Bowzer Barbecue

We were out back cooking chicken halves on my superduper BBQ that I made from a couple of 55 gallon drum. I’s cut one barrel in half the long way and welded feet to it so it was like a tub. I cut a slot in the other one, also longwise and welded it so that it made a sort of hood that caught the smoke and routed it to a little chimney I’d welded in the middle of what was now the top. Cutting a shopping cart apart, I made a grill for the bottom and a smoking shelf in the top. It worked great and people came from miles around to experience my barbeque chicken. Okay, they came from the neighborhood and it was just my friends, but the chicken was pretty good. Much of that had to do with the marinate my friend Greg made. He also made a really great BBQ sauce with molasses, soy sauce, ground peppers, Tobasco and some other ingredients I don’t remember but wish I did.

Anyway, we were out soaking up the last rays of afternoon along with some Coors beer. Coors was the beer of choice in the Portland/Vancouver area at the time. The problem was that it wasn’t sold anywhere in the state os of Washington or Oregon. The ┬áPortland area had yet to become a nest of microbrews it is now and so the choices were pretty much what you found in the grocery store. Unless, of course, you made a run for the Idaho border and picked up a few cases of Coors, which we had. It’s not like Coors was really better, it’s that we couldn’t get it that made us want it.

The dogs, Ellwood, Snark and Foos were all playing with each other, playing tug o’ rope with what looked like it might have been a jacket at one time. The point here is that it was a great day and we were all enjoying ourselves. Someone threw a softball and hit Ben in the back. It wasn’t thrown hard, just enough to get his attention. He picked it up and threw it at Craig who made a nice one handed surprise catch and whipped it to me. I was turning the chicken and it caused me to flip one of the halves onto the ground.

As though some quantum message was passed between them, the dogs transported themselves to the barbecue and snatched up the chicken before I could reach down to fetch it. I landed on the grass and a quick rinse and a dip in the BBQ sauce would have it good as new. No way for that to happen as three dog snouts each took and equal grip on the meat and pulled, separating the chicken half into three chunks which were pretty much inhaled by the dogs. They all stood, tails wagging in some synchronized swim movement, their tongues flapping out and wrapping around their noses to get every last molecule of chicken and sauce consumed. They stood attentively now, as if they stood some kind of chance they were getting more chicken.

Dogs are very smart. Dogs are also dumber than rocks. Chicken bones are the last thing a dog should eat because they break off sharply and can block up the bowels pretty good. We were going to have to keep a close eye on the dogs. If they bloated or had blood coming out, they would have to go to the vet. This we found out by going in and calling the veterinary clinic up the road. When we all came out, we also found out that the dogs had taken the opportunity to score the remaining three chicken halves. We came out to find the grill empty, soot and grease on the dog’s paws and all of them licking their chops and looking paranoid.

After we all got done insulting the separate canine family trees, we strolled up the road to Dick’s to get a bag o burger. 10 little burgers for a buck. We bought a few bags and came back to the house.

The next day, my dog, Papoon, was making whining noises and dragging his butt like he had worms. Fearing the worst, I took him up to the vet to find out that A) my friends had been there with their dogs, and B) that xrays showed bones in my dog’s lower GI tract. The vet gave him something that was supposed to soften up the bones and some antibiotics and told to wait it out. A surgery to remove the bones would be expensive and dangerous. But after two days all of our dogs managed to ‘move’ the problem out. We all concluded that dogs could be a lot like little kids and that they needed an eye kept on them. Still, they would manage to chew your favorite pair of boots or gnaw on furniture legs in the night because they got bored. But like kids, it always somehow turns out worth it in the end.

We planned a new barbecue but the weather turned and we ended up with two weeks of rain. (It was the Portland area after all). The barbecue got dragged over next to the house and covered with a tarp until the next season. We did make a couple of beer runs to Idaho though.

Living Life………..

If I’ve learned anything about this disease and the effects on the “victim”, it’s that one should not get too excited when good things happen because they can be short-lived.

Jumping right to the good news first – my honey is still in remission (Complete Response), so the vacation from treatment can continue.

Looking back over my journal, and calendar, and notes of the past 21 months since my honey was diagnosed, I’ve noticed even though he has responded well to treatment, there have been many not-so-good days.  Fearing the bad days might outnumber the good, I elected not to count.

He has been in remission for several months but seldom feels good. So frustrating – for both of us!  Remission was supposed to return our lives to normal, or so we thought.

“What good is it to cure a patient’s cancer if the process leaves him or her incapable of living life?” Leslie J. Waltke, PT

My mission, as his Caregiver, was to try and find the reason since the good Dr. H., seemingly in bewilderment, could only shake his head. I took away every drug that I possibly could, without endangering his life, (didn’t stop the pain meds, or the BP med, or the Diabetes med, etc.)  all to no avail. Time to look elsewhere…….

