Thursday, July 22, 2010


Not 100%, but still smiling. His happy face makes my world glow. One of my favorite songs to sing to Alec is "You are my sunshine."

Enjoying his cranberry bone while keeping a watchful eye on the toys.

Here is my disclaimer that I am not going to commit suicide. One person was worried by my last post and asked my neighbor to check on me. Luckily that neighbor took my post for what it was: uncensored me pouring my heart out. But it made me realize maybe I worried other people. Sorry. I appreciate the concern (really), but this blog has always been a record of my relationship with Alec and to deny or minimize the pain I am going through now would be to downplay Alec's considerable and immeasurable impact on my life. And I don't wish to do that. Raw outpourings of desperate emotion are not pretty, I know. But they are real. Statements saying I don't know if I can go on without Ali can be taken in several ways. Here are two: 1) as an honest assessment of my feelings and my inability - or unwillingness - to imagine life without Alec (this is how it feels, and no sugarcoating will alleviate that fact). 2) as metaphor (in a real sense the "me" who is here now will not go on; I will be someone different, as we all are when touched by a life event as monumental as finding and then losing a soul mate). But neither is a "cry for help," I promise.

Another disclaimer: to the person who commented on my last post, "poor Alec - please let him go" (and anyone else who might be thinking this but was tactful enough not to say) - I will let him go when the time is right to do that. This is a delicate, difficult time and no one should presume to know our situation, or think what I post here could ever be the whole story. I realize my last post was mostly about me and my feelings and maybe I did not stress enough that Alec is not suffering, despite the fact that his disease has progressed to the point where the end is near. That does not mean the end is HERE. If you doubt my judgment, let me first thank you for your concern for Alec, and then assure you that I have, and have always had, his quality of life and best interests in mind. Saying "I do not want to end this" and "I don't know how to end this" refers not only to our relationship, but also to the previous blog entry.

And saying I don't want to end this does not mean I won't. I will do what Alec needs me to as my last act of love and devotion to his well being. Yes, this is an emotional and gut wrenching time. However, I would not keep Alec around because I cannot let go. Nor will I let him go too soon because I can't handle the pain of imminent separation or the emotional trauma I am slogging through like a slow motion nightmare sequence. There is tremendous pressure to make the right decisions now and I feel it acutely. I know Alec very well. My experience nursing him when he was paralyzed honed my observational skills in terms of his body language, facial expressions, and all the subtle cues that enable one to assess how someone else is feeling. Because I was very anxious that Alec would become depressed, I monitored his mood closely; plus, he depended on me for everything from expressing his bladder to bringing him water when he was thirsty, so I got very good at reading him. This is part of what tightened our bond and brought us closer over the last 2.5 years.

Besides the fact that I know him better than anyone, it is fair to wonder if my judgment is clouded by emotion, denial, and blind tenacious love. Let me reassure anyone who is concerned that since he became sick last week, I have been consulting with Alec's vet regularly on his quality of life and all of the issues surrounding the euthanasia decision. I thought I was going to have to let him go last weekend, but she helped me to see that neither Alec nor I were at that point...yet. This is an hour by hour, minute by minute situation. And it is difficult. But it is my final responsibility to Alec, and as someone who has worked so hard to ensure his happiness, believe me the last thing I would ever want is to see is him suffer. I would kill myself before I willingly let that happen. Disclaimer: I am not planning to kill myself.

Alec remains stable and he even seemed to be feeling a little better this week. I was surprised pleasantly because I anticipated a rapid decline after last week. But there is still not much improvement overall. Alec's oncologist had been out of town, but I spoke with her earlier this week and she said we could try one more chemo protocol. I was wrong that we were totally out of options. She is not optimistic, but she said we can try. Our hope would be to stop/prevent further internal bleeding and possibly shrink the mass(es) so he feels better for a time. This may not happen. But it is truly our last try. I dropped him off this morning and am waiting for the oncologist to call. She needs to analyze his blood work before she can decide if treatment today is a viable option. I would love if I could take Alec swimming again, if he felt strong enough to do that. But this may not happen.

This has been difficult, and it is getting more difficult the longer he does not feel 100%. After dropping him off, I wandered around the grocery store like a forlorn zombie with tears standing in my eyes, staring at the items on the shelves as if they could help me. In front of the dog food aisle, the floor started to sway and I was a sad listing boat, careening in a sea of formerly reassuring normalcy...broken sail, dragging anchor. I cried all the way home in the car. I only stopped when I started typing this. Along with my best friend on the east coast (whose phone I have been monopolizing) and my wonderful vet (who has been doing double duty as a counselor to me during this horrible time, bless her heart), this blog has been like a lifeline of sorts; I'm not sure why. I guess writing helps pull me out of myself to observe and gain some critical distance, if only for a short time. I have been mad journaling too, which seems to serve a similar function of keeping me grounded in the present moment, if only for those moments when I am feverishly scribbling.

