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My Old Dog

She is actually my ex-wife’s dog, but hey, I was there too. They’d both established, right away, that I was not the boss and proceeded to enact this philosophy of theirs whenever possible. At the time she wanted to get a puppy, I wanted one as well, but I really didn’t have the time to rear a pup and it would’ve just ended up being ‘hers’ anyway. She’s very pretty, and she is obstinate, insistent, and entirely focused on food, food and my ex. She would pester my ex constantly, follow her around, bark at her. After I left, our dog decided I wasn’t so bad after all and really missed me; I come back to dog sit on occasion.

My wife got her from a breeder, as she was picking out her puppy, the son of the breeder said, “oh, no, not that one.”. His mom shushed him, my wife took that pup anyway. She asked the boy why, he said, she’s bossy and piggish. Ha, well, that was one astute boy. She came home and it a was all about the food; food, food, food. Immediately she decided I was not pack leader, and she did not have to do as I said. I quickly cured her off that, although, really on her own terms, so she would begrudgingly do as I told her.

When she got old enough, we would send her to puppy day camp; she loved it there, she ruled the roost, as they say, queen of the hill, she was. Then she got attacked while at the camp, tore open the skin on her belly, so she was real skittish around dogs after that. Not too long after that incident, while out for a walk with other dogs, and dog owners, another dog, and its owner, walked past their group but then the dog turned and ripped open her stitches and caused even more damage.

During my Cancer ordeal, the poor dog had to go in for surgery, can’t remember now, possible cruciate surgery, and they discovered she had major dental problems that we were unaware of. We are good owners, but I never brushed her teeth, and I had been in her mouth a few times for one reason or another when she was younger. So, two surgeries, one after another, while I was on Chemo. Then, not too long after, her spleen burst.

After that healed up, her hind end started to give out. That was a few years ago, she’s been to the vet on a monthly basis for three years now, getting one treatment or another for her hind end. It was during this time that they discovered she has a blood cancer, it livable and treatable. It’s also just a pricey as the rest of the stuff. I regret not getting pet insurance. We have it for us, but we didn’t for the dog. To this day, my ex won’t tell me the total vet bill tally. I have a feeling she hasn’t added it all up.

We love our Monster, the cash isn’t an issue, but I do recommend pet insurance.

Fears

Phobias, oh I have a few, I’ve had them since I was a child. The four main phobias that I can think of right off the top of my head are, in no particular order: Nyctophobia, Acrophobia, Arachnophobia, Trypophobia, Agoraphobia and Achievemephobia. Oh, I said four, and there are six. I wonder if I have others that I haven’t discovered, or realized, yet. I’ve often wondered if it’s all just one big phobia, but science tells me they’re all separate. I had anxiety growing up, and so I’ve thought it was all related to that. I think Cancer and Chemo have cured me of my anxiety, or it manifests itself different now.

I’ve rid myself of two phobias; the Nyctophobia, I think just by simply growing up; age and wisdom. The other phobia, the Arachnophobia, I don’t have that anymore. We had a friend, in high school, who had it real bad, which made me realize that mine wasn’t anywhere near what her level of fear was. I think I was finally cured one day at a friends house, after school, we sat on the couch together watching a Nat Geo special on spiders; my friend said she thought they looked awesome, I was soon mesmerized by the beauty and complexity of these spiders. Not to mention, my friend smelled real nice, was warm sitting next to me, and well, you know, soon I was loving spiders more than I thought I ever would.

I have Trypophobia real bad, I don’t like to talk about it or describe it. Okay, its a fear of clusters, or irregular patterns of holes or bumps. Oh yuck, I said it. Yep, that’s a weird one I know, but there it is. It is a phobia, but I think there’s a leaning towards calling it a biological revulsion.

I knew a girl who had such a deep seeded fear of clowns, she could not stand to hear that word spoken out loud. Not even the word, Assclown.

