Saturday, March 26, 2011

Too Short A Time

Looking back through pictures, earliest I can find of Puckett are late-June 2004. So, I did some research. Looks like we got him on or about 6/20/2004 (though, our first encounter with him was a week or so earlier). Still... We'll have had him not even 7 years when we finally have to send him on his way. 

Note to self: don't dig for answers you might not like. It was gut-punch enough getting the news of his impending demise. Pinning down the date to one that was far later that you'd specifically recalled just "piles on".

Fire-and-Forget Memories

So, a lot of people I know write stuff online. They write on LiveJournal. They write on Blogger/BlogSpot. They write on Twitter. They write on FaceBook. They write on any of dozens of other sites. Many, like me, frequently choose to write about things both personal/private and more mundane "public" stuff. However, I wonder if the people that write all this stuff are like me in why they write.

For me, writing online is about preserving memories. Part of preserving memories is going back and periodically reviewing things. For me, it can act as a grounding-force. I can tell whether the high/low/whatever of the current moment is normal, an aberation or part of some kind of a pattern. It can help me remember - or even just refresh - the character, the feeling or flavor of the things written about. It can also remind me of "promises" I've made to myself and to see how well I've done in those.

A big part of why I scatter my writings in so many places (and make the vast majority findable by search engines) is so that they don't become lost. If one site goes away, I don't lose an entire chunk of memories - of my life. To me, what I've written for myself is critical.

As I do with my own writings, I sometimes look back through things friends have written. Sometimes it's just a random perusal. Sometimes it's with a purpose. Sadly, it seems that in a non-trivial number of cases, people write things so that they can get them off their chest ...and then summarily forget them. It makes me wonder, why they're committing it to "Internet Memory" at all? Wouldn't it make just as much sense to write it on a piece of paper and then just burn it? Or, for that matter, why write it down at all? Introspection absent review isn't really introspection.

I swear: the longer I'm around and the more I interact with - or even merely observe - people, the less I understand them.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

This Is What Death Looks Like

So, we took Puckett to see the vet, this morning. Much as I'd feared, his cutaneous lymphoma appears to have spread to his lungs. The vet took X-rays, to eliminate the possibility that he might just have kennel-cough. Normally, they take a sequence of three X-rays to get a good view of both lungs and along two axes. The vet only bothered to take one picture (shown below):

Canine Lung Cancer

On the plus side, we didn't have to involve a radiologist to read an iffy X-ray. We also didn't have to subject him to a CT scan. We didn't even have to subject him to the full rigor of being held still for three X-rays. Pretty much anyone can look at the above and know it's bad juju. I mean, that's just a view of one lung from one axis and you can see quite a number of masses. To me, it looks like his lung is a third cancerous tissue, at this point. I don't know how he manages to breath as well as he does.

Hard to believe how fast his clock has been running-out. It was just last month that we got the cutaneous lymphoma diagnosis. And, it was only in the last few days that he just sorta fell off a cliff, symptom-wise. I'd been hoping-against-hope that it wasn't going to be this. I'd been hoping that he'd beat the averages. Unfortunately, the only way he's beating the average is in just how aggressively the cancer has progressed and spread. "Like wildfire" doesn't seem to do it justice.

As I sit here, typing away on my couch, Puckett lies breathing, fast and shallow, next to me. Unless the steroids work miracles (i.e., make his breathing less labored and reduce the irritation in his lungs so the coughing stops), I'm thinking I'm saying my final goodbyes come Monday. In the mean time, I'll try to use these last hours to spoil him (thus, why he's got couch privileges after a lifetime without). Even the other animals seem to "know": Cira's curled up on the floor below him and Grumbles is curled up next to him on the couch. Even Bella doesn't seem to be offended by his presence in her nesting-space.

Winding Down

So, a month or so ago, my dog, Puckett, was diagnosed with cutaneous lymphoma. It's pretty much a death-sentence as it's not a type of cancer that responds well to the usual cancer treatment options and, even if it does respond, it has a high incidence of recurrence. In that month's time, I've seen an 11yr old dog go from an energy level and demeanor that caused most people to guess his age at maybe a third his actual age to seeming like an eleven year old dog.

When I say he used to act like a dog a third his age, I'm not kidding. Included in the people fooled, by Puckett's energy, have been neighbors that have known us more than four or five years (and did pet lookins when we were out of town), vets and vet techs who'd not yet looked at his file. Of course, people new to him, were always immediately fooled.

It just seems like, in the last thirty days, the full weight of eleven years of life have come slamming down on him. The initial diagnosis said that dogs with his condition average about six months from diagnosis. That projection was based on later detection than was his case. So, I was hopeful that he might go on the long side of that death-sentence. With his recent, sudden aging, I'm feeling like I might be lucky if he makes it to summer.

