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Welcome home, Daddy!

Last night, at about 7:45 PM, Bill came home from his latest trip to Bavaria. Arran was on the bed, sound asleep, when Bill got in. He didn’t hear Bill come through the door, so he was genuinely surprised and delighted when Bill popped his head around the door and said hello. Noyzi had heard Bill and was parked on the rug next to the bed, eagerly awaiting his arrival.

Below is a quick video I made of the homecoming. We are treasuring these precious moments, as we know that soon, they will be part of the past.

Arran and Noyzi were as happy as I was to have Bill at home again. We all slept so well last night.

It does my heart good to see how happy Noyzi is to see Bill, too. These dogs give and receive so much love. It’s an honor to have them in our lives, even when they make messes or their farts smell like poop… 😉 We don’t regret giving chemo to Arran, though, because it’s given us precious time and more wonderful memories. It would have been nice if the chemo had worked for a long period of time than it has, but that would have probably meant that Arran would have gotten cancer at a younger age. I certainly don’t wish for that. We are happy with and grateful for the extra four months he’s gotten to spend with us so far.

Last night, we had a serious talk about what to do about Arran. I think we both feel that this bout of cancer is his method of exiting the mortal coil. So I think it’s unlikely that we’ll change what we’re doing in order to squeeze out more time. It will really hurt when the time comes to say goodbye, but it also means that eventually, we can offer a home to another dog who needs one. And that dog, just like all of the others we’ve had in our lives, will teach us and, hopefully, love us the way all of our dogs have.

Incidentally, I slept until 8:00 AM today, something I rarely do anymore. I definitely feel better.

Even with cancer, Arran is a beautiful dog with a gorgeous soul… and Noyzi has learned a lot from his “old man”.

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Arran update…

Arran went in for another Vincristine chemo treatment yesterday. I think we might be at week #16, but I’m not positive. I told the vet about his swollen lymph nodes, which have gotten bigger since I first noticed their enlarged sizes on Saturday. She looked dismayed and we made plans to come in after a week, rather than in two weeks. When we got home, there was a small traffic jam in our cul-de-sac. Our neighbor’s daughter had left her car running next to her parking spot. The car and a trash can prevented me from getting to our house. Someone else was behind me, too.

I put Arran in the house, then came out to move the car to the driveway, only to be confronted by our neighbor, who was trying to park her car in the spot next to ours. I finally just turned the car around and parked in front of the house. Maybe I’ll move the car later today, while no one is home.

Aside from the larger lymph nodes, Arran has mostly been his usual, bright, colorful, spotted self. He happily took a walk yesterday and woke me at 3:00 AM for his breakfast. Then, he wanted his dinner twelve hours later. He got it at 4:00 PM, as that was an hour before our appointment. He wolfed it down.

All was fine after the chemo, until sometime around 9:00, when I suddenly smelled the familiar stench of dog shit. It was a rather messy pile he’d left for me in the living room. This isn’t actually that unusual for Arran. He’s never been 100 percent perfect at housetraining, in spite of my best efforts to teach him the right way.

I cleaned up the mess and went back upstairs to chat with Bill. At about 11:30 PM, Arran woke me up with a concerned look on his face. He was trembling a bit. I asked him if he wanted to go out. He eagerly jumped off the bed and ran downstairs. I let him go outside and he immediately pooped again. Then, he acted like he still needed to go, but nothing was coming out. He ran back inside and tried to go again in the living room. I shooed him outside, where he tried a couple more times for a moment. Finally, the compulsion seemed to have passed. We went back to bed.

Of course, by that point, I was freaked out and wide awake. I was wondering if I’d need to load Arran into the car and take him to the Tierklinik Hofheim, a high speed veterinary facility nearby that we’ve used a few times over the past four years. The funny thing is, when we still lived near Stuttgart and our dog, Zane, was the one with health issues, our vet down there suggested the Tierklinik Hofheim as one of the best vet hospitals in Germany. At that time, it was over two hours away by car. Now, it’s maybe 20 minutes away.

I don’t really know exactly how to get to the Tierklinik Hofheim, because Bill always takes the dogs there without me. And although the car has a GPS, I never use it. I don’t even know how I’d turn it on. I do know kind of where it is, and I have an excellent knack for finding things. But that doesn’t mean I want to go hunting for it in the middle of the night during an emergency. Looking at their Web site, I see that face masks are now optional at the Tierklinik Hofheim. The same isn’t true at our regular vet’s office.

