Monday, May 11, 2009

Beauty

I wake up to the same loud alarm as I do every day and head for the shower. Kelly continues to sleep, until I wake him to tell him it's his turn. I put my make-up on in the living room to avoid the heat and steam coming from behind the shower curtain in our only bathroom (a problem that desperately needs a remedy). I then head for the bathroom, grab my hair-dryer, and head back into the living room (drying your hair without a mirror really isn't an easy task, at least not for me). At this point, Kelly has already exited the shower, shaved, and almost gotten completely dressed.

It's Sunday. It's our routine every Sunday before church. And then, our normal routine gets interrupted. Kelly slowly walks over to me and gently hands me a card. I have a feeling that I know what it is, and a lump starts to form in my throat. Kelly goes back into bedroom to finish getting ready (really just to give me what I need...a moment alone). I slowly open the card, and tears immediately begin streaming down my face.

You see, it's not just any card. It's not just another card to tell me he loves me. It's a Mother's Day card. It's a card that reads:

No animals were harmed during the production of this birthday (which he crossed out and put Mother's Day) card.
Inside: A couple of bulldogs were pretty badly humiliated though.
Happy Birthday (again crossed out and replaced with Mother's Day)!
Kelly's writing: I saw this card and it reminded me of our daughter. I just wanted you to know what an incredible mother you were to her. Thank you.
Love,
Kelly and Emma

Kelly then walked back into the living room, to console me as I wept. Then, he gave me the most beautiful roses.

These past couple of weeks have been hard. Somehow, I've managed to feel numb most of the time, with the occasional breakthrough of overwhelming sadness. Normally, I've just gone through the motions of the day, until someone asks about her or I'm caught off-guard by a memory. I'm slowly starting to let down the walls, and allow myself to feel the pain and sorrow of losing Emma. And, it hurts.

I miss her so incredibly much. So much so, that when I think about her, my heart literally aches. It all happened so fast and it is definitely taking lots of time to process it all. I want to sincerely thank my mom and dad for all that they did to help Kelly and me with Emma the last week of her life. They cared for her so deeply and you could truly feel their sorrow in losing her. I am extraordinarily grateful for two loving, supportive, giving parents. I could not have done it without them.

Some things in life are not certain, and sometimes we cannot understand God's reasoning behind circumstances. One of the things in my life that is steadfast, is that I have a man who will walk beside me when times are happy and everything is right with the world. A man who will also firmly take hold of me, lift me up, and carry me when times are dark and somber. A man who will get me a Mother's Day card when we have a puppy, and one who will get me one even when she is gone. I'm undoubtedly a blessed girl. I get to travel through this life with Kelly, through the good times and the bad.

There is profound beauty in that.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tribute

Our sweet wedding photographers posted a tribute to Emma on their blog:
http://perezblog.net (It is dated 04/22/09).

Thank you Cesar and Tanya for capturing Emma's precious face and larger than life personality. I am so thankful that we have these pictures, and thank you for caring about us and our girl.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Goodbye My Dear Sweet Emma

Emma passed away around 6:30 this morning. Our hearts are broken and our home will never be the same.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Prayers Needed

04/19/09:
Update #8: Emma would not eat again this morning, so we had to force her to take her medications again. She did try to drink a little water from a medicine dropper. Oddly, she has only urinated twice since being home yesterday around 10:15 A.M. The prednisone is supposed to cause increased urination. Her breathing is very shallow, but she does not seem to be fighting to breathe or trying to inhale more oxygen harder. In all honesty, I am not sure she will make it through today. She is sleeping and seems peaceful. We are just loving her as much as we can.

04/18/09
***Update #7: Emma won't eat. They sent her home with two cans of ID and said that she had been eating. Kelly and I had to force her mouth open to put the food in with her medication. Then we had to take a medicine dropper with water and squirt water into the back of her throat to get her to take the medicine/food down. This makes me extremely worried.