Today, the sudden aging really struck home. Throughout the entire time that Puckett has been with us:

  • He was always the first dog at the door. He was always the most exuberant. This last week, especially, he's no longer at the front of the lineup - he's sorta hanging back, waiting his turn for the hellos.
  • You could always tell when he was near a wall, standing near a table, next to the kitchen island, counters or appliances or even positioned "just right" in a doorway by the loud banging of his tail. And, if he happend to be standing in a corner, where his tail would hit two surfaces, it was a loud, stacatto drum-beat of enthusiasm. His wag was always done with such energy and vigor that, even if it wasn't banging against something, it made is head bob about as some kind of counter-balance. His wag has been so everpresent that he even frequently wags in his sleep (a bit disconcerting a phenomena). He's still wagging his tail, but it's not with quite the same vigor and, it seems more that he's doing it in response to a request for it than doing it unbidden out of shear zeal for life.
  • Except when drawn away by food or not being inside the house, he always followed me into the bathroom. I'd come to make it a habit to leave the door open, lest he stand there bumping at it till I let him in. Today, for the first time, as I sat there with the door open, he remained parked in the living room, resting.

He's also been a bit wheezy and generally tired the last week or so. His legs seem to be stiffening up. And, of course, the "coffin-nails" (what I've come to refer to his skin tumors) seem to be multiplying - as yet, most are detectable just as a disturbance in the lay of his fur rather then yet being felt by a stroke of his fur.

Tomorrow, I take him to the vet. I'm hoping that some of the energy levels and wheeziness are related to it being allergy season: I know my energy is sapped and my breathing gets ragged when the pollen count's really high. However, obviously, I fear that it's more than that. I fear that the vet's going to deliver yet more bad news that I just don't want to deal with, yet. And, if she does, I don't know what the hell I'm going to do.

I've had a number of dogs over the years. Each has been special. I've celebrated the lives of each and grieved the loss of each. However, there's been something special about Puckett. I'm about the opposite of the permanent-happiness that Puckett affuses, so, I fear that losing him will effect me - the impending loss is effecting me - more than any previous pet has.

When we lost Lana in December, it seemed natural to get another dog. This has been how I and my family has proceeded upon losing a pet - try to find another bundle of life to help fill the hole left by the prior one. Cira's been a great dog. She's her own kind of sweet and her own kind of happy. She's not Lana, but I wasn't expecting her to be - any more than any prior "replacement" pet has been the same as its predecessor. Yet, with Puckett, I don't know whether I want to try to fill that hole. Or even if I do, whether I want to do it as immediately as I have with prior pets. Who knows - maybe the severity of the loss will make me want it more than in prior instances. Hell, it might take two dogs to "replace" his energy, presence and shear "Pucketty-ness". Dunno. Any way you slice it, I'm not looking forward to finding out, but it seems to be bearing down on me like a runaway truck. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Best "Job" Spam Ever?

So, today, I find in my main email account's Inbox, one of those various "job opportunity" emails (you know, the ones that typically flog the "work from home" or "not MLM"). Well this one's job requirements were priceless:
  • Efficacy to proceed efficaciously within a team and independently
  • Native ability to resolve different intricacies
  • Strong communication skills
My favorite is the first requirement. I wonder if the person who wrote that first requirement fulfills the third requirement?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Just... "Wow"

So, when I saw the previews, a few months' past, for Battle Los Angeles, I was fully prepared to not go see it in the theatres (maybe not even on NetFlix/Zune/OnDemand). It just didn't look like it was going to be any good.

Tonight, on our way back from downtown, we stopped in at a restaurant at the Potomoac Yards shopping center. After we got done with dinner, Donna wasn't yet feeling like going home, so she asked to drop by the theatre to see what might be playing. Now, this weekend, there happens to be a few movies I do actually want to see. So, I figured, "what the hell: it's twenty after eight, so, we're probably between showings of everything and we can just drive home after we confirm that." Wouldn't you fucking know it but Battle Los Angeles was set to start in less than half an hour. 


Now, I thought I had suitably lowered my expectations for this movie such that it wouldn't be a complete trial. Little did I know just how terrible this steaming-load was going to be. I mean, sure, if you wanted to sum it up in two words you could simply say, "it sucked," but that wouldn't really capture how truly craptacular the movie was. I mean, it was horrible. The guys from MST3K would probably have been left at a loss. You'd be getting to a part of the movie where you can just taste the pending relief of the movie soon being over. Only, the sadistic fuckers that made this piece of shit, would just be teasing and there'd be another 20 minutes or so ...until the next part where you were sure that it was almost over.

No, if I were to try to sum this movie up in two words, those words would be "irredeemably awful."