communication, condescending twatbags, fashion, first world problems, language, musings, narcissists

Your body is telling me to GTFO of here, pronto!

In my first travel blog post today, I wrote about a non-verbal interaction I had with a fellow cruise passenger during our “free” hotel stay in Stockholm. In my post, I issued a disclaimer that my impressions of that non-verbal interaction might have been off base. Sometimes, I do get things wrong. However, I don’t think I was wrong in this case. I’ve “heard” the same thing from other people who later issued similarly offensive communications in verbal form. It usually starts with someone glancing at you and looking like they just smelled shit.

I sort of expect these kinds of situations to erupt, especially when I’m among the especially privileged. I’d say anyone lucky enough to be cruising on Regent Seven Seas Splendor is among the most privileged of people in the whole world. Bill and I certainly aren’t wealthy, but we can afford nice things, and we do partake in luxury sometimes. However, we don’t necessarily look the part of the rich and fabulous. Consequently, sometimes we’re on the receiving end of disdainful looks from the more polished and obviously prosperous.

One thing I’ve noticed on luxury American cruise ships is that there tends to be a gamut of people. You’ll see super wealthy and successful types aboard– people with trophy wives (and husbands) and all of the trappings of success. And you’ll see a lot of much younger people who don’t look like they should be able to afford such a vacation. Experience has taught me that those folks usually work in the travel industry. My British “friend” who works in the travel industry tells me that people in that field can score insanely good deals on travel, allowing them to experience exotic and luxurious trips with the wealthy. You’ll also see people like Bill, who work hard and earn a decent wage for what they do– and don’t necessarily own beautiful homes, fancy cars, or memberships at country clubs, but are able to splurge on luxury cruises or hotels.

Not everyone who has money is an asshole, of course. Bill and I have met many really wonderful folks who have truly been blessed– both with wealth, and with fabulous personalities. But luxury travel also attracts a lot of self-entitled jerks who automatically look down their noses at others without knowing a single meaningful thing about them. This post is mainly about those types of people, who are fortunately probably in the minority.

One thing I noticed when I was on this particular vacation is that I suddenly don’t care that much about shallow, vain types of people. I certainly didn’t waste any time trying to impress them. I used to be more offended by that kind of behavior– snobby, disdainful, judgmental, and flat out rude. Now, I just think it’s kind of sad… and perhaps a little bit amusing. Imagine going through life looking down your nose at everyone just because you think they’re somehow beneath you, based solely on qualities as fleeting as how they look!

Most of the time, when I’m just at home with Noyzi, I look like warmed over crap. I don’t wear makeup. I usually don’t wear a bra unless I’m going out in public. I don’t fix my hair. I dress for comfort instead of style. Even at my youngest and freshest, I didn’t have a particularly nice figure. And yet, my husband shows me every day how much he loves and adores me. We always have a good time together, and never run out of things to talk about. There’s an endless stream of inside jokes and shared memories between us. And we clean up quite nicely, too.

Maybe it’s wrong for me to say that I don’t care about this “disdain” I sense from others when I’m out and about. I guess I do care, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this post. It’s just that this time, instead of feeling pissed off and outraged about it, I noticed that I was actually more amused. Because I think of some of our favorite memories, especially when we’ve been traveling, and they don’t include people like the guy in the hotel lobby in Stockholm. They typically include more down-to-earth folks like the hilarious Spanish bum we encountered in Seville back in 2014.

The most interesting and memorable people I’ve ever encountered are people who might get a disapproving glare from the “gentleman” we encountered on our cruise. Even the narcissistic guy on our second SeaDream cruise– who actually told Bill “Now I can see why you’d love her…” after hearing me sing– was at least open-minded enough to look beyond the surface. The guy we ran into on the ship will likely never know truly awesome people, because he’s apparently mostly interested in superficial things like a person’s outward appearance and attractiveness. And yes, I do think that’s sad and very limiting for him. What’s the point of traveling if you don’t want to encounter people who are different? He might as well stay home and hang out at the country club. I guess Regent could be considered kind of a country club at sea. 😉

Ah well… I suppose we all do that kind of judging from time to time. It might even be called a form of self-preservation. We size people up based on their appearances. Someone who looks clean, well-fed, and employed might seem more trustworthy than someone who looks dirty, unkempt, and in need of assistance, even if the clean looking person is a notorious cheat, and the homeless person looks the way they do because they gave a friend the shirt off their back. Most of us feel most comfortable around people who are like us on some level. And to be honest, I’m doing a fair bit of judging myself, based on that guy’s apparently negative attitude. For all I know, he only looked like he smelled shit because he actually did step in some while strolling around Stockholm.

One thing I noticed on our trip is that I no longer really feel like an American, even though I definitely am one on every level. I think when we go “home” again, I’m going to feel out of place, and there’s going to be a hell of a culture shock to adjust to… I’ve experienced it before, although the last time, I was actually looking forward to going “home” to America. This time, I dread the idea. And yet, it’s still my home, and there are people, places, and things I still miss there.

Well… I’m not sure how much sense this post makes, or even if it’s offensive on some level to some people. It was just something on my mind today. Travel has a way of erasing prejudices for most… at least those who are open to new experiences and meeting different kinds of people. It’s good for the soul, and good for opening minds and hearts. And I totally realize that maybe a luxury cruise isn’t the best place to be preaching about such things. But even on a luxury cruise, there’s a class system, and on some level, it is kind of hurtful to be deemed lower class… especially when it’s evidently only based on something as superficial as physical appearance (and by this, I don’t include what is written on a person’s facial expressions or revealed within their body language).

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, time to have some lunch and get back to writing up our trip!

(The featured photo is of me on the first night of the cruise, freshly scrubbed, made up, and coiffed… I was probably still too ugly to be in the presence of the shit smelling man in Stockholm… Somehow, I’ll have to find a reason to keep living. 😉 )

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condescending twatbags, music, slut shamers, YouTube

“No… You don’t know me…”

Today’s featured photo was taken in November 2011 on SeaDream I. It’s probably the most flattering photo of several bad ones taken of me without my knowledge or consent on that night… I looked pretty terrible, because besides being overweight, I had a terrible blistering sunburn, and the heat and humidity made my hair frizzy… but apparently, my heartfelt love songs to Bill made me look “prettier” to at least one person…

Yesterday, I was looking through Statcounter and noticed someone hit a post with the tag “Hilltop Hotel”. Inwardly, I kind of groaned, because I remember the hotel experience Bill and I had in 2009 that spawned the original post with that tag. It was a rather peevish, negative review of an Army run hotel that we were forced to stay in as we were leaving Germany the first time.

Because of the particular circumstances we were in, back in September 2009, I was upset on many levels when I wrote my hotel review for Epinions.com. Now that I read the review again– after also having reread it and posted about it last year— I realize that maybe I could have toned it down a bit. I probably wouldn’t have written such a piece today. If I had toned down the review, though, I probably wouldn’t be writing today’s post, which I hope will be more constructive and interesting.

