Monday, November 16, 2015

The days have been hard. Right now i'm dealing with the guilt side of mourning. Asking myself all the stupid questions but top being what if's. What if there was a misdiagnoses and something else was wrong with him that was fixable that would have been detected by a second opinion. What if I had chose to bring him home for one more night before putting him down. What if i had waited to make the decision until we spoke to his normal vet again..maybe he could have changed diuretics that would have worked the 2nd time around. What if I had chosen to stay with him while he passed. What if the vet didn't give the sedative because I wasn't there to witness it.

I feel guilt for not allowing my family to give him a formal good bye. I brought him but most certainly wasn't expecting that to be the day I made the decision. Rob is a little upset taht he never got to formally say goodbye but if I had chosen to bring him home for one more night I know I would have spent the night just crying over him and that wouldn't have been fair to him. One more day would have just been for us not him.

I feel guilt because I felt I made to quick a decision. But in reality I had been weighing the fact since the day he was diagnosed with CHF and then even more when he had his belly drained. In the end if the meds didn't work I didn't feel it was fair to him.

I hate the guilt part of mourning. And it's hanging heavy the last few days.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

All the firsts to follow

Not only does an owner have to come to terms agreeing to have their pet killed humanely but then there are all the questions that pop up in your mind after it's been done and then having to get used to all the daily routines without that pet. I've had to catch myself so many times the last 2 days just from 11 years of habit with him. 

In my mind the questions that are nagging me that I know are to late and I can't keep thinking about them anymore are was did he go peacefully or was in any kind of pain or heartache that I opted to not sit in on it with him. I told them I wanted him sedated before the shot and she told me she did that. She walked in adn showed me the sedative but I didn't actually watch her administer. I believe she did though. I wish now that I would have at least been there while they sedated him. And perhaps left once he was sedated. And then the question of was the sedative enough to not make him fear what was happening to him or feel the pain of his heart stopping. These kinds of questions are terrible questions to keep falling back to because they are questions i will never have the ability to answer or do differently. 

All I can accept now is that he is no longer having to deal with the discomforts he had anymore and that he never had to experience the worst symptoms that were eventually to come. He still had some joy left in him and I think that's more fair to an animal than opting to wait until until they have hit a bit a point of such discomfort that you are forced to put them down due to inability to function anymore. I guess this makes me pro-animal. 

But the routine of waking up and listening to be sure he was breathing..yes I was at this stage with him and yet I guess I was just naive and in denial. I kept telling myself it was apnea and humans get apnea and are fine. His was much more than just an apnea. He was waking up or me forcing him awake gasping for breath and trying to catch up with breathing almost repeatedly in the night. 

The routine of regular potty breaks, regular feeds, regular petting and walks and play. Just a general habit of turning around and there he was. The habit of not having to vacuum everything up after eating or snacking because he was our little vacuum. The habit of breaking up some of our foods and slipping them to him. Passing the dog food aisle in the store. Baths. Picking up after them. Worry about having to make a stop home to be sure he can go outside potty. The habit of making sure he's in the room before closing a door. the nagging of keeping him away from the cat littler or from sniffing cat butts or from eating rabbit turds outside. 

I miss watching him being alert and barking happily at sounds outside. Or getting exciting if the kids would play ball. I miss his freak out runs around the yard. I miss how he used to curl up on my lap when i'd get comfortable on the couch or how he'd dig around at the bed comforter making it into a nest and getting cozy in it. 

He really wasn't into that stuff anymore and I didn't see it until now.  We just don't always pick up those changes when they are slow at changing. he was still alert and following us around the house and begging for our food but aside from that he was just living. He lost interest in the fun things for himself. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Why I chose to let go in the beginning of the end.

