Vestibular disease, and dogzheimers, and a brain tumor – oh my!

This blog is quickly turning into the journey of my Penny girl’s final days, weeks, months whatever the case may be.

After my tearful post last weekend we had a rough couple of days Monday and Tuesday. At one point I even called the vet to ask what exactly was required to set up an appointment to put her to sleep. Since we had no definite answers to what was causing her to go downhill so quickly I also spent most of my time when she was sleeping on Google. Because you know, Google is a fantastic diagnostic tool.

What I found was a vet on a message board (Texas Bow Hunters group none the less) who was sweet enough (or stupid enough) to give out his e-mail address to another distressed member of that group. I took a chance and messaged him. The basis of my e-mail was “how do you know when it’s time.”

It was a sniffly e-mail full of details from the past couple of weeks. He was very sweet and replied within minutes and eventually ended up calling me.

In between my e-mail and his response I got down in the floor with her and said “If you want to fight, I will fight.”

And just like that – she got up. I really think she was laying around waiting to die because I was walking around sobbing, waiting for her to die.

We went for a walk in the yard that day. She started eating again. She was still not barking or tail wagging but my girl was up.

Day by day, she became more herself. She started responding to her name. She growled at me when I bent down to pick her up to carry her up the stairs. She made it up by herself after a few attempts. I think the growl was a “back off mom, I can do it” growl as she’s never growled at me before. We’ve taken numerous walks down the block and though they prove exhausting for her, she lights up when she sees her leash. Her night pacing is still going on but she is managing to sleep at times. She even started tolerating Miles more which made me feel way better. He’s been so depressed.

Just as I was feeling more confident – she had another seizure. In true parent denial I was not convinced what happened last Friday was one. But yesterday morning definitely was. I had gone outside with Miles (the other dog child) and heard her tag clicking. I thought she had gotten stuck in a corner so I came inside to bail her out. I found her on the living room floor on her side. She was shaking violently and foam was coming out of her mouth. Thanks to Google I knew not to get anywhere near her mouth but did but my hand on her side and talked to her to let her know I was there. It only went on for about a minute but was earth shaking for me. I told Sam a few days prior if she was having seizures and had another one, then it would be time.

Except it isn’t Penny’s time. Immediately after the seizure she bounced up and went to get her new food dish. Katelyn donated a bowl she got at Sea World (looks like a whale, has a tail) because Penny can carry it in her mouth. She ate breakfast and walked normally.

Another call to the vet was made. He was quiet for a few minutes and he said “I’m pretty sure it’s a brain tumor.” Silence on my end. Dog dementia was horrible enough and I was coming to terms with it. Dementia is not a death sentence. A brain tumor probably is. We discussed options. MRI followed by radiation. We discussed her age and quality of life. The MRI alone at this point is dangerous because it requires anesthesia, as would every single radiation treatment. She clicked her little doxie toes over to where I was sitting and sat next to me. In my head I knew my answer already. Quality of life is much better than quantity. I advised we would just love on her and treat symptoms as needed. The vet said he felt that was the most loving decision.

Last night I took K over to visit her Papa, Granny and Great Aunt Sharon and tried to get Penny in the car. She tried to jump in once but gave up. She wouldn’t let me lift her in the car. We brought her back inside and I left feeling like I had abandoned her.

A week ago I would have felt awful refusing a  treatment option that might buy us a month or two. But when I woke up this morning and my heart did not feel like it was sinking – I know I made the best choice. I want Penny to enjoy the last days of her life. I don’t want her any sicker than she needs to be. I don’t want her to suffer the anxiety of repeat trips to the vet or me trying to cheer her on into the car to go. I want her to eat like crazy (her appetite has been insatiable the past few days – also a sign of brain tumor) and the girl cannot get enough of soft canned food. The Anipryl seems to be working miracles in her cognitive understanding of where and who she is. Of course we don’t know how long we’ll have. The vet said 3 – 6 months. Closer to 6 months with successful treatment. But we don’t know how long she’s had it. So. We’ll enjoy every day that she is enjoying.

She isn’t in any pain. She’s clicking through the house. She howled at a fire engine on Thursday and it was literally the first sound she’s made in two weeks. And it was beautiful.

My heart was broken at the though of losing her. But now that I know the reality of it – I’m enjoying every second of this beautiful baby.

We chose Miles. Penny chose us. And both of their coming home stories are beautiful in their own way. She’s always trusted me with her life and life is what I’ve chosen to give her. We will take it day by day and when she stops enjoying walks, ear scratches and attempting to sneak a bite of cat food – it will be time. And I will be strong enough. I have to be.

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