I laid next to Arran and stroked him. He sighed and relaxed, and soon he was sleeping peacefully. It took me a bit longer to drop off, so I read more of my latest book before finally falling asleep.

I woke up at about 4:15 AM. Arran woke up a few minutes later, and was keen to eat breakfast. I fed him and Noyzi, then went back to bed to try to sleep a bit more. I ended up dry heaving, for some reason. I didn’t drink a lot of alcohol last night. I suspect it was an attack of GERD, which tends to strike when I don’t eat right, drink too much, and experience stress. I have to admit, it was pretty stressful dealing with Arran last night.

At about 6:30 AM, I finally turned on Alexa Thunderstorm, which worked surprisingly well… I dozed for about an hour before I finally got up to make some coffee. I probably would have actually slept, if Arran hadn’t repeatedly been licking his asshole.

He’s now lying in my office, just like he usually does when I’m writing… Noyzi has started doing that, too. At least I’ll always have a doggy buddy when I blog.

The vet said she would look to see if there were other drugs we could try, how expensive they would be, and how onerous administering them would be. I told her that we are not in a hurry to lose Arran, but we’re also not expecting miracles. Zane had lymphoma, too. We know how this will end.

But, amazingly enough, Arran still seems very interested in living. His eyes are bright; his ears perk up; and he’s still got his indomitable personality. The vet tested his blood yesterday, and aside from having slightly low platelets, the results weren’t too alarming. He got a dose of Endoxan this morning, which seems to make him sleepy.

Arran is a very special dog, and we don’t want to lose him. I know we will, and it likely won’t be too much longer. He needs to stick around until tomorrow, when Bill comes home.

My computer is in a death spiral and won’t play music without hanging up repeatedly. Since I make music on my computer, this is a fireable offense. It also freezes up randomly, even after I quit unnecessary processes and dump large files. I ordered a new computer a couple of days ago. Hopefully, very soon, I’ll have my snazzy new machine.

He’s still such a scrapper.

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I knew it couldn’t last forever…

Last night, just before bed, I ran my hands over Arran’s body. That’s when I found the enlarged lymph node near his left “armpit”. I checked his other nodes. The ones in his back legs, which were enlarged when I first found out about his lymphoma, were not swollen. I thought I could detect a little swelling in the nodes under his jaw.

It’s possible that this isn’t lymphoma roaring back to life, but I think it probably is. I’ve noticed Arran is a little shaky lately, too.

He has a vet appointment on Wednesday. It will be his 16th week, I believe… and he’s already done better on chemo than I ever thought he could. He made it to his tenth anniversary.

I don’t know how much longer he has, but I suspect his time is drawing close. I’m kind of ambivalent about it. Yes, of course, I will miss him. I love him dearly. When we lose him, it’s going to leave a huge hole. But I also miss traveling freely, even just to go out to dinner. I miss being able to sleep through the night without having to let him out or feed him. He is about 14 years old, too.

What makes this worse is that Bill has to go away again this week. I think Arran will be okay, but the new swollen lymph node gives me an ominous feeling.

On the bright side, he’s still eating and able to jump on the bed by himself. All he has right now is a little trembling and a swollen node. But I think it’s time to prepare for the inevitable. And here I was thinking, before I found that swollen node, that maybe we could get him one last dental. He definitely needs one.

Anyway, if you can spare some good vibes, I’d appreciate them. I just want it to be smooth sailing until the end.

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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 don’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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Arran’s chemo #8

I don’t have a lot to write about Arran’s chemo treatment yesterday. It basically went off without incident. The only thing unusual was that our landlord had to come over with a repair guy, because the dishwasher isn’t working properly. The appointment he made was at 5:00, which was also when Arran’s chemo treatment was. Bill is pretty much the only one working at the office this week, so he couldn’t come home early. I had visions of Noyzi being home alone and panicking… the memories of that other dog we tried to rescue escaping is still fresh in my mind, even though that was almost three years ago.

So, before I took off for the vet’s, I put Noyzi in his “room”, and shut the door. He wasn’t happy about it and did some whining. But I knew he would be in there for less than an hour, since I knew Bill would be home before I got back from the vet’s office. As it turned out, Bill and I passed each other as I was heading out, and he was heading toward home. Noyzi was “locked up” for maybe ten minutes.