My 2009 review of Hilltop Hotel for Epinions.com went unnoticed for about a year. Then, someone apparently decided to join Epinions specifically so they could tell me off in the comment section. You can see what they wrote in last year’s post, linked in the previous paragraph. The person’s comments were very offensive to me because they were personal attacks on my character and totally dismissed my opinions. That really pissed me off, and I had a lot of time on my hands, so I decided to respond in a really “over-the-top” way. I basically took the person’s comment and deconstructed it, answering each piece.

I noticed today, as I reread last year’s post titled “Who cares what they think?”, that several times in my rebuttal to the woman who told me off, I wrote “You don’t know me.” And I was then reminded of the famous love song, the lyrics of which appear at the bottom of this post. I can sing the hell out of that song. I’ll probably do that today, since I don’t have any big chores to do and Bill is scheduled to come home tonight. He likes it when I sing. In fact, he shared the songs I did earlier this week with his boss, who was reportedly very pleasantly surprised by them.

When Bill was telling me about sharing my covers with his boss, and his boss’s favorable impressions of them, I wrote “Oh good! For once, I can shock someone for positive reasons!” Before Bill’s boss heard my recordings, he didn’t know me as well as he might today. Because that’s one aspect of me he had never seen (or heard).

I’ve noticed that when most people hear me sing, their opinions of me often seem to change, for better or worse. Some people seem to like me more. Some seem to like me less. I think even my own mother’s opinion of me changed after she heard me sing the first time (when I was 18 years old). In her case, her opinion seemed to improve. In other cases, the opposite seems to happen. But rarely does it seem like their impressions of me remain static after they’ve heard me lift my voice in song. 😉

For example, in November of 2011, Bill and I went on a cruise in the southern Caribbean. One night, early in the cruise, we were in the piano bar. It was just Bill and me and the piano player. I started singing to Bill, and this single guy we’d met earlier walked into the bar, mouth agape. And he said, astonished, “Now I can see why you’d love her.

I don’t know what my exact reaction was to that comment. I might have looked hurt or embarrassed… or maybe I kept stone faced. The guy, who had been drinking heavily, then realized he’d said something very offensive. He grabbed me in an awkward hug and made some more clumsy comments that made things worse. Of course, he was judging me on the external. Like the person who dressed me down in the comment section of my Epinions piece, he didn’t know me, either. He might not have liked me if he did know me, but he was clearly judging me purely on surface stuff. I guess it doesn’t really matter, though. Bill knows me, and he loves me for who I am. That’s what counts.

When I was studying for my MSW, I had a field instructor who accused me of not being very introspective. He really didn’t know me, other than having interacted with me in our weekly briefings. I think he thought of me as obnoxious and opinionated, which I certainly can be. But there’s a much deeper, more insightful side of me that people who take the time to get to know me have actually seen, and most of them now have a different opinion.

I’m sure there are many people who also have that impression of me as a purely obnoxious person, based on what they’ve seen of my personality. But they don’t really know me, either. People who take the time to get to know me often find out that there’s more to me than what they immediately see and hear… as is the case for any person. I just think it’s too bad that so few of us seem to want to know other people, other than what they see on the surface. I will even admit that I’m as guilty of this tendency toward shallowness as anyone is.

I think, especially in today’s hyper Internet driven world, people don’t really take the time to get to know others. They have a lot of shallow acquaintances, but very few deep friends. And a lot of people make erroneous and occasionally embarrassing assumptions about others that prevent them from making true connections.

Here’s another example. Last night, I read in the Washington Post about how France’s president Emmanuel Macron, wants to enshrine the right to abortion in France’s constitution. Naturally, there were many dumb comments from Americans, particularly from incel type men who simply want to lecture women about how immoral they are to want the right to have dominion over their own bodies.

One guy– someone who is probably young enough to be my son– posted this response to a pro-choice woman:

“No right to snuff out the unborn. Stop being a garden tool and you’ll be fine.”

I couldn’t resist responding, so I wrote this:

“Stop using your garden tool to fertilize our gardens and we’ll all be fine.”

I thought that was a pretty banal and kind of funny response… but the guy was apparently wounded by it. He came back to me with a comment that showed that he really doesn’t know me at all!

I’m not to begin with.

Lol you don’t even know who’s in your garden. You invite so many dicks in your garden, you automatically think every guy on Facebbok you come across has been in your garden😅🤦‍♂️

SMH

I responded thusly… So far, he has not responded.

OMG…. You think that’s a comeback? Seriously, dude… some woman obviously hurt you, and you can’t get over it. Nor can you get over the fact that you owe your life to a woman. The power we have really pisses you off, doesn’t it?

Hilarious! 😂

Now, I don’t know him, either. However, I do know that, like everyone else on the planet, he owes his life to a biological female. And I conclude that immediately assuming that I “invite dicks in my garden” is a sign that someone who owns a vagina must have hurt him deeply. I could be wrong, though. I took a peek at his profile, and it looks like he’s probably not a bad person. He was sharing pictures of dogs needing homes. I can appreciate that.

If that guy and I were to meet offline, he’d probably be someone I’d like. He might even like me. But, because I pointed out that unintended pregnancies aren’t just a woman’s fault, he went really ugly and made a totally baseless comment that isn’t rooted in reality. There’s a whole lot you can say about me, but I am not at all promiscuous. And immediately inferring that someone is a “slut”– only because they support abortion rights– is a sure sign that someone female has wounded them somehow. So now, they take out their pain on all of us.

I notice a lot of men are very opposed to abortion rights, and I really think it’s rooted in a deep fear that men have that they will soon be obsolete. After all, a woman can get pregnant without a man’s physical input if she can afford to go to a sperm bank. And she can raise the child without a man, too.

A lot of men also resent that if they impregnate a woman, while having what they’d only intended to be a fun roll in the sack, and she decides to keep the pregnancy, he’ll be on the hook for child support. So, they don’t think it’s fair that a woman can decide to have an abortion, and they can’t fathom why an abortion might be necessary. They seem to forget that pregnancy is a whole lot more involved for women than it is for men… kind of like that ham and eggs anecdote I’ve written of. When it comes to ham and eggs for breakfast, a pig is fully invested, but a chicken is just “involved”. Same thing goes for pregnancy. I don’t know why there are so many men out there who can’t understand that pregnancy isn’t a 50/50 situation, but alas, here we are…

I traded comments with a couple of other guys, one of whom wisely bowed out kind of early. Another engaged me longer, and I think ended up regretting it… because he eventually outed himself as a slut shamer, and I called him out on it. Notice in the below exchange how he goes into the “personal responsibility” speech, as if any woman who might need an abortion is automatically “irresponsible”. I didn’t see him commenting on how people get pregnant in the first place, and how those folks need to be responsible, too.

