Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Goodbye My Lady

The horrible day I have dreaded for more than a year since Bow's brain tumor was first discovered finally arrived today. I had to say goodbye to her after every effort to give her a reasonable life and exhausting her every last medical option.

Her specialist in Davis said in early December that she would probably not make it past Christmas. Her primary vet said a few weeks ago that the time had come. Today we were scheduled to see our neurologist who had treated her most recent seizures and to see if there were any last options.

The entire month of March got increasingly miserable. She came down with Giardia and bounced back a bit, but even after recovering, her days were worse. Most of her waking hours were spent spinning in circles, hanging her head down, standing in corners. She could not find her food. When I asked her to sit, she would spin in a circle and then finally sit, usually facing opposite me trying to find me but not able to. Walking was increasingly difficult. Being in the sun -- one of her favorite places -- was impossible on walks, and she would just drop her head in pain and could barely move forward.

Last night, she was restless in bed but finally found a position with her back against my stomach as was her normal place. She moved around the bed throughout the night. As the first glimpse of sunlight crept through, I realized that her head was facing mine on the pillow, something she had never done. Her good eye, the left, was looking at me intently and with a lucidity it had not done in over a month. (Most times she could not lift her head to look up at me when called.) Then she gently placed her paw on my cheek. It almost felt as if she might say words. In a second she moved, started spinning and was disoriented the rest of the day.

I really can't recall the rest of the day until our 4 p.m. appointment rolled around. She had to be carried most of the way. She wasn't agitated, just a bit disoriented and breathing heavily. The specialist said that she had reached the maximum dose of her medications before they would become increasingly toxic and would quickly compromise her liver, kidneys and other organs. There was one last drug that might reduce the swelling, but clearly the tumor was advancing more aggressively. The chances of a violent series of seizures taking her life in the middle of the night was very likely. He said that at best she might have two weeks left, and two very miserable weeks.

These were the words I needed to hear, and the procedure began. It was quick, she was calm and her body finally rested free of the pain against me. I held her just for a few more minutes, knowing that what I was holding was no longer Bow. She was with me, in my heart but no longer in that room.

There were no tears as I walked down Alabama Street, numb but well aware of every bird chirping, every tree blooming, every step along this familiar route that we had taken. The moment I arrived home I posted her passing on Facebook. Within seconds I heard my smart phone chirping with the arrival of condolences from friends all over the world. It took a while before I could look at them. For the moment I just needed to walk and be out of the house.

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At 4:25 AM, Blogger Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

Dear Gregg, though silent, I have been following the sad and painful demise of Bow and the aftermath in your life, which you have so beautifully and movingly conveyed on the blog. Just wanted to leave you a brief comment letting you know, in the Spanish expression for condolence te acompaño en el sentimiento. Be well my friend.


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