So, Thanksgiving came and went, and we are in the thick of the holiday season. I, as usual, am running behind. I have a good excuse this year – or a good reason (I really dislike the word “excuse” as it implies one is at fault) – but more on that later. I put up some more Christmas lights tonight, and a few Christmas decorations, but haven’t really done much otherwise. And I realized in putting up my lights that I have a bit of a light fetish. I love Christmas lights, and seem to have way more than I need. I have some of the old fashioned lights with the screw-in bulbs that I like to put outside on the porch railings. And I of course have some of the mini-lights that have been the norm for the past couple of decades. And this year I invested in some LED lights. (And last year too, evidently – as I found some in my Christmas box that I must have purchased in some after-Christmas sale last year.) As I went through everything this year I finally threw out several strings of the mini-lights that had bulbs out. Last year they gave up the ghost mid-season, and half the string wasn’t lighting up. For some reason I packed them up instead of tossing them.
So, it’s less than 10 days to the big day now, and I’ve done almost no decorating and little to no shopping. I was/am into the spirit of the season this year too, but things have kind of gotten away from me due to…well, stress, I guess. I’m coping, but just barely sometimes. There are a couple of things going on, but the biggest is that my beloved buddy, Cutter, was diagnosed with a nasal tumor three months ago and things have progressed to the point that I know a decision will need to be made soon. Decision meaning I will have to euthanize my sweet, my amazing, my wonderful bigstrongboy.
The tumor is inside his nasal passages – his left nostril has not passed air for at least three months due to the mass in there. I spent three weeks salary to find out what was going on (with a CT scan, rhinoscopy, and inconclusive biopsy) in September, and learned that there’s not much you can do for a nasal tumor – radiation therapy maybe, but at his age, with his existing condition of epilepsy (we woke up to a grand mal seizure this morning, thank you very much), and quality of life issues – not to mention crazy-expensive cost – I didn’t pursue that. Instead I’ve been giving him a plethora of alternative therapies, basically throwing sh** at the wall and hoping something sticks. He gets drops of herbal tinctures (Western herbs) on his food, as well as Chinese herb powder, also mixed in his food. He also takes a medication called piroxicam, which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID – Tylenol and Motrin are NSAIDs too) that is known to shrink tumors. I don’t know if it has helped, but one always hopes. I give him mushroom extracts and capsules – several species of mushrooms have great immune enhancing properties. I’ve also been giving him a Chinese herb capsule called yunnan baiyou to help with the bleeding. He has a bloody discharge from his left nostril, and one night even had a blow out – a sneezing fit left my office looking like a crime scene. I cleaned it up, the smell of blood so strong, and my clean up rags covered with blood, feeling like an accomplice to some gruesome CSI plotline.
So after two months of these semi-desperate treatments, he’s progressed to sounding like a bulldog with a cold. I thought the Darth Vader breathing of last month was bad (I’d half expected to hear “Luke, I am your father” in sonorous tones in the dark of night, as his breathing noises developed), but this snorty, snotty sound now, where he has difficulty clearing a breathing path (like small children, dogs don’t “get” that you can just breath out of your mouth) is becoming more prevalent. In sleep, the body wants to breathe through the nose; when eating or drinking, breathing through the nose is what the body is designed to do – anyone who’s ever had a cold knows the discomfort of trying to eat a meal, or get a good night’s sleep, while trying to breathe normally. Cutter is coping well – it’s really just been the last two days that have me wondering how many days I have rather than how many weeks. He’s a strong dog, and deals with things stoically (my strong Rottweiler boy), without complaints or drama, and he still enjoys his little pleasures – a good meal, a treat, some cuddles with mom (rubbing his head on my leg – oh, how I will miss this), but I can see that things are slowing down. He’s not as engaged as he was even a week ago; he’s curtailing activity and is less likely to, say, immediately follow me around the corner of the house in hopes that I’m heading up to the chicken coop (where he will get an egg for a reward). Little, subtle things that tell me he’s letting go – not quite done, and not suffering or in pain, but moving toward that awful day that will leave me broken. I try not to dwell on it, try to live in the moment with him, but I have to think ahead and at least have a sketched out plan for “the day,” so I can proceed then with as much serenity as possible, to see him off without undue drama. It would upset him to see me overly upset, though he knows I am already upset (as I sit here weeping over the keyboard, speaking of snorty, snotty sounds). I’ve told him that he only needs to let me know when he’s done, and I will take care of things for him. I preface this with telling him that he’s the best buddy a girl could ever have, and that even though I don’t want him to leave, I don’t want him to stay longer just for me, that I’ll be okay when he has to go. We both know that’s not true, but we both try to believe it.