Day 25: A downswing


Roo is in bad shape tonight. She was okay yesterday, then this morning needed to go out very early. Heavy rains came, and the rest of the day inside the camper a roar of noise as the rain hit. By the time the first thunder — not much thunder, and not too loud, and the first we’ve heard since we got here — Roo was exhausted and not eating or drinking. I couldn’t get her vet on the phone, but another one called and prescribed another nausea medication. She suggested that I bring Roo in for a blood count, but that I had to weigh against the fact that it would have entailed dragging Roo out into the storm. She was so weak and frightened that that seemed like the worst thing I could do. 

I waited until the rain stopped and convinced Roo to come with me into the house so she could wait with Virginia while I went to pick up another type of anti-nausea med at the pharmacy. What a racket. $145 there and $16 two miles away, but it was eight o’clock and they were closed.

While I was out Virginia got Roo to drink some water and eat a couple of slices of turkey. That was good news. We went back to the camper, and since then Roo has tried to sleep, but something is making her too uncomfortable. Every exhalation brings a quiet growly moan. Occasionally she jumps up and wants to go outside, but then is concerned by the dark and hesitates. I go outside first to let her know she won’t be out there alone, and when she does come, she seems disoriented. She stops every few feet and looks around. Maybe she’s not disoriented, maybe it’s just how sick she feels. Sometimes she stops and sits. Earlier, while the rain was slackening, she just wanted to lie down in the wet grass. I stood over her, a foot on either side with an umbrella over the two of us, until she decided to get up. I couldn’t help remembering the way Orville at the end of his life, when he was at his most ill, wanted to lie in the grass that way. The next day he was dead.

The chemo treatment she had on Tuesday typically doesn’t make dogs this ill or do it so soon. The medicine’s peak action isn’t supposed to kick in for another five to seven days. Tonight she’s refusing food and water again. If she doesn’t drink by tomorrow she’ll have to go back to the hospital for IV fluids and more bloodwork. Apart from feeling generally lousy, I have a feeling that she must have a murderous headache because when I sit on the floor with her or kneel so that I can hold her head, she rests the soft side of her snout on my hand and groans with relief when I massage her head. Then when I get up, or overnight, she is startled by the goddamned creaking of everything inside the camper. The hole growing in the rotting floor and the crappy staples pulling out of the cheap woodwork, the plastic floor in the WC, everything makes loud creaks that must make Roo feel like they are piercing her brain. They make me want to shoot myself. I probably would if I didn’t have to be here for Roo.

Dr. Mason warned me that Roo could be expected to get worse before she got better, but days like this, and in all likelihood the night ahead, make for a current of sad terror that runs through every minute in this camper and that I have to remember every second to hide from Roo. Hopefully it will be quiet tonight, though some forecasts are calling for thunderstorms later. The only thing I’m sure about is the wisdom of getting Roo out of the South as soon as she got sick, because she would never have survived that first week of thunderstorms without being in the hospital and on IV fluids full time, because when she is frightened and paralyzed with fear she will not ever drink water. She would never have been able to get any rest. I don’t think she would be alive today. As if to reassure myself, I constantly check the weather in the paces we’ve been and there has been constant heat and frequent thunderstorms. I hope I got that at least that one thing right.

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to report that Roo was just hitting a rough patch. Tonight I’m not so sure. 

[The accompanying photo is from the first week Roo and I were together. I haven’t been taking pictures of her feeling as sick as she is now.]