She's still with us. Charlie keeps saying this to me. Last night as we said our goodnights, he hugged me and said; "She's still with us. Please remember we have that. It almost wasn't that way. We could have lost her last weekend." This morning as he left for work, he said the same thing. I know this. My head knows this. But I need someone to tell my heart that even though this is good news, it needs to hold on to this. Because right now, it's on the verge of splitting open and bleeding.
Last Thursday, my usually sensitive husband, in response to me saying that I was worried about Ellie's unusually lethargic behavior and that I was going to take her to the vet, said to me; "No more damn dogs." I was so upset with him that I didn't speak to him for the rest of that evening and the next day. Until the call from the vet came and they told us she had a large tumor on her spleen and that it needed to come out. I understand now that his reaction was just fear, and worry. No one could love our Ellie as much as he does. I also know that he went through hell, as we all did, when our Shanahan was ill. But it hit Charlie especially hard. He had a special relationship with Shan. She was a bit of a cantankerous girl, but she loved her daddy. He was the one that held her as they put her down. Averie and I couldn't take it. When he came out, holding only her blanket, he was devastated and he said those words then; "No more damn dogs. I can't do this again." It's true. It does feel like we just did this. Didn't we just do this?
A month after Shanahan, we brought baby Ellie home from the shelter. She wasn't even supposed to be ours. The shelter made a mistake and gave our dog away. She was the last one. Of course we were going to take her. It was destiny. She was meant for us, and we were meant for her. We thought what happened with Shan could never happen again. THIS time, we'd have a long, healthy, happy life with Ellie. But it did happen. What are they chances that we'd have another dog with pancreatitis? So, it was, indeed destiny. We knew what to do BECAUSE we had Shanny (and her pancreas) before. We did everything in our power...everything. I learned to make her food, got special nutrients especially developed for her, she NEVER got table scraps, we took her on walks every day. She was the princess of the manor. We were so dilligent about her care. That's the part that kills me most. Sometimes, it just doesn't matter how hard you try. You still take that risk, you still put your heart out there, you still love unconditionally because that's what they do. They love you without condition. Here we go again.
The splenectomy saved her life. There was no question. The vet said when they opened her up, it just confirmed what they knew, if they hadn't gone in when they did, she would have died on the weekend. We made the right call. And sure enough, she was bouncing back in sweet Ellie style. For all that this dog has been through, it's pretty apparent that she has a high tolerance for pain. What was going on inside of her, a human couldn't have handled as well as she did. But her recovery from surgery came with a caveat; the tumors could be malignant. We wouldn't know for five days. They would call. They called last night. Cancer. Fucking cancer. Another Christmas that that fucking bastard is trying to ruin.
These past six days have been joyful. Yes, there have been the ugly forboding clouds of worry and doubt. Worry over expenses. Doubt that we're going to remain optimistic. But Ellie has been so happy, so sweet, so loving. She's bounced around here like a puppy. We dared to hope. Charlie has been pensive, quiet, stressed. Except when he's lying on the ground next to Ellie, or nuzzling with her on the couch, cooing sweet nothings to her. Mr. Grumpy turns into Mr. Softie when he's nose to nose with her. The kids have, as they promised, helped. Caris went to the vet on her own accord, on her only day off, and paid a huge sum from her savings toward Ellie's bill. Bryson gave Charlie cash. It's a big deal, and one that hasn't been looked upon lightly. We're grateful. They've both said they don't care about presents for Christmas, but they DO care about Christmas. I had mentioned that maybe we wouldn't get the Christmas stuff out, or perhaps we'll just use one of the small, fake trees. Since we agreed there'd be no presents this year, we didn't really need a big tree to put them under. They absolutely, positively said it must be done. We must go on as usual. Bryson is especially adamant about the tree. It must be big, and real. They're right, of course. We've always had Christmas decor overload. So today, I will attempt, as best I can, to make that happen.
We don't know how much time we have with her. They can't give us a time frame. Maybe a month, maybe three, maybe a year. Maybe, just maybe, they "got it all" and nothing else will happen. But that's not usually the case with the spleen. After all, it's a blood filter, and the blood is how cancer travels. They've told us we can start chemo, but it's very restrictive and as always, there's no guarantee. We know this. We're quite experienced with that bastard cancer. She's happy now. She looks great. She's woofs her food, she loves her walks, and last night, she "boofed" her little boofy bark at both Charlie and Bry to get them to chase her, teasingly playing with them. So, we will be passing on the chemo, and we will enjoy what we have with her while we have her. And we will love her until we have to make the decision to give her up. But I totally understand how Charlie feels. I don't think I can do this again. I just hurts too much.