Wednesday, May 2, 2012

On miracles ... and dogs

When my dog Lollee walked out of the vet's office on April 23, we thought we had gotten our miracle.

Only three days before, my husband had carried the poor half-unconscious creature to the car, then to the vet's office. Then they had to wheel her into the exam room. She was totally out of it, could barely stand, was walking into walls and chairs. And had no idea where she was relieving herself.

For three days they pumped her up with fluids and antibiotics and a few steroids, ran tests, took X-rays and shrugged their shoulders. Could be this, they said. Could be that.

Could get expensive.

Or, I thought, this could be it. I prepared myself as best I could. Consoled myself that she had had a wonderful life guarding our sofa, snitching sandwiches whenever she could, cuddling on my feet, eating the occasional Skittle, and licking the ice cream bowl when I was done. 

But all that was forgotten when I held the end of her leash and led her out of the clinic, lifted her into the car and drove her home. All but the two $300 checks, that is. And the three bottles of pills they sent me home with.

We had our miracle. Lollee was better. We had more time. She was back to normal, with just a slight limp in her right shoulder that she had before this whole nightmare started. She ate a loaf of bread (we used it to hide her pills), gobbled some Milk Bones and licked a few ice cream bowls.

We thanked God.

But over the week, that limp got worse. And worse. She hobbled. She crept. She barely got up at all, having a harder and harder time navigating our hardwood floors. She seemed to be in so much pain.

By Monday of this week, she could barely move. When Lora came home from school on Tuesday, Lollee was splayed out on the floor like "a dead frog," she said. And no matter how hard we tried, we couldn't get her to stand up. Her hind legs were just gone. All she did was lie there, with eyes that seem to say, "Help me, Mom. Fix this."

We called our vet's office but he is out of town until Thursday. We took her to another local vet. They examined her and sent us to another. And they have had her since last night, drawing blood, taking X-rays, trying this, trying that. And keeping track of it all.

Today they say there is no obvious reason. Her spine is fine. Her neck is fine. She has a little arthritis, but not enough to cause this.

So they're diagnosing her through treatment. Basically, that means that if she responds to treatment for a disease, then that's what she had. They're saying maybe meningitis. They're categorically denying that any of this could be a side effect of the routine rabies shot she had on April 7. They have not completely ruled out some undetected cancer that can only be found by a very expensive MRI.

And I'm left to pray for yet another miracle.

I've said goodbye to this dog so many times in the last month, prepared myself so many times, steeled myself, that my heart is in pieces. I don't know what I'm supposed to do.She can't tell me. It's all up to me.


I feel terrible for Lollee, who is once again left in a clinic with strangers, wondering what's going on and why I'm leaving her there. She's perfectly alert and aware now.

I feel terrible for my daughter who is experiencing her first pet loss -- and taking it surprisingly well -- and terrible for my husband, who is not taking it so well (and is trying to be there for me while attempting to win a playoff baseball game.)

And I feel terrible for me, the one who is left to ask when it's time to say "Enough." Is it when the vet says so?  Is it when my head says so? When my heart says so? Or when my bank account says so?

She can't tell me. It's all up to me.




Lollee Sue

2 comments:

  1. You know, I lost two basset hounds within a year of each other. The first we had to put down. He had a a genetic skin disorder in which he didn't have any collagen in his skin. (Think the bubble boy, only a big clumsy animal.) Basically he could run into the corner of a table and rip himself open as if you were tearing a wet paper napkin.
    The second, Mac, ended up having kidney cancer. Didn't even know dogs could get cancer. I spent thousands -- WAY more money than I had - trying to make that dog better. I took him to LSU's vet school. I spent money on treatments and medicines and MRI's and you name it. But in the end, it came down to him having a surgery that would break my bank in more ways than I could imagine, for ony a 30 percent success chance, or letting him go as peacefully as possible. I chose the peaceful departure, trying my hardest to keep him as comfortable as possible. He barely ate, he hardly moved, except that he loved Vienna sausages and cottage cheese. Apparenty those are like doggy crack. And the last meal? Fried chicken. He ate the meat, I ate the skin. I sat on the veterinarian's floor for an hour holding my dog and feeding him fried chicken, amazed that it was the first time he'd eaten anything in almost a week. My vet ended up taking him home with her that weekend, where he got a fresh, homemade burger off their grill and hung out with some little kids. He died that Monday morning, my vet by his side, and I came to pick him up a few hours later, having been in Baton Rouge for the weekend. It was the hardest thing I've ever done burying that dog, but I know how much he loved me, and I know I dd everything in my power to keep him with me as long as possible. There is absolutely nothing like the love of a dog.

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  2. This breaks my heart Lori! She was such a good dog & had a wonderful life. I love her humane volunteer background(& yours as well)
    My Chloe is 13 now, with advanced heart murmur & renal insufficiency & doing well...but I worry, worry, worry & pray:)
    My vet was very helpful & endlessly compassionate when my Scottish terrier Ashton died late, late on a Sunday nite & the ER Vet demanded $3000 upfront, which I couldn't do. Dr. Bailey was so right that we were together until the end & he quite possibly would have died alone with no effective medical treatment at his 13 yrs. of age.

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