:Questions and the Travelin’ Man

Susan and I have exchanged lots of posts, along with a phone call, in the past few days. I prefer to keep the following, sent on Sunday in the forefront of my mind.

Susan wrote…You’d never think from looking at them that there was anything amiss,
now would you?

The news from yesterday’s vet appointment wasn’t surprising:

So, the vet confirmed that Champ has a large neoplasm growing in his
upper left jaw.
We will try to keep him as comfortable as possible for as long as possible.At least it looks like he’s gonna make it to his 6-month anniversary
here, which is on Friday.
On Thursday I will take him in for some alternative energy therapy that
the vet thinks will help him with the transition.
Seems like we will just have to play out the rest of his life one day at
a time.

 

Although Champ’s probability for having fewer days on this planet is greater than yours or mine, doesn’t life boil down to The Present. It’s all there is, really. Yesterday’s gone. Not a single one of us knows what tomorrow will bring. Dogs excel at The Present Moment, a valuable lesson we’d be wise to learn from them.

During our phone conversation Sunday morning, I tried to ‘ask the questions’. The questions that would help guide Susan’s decisions with her own answers. To arrive at the right questions is simply an ability I have, including the Big Question. In Champ’s case, the Big Question was ‘if Champ could be back to how he was last Wednesday before the tentative diagnosis, would you and he want that?’ The answer to that guides the next questions. Susan said other than sneezing when he ate, he was fine. The sneezing, while annoying to both of them, wasn’t that big of a deal.

To me, then it was clear that the dental extractions and tumor removal were causing his extreme discomfort, never mind the pain of getting the anti-inflammatory, pain-killer and antibiotic through his sore mouth and into his system. And if Susan and Champ could get him back to last Wednesday’s status quo, then he very well could have quality time left. It is very, very hard emotionally to cause further pain giving medication. The words from a song come to mind. “You’ve got to be cruel to be kind.” One might ask if meds were needed. In this case, there’s no question in my mind. Yes! I’m fairly conservative when it comes to drugs, but the body often heals faster with some assistance from western medicine. Take advantage of drugs if appropriate!

In the early dawn this morning, two things were floating around in my mind. What has really changed for Champ with the knowledge of the neoplasm…  My ability to ask The Questions – will it come back to haunt me.

A year ago last Christmas holiday, I received a phone call from Faye at 2:30 in the morning. When the caller ID on the phone lite up, I knew something was very, very wrong. It was too early for Allie’s puppies to come into this world. Faye was at the emergency clinic with a comatose Allie. I asked Faye if they had her hooked to fluids. She replied not yet, I need to sign for treatment. Hang up the phone now! Go sign the forms! Call me back when that’s done! And so the night and into the next morning it went. I was clinical. I asked the questions. I was there for Faye. I boxed away my own emotions. Inside my heart was dying. Not only was Allie in very grave danger, but her puppies, her Manny puppies were most likely dead. I was looking forward to those puppies, to sharing the trials, tribulations and triumphs of those puppies with Faye. I kept that all to myself. My emotions weren’t going to help Faye. She needed a rock, not a puddle.

A day or three later it occurred to me that my approach had previously gotten me into big trouble, was one of the building blocks – or would that be wrecking crane – of a long-ago relationship with another dog person. My ability to be clinical, to ask the right questions for decision making, to be a rock was misinterpreted. I was accused of being uncaring, cold.

It is the ability to accept each other for who we are that ultimately decides who our friends are.

Allie survived an emergency ovariohysterectomy. Her uterus contained two dead, rotting puppies. I’d asked the right questions. Faye made the right decisions. I hope my questions continue to guide Susan down the path she’s travelin’ right now with our Travelin’ Man.

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5 Comments on “:Questions and the Travelin’ Man”

  1. Susan says:

    Sometimes it’s the little things that put you over the edge: Friday with be the 6-month anniversary of Champ’s arriving here at our house, and for some weird reason, it matters very very much to me that he is going to be here for that marker. We are having a pretend party, and everyone is invited to celebrate with us !!!!
    I’m going to cancel the appointments for the energy treatments, because I’ve decided that Champ would rather just stay home where he is comfortable. He trembled all the way to the vet’s office yesterday, and here he’s all smiles and licks. If the treatments were going to save his little life, I would go forward; but to put him through the trial of getting there….nah….we’re just going to stay home and cuddle a lot.
    So, all is as well as it can be here. Champ is very happy that he gets cooked chicken for every meal. And thank you ALL for all your help and caring.
    The answer to the question is that Champ is not ready to go anywhere else….not yet. When he is he will let me know. I will be listening and watching for his messages.

  2. Susan says:

    By the way, notice that in the pictures he’s lying on the very same blanket that Gail brought with him when she delivered this bundle of wonderfulness to me. Thanks, Gail.

  3. Gail says:

    I am here and I have been thinking of you and Champ (Panchen) and your dogs every minute since you wrote…(and of course, feeling guilty and helpless.and very sad..what did I do or not do right?) Dogs are with us for a reason and he went to you (and his tribe) at just the right time….We were lucky to share him for the time we had..Much love to you and to the Champ..

  4. Katy Widger says:

    My way of working through tough times like these is to try and find the “sunshine”.
    I “stole” that photo above of Champ in the Sunshine and spent the morning drawing myself some comfort…http://katywidger.blogspot.com/
    If love alone could heal that little guy, he would be well!

  5. >>> I’m going to cancel the appointments for the energy treatments, because I’ve decided that Champ would rather just stay home where he is comfortable. He trembled all the way to the vet’s office yesterday, and here he’s all smiles and licks. If the treatments were going to save his little life, I would go forward; but to put him through the trial of getting there….nah….we’re just going to stay home and cuddle a lot.

    Having been through several serious medical conditions with my first Apso, I feel less is the better course of action. At what cost do we prolong the inevitable? Is the treatment a salve for the dog … or our own grieving hearts? Would Champ choose a day in the sun or endless trips to the vet? As caring and loving owners, it falls to us to release them from an aged and ailing body … to take their pain and make it our own, as difficult as that may be.


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