The iMac is in the shop so I am tapping this out on Stephen's work laptop with no pictures to include for your viewing pleasure. It has been one hell of a week. If you are FB friends with me you know that we got bad news about out precious puppy this week. Oliver is very sick.
In the wee hours of Wednesday morning we woke to the sounds of Ollie throwing up on the corner of the bedroom. Later that morning he threw up his breakfast. Then as I was leaving to pick up the girls from school, he ran towards the back door, rose on his hind legs and fell back onto his back.. just laying there unable to right himself. When I helped him up he staggered back and forth and then settled down on the floor looking wide eyed and disoriented. I was freaked out by that one. But maybe it was one of those freak things. Then that afternoon as he ran to greet Nana and Papa he did it again. This time he fell over in the grass with eyes rolled back in his head. Stephen picked him up and he peed all over Stephen's leg. Time to call the emergency vet. Blood tests told us something might be wrong with his liver. He would need an ultrasound.
I brought him back the next day for said ultrasound, having already cried and imagined the worst. First vet took a look and told me he had an irregular heartbeat. So irregular she wanted to have their cardiologist on staff check him out. Both doctors were pretty certain that whatever was wrong in his chest was the cause of the fainting spells and vomiting. An EKG and chest x-ray later a very tender eyed cardiologist ushered me into a back room to chat. The news is not good. She came right out with it instead of beating around the bush. I bust into a storm of sobs at that one sentence. I had known the news wouldn't be good but it just came flooding out. I righted myself and she continued in a sensitive tone. Oliver has a tumor the size of a plum compressing his heart and growing around his trachea. He also has mild heart disease, and arrhythmia and several murmurs in his heart valves. She went through every detail she possibly could, explaining exactly what time of tumor it is and how it developed, how it was affecting him, affecting his internal organs. She was so sweet, so thorough, so understanding. This condition will take his life, she said. We can try to make him comfortable and I think you owe it to yourself and your family to try everything you can. He is not a candidate for surgery. The medication may make him feel better or it may make him feel much much worse. She was amazing. Honestly. Could not have asked for a better or more sensitive doctor. She told me to take as much time as I needed, call Stephen, and when I was ready they would bring him out front and explain the medicine to me. I called, I sobbed again.. I got it together and headed out to the waiting room. He came out wagging his tail and looking tired but curious and eager as ever. Drove home calling various family members to share the sad news.
So here we are.. all of that happened yesterday. Today he has had medicine and though he seemed worse this morning he now seems just like his old self. But it is this behavior that is more troubling than anything. The last thing we want is for him to be in pain. So I did some googling today on how to tell if you pet is in pain from a chronic illness.. turns out he has been in pain for awhile. He hasn't seemed like himself in months. He has all but quit cuddling with us in the evenings, choosing instead to lay on the edge of the couch alone or in his own bed or on the floor or the steps. He struggles when you try to hold him close. He shys away from being petted. He hasn't slept well for a very long time. Waking us up all night changing positions or coming in or out of the covers. Is he in pain? He acts like he doesn't feel great, laying around on the couch or sitting staring into space.. but then 5 minutes later he is jumping up to greet Stephen at the door or trying to snatch Frankie's peanut butter crackers. The doctor said he could die tonight, next week, in 3 months or a year.. there is no way to tell. He could die a terrible traumatic death from internal hemorrhaging or difficulty breathing from fluid surrounding his heart and getting into his lungs. Or he could have a heart attack and die a quick and painless death. The only thing that is sure is that he will die soon and we can either made the choice to put him to sleep, or wait to see what happens. Seeing your dog walking around the house just acting like they always do, knowing they are carrying a huge tumor in their chest like a time bomb is .. agonizing. Do you help them out? Do you let them be? How do you put a dog down that is so beautiful and healthy seeming from the outside? He cycles so fast between feeling bad and seeming to feel ok. It wasn't supposed to be like this. He was supposed to be 14, old and stiff, in pain and ready to go.. it wasn't supposed to be like this. We don't want to risk our girls finding their beloved Ollie dead on the floor.. or have him die a traumatic death in their presence..but how do you do this? At the advice of the doctor today we are going to give it until Monday and see where we stand.
If you are the praying sort, please pray for us. This is definitely the hardest thing I have ever had to do.