I didn’t mean to wind up writing about abortion again. It just kind of fits in with today’s theme. A lot of people judge people and situations they don’t know. They aren’t at all curious about who the other person is, or what their story is. It didn’t used to be this way. We had fewer friends, but most of the people we knew, actually knew us in person. And if they didn’t like us, it was based on something more tangible than what they read online.

I suppose it can work the other way, too. I met Bill online, and we got to know each other through nightly chats for about 18 months before we met in person. If he had met me offline first, he might not have liked me. I can be off putting to those who don’t know how to take my personality. He might not have given me a chance. I might not have given him a chance, either. But he liked my erotic fiction, so we got to know each other. As you can see, 20 plus years later, it still works. And no one knows me as well as Bill does.

Anyway… I try to get to know people when I can. I hope others will try to get to know me. I may not have the most genteel or appealing personality when you meet me in person, but if you get to know me, you’ll eventually find a deeper, softer, more empathic side. And no, I’m not really a spoiled snob, a fat, lazy, slovenly slob, or a slut with a dirty mouth… All of these characteristics have been assigned to me by people who made snap judgments based solely on the shallow external. Only one sort of changed his mind– the one who thought I was a fat slob– and that was because he heard me sing and liked it. Suddenly then, I had some worth, and he could then see “why Bill would love me”.

Wow.

It’s really not fair, is it? Well, I think I’ll record this song, because I feel like it. Maybe some people will like it. Maybe some won’t. But at least you can see, there’s more to me than self-indulgent blog posts. 😉

Here’s my cover of “You Don’t Know Me”, as promised… I think I would prefer a slightly different key and arrangement, but this turned out okay.

You give your hand to me
And then you say hello
And I can hardly speak
My heart is beating so
And anyone can tell
You think you know me well
Well, you don’t know me

No, you don’t know the one
Who dreams of you at night
And longs to kiss your lips
And longs to hold you tight
Oh I’m just a friend
That’s all I’ve ever been
‘Cause you don’t know me

For I never knew
The art of making love
Though my heart aches
With love for you
Afraid and shy
I let my chance go by
A chance that you might love me, too

You give your hand to me
And then you say good-bye
I watch you walk away
Beside the lucky guy
Oh, you never know
The one who loves you so
Well, you don’t know me

For I never knew
The art of making love
Though my heart aches
With love for you
Afraid and shy
I let my chance go by
A chance that you might love me, too

You give your hand to me,
And then you say good-bye
I watch you walk away
Beside the lucky guy
Oh, you never know
The one who loves you so
You don’t know me

You never know
The one who loves you so
Well, you don’t know me

(written by Cindy Walker and Eddy Arnold)

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family, musings, relationships

Sometimes going ugly early works out for the best…

I have a few things on my mind this Tuesday morning, the last day of February 2023. These things are kind of loosely related to each other, but maybe I can make them fit in today’s blog post. I beg your indulgence, because I probably won’t have a second original post in me today. On the other hand, it’s only 7:30am, so who knows?

A couple of days ago, I wrote a post about how a picture of a defunct brand of beer led me to an unexpected place. That post hasn’t generated a lot of reads. At this writing, no one has commented on it. I suspect maybe one or two of the few people who read it might have quit before they got to the end. I can’t blame them for quitting. I quit things, too. Like, sometimes I’ll start watching a YouTube video and quit because something about it is annoying. Maybe the announcer isn’t human and speaks like a robot. Or the content might not be what was seemingly promised in the title.

Time is money for a lot of people. Sometimes, if a person takes too long to get to the point, the point will be missed. The receiver will stop engaging and walk away.

When a person quits too soon, they might miss out on something they might not have expected. My guess is that those who finished the post from a couple of days ago might have been surprised by the ending. The ending is not like the beginning, which was, admittedly, kind of ugly. I reread last night, wondering if I should cut some of the ugly part out. Maybe people would get the wrong idea about me. But then I decided that the ugly should stay, because it was part of the story.

Nowadays, people are so quick to dismiss others without a second thought. I think the response to the quick dismissal has been that people are more reluctant to be authentic. They’d rather quickly say what the other person wants to hear than be rejected or dismissed.

I could weigh in on the recent controversy involving cartoonist Scott Adams, who writes and illustrates a comic strip called Dilbert. I have never read that comic strip myself, so I can’t call myself one of Adams’ disappointed fans, dismayed because the cartoonist is in the news due to his recent racist tirade. I didn’t even see the rant that is getting him canceled right now. It sounds like it was pretty bad, though, and now Dilbert is being dropped by many newspapers. Maybe it’s inappropriate for Scott Adams to have platform anymore, since the job of cartoonist is one that is kind of dying. He’s been very privileged to be able to turn his talents into such a successful career.

Still, to me, it’s sad that an artist’s work is being dismissed because he said or wrote something people didn’t like. Sad that he uttered hateful, racist remarks that were hurtful to others, and sad that the backlash has been so brutally instant, seemingly without a second’s hesitation. I don’t agree with what little I’ve read about Scott Adams’ views, but I do realize that he must have done a lot right to be where he is today. Obviously, he was also very lucky. I don’t like to think that a person’s total worth is less than an unfortunate or unpleasant action. I’m sure Scott Adams, as a whole, is much better than his very offensive comments.

Since I don’t read Dilbert and know very little about Scott Adams or his political views, I think I’ll just say that I find cancel culture disturbing and kind of dystopian. Regular people can and will vote with their wallets. I think allowing them to make up their own minds is better than encouraging everyone to pick up figurative pitchforks and torches and actively seeking to kill someone’s livelihood. At the same time, I can see why some people are now completely turned off of Scott Adams. I don’t blame them.

That post that I wrote the other day, started off kind of “ugly”, because I wrote about how I got unceremoniously kicked out of my very first dorm room during my first week at college. My former roommate of just a few days, “Margaret”, went “ugly” early. At the time, it was devastating on several levels. I was brand new at Longwood, living in a room that was just as much mine as it was hers. And yet, I knew that if I tried to stand my ground, Margaret and her fraternity loving friend would make my life a living hell. So there I was, 18 years old and brand new to college, just days after arriving at Longwood, having to move to what was considered the “worst” dorm on campus.

You know what? A lot of the people I met after that move are still my friends today. That ugly, unpleasant, humiliating situation all worked out well in the end. In the long run, I was better off for moving across campus. If I had stayed in that room because it was “half mine”, it would not have been a good thing. Margaret was the type of person who would have done all she could to drive me out. Maybe I would have even ended up unhappy enough to transfer to another school , or quit altogether.

I could even say that about attending Longwood in the first place. It wasn’t my first choice college. And yet, it turned out to be a great school for me. I did very well there. I discovered talents and passions I had never explored before I went to college. I made some incredible friends. I only have a few regrets about going to my last choice school, and they are pretty minor, in the grand scheme of things.

