Amira’s Daddy and I had to send our Baby to the Rainbow Bridge Saturday March 12, 8 days after learning her cancer had metastized to her lungs and abdomen. She left us with her head in my lap and looking into her Daddy’s eyes; oh how she adored him! The past 68 hrs have been the worst of our lives as we struggle not to collapse from the unbearable pain in our hearts. We said our final goodbyes this morning, sending along a box of her favorite food and treats along with her ball and one of her dozens of “babies”.
I have not updated this blog since Amira’s first chemo treatment in Oct as I was afraid to jinx things… After her first chemo, she did good with the following 5 treatments with little adverse reaction other than a bit of tiredness for a day or so after. Her white blood cell count and liver function remained unaffected by the CCNU possibly because she was getting Denamarin daily. She had physically adapted to being a Tripawd without much difficulty although our house became a mishmash of carpets, runners, yoga mats (it’s all hardwood floors) to keep her from slipping. The few times she got excited when daddy or I came home and ran to meet us, she wiped out which made our hearts stop for fear of her hurting her remaining back leg!
Amira was fully back to her pre-cancer self by the beginning of November and we had a nice Holiday season together including a Christmas visit from Grandma. She did so well in fact, that during her restaging on December 11, 2015, there was no sign of metastatic growth at all and her blood work all looked good. You can imagine how ecstatic and grateful we were! Still, I didn’t want to jinx it by sharing our good news here…
At her Feb 4,2016 follow up, her oncologist continued to be happy with Amira’s progress and she looked great! Her blood work was good, coat was glossy and almost all the fur had grown back over her amputation site. Her appetite was good – actually too good as she had gained 3 kegs between her Dec and Jan doctor visits. We were flying high although at this appt her oncologist said that with hystiocystic sarcoma, if it’s going to come back, it’s usually within 5 months. Well, she was unfortunately right…
During Amira’s March 4 restaging X-rays, a large mass (10cm) in her lung was clearly visible. Ultrasounds showed inflammation in lymph nodes. They did fine needle aspiratation of the lymph nodes and we waited for the pathology report. We went back on Tuesday -exactly one week ago today- and the bad news was confirmed. Oncologist said without treatment, it would be about a month and “she would go down fast”. With treatment, 3-4 months with still good quality of life”. Our world crumbled then… We opted to at least try the Palladia option but Amira could not start it until the diarrhea that had started after her appointment, got resolved with Flagyl. She started on Prednisone Tuesday as well and By Thursday evening, her poops had improved to being soft but formed so the plan was to start the Palladia on Friday. She woke me up 3 times to go out through the night Thursday and didn’t want to go back in the house but Friday morning, she seemed fine. She’d had a soft poop when she woke me to go out at 6:00 am so She just had her breakfast and proceeded to work on the big beef joint bone she’d started on the night before during the 2 hr drive from our house in LA to our vacation home in Rancho Mirage.
By about early afternoon, she started straining to poop And started having small dry chalky poops which usually happens when she has too much bone. She’d also started to pant more than usual as well. Didn’t think too much of it until mid afternoon when she went out frequently, strained and nothing came out…daddy and I ran a few errands until 4:30 and she didn’t appear to be in any discomfort; was still giving me “those eyes” hoping I’d share some of my cheese with her at about 5:30. Unbenownst to us until later, she’d actually pooped 2 more pieces of the dry chalky poop in the house while we were out ( she rarely had accidents in 5+ yrs). I gave her her prednisone and first dose of Palladia sat 6:00.
By dinner time at 7:00, she took a few bites and walked away. Alarm Bells but not panicked yet thinking it may be the Palladia side effect. 7:30 daddy hand fed her and she ate the rest of her dinner. 8:00 she threw it all up and thereafter asked to go out every 15-20 mins but still no poop and now she was grunting with effort. Around 10:00 i notice blood on her rump. We thought maybe from the straining too hard and I proceeded to use the flashlight to watch as she was trying to poop. Clear liquid was actually dripping out of her rectum and the blood was actually coming from her vulva (she’s spayed). Now ofcourse we are in full panic mode and called her oncologist’s practice which is 24/7 ER but the ER docs were tied up with Emergencies. The ER vet called back around 11:00 and thought the panting maybe from the Prednisone but because of the blood, recommended we go to the local 24 hr vet clinic.
