Friday, January 25, 2008

Something Sad

So, I know I posted a little goodbye to Zoe but I haven't written about what happened.
I haven't talked about it much either.
It all happened so fast that I think I've been in shock for almost two weeks now.
When the realization of it starts to hit me, I try really hard to bury it because I'm afraid that once I start crying, I may never stop.

I know I mentioned the seizure Zoe had in November and how her personality had started changing. She had always been a little hyper but she was an independent dog that always had to do things her way. It's funny how dogs can have such different personalities. Crash was a very clingy dog, always wanting to be near me, always wanting me to hold him and pet him.
Zoe, would be happy being in the same room with me but off doing her own thing.
A couple of months before the first seizure, I noticed she was becoming more whiny. She didn't like it when I sat out on the patio, stood in the bathroom or did anything other than sit on the bed and read or watch TV.
She followed me around a lot and that was unlike her.
When she had the seizure, the doctor put her on Valium and she was a lot more calm.
Then on January 10 at 2:45am, she had another seizure. This one was horrible and violent. She lost bladder control and after the seizure, she was unconscious for what seemed like an eternity.
As soon as she came to, I shoved a whole Valium down her throat and kept telling her (and myself) to wait 20 minutes. "In 20 minutes, it'll be ok. In 20 minutes, the Valium will kick in."
Directly after the seizure, there is a period of confusion and anxiety. In humans, I guess they will wonder where they are, feel scared maybe but they will eventually figure it out.
In dogs, they don't have that ability to understand why they are feeling this way. They just start freaking out and that's what Zoe did. She started crying and panting and pacing. She paced the floor, bumping into everything, forgetting where the corners of the apartment were.
She would get lost under the dining room table. She would end up in the bathroom and not know how to get out.
After the first seizure, this behavior got better by the afternoon. This time it never did.
I called the vet's office as soon as they opened Thursday morning and they told me to come in right away.
It was a different doctor and although she was very nice and compassionate, she was young.
She did tell me something that I feared after doing research on canine seizures at Zoe's age. It's rarely epilepsy. It's usually a brain tumor.
Having an MRI or a Cat Scan is the only way to truly diagnose the brain tumor and there were only two places in this region that could do it; a clinic in Houston and Texas A&M. Oh...and it would be thousands of dollars.
Then if it WAS a brain tumor, the treatment would depend on the type of brain tumor. But usually it's either brain surgery or chemotherapy.
I wouldn't put any dog through either of those treatments.

This wasn't good news. We decided to up her dosage of Valium and hope that this would calm her down. Also, suddenly, her appetite increased to where I had to take the food bowls away from her because she was eating so voraciously that she wasn't even chewing the food AND she developed some type of allergy and she was scratching all the time.
These were all perplexing behaviors and just led me to believe that something bad was going on in her brain.
So, I took her home and gave her more Valium and Benedryl for the scratching.
I had to give her a lot just to calm her down. She had two behaviors: hysterical and sedated.
The sedation never lasted long and the hysteria would begin again.
By late morning on Friday, I had decided to see the vet again. It wasn't getting better and the confusion and fear was getting worse.
This time I saw the vet I really liked. He tells me the truth without trying to sugar coat it. I like that. I need to hear truth in order to make correct decisions.
He said he simply didn't know exactly what was wrong but whatever it was, it wasn't good.
I was fully expecting him to talk about euthanasia but he didn't. He told me we could try a medication similar to Prozac that might alter her behaviors. However, it takes about a week to start working.
You have to understand that by that time on Friday, I hadn't slept for nearly 36 hours. I woke up with Zoe at 2:45am Thursday morning and never went to sleep. Thursday night, she was still crying and anxious so I stayed up all night with her.
My heart fell when he told me it would take a week.
Could I allow her to go on living like this for a week?
Friday afternoon, I took her back home and loaded her up on medication again. I put her in the bed with me and I looked at her as the meds started kicking in. She was looking in my direction and her eyes were so heavy, she was having a hard time keeping them open.
This was her life now; so many drugs that she can't stay awake. What kind of life is that? I know rock stars and celebrities enjoy this but I really didn't think Zoe would. She was always such a happy and bright dog. How could I keep doing this to her?
I started crying then and just couldn't stop. Everytime I spoke, I cried.
I knew what I had to do. I knew it deep in my heart and I hated it.
I called my exboyfriend. We were living together when we got Zoe. She was like our first child. I discussed everything that was going on and asked him, "Do you think I should wait a week to see if this stuff works?" Because that was what was killing me. What if I made the wrong decision? What if a week from then, she had a miraculous recovery?
I will be forever grateful to him for saying what he did, "No. You can't let her suffer like this."
I needed someone to tell me I was doing the right thing because, literally, every 5 minutes I was changing my mind.

He came over and spent some time with Zoe that night. She seemed excited to see him, although I'm not sure how much she understood. About 10 minutes into the visit, her meds kicked in and she fell asleep in my arms for a little while.

Friday night, I stayed up with her all night. I called the vet Saturday morning and made the appointment.
The doctor and I talked about everything and although he can't tell me what to do in this situation, he said that there is obviously something very wrong with her and she wouldn't get better.
So, without embarrassment, I cried the entire time. He gave her the first injection while I was holding her. This totally knocks her out. She doesn't know where she is and is completely unaware of what is going on.
It took a long time, it seemed.
I held her the whole time, though. I told her how much I loved her and even sang to her like I would do all the time. It was silly and stupid but she always seemed to love it.
The doctor finally came in and gave her the final injection. The one that stops her heart.
She was on the table this time but I still held on to her. He left the room after the injection telling me that they would come and get her whenever I was ready.
I laid my head on her and sobbed. When they came to get her, I touched her for the last time and her back was drenched with my tears.
Later, when I thought about it, it seemed poetic.

Now, it's just me and Piper...and Hemingway of course.
It's weird not to have Bichons and it's VERY hard to get use to not having Zoe.
Zoe was a high maintenance dog. She required attention and a lot of work.
That never bothered me because I loved her (and all my dogs) very much. They have all been worth all the work.
Zoe's death has left a great big hole in my life. She was apart of me for 12 years. That's a huge chunk of my life. Now, my life is different and it's going to take me a long time to get use to it without her.
She was so much fun. I'm going to miss that the most.

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