A Year Searching For a Dog Part 2 – Introducing Agent Cooper

I picked up this small, cute, black terrier mutt that at the time I was calling Toto, since that’s the closest dog he looked like. His first night at the house was filled with energy and a lot of humping. Our dog Wicket was humping him waaaayyyy too much — I guess trying to show who was the king of the household. Then Toto kept trying to hump my arm. That night Toto was still somewhat of a man, as the next morning he was scheduled to be neutered at animal services.

Scruffy pound mutt looking at the pound from the outside.

Scruffy pound mutt looking at the pound from the outside.

 

That next morning I drove him back and he had to stay there for the day getting his surgery. I picked him up later that day after recovery and he was acting like nothing had happened. Later that night I did notice that I wasn’t getting humped…

This little fella and our dogs instantly got along with each other. Even Belmont, our old anti-social lady, was tolerating him. The other foster dogs and our dogs never got along like this, so we were super happy. He was also interested in hanging out with us and being close and snuggly, which for me is the main thing I am looking for in a dog now.

The next day, we were lounging on the couch and I started to notice that his head was spasming to the left and right. He didn’t have any control over this, and after each spasm he’d move to another position to try and get comfortable. I put a call into animal services to report this to see if I could get their vets to look into this. They were slammed, so I wasn’t getting a call back. Our vet said they’d see him even though I was just fostering him. I showed them a video of his spams and they couldn’t pinpoint it directly. They said that it was most likely something related to seizures. They told me to monitor his limbs, jaw, etc. for shaking to see if he has a seizure in the future.

I brought him home and within twenty minutes I noticed his bottom draw opening and closing rapidly. He also began peeing. I got him back in the car and back to the vet. They did some initial blood work and gave me seizure meds as well as emergency meds for bad attacks.

Waiting for the blood results :(

Waiting for the blood results 🙁

 

During the course of all this, we made up our minds to adopt this little guy. There was no way in hell I wasn’t adopting a dog that was sweet, friendly, cuddly, and suffering from something I’ve experienced. I wanted a seizure dog, and in a funny way, I got one. He just doesn’t detect them ;). Now he and I need a seizure dog! I felt that if he went back to animal services someone wouldn’t adopt him due to his condition. He didn’t need to run the risk of being put down, he needed care. So we went to animal services this very morning and adopted him, and gave him his official name, which we’d been thinking about over the past few days — Agent Cooper, or Cooper/Coop for short.

Cooper resting from all this transitional stress after getting adopted.

Cooper resting from all this transitional stress after getting adopted.

 

One last note, if you don’t know who Agent Cooper is from Twin Peaks, you are missing out on knowing one swell coffee-and-pie-loving guy. See a snippet of Coop in action with his positive attitude. That’s why our little guy is named after him.

A Year Searching For a Dog Part 1

Shortly after the GBM discovery last year, I was really interested in finding a support dog. If you’re a friend, you know how much I love dogs, so it didn’t take me long to realize that I wanted a support dog to help me out. It’s hard to find a seizure detection dog, but that was the kind that I was interested in because you know, it sucks when you have a seizure and you’re not prepared. I was also interested in one that was considered an emotional support animal. Until recently I was stuck in the house because I was unable to drive. You kinda go a little crazy with cabin fever.

So we started looking around at places that raised and trained support dogs. Alex put in calls and talked to folks, but received responses of a sort she wasn’t expecting. In the best cases, she was met with sympathetic people that tried to find a nice way of saying that they wouldn’t provide a dog to a person with a terminal condition. They’d throw in that there was a long waiting list (usually 1-5 years) , so hey, by the time my application would get reviewed, I’d be past this life and hanging with my much-loved family dog, Nickel. Then there were the places that just seemed irritated that we’d even request a support animal given that I was supposed to die soon. It seemed like they felt it was a selfish request. Seemed like they were saying, “Man, you’re as good as dead, so get the f$~* out of line so we can help someone that’s gonna be around a little longer.”

