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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Final Answer


We went to our vet appointment today and had the X-Rays done. The good doctor came in and first put up the initial X-ray, then today's for comparison, right next to it.

It's official; it's osteosarcoma, and it has very obviously spread and will continue to do so. This malignant, terrible disease is the reason my dog was fine three weeks ago, and can't even navigate stairs now. Nor will he ever be able to do so again.

There will be no more walks around the neighborhood, only hopping around in the yard for brief interludes of sunshine and breezes. There will be no more greyhound "meet-and-greets" because the travel to and from and the time standing will be too hard on him.

Fire will be sleeping downstairs from here on out, because I cannot allow him to come up the stairs for fear of fractures not only in the cancerous leg, but in the good leg from stress alone.

Fire is not going to get better; he is going to deteriorate.

I didn't cry in the vet clinic this morning as the Vet gave me the diaagnosis and the options. Before I could start I blinked the tears away and focused on the facts, knowing that there would be plenty of time for tears later. Like now, as I write this.

These are the options in the order presented.

1. Euthanasia. No. Not yet. The vet agreed.
2. Do nothing. Live with it, and treat the pain. Watch his weight, his appetite, his attitude, whether the pain is controlled or if he is suffering inordinately. Wait.
3. Radiatian treatment at the U of M. "It's not inexpensive, but you'll have to call there to find out." They use this to control pain and delay the spread of the cancer, but it also thus delays the inevitable, because it is not a cure. The cost is around $3,000 to $5,000
4. Amputation and Radiation treatment. Again, delaying the inevitable. And he didn't say it, but amputating a liimb on a greyhound, well, you just can't do that to a greyhound.

We are treating for pain. In addition to the 75 mg of Rimadyl twice daily, we are adding a narcotic, Tramadol, at a lower dose to be increased if needed. I think we have one months' supply of both pain meds.

The bill for today:

Medical progress exam.....$21.00
Radiology.................$79.00
Rimadyl...................$38.00
Tramadol..................$10.00
Total after 5% discount $143.72
*
The time we have left......Priceless

If you have interest in helping to cover Fire's bills, please click here. I don't know how much time he has left but my guess is that we really won't need any more trips to the vet, but the last one. And I don't know how long that will be, so for now, I'm just going to enjoy the time my greyhound has left and pray I have the courage to make the decision when the time comes.

23 comments:

Melody said...

I'm so sorry, Adoro. I was hoping it wouldn't be that. I think you are right that it wouldn't be a kindness to put him through chemo or amputation.

Tony said...

This reminds me of almost a year ago when my dog Missy had an hour and a half seizure.

I thought we were going to lose her. When I called the vet for a prognosis, the receptionist said: "Well, she's an old dog" (like that was going to make me feel better). I said: "She's just as old as when she went in. I'd just like to know what to expect".

She couldn't walk for two weeks, we fed her by putting a paper plate with scrambled eggs by her mouth so she could lick them. She laid on a blanket downstairs and messed the blanket so we cleaned it up, and I carried her into the bathroom, and with a towel on the bottom of the bathtub, washed her completely with warm water and medicated dog shampoo.

A few days later, she was able to get up a little, and we tried taking her outside, but her back legs wouldn't support her weight. I got the idea of using a big towel under her belly to hold her steady. She was able to do her thing properly, and then I'd carry her inside back on her blanket.

I needed to feed her phenobarb twice a day and got the idea of putting it in a blob of peanut butter and singing the "peanut butter baby" song (goes to the tune of "every body love somebody sometime").

My wife and I talked about what to do about her, and I told my wife that if something like this happened to another of our family members, we'd take care of them as best we could. As long as the dog isn't suffering too much, the rest is just inconvenience for us.

She has gotten much better. Our dog will let us know when it's "time", and that will be when she is not enjoying life at all, refusing her biscuits, not wagging her tail at all and other signs and signals.

Fire will let you know when it's time. Try not to dilute your enjoyment of your time with him with worrying. Take it a day at a time and enjoy each day God allows him to remain with you.

You and he are in my prayers.

melanieb said...

I'm so sorry to hear the bad news. Keeping you in our prayers.

Adoro te Devote said...

Melody ~ I was hoping, too, but I knew, just had that feeling, having seen the X ray, knowing what happened to others, etc. And when he couldn't go up the stairs, well, I fell asleep crying that night because I knew. The X ray today just said what my heart had already recognized but was still hoping wasn't true.

Chemo isn't actually an option, which is fine because it still wouldn't cure him. This is terminal, no matter how we look at it. I'd rather just help him enjoy the time he has, maybe do some charcoals of him and try to capture the life in his expressions, and then when it's time, let him go home. He will suffer less that way.

Tony ~ I read the post. How scary, and how wonderful, what you did to care for her. I know that if my grey couldn't walk for two weeks, well, I wouldn't be able to do what you did because it would be a two person job, if not more...and I'm it. He's an 80 lb dog with very long legs! LOL! Your dog is blessed to have you!

I once dog-sat for a friend, and thank God she told me before she left that her girl is subject to seizures. That night when I came home from work in freezing rain, the dog would not go out, I helped her down the stairs, but then I realized something was really wrong when her hind legs dropped. I got behind her and lifted her rear, she pulled herself up the stoop into the house and laid down in the small foyer between the screen door and the basement steps...and that's where the seizure really hit. Had I not been there, she would literally have gone rolling down the stairs. I had to sit there and hold her up.

