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Two weeks ago was my last chemotherapy infusion. I went one more than I thought I might because the week before was tolerable. But the next week was all "WARNING WARNING you're walking wobbly! your neuropathy is creeping up your legs! your hands and feet feel weird ALL THE TIME!" So we agreed it was time to stop. Supposedly I'm starting radiation real soon now.

So--neuropathy has subsided a little but if I walk for half an hour it gets worse in my feet and legs, so exercise takes some determination. I learned yesterday how to sidestep the need for determination. This is what you do:

1. Go to a network of trails that all loop back to the same place so you can't get truly lost.
2. Conveniently forget the "STEEP HILL" designation on the map posted at the other trailhead (it helps to choose the trailhead without the sign).
3. Blithely decide to walk a loop instead of going out a ways and turning back.
4. Blithely forget/downplay the length of the trail so you think you've gone more than halfway before you get to the "STEEP HILL." (which is actually in the moderately steep category, not the needs-walking-stick category) So when you get to the "STEEP HILL" there's no point in turning back.
5. Now you are stuck walking the rest of the trail, no matter how much you'd like to quit.

Actually this was the Red Trail behind Chaminade, which is only a mile and a quarter long, but it took forever (that means a bit over an hour, honestly) to walk it because Zluta had to sniff everything and hello, apparently I have breathing issues again after years without (damnit), so I had to take the upward part a little slower. It wasn't bad but it was dumb. I guess I should get an inhaler again, though I didn't need it yesterday, I just wasn't at peak performance. The good news! is that my knees continue to be excellent and I only even thought about them later and it was "huh, downhill, no problem!"

It was lovely though. Saw a huge cottontail and several brilliant scrub jays, and heard a woodpecker and some other bird which I guess I should call familiar-unknown, in that I've heard that bird a lot around here but I don't know which one it is. The trail goes through a pine flat, a meadow, and a redwood ravine, so most of it was shady. That's why we went there. It was only ten but it was already hot and I had enough self-preservation to avoid sunny exercise.

I already know I don't feel the heat reliably, so I have to hydrate & protect myself based on other information.

Other post-chemotherapy observations:

At some point where I didn't notice it, the rest of my eyelashes and most of the rest of my eyebrows fell out. This is still due to the adriamycin/cytoxan treatments which ended about three months ago, the taxol doesn't do that. Also my nails are still playing out their destiny. My thumbnails are loosening from the top down so they have these giant unreachable pockets that fill up with debris and I can only get them partly clean which is sufficiently gross. I keep experimenting with new methods, but they continue to look like they are bruised (honestly I did think it was bruising at first so my intense efforts to clean them started late). My toenails are working their way off altogether, but it's really slow and the new toenails are already completely formed before the old ones fall off. I've lost three so far, and there's another four or five looking like they'll come off in the foreseeable future, and a couple that look like maybe they'll just be weird forever.

My tastebuds are returning to normal but not as fast as my taste. That is, I want to eat some things that don't yet taste good, so I have some disappointments. My perception of salt which some people already thought was pretty odd is utterly hopeless now. I mean, most things taste to me like the salt got up and walked off the job in protest, but if there's enough salt for me to notice it's there it tastes poisonously oversalted. Normally I mostly don't salt food but enjoy the occasional pickle or pretzel. Now I want to eat some salty food but I'm disappointed every time. Otherwise, most food just tastes a little bland now, and the pervasive plastic taste that ruined everything is mostly gone. For a while water tasted really foul because of it, and I had to force it down to keep from being dehydrated.

You know how there's been a backlash against the hydration obsession fad? Articles everywhere telling you that you don't need eight glasses of water a day? Now I get people trying to tell me I in particular don't need to drink as much as I do (I drink between two and three liters, usually two and a half). They are wrong when they speak of me in particular, though. I know from years of natural experimentation (that is, days of not being able to drink as much as I need), that if I drop much below that level, especially if I do it more than one or two days, I will be terribly thirsty, get headaches, muscle cramps, and cognitive impairment. By the last I mean: if I haven't had enough water to drink, don't let me drive.

I had a kind of depressive episode the first week or so off chemotherapy. For months the infusion center has been the center of my life. Three times every two weeks, and then twice a week, I went there and chatted with the staff, got myself monitored, got myself cared for. I had no idea how attached I was until it ended. I'll be going back there from time to time for monitoring, but it's still an abrupt change. It got better as soon as I realized why I was wanting to sleep all day.

