It’s been 12 days since Little-bit passed away…
I have been going through a rollercoaster of emotions every day… I feel guilty for a smile or a laugh… yet, I know that is the only way I’m going to get through this. Most days, I’ve been able to cope by keeping busy, doing ‘busy work’, anything not to sit and think. It never fails, though, I’ll come across something that hits me hard that my little boy is gone. A drop of water on my leg that made me think it was his nose… walking up the stairs from the garage, expecting to see him staring down anxiously at me… even the flowers that I recently took pictures of, but never got around to posting, that I saw on a recent walk. Most days, it’s like I’m still in denial… mornings are the hardest, when I wake up and have to remind myself that I no longer have to take him out for a morning outing.
Today was heart-wrenching… the doorbell rang, it was FedEx… the box required my signature. I opened a box full of newspaper packing material… on top of the packing material was a ceramic paw print, his paw print… I put that aside… slowly I removed the packing material, I found a cedar box with his name engraved on a brass tag… I slowly picked it up… it was heavy… and I broke down. My little boy is gone.
I keep going over the last few days of his life, mentally thinking of every little thing… did I do everything I could? Did I do anything wrong? Could it have gone any other way? I keep coming to the same conclusion… it was just his time. It’s not my fault, there was nothing more I could have done, nothing more that we could have done.
It was just so fast, so unexpected… I’m grateful that he didn’t suffer for months or something, but it was just so damn fast. So unexpected.
I’ve grappled with what to write on the blog, what to tell people. When to tell people. When I lost Floofy to cancer, I talked about it to anyone who would listen… I think it helped. So maybe it will help to talk about Little-bit’s last days. I’ve told a close friend and neighbor, she’s been there for me. I’ve told the owner of a puppy who Little-bit was friends with, but for the most part… I haven’t been talking about it with anyone except my taste-tester… and he lived through it with me, and he is just as upset as I am.
I had originally written a much much longer post… but felt it was just too much… this is the condensed version…
Wednesday, February 23rd… Little-bit had been having a few accidents in the house and in the breezeway, so I decided to look into doggie diapers for him until we could get to the grass. I live on the second floor and sometimes he didn’t give me enough notice to make it to the grass in time. I went to petsmart with Little-bit and found some washable ‘male wraps’, they didn’t have his size in stock, so I asked an employee. That employee called another store and had them hold some for me. I drove to that store, which was in an area I don’t know very well, and got a little lost.. I had to call my taste-tester at work to help me find out where I needed to be. Together we located the store, him on the computer, me in the car. I bought the male wraps and then headed home.
Once home, it was nearly dinner time, so I started making dinner. I fed Little-bit and then set a timer for 10 minutes so that I could take him to the grass. Ten minutes later we went outside. Then back up the stairs and into our apartment.
Then it started…
Little-bit vomited a bunch of water and spit… I vaguely recall him drinking a bunch of water prior to that, so I thought it was either he gulped down the water and had to vomit, which happens some times, or maybe he was car sick…
He vomited up spit several more times, but not his food… which I thought was kind of weird… but it was a subconscious thought… at some point during this my taste-tester came home… we were trying to determine how serious this was… that’s when we noticed his stomach… it was huge and hard… he was bloated… and I knew that could be deadly… then the point where I lost all my ability to lead… Little-bit’s tongue laid out of his mouth in such a strange way that signaled to both of us that this was serious… distraught and anxious… we rushed him to the vet emergency hospital…
Lucky for us, we live very near this hospital… the staff reacted quickly… took him to the back and started working on him. The ER doctor talked to us and told us her concern for GDV… they were afraid that his stomach might be twisted and needed to do x-rays and put a tube down his throat to determine if his stomach was twisted… we gave the go ahead and waited. The x-ray showed that there was not currently any twisting, the tube went through just fine, and they removed food from his stomach. They wanted to keep him overnight for observation in ICU. He stayed in ICU from Wednesday night until the night he passed away (Sunday).