Given the unlikeliness that we would be able to get a trained support dog, we looked into what it would take to begin training one of our own. I ordered training videos, did a ton of research, and we located a great breeder of goldendoodle dogs in Ocala. Once the litter of pups was of age, we picked up our dog, but unfortunately we were the last in line for that litter. We named our dog P-nut. Be prepared for a cute attack.

P-nut the energy ball that could power a nation.

P-nut the energy ball that could power a nation.

 

There were two issues we experienced with our plan. 1] You know a pup is going to have a lot of energy, but P-nut seemed like he had an entire litter full of energy in him. During his training course at Petsmart for some of the basics, the teacher was surprised by the energy of this little ball of fur. Our other dogs kept getting super upset with him.  2] Over the time we were training him, I realized that my health was preventing me from putting in what I needed to. We ended up calling the breeder we got him from, and he was able to get him into a big family that lives on the beach. So he’s running crazy on some beach in Florida now.

We changed our expectations. We couldn’t get a pre-trained support dog, and we couldn’t train one ourselves. We started focusing on looking for a dog that would be more of an unofficial emotional support animal. Months after the failed teamup with P-nut, we decided to begin fostering so we could see determine if the new dog would get along with our other two pups and would be chill and friendly. We began fostering a dog named Rainy from Alachua Animal Services.

Rainy enjoying a nice getaway from animal services.

Rainy enjoying a nice getaway from animal services.

 

While we were fostering Rainy, we enjoyed how sweet she was. She was always just flopping on my feet or climbing up the dog stairs to our bed and flopping near me like she was a small dog. We were about to adopt her, but the day before we did, she snapped over bed turf and viciously attacked Wicket. She grabbed him by the throat and began thrashing. Alex and I were able to pry Rainy off Wicket, but it wasn’t easy. While he was a little bloody, Wicket’s cuts were not serious. We were so scared that night because for a short time we thought we were about to lose one of our best friends. We took Rainy back to animal services and provided good imagery of her along with an updated description detailing that, though she’s as sweet as peaches, she’d have to go to a house without other animals. It took months, but animal services let us know that an older couple finally adopted her.

Due to the scare, it took us a few more months until we felt comfortable fostering another dog. Before fostering again Alex put forth another wave of inquiries to support dog breeders and trainers to see if our chances would be better. They were not, and she heard the same lines as last year. Our next foster dog was a hound mix named Conga who we fostered from the Alachua Humane Society.

Conga the energetic houndmix that liked smaller dogs.

Conga the energetic hound mix that liked smaller dogs.

 

Conga was a people person who wanted to make sure she was doing the right thing. Over the time we were fostering her, whenever we’d say “un-uh” if she’d done something wrong, she’d instantly submit and roll over on her back. We’d always tell her not to worry so much. Like P-nut, though, she was a dog full of energy that she couldn’t release within my docile lifestyle. We knew she’d be happier in a more active family. I’m looking forward to hearing about her getting adopted. She’ll be adopted easily because she’s so obviously a cute and friendly dog.

We then went back to animal services to see if they had any smaller, calmer dogs that we could foster. There were three that had just come in that we were interested in fostering, but we had to wait for them to get their heartworm tests back before we could take one home. We got the call that a small mutt had gotten a clean heartworm test result and was ready to be picked up. I rushed on over and picked him up. I’ll let you know what happens in the next post.

End of Chemo / August Health Update

So for most GBM patients, they get a six month course of temozolomide chemotherapy. I was able to get a twelve month course, which as of now has officially ended. If you continue taking the meds you run the risk of getting leukemia. Currently there aren’t any studies that show that continuing temozolomide will help. So right now I’m not interested in pushing it. It’s nice not feeling nauseous and as tired ^_^.

