I was going to call this post Goodbye Bogie, but that hurt too much.
Sometimes when I thought about Bogie getting old and grey, with little white spots around his eyes and having trouble going up and down our many stairs, I’d get so upset and have to stop myself. That was years off, it was silly to think about. Maybe we would have moved to a single level house by then…
Now I’d give anything to have an old and ailing Bogie to have to haul up the stairs. My imagination couldn’t come up with an end as painful as this.
February is when it all went downhill, when the clusters started and I stopped recording them by number in my calendar. Our shared Google doc with all his seizures suddenly filled up with times, and less and less description because they were happening so often. Basically every two weeks there would be a terrible cluster we couldn’t shake him out of, and we’d have to rush to the animal ER for an overnight. We said to ourselves we can’t keep doing this, this wasn’t quality of life. To have a good week, then back to the hospital, and many days of recuperating after that. Rinse, repeat.
We got his pheno levels checked again, and were devastated to hear that they were super high at 40. He kept having seizures, so the pheno wasn’t going to be a wonder drug. We’d have to try something else.
Last week he had a week from hell. Saw a lot of drool on Sunday night so we were scared. Seizures started Monday morning. We treated them at home as we were taught until Wednesday when the neuro confirmed that we should take him to the ER. Rescue drugs weren’t working so they had to put him under to quiet his brain. The next day they said he had a hard time waking up, so he stayed another night.
On Friday morning our neurologist told us Bogie was still having seizures despite being on an insane number of drugs. He said Bogie was one of the most severe cases of epilepsy he’d ever seen, and prognosis was poor. If he didn’t show improvement by the afternoon then we would have to consider humane euthanasia. I asked the universe to please let him come home. If he came home, then I would be okay with letting him go when it was time. Somehow, he pulled through, and we took our boy home that afternoon. I was so relieved, but still felt a terrible pain in my gut.
He had been through a week of seizures and a ton of drugs, so we weren’t surprised when he didn’t bounce back as fast as before. He took a few days to get back to normal after every trip to the animal hospital. We were just so happy to have him home.
However this time he was still having focal ticks. And he didn’t want to eat. After talking to the doctor on Saturday we took him off one of his 2 new drugs which had a side effect of appetite suppression. All he did was sleep and get up to pee. When he was upright, he looked confused and stood in corners, or stared at nothing. We worried he was brain damaged.
I sat with him on the kitchen floor and read A Heart that Works, which seemed appropriate. We took turns sleeping downstairs again. Sunday night he peed dark orange. I googled and saw it might be related to his liver. I was so scared, and then relieved when he started peeing normally after that, and by Monday morning he was finally eating chicken and white rice. Small improvements. But he was also drinking a ton of water and throwing up.
I feel so much fucking guilt because by Wednesday morning he started peeing dark again. It wasn’t a one off. We rushed him to the hospital where they said he was jaundiced and in a terrible way. It turns out he had liver damage, most likely from the super dose of drugs that saved his life. It was also possible that liver damage from the pheno was the cause of his increasingly terrible seizures. Which came first, the seizures or the liver damage?
We were given a choice between trying to get his liver under control, and euthanasia. We chose to give him a chance.
He was transferred to an internal medicine doc, and stayed one night. They tried to support his liver and get him to eat, even putting in a nasal feeding tube… but Thursday things took a turn for the worse, and we realized there was no coming back from this one. His liver wasn’t going to magically regenerate like I’d hoped. And even if he turned it around… he was still a severely epileptic pup. We were on a schedule of having unbearable clusters that took him to the ER every 2 weeks. If he survived, in another month guaranteed we would have gone back to the ER. Or worse, he might die during a seizure. We decided that it was time, and went down to the animal hospital yet again. He looked terrible. I took a picture so I can remember that it was the right choice. I won’t share it because it’s too sad.
This was my first time witnessing a pet euthanasia, and it was so fast and peaceful it was shocking. After one syringe Bogie’s eyes got heavy and he fell asleep. One more syringe and he was gone. The doctor listened to his heart to confirm it had stopped.
Ryan and I held him and kissed him and said goodbye, then made the shitty drive back home. We got Vietnamese takeout which got delivered to a neighbor. We cried and cried and watched Abbott Elementary and Misery and we wished Bogie were on the couch sleeping next to us, pushing up against Seymour and taking up too much space.
I don’t know if the cat knows. Maybe he smelled it on us, maybe he could smell death on Bogie’s breath. Who knows.
I knew this day was coming, but I thought I had years of struggle ahead, not months. It hurts so damn much. I’m so angry at the neurologists for pushing toxic drugs so hard. I’m upset at myself for not giving him liver protectant once we started pheno. I’m upset at all the times I was frustrated with him while he was sick. I don’t know that I will ever forgive myself that we didn’t rush him back to the hospital Sunday night. We thought we were overreacting and paranoid. We thought he was getting better.
The whole experience of the last 4 months has been swinging back and forth between “How much longer do I have with my sweet pup?” and “Please when will this nightmare end for all of us?”
This experience has definitely triggered a lot of grief about the death of my father. Having the bed out in the living room made me think of him all the time, and how sad I was about his end and how I should have done more for him and been more present.
I try to keep thinking about a conversation that I had with my dad the last time I saw him. We were sitting on the living room couch just hanging out. I asked him if he was afraid to die. He told me that he wasn’t afraid of death, he just didn’t want to be in pain anymore. That conversation brings me a lot of comfort.
Whatever did or didn’t happen it’s done. Bogie isn’t in any more pain.
I experienced Bogie’s decline twice as long as my father’s, and I was much more involved in the daily support. Ryan and I have been on edge for every little sound in the house, haven’t slept well in months, have cried every day for the past month. We’re exhausted.
Today is our anniversary actually. 13 years of being together. Really shitty anniversary but glad to have Ryan to work through this with.
Miss you Bogie butt.