The other medical thing I'm doing is getting used to the BiPAP machine. I love the delicious air coming through the mask but I'm having trouble adjusting in some other ways. I have two masks. I thought I wanted the nose pillow because it was more comfortable than the nose mask the sleep tech offered me at the time of the study (at which it was revealed I was having 90 events an hour and desaturating to 83%). But my nose is a bit stuffy currently and so it is hard to breathe with my mouth closed, which with the nose pillow mask leads to a drowning sensation as the air goes the wrong way. And also the nose pillows kind of hurt my nose. I suspect the pressure on the machine is set too high too. When I use the full face mask the incoming air forces my lips open even if I'm trying quite hard to keep them closed. Even with the attached humidifier going I get pretty dried out too. And I'm having trouble with leaks. All of this will get worked out in time, but it's a lot of adjustment. Currently the longest I've kept the mask on is five hours, but I've also only had it for four days.

Of course I found an apnea forum. There's some true-believerism going on there, but the best thing is that somebody there wrote a nice piece of software to read the SD card from the machine so I can see the full record. Right now I'm finding that endlessly fascinating. I've learned that I do in fact have some possible central apnea going on as well as the obstructive kind, which was my belief from the beginning. It makes little difference in treatment, and the difference is already what the doctor prescribed. That is, he put me on the automatic bi-level machine, which adjusts the pressure so that the body is stimulated to exhale better. There are shenanigans to be done with carbon dioxide, but those aren't warranted unless the BiPAP machine doesn't work well enough. It looks like it will. But I think it will be a while before I am better rested and make more sense.
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I have an occasional private post for the less interesting/more disgusting aspects of chemotherapy that I want to keep track of, and that takes up time I'd otherwise spend posting public posts. Believe me, you're better off.

On the other hand, we did go for a nice walk in the Pogonip yesterday evening, and Zluta was very happy about it, especially since both Andrea and Zack took her for brief sprints. That dog could run for hours if she had someone to run with her.

Also, the library bought The Global Pigeon on my request so I have some research to do for the next not-Poland book.
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When I got Zluta I got her for her personality. I've been telling people I got her because I knew she'd be a pain in the ass--demanding lots of walks and exercise and playtime. It's true. And she does. She demands a lot. Though as she gets older she also hangs out companionably with me for hours too. I've mostly convinced her that coming when called at the dog park is a lovely, joy-filled occupation but she has a new evasive action she pulls in the yard at night. I rarely let her out after dark because I'm afraid she'll mix it up with the wildlife (mostly rats, raccoons, and opossums, at night: but fox and coyote and even mountain lions have been seen within a block or two of the house. No, I live in an urban neighborhood, I promise, it's just that there's open space in it that connects by way of the San Lorenzo River and various other bits to highly-impacted wildish habitat).

But lately I've not always gotten the back door closed before I wander upstairs and she notices access to the dark yard. She goes out quietly and just hangs around until we cajole or force her inside. Sometimes I can't see her at all because she's ghosting around in the foliage and she seems to know this and keeps shtum for a long time. Once I find her she starts evasive maneuvers and will not come just because I call her. I can always flush her by throwing windfall apples in the opposite direction from where she is. She can't resist chasing them for long. It might take a few lobs before she falls for it though. Once she does that, it's only a matter of time before I get her on the deck by lobbing apples up there. The first one in that direction might not do it, but the second will.

She knows the jig is up at this point. You can see it in her body language and the fact that she drops her evasive efforts. When I catch up to her at the base of the stairs or on the deck she goes into the posture that says "I know you're going to pick me up. I don't approve so I'm not leaping into your arms but I will lift my body a bit to make it easier because that's more comfortable for me."

Last night she didn't sleep with me at all. This is interesting because she usually sleeps almost the whole night with me, and sometimes sleeps part of the night with my roommate K and part of the night with me. She slept on the livingroom couch downstairs all night, something I don't like to allow because if she wakes up alone down there she gets weirded out by some noise and starts barking in the wee hours of the night. Or if I get up to pee she hears me and wakes up disoriented and starts barking. But last night she was quiet all night--I know because I slept not one minute. Between the dexamethasone and a glass of jasmine tea and overeating from the stress of meeting the sleep doctor yesterday I couldn't even close my eyes. The sleep doctor was a weird thing. I have had excellent luck with all my doctors the last few years, in that I've not only like their medical practice but our conversations have been mutually pleasant. With this doctor, I have nothing to complain about as far as he goes, but I kept feeling like I was insulting him or making other gaffes in our conversation. It was exhausting.

At least my meeting with his scheduler was pleasant.

I'm going to have a sleep study on August 18. I started having my doubts about doing it now because of the chemotherapy and things like the dexamethasone adding their own level of disruption to my sleep, but Dr. Takahashi Hart said the information they'll be gathering will be informative either way and anyway they don't expect me to sleep well during the study. He says if I do sleep better during the study than at home, that's information too. Like I said, I felt that he was being polite and appropriate, and giving me enough good quality information and asking me for questions and opinions, but I felt like I was rubbing him the wrong way, which is an unsettling feeling. I did say I'm skeptical about sleep apnea because it sounds like a one size fits all solution these days, to which he said, you could say "but almost everybody wears eyeglasses too." and I said he had a point.