With the ending of chemo, I had to get a PET scan and an MRI sooner than I usually do. Unfortunately a new spot appeared in my MRI this week.  It was in my resection cavity, and we’re hoping that it is radiation necrosis. On one side, radiation necrosis tends to show itself within the twelve months following radiation treatment. I’m past twelve months so it makes me think cancer. On the other side, my PET scan didn’t show anything, so it makes me think radiation necrosis. So just like back in December I have no idea. I have to wait for another scan in four weeks to see if the spot is growing. This time I’m not as stressed for some reason. I kind of feel like I’m tired of getting stressed out.

So over the next four weeks we have to explore paths we can take if the spot is a new tumor. Basically we’ll be looking at different immunotherapy trials to see if we’re interested in any of them, and if I’ll be eligible.

On a non-medical note we finished watching Stranger Things recently on Netflix. Alex and I had such a great time watching that show. I especially loved the soundtrack and all the songs (generally 80s) that were played. One that I had long forgotten about, because at some point I got burned out on Moby, was his song “When It’s Cold I’d Like To Die”. I know it’s probably not the best song to attach to this post, but don’t worry I don’t want to die. I love the cold ^_^. I do want to relax and this song helps with that.

The Speed at Which We Get Test Results / June-July Health Update

Last week I had another one of my two month scans, and it came back looking as normal as the last one ^_^. July is also the last month of my 12 month chemo cycle, which I plan on doing a post about soon.


One medical planning challenge that Alex pushed to overcome was that the office who reads my scans started wanting scans done a week prior to us being able to hear about the results. It was punishment enough having to wait a day to hear about the results, so this just seemed outright mean to me. In my opinion high risk or terminal patients should be able to receive their test results within the same day. However there was another way of looking at it that my doctor explained which I respect as well.

In the case of my docs office their team gets together one day a week and reviews each other’s patient’s tough scans and come up with their strategies, that way when a patient comes in getting stressful news the doctors have some ideas lined up on how to attack things. If they don’t have that time to review the scans with the rest of their team in advance, the patient can be left waiting around a week not knowing what could be done to help them which in turn would cause them stress.

So you can get stressed waiting to see if the scan is bad, or you can get a bad scan and be stressed waiting to see what the treatment may be. The choice on how to be notified should come down to what the patient wants in my opinion. It should not default to one.

Our doc was accommodating for us and will give us test results same day now. I personally can handle knowing I have a growing tumor in my head for a week while everyone (docs & family) start to strategize . I’d want that extra time to think things through personally.


So anyways, good scans always bring good moods around these parts. Here’s a video my friend Andrew introduced to me, with music from an artist I’m a fan of. I can’t dance worth anything but this makes me want to.

Major Lazer – Light it Up (feat: Nyla & Fuse ODG)

Music from June 2016

Hey everyone, here’s my selections from June. The genres in this mix are: alternative, americana, bedroom pop, electronic, hardcore, new wave, pop, and punk. With the Orlando shooting there were a few musicians in this mix that donated their music so the proceeds went to support the folks down in Orlando. If you enjoyed their stuff give them some support: JANK, Hesitation WoundsModern Baseball, and Half Waif.

  1. JANK – Alligator
  2. Hesitation Wounds – Hands Up
  3. Modern Baseball – Just Another Face
  4. Citizen – Ring of Chain
  5. IZE – On Lex, Near You
  6. Half Waif – Overthrown
  7. Richard Ashcroft – Leave Me High
  8. The Handsome Family – Far From Any Road (for True Detective Fans)
  9. Nice Legs – End
  10. Govier – Life is Flashing Before Your Eyes

Download the tunes


Some music videos from the mix

The Handsome Family – Far From Any Road (Unofficial but nice video)

Nice Legs – End

Music from May 2016

Hey everyone, here’s my selections from May. The genres in this mix are: 80’s Pop, Bossa nova, Contemporary R&B, Dream pop, Indie rock, Pop, Sythnwave, Adult contemporary.

