Out with the old; in with the unknown

Another year ends, according to the Gregorian calendar. A little blue-green-brown speck completes another full circuit around a minor star.

If you’re reading this, you made it.

This has been a not-good year for me, so I’ve mostly refrained from spouting off in this blog. No one wants to read a whine. I didn’t even want to write a whine.

I still find it interesting which of my old posts folks read and share. Thank you for that, though I get a little discouraged that the snarky writing is the most popular. The greater part of me is kind, empathetic, compassionate, intellectual, objective, non-snarky. Thus — I guess — boring as hell.

My 12-year-old shelter-rescued treeing walker coonhound, Amos, has late-stage metastatic lung cancer. Pulmonary carcinoma is one of those cancers in elderly dogs that’s essentially symptomless until it’s well advanced. Early symptoms look like normal signs of aging. Twelve is geriatric for a large-breed coonhound. By the time he started coughing frequently enough, at the end of September, for concern and a diagnostic vet visit, a large malignant tumor in his right accessory lung lobe was pressing on his heart and cancer had invaded the lymph nodes surrounding and attached to his heart, lungs, and major thoracic arteries.

Amos had surgery on 19 October [month corrected] to excise the affected lobe and biopsy the tumor and one accessible lymph node, and is now close to finishing an eight-round course of vinorelbine chemotherapy. The surgery and recovery from surgery were rough on him, but he’s tolerated the chemo like champ. He won’t be cured; we’re buying him quality time. He’s doing really well right now. I’m grateful for every day that he gets to enjoy his home-made food, his walks with my 83-year-old-dad, his massages, his “hunting” adventures baying at wildlife in the back yard. He’s LOVED. He knows it, and loves us back.

So we take things a day at a time, and savor the days.

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The one unqualified bright point of 2017, for me, was cataract surgery in mid-September. We tend to think of cataracts as a disease of old age, but younger people can develop lens opacity. I’ve had significant eye defects and impaired vision all my life. Coke-bottle glasses. Ever-changing contact lens prescriptions. Legal blindness without corrective lenses. I had the right cataracted lens removed and replaced with a corrective implant in 2012. The left one’s now got a toric lens implant that corrects my lifelong myopia and astigmatism. For the first time in my 54 years, I have 20/20 reading and distance vision. SEEING clearly is a new joy that I never tire of or take for granted. Every day, there’s something new to observe, especially in the world of nature.

Those two bright spots — good eyesight, and a companion dog who despite a terminal diagnosis is still alive today and enjoying life — make 2017 worthwhile. They’ve cost me the equivalent of a year’s pay, but that is what it is. Worthwhile things can sometimes be expensive things.

The rest of 2017 unequivocally sucked and I’m glad to kick it into the gutter of history. A new year of possibilities and 365 new opportunities to fuck things up rolls in.

I’m not making resolutions, nor do I wish anyone anything for the new year. There is no “normal” anymore. “Hope is the thing with feathers…” that men with firearms destroy with impunity, laughing as they kill.

I’m seeing out the year with a good, peaty single-malt on the rocks and no year-in-review highlights or nostalgia whatsoever.

But I hope you can snag or create some joy of your own in 2018. Don’t forget to remind your loved ones that you love them.

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