I don't know how to end this one either, but how about with some gratitude? Thank you to all who have left supportive comments here. One day I will re-read them and they will bring me some comfort. Thanks to everyone who has left sympathetic Facebook comments too. I don't know how to save those, but I will have to figure out a way. They are too nice to lose. I just learned how to back up this blog after it disappeared recently for a few days and I feared it was gone forever. Apparently someone hacked into my Gmail account and so Google not only disabled my email but took down my blog as well, without telling me why. I didn't realize Google could do that but oh, yes they can. They can take down any blog at any time for any (or no) reason. That was a scary few days, but now I am hoping to eventually move this blog to a different server where it will be safer. It would be piling awful upon horrible to lose this tribute to my wonderful friend.

If you have called or emailed me and I have not gotten back to you, forgive me. It is not always easy to talk. I appreciate you reaching out though, really. Your kindness matters.

Finally, thank you to everyone who has sent prayers, good thoughts, and love to Alec. He will always be my amazing shepherd.

I took Ali to the pool yesterday. He was too tired to do much swimming (although he swam a tiny bit with Diane's and my help), but he sat in the shallow water with his prized ball and he enjoyed the car ride.

Ali loves his "little house" but contemplated moving to the fold-out mattress after I arrayed his toys and bones (which he eventually did, as you can see in the photos at the top of the post). He looked so cute staring at the toys I had to snap a photo. Note the "blue thing," which our friend Maggie gave Ali. This is one of his favorite toys. It appears to be a blue bone with a giant tooth wearing a Santa hat, inexplicably. Because Alec never destroys his toys, they last forever.


Deb said...

I was so happy to see the post start with Alec's big smile! He looks so happy. I'm very glad to hear he is doing better this week, and that you have such great support from your vet.

BTW, I know exactly where you are coming from when you wonder how you can go on without Alec. That is how I felt when I faced losing my dog, 11 years ago.

As for the blog, I started on blogger long ago, and hated it, so I switched to wordpress. Don't know if it would still be as easy, but at the time it was extremely easy to import all the posts, and I had no problems at all.

You might also think about using Blurb (or Lulu? Or some on-demand service like that) to create a printed & bound version of Alec's story.


Hoping for more good days and some swimtime for you both...

Chelsea said...

You are such an amazing person and you and Alec are so lucky to have each other. Of course you will make the right decision when it is time, but glad you can still enjoy the good times and opportunities to swim now.

Connie, Orlando said...

Your outpouring of love and grief touched me deeply. I have experienced much of what you're going through, but am not one to share my deepest concerns, pain or grief for a variety of reasons. Although we have never and probably will never meet, I was worried about you simply because it seemed there was no one around to help you or hug you, should you need it. Know that both you and Alec are in my thoughts. I'm so glad that he was able to go to the pool and is still giving his toys the chewing they need.

mary martin said...

You and Alec are so lucky to have each other. I'm so sorry for your sadness over this part of your journey together.

So much love . . .

cara h said...

love you! thanks for clearing the air for the 'worriers'. i never once have doubted you or your relationship with this beautiful boy! kudos to you for still trying to express yourself when it must be so difficult. i am happy to see alec smiling and to see that he went to the pool! yea!!!

Anonymous said...

I am starting to "fill in the blanks" when I see the photos of the life the two of you have. This is a journey. We are on one huge journey called "our life" - but you and Alec have been on a happy, loving journey for a long time. You take such good care of him. There are elder humans who don't get this much attention and love.

It will all be "as it should be". And I have no doubt the pain in you is bigger than the pain in him.

Animals are much smarter than we humans in these ways. They know what is their destiny, they aren't afraid or live daily in a constant state of anxiety. Nope. They enjoy each moment. Each day.

So he can't do the things he used to do. And the pain you're feeling now is grief. But this journey hasn't ended. So (suggestion approaching) try and live with him from moment to moment. See how that feels.

Yes, you have things you have to deal with in terms of his medical care. But when it's just the two of you - just "be" in that time with him and see if in some way that doesn't make you feel better.

I know it will cheer him immensely.

Love and light to you both