  1. Alex Newell – This Ain’t Over (This song will release your inner diva)
  2. Dream Fiend – Electric Isle
  3. Underworld – Nylon Strung
  4. Britta Phillips – Landslide
  5. Molly Nilsson – H.O.P.E.
  6. Prince – Purple Rain
  7. Caetano Veloso – Coisa Mais Linda
  8. Britta Phillips – Drive
  9. Wild Nothing – Alien
  10. Poliça – Someway

Download the tunes


Some music videos from the mix

Alex Newell – This Ain’t Over (Rocky Horror anyone?)

Molly Nilsson – H.O.P.E.

Poliça – Someway

Music from April 2016

Hola folks, here’s my selections from April. I pulled some older tracks I enjoy for this one.

  1. Nothing – Hymn to the Pillory
  2. The Depreciation Guild – Blue Lily
  3. The Trust – Sulk
  4. Cocteau Twins – Pur
  5. The Clientele – Spirit
  6. Wild Nothing – Hachiko
  7. Enya – Lothlórien
  8. Devendra Banhart – I Remember
  9. Sade – Like a Tattoo
  10. Cass McCombs – Sacred Heart

Download the tunes


Some music videos from this mix:

The Depreciation Guild – Blue Lily

Devendra Banhart – I Remember

Sade – Like a Tattoo

No Bucket List Vacationing = No Problem

When I was first diagnosed Alex and I had big plans to do big bucket list travelling (aka, Tokyo, Seoul, etc). That quickly changed though when concerns about immune system safety, money saving for care, and dealing with fatigue set in. Starting towards the beginning of the year Alex and I decided to take micro vacations once a month. To this day I don’t think I’d rather be in any other place than in one of Florida’s nature coast’s salt marshes. I realized that I feel rejuvenated when just taking small vacations to the places in Florida (a little Georgia too), that I’ve always gone to for a break.

When I was younger I used to go to St. Augustine and Cedar Key at least once a month while also travelling many of the back roads of central Florida (harming my old car’s suspension system). While Cedar Key may not have the best dining options around, it makes up for it with great comforting scenery and with nice places to kayak. While these days I’m not one for straight up camping, I’d like to get an RV situation going and just park near a salt marsh for a loooonnngggg time.

Alex and I enjoying the coastal breeze in Shired Island's salt marsh.

Alex and I enjoying the coastal breeze in Shired Island’s salt marsh.

 

Our big vacation spot each month is up near St. Augustine in Vilano Beach. We love going there because it is the most dog friendly beach community we’ve run across so far.  Not only can our dogs come and enjoy hanging out on the porch sniffing the beach air, but we get to see and meet all sorts of cute dogs as well. Our dogs are our family and if we can’t bring them along we are much less likely to go somewhere. We miss em’ to much and feel too guilty if they are boarded.

Still not fans of the water :(

Still not fans of the water 🙁

 

As we’ve been doing this for a while now I still feel that this is the kind of vacationing I love the most. Sure if someday I’m able to go on a wonderful culinary adventure to Seoul I won’t complain one bit, but until then I’m one happy camper doing what we’re doing now.

Feb-May Health Update

As usual it’s been a while since I last posted (longer than usual this time), and the site had some technical problems which are now taken care of, but I’m back for a post ^_^.

The scans that I’ve received so far this year have not shown any new tumor growth. I’m still taking my chemo treatment monthly which continues to add tiredness and nausea to the schedule, but I’m thankful that it’s there to help me fight the GBM. I continue to have pain around the surgical area which I recently discussed with my doctor since I figured it would have dissipated by now. He said that because of the nerve damage and the cut in the skull, I’ll have to deal with the pain indefinitely. Apparently it’s not something my body will fix. One thing I just started that is helping though, is taking a steroid that is taken as needed. It helps reduce the swelling nicely so far.

So I’m still kicking and enjoying each day I’m blessed to have.