Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Chill in Spring

Time is slipping away. My Oberon is still here, now 8 weeks since his bone cancer diagnosis. We nearly said good-bye 10 days ago. On April 10th I thought it was time to move up to the next level of pain medication. We had gotten the Metacam + Sucralfate combination figured out and I had slowly increased the Metacam to a 75lb dose, but the pain was increasing. Since the plan from the start was to up the pain medication as needed, I thought I shouldn't wait. My vet thought the best next thing to try was Tylenol with codeine. I was afraid to start it because I know Obi is sensitive to drugs, so I stalled until mid-day on the 11th. Knowing his history we opted to start him with a dose lower than usually used for his size and to give it only 3 times a day (4-6 times is the recommendation). So Tuesday he got 2 pills, Wednesday he got 3 pills. I could see he was having some side effects, but there did not seem to be an increase in pain relief. Afraid that I had asked for too low a dose to help him, on Thursday I gave him 4 pills, 6 hour apart. His spirits sank as each day passed. At times his eyes would dialate and he would growl at things he did not seem to recognize. He was definately not himself. By Friday night he could not walk at all, his rear legs were cramped under him as we tried to help him go out to relieve himself - something he had not done in 12 hours or so by then. We helped him back to his couch and made plans to euthanize him on Saturday. He had 3 pills on Friday and late in the night I stood in the dark with pills in hand wondering if one more would help his pain. It was 2:00 in the morning. I stared at the bottle wanting to help my boy; not knowing what was right. I decided not to give it. THANK GOD!

When I called my vet Saturday morning Obi seemed to be feeling a little better - his eyes were a little brighter. We agreed to stop the Tylenol + codeine and go back to Metacam, waiting to see how things progressed. It was a lovely day. Obi still could not walk, but we carried him outside and lay him on a bed in the sun and cool air. I brushed him and he eventually got comfortable and fell asleep. When he awoke he got up and walked away to pee and poop, then walked back to the bed by himself. What a difference! He stayed outside, sniffing the air, enjoying the sun on his coat and eating treats for the rest of the day. By Sunday he was back to his normal, happy self - the bright light back in his eyes.

On Monday he decided to hobble all the way to our pond where we played his favorite game for an hour! He hadn't been to the pond in over a week and I thought he would never make it there again. I am so thankful for that one last time, for the joy it gave me to see him having fun again, for that beautiful face he shines my way telling me to toss him another piece of dog food. He chose to go there on his own. Perhaps it was his gift to me. Here he is.
That was our last trip. He is weaker now. We won't try any other drugs. Pray I know when he is ready to go. I would do anything to keep him as long as I can, but I never want my dogs to suffer for me. I hope this cold, wet weather passes in time for him to enjoy one more day lying in the sun in the garden.

Lessons: Never underestimate the side effects of drugs. Enjoy simple pleasures. Have fun everyday - Life is short.