On another front, I made a plain cake (one of those buttermilk types though I used whole milk yogurt because that's what I have) and put lots of thin cut rhubarb in it and I think it is the most successful rhubarb thing I have ever made. I used more sugar than I would have because rhubarb, but I could have gotten away with less sugar. I'm pretty sure anyways. I can taste sugar again. Somewhat. Sweet things no longer taste nasty, flat and bitter. And kale tastes almost normal. But I still have a strange plastic taste in my mouth that makes me mistrust my senses.

There was a reunion potluck for Good Beginnings people last night, which is where I had the tea--I thought it wouldn't make any difference but zero hours sleep is substantially less than four! I hadn't seen some of these people for twenty years, but we fell right in and told each other our stories. I as always talked too much.
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Friday I decided that, since my blood counts were so close to normal, I could probably stop cowering before my exhaustion. I could spend less time napping and lounging in bed, and try to work up my stamina gradually (of course, this may be obsolete as of the first taxol infusion on Wednesday, we'll see). So I decided to dance more than I had the Friday before (seven dances instead of four, oh well, it's still more). And also to walk more. Yesterday in the late morning I took Zluta to Antonelli Pond and we walked almost a mile, which is not much but I'd been turning around way before that and we both had more fun. Then in the evening we went on the old rehab route around the soccer field, which is also almost a mile. And this morning! We went to Pogonip, met up with a Bernese mountain dog and her nice man, and walked to the place where the spring runs over the Spring Trail. Round trip: 2.8 miles. And I am no more tired at this time of day than I have beem, though my calf muscles are trying to get me to agree that they have been mighty today and deserve a medal (to which I reply, no you have not been mighty, you have been normal, all you get is this nice bed we're sitting on).

So I think I was correct in my assessment that I had reached the point where more resting was counter-productive. It's always a question with tiredness or pain: "does this need rest or exercise or both? How much does it need?" The most common answer, I think, is "both." And I think also, that with exercise, if it's not making things worse, it's making things better.

Meanwhile Blue Shield and Sutter are up to shenanigans again. A year after my first knee surgery I get a bill from Sutter saying that Blue Shield has paid everything they're going to pay and now I owe 400 dollars. Of course I don't have 400 dollars. Even more to the point, last year I paid every bill I was given, and Blue Shield said I had hit the limit of what I had to pay in that year, so there's no reason for them to refuse to pay, and no reason for Sutter to expect me to poay instead. I've Twitter-shamed them both,because that worked before,  but since it's a weekend, they might not see it. So I may reply to my Twitter chain on Monday to make it new again.

Another nice effect of the morning's walk is that the Bernese mountain dog played with Zluta on the way and now Zluta is willing to crash. She coughed kind of a lot on the way back, which I attribute to dust on the trail.She's had this particular cough as long as I've known her. She doesn't cough often but when she does it's always the same kind of deep, honking cough that moves her whole body. She never seems to slow down after coughing like that. The vet thought when I first got ZLuta that the cough would be self-limiting and didn't indicate a bigger problem. I'll bring it up when we see her again, but I think it's functional, not easily treatable, and it doesn't seem to bother her except while she's actually coughing.

And now for some more writing!
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Today's blood test results came shockingly fast. My blood counts have been only just barely out of the normal range, and today they are almost all just a wee bit closer to normal.My last dose of adriamycin/cytoxin was a little less than the doses before, because of my hands and feet bothering me, so maybe that's why I've started recovering already (it hasn't been very long).  Which doesn't explain why I'm so tired and have so little stamina. I'm starting to think that's in my head and maybe I should ignore it.Even the shortness of breath when I climb stairs. Maybe that's from indulging the tiredness. So maybe I should push myself more. I've already started making myself go for more walks instead of just taking Zluta to the dog park every time and sitting on the bench while she runs around.  But the walks have been shorter. And I missed a couple weeks of dancing and then  only danced a couple-few times because I felt like I'd run upstairs after each dance.

So maybe this is a self-created problem and I should power through it  I'll play around with it and see how I feel.

On Wednesday (five days from now) I start Round Two of chemotherapy--taxol. I'm taking it at the "less dense" option because the side efffect I'm trying to avoid is neuropathy, which I am more bothered by than nausea. But the less dense option is a weekly dose for three months instead of a biweekly, stronger dose for two months. So we'll see how that goes.

While I'm complaining: my tastebids have not returned to normal. Currently green vegetables mostly taste bad except for broccoli, starchy food mostly tastes weird and half-tasteless, and sweet things have no taste except for a hint of bitter. I end up only wanting protein foods with a fair amount of fat in them. Well, and porridge, which has a comforting mouthfeel even though it doesn't taste like much of anything. I just don't bother to sweeten it any more. Shredded wheat is okay too.