Here’s a more recent example of this theme of “going ugly early”… Three years ago, Bill and I tried to adopt a dog from a German dog rescue. Our attempt to give a dog a new home ended in tragedy, when a disastrous string of events led to the dog escaping his transporter and getting killed on the Autobahn. That was a senseless and devastating event, and it made Bill and me feel like shit. But then, Noyzi the Kosovar street dog came into our lives and stole our hearts.

The fact that we have Noyzi doesn’t negate how awful it was that the other dog got killed thanks to the sheer negligence of the pet transporter. That was still a terrible thing. But if it hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t have our Noyzi, who reminds us every day how thrilled he is to have a home in Germany with us. Noyzi was destined to be in our family. I really think he was, especially since his rescuer, Meg, is a student of Carl Jung’s, just as Bill is. What are the odds?

And now for the last part of this post… This part might not seem like it fits very well, but I feel compelled to write about it, anyway.

I often read Lori Gottlieb’s advice column in The Atlantic. I knew who Lori Gottlieb was many years before I read her advice column. About twenty years ago, she wrote a book about her experiences with anorexia nervosa. It was titled Stick Figure. I read and reviewed that book for Epinions.com. Since then, Lori has become a therapist, and she writes articles for the magazine.

Last night, I read the following letter in Lori’s column, which caused some people to immediately react with disgust…

Dear Therapist,

When I married my husband, he had two adult children, and I had none. We both wanted to have a child together, but my husband had a vasectomy after his second child was born—too long ago to get the procedure reversed.

We didn’t want to use a sperm bank, so we asked my husband’s son to be the donor. We felt that was the best decision: Our child would have my husband’s genes, and we knew my stepson’s health, personality, and intelligence. He agreed to help.

Our daughter is 30 now. How do we tell her that her “father” is her grandfather, her “brother” is her father, her “sister” is her aunt, and her “nephew” is her half-brother?

My husband and I are anxious, confused, and worried about telling her. This is also hard on my husband, because he wants our daughter to know that he will always and forever be her father.

Thank you for any advice you have to offer.

Anonymous

Most of the people commenting were completely turned off by this scenario. I suspect most didn’t make it beyond the “ugly” headline, “Dear Therapist: My Daughter’s ‘Brother’ Is Actually Her Father”. Of course, most didn’t read further because they don’t subscribe. Plenty of people who didn’t read the letter had plenty to say about it, though. Quite a few folks were judging the letter writer for making this decision, and now being in a situation in which she was asking Lori Gottlieb for advice. After a few minutes’ thought about this situation, I came to a few conclusions.

In my opinion, it really makes no sense to be disgusted by this scenario. This woman’s daughter was born in the early 1990s. In those days, we didn’t conceive of things like Ancestry.com or 23&Me being a “thing”. Childless couples who hoped to conceive via sperm donor weren’t encouraged to know much about the donor. This couple wanted to have a child together. Using a sperm donor was probably the most expedient way for them to get what they desired.

The letter writer’s husband happened to have an adult aged son who was willing to serve as the sperm donor. Unusual? Yes. I wonder about his mother and what she might have thought about this scenario. As the stepson was an adult when he made his donation, it wouldn’t have been her business. Or, perhaps she’s dead. We don’t know. It sounds like stepmom never played a maternal role to her husband’s son, though. She sounds more like his father’s wife than his “stepmom”.

This isn’t a case of a stepmom having sex with a teenager. This situation involved sperm donation between two consenting adults who happen to know each other better than other donors and recipients might have. Would it have been better for the woman to conceive a baby with a stranger? Maybe in some people’s minds, that’s better. In my opinion, it’s not really ideal, though, because the other bio parent is much more of a mystery.

Moreover, since the letter writer’s stepson was obviously an adult when he donated sperm, stepmom could have married him, instead of his father, and had the baby the “natural” way. Far fewer people would have batted an eye at that scenario.

After thinking about this some more, I remembered a high school friend, whose mother was actually her grandmother. Her older sister was her bio mom, because she got “knocked up” in high school. Mom/grandma raised my friend instead. I pointed this out, and a woman conceded that that scenario is kind of common, but this one involving a sperm donor is somehow “different” because it was done deliberately, rather than being the result of an “accident”. I can tell you, having been an “accident”, albeit to an adult married couple, it kind of sucks.

And yet, nowadays, it’s not that uncommon for family members to do extraordinary favors for their relatives. I’ve read more than a couple of articles about mothers carrying babies for their daughters, who aren’t able to maintain pregnancies. I’ve seen sisters or cousins acting as surrogate mothers for their relatives. People often frame the women who do those kinds of favors as heroic. How is a stepson donating sperm to his father and his wife that much different? At least it doesn’t involve morning sickness.

Then I started thinking about how I would feel if I were the daughter in this case. I imagined that, for 30 years, I didn’t know the truth about my origins. I’m completely healthy and otherwise normal, except all my life, my biological father has been posing as my half brother. Now, perfect strangers on the Internet are grossed out about how I was conceived. If you think about it, that’s a lot “ickier” than the unusual circumstances of how I was conceived. Again… stepmom could have used a stranger’s sperm, and I wouldn’t know much of anything at all about my bio father. At least, in this situation, the young woman will be able to ask questions and have a chance at getting some honest answers.

Finally, I arrived at my conclusion. This situation sounds, on its surface, kind of “weird”. But, at the end of the day, what matters is that this couple desperately wanted to have a child together. They’re still married. Their daughter is still much beloved and was very much wanted. That, in my view, should be the focus. We should all be so lucky to have parents who wanted us that badly. The main idea is that this couple wanted to raise their daughter, and they chose the stepson as the donor, because they knew that he was healthy. It was a way for the father to contribute to his daughter’s genetic heritage, since he could no longer get his wife pregnant.

Instead of focusing on the “ick” factor of this situation, consider these points:

  1. Everyone involved in the donation was a consenting adult.
  2. It wasn’t a situation in which the stepmom and her stepson had a physical relationship. He simply donated sperm.
  3. Mom could have just as easily had a relationship with the stepson and gotten pregnant. No one would have cared.
  4. Mom could have used a stranger’s sperm and been faced with a lot more mystery regarding her daughter’s genetic heritage and potential medical or educational issues.
  5. They made this decision before the advent of home DNA tests and probably figured they could keep the secret forever.
  6. Thanks to reproductive technology advancements, family members are doing things that would have been unthinkable in previous generations. We’re seeing moms carrying their daughters’ children, for instance. Sperm donation, to me, is less earth shattering than being your sister’s or your daughter’s gestational carrier.
  7. THIS WAS A WANTED CHILD. Her parents love her. She’s grown up healthy, well-provided for, and very much beloved by her family. That should be more important than the source of her father’s genes. I hope the couple broke the news to her gently, and she was left realizing that her family loves her.

