Friday, October 14, 2011

Emotional Update for Dante's Fan Club

I wanted the last post to be "just the facts ma'am" uncluttered with my tendency for verbosity and tangents. 
We got a cool fauxhawk for the ab ultrasound and a reverse mohawk for the spinal tap!

But, as with all experiences like this, the facts are just part of the story--I wanted to share some of what "else" went on, as well as thank the support networks in our lives.  

Throughout these two weeks I have been scouring the experience for glimmers of gratitude that I can use as the sole points of light.  These things are what kept me surviving.  In no particular order--mostly--but I did save the best for last.  :) 

People who "Get It".  I think that some people see dogs as "just a dog" and may not understand fully how these animals enrich our souls.  I have been lucky enough to meet a community of people both through Golden Retriever Rescue of Houston and Rummy's Beach Club who are the type of people who "get it" about dogs.  Who know that Dante is not just a dog.  These people honor their own animals as soul teachers and sources of primal joy.  These are some of the people who I called upon for their love and support--and not only did they do that, they often gave me practical advice which is thin on the ground when your dog is sick and even the vets are confounded.  They sent healing love.  They "got it".  

Texas A&M University Veterinary Hospital.  Naturally, with my husband and I both having our BAs from The University of Texas, we're hard wired and hard pressed to say nice things about Aggies, just as a natural extension of the inter-state rivalry.  But I cannot say enough good things about this facility and its staff.  Not only do they take exceptional care of their patients (and remember, we had to take Shelley there for her ACL tear last year)--they take exceptional care of the owners.  Texas A&M naturally has world-class technology; and they have world-class staff with their bedside manner.  The fourth year vet student and the DVM in charge were quite obviously smitten with Dante.  When you're leaving your dog with anyone, to see that they actually care goes a long way.  Something else they did which meant a lot to me was simply this (which as anyone who deals with doctors in any clinic has dealt with)--they always called when they said they would with results.  On the dot.  And morning and night, they would call just for the general wellness updates, they wouldn't just leave it at "Oh he's nice, he ate and he's sleeping".  We got full details from our vet student assigned to him about all the tricks he was showing the other vet students, what he liked to do outside when he went out for potties, and how his neurological tests were faring daily.  They were so impressed with his improvement that they showed him off to the radiography technicians.  AND, when we brought him home...he smelled like "other woman"!!  You could smell the soap and lotion the staff uses...and I was so glad to know that he had hands all over him while he was there.  

Here's a funny side note--I was a little shocked when the vet student told me that Dante was rolling over for them.  Uhhh....Dante doesn't know the command "play dead" or "bang" or "roll over".  I taught him the command "Would you rather be an Aggie or be dead?", which I'm pretty sure wasn't what they were asking him.  In honor of our new Aggie friends, we're changing that command to "Sooners", which we really should have done awhile ago.  I don't think we'll be needing OU for anything.  Aggies and Longhorns alike would agree.  

Our friends and families.  My husband and I are so lucky that we grew up with dogs and were raised by people who helped teach us how to love dogs on a deeper level.  All of our real friends adore their dogs on the same level, and being able to have that level of support was invaluable.  Especially those that reached out and I was unable to respond--please know that your emails meant the world--which is part of why I couldn't bear to respond.  

My sister.  Who dropped everything on a moments notice to be here to quite literally "be there for me"--and Dante.  Who helped the crushing pain in my heart and throat.  We both always joke that we wish we were the type of women who can travel at a moments notice with just a carry on...and guess what?  We can be! 

My husband.  He "gets it" the most.  I adore him.  As horrible as this journey is--there is no better partner in it.  

Shelley Belley.  Having a robust, wild young golden retriever in the house when Dante was out for his CT scan, MRI and all the rest was quite a comfort.  

Learning how to redefine joy.  When Dante was climbing out of the most acute of the symptoms, at first it was breaking my heart to watch him trip, lean, and weave his way into his favorite backyard hunting grounds.  Then it occurred to me that there was a lot of joy to be experienced in the fact that he even had a hunting drive and no bleeding on the brain could stop it.  (And now, having seen his MRIs, I want to say it's almost miraculous).  

Dante.  One of my favorite daily experiences with Dante is the fact that when I come home he is always sitting at the back door.  I can often see Shelley girl still sacked out and asleep on the couch from the door, but Dante, he is always in the back door window.  It doesn't matter how many times I come and leave the home in the day, Dante is the sentinel always at the back door. 

That first horrible week, as we were awaiting the MRI date, the first time I came home and he wasn't waiting in the backdoor window, I thought my heart would break.  

I opened the door.  And guess what?  He was there.  He was pressed so firmly up against the right side of the wall by the door due to his neurological and balance issues that he wasn't visible.  

I couldn't see him--at first.  But he was there.  

And he'll always be there, even when I can't see him.
Guess what?  I have my recliner back.  And I can hop in it myself!

1 comment:

  1. Awwww another great post Stef! :) I know it's great to feel like people have your back in times like these. Wish we coulda done something more for you during this time, but hope you know that we were thinking tons about all of you this whole time and praying hard for your little guy and for you guys to find the strength to see him through all the hardest parts. I'm so glad that Dante was strong enough to continue to stand guard, waiting for his mama to get home, regardless of whether he needed some wall-support or not! You guys are my heroes for persevering. I know all's going to turn out ok 'cause a spirit like Dante can't be knocked down by some hemorrhage! Happy lizard hunting big guy!!! :)