There was an adorable bulldog at the vet’s office last night, who kept dancing around making little shrieking noises. I like all dogs, although I’ve never been particularly attracted to the snub nosed dogs. That dog was pretty cute, though. Once he left, a lady with a very pretty boxer came in. I got the sense that the boxer didn’t like female dogs, because she had no issue with Arran, but was growling at another female dog– looked like a collie or something akin to it. Arran got most of his chemo in the waiting room, and he made no protest whatsoever, except I had to drag him into the exam room.

Next week, our chemo regime changes. Arran doesn’t have to go to the vet’s office for his IV drug infusion for the first time since October. Instead, he’ll just get pills, and more often. The week of Christmas, he’ll be back for another infusion. He’s still doing very well, in terms of his quality of life. He has a lot of energy… or a lot for a dog his age. Walks are still a must. In fact, the other day, he ruined a duvet because I was washing the sheets and he made a bed on the duvet, which I had put on the floor. I guess he forgot himself and peed all over it. I didn’t walk him the day before, so he had a couple of accidents. It gave me an excuse to buy a new duvet and cover, which I’d been wanting to do, anyway. In fact, I ended up buying two duvets.

Arran still loves to eat, and will jump and dance for his food. Last night, after he saw the vet, he demanded a treat from her. Then, after his chemo treatment, he wanted another one. And his face was all bright and adoring when we got home, and Bill was there to welcome us. He looks kind of timid and sad when we’re at the vet’s office, but the rest of the time, he’s mostly his old self. I still don’t know how long he’s got, but he’s definitely giving life his all. I still think getting chemo for him was a good decision, even though I know the results are temporary. This time with Arran is precious, and we know to enjoy it as much as we can.

The landlord and the repair guy were only here for a short while. The verdict is, we need a new dishwasher. The landlord didn’t even bat an eye about it. The one we’ve been using is about twelve years old, and somehow the hose wasn’t draining properly. Apparently, there was a lot of standing water under the machine. The landlord casually said he’d ordered a new dishwasher, and it will get to us sometime next week. I hope the next thing he replaces is the refrigerator. It’s definitely high time. He also told Bill that the vet who owns the practice where we take our dogs is actually one of our neighbors. His property is adjacent to our landlord’s backyard.

Once again, I’m shocked by the difference between him and our ex landlady. It’s night and day… Ex landlady would have blamed me for this development, even though all I’ve been doing is using the dishwasher the way I always have. In fact, Bill messes with it more than I do. I just put dishes in it.

Anyway, so ends this week’s chemo report. I’ll be home alone next week, so it’s good that the regime is changing.

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Arran’s chemo treatment #7…

Last week, Bill kindly volunteered to take Arran in for his chemo treatment. This week, as our appointment was in the morning, it was my turn to take him in. It was cold and wet yesterday, as is pretty common in Germany this time of year, although it’s not as cold here as it tended to get in Jettingen. Anyway, because it was chilly, I decided to wait until after chemo to take the dogs for a walk.

I was surprised when I got to the vet clinic and was invited to sit in the waiting room, especially since there were a couple of people in there. Up until very recently, only one person was allowed to be in there at a time. That meant sitting outside or in the car. But anyway, there were a few of us waiting, all of us masked, of course. I’m sure this is no longer a thing in the United States, at least not at veterinary clinics. Here in Germany, masking is still required at any healthcare facility, to include those that serve pets.

While I was waiting for the vet, a vet tech carried some lady’s dog into the waiting room. She was wearing low rise jeans. I don’t understand this trend, since most people seem to underestimate the sizes of their butts. The tech put the dog on the floor, and in doing so, caused her shirt to ride up, while her pants rode down. I got a view of about two inches of plumber crack… a half moon, if you will. I tried not to react, but again… I don’t understand this particular fashion trend.

The vet called for Arran, and because he was being balky about going into the exam room, the same vet tech picked him up. Arran squawked a protest. She put him on the scale, which revealed that he’s gained a little weight, mainly because he wants to eat all the time, and it’s hard not to give in to his demands. The vet said he doesn’t need to gain weight, but she’d rather him be eating than not, and lymphoma causes patients to go off their food. In early October, Arran kind of quit eating and lost weight. That is definitely NOT a problem now.

Probably because of his crying, the vet did a thorough check to see if his lymph nodes had enlarged. Then she listened to his lungs. I waited to hear bad news, but she didn’t have any. She drew blood, and much to my surprise, Arran didn’t protest at all. After dosing him with his first IV push of Vincristine, we were invited to sit in the same infusion room where Arran got his first chemo treatment in October. Arran usually lies down immediately, but yesterday, he was curious and was sniffing around outside of the door. He didn’t lie down on the bed until it was time for his third push of medication.