***Update #6: My dad and I went to pick up Emma this morning (Kelly is working). When Dr. Marcum brought her into the room, he said that her hematocrit is back down to 16% (this is the blood level in her body, which was 15% and went up to 29% after the transfusion...the normal is 37-55%). Due to this, the concerned look on his face was evident and he seemed less optimistic. He said things such as "if she seems to start crashing, take her to the emergency vet to do what you need to do." He said to give her all the medications, but to call him first thing Monday morning. He said that if she isn't better, then we need to do what is fair for her. So, we wait. I am glad to have her home so that she isn't alone at night and so that I can comfort her and love on her. To me, it seems like Emma is suffering. My mom and dad think it's time to let her go, but I need Kelly here for us to decide what is best for her. She is breathing really deeply, still completely yellow, she does not get up to urinate or defecate and just goes while laying down. When she does either of those things, they are both bloody. I still can't bear the thought of her not being around, but I cannot bear the thought of her feeling like she does for any longer either.

04/17/09
***Update #5: Kelly and I met at the vet's office today to talk to Dr. Marcum about all of our concerns regarding Emma: her current condition, her quality of life now and in the future, the medications she needs to be on and how they will affect her, the knee surgery she will need at some point and what that might do to the AIHA (it can be brought on by stress), the financial burden (which I hate to even type or say those words because I love her so much that I would try to do everything I could, but we have probably easily spent $5,000 in vet visits & medications for her over the last year and a half...and that is not including the costs for this week).

Dr. Marcum was so understanding about everything. He said that if it were his dog, since we have come this far, that he would wait it out for a little while longer. He said that since she had the blood transfusion that running a blood test now would really not benefit anyone because it wouldn't tell her true condition (because the blood given can stay in their system for 3-5 days). He said that we could come and get her tomorrow (they close at noon and are closed on Sundays), and take her home. He said to keep her on the medications he will give us and see if she improves. If she is not any better by next Tuesday or Wednesday, he would recommend for us to go ahead and say our goodbyes and let her be at rest. In regards to the knee surgery, he said that we could wait a year on that.

He then had the tech bring Emma into the room. She is still in such bad shape that it just hurts my heart. She is still extremely yellow. So yellow that you can see it under her white hair, the white's of her eyes are completely yellow, her mouth is yellow, the inside of her ears. I thought this would have improved. She is not responding as much and she didn't lick me or act in the slightest bit happy to see Kelly or myself. That is not Emma. Even yesterday she just seemed relieved to see me when she licked me on the face. Not today. She got up for a second and then laid right back down and had diahrrea. It was reddish-brown and had no solidity to it whatsoever. We opened the door and the tech came in to clean her off, as well as the floor. She was breathing harder and every time she would take in air, her head would shake. We talked to Dr. Marcum again afterwards, and he said that these things are normal for a dog in her state. He again expressed that he would not give up on her yet.

I cannot express how this makes me feel. I feel drained. I have cried so much that I don't know if I can cry anymore. Last night was hard. Kelly and I truly discussed for the first time that we honestly may have to make the decision to let her go. I was getting ready for bed and walked into the bathroom. I had left her blankets in there, the baby-gate up, and the clean potty-pads on the floor and it hit me. I walked into the bedroom and told Kelly that I had left everything the same so that I would feel like she would definitely be coming home. And then it happened. I cried so hard that I was shaking and couldn't breathe. Kelly kept telling me to try to take deep breaths but my chest hurt. I finally calmed down and went to sleep.
This morning, I got up and got in the shower and sobbed again. Normally I would open the curtain, just to see Emma laying on the floor sleeping or licking her kong. Not this morning.

I still do not know what to do. I know she feels miserable. You can see it on her face. She has already been riddled with health problem after health problem. I don't want her to suffer, but it would be so hard to just let her go. We have decided to go with Dr. Marcum's recommendations, so we will be bringing her home tomorrow and waiting this out.

Note: Dr. Marcum said that we cannot use Potassium Bromide as a single agent to control Emma's seizures since hers are always cluster seizures. He doesn't feel it would manage them at all.