I might be a little post heavy as I grapple with my decision to let Buster go before he showed real major signs of his disease (which are often labored breathing, fainting, no interest in anything not even food, the fluid build up and so forth). Buster was still eating, it was his favorite past time and the one warning his breeder told us when I picked him out. He wasn’t aggressive over food he just really really loved food. But if I were to pick his top 5 joys and comforts and his enjoyment for them as of recently it would be this
1. Eating. Before we first drained his stomach he was down to eating maybe once a day and not much. He was pretty much picking at his food and mostly so the kitten wouldn’t eat it. 
2. Running around the backyard or walks. After Busters dog attack in our neighborhood (the one that jumped the fence and attacked him) I was afraid to walk him much. I kept his walks to a little stretch away from any houses. I feel bad for not taking him quite as often but we have a terrible loose dog problem in our area and I was terrified of running into any). But on our last walks before the stomach drain he absolutely did not walk anywhere near as he did before. I had to carry him at points because he just didn’t want to walk but enjoyed being outside. He no longer did his ‘freak out’ run around the back yard. He would go out and do his business, maybe sniff for  a minute or 2 and then just want back in. After the stomach pump it was pretty much the same thing only he felt well enough to eat rabbit turds. 
3. Playing or carrying around his squeaky toy. He Loooooooved his squeaky toys. He played with them so often that we had to replace them a couple times a year but it was the only brand and type of squeaky he preferred. He was always so excited when he’d get a new one that he ignored the previous one. He did not care about the squeaky anymore. After the drain I got him a new one. He had interest in it for a day but after that he just didn’t care about it. 
4. Sleeping situation. He was 11.5yrs old. He has slept in our bed since he was potty trained. After his injury a few weeks ago from jumping out of our bed (i had stairs made a few years ago but he still insisted on jumping down) we had to remove the stairs and force him to sleep floor/blankets/dog bed. He was distraught. It took him a week of being gated off in our room for him to finally accept bed sleeping was done with. I think this alone made him depressed but we couldn’t. I let him sleep in our bed one evening while I was crocheting and realized he had almost constant apnea episodes because our bed was to cushy for him to sleep in. He did better in his dog bed and on the floor but he still had to many of the apnea episodes for my liking. After the drain they stopped. But were slowly starting again after a few days once his stomach started filling up again. He also could not lay like he used to. He was only most comfortable laying on his stomach and that alone I could tell was not comfortable to him. 
5. Laying on or by us as we lounged during the day. He no longer came up onto the couch to lay on my lap or curl up in his blankets. He would maybe lay in the dog bed but otherwise was only comfortable sleeping on the hard floor. I know deep down this was not what he wanted nor was it comfortable once his belly would fill with fluid. His joy and relaxation came from curling up in his blankets or laying Rob or my lap. 
This is the first time i’ve done this and most would do it before choosing to put down but I guess deep down I already knew these things. So while stomach draining was a temporary relief (to short of a relief IMO and the drains being painful) I knew it was in Busters best interest to just let him go with dignity and while i could say goodbye from him and get licks and tale wags and while he could walk his final walk not in pain.

Goodbye Buster Brown Jones. 07/04-11/15

We had to let go of our dog yesterday. We had him our entire marriage and he was like our first kid. He was 11 1/2 yrs old and was recently diagnosed with congestive heart failure after I brought him in for bloating and swollen back legs. He barely tolerated walks anymore and wouldn't sit on my lap or play with his toys anymore. At the appointment the vet noticed a heart murmur that was never detected his entire life. He found it via radiography where he also found Buster was so full of fluid. He tried diuretics over that weekend but come Monday they weren't working. So he was admitted for the day and drained of the fluid in his belly. They removed 3 liters (5lbs) of fluid. He was so skinny when we got him home but the next day he was acting himself again for the most part. By day 3 I realized he was getting chubby again to quickly. I waited it out another day or so but noticed with each day he was just getting bigger and I couldn't lie to myself as to what it really was, he was filling up with fluid again despite the diuretics and heart meds.

I brought him in yesterday though his follow up wasn't supposed to be till next week. I just couldn't make him wait that long because by then he'd back to the state he was in in the first place and he was surely miserable and having bad bad apnea at night from lack of being able to breath good. His normal vet was off for the day and a fill in was there. For some reason after our discussion of what we could do that day for him I felt comfortable with her honesty. His original doctor really skirted around the issue when I tried mentioned putting him down if he filled back up with fluid after the drain. Essentially we could have waited the weekend to see his normal vet on monday, we could have drained the fluids from his belly and see what monday brought or we could accept that this was a dire situation and for Busters benefit let him go now before he got back to a terribly uncomfortable state.

Some owners will put their pets through repeated drains in hopes to prolong their life. But I read a good article that stated animals only live in the moment, they don't try to look to the future. Meaning all your animal knows is that at that moment they are going through medical procedures that painful and not fun. All in the name of the owner having hope of keeping them around a big longer. I told his vet from the start before we even did the first drain that if it came down to needing another one I don't think I could put him through that. The excess fluid build up is a mixture of leaked blood and extra body fluid that the heart just can't keep on top of and so it leaks and fills up in the heart, lungs and abdomen. Once it reaches the abdomen that typically means the situation is worsening and the extra fluid makes it difficult and uncomfortable for them to breath. The fluid is filled with their nutrients and so the drains are quite stressfull on their bodies. They are losing the leaked blood and the fluid with nutrients (despite it being in excess) and it has the potential of causing shock or a heart attack. While Buster felt relieved the next day I know it was hard on him and he was stuck in some hospital crate all day. that is not quality of life for my dog.

