I've avoided talking about some personal stuff going on in my life for a while now, but I think that the time has come to share with all of you guys what's going on, partially because it has affected the show/blog a little more recently, and may for a little while after this post, at least as far as my participation is concerned.
On September 27th of last year, my pug Otis was diagnosed with cancer in his bladder. It came as a complete shock to me, as I was thinking I was taking him to the vet to be treated for a bladder infection (He had a few accidents in the middle of the night while we were sleeping.) The tumor was/is inoperable, in that if they operated:
a.) there was a very good chance that he was going to have no bladder control and
b.) the way the tumor was growing, they were almost certain they weren't going to be able to get all of it, guaranteeing that it would grow back, and may be more aggressive.
The vet gave Otis a diagnosis of 1 to 3 months, but suggested that if I put him on chemotherapy, that may double his life expectancy. Bracing for an estimate of several hundred dollars, I was pleasantly surprised when my vet said it would cost approximately 27 dollars a month. I immediately agreed and Otis and I started our daily ritual of taking our meds together in the morning.
As months went on, Otis would get up several times in the night to demand to go out to pee. This was exhausting for Babaloo and I, but we did it because we knew that he couldn't help it. I think one night between the two of us, we got up six times. Eventually, we decided on taking turns, like parents with a crying newborn. It worked out well for months, even as we could see a gradual decline in his energy level. Then one night a few months ago, I was watching television with Otis in my lap, and it felt warmer than usual, but I didn't think anything of it. He got up, and I had wet pink spots all over my pants. Then, that night, I rolled over into a pattern of small wet spots all over any place where he had been sleeping. The brown sheets didn't help as far as seeing that there was blood in his urine (denial is a wonderful thing), but coming home from work the next day, and finding blood all over the kitchen and dining room floor was a nightmare for me. I called the vet and rushed Otis in to his office. The vet did a catheter on Otis, and brought in a vial that looked like tomato soup to show me. "This is what's in his bladder now." The vet said that the tumor had grown to the point of where it was feeding off of Otis' blood supply, and he would eventually become anemic. The vet gave me a prognosis of a couple of days. She also provided me with some antibiotics to possibly help ward off the risk of infection, as that may have been a factor as well. That was about two months ago. Otis got used to wearing an incontinence belt that has become so stretched out we have to tie it in a knot in the back, making him look like a little sumo wrestler when he walks around the house.
Over the last week or so, Babaloo and I have notice a severe drop in Otis' functioning. He's lost a significant amount of weight, you can feel his bones when you pick him up. He's stopped eating for the most part, though he did enjoy some Fuji apples yesterday, but tends to vomit when he does eat. He's still taking in a very small amount of water. His incontinence pad seems to less and less full when we change it, and he's sleeping a lot more, and becoming a little less steady on his feet. BUT, he's still following Babaloo and I around, still wagging his tail, still has a glossy look in his eye. Most importantly he does not appear to be in any pain. He's just kinda laying around like a senior dog should. We've begun talking about the final days, and if I should take him in versus letting nature take its course. Earlier today I spoke with the vet's office. She explained to me that unfortunately even though he is not suffering now, that he will begin going through dehydration, which she stated would result in suffering for him, something that I don't want. She said from the sounds of it, he's not quite ready to go yet, but we're looking at 24 to 48 hours now. (It's important to note here that I have said from day one the moment I think he is suffering, I will take him to the vet to be put down.) She explained to me the process for euthanizing a dog, and that my vet's office is willing to make a house call (!) to assist the family with comfort. We talked about final arrangements. I've decided I would like Otis to be cremated, and I think that I would like for his ashes to be returned to me.
Drum and I got Otis two days after 9/11. We were blessed to get him through Pug Rescue of Tampa Bay. He had been found wandering in the woods of Pasco County for what was probably weeks. He was gaunt and missing hair, and only 13 pounds when they gave him to us. We eventually got him up to 23 at his biggest, and while he was a pain in the ass at times, he is/was our pain in the ass. (I have offered for Drum to be present when we say goodbye to Otis, feeling it only right that he have a chance to say goodbye to him. He said he thinks he would like to be here.)
Otis is the first dog I have ever had, and this experience is something I never thought I would be going through. You kinda forget about this part when you get a dog, that they have shorter life expectancies than humans do. To say I am sad would be an understatement. I have a headache from crying all day, talking to people on the phone and keeping them up to date. Everyone keeps telling me I'll know when it's time to make that last call. I can feel that time getting closer. And it sucks.
So, while we taped 115 last night (pretty good show, if I do say so myself) and I will be editing it, it may be a little while before it gets to all of you. I'm thanking you all now for your support. I've said before we have the greatest listeners in the world, and I mean that. I know some of you will be thinking of Otis, and praying for him or whatever your belief system allows for. Just please take care of your pets, be it dog, cat, parakeet or snake.
Thank you all for letting me vent about this. I was feeling like I couldn't get anything done today until I got this off my chest.
Oh, and, because this is, you know, a blog for a comedy show, let me end with this. If anyone sends me a note or comment that involves the words "Rainbow Bridge" in it, I will personally fly to wherever you are, knock on your door, and when you open it, punch you in the throat. I hate that poem.