It looks like I'm writing again, slowly  but surely, one good day a week and several less sterling ones with some wordage in them. Also still researching, because I don't know enough about crows and pigeons. Though I know a lot more now. Yesterday I fell down a sartorial rabbithole trying to determine what some comfortable working class teen boys would wear in almostlike the thirties in almost like Central Europe and even though Google failed me egregiously (somehow returning every decade but the thirties, and no, I didn't put a minus sign there), I did finally find a vintage photos site whose tagging system worked for once and finally saw enough children and teens to form an opinion. Plus fours were a thing, apparently, and therefore, I can use them to differentiate class identification. I don't have to research the Sokol this time because I fell down that rabbithole a few years ago doing military history in Czechoslovakia and I still have my notes.

It's maybe going to be a darker book than the previkous one, buit I have to remember that these girls are going to save the world. So that's all right, right?

On another front, as Zluta matures she has decided that it is positively her job to chastize abnormalities in the night. Unfortunately she believes that if she can hear it, it is abnormal. Fortunately she seems to think that her barking is only effective if she performs it downstairs, so barricading the stairway caused her to give up and go to sleep.  She's pretthy insistent about me getting up pretty regularly, which is what I got her for. But for some reason she's letting me lounge and write as the case may be this afternoon.
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Every bit of information I have gotten since that first partial pathology report has been boring. That's good. I do have a fairly rare and aggressive type of cancer, but it's not more aggressive than other more common cancers, it doesn't appear to be growing fast, it has given no evidence of having spread anywhere, and it has helpful receptors and it  doesn't have unhelpful ones. So therefore my treatment plan is really routine. I will have a wee bit of a lumpectomy and the lymph nodes connected to that part of the breast will be removed too. If all goes well, and there's no cancer in the lymph nodes and the piece of flesh that's removed looks like it has a good margin around the tumor, I'll get a course of radiation and five to ten years of a hormone-locking medication. If there's doubt about the margins, they might go in again and remove more tissue. If there's cancer in the lymph nodes, or if no cancer in the lymph nodes but there's dangerous looking genetics in the removed tissue, I will also get a course of chemotherapy.

Everybody seems to think this is walk-in-the-park level of treatment, by which I mean, i'm not expecting tremendous amounts of side effects--some, of the type we associate with these things, but not a lot. And no disability to speak of. Which is frustrating the hell out of friends and family who want to do things for me. All I need is three rides the day of the surgery and someone to walk the dog that day and the next. After that--I'm a boring normal person.

It's all a bit anticlimactic, but I'm not complaining.

On another front, doves sat on my skylight for half an hour yesterday, giving me a lovely view of their red red feet and their fuzzy feathery butts, but it sure drove Zluta nuts.
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My friend Glen Fitch decided I needed to read Master and Margarita so he ordered it for me and I regret that because it's a nice hardcover edition and it couldn't have been cheap but...I didn't last fifteen pages. I am allergic to stories where the Devil shows up to caper around and claim that whoever the author doesn't like is in cahoots with him. And I just didn't like it as a block of stuff to read. Not much of an Ambrose Bierce fan either, which it reminds me of. When it comes to satire, I kind of like stuff more on the line of The Good Soldier Schweik (or Švejk) or Iceland's Bell (as difficult as that can be to read: it's pretty grim).

What I bought myself is an immense tome, part cookbook and part social, ecological, and economic history: A Mediterranean Feast by Clifford A. Wright. I love it. I'm on the second pass. The first pass I read the parts I thought would be most interesting first--it's really immense and I was a bit daunted--and when I had read all of the book in that piecemeal way I started again at the beginning. You can probably tell I love it. I got it at the used bookstore for $7.50! That's downright amazing. I already had what I think is a fix-up of notes he took while researching the book (though I don't know this for sure), Mediterranean Vegetables. That one is in encyclopedic form and it drives me crazy because it is so raw and unedited and full of errors I can catch (the pointless little errors that arise when you're doing a large work very fast) but it's also magnificent and lots of fun to reread and I do reread it frequently. The bad editing made me worry about A Mediterranean Feast but I've only found a couple of that kind of errors in it so it's more relaxing to read. His main premise is that historically the Mediterranean was anything but a feast, and it's the poverty of the land and people that drove history in such a way that it seems to be the center of a lush life now.

It's interesting how shallow the Mediterranean food tradition is. I've already wondered foir a long time what the food was like there before tomatoes--it seems it was completely, utterly different. I would have thought that tomatoes would have pushed out other fruits in traditional sauces and it seems like that is not the case. People weren't eating the same sauces with plums or something in the tomato position. And while durum wheat and dry pasta has been known in the Mediterranean for centuries, it wasn't such a popular thing in Italy and elsewhere until the nineteenth century.And so on.