And so after calling the Mr. and discussing what we had already discussed after the first drain we agreed for Busters sake it wasn't worth trying to drag out the inevitable just for ourselves. I could not picture him being stuck in a cage at a hospital just so I can have a few more days here and there with him. I never even felt comfortable enough to board Buster for trips his entire life...we worked around him for 11yrs. Sure the vet bills were horrible and we couldn't afford a specialist but even with a specialist they cannot reverse congestive heart failure..they too can only try to prolong the inevitable. If he was much younger we maybe have given it more thought. So we decided it was time to let Buster go with dignity and afford him that luxury that human's don't have for themselves. To die before the worst stages hit. Animals hide their pain and despite good outward appearances for us animals are probably in pain in these cases.

The fact his belly filled up within just days meant his condition was pretty severe. It came on sudden (though i'm sure there were signs the last few months we just didn't notice) and at a pretty late stage that while the heart meds seemed to help his blood flow better the diuretics weren't working one single bit other than making him horribly thirsty. The vet yesterday said she has seen owners that try a variety of diuretics and multiple diuretics and in the end the animals can still become filled back up but all the animal is left with is feeling severely dehydrated and guzzling so much water because of the diuretic drying everything else up but the built up fluids.

I cried all night long. I will probably cry a lot the next week. Bekk's death was just as hard but we had Buster much longer. After having a pet die unexpectedly and having to let one go I still can't tell you which one is less difficult. I'm angry that we didn't know what caused Bekks death and dwelled on the idea that we missed some cues that she wasn't doing good but really the longer i analyzed it the more I realized she really gave no indication anything was off with her. Letting Buster go was hard but he was sedated and didn't realize what was going on, He may have known something was up but i can't bring myself to believe that he knew his life was ending. Part of me wishes I was there when he passed but in the end it wouldn't have been easy either way I chose and each option (being there with him or not being there with him) had it's own emotional tortures to it. And seeing him physically die I think would have been a whole other game of guilt. And at the moment I feel comfortable seeing him go with the vet vs watching him die.

I didn't opt for a foot print because all I would see that as was the day i decided to put him down and I didn't opt for ashes, i didn't with bekk either, because his ashes would just sit around and be a constant reminder of his death as well. My parents kept their pet ashes and I never understood it. Part of me wonders if I should have kept his ashes to spread somewhere he enjoyed playing but we moved so much while we had him and we will never make it back to his favorite places to spread his ashes. If I had the luxury I would have spread his ashes in the woods on Eglin AFB because we had so many fun walks through there. That's where he spent the first half of his life. He really lived such a great life with us. I spoiled him like a kid. I felt guilty that our priorities changed after having Mannix but he adjusted and started getting along with Mannix as Mannix got a little bigger. I know he craved my attention more because i didn't give him as much but a human life and an animal life really can't be compared like that. Even after mannix he was still spoiled and afforded so many luxuries some other pet owners don't afford their pets in the least.

The last picture was him in the woods on Eglin. He was such a happy dog until this past year. We just chalked it up to old age but maybe that was a sign of the heart failure we just didn't pick up on. The last few weeks he could barely go on walks. I think he walked just for us and because i was pushing him to. He walked so so much slower and didn't have his normal spunk which he would pull me on his walks normally. He took a lot of breaks just for a half mile walk and I had to carry him at times because he just wouldn't anymore. I started walking him because I thought he was putting on weight from being on strict bed rest after his paw injury for 2 weeks but after a walk one day i noticed his back legs swell up. I thought maybe arthritis but it just didn't look right and my gut was telling me something was wrong. So the next day we brought him in and that's when we discovered the horrible accumulation of fluid and the heart murmur. I feel this was the beginning of the end for Buster. Thats when we started the diuretics with no results followed by the belly drain. The vet was sure the diuretics would work now that the majority of the fluid was gone (he had some in his lungs I guess but he didn't feel comfortable draining that too because that was much more risky). but in only 4 short days he was nearly half as big as he was when we brought him in for the first drain. My heart could not put him through another drain only for it come back a week later again and repeat the process. The vet said he was already on the highest dose of diuretic but the fluid was just to persistent for the pill to work.