To sum things up… things that begin negatively or distastefully can eventually lead to things of beauty. Sometimes, when we “go ugly early”, we can end up in unexpected and amazing places. I could even say the same thing about Bill and me, and our marriage. We met under unexpected and unusual circumstances, but it all worked out beautifully. Sometimes when something starts out “ugly”, it might just be a situation in which the ugliness just needs to be chipped away from the surface and polished until it becomes something better… and beautiful, like the stone in my featured photo.

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controversies, dogs, ethics, healthcare

The surprising judgment that comes with seeking advanced veterinary care…

The featured photo is of Arran and Bill, just a few days ago… As you can see, they love each other very much. Arran is glad to be here with his favorite person. I’m glad we can afford to treat his cancer and keep him comfortable for a little while longer. And I’m grateful that living in Germany allows this outcome for us.

A month ago, I wrote a post about our decision to treat our dog, Arran, for B-cell lymphoma. I was inspired to write that post after reading an article in the Washington Post about the cost of treating major diseases in pets. The article in the WaPo was written by Kim Kavin, whose dog, Blue, was diagnosed with cancer. She decided to pull out all the stops to treat Blue, and it cost a lot of money. Blue initially responded to the treatment, but then suffered a relapse when the cancer came roaring back with a vengeance. Kavin’s piece ran in the paper, and lots of people had negative opinions about it. I felt badly that she was getting so many brutal comments, so I wrote my own post about our decision to treat Arran.

At this writing, Arran has had six chemo treatments. If we hadn’t done these treatments, I feel pretty sure he would have died by now. When we started the chemotherapy on October 13th, he was starting to get sick. He wasn’t eating much, and looked very sad. He spent a lot of time sleeping, and could barely manage a short walk around the block. Now, he eats, sleeps, takes walks, jumps on the furniture, and tears things up. The chemotherapy hasn’t made him feel sick. The only thing I’ve noticed is that he sleeps a bit after he gets Vincristine and/or Endoxan. But he doesn’t have diarrhea or issues with vomiting. He hasn’t lost his fur. He doesn’t even have to take medication every day. And you’d never know he has cancer.

What has his treatment cost us so far? So far, we’ve paid for six weeks of treatment, which consists of weekly IV pushes of Vinistrine, a chemo drug. He takes two Endoxan pills per week– on Thursdays and Saturdays. Every other day, he takes three 5 milligram tablets of Prednisolone. This regime will continue for another two weeks, and then it will change to one that is less extreme. Total cost here in Germany? Still less than 1000 euros. And he feels much better with a great quality of life, while we’ve been able to enjoy his company for a little bit longer. I think he’ll make it to his tenth anniversary with us. That’s all we could have ever hoped for.

This was Arran’s first chemo bill. It covers two treatments. As you can see, it’s very reasonable. The following week, we were billed another 445 euros for four more treatments.

A couple of days ago, The Atlantic ran a story titled “How Much Would You Pay to Save Your Cat’s Life?”, by Sarah Zhang. The story was about the veterinary hospitals in the United States that give cats kidney transplants to save their lives. Their owners shell out $15,000 for the surgery, which involves using a donor cat’s kidney, implanting it in an often elderly cat. Many times, the owners end up adopting the donor cats, too, as they are typically young and healthy and in need of a home. As it is for most humans, cats can get by just fine with one kidney. In one case, the prospective donor got adopted anyway, when the cat that needed a kidney passed from heart failure before the surgery could be done.

It was noted in the article that kidney transplants are the only transplant surgeries available to cats. The donors are not killed. Apparently, transplants are not yet available for dogs, because “the canine immune system is unusually reactive, leading to kidney rejection.”

Zhang wrote about a 16 year old cat named Strawberry who got a new kidney. Strawberry’s owner did not want to be identified, as she feared backlash from people about the cost. The surgery alone costs $15,000, but with travel, follow-up care, and other costs, it can end up being twice as expensive. And Strawberry’s owner didn’t want to deal with a bunch of negativity about her choice to spend that money. Zhang writes that she interviewed a dozen cat owners who had opted for the surgery and also wanted to remain anonymous. One person quipped, “I wouldn’t think of saying to somebody, ‘Wow, that’s an expensive car,’  But people seem pretty free to say, ‘Wow, you spent a lot of money on a cat.’ ”

I remember the very negative and judgmental comments on Kavin’s article in the Washington Post. I expected to see similar comments on The Atlantic’s article. Much to my surprise and delight, The Atlantic’s readers seem to be a lot more open-minded. Or, at least they aren’t as full of judgmental bile about what people will spend their money on, as well as the mistaken belief that cancer treatment is always unpleasant and leads to sickness, as it often does in humans. And one person wrote a very astute comment, which I think really highlights why people tend to have strong reactions to other people’s choices to treat illnesses like cancer in their pets. Facebook user Isaac Suárez wrote:

The issue is not “is a cat’s life worth saving.” A cat is a companion, to be loved and cared for. There is no shame in wanting to preserve this bond and prevent unnecessary suffering.

Rather, the judgement comes from the fact that some have $15k to burn on pet care while the vast majority of people don’t. I know many people who’d happily pay the price to help a friend; I know very few who have the money to do so.

Sadly, a cat with kidney failure is just one of innumerable occasions where the stark class divide of our country manifests. Instead of talking about “are cats worth the price” we should be asking “why is the price so high” and “why do some people have the freedom to make this choice when the vast majority don’t?” As with many topics covered by Atlantic, the question is misframed and a valuable opportunity to address a visceral and important issue is sidestepped.

Another Facebook user liked Isaac’s comment, and responded thusly:

Brilliant and eloquent response! Its heartbreaking that so many must choose to have their beloved pet euthanized because the treatment cannot be afforded or people take on a hideous amount if debt in order to save their pet. Either way, there is a great deal of needless pain.

I also really related to Isaac’s comment, especially as an American who lives in a country where healthcare and veterinary treatments are much more reasonably priced than they are in the United States. If Bill and I were living in the United States, Arran’s treatment would no doubt cost a whole lot more. It would probably be undertaken at a high speed referral center, rather than at our local vet’s office. And we would be paying much more for his medications, as well as every single thing that would be done for him. We love Arran very much, but we’re practical people. He’s already an old guy. I can’t see us spending many thousands of dollars to keep him going. But in Germany, we can easily afford the treatment, and it makes him feel better. So he gets this comfort care at the end of his life, which will allow him more time with us, and give the vet more valuable experience treating lymphoma. It’s a win-win.

Arran and Noyzi welcome us home two weeks ago. You’d never know Arran has cancer, thanks to canine chemo. Isn’t this a result worth paying for? Especially when it’s pretty reasonably priced?

