Day 84: Feeling better until I put on some latex gloves and ruin it


That doxorubicin treatment was murder. At least I think it was. It could have been the lymphoma itself. It could have been the chemo treatment before that. It was most likely a combination of all of those. But it does seem that that drug is hard.

Roo finally started to feel better about five days ago. Three days ago, she got up and wanted to go for a walk. I suggested getting in the car and driving to the pond, but she wanted to walk. She was moving a little slow, but she was determined. 

“Chig,” I kept saying, “we better go back now. Otherwise who knows how tired we’re going to get,” but she let me know, the way she always has on the trail, by looking in the direction she wanted to go, that she wanted to press on. 

We walked the mile to frog pond and after she went swimming she decided she wanted to head to the trails beyond. And in that network of trails, in the 200-year-old Brunswick Town Commons, she wanted to check all her old mouse haunts. I began to think that at some point she was going to conk out and I’d have to beg the fire department to come and get us on an ATV or we’d have to stop to let her rest, but Roo just kept going. She felt good.

The next day, she felt even better. I hated to do what I had to do next, but it had to be done. She was due for another round of chemo, five gelatin capsules filled with a compound so toxic that you have to wear latex gloves when handling it.

I don’t bother trying to hide pills in food. Roo gets so many pills every day – a minimum of eight – and she’s so good at finding them in food and spitting them out that there’s just no point. I’ve become expert at jamming them down her throat. Capsules are the worst, though, because they’re so sticky that they don’t always go down.

“Sorry, Little Bear,” I said, “but you have to take some more pills.”

She is resigned to it and doesn’t really complain beyond reflexively moving her head to the side, but she knows the drill and swallows dutifully.

What with how rough so many of the drugs have been on Roo I feared that this one would hit her quickly and put an end to how good she was feeling. But it didn’t. She continued to feel better on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Not until today, Monday, did the drug start to hit her.

She only felt tired to go for a walk. She’s getting meds for her stomach and nausea, and her appetite didn’t suffer. She just felt run down.

This evening she didn’t want to go out but I had to get her to go. She finally agreed to get in the car and we drove to a park. She didn’t want to get out. That might have been because there had been some distant thunder an hour before, so we drove to town. Sometimes she seems to think it’s safe there when there’s the threat of thunder elsewhere, and she was glad to go for a walk there. She must be feeling run down. She moved slowly. Of course I just move at her pace, her leash slack. It was warm and humid and the walk exhausted her.

Hopefully this effect of this round of chemo won’t last long. It’s not bad and she’s not upset. I’m the one who’s constantly upset and trying not to let her see that. I just hope she can’t read my mind – and who’s to say they can’t? – because when you have a dog with a fatal disease, you think of all the things to come. How long until a lymph node pops back up? Would a second round of this chemo be too much after the remission ends? Where will we go? We won’t be able to stay up here when it gets cold, if she survives that long (which I hope and expect she will). And then the other, darker, ultimate issues. Or the one issue.

In the meantime, I’ve created a bandwidth monster. Every night, Roo hounds me to put that squirrel movie back on. She can’t get enough of it. When she eventually falls asleep next to the tablet, I stop it and try to take it away, but she freaks out. She gets up, comes to the dinette table, wags her tail, points at the tablet with her nose and shuffles around until I say, “Okay, Chig. Just a little more,” and start the video again. She gets right up close to it and falls asleep with her head pressed against the screen. She loves that squirrel movie. When a commercial comes on she wakes up and looks at me. She learned quickly that I could make the commercials go away. I’m her personal DVR remote. I wish I could make more than the commercials go away.