I know i'll be battling guilt for a while but my gut was telling me since we first found out he was filled with fluid that our days were shortening with him and reading up on his condition and comparing his symptoms to owners who had dealt with it for years..he was late in the stages of disease and hold out hope was not fair for him because you cannot reverse CHF. Many of the owners wished they would have accepted the condition by the beginning of the end and put their pets down to avoid their suffering but some of them kept their pets going for themselves and put them through many medical procedures and days of pain. They felt guilty for that afterwards.

I could go on and on and on about this but 11 1/2 yrs is a good long life for most dogs. Bostons live on average between 13-15 in good health. My child hood dog passed away at 12. He might have lived to 12 had we tried more and more meds and regular drains but that is no life for an animal in my opinion.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The dog

Nobodies awake. I wish I was sleeping but my dog is keeping me awake. I'm going to seriously hate this come morning when my kid decides to wake up early.

Buster had his abdomen drained of excess fluid. His condition got bad without us knowing it. Of course, we had no idea anything was wrong till it got this bad. But the diuretics weren't working on their own because there was just to much excess fluid for it even make a damper on. So they drained him. It came out to be 3 liters. 5 lbs of fluid. My poor dog. I thought he was just getting fat. Little did we know what the hell was going on until he started getting edema in his back legs and his lethargy really kicked in.

He's not on heart meds in addition to the diuretic. He's guzzling so much water. Hopefully his body adjusts and get back to a comfortable place. But tonight I thought he was sleeping great until Rob got home from work then he woke up and has been obsessively licking the floor and his dog bed. The sound is so annoying it's disturbing my attempts at sleep so I decided to head downstairs to feed him. Maybe he's hungry and some food will help him get sleepy. He sure is eating like a mad man but showing no signs of being tired. He must be having a midnight wind from the heart meds. I hope this doesn't mean i'm going to have a restless dog now in the middle of every night.

On the topic of religion. This has always been a flip flop subject for me. I had a good belief until something about it just faded for me. . I was exposed to new idea's that made me question an existance of a higher being. My husband does not. I'm realizing I feel lost without it. We all need something to believe in. And despite all my searching and idea's none of them make me feel complete. None of them make me feel like i've found a comfortable place of belief.  And there are just things that keep pointing me in the direction of believing in a God. Everybody is different and I don't judge anybody on where their faith and beliefs lay. But I do feel it's important we at least feel we have something we can feel gives us a purpose or reason for being. Some people it's nature and or the universe. Some people it's believing in human kind's ability to prevail in goodness despite all the negatives in our world. For some it's an inner spirituality. Other's look to a higher being.

I came across this article and honestly it's strike the right cords for me.

"It's not until someone convinces me that the universe is not real, that the universe is a fantasy, that it is not as big as it is, and as complex, and as awe-inspiring. When the universe is revealed as another Santa Claus, just another fairy tale made up to trick us, then I would come to question the existence of God. But while I can still stare out at the stars and galaxies all those millions of light years away, whose light is powerful enough to still reach my eyes regardless of the gulf between us, I can do nothing else but believe there is a Creator behind it all."

Monday, November 9, 2015

Buster isn't doing so great. After a week or so of him not chippering up after his paw healed (he had some injured soft tissue from jumping off the bed) I decided to bring him again. I felt something was just off, especially since he wasn't excited about walking nor kept up his normal pace and had to take a lot of breaks. The night before taking him in I noticed his back legs were swollen.

The next day the vet determined Buster's body was filled with fluid. Like a lot of fluid. So much he couldn't see past it on the radiography into his stomach and he could barely see his esophagus and heart. He kept Buster for a few hours to do some blood work and ultra sound to try and see past the fluid. When I picked him up the doctor concluded Buster has congestive heart failure. Thus all the fluid and edema in back legs. He said it appeared the rest of his organs are fine. He was expecting to find a tumor somewhere in his stomach because of all the fluid.