Many Americans resent how some people can afford to provide such advanced care for a pet, while human beings are going without care because they can’t afford it. And yet, so many people continue to vote for the same leaders, who do nothing about this problem. The United States is among the richest countries in the world, yet so many Americans lack the ability to pay for their own healthcare, let alone that of their pet’s. But a lot of us would never bat an eye at buying the latest iPad or tennis shoes. We don’t roll our eyes when a neighbor takes a trip to Hawaii or buys a Tesla. A pet can give a family intangible things that an iPad or a Tesla never can. Why should anyone be ashamed to spend money on their best friends? And why should anyone feel the need to judge someone negatively for making that choice? It’s not as if that person who can afford the advanced veterinary treatment for their dog or cat is going to be paying for their neighbor’s treatment.

I am probably not one of those people who would opt for a kitty kidney transplant, especially on a cat who is 16 years old. But now that I’ve experienced giving a dog chemo, I might opt to do it again for another dog… if I think the dog is well enough to be treated and wants to fight. I would probably pay a fair amount for that option, even if I’m living in the United States, where it will undoubtedly cost a lot more. Here in Germany, it’s a no brainer to give chemo a chance, although not all dogs respond the way Arran has. The response depends a lot on the animal and the type of disease. In Arran’s case, he is resilient, and he has a type of lymphoma that responds to treatment. We have the money. Why not treat it? What makes it any different than treating him for heartworms or diabetes or any other disease that people don’t think twice about treating in their pets? And if someone else has the ability and the desire to pay for advanced treatment for their cat, who am I to judge them? I’m not involved in the aftermath of that decision, and it’s really none of my business.

Anyway… I found Sarah Zhang’s article thought provoking on many levels, especially since we’re dealing with a pet who has cancer now. Arran is our fourth dog to get cancer, but he’s the first one we’ve been able to do anything for… and it really does feel good to do something. I can see, every day, that Arran is glad to be here. No, it’s not fun for him to get intravenous medications every week, but that’s only for about a half an hour. In a couple of weeks, he’ll be getting the IV meds less frequently. We’ll see how long he can make it before it’s time to let him go. I’m just glad we have the luxury of being able to prepare for the end, and enjoying every minute with our beloved Arran. If we weren’t in Germany, I’m not sure we’d have that. This shouldn’t be something that other people judge us negatively for doing, simply because our healthcare system is so fucked up and prices for humans and animals needing medical care are so ridiculously high. It seems to me that Americans ought to be demanding lower healthcare costs. I know that’s the way I’m going to be voting from now on.

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condescending twatbags, dogs, lessons learned, love

No, treating Arran’s cancer with chemo isn’t selfish or pointless…

The featured photo is Arran this morning. He was able to jump up on the bench for the first time in a couple of weeks. Two days ago, he jumped up on the bed by himself. Why? Because he wanted me to share my lunch with him.

Wow… Wednesday, already! Tomorrow, it will be time for Arran’s third chemotherapy appointment. I don’t necessarily enjoy hanging out in the vet’s office for an hour while he gets his treatment, but Bill and I have both been loving the results of the chemo. It’s giving us precious time with a very special and wonderful dog. Arran clearly feels so much better than he did a couple of weeks ago. I still don’t know how much this will cost, but at this point, I think whatever it is will be worth it.

Last night, as I was watching Arran interact with his beloved Bill, I went looking for blog posts by people who have also made the decision to treat canine cancer. I didn’t end up finding any blogs, although I will admit that may be because we were distracted by The Trump Tapes. It’s a new Audible book put out by the veteran Washington Post reporter, Bob Woodward, that reveal 20 interviews he conducted with Donald Trump. I can barely stand to listen to Trump speak, but I decided that book would be interesting, so I downloaded it. Bill and I listened to a large part of it last night, although I will admit as the evening wore on, we were less attentive.

In any case, while I wasn’t paying attention to Woodward’s interviews with Trump, I went looking for first hand accounts of canine cancer treatments. I found an article that was published last summer in the Washington Post. I have unlocked it here for the interested. The piece, by Kim Kavin, was titled “My dog needed advanced cancer treatment. The price tag stunned me.” Kavin, whose article was published on July 24, 2022, wrote about her 12 year old dog, Blue, and the cancerous tumor he developed that was causing him to have a watery eye. Kavin happened to have pet health insurance for Blue, which enabled her to access the high tech treatment for the dog’s cancer. Still, the cost of treating the cancer was formidable. From the article:

It was a cold shock of reality when I added up Blue’s total projected expenses on paper. Getting the best available treatment for his tumor could cost more than $15,000 — and that was if everything went right. I’d already spent a lot. And it was unclear how much time it would buy him.

The oncologist at NorthStar VETS in New Jersey said they make sure pet owners understand up front what they’re getting into financially because many people can’t afford that kind of cost — many don’t have enough money in the bank to cover their own, or their kids, medical care. The call like the one I got is usually the heartbreaking beginning of the end of their pet’s story.

Kavin happened to live near NorthStar VETS, a high speed veterinary clinic that offered advanced oncology services for dogs. She had also spent about $700 annually to insure Blue. Because of that, she had the opportunity to access cancer care for her admittedly old mutt. Kavin still had to use her credit card to pay for the services until the reimbursement came from the insurance company. Also, Kavin explains that there aren’t a lot of veterinary oncologists available, particularly given the huge surge of “pandemic pets”. She was fortunate, though, in that the vets were able to get to Blue and start the treatment before the cancer killed him. Kavin writes:

Within a week, the CT scan and consult with a radiation oncologist were done, and within two weeks of the initial trip to my regular vet, he began the first treatment. About 48 hours after his treatment was completed, he was back to bounding around the park and chasing squirrels in the backyard. He had no side effects other than temporarily needing drops in his eye, which was dry. There was a lump on his face where the cancer mangled some bone, but he’s on the doggy version of ibuprofen and showed no signs of discomfort.

Sadly, in Blue’s case, the cancer did come back with a vengeance in June. In July, Kavin wrote that Blue didn’t have much time left. But she also wrote this:

He has been comfortable, and on pain meds, and I’m at least comforted that I did everything possible for him. We gained another two to three months of walks in the park, swims in the river and snuggles in bed.

If I had to do it over again, I would do the same thing.

I’d pay double.

I’ll be honest. I was very skeptical about trying canine chemo. When we learned that Arran had lymphoma, I figured we would be saying goodbye to him within weeks, especially given that it took some time to get the diagnosis and arrange for the chemotherapy treatments. Arran is 13 or 14 years old, which means that he’s lived a full life. The practical side of me told me that treating him was a dumb idea that would cost too much money, and be inconvenient and annoying for us, even though I know that healthcare and veterinary care is significantly cheaper in Germany than it is in the United States.