And you know, I've worked with the DD population, prone to seizures and when Dax's seizure hit I looked at my watch out of habit to time it!

Poor girl, but it was a bonding moment. She came through OK, I told my friend about it, and from that day on, whenever her dog saw me she'd whine in greeting...it was a special greeting for that dog reserved for her favorite people.

Pets can teach us a lot about compassion and handling suffering with dignity, trust, and resignation.

melanieb ~ Thank you for your prayers. We need lots of those!

Jennifer F. said...

I'm so sorry to hear this sad news. What crazy timing -- do you think that there's any reason God may have had this coincide with this incredible leap you've taken by leaving your job? It just seems so unlikely that all this would come to a head at once!

Anyway, you are in my prayers. I hope that you and Fire enjoy your time together, however long that is.

Adoro te Devote said...

Jenifer F. ~ I don't think this is any coincidence at all. And actually, had I known before, it might have delayed my resignation. But I can't take it back, even now. God knew what I would do before I did it, and I fully believe that this is God's will. I think all things will be revealed, and he's just increasing my faith and trust in him in a very painful way.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Praying....

One hand...

You ROCK!

Adoro te Devote said...

Huh!? Rock? Why?

What is the sound of one hand praying?

:-)

Angela Messenger said...

Oh Adoro, I have no words. I am so sorry.

karyn said...

take care, surely all things will turn out right in the end, for the Lord knows your troubles, and will provide and give you peace.

Hang on..

By the way, will purchase my rosary very soon. Only problem is will be the regularity of my prayers..I wish i could set aside as much time as i want each day, which is huge, but i can't. Will see how.

Adoro te Devote said...

Karyn ~ God is very good to me, and I know he's not leaving me alone with this.

When you get your rosary, take it to the priest and ask him to bless it after Mass. My recommendation as to the time to set aside; what works for me is to pray the rosary while I drive in to work, or when I'm driving home, esp. if it's been an especially trying day.

The key is to make it a priority in your day and build the rest of the day around your prayer time, if you can. And if that's overwhelming to you, just start small. God will give you the grace, you just have to take the first step! :-)

tara said...

adoro:
this is just breaking my heart, I can hardly bear to read about Fire. Dogs are so wonderful, they love us so much--ohhh! I was going to get a dog, but after reading about Fire, I am now against the idea--too hard to love and lose you dear dog friend.

adoro, I am praying to our Lady for you--hang in there.

Ray from MN said...

I'm still praying.

You ought to put your Paypal logos at the top of your sidebar.

Adoro te Devote said...

Tara ~ Oh, don't let this scare you away from getting a dog! No matter how hard this is, I'd rather have him than not. He's been a conduit of God's grace, he's been a gift, and he's taught me things I never would have understood but for his presence in my life.

I look at pets as gifts from God; he called us all to have dominion over the animals, and to some of us, he gives very specific assignments. Fire is God's own greyhound, and He asked me to usher him through his last years of life. What an honor that is to offer this glory to God. So now it's time to give Fire back to God. It's hard, but God does not allow us to go through good or bad times alone.

Do get a dog, but I recommend strongly you don't go to a breeder. Please adopt a dog that needs a home. Greyhounds are awesome dogs, just couch potatoes (which makes this easier because he's used to not moving a lot!), and I can recommend other breeds as well.

www.petfinder.org

Check it out,really. It's worth it. We never experience love without also experiencing pain. If we run from the pain, we also run from a greater gift God has in store for us...but we have to be willing to accept the whole package.

Adoro te Devote said...

Ray ~

I can't. They gave me html code which I copied and used in an earlier post, but it incorporates HUGE spaces with a tiny button and no way to label it. If I try to upload it, it will actually drop my entire sidebar to the bottom of the page in order to fill in the spaces created by the Paypal html.

I can sen you the code and if you want to try to mess with it, you can feel free. :-)

Hidden One said...

I am praying.

Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

Tara -- I'll echo Adoro's sentiments. It's better to have a pet you love, that you will someday lose, than never to have a pet at all.

Adoro: Do not fear that you will be too weak. For one, you're showing great strength so far. For another, God acts through our weakness, and uses it to teach us to rely on Him. You will pass through this and be better for it.

The Ironic Catholic said...

Adoro--I'm sorry. I will say a prayer for you and poor Fire. Watching suffering is so, so hard, especially when you can't "rationalize" the pain.

Ma Beck said...

:(

Fr. V said...

Thinking of you - a prayer today.

Christina said...

It is hard to say goodbye. I'm offering prayers up for you as well.

Adoro te Devote said...

Thank you, everyone.

He's doing OK for now, but the question is for how long. It's just hard knowing that he will never get better.

But his appetite is good, his attitude is good, he is begging for attention in his usual playful ways, and takes great interest in the world around him. Even as he is taking it easy and spending more time sleeping, overall he's doing well.

I'm thankful for that, and appreciate it.

A friend today told me to "expedite" my "decision". I have to disagree; there is a time for that, and this isn't it. We can't spare ourselves or others suffering, and respect for life is respect for life. I have a sense that Fire isn't done yet and if I made that "decision" now, I'd regret it forever, feeling like I threw him away. He's not ready to go yet. The time will come.

For now, he's still my buddy and my gentle companion with the big brown eyes. He's a work of art, even with a clumsy limp and a nearly useless limb.

He's also breaking my heart.

Terry Nelson said...

I'm so sorry about Fire. I've had cats with cancer - it is so difficult to see an animal suffer.