Wednesday, October 24, 2012
biding our time
Ivy Lou's liver hasn't been responding to the chemotherapy, so we took her in this morning to get an ultrasound to see what the deal is.
Turns out, the Lymphoma has been responding to treatment, but the new, unexpected, secondary cancer that's formed masses in her liver and metastasized to surrounding organs, has not.
That's right, she now has two different forms of cancer in her body (Lymphoma and Carcinoma), and chemotherapy will not lead to remission (this makes three cancers she's battled since we adopted her, because she overcame a nerve sheath tumor last year).
The oncologist has given her 2 - 4 weeks, tops.
This is obviously much, much less time than we had initially anticipated with the original prognosis and treatment plan, so I'm basically beside myself with sadness and anger and dread. I've said it before on this blog, but I'll say it again, Ivy Lou is my child! I'm struggling, trying to figure out what to do. Reason tells me to say my goodbyes this week and make an appointment to have her put down as soon as possible, in order to prevent her suffering as much as possible. But I can't bear the thought of actively letting my Ivy Lou die. I can feel weights on my chest whenever I think about the fact that we'll soon have to decide when she dies. We'll have to call our house call vet and make plans for him to come over and euthanize her. It'll go something like:
"When shall I come over?"
"Oh, Wednesday will be fine."
"Okay, I'll see you on Wednesday."
And then I'll know that Wednesday is the last day she'll ever live to see. The last day she'll ever feel the sun on her nose or the cement under her toes or the warmth of our bed or the adoration of passerby on her walk. I can't really at all bear the thought of choosing a day. Or a time. Or calling the cremation service to come pick her up. Or picking out an urn. I can't bear to make those kinds of decisions. I'm guilty no matter what I do. And then I have to watch her die. I have to watch her take her last breath. I have to watch her body stiffen with lifelessness and know that the only thing I actually really love doesn't exist anymore.
And even as I'm writing this, I'm coming more and more to terms with the fact that all of the awful things I've listed above aren't just things I'm thinking about or crying about or writing blog posts about-- they will actually really actually happen. And it has to happen, because, as B always reminds me, we can't wait until the only thing left of her is her wounds.
Another thing that sickens me to think about is how this wonderful, amazing, generous organization called Fetch a Cure agreed 2 days ago to completely pay for the rest of Ivy Lou's chemotherapy. We won't be continuing treatment, however, so that bird has flown.
And then I think about how we just signed up for this beagle meet-up group in Richmond, thinking we could get her out and about in the next couple months during her remission (a remission we'll never see). Well, that bird has flown too.
The only thing, and I mean the only thing, that brings me comfort in all of this is knowing we're going to do our best to reduce her suffering and end everything before life becomes too painful for her. Ivy Lou has no idea she's dying, and we're going to keep it that way. We're going to treat her like a queen every day, with endless treats and belly rubs and walks and smelly foods, until we realize that the beginning of the end is coming, and then we'll make the right and reasonable choice to let her die as though she'd only ever lived. And then she'll go wherever she goes.
I've never really much been one to believe in a god or heaven or anything. But sometimes, especially recently, I feel like I just have to believe that there's some kind of afterlife. It's the only way to reconcile this awful event. It's the only way to justify her unfair death. It's the only way I'll get through the day, knowing that one day, when we die, there is some semblance of hope that we'll be reunited with all our pets, our beloved family members, who will be greeting us with compassionate eyes and wiggling tails when we arrive. I let myself believe this because I love Ivy Lou.