The vet told me that Arran’s red blood cell count is still low, but not any lower than it was on previous visits. She invited me to wait for the rest of the blood test results, which would be ready in about ten minutes, or she could call Bill. I decided to wait, since I didn’t have any other pressing business to attend to, and I know sometimes the vet plays phone tag with Bill.

The office was really busy yesterday, and people were coming in and out. One lady who was holding a plastic cage, had what appeared to be a guinea pig. She seemed charmed by Arran, and asked me if he’s a beagle. I answered that he is, although obviously he’s not all beagle. He has a pretty healthy dash of coonhound in him, which is where he gets his spots and cuddly personality. He also has some setter in him, which makes him pretty good at birding.

I am convinced that the hunter who bred Arran’s parents was trying to make the perfect hunting dog. Arran, however, did not make the cut, and wound up surrendered to a veterinarian in North Carolina, who gave him up to Triangle Beagle Rescue. There, he went through a few foster homes, and was adopted and returned by his first family.

It always amazes me when dogs end up with miracles… Arran is perfect for our family, even though he can be cranky and stubborn, and he does things like crap on the floor and raid our pantry if we don’t thoroughly “beagle proof” the house (especially since he’s been on Prednisolone). In spite of that, we’re about to celebrate ten years with him, should he make it to January 12… and it’s plain to see how much he adores us– especially Bill. It’s tough to see him with cancer, but he’s such a fighter, and once we go home from the vet, he’s living his best life.

I’ve noticed that Germans seem fascinated by beagles. When we came here the first time, back in 2007, we had two different beagles with us. At that time, it didn’t seem like there were many beagles here. People would stare when our dogs would bay. Nowadays, it seems like beagles are much more popular in Germany, but they are usually bigger and stockier than my American beagle rescues have been. Of course, Noyzi has no beagle in him at all, and it’s been fascinating to see how he’s different than my hounds have been.

The vet later told us that Arran had a couple of slightly elevated liver and kidney values, but they are expected because of the medications he’s on. We’d love for him to have more red blood cells, but for now, he’s able to live with what he has. And once we got the results, Arran practically sashayed out of the vet’s office and back to our car. He knows which one is ours. I do have to help him get in now, but he can get out on his own, and once we were in the house, he ran around like a puppy, hoping for a cookie or two. He got a walk instead.

I’ve been doing an abbreviated walk route lately, mainly due to the weather and my own laziness. At one point of our normal route, there’s a narrow “Weg”, with dense bushes on either side. We were about a third of the way down the weg, when we encountered a woman with her dog. She stared at us, giving me a clue that she didn’t think the path was big enough for the five of us, so we turned and went back the way we came.

A couple of minutes later, we ran into another woman with what appeared to be a border collie. That dog was lunging and barking, as she repeatedly screamed “Nein!” I crossed to the other side of the street as we passed the lady and her agitated pooch. Finally, as we approached home, our next door neighbor appeared with her labrador, Tommi, who jumped into the back of her station wagon. Noyzi LOVES Tommi, so he jumped out of the car and they started to play. Our neighbor had carrots, so I correctly assumed she was going to go see her horse. I miss having a horse, but not on cold, foggy, wet days…

I do believe that if Noyzi and Tommi had a big backyard to play in, they would wear each other out!

Arran is hanging in there… and Noyzi has definitely developed a love of YouTube. Especially when I watch dog shows. He was enchanted by the Purina National Dog Show, where we managed to catch the toy dog division. I think Noyzi is pretty fancy for a street dog. He’s definitely well behaved and stealthy!

So ends another week of canine chemo treatment for our dear, brave, saucy Arran. He’s amazing.

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Mr. Bill and I celebrate 20 years of marriage… Part one

I’ve been looking forward to November 16, 2022 for twenty years. That’s the day Bill and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. As some readers already know, I am Bill’s second wife. On some levels, I would say he and I have had a fairly easy time of marriage. We get along very well, and we genuinely love spending time together. We aren’t just husband and wife; we are best friends. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t had our share of dramas.

All year, I’ve been thinking about what we should do to celebrate our big milestone. Normally, I would come up with a fancy vacation of some kind, or at least a trip to somewhere we’ve never been, even if it’s not a luxurious destination. But then in September, I discovered that our beloved dog, Arran, had swollen lymph nodes. The diagnosis was B-cell lymphoma. We are now in our last days with Arran, who is a very special family member, and has a particularly close bond with Bill.

