This past long weekend I have had to face something that has brought me anxiety for over 14 years.
The time to say goodbye to my dearest best friend, Gypsy. Thankfully she didn’t want to say goodbye either.
She is an old dog. Deaf as a post. Has misty cataracts and a few growths that the old lady would not like me to point out. I know her time is near but other than these things she is quite healthy.
Over the weekend though we awoke to quite an ill dog. Suddenly her head and body had twisted up. Her hind legs where dragging a little and she wasn’t keen for anyone or anything.
My first thought was a tick, but couldn’t see one so we headed to the vet (thankfully the Mr was home) and was sent straight in. Unfortunately, the list of ailments it could have been at this stage was quite long so with a dose of antibiotics and anti-vomiting injections plus a blood sample we were sent home to monitor her.
The watching become like a horror film for me.
As the day went on my poor old girl continued to twist up, began only able to walk in circles, constantly fell over (luckily she allowed us to keep her in a fairly confined area) and by 5pm her eyes and eyebrows become like an old typewriter or pendulum clock moving back and forth.
Her little tail continued to wag. She showed that at least she wasn’t in any pain.
A quick call to the vet explaining her progression suggested two possible issues. Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome, a correctable problem that was fairly common or possibly a brain tumour. Two very different ends of the stick that could only be confirmed with an MRI.
My husband wasn’t game enough to correct me when I said I would enquire about the MRI in the morning. A cost of over $2000, how far over I wasn’t sure but was certain I needed some sort of confirmation so I knew where this was heading. Nothing could happen until morning though and after the blood test results come in.
I spent the night crying and checking on Gypsy who snored the hours away. I am so grateful she wasn’t in any pain.
The next morning I called the vet again for those blood results and really an answer on what to do. Her bloods were perfect and white cell count normal. A big positive but no indication to confirm what was wrong so he asked us to bring her in again so he could see her.
It had been just over 24 hours since her last visit and he was amazed at how fast everything had progressed. He again ran through the two possibilities of what had taken over Gypsy. Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome or a tumour on the brain or inner ear. When I mentioned the MRI the vet looked at me surprised but open to that possibility. I asked what he thought of an MRI for her (due to the look he had given me) to which he said “I think you will just be confirming your worst fears”. Then he quietly reminded me she is 14 and a half (over 100 in human years). He gave us a run down on what happens next which was the hard decision of having her put down but as he pointed out we could not allow her to go on how she was.
Before it come to that though he gave her a Cortisone injection and more medications just in case she could beat it and it wasn’t a tumour. The vet said we would most likely know by the morning which way we were going to have to go.
Through the afternoon I sat with her and gave her the prescribed medication and as the night went on I saw her go further downhill. By the time I went to bed she seemed a little spacey, like her ticking eyes were going someplace else.
I went to bed and cried. In the morning I was going to have to take her to the vet to be put down. It was a nightmare coming true. I was filled with guilt and kept stepping through a day that hadn’t happened yet. My face ached with tears. To be honest, 3 days later my head has only just stopped aching from crying so hard.
In the morning I woke and was so worried to see Gypsy. When I went into her she put her head up and though wobbly she was no longer dazed. After a bit of a cuddle and pat I tried to encourage her up and out the door to outside but she wouldn’t go.
Alarm bells started ringing.
I kept trying to get her up without physically moving her myself and still she wouldn’t move so I went out side and waited to see what she did.
Slowly she got up and walked out to me.
No more circles. Certainly not straight but she aimed for the door and was able to walk through it. Her eyes were no longer ticking fluidly but not completely still either.
She had improved!
My parents were coming out that morning to say goodbye to her and when they arrived I took them to see her. My Dad looked at me in a way to say don’t get your hopes up. I know. She is old but I knew I didn’t have to say goodbye today and just maybe it was Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome and not anything worse.
Over the past few days she has continued to improve though very slightly. I would say she will never be the same again. Her head on a tilt. She stumbles when she shakes herself. But she is happy with her stumpy little tail waging.
I am under no illusion that she is going to be around forever but I have a few more days of cuddles and hopefully it continues on for weeks.
I will never be ready to say goodbye to my Gypsy and I really don’t like being so close to the day I will have to.
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