Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cancer's Return

I named this blog Wednesdays With Otis because I felt like I was on borrowed time with my dear dog. I think I already wrote about that. I know I at least mentioned the cancer he had: those pesky Mast Cell Tumors. Well, it was this past Wednesday in fact, that I noticed a rather large bump on Otis' belly underneath his rear left leg. It was alarming to me because it came out of nowhere and it was about the size of a baseball and just as hard. I immediately called Dr. Judkins' office to see if they could get me in. The best they could do was early Friday morning. The Thanksgiving Day Feast came and went and I was sure to give Otis a proper amount of bird, just in case the news in the morning was bad. And it was. So bad. Dr. Judkins stuck a needle into the mass and came back moments later to inform me that the mast cell tumor had returned with a vengeance. The good doctor laid out my options. First and foremost we would need to operate. Otis is an otherwise very healthy 13-year-old dog so we both agreed it would be worth it to operate. He mentioned radiation and chemo, but both he and I ruled it out based on the diminishing quality of life versus his current age. That, and I just don't want to put Otis through it. So the plan would be to put Otis on some chinese herbs which seemed to do the trick the last time we went through this six years ago. Dr. Judkins does surgeries on Thursdays but his schedule was all booked up so he told me he'd come in on Wednesday to do it. I was very appreciative of that, but now, two days later, I'm wondering if Otis is going to make it that long. He seemed fine enough yesterday, but today he showed behaviors I'd never seen from him before. For one, he wouldn't come to me when I asked him to. He walked away very very slow and gingerly, I think because he didn't want me to touch him due to the pain. The second thing he did was refused his dinner. That's when it all crashed in on me.  The tumor seems to have grown since Friday and the redness is getting darker and spreading. Also, I should note, Olav the cat walked up to him yesterday and sniffed at his right hind leg. I went to investigate and found what seems to be yet another tumor. I was amazed that Olav did that, and sad about Otis' prospects. So tonight I built him a fire. He lay right down in front of it, delicately positioning himself so that the tumor was out of his own way. I tried to take a few photos of him but I couldn't see through my viewfinder because of my tears. He looked so sad and done. And I swear to God I saw a tear under his eye. That's when I really lost it. The thought of losing him hit me like a Mack truck. I'm just not ready for it. Yes, I feel like we've been living on borrowed time, but even so, it's not enough. And lying there with him I realized I could be so much better to him. I couldn't help but whisper, "I'm sorry" over and over again. I was petting him gently and I could feel him appreciating it, but as I was doing it I was realizing that I never do it when all is well. Sure, I give him little rubs and scratches behind the ears, but never for a long enough period to where I could actually say I was generous with my time. That's what's fucked. I'm always on the go, doing this or that. Sure, he's often there beside me, but is that good enough?Lying there next to him tonight I sure as shit felt like it wasn't. I felt like I'd totally failed him. I suppose it's a good lesson to apply to others in my life, but I want more time to apply it to Otis.

I'll be calling Dr. Judkins office first thing in the morning if Otis makes it through the night. I'm not so sure he will. If he does, I will ask if it's possible to schedule the operation sooner, whether it's with Dr. J or someone else. I fear it cannot wait. Here are a few photos I took of Otis after I regrouped. His life has been one long picture book. I intend to tell his life's story through those pictures here on this blog.

One more Christmas, please.

You can see the tumor there on his belly. I don't want my boy to die.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Love Video

I've come to the end of a month-long paternity leave from work. It has been sooooooooo great. The primary purpose of my paternity leave was to be a daddy to my newborn, Stella, but it's also been a great opportunity to spend countless hours with Otis, who I've already described as in the twilight of his days. Today I shot a video to show some visual evidence of our relationship. I'd call it unique, but I suppose many others can relate. I won't wax on about it because I kind of narrate it as I go. I'll just say that Otis is going to miss me on Monday. Or maybe he won't. Maybe my temporary absence will be a sense of relief.