First of all, I apologize for not posting sooner. Life kind of got away from me. I have been down with a cold turned bronchitis and spending time with Violet. Also, this has been a very difficult and emotional piece to write.
Last Saturday we took Violet to the vet. She had a lump in her throat that seemed to be growing, was not eating and had other symptoms that concerned us.
We were quite worried on the half hour drive to the vet. Violet is 13 years old and has several health conditions. We know she won’t live forever, but we also want to make sure she isn’t suffering.
The appointment showed that all of her lymph nodes are swollen and sore. The vet alluded to the fact this is not good and may very well be cancer. He took some samples and on Monday called to say that it is indeed stage-3 lymphoma. He discussed what can be done and that we wouldn’t know how long she has without further testing.
Hubby and I discussed the options, including giving her prednisone which might slow things down a little. I have taken prednisone for asthma and hated the way it made me feel. Also, it would mean taking her off one of her more effective pain medications. We came to the conclusion that she has had a long and wonderful life and just wants to be in the dog park. It is much better to give her quality of life over quantity.
So, what has this taught me?
- I am keeping my emotions in check for Violet. Dogs are very intuitive and she especially reads me like a book. This has helped my usually emotional self, keep calm and positive.
- I am quicker to acknowledge that she wants to go out, even if it isn’t to do her business but to just be out. This alludes to putting someone else’s needs first before mine and makes me feel better, as well as her of course.
- It has also made me take more time on our walks – letting her sniff more, go slower and stop to talk to someone we know. This morning I realized how much happier it makes her and I feel good as well, not pulling her to “get it done”.
- Through my years of depression, bipolar and being bullied, I found it hard to become emotionally attached to anyone or anything. It was mostly a wall of protection from getting hurt. In the last decade or so, I have found it easier to break down those barriers. Violet just slammed through them from the minute she was put in my arms at 8 weeks old (even faster than my dear sweet Hubby).
- When people or animals in my life died, I found it hard to grieve, at least outwardly. And when I have known that they will die, it was like I separated myself from them right then. I almost did that with Violet but when I gazed into those beautiful eyes I melted. Like in point No. 1, I am staying positive for her.
- Vi knows something is wrong but it doesn’t seem to phase her. She sleeps more and eats less but mostly she takes things in stride. She knows we will look after her and there is no reason for her to be upset or even act sick. This is big. When you have one or more chronic illnesses it can be very hard to look past that. But, when we just stop and smell the fresh air and not worry about what is ahead, we are a lot happier!
- I think the biggest lesson Violet has taught me is that it is okay to love someone and it is ok to lose them and to feel that loss. Meghan Trainor’s song (“Like I’m Going To Lose You” with John Legend) and video really capture that feeling. The video features all types of love (including someone with a dog) and depicts the ups and downs of life and love through falling rain.
So, for the next “however long” I am going to love my Violet with my heart and my soul. She has made my chronic life so much easier to bear and I am going to do whatever I can to make the rest of her life, however long or short that is, the best it can be.
And I am going to love myself – the real self, not the sick self – with the same passion as that beloved mutt has for me. I think we can learn so much about ourselves through our animals.
PS She just started to whine, telling me it is time for our 4 pm park trip (it is 3:49). So I had better get going!