On Thursday, he had an ultrasound where they found the spleen needed to be removed, the pancreas had cysts on it and they suspected pancreatitis… they suggested surgery for these new findings and to try to fix the stomach distention.
Just prior to his surgery, I got a call telling me that he had pneumonia, which would make the surgery riskier. Late Thursday night he had surgery, where they looked at his stomach, removed his spleen, and took biopsies of his liver and pancreas. They also performed a gastropexy. The stomach did not have a blockage, they were still unsure of the reason for the stomach distention. And the biopsies would be tested and the results would take 3-5 business days. The night of his surgery I got a call at 2am telling me that his pneumonia had gotten worse, he needed oxygen assistance, which he was given (off and on) until the night he passed away.
Removal of the spleen sometimes causes heart arrhythmia, so he was on a heart monitor until the day after his surgery, but they monitored his blood pressure often. For the pneumonia, they would do something called, coupage, where they used percussion therapy to help break up the gunk in the lungs which is hopefully coughed up and spit out (Here’s a youtube video on the procedure).
He had a tube in his nose for the oxygen assistance and he had a tube in his paw for the IV. He had been put on the IV Wednesday night. We visited him several times a day and were in constant contact with the doctors at the hospital. I got a call each morning after their rounds with an update, and they would call if anything came up.
Sunday morning, I got a call saying that he could come home! I could pick him up after 2pm. I was so surprised and excited. We had felt that he had actually looked a bit worse the night before, but were so happy he was coming home.
At 1 o’clock, I was setting up the house for his arrival, I made rice (his favorite when his stomach is upset) and was just about to set up pee pads on the balcony so that he wouldn’t have to climb the stairs, when I got a call from the hospital. His pneumonia had gotten worse and they wanted to add another antibiotic. But I thought he was getting better, he was scheduled to come home, I queried… I was told that at around 11am he looked great, but then quickly started to deteriorate. I wanted to see him, they said I could come by. He looked weak, we asked all kinds of questions. When would be a good time to come back and bring his favorite foods1, because every time we came he was very sleepy. He still hadn’t eaten since Wednesday night. They suggested around 8-9pm.
Sunday night around 6pm I had a great longing to go see him, but I waited… at 7pm I called and asked if it was a good time. They said it was a great time, they were about to nebulize him, then coupage, so we could see him in about 20 minutes. I was worried that he still wouldn’t eat anything, so I brought all of his favorite foods with me. I warmed up some veggie broth and put some rice in it. I bagged up some cheerios, dogfood, and treats (individually bagged). I even peeled a greenie so that the smell of it would make him want to eat. Unfortunately, he never got the chance…
While we were waiting in the lobby to go see him, they were performing the coupage and he went into cardiac arrest. They performed CPR on him for over 5 minutes when the ER doctor from Wednesday night came down to talk to us. She wanted to know if we wanted to continue CPR (someone was still performing it upstairs)… it had been over 5 minutes and he was gone. Through tears we said to stop the CPR, and asked if we could see him. I mentioned the paw print that we had gotten for Floofy and that I wanted one for Little-bit, and that we wanted him cremated.
Laying on the table was my little boy. He looked like he was asleep. We cried, we kissed him and petted him, we said our goodbyes. I signed papers, I was shaking… we were grateful that it was the ER doctor from Wednesday night, it felt better somehow. She consoled us as best she could, we talked with her, cried a lot and finally went out to the car, where we held each other and cried some more. We composed ourselves so that we could drive home. Once home, we had the task of telling family, work, and close friends. We sent email… it was the most we could do, we were devastated.
We are still devastated.
I don’t know where my path goes from here… I’m still trying to adjust to life without a fuzzy friend. I’m just living day by day.
I’ll write again soon… until next time…
1 We hadn’t been bringing food because we thought with stomach surgery his diet would be specific. Once we realized he wouldn’t eat for them, not even vienna sausages or canned dog food, we decided to bring food from home.