So i was sent home with diuretics over the weekend in hopes to dry up all the fluid enough so that he can start heart meds. We go in soon this morning to see if they helped at all. If they didn't the vet said there pretty much isn't anything we can do for him after that. My heart breaks. I was crying all day Thursday. If you've followed my blog from the beginning you know Buster is like my first child. Sure after having a real kid and being very side tracked by that he's become the 2nd child wiht a little less attention but he's still like my kid and a member of our family. Deep in my heart I feared on his 11th birthday how much longer we have with him. He's been healthy up till this point and I was hoping my fears were nothing and we had a few more years with him. Bostons typically live 13-15 years. I'm hoping we get good news from the vet today. If he is able to start the heart meds then he will be on them daily the rest of his life.

In other news, I attended a new church yesterday. I enjoyed the pastors sermon but I felt a little overwhelmed and confused by all the jazz of the place. When I walked into the room for sermon it's like I was walking into a theater. There were guys on this big stage with Big screens,light and sound effects and fog machine. They were playing some christian song from the radio i'm guessing. They don't sing from a hymnal.

 My friend, whom attends a church regularly, says this is the way many churches are going now. They are trying to keep up with the day and age. Understandable, but part of me wonders how much of that is necessary. If we want to believe in God why do we need to spend all the money on all the fancy effects. Can people not feel the love without music building them up for the climax of a sermon? Perhaps this is how people through the ages feel every time something changes about the churches. I grew up in a very conservative church. You had to take classes to become a member, you had to take communion classes to be able to take communion through them, you had to donate so much a year in the offering (found this out early on when we'd get a tally of what we offered yearly and once I moved I was removed from the church for not donating anymore...seriously...). Eitherway, this church is worth another shot. I felt more moved by this pastors sermon than the previous church I tried of another friends.

Why am I going back to church? Well that's for another time I supposed. I need to take the dog to the Vet.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

In my perfect world My house would be sparkly clean on a daily basis, I'd have more closer friends,  i'd be a master knitter/crocheter and own a well-off online shop, my husband would go out of his way to help out with chores and i'd exercise on a regularly basis. I'd be stress free and have a better sense of humor and be more out going.

But there is no such thing as a perfect world so for now my house will be tolerably clean, I knit/crochet for fun when I get the chance, I'll still have to nag the husband to try to chip in with some chores (which will be a fail either way) and I exercise when the mood strikes me. My stress level, I feel, will always be as it is until I learn some magical technique that sticks to help me see the brighter side to life and well...i'd have a better sense of humor if I didn't take things so literal or serious all the time.

There are days I wish I could rewire myself but despite seeking help here and there from counselors and so forth the effects of those only last a few weeks and then i'm back to old habits.

I started writing in my journal again and the last entry i noticed formed around social media and how I think it really affects me. I have 3 main group of friends i socialize with and majority of keeping in touch is through facebook. But one of them I've noticed I feel so pressured with. I feel like i'm constantly trying to feel like I fit in but i'm always just on the edge of their inside jokes and I don't get to hang out with the group as regularly as most of them do. I'm beginning to feel like i'm only there still because they don't have the heart to tell me to go away? This could totally be in my head but I do notice I don't feel like my heart is really in it with them. It's nice to get out for coffee with them some friday's and join them for the occasional party but I have a hard time feeling I fit in. I always feel awkward when I chime into the conversation most of the time and that i'm one step behind on their jokes and banter.

Part of me really wants to quit facebook for a while again (sometimes i get the feeling indefinitely) to gain a little more confidence in myself  because comparisons and feeling obligated to make conversation or meet up's with people runs very high. It stresses me out. I miss the good old days when you relied on phone calls and physically going to someone's house to socialize with them. So much more personable. But now a days with social media ruling the social side of life people are afraid of coming face to face with another person unless it was decided first via some form of indirect interactions first.

I'm feeling nostalgic for the 80's and 90's.

I feel this coming new years I need to set some goals for 2016. I feel this year went by so fast. I want to step up my game within myself and not spend this next year feeling as if I need to cater to everyone else. Feeling of obligation and need to please others really took over me this year. While I did learn some stuff about myself new habits are having a hard time sticking. Perhaps I will try a year without Facebook and basicaly leave people the option to email, text or call (or :gasp: write physical letters via physical mail). I wonder how hard that would be but i bet you only a small handful of people I talk to now will actually socialize with me that way. I suppose time will tell.

 I'm thinking it will also help rid the false expectations I give myself of how my house should look, how I should be raising mannix or just generally how I should be living my life because seeing others do things their way in life makes me feel terrible about how I live mine. While we all know most stuff posted online is mostly just select perfect moments among a bunch of imperfect one's those imperfect one's aren't heard about. It's very misleading even if you tell yourself it's not always as it appears.