Her biggest birthday come and gone. I have to admit I did not buy a birthday dress this year and did not plan a photo session.
My grandmother passed away mid October and sent a crushing blow to everything I called routine in my life. She was my rock for so many years, I adored her, treasured her and placed her above all others in my life. Those who know me knew I spent the last few years setting aside at least one day a week, most times two, to take my grandmother out or just sit and visit. I called her every night while I made dinner to discuss what road our lives lead us down that day. I told her everything and I believe there was not much, if anything she kept from me. She was diagnosed with cancer around the same time we found out Bailley had cushings. For the following year I lived in a constant fearful state. I was looking down the barrel of loss. Not only my sweet Bailley but also my Grandmother. To be honest the thought of losing either one was unthinkable. Losing both of them was debilitating. If I was not busy with work my mind was lost in saying good-bye to them both.
A video I made for her memorial service
I never thought Bailley would reach 15. I thought she would pass before my Grandmother. Turns out it was opposite. I realized at some point in my journey with both of them that I I was spending so much time focusing on losing them, I was not treasuring what life laid before me. I started practicing every day to take it as it came. I took it to such extent, I cannot plan to far in the future because I am so focused on today.
So today, I am sad and miss my Grandmother terribly. Even though it has been since October, I struggle with living without her. For the first year there are a lot of first things without her. But for me most of all are the phone calls in the evening. Phone calls that were so dear to me. Phone calls that started when I was in my teens. My grandmother shaped a big part of who I am. The waves of tears are starting to get less each day. The happy thoughts of her are starting to creep in. I am not sure if I will ever get over losing her but, life is going on.
Each day brings different joys and challenges.
Bailley is holding her own. Her cough has increased quite a bit and she is more frail as time goes on. She doesn’t hear or see much at all. Eating is sometimes a challenge but for the most part she does very well, considering. The following video was taken today before her bath. Excuse her messy face.
The photos at the top of the page were taken on the eve of Sweet Bailley’s 16th birthday.
I will try to continually keep you all posted on Bailley’s progression through this crazy little life of hers. For now, may 2017 bring all of us joy and a heart of acceptance for what life throws our way.
Yesterday I rallied myself to start the task of a hair cut and bath for Sweet “B” Thinking she could go see Jesus soon I did not want her to look like the woofa wafus. Yes that is a real term my Nonnie has always used.
So I carried her in the laundry room and did not give into her demands. Panting, crying, fighting, yes, it was all part of the ritual. Two hours later we both emerged. Bailley looked cute as a bed bug, I on the other hand had patches of fur in my eyebrows, eye lashes, nose, mouth and every other orifice that was available. My hair was askew and I was exhausted. Bailley on the other hand was running, yes I said running, through the house like she had just single handedly taken down the Alamo. I am not quite sure what transpired in the laundry room but she obviously did not look like she was straddling the fence of life and death.
So here we are, back in the saddle again. She had a decent night and has not had a single episode of panting and pacing. Is this God’s way of preparing me? Is God being merciful and giving me just a little more time? One can never know what the future holds but between my grandmother and Bailley, I have learned a very valuable lesson as the events have unfolded over the last year. It’s not over, until it’s over. Until the final breath is drawn There is still a story to be told. God uses tragedy for good. We are all certainly headed for death but until it happens, life is something to find joy in, even if only for a couple hours.
On another note, I have been breeding dogs for 15 years. I can certainly say I have had more than one litter of puppies in that 15 years. This weekend was spent sleeping with a flash light, waking every time any living thing in our bedroom breathed funny. Those living things included, three dogs in bed with us, Bailley, Phoebe, and Peyton, Cody in his crate beside my bed, and Ella in her bed enclosed in a baby gate. Ella was the main culprit so every little bustle I heard I sprang to my feet, flashlight in hand, searching for her bottom to see what was going on. By the end of the second night I was exhausted and Ella was looking at me through her great big brown sleep deprived eyes like I was insane. I think I may have finally flipped that switch. After realizing the girls have just been running around all day like its party time I decided to take yet another look at the dates they were bred. Sure enough, I found the notes on the calendar written in big black letters were not the day of breeding, it was the day they started their heat. So now their due date is not until NEXT MONDAY!
As the sun started peaking through the darkness of our room this morning I slowly woke after a long night of keeping one eye open for the impending birth of new baby Shih Tzu and the up and down potty runs with sweet B. It seems she is having more episodes of restless panting that wake her during the night. She has also had them the last few days during the day. The only way to get her to relax and go back to sleep last night was a dose of Trazodone. As the pill started to work its way into her system I could feel the tension leave her body. She drifted off to a peaceful sleep that she welcomed with open arms.
Just as every other morning once sunlight enters the room, dogs begin to wake one at a time and with little whimpers they tell me its time to see what the new day has in store. I noticed Bailley in a strange position at the top of the bed positioned between Steve’s pillow and the headboard. She seemed lifeless. I reached up and touched her with no sign of life. I did not detect breathing it seemed for a few seconds. No twitching, nothing. I pulled my hand back and took a deep breath as if to brace myself for the thing I have feared most for years. I reached up again and I felt a little twitch. Was I relieved? I cannot really say I was. In the last couple weeks, the big DECISION has attached its self to me like a dark shadow always looming in the very corners of my mind. The decision and I are mortal enemies. I have noticed the last week or so the decision comes out of the shadow and gently whispers in my ear. Almost like it is time for us to have a short moment of truce. These moments of truce with the decisions are familiar to me in past experiences, but how do you call a truce with your mortal enemy when it means letting go of your soul mate.
