Sunday, July 7, 2013

France: Le Mort (a prelude of sorts)

(I wrote this a few weeks ago but never posted it. Just didn't feel compelled to. I'll put it up here now as an intro to the France trip and other "amazing happenings.")
Pour votre plaisir.

About five miles into a bike ride two Saturdays ago, my back tried to seize up. I told it to piss off, as I hadn't ridden in a week and there was no way I was missing this opportunity.
After 65 miles and three repeats of Caraway "Mountain", I got home and said, "ouch."
I spent Sunday lying on the couch and watching the first season of Lost...trying not to cry as my back told me what it thought of me and my "riding."
And then Monday, I spent the morning lying on the floor.... trying not to cry as my dog Loki went about dying.
Twelve years old... riddled with tumors...
He couldn't move...he could barely lift his head... his breathing was shallow... and he was clearly in pain, looking sad and confused.
The tumor on his neck had doubled in size in less than two weeks.
I knew this was it and wanted him to have an easy transition... so I lay next to him and gave him all the attention I could. I called the Lawndale Vet and asked to have either Dr. J or Dr. Waterman call me about possibly coming to the house for euthenasia.

His best friend and life-long partner in crime, Sophie, had passed back in March when an unknown tumor on her spleen ruptured. It was a total, horrible shock.

Poor Sophie. She was such a good pup... so smart, soft and sweet.
I wish I could have given her a more dignified end.

As I rushed out to the car with her limp body cradled in my arms, I found that all the doors were locked. At which point Sophie's graceful procession from death to cremation ended abruptly. Tears running down my face, I tried in vain to continue holding her while I dug in my pocket for the key. She started to slip. And I still couldn't reach the keys. As gently as possible, I propped her up against the side of the car as I reached awkwardly around with the wrong hand and tried to pull the keys out of my pocket. I finally managed to pull them out.... and then promptly dropped them. Squatting down with Sophie still pressed against the car (less gently now) and cradled in my arms, I picked them up and finally managed to lay her in the back seat.
When I got to the emergency vet, I carried Sophie in, drenching her with snot and tears. The staff was super sweet and sympathetic.... but not so much that I didn't need to pony up for the diagnosis (she dead).
When I reached for my wallet, I found that I'd rushed out of the house without it.
I sat down on the bench and didn't bother trying not to cry.
Barnyard brought my wallet out to me.

Poor Sophie.
I can laugh about it now, but at the time, I was a wreck. (more so than usual).
Sophie and Loki had been by my side through literally the worst moments of my life... and her passing was hitting me hard.

I was determined that Loki's passing be easier and a little more dignified, with me there to comfort him and give him love. And not the kind of love that Mango was giving him, manically running in and out of rooms and playfully jumping on his head.... chewing on his ears and swollen neck.
He weakly drank some water out of a dish I brought to him and whined with the effort. I patted him and told him that it was ok. That he could let go. That I loved him and that he was the best dog ever. (Admittedly, I was fibbing.... he was a pretty good dog.)
For the remainder of the day, Loki lay on his bed, not moving. The tell-tale rise and fall of his breathing was so shallow as to be undetectable. I waited for the inevitable end.
Late that afternoon, Dr. J called back....

At which point Loki sat bolt upright and looked around.

"Oh no," Dr. J said, "Loki's not doing well?"
Uhh... well... that is....he wasn't. I... hold on....
Loki got up and limped over to me.

All I could think of was this scene:

He managed to limp outside to pee, then went back to his bed and lay there all evening.
I thought he might pass peacefully during the night, but the next morning he sat up and with a little help, limped down the stairs to pee.
For whatever reason, he rallied right when the Dr. called to discuss euthanasia.

heh heh... sorry Loki.

Listen... in my defense, they had told me that given the aggressive nature of the tumors we were removing from his neck, Loki probably had about 3-6 months left. That was 4 months ago.
And Sophie's passing had gone much the same way, a mystery collapse...unable to lift her head or move.
And you had to see him. He couldn't move. He was just this limp, weak mess.
But it would seem that he's not quite there yet, and with the help of some steroids, he's limping around the house and even managing to get down the stairs on his own. Also... he's licked his butt a permanent red.
What has me nervous is that I leave for France on Thursday and I'm not sure what Loki's timeline is. I hate to not be there for him at the end.

Loki and Sophie used to be shop dogs.
Sophie... please move your foot.

Then one day Loki snapped at the UPS man.
And then the Fed Ex guy.
And that was it.
Customers he was totally fine with. He'd greet everyone, patiently urging them to pet him. But if you walked in wearing a uniform or carrying a box, chances were he'd snap at your butt.
Sophie meanwhile loved everyone. But I couldn't very well leave Loki at home while I brought Sophie to the shop. Unless I wanted the entire house destroyed when I got back. (See what I mean? I don't think the best dog does that kind of thing. But at the end, why not tell him a few white lies?)

Eric first propositioned me about France over a year ago.
"Yeah... I'm in," I lied, not sure how on earth I would swing such a trip.
Well... the stars aligned and I've managed to swing it.

And I've got a good staff to run the shop while I'm gone. (Come on...the best staff would clean the bathroom without being asked, wouldn't they? (hint hint)
And I mean....I'm a good boss (ok... great), but I have no illusions about being the best boss... even though I do provide free beer, give them tons of swag and grace them with my excellent choice in music day after day. I'm sure that to their minds the best boss would never ask them to clean the bathrooms. And pay them more.)

I've got so much to do before I leave for France that my left eye is twitching.
And my back is still raging a bit.
And I'm worried about Loki.
And I'm just wiped out.
But I'm ready to ride my ass up some mountains.

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