october 24, 2011
that was a really hard day.
definitely one of my top ten hard days. if one can really have such a top ten list. not a fun list to have but it is reality. and i am real, right?
sooo...it was hard enough that it has taken me this long to write about it. and i'm not sure i will be able to get through this post without shedding more tears. as a matter of fact, i know i won't.
a little history lesson here.
this is paw with teenager...never mind her squinty eyes, she was looking into the sun [don't look into the light, ray] anyway...paw has been around for 13 years. we brought him into our life in the fall of 1998. teenager was in first grade. we drove 3.5 hours, one way to get this little guy. he has been one faithful companion. he adores teenager. she adores him. this picture was taken in june 2011...just before leaving for the world show. on this very day, we discovered a growth in paw's mouth. needless to say, he was at the vet's office first thing monday morning. it was decided that he would under go another teeth cleaning and as much of the growth removed as possible. a biopsy was sent to k-state. i was confident that it would turn out to be just an over growth of gum tissue. but i was wrong. it turns out that paw has osteosarcoma. cancer. a very bad and very aggressive cancer. made even worse by the fact it started in his jaw bone. prognosis = about 30 days from diagnosis. i got the call the day before teenager's class at the world show. kiroman and i had a pow wow [and i can say that since i am 1/32 cherokee, mk?] while teenager was in the shower. we decided that this news would wait until after the world show. there was no need for her to worry about something she cannot change when she had a major competition ahead of her. kiroman did lots of researching and it was all devastating. we broke the news to teenager once we were home. she took it like we all did. very very hard. i must admit that at first, i was prepared for a very quick demise. but it didn't happen. his appetite remained hearty, he was perky, happy, played with the doolittles...it was all good. he wasn't even losing weight. i buried my head in the sand. so did teenager. maybe k-state was wrong [ya, right] and it's not osteosarcoma, the grandaddy of all cancers. maybe it was just an over growth of tissue. but really, as much as i wanted to believe that, i knew it wasn't true. we decided that because of the evil nature of this cancer and paw's advanced age, we were not going to trade quality of life for quantity of life. it was more important to us that he live out the rest of life happy...not drugged up, not sick from chemo that wouldn't change the outcome. we decided to let innate do her job. and damned if innate did her job to best of her abilities! the days went on. the weeks went on. the months went on. four months went on. and then, it happened. all at once. without notice...well, there were a few tell tail signs...a little weight loss, the arthritis in his back legs became more pronounced. we decided to keep him separate from the doolittles...they were a little too rambunctious around him. teenager and i headed to the horse show and kiroman stayed home. we got in rather late because of the flight delay and went straight to bed. the next morning, i got up and followed my usual routine but for some reason, i was late in letting paw out. paw sleeps in a kennel...for as awesome as he is, he has a mental block about the whole house training/peeing outside thing...and as much as i love him, dogs are not allowed to pee in my house! so i went to his kennel and peered inside. he didn't move and i swear he was not breathing and i could smatters of blood in and out of the kennel. i immediately ran for the phone. my heart in my throat and called kiroman. rarely do i ask them to interrupt with community members but this time i did. while waiting for him to come to the phone, i walked back to paw and he sat up and looked at me. i was stunned. it scared the crap out of me! so kiroman and i chatted about what to do next. i was convinced that this would be the right side of paw's dash. i let him out, he could hardly walk, his left eye was mattered and blood dripped from his left nostril. i was a mess. i still am a mess. i put him back and called the vet. through my tears, the tech got what i was saying and told me to bring him in anytime and they would work us into the schedule...thank goodness they are never too busy for one more. kiroman and i chatted back and forth about what to do. after a few more calls to the vet, i decided to wait it out until teenager got home so she could say her goodbye's. we both sat with paw and cried and wondered what was the right thing to do. he was eating and drinking with no problem. but i knew he needed something...i just wasn't sure what...or more like i didn't like the optin being given. kiroman said he'd go with us to the vet if that's what we chose to do. so the decision was made to wait until tuesday morning. then i panicked because i didn't want to be caught at 3am with a dying dog and no options for him. so at 4:30, we told kiroman to head to the vet and off we went. i was preparing teenager. i was preparing myself. i had no doubt that this would be paw's last car ride. our vet was awesome. she was freaking awesome! teenager was sitting on the floor with paw and when dr koppold walked in, she immediately sat on the floor and put paw in her lap and asked us how he was doing. she listened to all three of us relate how great he had been until monday morning. to help us in making our decision, she took a couple x-rays. we found his lungs clear, no arthritis in his spine, his esophagus is a little out of place due to an enlarged heart because of the cancer most likely. his body is pretty much clean. except. except for the ostesarcoma in his jaw, his nasal cavity...his left side of his face. so the decision was made that we weren't going to take any days away from him. the main thing is his appetite. as long as that's good, we're doing ok. so at the moment, we are caring for paw with palliative care. he is on some pain meds...osteosarcoma is evil, people. it's painful and ravaging. i'm not fooling myself. the inevitable will happen. we have maybe another two weeks. maybe more. maybe less. but i do know that we have right now. and he's comfortable. and he's happy. but i also won't lie or sugar coat...when it's time, we will do the right thing by paw and he won't suffer. of that you can be sure.
and that is why i said a few posts ago that monday was so-so. i haven't cried that much in one day for a very long time...honestly, probably since my dad passed. the tears were sadness. the tears were not knowing the right thing to do. the tears were feeling bad for teenager. heck, feeling bad for myself and kiroman.
what's coming down the road is going to be hard. we're not gonna like it. it's gonna hurt like hell. but we've had 13 great years with a dog who's lifespan is 9-12...we've done good.
these are the days i will remember:
sorry to bum ya out but i had to get this story out and down. cuz that's what i am. besides trophy wife, i am story teller.
i am grateful:
- for our wonderful vet
- for the great days we have left with paw
- for the great days we've had with paw
- he picked us that fateful fall day!
- for his unconditional love