Today, I have allowed my human, Ingrid, to write her side of the story of how I became a Tripawd. My ampuversary is tomorrow, along with another Greyhound, Taylor, who has his first ampuversary tomorrow.
April 9, 2013 was a very, very difficult day for me. It was going to be the day I said good bye to my faithful and demanding best friend, Nixon. There were emotions on top of emotions and I was under a LOT of stress. Back in March, in the span of two days, Nixon was diagnosed with bone cancer, my father-in-law was on life support and not expected to survive, and my beloved Uncle Jack passed away from a long battle with Alzheimer’s.
While waiting for the radiologists report to confirm what I could already see on Nixon’s xrays, my father-in-law had gone to hospital for pain medication as his injured shoulder was just killing him. Surgery for that was in another week but the pain was so great, he couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t his shoulder. It was his heart going crazy in v-fib. He walked into the hospital and during triage, just collapsed. He was down for 15 minutes. They zapped his heart 7 or 8 times. The family was called in to say good bye.
Nixon and Cookie were dumped at the vet’s office as soon as it opened as Dr. Huff was the best person to monitor Nixon. The tumor was still just the size of a nickel. Rich and I were heading west, traveling over 12 hours to get to the hospital. There are no airports nearby and travel time by plane or car is the same. The only thing slower is Amtrak.
We talked about if Nixon was good candidate for amputation. With his previous paralysis and the neural deficits he did have, we weren’t comfortable putting him through this without looking into other things. When we arrived in IL, I was told my uncle had passed. Going to Canada was out of the question so I just got to call my Aunt and tell her how sorry I was for her loss.
The good news is my father-in-law survived. There never was anything wrong with his shoulder, it was his heart the entire time. Easter was actually the anniversary of his cardiac event this year and no one wanted to say anything because of the overlap. The bad news is, we were gone for almost 3 weeks and Nixon was just a shell of a dog. The day before we were to head home, his leg fractured. Dr. Huff had warned me the tumor was growing very fast.
We asked Dr. Huff to get him to NC State as everyone kept telling me that a greyhound had to have 24×7 care after amputation. Dr. Huff tried to get his amputation scheduled for the next day, Saturday, but NC State just couldn’t figure out what they were doing. They lost the transfer paperwork twice.
We arrived home on Sunday and the house was just so quiet. Monday morning, I went to go pick up my dogs. Nixon was in such bad shape, I left him there so Rich could come and see him and most likely, we’d take him home for one last night with us and in the morning say good bye. There is no way that this cancer wasn’t throughout his body.
Dr. Huff warned me before I went to go see him that he really was doing much worse in the past 24 hours. Nixon lost over 10 lbs that weekend as the tumor just ate him alive. Even the staff gasped when they saw him. He led me into the surgical suite as keeping Nix on a kennel wasn’t feasible. He needed quiet and to be far away from everything. He was in the corner, on pile of blankets and mats, covered in more blankets to keep him warm. He just a skeleton covered in skin with a tumor the size of a softball. I cannot even explain how guilty I felt. my 72 lb boy didn’t even weigh 60 lbs now.
The office was closing for the afternoon but they let me cuddle him for an hour. As soon as he saw it was me, he lit up and just was so happy. He reached out and touched me with his paw. The last time he ever would do that for me actually. He touched me with the broken leg and snuggled in so tight. I held him in my arms and just apologized and told him that I loved him. It was horrible to see my snuggly boy in such horrible shape…I hated cancer. I hated that I I had waited so long. I wished I could go back and tell Dr. Huff to just amputate the day we had left. I would have come home to a confused and tired tripawd and not this tortured shell of a dog.
NC State was supposed to call me but they never did. When I inquired, they said they never received my paperwork. Dr. Huff faxed them in front of me for the 3rd time.
Rich and I came back that evening. Cookie was emotionally exhausted and had slept the entire day away and didn’t want to leave the house which was good since we wanted Nix to have the entire car to himself. Nixon was happy to see us. Happy to be heading home. And starving. We got him in the car and we headed home.
Once in his house, he tried to act normal. He pretended it didn’t hurt until he was panting and moaning from the pain. He sampled all the beds in the living room. I know he spent more time in my arms. Of all the dogs I’ve ever had, Nixon made cuddling an art. He would lock eyes with me from across the room and I knew what that meant. I’d come over to his bed and sit down with my hips next to his. As soon as my shoulder was about to hit the ground, he’d throw himself backwards into my chest so I could wrap my arms around him and we’d hit the floor at the same time.
Morning came too soon and I just couldn’t take seeing my dog suffer like this. I was unreasonable to my husband and pushed him away with my words. I was in such emotional turmoil that I took the burden completely upon myself and was just lashing out with raw emotion.
As I was falling apart on the front lawn, mostly yelling at my husband, Nixon decided today wasn’t a good day to die. He ripped the leash from my hands and ran around the house. He ran fast enough that I couldn’t catch him until he stopped to pee on something.
Maybe I was grasping at straws but if you saw how happy he was to pee on something in his yard, I just couldn’t see a dog that was ready to give up yet. His leg hurt like hell but there was still plenty to pee on and life left to live. Rich and I loaded him in the car and my emotions were on overdrive. I called NC State and started screaming. They told me they never received his paperwork but they would be happy to make an appointment for Thursday or next Tuesday for Nixon ONCE they received the paperwork.
I’m a very passive person and will allow people to walk all over me at times but I had had it. I just screamed into the phone he doesn’t have until Thursday or next Tuesday.
“WHAT PART OF PATHOLOGICAL FRACTURE DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND? Either you see us in an hour or I’m having him destroyed at noon. I cannot let my dog suffer like this.”
We arrived at NC State for our 11:00 appointment. A Social Worker was sent to deal with me as I was apparently wound pretty tight. Nixon was weighed. Being a racing greyhound, he couldn’t help himself. He saw the scale and had to hop on. They insisted that he be wheeled around on a stretcher and he refused to lie down so it took four times as many people to move him safely. The took him to radiology to his check his lungs. If the lungs were clear, we were moving forward. The lungs were clear.
I barely had enough time to kiss him and say I love you. I wouldn’t see him again until the end of the week. I didn’t know how he was going to take being away from me for so long. I hate to say it but this did break him a little emotionally. Nixon never gave me his paw again or reached to touch me. This was a morning ritual that he shared with both me and Rich. He would reach for Rich with his leg and scar when he’d see him in the morning but he never did that for me again.