I am working towards pushing myself through the Achievemephobia, that is a tough one, as they all are. But it is a very important one that I need to get through, or at the very least learn how to cope. I am going to meet this one head on any day now.

I still have the acrophobia, and yet I go wall climbing. Yay me! We’re quite proud of ourselves out here at The Rusty Prose for that one. I still have the phobia, but I am able to work through it. My climbing partner is quite patient and understanding. It’s a real phobia, it’s the first one that I recall having. In a northern part of the city, where I grew up, there was a mountain pass, well, it was an extremely high span at the mouth of a large river. I dreaded having to drive over it. My father ridiculed me for asking if they could lower the bridge so it wasn’t so high up.

I still have the Agoraphobia, I think it’s getting worse as I am get older, my Cancer ordeal  didn’t help matters in that regard, it left me feeling quite vulnerable; the pain, the weight loss, the act of dying but not actually dying, and the intense chemo brain left me feeling that I’d rather be alone, more so than ever in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t cower in fear while I’m out in public. Not at all. I’m actually an extroverted introvert and can be quite out going when I need to be, however, I really don’t like crowds of people.

For myself, I am all about self improvement. I have over come a couple fears, and learned to live, well enough, with a couple more.

Climbing the Walls

A Cancerous tumour ate into my Humerus bone causing it to break. This was many years ago, that aspect is well behind me know. I had surgery, there are now two steel plates, several pins, and numerous screws embedded into my Humerus. I underwent a few years of therapy to get my arm back into functionality. I can now make a fist and raise it over my head in triumph.

I spent several months doing yoga. I did the Bikram’s hot yoga. They have several challenges to get people to practice yoga on a daily basis. I took the one hundred day challenge, well, I went one hundred and one days. It’s quite the feat even for a healthy individual. That three months of daily hot yoga practice did wonders for my body, my psyche, and my arm.

After the one hundred day challenge I hit the pool and gym with a personal trainer. We worked together to get my entire body back into shape and to get used to moving around doing different types of exercises. The yoga was fantastic, it also got me moving, worked on my endurance etc, but it’s good to change things up for your mind and body to adapt to new situations. Working with a personal trainer was also beneficial to my over all rehabilitation programme. All the while I was also going through physiotherapy.

During my ordeal, while I was dreaming of being able to become left handed again, to regain the use of my left arm, and to get back to normal I had considered adding rock climbing to my then future rehabilitation programme. I had a bigger, extended vision of my rehab than the people in my life at that time and was told to take it one thing at a time; obviously we do need to take these things slow and one step at a time, but I like to plan ahead. As I was planning and scheming, a local high school opened a climbing gym. It was fate yelling at me loud and clear.

So, a few years later after Chemo, no more Cancer, all healed up, yoga’d and all rehabed, and with my strength and energy building up I took up wall climbing. I love it, it’s fantastic. I’ve been at it for a couple years, I only do it part time as it really takes up a lot of my strength and energy. Yes, it does add strength and energy, but I need to keep it low and slow to give my body time to adapt. There are teen clubs in there, and, in watching them, I’ve gained so much knowledge and have improved greatly. I have a fantastic climbing partner but he’s only available at certain times; he has kids and a life.

Once again we are quite pleased with ourselves here at The Rusty Prose. On day my arm almost falls off, the next thing I know I’m laid up for a long period of time, and now I’m pulling myself up a wall with said arm. Oh, by the way, did I mention my crippling Acrophobia? that’s right fans, I also suffer, and I do suffer, from fear of heights. it’s all about mind over matter. My body doesn’t seem to mind that I’m climbing a wall with an arm that had previously come loose, and my brain doesn’t seem to mind that I willfully clamber twenty feet up into the air. Twenty feet may not seem like much to you, but it’s plenty enough for me. I’ve faced my fears and my so called disability and have conquered them.

