(Just an FYI – our little boy is still with us as of this post). After all the family drama and letting go and finally moving freely forward, this holiday season was going to be the first in a long time that I looked forward to, enjoyed, felt peace with – but that was not to be.
It all started last Tuesday, just before Thanksgiving. It was around 11 pm and me and my dog Scottie were laying in bed watching TV. Scottie is 13 years old and has cancer with multiple tumors but he has been doing fairly well. As we were laying there, I noticed him jump up and he seemed to have a foamy saliva drooping out of the sides of his mouth. Suddenly, he fell over on the bed and started having a full-blown seizure (he had never had one before)! I jumped up to hold him steady while at the same time yelling at the top of my lungs for my husband downstairs. He came running up and we tried to sooth Scottie while I tried to look up a vet ER on my cell phone.
Scottie came out of the seizure and struggled to breathe normally for a little while before coming back to himself. We took him to the vet ER (not our usual vet) and explained Scottie’s cancer. The vet said that most likely, the cancer has metastasized to his brain. They checked his vitals and they were good, as was his breathing. We took him back home and I couldn’t sleep all night. I was afraid he would seize again and we wouldn’t be awake to notice and be there for him. I was also dealing with so many emotions. When the seizure happened, I thought that was it – he was dying right in front of us in a horrific and traumatic way. He didn’t but I knew his time must be short if cancer was now in his brain. The image of him seizing will never leave my memory. I tried to keep hope and think it was a one-time thing, a fluke for some weird reason, even though logically I knew that couldn’t be true.
The next day, Wednesday, he was just fine other than sleeping a lot. We kept a close eye on him but it seemed that maybe there was hope. But then, Thursday, Thanksgiving, early afternoon -my husband and I were in holiday spirits, cooking in the kitchen, when I heard a strange noise and turned around to see Scottie seizing again on the kitchen floor behind us. We ran to him to be with him and talk him through it. Our spirits were crushed, our moods dampened. We knew then that the end may be coming. The rest of that day, as we prepared and had our Thanksgiving meal, all we could think about was Scottie. We had hoped after his initial cancer findings that we would at least have him through the holidays.
The next day, Friday, our beloved little Scottie seized again that morning and he did not recover very well from it. I took him to our normal vet that afternoon; my husband couldn’t come with me because our landlord was stopping by and our son had to be driven to work – I would go through it alone. The doctor confirmed that the cancer had most likely spread to his brain and was causing the seizures. He told us that it would continue and even get worse. We agreed that our family should spend the weekend with Scottie, doing the things he loves, and we would bring him in on Monday, today, to have him put to sleep. I drove home with Scottie as I sobbed. We didn’t expect it to happen this soon. We were told to hope for six to twelve months – we got two. And the holidays would never feel the same.
We spent the weekend with Scottie, even had a little pre-Christmas and let him open some doggie gifts. I decorated for Christmas, crying the whole time – there was no joy in it this year, only memories of what was and knowing there would be no more to come with our pooch. We gave Scottie his favorite foods. I saw my husband break down for the first time since we’ve been together, and I broke down too. I haven’t felt a pain and sadness like that in a very long time. We noticed something though. By last night, Sunday night, we noticed he hadn’t had any further seizures, not since the one on Friday morning. He has intermittent, temporary tremors but not seizures. He was still eating and drinking and playing a a little. How could we put him down if he wasn’t truly on his death bed? We decided to wait and see if he made it through the night okay as well, which he did.
We cancelled the appointment for this morning. My husband is staying home with him today and tomorrow, and I will on Wednesday. We are going to see if he has more seizures and keep an eye on his health and demeanor in general. We stopped giving him his liver supplement that the vet had him on and it seems like he hasn’t had another seizure since but that could just be coincidence. Both my husband and I know in our hearts that Scottie’s time is short, we just don’t know if it will be in days, weeks, or months. I have a feeling it won’t be long but we want to use every moment of what we have left.
I have always wondered which is harder: unexpected death or a planned or drawn-out one. I can tell you that knowing days before only makes your heart hurt and ache that many more days. I have to think that knowing is worse after what we just went through over the holiday. We may still lose him soon but it is going to be when we feel it is the right time for our little baby. Either way, my heart aches as we head into Christmas…