Thursday, April 19, 2012

One Week

This is story of the last few days of Roy's life.  It's sad, but I feel compelled to share, in part because Roy deserves it and in part for my own cathartic reasons.  I try not to write about overly emotional things, but this has consumed my life for the past week.  Bear with me and we'll get back to crafts and cooking soon.

Easter Sunday was one of the best days of my life.  The library was closed so my study group met to outline on Saturday.  I made the decision, in advance, to completely ignore school for that day.  It was beautiful.  Jason and Roy went for a run in the morning and I prepared a beautiful brunch, which I will write about soon.  Brunch lazily faded into the afternoon.  And we spent it snuggled up together, all four of us, watching the Masters and dozing away.  I made a fantastic dinner, which I will also write about soon.  And our perfect day slowly came to an end.

On Monday night and into Tuesday Roy got sick.  He started throwing up everywhere and refused to eat or drink.  We initially thought that he just ate something weird; the dog used to eat the craziest things.  When he wasn't better on Wednesday I took him into the vet.

The vet suspected a bone lodged in his stomach or small intestine was the culprit.  They hooked Roy up to an IV because he was dehydrated and gave him some anti-nausea medicine.  I sat with him the entire time in the vet's office.  When I asked if I could the vet seemed surprised.  Apparently most people do not choose to spend their entire day sitting on the floor of a vet's office.  But I grabbed my con law book and did just that.  I knew he wasn't feeling well and I didn't want to leave him alone.  The vet and I agreed that if Roy wasn't eating by the next morning that he would undergo surgery to remove the bone.

Thursday morning, I prepared Roy the meal the vet suggested: rice and chicken.  I cooked two entire chicken breasts, because as I told Jason...he'll eat them eventually.  Only that was wrong.  Roy wouldn't eat.  Or drink.  I even tried to cram some food into his mouth and he gagged it back out.  I knew surgery was inevitable.  So I drove him to the vet's office and walked him inside.  I never suspected that would be the last time I would ever see him walk.  The vet planned on putting Roy back on an IV and then performing surgery around 1:00pm.  There was no option of me staying this time, so I returned home and paced around my house.  I never expected any severe complications, but the idea of someone cutting open Roy's stomach made me uneasy.

Around 1:45 the vet called.  Roy's situation was serious.  The vet could see a good deal of inflammation and infection, but he couldn't tell what was causing it.  The vet gave me two options: take him to a specialist surgeon or put him down.  I felt like the world was caving in, but I pulled myself together and drove to pick up Roy.  After he was lucid enough to be carried to the car, we were off to the surgeon.

The surgeon suggested several possibilities as to what was wrong with Roy.  Some were really bad and some were only bad.  But the only way to find out would be another surgery.  So I sat with Roy on the floor of the surgeon's office and waited until they were ready.

They wheeled Roy into surgery and I walked aimless around the surgeon's office and eventually ended up sitting in my car.  I knew Roy's situation was serious, but I never seriously thought he wouldn't live.  The whole time I was sitting in the car, I was thinking about how happy I'd be when this day was over and we could all go home.  45 minutes after Roy went into surgery, the surgeon called.

This is the very last picture I have of Roy.  It was taken about 5 minutes before he went into surgery, the second time.

The prognosis was heart wrenching.  Roy had a very severe and very advanced case of pancreatitis.  Our only option was to put him in ICU for 5-7 days, being fed through a tube, on a ventilator, pumped full of narcotics and antibiotics.  And with all of that, his chances of survival were only 50%.  And if he did in fact survive, he likely would not have lived a normal life and had a very high risk of the pancreatitis reoccurring.  Jason was stuck at work so the surgeon called to speak with him.  Being the more rational one, he point blank asked the surgeon if he would do it.  The surgeon gave a very evasive and non-committimental answer, which we both understood to mean no.  And so, we made the impossibly difficult decision to put Roy down.  To say that I was devastated would be an understatement.  I have no doubt that everyone in the surgeon's office could hear me sobbing.  The tech who brought me the papers was crying.  It was such a hellish nightmare.  I was with Roy until the very end.  I know we made the right choice, but that doesn't make it any easier or even bearable.

Yesterday we picked up his ashes.  The surgeon's office put them in a beautiful wooden box that was engraved with his name.  He feels somewhat closer to me and it's somewhat lessened the pain.  The surgeon's office also took the imprint of his paw in clay.  It means so much to me.  I have it on my dresser and find myself constantly tracing the lines of his paw print.  It's currently my most prized possession.

It's been a week ago today.  My house feels empty, and I subconsciously keep expecting to see him.  You would never expect how much room a 95 pound lab takes up in your home and heart.  But I've moved to a place where the pain isn't so severe.  For the first couple of days my heart hurt so much I couldn't breathe.  I kept waking up in the middle of the night sobbing or would have melt downs during the middle of the day.  Roy was a special dog.  I can't quite explain it, but there was something about him.  He probably had the pancreatitis the whole time we had him, and yet you'd never know it.  Even though he was probably in a good deal of pain, he was always happy and joyful.  Twenty years from now I will still miss him.

To anyone who's still reading, thank you.  I know that wasn't a happy story, but it makes me feel a little better sharing Roy's journey.  To close, I'd like to share a quote that's been helping me lately.

We cannot cure the world of sorrow, but we can choose to live in joy. - Joseph Campbell

I'll returning to the regularly scheduled programming soon.  Thank you for your understanding.


Abby said...

I am so sorry for your loss, believe me I know how an animal can be a family member. You can take comfort in knowing you gave him such a wonderful life and did everything you possibly could.

Kristen said...

This made me cry :( He was definitely a special dog and I'm so sorry he wasn't able to be with y'all longer but just treasure the happiness he brought. Love you!!

Unknown said...

What an amazing dog! Sorry for your loss. Xoxo Monica

Rebeka said...

I am so, so sorry to hear about your loss. This post made me all teary, so I can't even imagine how you must have felt going through all of this. I am glad to hear that you're doing at least a little better. I know the pain will never really go away for you, but at least Roy isn't suffering anymore.

I hope that you continue feeling a little better every day and that finals go well for you. I can't even imagine having to study for finals while going through all of this.

I'm sending you so so many positive thoughts and internet hugs!

SummerBreeze said...

Thank you all so so much for the kind words. They were very touching. :)

Ez said...

I am truly so sorry for your heartbreaking loss. What a lucky and fully-loved boy Roy was (and a handsome fellow too). I hope that time has begun to turn your memories into moments that bring you joy and peace. xo Ez

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