I didn’t actually conquer my fear of heights, it’s still there, I’ve found a way to work with it and around it. Believe me, there are moments up on the wall when I freeze up, or, at the very least, question my sanity. I’m not disabled, but my arm sits funny and I don’t have 100% mobility, but my strength is returning. I don’t consider it a disability, especially once I get to the climbing gym. I can’t have a bad day at the climbing gym, the fact that I’m using that arm to pull myself up a wall is quite the victory for me.

On Pain.

This post is mostly about having to endure different types of pain, I will get into the specifics at a later date as I need to go through all my notes and files. I have bits and pieces scattered here and there, we really could use a good assistant or two over here at The Rusty Prose. So, for now, you get fragments of pain.

I suppose I could have told this story from the beginning, but I can think of these posts as Prefaces and the like. Besides, it’s my blog and I’ll transgress if I want to. A little anticipation never hurt anyone, and today we’re talking about the pain, man. Soon enough we will get to the beginning.

During my Cancer ordeal the pain was intense, incredible and excruciating on so many levels; as a result I tend to feel and experience pain on a much different plane now. The pain was all encompassing, only to be surpassed, or exacerbated by the horrors of Chemotherapy. There was the tumour which slowly ate into my Humerus bone until it shattered one fine morning. Next we add in all the various tests, needles, and biopsies; the muscle cramping and neuropathy were there for the comic relief.

On the gorgeous and hot morning of July 19 2011 As I was getting ready for my dentist appointment to finish the second phase of a root canal when my left (dominant) arm went into a muscle spasm and broke seemingly on it’s own. YOUCH!!! And WTF!?!

My arm had been sore and aching for several weeks prior, but I had been much busier than usual and thought I was over exerting myself and had strained my triceps and biceps muscle. It’s called a ‘Pathological Fracture’ when a bone breaks for no known cause but shows to have a hidden medical reason; the cancer caused a tumour to eat into my bone, the bone fractured into the tumour and through the remaining weakened bone.

Then I lay prone for five weeks while I waited for the proper diagnosis. They knew it was Cancer, it just took a long while for them to pinpoint the actual type. NHL; non Hodgkins Lymphoma. They wouldn’t operate until they could be certain they didn’t have to amputate, or that I was going to be around long enough to warrant the procedure. I lay prone on the couch for five weeks in agony.

The reconstructive surgery took away some of the pain, then it brought along some new one’s. I had steel plates, pins and screws into my bones and the tumour in the bone. Yeah, that was a whole new level of pain my good friends. Nothing else mattered at that point. Then I had to lay prone for another five weeks in agony while we waited for the screws to set, and for the chemo to kick in. Then came the cramping and neuropathy, which feels like when your arm or leg fall asleep except this is all over your body and comes on much more gorilla like.

For my second Chemotherapy session, the nurses could not get the needle into my vein, so they went and got a nurse from somewhere else and pulled the curtain around us. They explained they have a procedure to get the needle into my vein but it’s quite painful. She looked me in the eye and said, ready? Though it wasn’t so much a question as a command. Then as quick as she could, she slammed it into the outside of my thumb down to my wrist. Sorry, not into the joint but along the wrist below the thumb, apparently there’s also a nerve which runs along that part of the vein. Freaking ouch!

Next came the PICC line, basically it’s like a catheter but they run it through your veins. Mine went all the way to my heart, I don’t know if they all do, but mine sure did and I could feel it knocking onto my heart on occasion. That is an odd pain sensation, but it’s also eerie.

Then I got myself a frozen shoulder, more pain, more cramping, then a nice long needle inserted into my ball socket. Ouch

The bulk of the intense pain was during the initial seven months of my ordeal. Then came two years of rehabilitation. Physiotherapy therapy. Two years of rehabilitation of my arm and frozen shoulder. It took me almost two full years before I was able to make a fist or raise may hand over my head, took longer before I was able to make a fist and raise that over my head without grimacing in pain.

All the deep tissue work to reanimate my atrophied muscle was an excruciatingly painful experience that we at the rusty prose would not wish upon anyone.

I view and feel pain much different now.