When we met with the NP at his Pain Mgmt Specialist’s office, we discussed the need for more Dilaudid for breakthrough pain, as well as how badly he seemed to feel. We questioned if the pain meds could be the reason for his never feeling good. (The morning of our appointment, he felt so bad that he sat in the chair and slept while she visited with me). She questioned his low dosage of MS-Contin (15 mg. every 8 hours).  His Pain doc decided to increase the MS-Contin dosage to 30 mg every 12 hours and discontinue the Dilaudid. His pain is under control with the increased dosage, and discontinuing the Dilaudid seems to have made a difference in how he feels.  Amazing…..he had been on this med for well over one year. We could have stopped it (had anyone known) and he would have felt better! You’re kidding me!!!

In the meantime, he had Cellulitis in one of his toes and this required an antibiotic, which caused dizziness!  The antibiotic was completed the end of last week, and the dizziness appears to be getting better.

He’s actually doing pretty good. He’s in remission. His kidneys are functioning. His pain (other than his legs) is under control.  He hasn’t been to the hospital in 5 months! His appetite is pretty good. He looks good. We may have settled into that “New Normal” stage of our journey. Things are pretty stable…..

……now, if we can just get back to “living life” part of this “new normal”, it will be good.  Living life entails getting up out of this chair to which he has grown so accustomed. I suggested maybe it was time for some Physical Therapy and was met with resistance. So, I’ve started my own type of “Positive Re-enforcement Therapy”. I tell him how good he looks. I tell him he “looks” like he feels better. Some days it works – some it doesn’t.

Therapy can come in many forms, and the latest”addition” to our family are really trying to do their part to bring a smile to both our faces. We rescued “Wee”, age 2, and “Precious”, age 5 months, both Toy Pomeranians. They get us up, out of our chairs, and help us to focus on something other than the roller coaster ride of MM.

How great it would be just to get on with living life, whether it be normal or new normal… life!!


Dear Brother,

It has been four and half years since you left many loved ones on this earth. We miss you. Your tragic passing left many people in shock and grief. Three weeks after your death, I still couldn’t pull myself out of despair…. and then ….you somehow…. sent me a gift.

I believe that you had a hand in bringing a little Pomeranian puppy into my life. Our dog Zeus came to us in a such an unusual way. It was beyond coincidences.

He was born the runt of a litter. The owners managed to sell all of the puppies except this one. A friend heard of the situation and offered to take the little dog thinking that he could give it to his grandchildren.

So he brought the feisty fur ball to his three petite, quiet, grand daughters. One day their mother came to my preschool to drop off her child. She showed the puppy to me and let me hold him. She explained that the girls liked the dog but that they were scared of him. He was a lively little thing. Jumping up on them, barking and demanding lots of attention. Her mild-mannered daughters were not enjoying the experience and she had decided the puppy needed a new home. She suggested that my family of boys would love this dog and offered to give it to us for free. After discussing it with the family that evening, we eagerly brought the puppy into our home and into our lives.

We brought him home, changed his name to Zeus to fit his big personality, and introduced him to our first dog, an Airedale Terrier named Zoey. They became fast friends.

This little bundle of energy brought new life and joy into our lives. I still did not connect you-my brother, with this little miracle until I came across some pictures one day. I found a picture of when we were young. You were holding the family dog-a Pomeranian. Then I also realized that you had given your wife and family a dog several years ago-a Pomeranian. I also heard that you had given your friend and his wife a pom. Were you trying to tell me something? I believe you were.

I truly believe you were somehow involved with the events which ultimately led to Zeus coming to our family. You sent this gift to me. To let me know you were there. To comfort me through the pain of your death.

Zeus has been the happy, furry, spoiled baby of the family. Often when I get up in the morning I can find one of the boys laying on the floor by Zeus petting their best friend before preparing for a new day. He loves to “sing” for daddy and get tummy rubs. Zeus is a fierce guard dog if only barking could scare away an intruder. There is something about the unconditional love of a dog that can bring healing and comfort to anyone. Did you know I would face bigger challenges in the future? Did you know that a diagnosis of cancer would shake up every part of my life? Did you know that the gift of a little furry dog would provide comfort to everyone in the family as we faced these challenges?

Yesterday we had to give Zeus back. He unexpectedly passed away. He had not been feeling well off and on for a few weeks. He still seemed happy and healthy so we were not too alarmed. Our family was shocked and devastated when we discovered his lifeless body. I, and my two youngest sons, laid on my bed and cried and talked for several hours. We reminisced about the good times we have had with our little dog and discussed the cycle of life. We talked about Heavenly Father’s plan. We talked about how each of us whether it be people or dogs come to earth to gain a body. That when that body dies the spirit still lives on. That there will be a time when we will once again be reunited with those loved ones who have died. Death is a part of life and I’m grateful that my children have had the opportunity to learn these tough lessons with their pets before they experience them with people they love.

So my dear brother, I thank you once again for your gift. He taught us about discipline, responsibility, unconditional love and the plan of salvation. He gave us comfort and joy and the opportunity to love deeply and learn valuable life lessons.

We had to give Zeus back yesterday and our hope is that you may somehow watch over him until we may all be reunited again. Thank you my brother, until we meet again. I miss you. love your little sister, Kristine