest is. It’s located in downtown Stuttgart, rather at the Wasen grounds, which are in another part of town. Don’t get me wrong. We love the Wasen, but I prefer the calmer, more sedate, and less hectic mood of the Volksfest. An added bonus is that it was taking place within walking distance of the dentist’s office.

Before we hit the Volksfest, Bill and I both needed bathrooms. He took a chance on one of the pay toilets in the city. I was smarter, and used the much cleaner and better equipped toilets near the Markthalle that were also FREE of charge! I did get some funny footage in the video below… plus some footage from the Volksfest. We went there for lunch– half a chicken each, plus potato salad and Festbier!

Some musical fun we had in Stuttgart…
I enjoyed the bandleader! He was having fun!

Below are some photos from Stuttgart and the Historic Volksfest.

After lunch, we went to see our dentist and got our teeth cleaned. Our dentist, who is probably the best one either Bill or I have ever had, saw issues for both of us. In my case, I have a remaining baby tooth that needs a new filling. Six years ago, our dentist in Stuttgart placed an implant for another baby tooth that he had to pull, because it was abscessed. The matching bottom tooth, also a baby tooth, will probably also have to be pulled and replaced with an implant. But, he’s willing to try refilling it to see if it will continue to work. In Bill’s case, there’s a tooth with a crack in it that needs to be repaired. So, when we visit in the spring, we’ll probably just stay in Stuttgart, because I expect we’ll want to go to the hotel and relax after we get the work done. We do have a favorite hotel in Stuttgart, so hopefully we will be able to book it. Last year, when we wanted to go there, it was totally full!

At about four o’clock, we started making the journey back to the Hotel Bareiss. It was bittersweet, driving back through the same area where we used to live. Because of construction going on in the route from Baiersbronn to Freudenstadt, we went through a few towns we hadn’t seen before, and one or two that we did visit, back in the day. It’s definitely true that we liked living in the Stuttgart area, in spite of everything that happened when we left there in 2018.

Dinner on Thursday night was Italian themed, so the huge buffet had Italian salads. The menu was Italian themed. I was feeling a bit irritated after our dentist visit, so I decided to order a rib eye and steak fries, with Bearnaise Sauce instead of trying the themed meal. Bill did try some of the dishes… which I may or may not remember! There was just so much offered! We had the same waitress as we did on Wednesday, as well as a very sharp young man who is likely up and coming. I liked him so much that I took note of his nametag and mentioned him positively in the questionnaire I filled out on exiting this morning.

Below are some photos from dinner…

We decided to skip drinking at the bar on Thursday night, so that meant we got in before turn down was done. We figured out that they do turn down at around 9:00 or 9:30pm. It consists of closing the drapes, setting down mats by the bed, and turning down the split duvets. They also leave programs for the next day, and delicious chocolates! We found the programs and the chocolates hanging on our door the next morning. More on that in part four.

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Wiesbaden on business, followed by pleasure…

I have been needing a new contact lens prescription for ages. Now that I’ve reached 50 years of age, my eyes don’t work the way they used to. I need reading glasses, but I don’t wear them because I didn’t know what kind I needed. Besides, if I don’t wear my lenses, I can read just fine. But when I have them in, I have a very hard time reading small print. Likewise, Bill was in need of a new lens prescription, as it had been five years since our last exams. I’ve been taking advantage of the fact that one can buy contact lenses in Germany without an official or yearly updated prescription. If you know what you need, you can simply order from Amazon. So that’s what I’ve done… but it’s not been without its drawbacks, as I’ve gradually been self prescribing stronger lenses for myself.

The last time we saw an eyecare professional, Bill and I visited the Stuttgart health center on Patch Barracks, then filled our prescriptions at an optical shop in Nagold, a cute town near where we used to live in BW. Wiesbaden doesn’t have such a facility, and even if it did, using it would be on a space available basis for peons like us. So Bill decided to “bite the bullet”, and he made us appointments at Apollo Optik, an optometrist in downtown Wiesbaden. I should mention that Apollo is one of many eyecare outfits downtown. We passed two others on the way there today.