He looks at the cooking history of Spain, Italy, Egypt, Turkey, and Tunisia, with peeks at other places--he picks these five because of the documentation that exists and their importance at various times in the history. He includes a little information about classical Greece and Rome, but there's not as much information that far bacl and the story really gets cooking in the thirteenth century an on. The sixteenth century is a big focus. The book is arranged according to topics, and each region is visited in each topic, and their interrelationships are heavily explored too.

I heartily recommend the book, and now I have a hunger for similar books about other places.  The food I've been most interested in these days is Central/Eastern European and Western/Central Asia, and I enjoyed reading Please to the Table, about Russian cooking, but it's not anything like as deep or scholarly as A Mediterranean Feast. Any suggestions? Mostly for things I can get from the library...

On another front: I bought my membership to FOGCon. There is a story behind this I'll tell later.

Still another front: Zluta Zluta Zluta all the time. If it was up to her, we'd be walking ten miles a day. She is almost a year old and has become markedly mellower but she's still excitable and high energy and she demands something every forty-five minutes to an hour and a half.

Oh, and I'm like a day or two away from having the semi-final draft of The Drummer Boy ready for beta readers. If you were thinking of being one of them, contact me. I'm actually finishing off another few of my bagatelles also, so that I have something to do when I have to stop and think about the main project.

I have more evidence that Affordable Care is an imperfect system and we really need single payer, but I'll give that its own post.
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The rain woke me last night. I sleep right under the roof in a the low end of the eaves of a converted attic, so the water was drumming less than a yard above my head. I went downstairs to pee, and the little dog woke, heard a noise she had never heard in her life before, and barked and barked to warn me.


At six in the morning the rain was very light and the wind was gentle and gusty. I couldn't find my raincoat so I just threw on another layer of hoody and we went for our walk as usual. The drops were fat and slow and Zluta liked it at first. Dogs are often delighted with a bit of wind, and she was, happy to be out before dawn. I was composing poetry in my head about the familiarity of rain after a long absence, the way the streetlamps halo in it, the bright crosshatches of ripples in the swift-running gutters, the leaves sticking to the sidewalk. When we were just turning back towards home--not quite a mile away--the rain started coming down hard again and we both got soaked through.

For Zluta the heavy-rain experience--unlike the light-rain experience--was unpleasant, even frightening, even though she loves cavorting in the water from the garden hose, which often comes out stronger than this rain. But the difference: she can run into the water and out again, it's not relentless like the rain this morning. She tried cowering from it, dodging it, shaking it off, seeking shelter. I just urged her on, reminding her we were not far from home and we'd get dry as soon as we got there. When we were a couple of blocks away she cheered up and began hurrying straight forward, going as fast as I would let her (I am not running on wet streets with even with my brand new deep-tread waterproof hiking boots. I am taking no risks of ruining my perfect new titanium knees by falling at some stupid angle). When we got home I raced us into the bathroom where I rubbed her down wiuth a towel while she flailed around. She liked that part but it was a bit overstimulating for her, so that she ended up racing around looking for things to shred. Then I stripped out of my wet clothes (wet down to the skin, except my feet were dry) and rolled myself into some dry clothes. And I thought I didn't want to write a poem about it after all. I hardly ever want to write poems: it's not a medium that often fits my way of thinking and feeling. I'm a bit embarrassed about yesterday's poem: it's not very good, but I think it has a good one buried in it if I took the time to dig it out of the muck. Also, I'd want to give it a subtitle.

The rain starts and stops. The wind blows up and wuthers around the house. The trees outside my window go into panicked placating ritual dances until the wind dies down again. Zluta is ill at ease, wants even more attention than usual.

I spent too much time yesterday trying to refresh my memory about military ranks and found out some things I didn't need to learn at this stage because I don't need more details about army life in the previous fin de siecle. Also I had underestimated the recovery needs from the carpal tunnel release I had Monday. I am really, really, really tired. But compared to the "real" surgeries I just had, it's just a wee snip and hardly any re-arranging of my body parts. Still. That's how it is. Even so, I am now taking the steepest hill in my neighborhood like a normal person, no mincing steps at all. My friend Glen's driveway, now, that's another thing. It's much steeper and caltropped with eucalyptus pods, so when I took Zluta there to play with Glen's dog Abby, it was toothgrit all the way down. Up is not a thing, though.
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The chapter I am working on is maybe the penultimate chapter of the book, depending on how many words it takes to write the things that are happening now, but it is more likely the chapter before the penultimate one. Oh, I'm sure it is, no matter how long this stuff goes, because certain things need to be in their own chapters.

oh how I do go on about writing insecurities )

I kind of read Octavia Butler's Fledgling this week too. I skipped ahead to the trials because I am a wuss. It made me wonder just how much of her work is about blending. I will have to read more and re-reading more and figure this out. Also I read Emma Bull's Finder, which was fun enough that I inhaled it but I was also annoyed by its callowness.

