|Bailey - RIP 12/23/11|
|Barked: Mon Jan 2, '12 6:54am PST |
|I feel the need to write this out from beginning to end. Writing has always been therapeutic for me. So here goes. Sorry for the book. I just need to get it all out.
On November 29th, I took Bailey into the vet for a rabies shot and a nail trim. He was always a big baby when I tried to trim his nails so I took him to the groomer where for some reason, he gave them no problem. This vet was new to me and when she walked in, she took one look at Bailey and said his saggy stomach was a sign of liver disease. She asked to draw blood, which I agreed to. I saw no change in him and didn't expect anything to be out of the ordinary anyways. Well, his liver enzymes were 7-8 times higher than normal. His glucose was high too. She changed him to prescription dog food and we added SAM-E, milk thistle and vitamin E to his daily diet. She also noticed that he needed a dental cleaning and there might be an extraction or two needed. I scheduled that appointment for the following week. Day 1 and 2 on the new food, was normal. He begged me for more, but I didn't give him because I had strict instructions from the vet. Day 3 and 4, was normal and I was pleased to see he didn't beg for me. Day 5, he left some food in his bowl. In retrospect, this was the beginning of the end. Day 6, he didn't eat. Day 7, I brought him to the vet for his cleaning and mentioned the change in appetite. She didn't seem too concerned and went ahead as planned. I gave him wet food version of his prescription food that night along with a dose of the pain meds and antibiotic. He ate it all and then threw it up sometime in the middle of the night. I called the vet in the morning and she told me to give him small portions of rice and cottage cheese. He ate it all. Pleased, I figured we were on the right track. But by the next night, we was refusing to eat again. We did a thyroid test, which was normal. We switched him to baby food, which he ate happily. Small victory again! But again, the next day, he wouldn't eat. We did an x-ray looking for a tumor on the liver or for anything that would explain his not eating. Nothing. Made him some boiled chicken and got him to eat. Within 1-2 days, he wasn't eating again. Nothing I could do or cook would tempt him at all. Brought him in for IV fluids 2 days in a row and he seemed to perk up but still wouldn't eat. Another blood test and his levels were even higher. Started appetite stimulants and waited. 3 days went by and he didn't eat. The vet was closed that day so I started force feeding him mashed potatoes with a baby medicine syringe - 1/4 teaspoon every 30 minutes. He kept it down but didn't seem any better. 9am the next day, I was on the phone with the vet and brought him in for IV fluids. The only thing left to try was an ultrasound. So I approved the procedure, and started calling the list of specialists to get an emergency appointment. Got him seen that afternoon and my husband (now accepting there was a serious problem) said he wanted to take Bailey in. I agreed because I realized that I had been doing everything up to this point and my husband was struggling with the reality of the situation. He NEEDED to do this. I waited for news. When it came, it wasn't good. 2 lobes of his liver was destroyed. The rest of it had cysts, lesions, and was mottled in appearance. His kidneys hadn't showed any symptoms yet but the ultrasound showed damage there too. Gall bladder would need to come out and he had multiple kidney stones. The treatment was aggressive. 6 medications given for a month. His best chance was to admit him right there to the hospital and get him started. I called our vet and she read his results while she was on the phone with me. I could hear her tone change and she said, "he's already been on 3 of these meds with no results." She continued by saying we could try this approach but emphasized this treatment was to get him stable enough so they could treat the liver and kidney problem, which would not go away, just buy him time. Most likely, he wouldn't survive this hellish month of treatment. Through tears, I nodded and said he was now on day 4 of not eating. He was weak, sleeping all the time, and was so still that I caught myself running over to check for breathing. I told her that I thought he was telling me it was time. Then I begged her to come to my home to help Bailey pass on. Even though she wasn't really supposed to, she said yes and agreed she would come by the next day.
I stayed up with Bailey until 4am that night, holding him, and staring at the Christmas tree trying to will a Christmas miracle. I made deals with God. I bargained. I cried. I pled. Finally, I fell asleep and morning came too quickly. We explained to the kids that Bailey was very sick and dying. Because they are only 3 and 4, we skipped most of the details and just told them to say good bye to Bailey. My 3 year old son, not understanding, begged me to make chicken soup for Bailey. He told me that I needed to take care of him like I took care of them when they were sick. I started to cry and told him I wished I could but Mommy can't fix Bailey. He ran to get his favorite Cars blanket and gently tucked it around Bailey. They said their goodbyes, they cried a bit, but being preschoolers and not understanding death, they bounced back pretty quickly. I called my neighbor to come get the kids and keep them at her house until everything was over. With all that settled, I picked up Bailey and laid him on my chest. We rested like that on the couch until the vet arrived an hour later. My husband answered the door and came into the living room to get me. He gently said it was time and I stood up, still cradling my Bailey. I took two steps and my knees almost buckled and I let out a moan. When I looked down into my arms, Bailey was looking at me, barely able to lift his head. I put one foot in front of the other and walked into the kitchen area. The vet let me hold him in my arms and I cried more than I thought was possible. I told him I loved him. I told him thank you. I told him I was sorry. I told him everything in my heart. Very quickly, I saw the light leave his eyes. I FELT him leave me. I swear I did. And it ripped my heart out. I held him for a while and then handed him to the vet. We took off his collar and wrapped him up in his favorite blanket and watched her leave.
The next few days were hell. I kept doing things like walking over to his food bowl to fill it up, then when I saw the space empty, would cry all over again. I swore I heard the tinkle of his collar. I swore I heard him snoring in his corner. Christmas was bittersweet. Honestly, it's all a blurry haze for me. I miss him so much. I've lost pets before and I grieved for each one. But I always fiercely held my Bailey and said, "Not Bailey. Never my Bailey". His passing has rocked me to the core and the only thing that kept me from falling completely apart was my kids. From finding out there was a problem until the end, it was 3 short weeks.
Now, I deal with immense guilt. I had taken Bailey to several vets, convinced there was a problem with him. But I was always told there was no issue and lectured about how he needed to lose weight and was just lazy. In the last year, I took him to the vet because he was limping but no blood work was done. The limping went away and was probably just him jumping on it the wrong way. I didn't do blood work in a year. Maybe if I had, we would have caught this. The saggy stomach was nothing new - no other vet even commented on it and I didn't know it was an indicator of liver disease. I feel guilty for being ignorant about that. I feel guilty for changing his food and running these tests. Maybe that's what sent him into this spiral since there were no symptoms prior to that damn appointment. I feel guilty for being the one to say, "he needs to let go". I feel guilty for being the one that walked him into the kitchen. I feel guilty for being the one he was staring at as the vet pushed the medication into his body. Did he feel betrayed by my final action? Did he understand that I was doing what I thought was best? Did he know I was doing it to help him let go and stop the pain I saw in his eyes? Did he know that it was the hardest thing I've ever had to do? Did he understand that I was praying he would find the bridge and be reunited with Tobie and Savannah again? So much guilt.
Bailey was my light, my joy, and my friend. When we moved to the midwest, I had no family, no friends, was stuck in a new house in the middle of a harsh winter with a 3 month old and a 15 month old. My husband was working 70-80 hours a week. Bailey was my constant companion. He was my friend. He showed me unconditional love and affection no matter the day. He may not be here anymore, but I feel him around me. I promised him I would be okay, and I will be. But I will always miss my sweet Bailey. My Bailey.
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