Friday, April 12, 2013

my heart broke just a bit more

I was 20, on the cusp of 21 when my roommates and I decided we wanted to get an apartment dog.

I spent months obsessing over what kind of dog, and even longer trying to find one. I came across a family that wasn’t very well off whose Chihuahua had a litter of puppies. I started emailing with the family and soon received pictures of what was soon to be our dog. My dog.
In the first photo I ever saw of her, she looked like a rat. A bug eyed rat the size of a remote control. No. Smaller than a tv remote control.

I met the family in a Target parking lot and handed  over $150, $50 more than the price they wanted for her, and $350 less than the original price they were asking for her.

I brought her home with me. She slept in my bed, peed all over my floor, and quickly weaseled her way into my heart.

She’s 6 ½ now and has been by my side through many of lifes journeys. She has seen my ups, my downs, and everything that’s been in-between.

The Wednesday before Easter weekend we noticed she had a slight wheezing cough. We took her to the vet and after Xrays, and bloodwork they found nothing wrong with her. Except her usual issues. A heart murmur that may have intensified, her degenerative back issues, cherry eye, and slipped discs in her knee caps.. Generally she’s a gigantic mess.

We take her home and the next day make an appointment with a cardiologist for the following week. Thursday night she gets worse, and by Friday we’re taking her to the ER for pets. They immediately rush her to the ICU and put her in an oxygen cage, and find fluid in her lungs with an Xray. She’s put on a lasik drip and everything seems like a hazy dream.

Kh and I leave the ER, unable to really speak and drive back home.

I climb into the shower in the dark and cry for half an hour. 

We begin the waiting game.

Later that night I get a phone call, she’s responding well but still in critical condition.

I couldn’t cry anymore. If my eyes stay open, they’re in a permanent squint. I take a sleeping pill and try to sleep.

I get a phone call at 6am. She’s doing better. Still on lasik. Still getting oxygen.

I get another phone call around 11. Same thing. More waiting. They ask if I want to visit her and bring her food.

We get ready and head up to see her.

I try my hardest not to cry when I see her get excited at the sight of us. She rushes to the front of the oxygen cage, an IV in her left leg wrapped in a gauze. A nitro paste taped to her right ear.

I get it together and choke back my tears. We stay with her for 20 minutes and feed her. She gets sick of us doting on her and starts to give me that “alright, enough already” look. We leave and get a stiff drink at a chain restaurant down the street.

We go home. I put on my pajamas and take up my ever vigilant mope on the couch. I have a few drinks. I take a sleeping pill.

We wait some more.

Easter comes and we aren’t interested. I get a phone call at 6am again.

Kh’s parents come up and have lunch with us. It feels good to try and distract myself. Kh’s mother awkwardly tries to divert the conversation and ends up going right to how she’s doing and when we can see her again.

I keep my phone in my hand every minute, not wanting to miss a phone call with an update.

It finally comes, right when I’m finishing my 2nd glass of wine. I run up the 2 flights of stairs to make it outside in time to answer the phone call. She’s stabilized; her heart rate is down, fluid in her lungs is gone, and is well enough to be discharged.

I choke back tears and put on my game face to finish up lunch.

We pick her up at the ICU. She sleeps the rest of the night and I cry any time I look at her for the next 2 days.

Tuesday morning I take her to her cardiologist appointment that we just so happened to have kept from the week before. I cry the whole way there. I cry the whole way home.

I keep it together long enough to get to see her Xrays. Her tiny little rib cage. Her heart. I get to see her echocardiogram and try not to cry when he shows me the valve that isn’t working the way it should be.

She’s given her diagnosis. Chronic valvular disease. She had congestive heart failure and her heart murmur had worsened. She’s on the less complicated side of things. No liver or kidney failure or even signs of failure. She’s put on 3 different medications. She has to take twice a day. Indefinitely.

Her cardiologist tells me the general survival rate is 12-18 months after the initial congestive heart failure, but he has patients that are 2x past that and are healthy and doing well.

I cry the whole way home. I cry the next 3 days when no one is around, and lets face it, I’m always alone unless Kh is home.

Friday night we finally go out. We go out and drink and try to take a weight off our shoulders.

We start to notice a difference in her. Her energy is back. She’s playing with her toys. She’s humping her bedding and bringing me her favorite (albeit completely falling apart) favorite toy.

We take her to her follow up cardiologist appointment this past Tuesday. He says everything sounds good and she’s looking much better. We get her bodywork back, everything’s normal. No signs of kidney or liver failure which is our big concern.

I’m relieved and only tear up once.

That brings us to now. I try not to think about it. How terrifying it was, and how I don’t really know how much longer I have with her. I don’t know what my future would look like without her in it. She’s so much apart of me, I believe a part of me will die with her. 

I got sick of hearing people say "Pets suck" and "oh that's tough." I'm not one for words of empathy when it's hollow and forced. Out of all the pain I've felt in this life of mine, this has been some of the worst. 

I’m trying not to dwell on it. She’s here with me now. And that’s all that matters. Taking a break from worrying about what my weekends looked like, or getting caught up on what someone else wore during a week is the last of my concerns. Blogland, some times you need a reality check. Life isn’t really about how you’re decorating your living room or what you liked most on pinterest.

Real life lies outside these cyber walls, and I’ve been a bit too consumed with it.