On another front, I'm cleaning up the yard to make it pleasant for Frank and Hana when they come later in the month and also so I can see just how much progress I've really made back there. Which is a lot. I have planted a line of coreopsis along one side of one section of the brick path from the garage to Zack's, and parsleyalong the rest of it (and it's still not quite enough parsley for all Zack's and my needs). The front yard is almost cleaned up. After my hand heals from the carpal tunnel release surgery I'm having on Monday, I'll plant the two different abutilons and the one salvia I have in the corner by the almond tree. I have a couple of California milkweeds to plant--they have mousy looking litttle white flowers but they haven't, unlike the other milkweeds, been sprayed with BT to fight light brown apple moth. It's the law, but it makes the milkweeds toxic to the Monarch caterpillars too. So if I had bought one of those pretty ones I would have had to put a net over them for some time--a few months? I forget--to keep from poisoning the animal we're planting it for...

and I also go on and on about my new knees )
On the Zluta front, even though I don't know what I'm doing, we're reaching a place with the backyard barking that is bearable, I'm able to let her go out there freely for many hours a day before she decides to try to provoke the killer dog next door. My current method of breaking that up is to almost silently head her off, distract her with thrown apples, and herd her or carry her inside. Less shouting--which ramps her up-- and no hose spray--which excites her and is actually a reward, However, when I water the yard, I let her play in the hose as much as she likes. Yes, it is still warm enough for her to get wet outside. Though I turned the heater on today. It's set in the low sixties: I think 66 for a period in the afternoon.

Speaking of communication, she is using the wiggle method of communicating her needs much more than the open-mouthed, toothy swarm method. I try to respond immediately but sometimes I'm in the middle of a thing and she has no patience. I've had to exile her only once every couple-few days this last two weeks (it was getting to be two and three times a day, which is too much). Of course, part of this is her general greater contentment now that I am driving again and getting her to the dog park five days out of six.

She has an unfortunately tender stomach, apparently, and apparently I guessed wrong about her food, so that's a work in progress.
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I probably don't have to explain why I've posted less about this surgery than the last one. Nevertheless, here it is, day 10, and I feel I'd benefit from logging my observations.

I had the feeling that rehab would go a little faster this time than last, and it appears to be true. I got "graduated" from walker to cane by the physical therapist on day 7 largely because I confessed that I kept wandering off from the walker. I take the walker when I'm really, really sleepy and I don't trust my balance, but that's happened maybe twice. Nowadays I keep losing the cane because I forget I haqve it and I wander around for several minutes before I remember it.  But my stamina's still pretty low.  I can water the yard but then I want to sit down, for example.

Pain is a bit more severe some of the time (possibly because healing is faster) than last time though it is still pretty mild most of the time. However, pain management is simpler because I knew going it I was going to use tramadol instead of the big guns. Dr. Spiegel also prescribed promethazine for nausea and to enhance pain relief, but I didn't get till yesterday which was also coincidentally the first time I experienced mild nausea. I took one. No more, unless I'm gibbering and I can't sleep. It put me in a stupor for hours, which made coping with a desperately bored puppy very difficult.

I just really don't do well with sedatives, I guess.

The physical therapist (cute, young Quinn from Louisiana) also toiok me up the stairs to my bedroom. I could move in any time, but I'm waiting a couple days so it will be easier to haul things up and down before I do. I'll be wanting to pee in a bucket for a few weeks, for example (do not want to do those stairs three-four times at night when I'm taking tramadol and I'm not steady on my toes yet), which is a wee bit of a hassle every morning.

I got the staples out yesterday (yes, it hurts, but not horribly, considering) and now the incision site feels much better (though it was kind of sensitive last night during the times I was conscious).  I feel like it's easier to bend my knee, though it's not nearly all the way there. It's about ninety degrees or maybe a bit more, which I think was the same at this point as last time. I believe this knee was more damaged to begin with: we did the left one first because its function had deteriorated so much that it was my current limitation. If surgery time had come a couple-few weeks earlier or later, the right one would have been first, I think. Anyway, I saw the xray and the leg looks beautiful and straight now. And I feel it when I'm standing up. Also, on the other side, I find myself spontaneously bedning my knees to attend to things on the ground now, whereas before surgery I had to consciously tell my knees to bend. So I have to say that some improvement has been immediate.

I don't know when my left knee stopped feeling like it was encased in hard elastic a size too small, or when the numb part of the skin on the left leg shrank to two spots about the size of a silver dollar. But comparing the left and right legs reveal that those changes have taken place.

I'm finding it a little harder to focus on exercises than last time, which is probably mostly due to the distractions of other aspects of my life.  But the weight gain and loss took a similar route, starting about four pounds light than last time. Eleven pounds on in three days ion the hospital, thirteen pounds off in six days at home. This morning I was briefly four pounds lighter than I was the day of surgery: but I think that's a spurious reading.

