I’ve never had to watch someone I love die a slow death before.
Our (my) dog, Hamlet is dying of lymphoma. He’s 7. He is my first dog – a wedding present from Rich.
On Monday, I dry heaved while we listened on speakerphone to an inappropriately chipper Dr. Ali Thompson deliver the news. She baby-talked her way through Hamlet’s diagnosis.
“He’s at least a stage three but might be a stage four but I couldn’t see it in his organs on the x-rays”
We put the phone on mute and fell in sobs.
No shit. She couldn’t see it. We’d been dealing with Hamlet’s extreme allergies for years — turns out they weren’t allergies. He had cancer. Misdiagnosed cancer. A cancer we could have treated instead of giving him allergy shots and buying $180 a bag hypoallergenic dog food.
Every “surefire” allergy treatment (Apoquel, Benedryl, Claritin, clemastine, shots, lotions, shampoos and special foods) failed him. He scratched off all his hair. I repeatedly asked the vets if we were missing some underlying problem.
They all told me “no – he’s too young.”
“at this late stage, you could do chemo, you might get 12 months –maybe more, maybe less.”
I wanted to smash something. I really wanted to punch Dr. Thompson until the tone of her voice matched the news she was giving.
We decided not to do chemo – the only question was how long does he have without it? The vet told us “Weeks, maybe months. ” Her voice lilting as she said it.
She chirped on about palliative care — could we bring him in tomorrow morning?
Weeks, maybe months.
- to fulfill a dog bucket list
- to feed him everything we thought he couldn’t eat: pork, chicken, lamb, peas, sweet potatoes.
- to watch him dream run in sleep
- to play dog at the top of the stairs
- to make franken-toys.
- to hear him bark and howl at non-existent burglars.
Weeks, maybe months.
- of 20 pills a day
- of ravenous hunger and thirst from the steroids
- of watching the gleam fade from his face
- of watching him panic when we leave the room
- of wondering if today is the day
Now I know – weeks – just two short weeks.
April 23, 2019 — We said goodbye today. I am heartbroken. Have a good sleep my Beastie-bestie. I loved you more than I ever thought possible.
Christine Meier is a digital content design expert.