We went and waited till after 2:00 during which time Amira actually only went out 1 time and seemed to be doing ok. When the clinic vet finally saw her, even she said that Amira looked good and bright eyed and Abdominal palpitation yielded no response and was soft. Vet thought bleeding may be due to a UTI and suggested X-ray of abdomen and a urine draw directly from bladder. By now it’s almost 3:00 am and we had every intention of leaving to head back to LA first thing in the morning so that Amira could be seen by her oncologist at Animal Specialty Group, so we declined. Got back to the house and went to sleep around 4:00 am.
Amira woke me at 4:30 and 5:00 to go out and still no poop. She was up at 8:00, I took her out again and she strained for quite a few minutes then threw up mostly bile, twice. We called ASG, explained the situation, got ready and got on the road to head back to LA. Before we left, I did my “chicken test” with her and was optomistic since she not only did she eat the little pice I offered her, she gave me a kiss to get it!!!
While we were on our way, her oncologist called to confirm that although fully booked, she was worried too and told us to bring her in at 2:00. We got back to LA by 12:00 and thought we better eat something while we waited to go. Amira was lying down as Daddy and I tried to eat and when I looked at her eyes, the fingers of fear started wrapping themselves around my heart and she turned down scrambled eggs. Did the chicken test again, and she took it!! As I checked on her again around 12:30, I notice more blood but this time a big clot as well. By this point, we weren’t waiting and proceeded to get her out to the car. I held her as She threw up again on the doorstep as she was trying to go back inside…we noticed though that she seemed to be better after she threw up!
1:00, we get to ASG which was miraculously quiet and calm (it’s usually a zoo on the weekends since it’s an ER) and her oncology team were all available for her. Her tech took her temp which was normal. She was looking much better and bright eyed again. Good signs!!! But she still needed to X-rays to see what was going on. She went to the back with “uncle Lane” for the X-rays and we waited; not tooooo worried now with the good signs and knowing she was in good hands.
Our world collapsed at approximately 2:15 pm March 12/2016…X-rays showed she had poop in her intestines but a big tumor pretty much pressing her bowels from above and something around her uretha pressing from below. There was no way for the formed waste to come out…her oncologist and amputation surgeon both perform a rectal exam and could feel the mass with their finger tip. Nothing could be done medically to resolve the proble. The End was here; there was no choices left.
we spent the next hour and a half with her telling her how much we loved her and how brave she’s been through all this. I told her not to be scared and to find her doggie cousins when she got to Heaven and to wait for mommy and daddy to join her there. Amira was very calm and almost dosing as we rubbed her. Luckily she was not stressed by our crying and my tears dripping on her face…at approximately 3:45 pm, we lost our true Pack Leader and her crew of 2 became lost and unmoored… I’m pretty sure I helped hasten her demise by giving her that big bone that started clogging her up. I AM SO STUPID!!!!!
These past 3 days for Amira’s daddy and I, have been the most painful of our lives. By far Worse than even losing his mom and losing my dad. We feel like we can’t breath and just want to jump out of our own skin. The pain in our heart is searing; unbearable…Amira was our world, the 3 Muskateers! I see her in my minds eye everywhere. I try to trick myself that she’s in the other room and visualize her chilling on her bed. I hear her shaking herself as she gets up and the tapping of her three legged hop on the floor…I am dreading coming home to an empty and silent house. Worse yet, being alone when my husband has to travel for work.
But yesterday, my clever Baby girl, let me know she was ok. We have a deer family that live/visit our property for several years but I hadn’t seen them in many months. Amira always sensed where they were, but they were beyond our sight lines. As I got into my car yesterday morning and was about to leave, I looked up the slope beside our driveway and saw a deer standing there looking at me. I watched her for a minute, then she turned and I watched her wagging her tail. She went a bit farther into the bushes and was squatting to poop. I didn’t think much of it at the time as my brain was foggy with grief, but when I told my husband about it later in the afternoon, it hit me! It was Amira using that deer to tell me: ” mommy, I’m ok! I can poop again!” I should mention that the Chinese character in my name, includes the character for “deer”! some may say I’m crazy, but I know it was my Amira who came to see me. That has brought me some comfort an i am holding on to that for dear life!
Her Daddy I know, was hoping for a similar experience but it didn’t happen. Until this afternoon that is, when he somehow ended up with Amira’s poop on his shoe; that has never happened in the 5.5 years she was with us and he was watching where he was stepping too! You see, Daddy was the Poo Master; he was the one who she almost always went to if she needed to do business and the one to pick up her business! So it seems our Baby wanted to let daddy know too, that she can poop again!
This morning we went to the crematory to say our final goodbye to our baby girl. now, I no longer pray for God to watch over Amira to keep her safe, healthy and cancer free. Instead I pray that He will stop this unbearable pain soon.
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