#the100dayproject // the trouble is, you think you have time

the trouble is, you think you have time.

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i am so guilty of this mentality.  even after sugar was diagnosed with advance cancer.  when sugar started improving, i was optimistic that instead of only have a few hours left, we might actually have a couple of months left with her.  things didn’t feel so urgent anymore.  i took L back to school, we tried to bring back some of our routines, i went back to the gym, and we let sugar spend some time in our backyard.

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i even got frustrated with her and the boys one morning when no one was cooperating while i tried to get the kids out the door for school.  i regret it now because the next day, she took a turn for the worse.  i called the doctor to come see her again but there wasn’t any more they can do. her decline was swift and she passed away at 3am the next morning.

even during the last few minutes, i still thought we have more time.  maybe it was denial.

 

#the100dayproject // one step at a time

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One step at a time.

When I noticed Sugar was getting worse again, I rushed her to the neighborhood vet.  I had the receptionist page the doctor and have him come back from his lunch break.  I knew in my gut that something was really wrong with Sugar.  From his cursory exam, he told me she was bleeding in her abdomen.  He called me a few hours later and gave me her cancer diagnosis — There’s a tumor on her spleen.  It’s very common for larger breed dogs, he said.  It ruptured and she’s bleeding out into her stomach.  The obscured mass in her chest from her last x-ray has metastasize, meaning the tumor from her spleen has spread to her lungs.  There is nothing they can do.

Nothing they can do.  What are our options, I asked anyway.  Say goodbye.  No.  Stabilize her.  Yes.  See a specialist.  I’ll look into it.  One step at a time.

One day at a time.

That evening, Sugar was seen by a specialist at another facility.  Bottom line is, a dog with this aggressive cancer, even if it’s not as advanced as Sugar’s, would only get another two months even if they were able to successfully remove the tumor from the spleen. That’s because by the time the tumor on the spleen becomes apparent, it would have already spread even if we can not see it yet.

Since Sugar was alert and was not in any pain at the moment, this vet did not object to us taking Sugar home.  She warned us that we have maybe hours with her, days at most.  The best case scenario she gave us was that Sugar might pass peacefully in her sleep.

When Sugar made it through the night and she was still very alert, I remembered recently reading about some vets practicing eastern medicine.  KT and I started researching holistic and hospice care to make her more comfortable.  KT found a mobile vet who came to our house a couple days later to provide hospice care and it made a world of difference.  This mobile vet also suggested an herbal medicine, yunnan baiyao, to help stop the bleeding. And it did.  Her gums were rosy pink again and I cried when she ate her first meal in days.

One hour at a time.

Over the next two weeks, Sugar improved so much that I was starting to be in denial that we’ll actually lose her.  She was eating regularly and eagerly.  She was moving around.  I even came home one morning after drop off to find her barking in the backyard.

But the specialist did warn that even if the bleeding stop, it will start again.  And it did.  I can’t help but think that maybe if I kept her housebound, or bed-bound, then maybe the tumor wouldn’t start bleeding again.  This time around, we couldn’t get the bleeding to stop.  Within hours, her gum was pale and her stomach was bloated again.  She stopped eating and drinking.

KT and I slept with her in the living room that evening.  She couldn’t settle down and sleep.  She was grunting and panting.  I told KT it was probably time to consider putting her to sleep.  I didn’t want her to be in a pain.  At three in the morning, she passed away with KT and I by her side.

It’s been exactly a week since she passed away.  I worry about how L is dealing with our loss.  I keep saying that we have to get back to our routine.  L needs routine.  I need routine.  But things aren’t the same.

Yesterday night, L asked for Sugar and we spent an hour looking at her pictures on my phone.  He did not want to look at old pictures of Sugar.  He wanted to see current pictures of her.  “Same” sugar.  He picked out a picture of her to be printed and framed for his room.  He was happy that it was a picture of the “same” healthy, happy, goofy Sugar he remembers and loves.

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I feel so loss for words.  It feels so difficult to find words to express how I feel.  It seems like I can only recite facts.  Words and feelings are just all jumbo up inside.  Some days are hard and some days almost feel normal.  Just trying to remember this mantra and take it one step at a time, one day at a time, one hour at a time.

#the100dayproject

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I started seeing the 100 day project ramping up on my Instagram feed on April 1st.  That was also the day I received the diagnosis for my twelve year old Shepherd mix.  There’s a tumor on her spleen.  It ruptured and is bleeding out into her abdomen.  The tumor already spread to her lungs.  There’s nothing we can do.

When I saw that this project was starting again, I wanted to participate.  But I couldn’t imagine having the energy or the heart to do anything creative.  At the same time, I was scrolling endlessly through pinterest, reading quotes and poems about grief and pet loss.  Misery loves company right?  But really, don’t we all feel comforted when we listen to sad love songs when we’re going through a heart break?  I believe the same logic applies here.

As I was trying to shove down some sustenance at the dinner table, it occurred to me that I can practice hand lettering while writing out quotes that resonate and soothe me.  So this is my 100 day project. #100daysofhandletteringgrief

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I don’t know how to tell this story.  I’m a scrapbooker and I like to blog about our home improvement projects.  I don’t spend a lot of time on documenting the hard stuff.  But I know that’s part of our story.  I guess that’s why reading about grief and pet loss can be soothing – it helps express what I can’t seem to put into words.  But I will try because I truly believe it will help.

Sugarbear has been with me since she was four months old.  She’s been here with Logan his entire our life.  She’s our baby girl.  She has the sweetest temperament and put up with toddlers’ ears and tail tugging.  She puts Logan to bed every night.  Not only are we heartbroken, we can’t imagine how our three year old will cope with losing his best friend, his family.

KT and I decided to be honest with him.  We told him that she is really sick and that she will die.  We told him that we are so sad and that it is okay for him to be sad too.  We think he, sort of, understands but he’s scared.  Like his mama, forever the can-do optimist, he believes that she will get better if he keeps telling her so. But we also see that sometimes when the reality or doubt seeps in, he can’t seem to face her and keeps a wide berth of her.  My heart breaks for him.  For us.

I’ve been through this grief one too many times already.  We’re doing the best we can.  For her.  For him.  For us.  We’re trying to survive.  Denial had always felt worse to me because every morning, the reality always hits hard and the rest of the day is exhausted on denying what cannot be changed.  I’ve found some comfort in facing this and doing everything we can to spend just a little bit more time with her and making sure she’s comfortable.  We are going to get through this because, whether we face it or fight it, the only way is through.