Waiting on a Word

We’re at home now, Michael and I. We’ve been sitting out front in the tranquil garden green space Michael makes, shutting out the noise from the church people across the street with songs by Aretha Franklin playing on my iPhone. It’s cool outside, unseasonably and almost chilly. Michael has on his Keith Haring sweatshirt. I’m still in a t-shirt, shorts, and sandals. I like the cool outside times. We sat on one of the two benches Michael has in the garden, one black and the other white. I like them both as they are, but he’s going to paint them. Our bench, the white one, sits under the Golden Chain tree. It’s right about where we plan to bury Bonsai’s ashes one day.

We’ve been waiting on a word from the animal hospital where we took Lucy. I had been in the office room when I heard Michael say he thought we should take her. I know when Michael says something is wrong, then something is really wrong. I shut down my work and computer as fast as I could. I had to email a document to some people, and of course sent it to the wrong people. I tried to unsend, knowing it’d be too late, and then re-sent it. I chatted my boss that I had to go right away.

Lucy was having what appeared to be a seizure of some kind. Her body was jerking. It had happened a couple times before, and we both thought that it had something to do with her sight leaving her - she’d jerk her head back like she wasn’t sure something was coming towards her or not. Those episodes were relatively short. Apparently they were building up, because this time it wasn’t stopping.

I asked Michael to drive so that I could hold Lucy. And I did. And she was in the same state for most of the half hour drive to the hospital. I comforted her the best that I could, and told her I loved her, and what a good girl she is. There was a very awful moment when she reared her head back and howled for about a minute. The vet later called it “vocalizing” but it was so much worse sounding than that while she was in my arms.

We hit a little rush hour traffic, I kept holding on to Lucy, and we made it to the hospital. Michael helped us get out of the car. He noticed she had lost control of her bowels in the car. I was certain she’d had a heart attack. Then when I put her on the ground so I could grab my bag, she started acting like nothing had happened. She was calm (much calmer than I) and didn’t seem to be in any kind of pain at all.

I took her inside, crying, and they took Lucy back to the emergency department. I don’t remember too much except for the one doctor telling me at one point that when we were called back to see her, that I should do my best to put out positive energy. That Lucy would be able to sense how I was feeling and it was important to be as hopeful as possible.

I sat and sobbed next to Michael. We waited. They took us back to a room to wait some more. We waited. We looked at our phones. I calmed down. We saw the news about the jury’s decision in the hush money case.

The doctor came in and shared a lot of information with us that essentially boils down to two things: we probably have some more time left with Lucy and further treatment will likely focus on making her comfortable during that time.

They are doing some bloodwork to rule out some things and find out if there are any infections she might have that can be treated. They’re also keeping an eye on her blood sugar as it was too low. That could have been a cause for what we thought was a seizure, but the doctor told us that what she was seeing with Lucy was very much more consistent with either a stroke or a tumor on the brain. She told us a few of the things that she had noticed, behaviors we wouldn’t have seen at home without knowing what to look for - her head tilting a little to the left, her walking being off center consistent with vertigo symptoms, and a few other behaviors that are, again, consistent with either a stroke or a brain tumor. She said the only way to know for sure would be to order a $5,000 MRI where they’d do a spinal tap while she would be under anesthesia. Treatment options then would depend on the result of the MRI, and how aggressively we wanted to treat - up to and including radiation therapy and more.

I won’t put my 14 year old dog through radiation therapy, and I can’t afford a $5,000 MRI, so that just isn’t an option for us. So, based on her recommendation, we’re doing the blood panel and will likely put her on a steroid which will help with swelling if there’s a tumor. We may need to adjust her insulin. There’s a chance the steroid could mess with her diabetes which would not be good.

They brought Lucy in to see us. I held her. I told her I loved her and that she’s a good girl. That she’s always been my very special girl. And she has been. And she still is.

We left her in their capable, unjustly expensive hands, and left. We went through a drive through and got milkshakes. We cried and talked. We got home and fed the cats and went outside to sit on the bench and cry and talk some more. We called my mom and dad to tell them what was going on. There wasn’t much they could say. There wasn’t much to say. So we said we’d keep them informed and sent our love. Michael and I came inside, and here we are, waiting on a word to know when we can come back and pick up our girl to help keep her comfortable and safe as we spend the time we have left with her together.

I don’t really know what I’m feeling other than pure grief and the emotions it brings with it.

I took some pictures in the garden before we sat on the white bench. These are the ones I like.