Scrappy yesterday afternoon.
Dear Blog – The Final Leg
I have no idea when this post will be published, considering l started it at 10.14am this morning – it will be published when l hit the publish button. But there are only a few posts of mine that have been so terribly hard to write, and this is one of them. This is a long and sad post – l make no apology.
Whilst l still have a smattering of positivity within my mentality – overall my good mental health has taken a series of detrimental blows in the last ten weeks. My writing has suffered because of the distractions, disturbances and overall not just breaking of established routines, but absolutely horrendous shatterings of patterns. My bubble has burst, my Asperger’s syndrome or autism if you prefer is in full overdrive and l am even at my own concession on the verge of a burnout – physically and mentally – do not get this confused with a mental breakdown, there is a huge chasm of difference between the two. I know, l have experienced both in the past and l know what l am sadly suffering with.
I am not alone in this behaviour, there are three of us in various stages of it to one degree or another. Suze, Scrappy and myself are all suffering from ‘burnout – physical and mental’. To the unknowing each of us is exhausted for one reason or the other
I have had to deal with two major stresses in my life in the last three months with Scrappy and the last ten weeks with Suze and both together are simply overwelming….
This post originally was going to be a 24 Hour Blog Question about coping with distraction, that will come, but’s not this post. It was then maybe something to do with 4 Paws Diary, but it’s too dark. Was it then going to be a topical post about K9 Dementia? By 11.33am, l was no closer to the truth of the title, and even now l am still not convinced that the title l have penned in ‘Dear Blog – The Decline’ will stay. This post is a raw post dealing with the basest of emotions, one of those rare posts from me that goes to the 100% of who l am, nothing held back, nothing hidden, no 5% fictionalised … no, this is one of those 100% darkly honest posts that comes from the soul and the heart.
I am so horribly distracted of late, no concentration, no focus and very little enthusiasm – motivation has dived into quicksand and isn’t helping anyone pull it out … and yet, l still have a small % of positivity remaining. It’s keeping me sane, and keeping my autism from going completely dark. I need certain things to function – routine, patterns, focus, concentration and a certain amount of Aspergian positivity, but above everything l need my bubble to not be disturbed or filled with distraction and or destruction.
Suze coming back from Australia mid July ill, and remaining ill and then ending up nearly dying in hospital from sepsis floored me horrendously, l cannot describe the stress l have been experiencing since seeing how dreadfully ill she was early August and then how terrible she looked in hospital. She came back from a week away in Devon yesterday and she is very healthy [or much healthier in comparison to when she came out of hospital] It’s also great to see her the way she used to be, smiley and a real motormouth chatterbox – it’s lovely, but it is also distracting…..but copable.
Suze didn’t know she was going to become as ill as she did when she returned to the UK after being ill for two weeks in Australia. She certainly didn’t see her illness lasting her for a good month after she returned to the point that she wasn’t recovering and l can hand upon heart say with 100% conviction she DID NOT see herself being admitted into hospital with a lung infection end August! She couldn’t forecast the 11 days in hospital anymore than she could predict that l would instruct her to take the offering of a week to Devon and no questions asked, nor that l was only too willing to help her pack!
Both of my girls yesterday afternoon! It’s great to see Suze with colour in her cheeks and smiling again! Scrappy doesn’t look bad either ….
… but the problem with that is .. Scrappy isn’t well.
Scrappy has a number of different problems, and because of her deft ability in stoicism – most people would never know just how poorly she really is. A lot of our beloved companions are very good at this ‘we don’t show pain game’. Way better than us.
In addition to the K9 Cognative Impairment, Scrappy is enduring through a chest problem – nodules on the lung which cause her to occasionally experience some kind of breathing fit panic attack – where she fights for breath and we have to assist her by calming her down. She has had this since 2016, but the attacks have gotten worse as she has aged.
Her arthritis which in the last few months has become much much worse even with cod liver oil, this anal growth which has now started to leak and she is still a victim of the dreaded IVDD – Intervertebral disc disease – diagnosed 2017 and it was this that started her downward spiral with the arthritis.
All of these ‘problems’ are serious problems by themselves … but the one that is causing her the most harm, the one that is causing the biggest stress and damage to all three of us is actually her K9 Dementia. Scrappy’s physical health has declined in the last six months which is stressful enough, but her mental health has rapidly declined in the last two months with a rapid and detrimental decline in the last two weeks alone.
When is a good day?
