Wow, where to begin.
I have been off the radar and radio silent for a handful of days now. Needed some time to find my bearings after a stressful August. August, 2018, will go down in my record book as the shittiest month of my life thus far. After our awful ordeal with sweet Kaiser, we found out that our female Rottweiler, Nala, has bone cancer (osteosarcoma) in her front right shoulder. What first presented itself as a minor limp and corresponding lump over the joint, turned into a cancer diagnosis after a series of x-rays at the vet.
For those who are not familiar with osteosarcoma, it is no joke. An aggressive form of bone cancer, osteosarcoma is prevalent in large breed dogs, with Rottweilers said to have an occurrence rate of approximately one in 8. That is a very high number, shocking to read quite frankly. Our poor girl is the 1 in that equation. After being presented with three equally bad options from the vet, which included doing nothing, amputating her limb, and/or doing chemotherapy and radiation, we chose to let her spend the remainder of her short life (based on her illness) feeling as good as possible and just being a dog. We put considerable thought into the other options though – at one point Hugo and I had the three-hour amputation surgery scheduled but we later cancelled it. We did our own independent research and discovered that dogs with this type of bone cancer normally do not live very long after being diagnosed, due to the aggressive nature of the disease. Even when amputations are performed and additional, very expensive and physically draining therapies are administered, there still isn’t a very good likelihood of the dog surviving past a year, at best. Sometimes, dogs only live a couple of months after amputation surgery. And I am sure the recovering from losing a limb is not easy for those poor pups.
With all of that said, the biggest concern that the vet, and therefore we, have is this impending issue – due to the presence of bone cancer in her shoulder joint, the joint breaking is inevitable and just a matter of time. That is why amputation, to remove the afflicted limb, is normally a viable option. Hugo and I are terrified of her shoulder breaking because not only does that mean she has to immediately be put down but also because we don’t want her to experience that extreme level of pain. After not wanting to leave the house at all, in fear that she would be all alone when her shoulder finally succumbs, I found myself staying home with her as much as possible. I would hug and kiss her every time I walked past her, most times breaking into tears as I grasped onto her head. I would hold it, remembering how her entire body used to be the size of what her head is today. A little pile of puppy. Nala of course was unaware of why I was so emotional, it was just another day to her. And that’s when Hugo had an amazing idea – let’s buy a baby cam to set up to monitor her when we are away from home! Within minutes, we had Amazon’ed a $30 Wansview camera that features two-way audio. Technology is incredible and the feeling of security as we monitor her from afar is worth well above the purchase price of this valuable resource.
With everything considered, we opted to keep Nala out of pain with medication and rest, as well as anything her heart desires in the food category. This has recently included chips and a little guacamole, scraps of barbecued chicken from our Labor Day picnic, and cheese nibbles from our goat cheese afternoon snack plate. Although she is limping around and we are restricting her running, she has a big smile on her face and the energy to chase passing birds every day.
So for now, we are just enjoying every day with our girl, our last dog left. I fear for the day that she isn’t here as our house will be empty and sad and just not right. It has been tough experiencing such sadness and heartache with both of our puppies within such a short time frame. It hit me so hard that I have been physically sick throughout this entire process. To describe a lump in my throat and a pit in my stomach would be a severe understatement. I only hope that in time my body will calm down.
Not really sure how to transition from Nala to our friend Andrew but here goes nothing. Andrew relapsed also immediately after celebrating one year of sobriety. He is a sad idiot, he is a bad friend, and he is an asshole son. He is a raging alcoholic who fell back into his dark hole. This time, the dark hole manifested itself in the form of a dimly lit motel room in central California, as Andrew partially completed his road trip to Eureka, his intended destination. He works for a large communications company and was lucky enough to be transferred up north, an opportunity to have a fresh start in a new part of the country.
The main things missing in Andrew’s life are a companion, whether that be a girlfriend, best friend or wife, and a family. Andrew is alone, depressed and prone to relapse when faced with stressful, lonely situations. I told Hugo, just before Andrew left for this trip, that I had a feeling this would happen. And boy, was I right. Wish I wasn’t.
He didn’t make it more than 36 hours before he started drinking. And he didn’t just have a casual cocktail or frosty mug of beer. This man goes from zero to 60 by drinking straight, cheap vodka right from the plastic bottle it comes in. He doesn’t eat, hydrate with an occasional glass of water, or sleep normally. He drinks until he throws up, passes out, and then wakes up at 2am only to chug some more vodka. It is gross and sad.
The real victims in the equation are his poor parents. They are such lovely, good-hearted people who love their son tremendously. And the worst past is that there isn’t anything they can do. They have done it all before and it doesn’t work because Andrew has to do it for himself. No one can make an addict change, they have to truly desire to make the change within themselves. Despite bringing him to therapy, the hospital, rehab, or any combination thereof, it will not be successful if Andrew doesn’t want it for himself. As of now, we are on day 10 of this ordeal. He has been holed up in his motel room slowly killing himself. Only time will tell if he can pry himself out of his own nightmare of if his body will give in to the abuse he inflicts upon himself.
Life is cruel and has sharp edges that cut and sting. The past few weeks have been negative at face value but I have been trying to find the learning lessons, peace and beauty that surrounds me. I am thankful for the love that exists in my life, mainly Hugo and my parents. Hugo has exhibited such incredible support and real love towards Nala and I during these tough times. I am beyond thankful for him in my life.
So tonight, I will think happy, positive and loving thoughts for those in my life that are struggling. Nala’s struggle is sad but unavoidable at this point. Andrew’s is sad but can be changed with actions in the right directions. I just hope he can find his way before it is too late. And now I will go give Nala a goodnight kiss on the top of her nose.