Bill made our appointments online, and we both got confirmations and reminders by email. Bill was in a hurry to get to the shop, but he needn’t have worried about being on time. Apollo wasn’t like the typical eye doctor’s office we’re used to, where there are places to sit. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We arrived and waited for the painfully shy gentleman helping the people ahead of us to check in. He didn’t speak much English, and didn’t seem all that comfortable with German, either. He did not appear to be a local. My appointment was first, so I sat at a machine that did an automated exam that took about two minutes. But he neglected to tell me to remove my contacts first, so we had to do it again, once I’d taken them out. I was glad I brought my glasses and a fresh pair of lenses!

After a short delay, the technician came in and did my exam. He spoke English reasonably well, and was actually very thorough, as I explained that I need to upgrade from my regular astigmatism dailies to multifocal lenses. My prescription had changed a bit regardless, so it was good that we went in. He ordered new lenses for me to try, and when they come in, we’ll go pick them up and I’ll try them out. If they don’t work, he’ll order different ones. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We are going away next week for a few days; then Bill has a business trip. We’re also dealing with Arran, who is newly diagnosed with lymphoma. But hopefully, we can get in and pick up the new lenses so I can at least see better.

Speaking of Arran… he’s a little slower than usual, especially in the morning, but he’s hanging in there. Yesterday, Noyzi got a dental, and Arran had more blood samples taken so that we might know what kind of lymphoma he’s got, and whether or not it will be worth it to treat him with chemotherapy. But again, he’s about 13 or 14 years old, so we’ll probably just make him comfortable until the sad day comes when we have to say goodbye.

Now, back to our day in Wiesbaden, which is a happier topic. Bill got his exam done. He just wanted new lenses for his glasses, as his frames from Nagold are made of titanium and he likes them. They were also expensive. The whole appointment took about 90 minutes, and when we were done, we both really had to pee and wanted some food. Our plan had been to eat at the City Fest, or the Fall Fest, both of which are going on right now. Unfortunately, for some reason, the toilets weren’t open, even though the fest was in full swing! So we decided to visit the Andechser Ratskeller, where we’d eaten once before, back in 2019. I’ve been wanting German food anyway, so it was perfect.

I had a Doppelbock beer, while Bill had a “special Hell” (hell is a German style of beer, not the fiery place down below). To eat, I had Schweinebraten with Rotkohl and a potato Knodel. Bill had a Wiener Schnitzel with fries. It was hearty fare served by a hardworking waiter, who was delighted when Bill tipped him American style. Our bill was 42,50 euros, and Bill gave him 50 and told him to keep the change. I could see the guy got a nice lift from that, since he was really busting his ass! I’m sure that might help him pay his energy bill this year. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Or maybe pay for a few liters of gas… Ordinarily, we don’t tip like Americans when we’re in Germany, since people who work in restaurants actually get paid here. But I know firsthand how tough that job is, and we can afford to be generous sometimes.

After we ate, we made our way back toward the parking garage, stopping to explore the fall fest. I remember going to it in 2019, before COVID was a thing. It was great to see everything back in full swing again. People were having a lot of fun, and I saw some art I wanted to buy. Maybe we’ll go back tomorrow and get something, making sure to be armed with more cash. I heard several excellent musicians in the city fest, including an awesome brass band who were playing “Sweet Child O’ Mine” (yes, by Guns n’ Roses). I wanted to listen to them, since I love brass bands… but my bladder was screaming for relief. So maybe we’ll catch them another time. They were great! We also heard a British duo performing a lovely version of “Old Man” by Neil Young, and a beautiful classical guitar player, enchanting people on a soundstage.

We did need to get home, though… the boys needed to eat and pee, and they were happy to see us.

Here are some photos from today’s excursion!