Monday, December 3, 2007

Living with Doobie (I wish that title was not misleading)

When I started caring for my grandma, I also started caring for my grandma’s dog, Doobie. (He was once my brother’s dog. My brother named him.) Doobie is a 14-year-old lhasa apso. I love animals in general, but I am not really fond of being around this dog. He smells bad and barks a lot and wants in and out all day long and recently, has been peeing on the carpet in Big E’s room every night.

The first time or two he had an accident on the carpet, I mentioned it to Grandma and she had some exaggerated emotional outbursts in which she would essentially cry because he would need to be put to sleep. I was really confused by this response and after a few hours had my own exaggerated emotional response, (the only time I ever remember swearing to my grandma), “I can’t believe you think I would value a fucking carpet more than an animal’s life”. She cried. I cried. We agreed to take him to the vet. This was over the summer. The vet talked about other things like his cough and skin condition and wanted her to spend a lot of money on X rays so he could prescribe a diuretic for the cough, which could make the peeing worse. At that time we decided against the X rays and ended up focusing on getting some medicine for his itchy skin. After that, I have not mentioned the peeing on the carpet again and figured when she and the dog move out of the room, we will just get new carpet.

Doobie was due for a distemper shot, so we took him to the vet on Friday. Doobie has cataracts, and according to the vet, can barely see. He has a “bad tooth”. He still has skin problems and a heart murmur and a cough that is due to a heart problem. I mentioned the accidents to her, and she said Doobie is so old, that he might have a form of dementia like human Alzheimer’s and not remember to go out to pee. This really stuck an emotional chord with me. She then talked us into getting the X rays and also testing his kidney function.

Grandma and I went to the waiting room, I and just felt so weighted down. I already feel overwhelmed caring for my ailing grandmother; I do not know how good I will be caring for her dog as well. I started seeping some tears, feeling sorry for myself and scared about what the future holds and how much stress I can handle.

After awhile, the vet called us back to look at the X rays and discuss the results. As she told us about Doobie’s congestive heart failure and early stage kidney failure, I just started crying. She kept telling me how sorry she was, but how Doobie can still have a decent quality of life for a while. In fact, with medication, he will probably be more comfortable than he has been for many months. I smiled and thanked her.

While we were waiting to get checked out a couple of the technicians came up and hugged me and the vet stepped out to tell me again how sorry she was. I didn’t tell them that I wasn’t crying for Doobie. I was really just crying for myself.

When we got in the car, Grandma started to cry a little too and said, “Well, Dinky sure has lived a long happy life, hasn’t he?”


Jennifer said...

Oh, I am so sorry. This is such a tough situation.
You shouldn't feel bad that you felt bad for yourself. You are carrying a lot of really heavy burdens right now and it's natural to feel that way. Day to day you do what is right, taking care of your grandma and your whole family. I honestly don't know how you do it.
If it gets you down and you get emotional or distressed, that's okay. It's an emotional and distressing situation.
I love you,

Ramble On said...

Your strength inspires me. You have every right to cry, even find a private place and scream now and then. If you are not part of a caregiver support group, you might give it a try. I cannot imagine the pressure you must be under.

My Flock Rocks! said...

I had a Maltese/cockapoo mix that had all the same symptoms at age 14 and a vet said he wouldn't last another six months. He lived to be one month shy of 20 years old. Yes, I had to carry him around, watch every move and I got it down to a science when I knew he was going to pee on the rug. So many times I said, living with my little dog was like taking care of a senior citizen...He's gone now and I miss him like crazy! I know how hard it must be for you but keep up the strength! (((hugs)))

Katie said...

I think you are wonderful. You have the strength and compassion that most people can't even begin to appreciate. Hang in there!

Secret Server said...

Thanks for the support and encouragement. I have been hanging in there and Doobie is feeling better. I finally got the book, The 36 Hour Day, about Alzheimer's caregiving. I hope it will be helpful, but even that is kind of depressing, facing what is coming. I am feeling in better spirits though.

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