I didn’t worry about Arran being sick from the treatment, as I knew that dogs don’t get the same amount of medication that humans do. The focus on treating animals with cancer isn’t so much about curing it. It’s about improving the quality of life for the time they have left. I had expected our vets to give us some steroids to make Arran comfortable, which is what we did for our previous dog, Zane, during the week we had him after he was diagnosed with lymphoma. Zane wasn’t as healthy as Arran is, and we caught his cancer later. I also suspect that the type he had was more aggressive than what Arran has (B cell lymphoma).

Our vet said that they didn’t typically give steroids to dogs with lymphoma that weren’t undergoing chemo. Basically, it sounded like we could choose chemo, or we could just wait for Arran to get really sick and die. Bill had to go away on business for two work weeks this month. Arran and Bill have a very special bond, and I worried that Arran would decline while Bill was away. The vet said she thought that, in spite of his age, Arran was a good candidate for treatment. Moreover, we could get the treatments in her office, which is maybe two or three miles from where we live, rather than at the local high speed vet hospital. So then we decided that we might as well give chemo a try. At worst, the treatment would kill him, which the cancer is eventually going to do, anyway.

Two weeks ago today, I sent Bill an angry email, because Arran was getting sicker and was in obvious pain. I was pissed off, because I didn’t want him to hurt. Our first chemo appointment was for the next day. Bill called the vet, who prescribed painkillers. I picked them up and gave one to Arran, who seemed to feel better after taking a dose. Then, on Thursday afternoon, October 13th, we finally went in to see the vet for cancer treatment… You can see from the photos, Arran looks a little bit sad.

I took Arran home with some Prednisolone and Endoxan, another chemo drug. I gave them to him with his dinner. Then, he slept for the rest of the evening, until the wee hours, when he woke me up for a bathroom break.

The next morning, Arran was clearly feeling noticeably better. As he was getting sick, he was not wanting to get up in the mornings. But on Friday morning, October 14, he was up early and ready for his breakfast. He continued to improve all week until last week’s treatment, when the vet said that based on his blood test, Arran’s bone marrow appeared to be working to replace his low red blood cell count. He’s had almost zero side effects from the chemo whatsoever. His lymph nodes have gone back to normal. He’s eating, sleeping, taking walks, and demanding food. Best of all, he made it through Bill’s business trips, and they are now spending precious time together, making their last memories.

Last week’s treatment. It took about an hour.

After I read Kavin’s article in the Washington Post, I checked out the 734 comments that were left by fellow readers. Much to my shock, the vast majority of them were about how stupid, pointless, and even cruel it is to treat canine cancer. I noticed a lot of comments from people who complained about dogs getting treatment that human beings can’t get. Below was the first comment– it was one of eight highlighted by the WaPo:

I’m actually kind of mad that veterinary medicine is expanding into things like cancer treatments and canine dissociative order. I love my pets with every fiber of my being and yet, putting them through these treatments doesn’t seem like kindness. You can’t explain to your dog or cat that scary and painful days at the vet hospital are “for their own good” and will, hopefully, make them feel better eventually. They are just scared and alone and in pain. It’s one thing to improve on surgery techniques so that a dog hit by a car has a better chance to fully recover. Putting them through radiation treatments to get a few more months of walks in the park just seems selfish. I ugly cry when my pets pass on because I am personally devastated, but I know it was time. I don’t want to also feel guilty because I didn’t do absolutely everything the vet suggested.

This was the third comment:

I am a dog lover. I have always had a dog. My Blue Heeler is curled up beside me as I type. I am also a Buddhist who believes, as the Buddha said in so many words, that the root cause of suffering is clinging to the delusion of permanence. Everything ends, and it was this dog’s time. I can’t conceive of putting a canine through chemotherapy with no chance of a cure. But that’s just me….

Still another:

Are you doing this for the dog, or for yourself?  

The overall average lifespan for dogs across breeds is 10 to 13 years. Subjecting a 12 year-old dog to the discomforts and fatigue of radiation treatment, making the last months of life a combination of misery and confusion, doesn’t sound like you’re doing it for the dog.  

There are literally hundreds of thousands of young dogs needing adoption. Give one of them the gift of a long and happy life instead. 

and…

There can be a point where care is more about the humans than the animal.

These weren’t the worst of some of the judgmental, and frankly ignorant, comments left on this piece. Here are a few more samples from the comment section:

  • All who were surveyed said they would do anything to save their pets. But, would they all subject their beloved pets to radiation and/or chemotherapy, not to save them but to prolong their lives for months, a great part of which is treatment and not good times? They have a shorter life span than humans. You will have to grieve at some point. 
  • Would you put a 70-80 year old human through these painful treatments at the end of their life? I hope not. Not even our SCOTUS fools would make someone go through this to “maintain” life!
  • I understand the impulse to do anything you can for your beloved pet. I love my own dog to distraction. But I also feel deeply ambivalent about extended medical treatment for pets. They cannot be protected from the pain that cancer patients go through. They cannot consent. They do not fear death, as we do. The veterinarians are making a fortune off of people’s delusions. Many of these owners cannot afford these treatments, and they are often done on dogs who are within a few months of their natural lifespans. People bankrupt themselves for their pets out of love, but also out of guilt. Think of what you are putting your beloved pet through for the potential of a few more months of limited life. Ask yourself if you are being selfish. Think about whether your vet is taking you for a ride. Sometimes the best thing is to send your dear one off to chase balls in dog heaven, spared from months of agonizing treatments. Think of them, not yourself, and ask it it’s time to let go.
  • I adore my dog, but I am damned if I am going to torture her so my mourning of her death gets delayed by 6-12 months. One of the many reasons dogs are superior to humans is they do hot have our irrational fear of the inevitable.
  • Nope. I wouldn’t do this. You put your dog through a hell which he did not understand.
  • To torment an animal for your own guilt is unconscionable. We had a galah with major medical issues. She received 5 medications twice daily for 3 years. She was clearly miserable. We probably spent $50k between the time she became obviously ill and when she finally died. I hated it. I don’t begrudge the money, my husband’s bird, his money, I had no right to complain. But it broke my heart to see her tortured and tormented and so obviously feeling miserable. I shed a lot of tears over the poor thing. She finally died over a three day weekend when she cratered badly and we could not get her to her vet because they were closed and did not do emergencies. The question, to me is, are you prolonging the agony because of your own guilt? Or for the “benefit” of the animal who has no idea what is happening?
  • It’s disgusting that expensive technology and expertise that could be used to heal people is being used on pets. We are so wealthy and pampered in this country that even the slightest inconvenience and sadness to us is worth the price, we would never consider spending this money on a poor human that we did not know.  Do the right thing, shoot the dog and donate the money you saved to a charity that helps heal people instead. People are more important than pets.
  • Oh, judas priest.  It’s a dog. A 12 year old dog. If it’s in pain, you put it to sleep. Otherwise you let nature take its course. And then you get a new dog. Which you’ll do anyway, since a 12 year old large dog has a life expectancy of around 0. People have their priorities so amazingly f’ed up these days.
  • So many people cannot afford healthcare, and people are using tens of thousands of dollars to extend the lives of dogs, whose lifespans are little more than a decade. That seems gross, no matter how much you love your dog.