On another front, I made a cup and a half of fig-apple jam this morning, and started both quince paste and apple butter. I'll continue those in the oven later when I roast the game hens on beds of vegetables for soup, and bake banana bread with those overly-sweet aplets cut into them to serve the function of raisins. 
ritaxis: (hat)
It's been a busy month. Mostly I've been busy being challenged and sometimes overwhelmed by my tiny dog. I have to say, before I go on, that this is exactly what I asked for, and it is no fault of hers that I have to learn how to handle her.

The exception to "I asked for this" is that I asked for an adult dog with this personality, but I did know that getting a puppy would entail more, and when I heard she had been separated from her mother at four weeks I knew there would be even more. But the dog I found was a puppy and I went for it. So.

Zluta's actually a good dog, is learning fast, is affectionate and fun to be around. She also is willful and impatient, and she responds to her own needs by swarming all over me and btiing. She's getting better about that, and the bites have been open-mouthed puppy bites all along, but training her out of it is a process and also involves me learning to anticipate her needs and deal with them before she starts swarming. She's seven months old so I don't expect her to have a solid signalling system in place bu the poor dear doesn't seem to know what exactly she needs at any m oment. I mean she doesn't go eat food from her dish or drink from her bowl, and if we're upstairs she doesn't go out and pee in the yard. No, for any of these needs she will swarm all over me and bite around at the air, my clothes. my flesh, the computer. I have to call her to the food dish or the water dish and demonstrate the food or water to her. On a hot day this worries me quite a bit, so I get kind of pushy about showing her the water. She would like to drink from a water bottle but this is cumbersome and when I tried to let her do it on her own she chewed the spigot part off. She does not like small water bowls but I don't have a large container to use just yet.

As for food, I have chopped up the trader joe's freeze dried liver into teensy little bits and I sprinkle a couple-few of them in her food and then she will continue after I walk away.If she had her druthers I would hand feed her one morsel at a time. This comes in handy for training because she adores being given things and will perform whatever she thinks I'm after in order to continue this transaction. Except.

At the dog park a week ago Zluta decided she would like to explore the wide world beyond, in the directions she has seen other dogs go. We've been going to Derby Park, which has no direct connection to the streets. But the walkways to the streets are not long, and we'll recall I have one arthritic knee and one in recovery fromsurgery and a sore back, so I am not fast and I can't keep up with her when she decides she wants to put distance between us. When I had to use strangers to help me capture her the third time I decided no more. At home she's pretty good about coming when called, unless sometimes wshen the big dog next door is barking, or there are raccoons partying in the backyard, or creepy sounds coming from the street. In these cases she wants to bark by god. Actualy in  all of these cases she comes whedn called most of the time now.

My first plan was to take her to the little park with the fence around it and just practice recall there until she was ready. In the meantime we just went for leash walks a couple times a day and got all her intense play done in the back yard with windfall apple fetch. But then Emma reminded me of a technique I had seen before (also with a young terrier), where you attach the dog to a long rope that you hold the other end of and do recall exercises like that.

So we set out for Harvey West Park where there are hardly any other dogs, because I thought it would be less distracting.But when we got there every parking place was taken up and mostly every inch of the park itself was filled with children in every conceivable sports uniform (there seemed to bed a picnic going on in several picnic areas, and also all three baseball fields were in use). So we ended up back at Derby Park.

I was worried about clotheslining the dogs and people that were running all around, but I concentrated really hard and kept her rope out of the way. There were lots of dogs and she was excited so I didn't try training her until the other dogs left and she had mellowed out. And then we had a great training session.She came every time. We are also working on one command just for fun, which I call "Hup Hup:" it's for her to jump up to get a treat.she loves jumping and being bipedal and there's so many situations where she is learning not to do that, so I thought it would be nice for her to have one where it is the desired behavior. She does seem to love it. I intersperse "Hup Hup"  and "Zluta sits" irregularly to reinforce sitting and paying attention and she seems very happy with it.

She still needs to be ushered outside quickly for pee time because she'll just pee on the floor if she gets bored with the journey to the outside. First thing in the morning she wiggles on me and I carry her down the long stairs because she will pee on the stairs otherwise. I hope she outgrows this need.


We have a fundamental disagreement about the purpose of shoes, my nail brush, and paper. I think I am winning this argument, but it is gradual. On the other hand, she has trained me to work at the computer downstairs at the kitchen table instead of sitting on top of my bed. She hates me being up there. Because it is hot? It's okay for now. She doesn't mind me sleeping up there at night and she's willing to compromise with me reading in bed.
ritaxis: (hat)
So Tuesday at physical therapy I guess I kind of messed up. At the time it didn't feel like I was doing anything wrong, and on Wednesday when I started to pay for it I didn't realize at first what was wrong, but I put the pieces together yesterday and I'm pretty sure that's it.