Originally, we thought it would be best to ease Arran into palliative care, but he’s repeatedly showed us he wants to fight. So he’s now undergoing chemotherapy, which has been kind of miraculous. He started treatment October 13th, and on November 20th, he’s still happy and spunky. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to board him. For one thing, we’ve come to realize that Arran doesn’t enjoy being boarded anymore. He’d much rather be with us. For another, I didn’t want to burden the Hund Pension with dealing with his medications, which aren’t that complicated, but do involve some risk. He takes a drug that requires gloves to dispense safely, and it’s not safe for his poop to be accessible to other dogs.

Finally, when we were celebrating our tenth anniversary in Scotland, Arran’s predecessor, MacGregor, had an undiagnosed cancerous spinal tumor that caused an emergency while we were traveling thousands of miles away. I didn’t want anything similar to happen this time. We lost MacGregor a week before Christmas 2012, just a couple of weeks after our return from our big anniversary trip. Arran, who joined our family on January 12, 2013, is named after a Scottish island we saw on that first trip to Scotland.

I decided we’d spend our big day in Ribeauville, France, which is about a three hour drive from us. We have been there half a dozen times since 2017, staying in apartments owned by Yannick Kopff, a Alsatian native and excellent host. Yannick is extremely dog friendly, and since our favorite of his apartments, Riesling, was available for our dates, we decided that was a good place to celebrate. I booked four nights– from Wednesday, November 16th until Sunday, November 20th, at Yannick’s Gites au Coeur de Ribeauville.

Meanwhile, we were also looking forward to seeing and hearing James Taylor perform a concert. Originally, the show was supposed to go on in February 2022. But COVID-19 numbers were too high at that time, and there were many restrictions in place. So James decided to reschedule his European Tour dates for later in the year. In our case, the Frankfurt show was rescheduled for November 8th. Perfect– a Tuesday night, over a week before our anniversary trip.

On November 7th, we got the news that James had to postpone several concerts, including ours. He finally got COVID, and was advised to rest in Zurich, Switzerland for a few days. We watched anxiously, as four shows were eventually canceled because they couldn’t be rescheduled. However, Frankfurt’s venue was open for November 19th… last night. We were supposed to be in France last night, but we decided to come home a day early to catch James’s show… and I’m really glad we did that, because it was a great show, in spite of James’s brush with COVID.

I don’t have a lot of exciting stories to tell about our most recent trip to Ribeauville. November, just before the Christmas markets, is the “off season”. A lot of places were closed in preparation for the frenzy that is about to hit the village. I don’t know how big their market was in 2021, but I’m pretty sure it was canceled in 2020. I have a feeling this year’s markets will be bigger, and I could see that people were preparing. But, in terms of having a lot to do while we were there… I can’t say that we did. On the other hand, we did try a couple of restaurants we had never tried before, and Bill tried a dessert that is a local speciality that we never had before.

This was also Noyzi’s very first trip with us, aside from when we went to Slovenia to pick him up in 2020. Ribeauville was a good choice, because it wasn’t too far away, and because Yannick is so good with dogs in his properties. It was a fruitful trip for Noyzi, too, since he finally learned to poop while on a leash. This is a big deal, because it will make traveling with him much easier and less worrisome. Eventually, we may have to take him back to the States, which means for his own health, he needs to know how to relieve himself when he’s not frolicking in the backyard. He did seem to learn the lesson on our trip.

Aside from taking pictures of the always beautiful village of Ribeauville, binge watching Netflix and cheesy French game shows, eating lots of French comfort foods, drinking Alsatian wines, and being together, we didn’t do much on this trip. It was a good opportunity for Bill to sleep. We also picked up some gifts for his daughter and grandchildren. The beauty of Ribeauville is that we’ve been there so many times that not doing anything doesn’t seem too much like a hardship. By now, the village feels like a second home, even if our last visit was in January 2020.

So… over the next couple of days, I’ll write up this trip and James Taylor’s concert. I don’t think I’ll binge write today, because frankly, I just don’t feel like it. The weather is kind of crappy and I feel like hibernating. But we had a great time, and I’m grateful we could do it. I hope we can do it again.

If you’re interested in reading about our latest trip to France, I hope you’ll watch this space for updates… Meanwhile, here’s a video I made a few days ago in honor of our anniversary and James Taylor’s show. He didn’t do “Secret O’ Life” last night…

This song has really grown on me over the years. It seemed like a good one for 20 years of marriage…

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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. 😉

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