Sunday, March 07, 2010

Last Pictures




I can't believe these crummy photos are the last ones I will ever take of Lucy. It was last weekend, when we had a big storm that was dumping 15 inches. She did a gallop in the yard with Cliff (top) but after a few clicks we went back inside where it was warm. And I put the camera away. Why did I put the camera away??

I don't understand it. She was doing so well. On Sunday night she had a slight breathing attack, but it only lasted maybe 30 seconds. I was so happy. I thought maybe the tramadol and antibiotics were helping. No breathing attack Monday. None Tuesday. I was so happy.

Wednesday evening I took a Tylenol PM (headache) and fell asleep watching Ghost Hunters on TV. About 11, I woke up to Lucy having a breathing attack. I got up and sat with her, but she kept heaving. I held up her back end (she's wobbly) and keep rubbing her, but she's not calming down. The minutes pass and she can't breathe and I'm becoming more and more concerned. I move away from holding up her backside, and look at her face, and see bloody foam is bubbling from her mouth as she heaves. I panic. I plead with her to breathe. Her eyes are bulging and she's terrified and losing it. That's when I think, "Shit. This is it, she's suffocating to death. Shit, shit SHIT." I grab my purse, car keys, and the Emergency Vet brochure off the fridge, and try cajoling her to the door. She can't move and although her mouth was wide open, you couldn't see inside well because it was covered in sheets of thick mucous. She's still heaving and gagging for breath. I can see she's absolutely terrified. The bloody foam is stringing down from the corners of her mouth. As soon as I go to pick her up, she has a convulsion/seizure and poops and pees all over the floor and herself. I get her out the door and put her in the back of the Scion, turn on my flashers and begin the 30 mile drive to the Emergency Vet, flying the whole way, blowing stop signs and stoplights. Lucy lay in the back where I dumped her, muzzle covered in mucous, gagging and heaving. Eventually she stops & I can't tell if she is dead or alive. Do I stop and check?? Keep going?? Do I drive and try to get to the vet in time, or pull over and sit with her while she dies???? I call the vet and let them know what is happening and ask them to be ready. I call Bridge and leave a panicked message. I call my parents' cell phones again and again until they answer. Mom stays on the phone with me while I'm shaking and sobbing that Lucy might be dead, she's not gagging anymore in back, just laying face down in her own stomach mucous. It was horrific. It was the most horrific drive of my life.

We pull into the vet's office and the vet tech comes out to help me get Lucy out. She was alive, but really out of it. They begin administering oxygen. I sit shaking and crying in the waiting room, waiting for news. Blessings, they were able to revive her. After awhile I was able to go in and visit. She was in rough shape but perky, eyes bright. sitting up. We got to have a little time together, and go outside briefly for some fresh night air. Afterward, we went into a  room with a scene of the Rainbow Bridge painted on the wall, where Lucy lay on a thick blanket and we got to say goodbye.

Around 1:30 AM Thursday morning, I drove home alone.

The vet said the mass in her muzzle felt like cancer, not infection, and confirmed it was probably squamous cell carcinoma because of the location... either growing up from her throat, or from the tumor down her throat. Of course we can't know for sure, maybe I should have had a necropsy done for peace of mind. I guess it doesn't matter now.

Although it was semi-peaceful in the end, it haunts me that the last hour or so of her life was so violent. She didn't deserve to go that way. She didn't deserve to be terrified and suffocate like she did. I knew that we may be facing end-of-life issues, and had wanted to bring her to see her favorite neighbors before she died. I wanted her to see my parents' new house in Utica. I wanted her to see spring and be able to sunbathe for one last time. I wanted her to be at home or in the car (she loved rides) when the vet came with the needle. I wanted it to be peaceful and beautiful for her. I didn't want her to be covered in her own feces and dried bloody mucous in some strange office. I didn't want her to go that way. She deserved more than that.

She deserved so much more than that.


Alex said...

Neither one of you deserved a night like that, and you both deserved another spring.
But none of us is guaranteed even one more day.
She knew you were there for her until the very end and I know she knew how very much you loved her. I'm glad you had a chance to properly say good-bye. I hope it gives you some peace.

Amie Roman said...

Aww, Jen, I am so very sorry. That is so traumatic, for both of you. But in the end, she knew that you loved and cared for her, and that you were doing everything you could to help her, and what better thing can we do for our beloved pets?

Take care of you.

Sarah Regan Snavely said...

I'm so sorry, Jen...

Katherine said...

She deserved more, but death is arbitrary and often cruel. You certainly don't deserve to be left with memories of such a rough passage.
We lose pets (and peeps) easy and lose them hard. All I know is to focus on the beautiful life, not the rugged transition. And Lucy had an amazing life, full of your delight, humor, dedication, activity. No better, ever.

jcp said...

I'm so sorry that you had to go through that. Nobody deserves it.. but even though it was horrible at the end, at least you were there for her through it all. Try to focus on the great life you shared together.

Michelle said...

Jen -
So sorry to hear about Lucy. What a horrible night you had! :( She is in a better place now - running around without having to worry about breathing.
- Chelle

Michelle said...

Jen -
So sorry to hear about Lucy. What a horrible night you had! :( She is in a better place now - running around without having to worry about breathing.
- Chelle

hopeyt said...

Jen - I am so sorry for the loss you must be dealing with right now. It makes me happy, though, to think of what an amazing life Lucy must have had with you and Jack and Cliff. I can't think of anyone better to be with her; I am sure that even if the transition was difficult for her, she must have felt very supported through it all. Take care, Jen!

runswithdog said...

This is Andrew. Jen, I am very sorry to hear about Lucy. She was a fantastic dog with a perfect, velour belly. There are a few things I'd like you to read - and they follow.

Life, we can excercise some control over and you gave Lucy a fantastic life. It was clear that she was a valued member of your family.

Death on the other hand can be slowed, but it always comes. It can be violent or it can be silent. But it always comes. And while Lucy's was a horrible experience (yet entirely natural) you even managed to ease that experience. First your attention to her condition enabled her to have a few more days of comfort with no attacks. And in her final hours, you rushed her to experts who brought her back to a stabilized state, brought her back so that she could sleep in peace.

There can be no second guessing.

If I were to be a greyhound, I can think of no better place than to be with you.

Dave McGurgan said...

Sorry to hear about Lucy. I appreciate all the stories, pictures and videos you share. Makes me feel like I'm right there with you and your greyhounds.

Dave McGurgan
Greyhound Adoptions of Florida
Web content editor

時尚 said...


Greymom said...

So sorry for your loss. Lucy is however, a lucky girl, to have had a loving mom like you....

Greymom said...

and at least you were with her when she may not be a peaceful passing but having you there beside her probably made a lot of difference to her--a loving & familiar face...

I'm Xan! I'm a person, I swear! said...

Oh jeez! Jen, ouch! :( It doesn't seem fair (as if there were a discussion) that there should be so much panic, pain, and suffering as a last memory. It's so hard to let go anyway without all that to add to the sadness.

I hope you can begin to let go of the traumatic part, and find peace in your happy memories of Lucy soon.
Big hugs!