Bailley has been the ONE consistent joy in my life for almost 16 years. There has not been a single night I close my eyes and not feel her warm fuzzy body snuggled happily by my pillow. My days have been filled with her antics of discovering new ways to communicate to me that she is the queen and I am her special subject. Bailley has never been a needy dog, she has always been full of self confidence. She would grace me with her snuggle loving and mushy kisses on her terms and when she did it was a treasured moment. Bailley seemed to understand that people treat you according to how much you value yourself. It has always been clear to anyone entering our home that Bailley is queen B. Bailley loves me in a way that I have never been loved. She would wait for me until Jesus came. She greets me at the door with tail wagging leaping happiness, no matter how long I was gone. Every reuniting was a cause for celebration.
Her light that shined so bright for so many years is now fading to a faint glow. I look at her and I know she is still in there but her body is betraying her. Getting around is difficult to get started, she cannot hear, I imagine most of her sight is gone as she bumps into walls, cant seem to find the nozzle of her water bottle and she gets lost outside unless we are there to guide her. Most of her light has faded in the last couple weeks with more coughing, almost to the point she cant seem to get it out. She eats sporadically. The episodes of her panting anxiously with constant movement trying to find a comfortable spot, have increased. She has restless nights of up and down to potty and then unable to settle back in bed because she seems to be uncomfortable, possibly in pain as she whines at times. It seems her quality of life is less that mediocre at this point. Is she having a bad day? A bad week? A bad couple weeks? I wish she could tell me, maybe she is and my heart is fighting a truce with the decision.
Even as I write this she is bouncing back and forth from her doughnut bed to the hard cool floor as if she is looking for a spot that she can find comfort. I have known for years this time would come. I only hope that God could intervene and make it a little easier for me. But I know life is never easy.
I want to update everyone on Bailley’s life and what has been going on. She is holding her own. Some days are bad more days are good. Bailley is on all the same meds. She eats when I serve something her majesty likes. Many nights she has a big plate of several different tings offered. She does not seem to like the same thing more than twice in a row. We have to constantly be on our toes to switch her meals and come up with new combinations she may like. The one consistent thing she has for breakfast is Wellness Petite Entrees. She does not like the flake, only the casseroles. I think I have been lucky in this department because there are four different varieties and she gets a different one every morning. Some days she will only eat half. She prefers being hand fed. So we accommodate her. When she is finished, she is finished and makes no bones about it. We always have two vultures waiting for the spoils.
Life has continued here in spite of Bailley’s ups and downs. Over the past year and a half I believe I have have started to accept how life works. I recently followed a blog about Joey & Rory Feek. If you have read their story, I think it is life changing. Their story made my heart more accepting of death. It made me realize I was allowing fear to steal my joy of everyday life. If someone so young can live so large in the face of certain death, it could be possible I was thinking of all of this in the wrong manner. For the last year and a half I have been facing losing my Grandmother in Bailley in the same breath. Funny thing is they both suffer from many of the same issues. They both seem to follow a pattern of ups and downs. I was o obsessed with the downs, I never enjoyed the ups.
I have committed to myself that life must and will go on. God gave me life to live it. I have started to find joy in things again. I am gardening again.
We have added a few new members to our family and we really enjoy them. Seven in all.
I have started baking fun things for the dogs
And I am enjoying each day that God gives me with my Gramma and Bailley. God never promised tomorrow to any of us. I dont know how long I will have my Gramma and Bailley wit me but they are here now. I an love them, touch them, and enjoy them now. Death will come for all of us eventually. Until then, I chose life.
I wanted to share one of those simple moments I enjoy most.
As we settle in for a Saturday evening, life feels good. We are at peace and very happy we can share such a beautiful Florida evening. God is good
It seems in the last week or two Bailley is slipping back. She was getting up in the middle of the night for potty and she seemed depressed, like she wasn’t feeling herself. She also wanted to drink at the bottle forever so I started leaving her up at the bottle and going back to bed. Five days with no sleep was starting to wear on me. She would find her way through the dark back to the bedroom and demand to be put back in bed. Not ideal, but it was working.
She refuses to eat dog food, or food I make her. She got so bad I went to the grocery store and walked around for over an hour gathering things to offer her, hoping she would eat something. I bought ground beef, tilapia from the seafood market, jar baby food ( meat varieties) jar baby turkey sticks, and chicken vienna sausage, (her favorite) I dont like giving her these because of the salt content. We had some smoked turkey breast, not lunch meat but a breast we smoked on the grill.
I did get her eating again by offering these things in shifts. I started her on antibiotics which seemed to help her need for middle of the night drinking and potty breaks. Not sure what was going on but whatever it was has subsided, for now. She did perk up and started doing every day things again. So now we are at eating but now great. I do manage to get her meds down in some kind of food. She eats jar baby food, loves ground beef slightly warm, not cooked, and if I mix the ground beef in a little of the chicken food I make she will eat it, so she is getting some vitamins. Im not happy with this new eating menu but, she is eating and seems stable.
I can see the decline in her condition. I know she is not doing as well as she was. Im not certain if this decline will continue or if this is just another bump in the road. This disease seems to cause her health to ebb and flow. I have learned to take it day by day. I feel stronger to face what lies ahead with her. Realizing more and more death is a part of life. You cannot have one without the other.
The video below was taken a couple days ago. Bailley is back to her quality control job in the packing room for Simply BePaws. She really takes her job serious. She normally thrashes about in the peanuts much more than you see in the video. She was almost finished when I grabbed the phone. You can hear the house phone ringing in the background. I dont normally answer the phone because as you can see I have much more important things to attend to. Savoring every single moment I have with my sweet “B”