so. i had this dream exactly 2 weeks ago to this day. i was at my ex's clinic, where Ransom has been treated since he came to us at 4 months of age. exam room 3. my ex (D) was in the room, along with his internist (J) who i adore, and my sister, Karen. g and e were out in the waiting room together. it must have been well into fall or winter because i remember it was already dark outside, and yet it was not that late... 5:30? 6pm? anyway. Ransom's internist turns to me: "the disease has become too far advanced. i'm so sorry. we recommend that you put him down". i nod, because of course i knew this. my ex gets very choked up and says he can't stay in the room and how sorry he is. i tell him it's okay. the internist (aka J) asks if i want a box to carry him home in, for burial. i tell her no, that i'd like to have him cremated.
exactly 2 days later, i found the masses. did my hand pass over that place on his neck mindlessly while i was engaged in some random TV show? and did it register somewhere in my subconscious? is this how the dream emerged? i don't know. i just remember getting him to the vet that very day, and telling J that i'd like for this dream to remain a dream.
she truly believed we were dealing with an infection, in the absence of any other signs. his blood work was fine. his affect normal. he was eating great and has a hearty appetite (of course, he's on steroids for his skin, so easily that could mask another symptom). we tried antibiotics for a week without any response. in fact, those masses enlarged. hence the need for a biopsy and surgery.
the call came yesterday. ransom has lymphoma. this a type of cancer (and within that subgroup, there are also many types of lymphoma).
wow it's hard getting used to those words, right? i am an oncology nurse, i know what this means. it was strange to feel the fury under my grief during that conversation with J, after holding onto one thread of hope after another in spite of what my gut had been telling me. i choked through my tears: "(curses) this really sucks. he was supposed to die of a heart condition!". J cried with me, because she loves him to pieces too.
we talked about options for him- my goal, our goal- is to give him more time with quality of life. i didn't ask too many questions about the kind of lymphoma. i knew it wasn't good as his masses have grown rapidly in just 2 weeks and seem to have multiplied.
since he is not a candidate for IV chemo (which would yield a better result) we are opting for the oral version in hopes of getting him into a short remission at least once. one of the masses is quite large and encroaching on his trachea, so if we can shrink them even a little this will no doubt help him feel more comfortable. i have been told (by each doctor caring for him) that we are dealing with months now, even with treatment. if he had better veins and weren't a bulldog, we might get a longer remission. but we're being realistic.
and we're all recovering. he from his surgery. us from the news. there's been a paradigm shift, and i'm certain- as i always am- that under the pain of this diagnosis and prognosis there are these intangible, significant gifts. and that they are wrapped in a squat, snuggly, quirky, adorable 38 pound bulldog.
he has changed in the last couple of months. he doesn't tolerate time alone like he used to and prefers to be wherever i am- or with whoever is here. as my ex said, he's noticed even at the clinic that he's become "clingy". i mused that maybe he knew, maybe Ransom sensed something or felt off. D said that was probably true.
Boober has been my rock. as i said in a prior post, he shouldered more tears than any human has on my behalf. now it's time for me to be his rock.
the plan? make these the best days, weeks, and months of his life- whatever is left of it. yes, he will eat ice cream! yes, he will chew on a steak bone! and see the ocean! and lick his paws! or my leg! until he is out of breath! without me saying: "Ransom. No licking"! he may get sick of how often he'll get his back scratched! cuz the boy is about to be spoiled in a way he's never known.
we will celebrate him. who he is to each of us. he is my buddy and one of my best friends. he is my boy, i'm his mom. there will never be another like him. he has snorted and wiggled and licked his way into the hearts of so many, and there isn't a person who meets him that doesn't walk away wishing they could sneak him out the front door for keeps. (and if you have any food whatsoever in your hand or pocket he will happily follow- ears bobbing up and down as he trots right beside you, waiting for a chip to fall).
i am going to take some time to grieve what is to come. an interlude. i will allow myself the gift of knowing what i am going to lose. and then, we will move into the next day, together, with the wind at our face... that wind will dry the tears and have us panting and sniffing with joy.
because life is a snapshot, really. it's one lived moment after another. captured one frame at a time. then compiled together, like some crazy unbelievable, brilliant collage. 4 months to 7 years at the speed of a shutter. the order doesn't matter. the end doesn't matter. the love in every shot and in between. that matters.
this matters. right now. ransom at my feet, snoring, dreaming. happy to just be in the same room with me.
happy to just be.