There's a machine where you rest your ankle on a cylindrical cushion attached to a lever and bend your leg against it: the lever is coupled with a weight so that it resists your effort. It is supposed to exercise hamstrings and quads. This week I had both legs on it, which seemed like a great idea because the unoperated one (the right one) has been seeming kind of paltry and it seems like it would behoove me to beef it up a little before it gets operated on. I kind of egged on the physical therapist to put a bit more weight on them and I went at it with all my strength a wee bit longer than he said to. It felt fine. I was only feeling a bit challenged. I wasn't struggling or doing anything overtly stupid.

But since Wednesday I've barely been able to walk at all. My left leg is stiff and a wee bit achy, like you'd expect from overdoing it a tad, but the right leg had some sharp pains. Oh, and the left had a couple of sharp pangs near the knee at isolated times, which freaked me out, but they didn't persist or worsen so I'm willing to call them just a thing. But the right had sharp pains in the upper muscles and it was all I could do to walk the dog halfway around the block. Today we were able to go for a whole block walk in the morning, which was good for her, because she came home and slept like a dog ought to, but it's a good thing I have Keith to take her for an evening walk, because I don't have another walk in me. Especially since I will go to dancing. If I have to sit and tap my toes like the week before last, so be it.

Today was therefore almost a wash. I got the yard watered, the dog walked and exercised with windfall apples, and the laundry washed, hung, brought in, and put away, but otherwise I lay on my bed and snored.And I had hit a nice rhythm with the note-taking and preliminary editing the last few days, too. I'll see if I can do anything tonight before and after dancing. What I've been doing while snoring? collecting simspoints, sorry to say. If you click the little button and let the little ad run while you do other things, you get five points to spend on download content. The download content goes on sale regularly too, so I've been accumulating community lots for my sims to go to. Also lots of points which I will eventually spend on worlds for my sims to live in. I know. Ridiculous. But most people have some ridiculous hobby in which someone exploits them. I figure this is EA swindling the ad companies, because they must know that there's no way that the serious points miners are actually watching those ads over and over again. All that matters is the click, though. Oh probably the ad companies know what's going on, so it's mostly Northern California Honda, SpeeDee Oil Change, etc., that are being swindled.

for some reason I'm rereading Turgenev's Fathers and Sons, in a kind of idiotic translation, and finding that (1) I didn't remember much in it and (2) if I had I might not have started rereading it. And (3) Turgenev most certainly didn't do any math when he was writing this, because nobody's ages make sense whatever. He has also stacked the deck in every respect. I'm about to read a duel scene and I don't want to.
ritaxis: (hat)
Zluta has been with me for a bit less than 42 hours. She's a fast learner!

Emma came over on the first night-Saturday-and demonstrated clicker training (though she used the whistle she uses at the zoo). I decided to use chirps because that's also hands-free like her whistle and doesn't require me to buy anything. Also I can't lose my chirp, or if I did, I'd have bigger problems!

So here is where Zluta is as of this morning:

"Zluta, come" is natural and I haven't been teaching it yet, but I will soon so she'll come even when distracted or excited.

"Zluta, sit" arrived spontaneously-she offered me a sit when I was working with her on not jumping and I started rewarding it and labelling it with its own command because dang, don't refuse a gift your dog gives you. I won't be initiating it as a command until she seems to have it down, though.

"Drop it" has also arrived spontaneously because of the natural puppy association for shoes and clothes. I've been caught with no treats but I have offered her other things to play with and that has gone so well that the last time I said "Drop it" she dropped before I threw the toy (in this case a windfall apple because it was at hand).

Also, at first she was afraid of my stairs and Zack's front steps and now she is no longer. She runs up and down all the time. This means I can exercise her by throwing toys down the stairs!

She understands that it is highly desirable to pee and poop in the spot by the compost heap but she does not understand that it's highly desirable not to pee in the house as well, so we're going outside every forty-five minutes or so. Except that just this minute she went outside on her own, so I'm going to trust her and see what happens.

I'm reading and re-reading articles about bark training but I'm still sort of baffled about how these instructions translate into real life. I'm getting there, though. Another thing she'll need special training for is jumping up-she loves standing on her hind legs so I figure to give her a
chance to show that off with a special trick, and that will make it easier to teach her not to do it otherwise. I'm also desensitizing her feet, ears, etc, to gentle touches, to make her visits to the vet easier for her.

She has destroyed her first thing already: it was one of her own toys, though.

Yesterday I left her with Keith so I could walk downtown and see a movie. That went well. Keith and Zack both adore her.She's still not sleeping or eating as much as I understand she ought to, but it's been less than  two full days, so we'll see what happens in the future.

We can't start socializing her with other dogs yet because she has a little cough.

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