04/16/09
***Update #4: He called. Dr. Marcum decided to wait to run the bloodwork in the morning, since Emma just got the blood last night and seems to be about the same. She is staying at his office tonight, but this means that she is by herself. She doesn't have the comfort of having someone there with her. It makes me nauseous to think about it, but he said that she should be fine. This whole experience is tormenting Kelly and me and everyone else who cares about Emma.

***Update #3: Waiting on the vet to call. He is supposed to run her bloodwork at 4:30 and I feel like I'm going to be sick I'm so nervous.

***Update #2: I got a phone call from Dr. Ludwig, the vet at the emergency clinic late last night while Emma was getting the transfusion. She said that after looking over the labs, she felt that the cause of this was a gastrointestinal bleed-out from the anti-inflammatories that Emma had last week (but she was only on them for three days). However, that seemed more hopeful than AIHA, so I felt like I was able to sleep better.

This morning, we went to pick her up from the emergency vet to take her back to our normal vet's office (Dr. Marcum). Emma was more alert. She was lifting her head and when they laid her down she licked my face. Yesterday she wouldn't even lift her head. When we picked her up, there was a different vet at the ER clinic working. Her opinion was to suspect that Emma is actually having liver failure, and then she would secondarily think maybe AIHA (She also said that dogs with AIHA that get THAT yellow normally are the dogs who do not make it through. She said it in a caring way, and it was good that she was being honest.) However, we were getting so many different opinions, all from vets that sound knowledgeable, which is scary and frustrating at the same time.

We drove Emma over to our normal vet, and got into a room. (Dr. Marcum was not in the office yesterday at our normal vet and so we saw the other vet in the practice, Dr. Schaffer.) Dr. Marcum (bless his heart), saw Emma through the window in the door, immediately opened it with a very concerned look on his face and said, "Why is she here, is she having more seizures?" I said no, and he came closer and immediately said that Dr. Schaffer had told him that a dog came in with AIHA, but didn't tell him it was Emma.

I discussed with him the differing medical opinions and he said that he absolutely doesn't think it is liver failure, because we have been monitoring her liver, since she is on phenobarbital. He then also said that he doesn't think it is due to GI problems because she was only on the medications for three days and normally it takes around 7-10 for it to potentially cause a serious problem. He said that if the GI was that affected that she would have been coughing up blood or throwing up what appeared to look like coffee grounds. And, she wasn't.

He feels that it is AIHA. He said not to give up hope yet, and that they would put her back on the IV for fluids and medications. He will do blood work again this afternoon to see what her levels are (yesterday it was at 15%, after the transfusion it was at 29%). He even said that he normally doesn't do transfusions unless the level is down to 11 or 12%. But, he said that the transfusion wasn't a bad thing. If her levels are dropping again, it means that her immune system is still attacking itself (the red blood cells), and we will just make a further decision after we get those results.



04/15/09
***Update: My mom and I went back to the vet to pick Emma up for us to take her to the ER vet for the night. Kelly met us there. We talked with the vet for over an hour. She was so informative, honest about Emma's current situation/prognosis, told us what she would do if it were her dog, etc. She looked at Emma's blood levels and said that she needed to have a blood transfusion immediately due to how low her blood count was. She did say that this can definitely be fatal, especially if Emma's system attacks the new red blood cells they are giving her. If that is the case, Kelly and I have decided that we will not proceed with a second transfusion. Again, please pray that God will handle this situation in the way that is best for Emma's life as a whole. She is truly the one who is suffering. Please just be in prayer.

*One other side note that the ER vet said: Due to the amount of damage this has done to her liver, it is definitely best that she not take phenobarbital anymore. That is what has been controlling her seizures. She also takes potassium bromide, so the vet said that we can increase that and use it as a single agent.



Original post:
Emma started acting like she wasn't feeling well on Monday. She stayed in her crate and slept while Kelly and I got ready for work, and then didn't want to come out when I got home. She had diarrhea in her crate that night, and Kelly and I were up bathing her and cleaning the crate out in the middle of the night. We put her in the bathroom with potty pads down so that she could go if she had to. When I got up, she had peed three times and her urine was really dark.