Freedom from pain is a gift you give your dog. Freedom from guilt is a gift for you.
Dr. Alice Villalobos
The biggest stress any family can ever face is the one that is never in the forefront of your mind until it has no choice but to be present, and once there it has nowhere to go till it is confronted.
With Scrappy we have tried everything we have had at our disposal – she is 16 in November, she is a hardy determined breed and even now despite all her ailments is stubborn to not display them outwardly if she can avoid it. We couldn’t get her to and she wouldn’t accept medication for pain relief so all we had at our disposal was cod liver oil for her joints and Metacam for internal support. Suze and l had agreed that when she hit 15 we wouldn’t subject her to any more biopsies and or proceedures and operations and just let her live out her life as naturally as we could make it for her. That would have worked had life not stepped into her pathway the way it did.
In June when it was explained to us that she had this anal cancerous growth that was malignant the vets were already thinking of end of days for her. Her limited walking ability was also an indicator for her … yet by reducing her walks to just one a day, we were able to alleviate her pain to a non visible level. We only knew Scrappy was in pain because she was showing it, when the walks were reduced she stopped showing it.
Did she stop being in pain with her arthritis or did she stop showing it when the pain lessened? Suze and l and the vets believed her pain was less. The IVDD was as said the guilty culprit to her arthritis, it had weakened her spine meaning that Scrappy will have pain when she walks.
You know, all we ever want for our loving and loyal companions towards the end is to be able to offer and award them a pain free life, a life with graceful quality of care and love. After everything they gift us – an unconditional love and devotion, an enthusiasm and zest for life – a fierce protection – it is our duty as pup parents to make sure we do right by them when they need us to – we have a duty of care to express to them.
Today, our beloved little girl sleeps besides me as l type out this painful post. She suffers terribly from clinginess or velcro pup syndrome as it is sometimes known as. A form of seperation anxiety. She is most calm when she is asleep, and to both Suze and l when she is asleep it awards us times to recoup, to recover from the stresses and emotional strains of when she is awake. Her endless pacing, her need to go outside twenty times in an hour, her disorientation, her getting lost in the house and the garden at night.
She eats healthy and drinks, she still enjoys walking even though we know it causes her stress. Scrappy recognises us perhaps 5% of the day now by sight, most of it is by smell alone … but when you start asking the ‘quality of life’ questions with regards Scrappy – Suze and l have to start being honest with ourselves.
It is ‘one’ thing to do everything you can, but once treatment is exhausted and medication is either refused or futile in its effect, you have to start asking yourself even more questions. The scale of quality doesn’t include K9 dementia, but only physical ailments and so everything you read then is cast aside, because cognative impairment can throw logic to the winds of distraction and untruth.
Scrappy has declined terribly in the last two weeks, and in light of all the stress with everything going on in this household in the last couple of months, all three of us have felt the consequences of the various stresses and strains one way or another. The stress alone is knocking me for six and l know it is also proving the same for Suze. Whilst Scrappy doesn’t know she is on the final stages of her life, she can pick up that Suze and l are sad and upset and stressed and distracted. Trying to NOT mourn her is difficult and many furry parents experience this.
Today Suze and l had the dreadfully upsetting and tearful discussion concerning our little girl, it was a topic that we have had in small quiet talks but nothing with any body to it …. that we acknowledged that we are now in the last leg of Scrappy. That her health has deteriorated to a degree that cannot be conducive to quality of life for her. That YES she is still functioning out of this strong determination and grit she has, but is she enjoying her life?
The theory of ‘your dog will let you know’, l do not think applies to Scrappy, she would and will never let us know and should she suddenly collapse or have a fit or a siezure would only show us that we left it too long and her stubborness couldn’t support her anymore. I know Scrappy, and she is NOT a dog that would make anything easy for anyone! So letting us know is most assuredly not on her bucket list of must do’s.
Many people probably don’t see canine cognitive impairment of K9 dementia as the illness it is – but it is a terrible debilitating illness that does damage to everyone involved.
I had to write about this today whether it made sense or not. I shall be calling the vets tomorrow with regards Scrappy and asking for them to advise us during these final moments of her life. This post has taken me a very, very long time to write, to create and to think of … thousands of words have been deleted, l should imagine more words may have been better served here and yet, there are never enough words to describe just how painful it was to get to the bottom of this post nor how Suze or l feel – but if l didn’t write it, l would be exploding somewhere and that would not do any of us, any good.