It’s not that I don’t see their points, on some level. Like I said, Bill and I weren’t keen on putting Arran through any “painful” treatments, either. But before we made our decision, I noticed how he was behaving. In spite of his swollen lymph nodes, he was still engaged with us, and even wanted to play with his toys. He still wanted to take walks and cuddle on the couch. And you’d really have to see how bonded he is with Bill. He adores him.

We had another dog who was like Arran when he had cancer. That dog, whose name was Flea, had prostate cancer, which was truly horrible and painful, and defied treatment. He didn’t want to die. It was very obvious to us, even on the day when we decided it was time to let him go. He was still fighting, even as the drugs were taking effect. We see the same spirit in Arran. I hasten to add that our other dogs who have passed– CuCullain, MacGregor, and Zane, did not have that spark to keep going. They were undeniably ready when they passed.

In Zane’s case, he was definitely going to die of the lymphoma on that day, even if we didn’t opt for euthanasia, because he was bleeding internally. In MacGregor’s case, he could have lived a little bit longer with his spinal tumor, but he was clearly in agony. And CuCullain had a very rare, contagious, and painful disease that was certainly going to kill him, but because it was contagious, we couldn’t take him home. We couldn’t afford to keep him where he was, but it would have been pointless, anyway. In those cases, yes, treatment was futile. But it’s not futile in Arran’s case. Treatment can give him some precious time, and allow us the chance to set up his exit from life in the best way.

Begging for treats last night. Two weeks ago, he didn’t even want to eat homemade chicken and rice.

It’s true that Arran will likely die soon. I don’t know how long the chemo will work. I am at peace with the fact that he’s going to die. Neither Bill nor I are expecting a cure. Even if he got cured of the cancer, he’s old enough to die of natural causes. But I can’t deny that right now, he’s feeling much better, and that is priceless. We have the means to do this, and Arran is obviously up for it. So I don’t feel like what we’re doing is “for us”, or pointless or stupid… To a dog, a week or a month is a longer time than it is for a human being. Six extra months may not seem significant or worthwhile to a person, but to a dog, it’s akin to years of a human’s life.

Aside from that, chemo for dogs is not as horrible as it is for humans. If it was, I would never agree to do it. And when it appears that the chemo isn’t helping or is causing distress, of course we’ll know it’s time to say goodbye. Not everyone who opts for canine chemo is out of touch with reality or selfish.

What really stood out to me in the comments on that WaPo article, though, are the truly mean and nasty comments some people had, calling treating canine cancer “gross”, because humans are “more important” than animals are. First off, how do these folks think cancer treatments are developed? They get tested on animals. Every time a vet treats a dog for cancer, knowledge and experience is expanded, and that makes it more likely that they can help other animals or… perhaps even human beings!

And secondly, most people who opt not to treat their pets are NOT going to donate the money they “saved” by opting out of treatment. It would be nice if they did donate to charities that help humans, but most of them won’t do that. Many of the people opting out of treatment their animals are doing so because they can’t afford it, or because they think it’s pointless and will be painful. I’ll admit, a few weeks ago, I thought it was pointless, too. But now I know better. And the vast majority of people who “save” money by not treating their pets aren’t going to be donating that cash to save humans. I doubt the people who suggested donating money for humans would do it, either.

I was glad to see a few people leaving comments that challenged those who posted that treating canine cancer is “gross” or somehow decadent. I especially liked this lady’s comment:

You can’t save all the people, you can give your pet pet a better quality of life. You can be a drop in the bucket to strangers or provide meaningful benefit to someone your family loves and has contributed meaningfully to your life. I’d say ignoring someone who has been unfailingly loving and supportive in favor of a stranger would be gross.

I also love what this commenter, a veterinarian, had to say:

A lot of these commenters don’t actually know much about veterinary medicine. I’m a veterinarian and when you take into account the advanced medicine that is being performed, this is quite a steal. Can you imagine being diagnosed with cancer, receiving gold treatment care (including radiation) and it costing $15,000 total? Is it for everyone? Of course not, but if you can afford it, it should be a choice. I don’t see why spending that amount of a beloved pet is ridiculous but people spend more than that on vacations, cars, etc. additionally, treatment for cancer in pets is very much focused on quality of life and not just “time.” Although surgery of course can be painful and have a recovery time, most chemotherapy and other options on our pets have few side effects. I refer people to oncologists all the time for advanced care and if they decide not to treat, I do my best to provide palliative care and/or euthanasia when it is time. And for people saying animals don’t understand, I agree, but neither do babies and young children yet no one is saying we should withhold care from them.

I would have been all for opting just for palliative care. For some reason, that wasn’t offered to us at this time. I’m glad it wasn’t, because this is a valuable learning experience for all of us– including the vets who are treating Arran. I know that doing this for Arran will inform us for the future, not just for other dogs, but also for ourselves, should either or both of us be unlucky enough to have cancer.

Finally, here is the best comment I read regarding Blue’s saga:

There’s nothing cruel about trying to give our companions the same kind of advanced treatments we have available for humans. For each pet and each family, it’s a decision that must juggle the age of the pet, the expected lifespan after treatment, the budget — with or without pet insurance — and the families’ needs. Not every dog can get radiation treatment, nor can every family afford this for their pets. 

I’ve made this calculation for my own pets, and sometimes it’s a go for treatment, but other times, it’s palliative care and euthanasia. Either way, no one has any business telling pet owners that they’re cruel to make either decision. If it’s not your pet, it’s not your decision.

When the time inevitably comes to say goodbye to Arran, we’ll send him to the Rainbow Bridge with his favorite people around him, loving him as his soul leaves the mortal coil. And, in the fullness of time, after we have had some time to mourn, we know he will send us a successor. All of our dogs have done that… even Flea did that, and he was the biggest “male diva dog” of all of our rescues combined.

Arran has been a faithful, loyal, and loving family member for almost ten years. I would like to see him make that ten year mark. Maybe that makes me “selfish”, but I can tell that the treatment is making him feel better, and giving him extra time with his favorite human. I don’t see that as cruel, selfish, stupid, decadent, or “gross”. Right now, it doesn’t appear to me that the treatment is causing him to suffer, and it’s the least we can do for him, after everything he’s done for us. When the situation changes, of course we will act accordingly and do what must be done. But we’re not sending him to the Rainbow Bridge before that time, simply because other, uninvolved, judgmental people think that treating canine cancer is selfish or decadent! Those people can seriously get bent!

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