I cleaned up the bathroom, got ready, put more pads down and went to work (I placed a call to the vet to discuss her condition). I came home at lunch to check on her and she had peed several more times and her urine was red due to blood. I called the vet again and scheduled an appt. for 4 p.m. By that time, Emma was so lethargic and seemed to feel so bad, that I just took a urine and stool sample to the vet's office. They ran tests and said that she has an infection. They gave me three antibiotics and I returned home to immediately give them to her. She wouldn't eat, so I had to put them in organic peanut butter. She didn't eat last night and barely drank anything (I gave her some water out of a medicine dropper.) She laid underneath the bed until it was time for her to sleep on her blankets in the bathroom again.

This morning she didn't get up while Kelly or I got ready. She didn't eat again either (and this is NOT like Emma.) I came home at lunch and cleaned up the bathroom (her urine was bright yellow instead of red). She had diarrhea again so I had to wipe under her little tail and her little bottom was red and looked sore. I called the vet and requested a return call so that I could see what was okay to put on it. Then I noticed that Emma's back legs and stomach were yellow, as if she were so weak that she laid in her urine. I attempted to clean it off as best I could (since I had to go back to work). She decided to get up and she walked very, very slowly to the front door and I let her outside. She went to the bathroom and then collapsed from exhaustion and was laying in the grass. I picked her up and she was completely dead weight. I was carrying her like a baby, and I noticed then that the white part of her eye was yellow. I placed her back on the blankets in the bathroom and got the medicine dropper to give her more water. I lifted her jowl and noticed that the inside of her mouth was yellow. I left to go back to work, but not without placing another call to the vet's office. I spoke with the receptionist, and she said that I needed to immediately bring Emma in. I immediately started crying out of worry, and she could not tell me why/her opinion because she isn't a vet, but that she didn't mean to make me cry. I went back home and my mom came over to help me. (But not without embarrassing myself at work due to crying to explain why I had to turn around and leave again).

We got Emma into the car, and I was in the back with her. I googled "dog's skin is yellow" and multiple websites said liver failure and, of course, I started crying again.

When we arrived at the vet's office, Dr. Schaffer came in and immediately said, "it's either her liver or autoimmune hemolytic anemia." She said that she would rather it be her liver. She ran blood tests and came back and said that she has autoimmune hemolytic anemia. My poor, poor girl. Basically, her immune system is attacking her red blood cells causing them to burst. Her liver isn't able to process all of this, which caused the back-up of bilirubine, causing Emma to turn yellow. Emma is on an IV right now and being pumped full of steroids. She has to go to the ER vet tonight to be monitored and might possibly need a blood transfusion. However, this can be fatal.

I am distraught. I think that sums up how I am feeling the best. Every time I think about making that tough call that might have to be made, I cannot hold back tears. I love this little dog with my entire being. I know it's silly to some people, but I can't help but love her THAT.MUCH. To me, she's the little puppy who caused her mommy tears due to potty-training and needle-like teeth, she's that little puppy who would rather sleep in my lap than in her crate, the one who ate dry-wall (and a few toys), who loves nothing more than to play with Kayla or her dad or her granddad, whose whole little body shakes when she's excited, who would lay in her crate in the morning for as long as you will love on her and starts sighing when you do, she's the ultimate p-face, the one who will bring laughter to any situation, and who I cannot stay mad at to save my own life. Poor Emma, because she's also the one who has had the run of health problems, including bacterial infections, seizures, reaction to seizure medication, a leg injury, a lump on her side, and now this.

When is it okay to make that tough call? When is it supposed to feel "right"? I cannot bear the thought of it. The thought of her not being here when I get home, the thought of walking into the living room and not seeing her sleeping on her daddy, the thought of not taking her over to play with Kayla, the thought of her just not being here.

Please pray for wisdom for Kelly and I to handle this situation in the way that is best for us and for our little beast. I am crying even just typing those words out. OUR.LITTLE.BEAST. As tough as it is to have her, we really could not have asked for a better dog.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

from the Corcorans!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A couple more

DC pictures that is...

All four of us on the boat:


At the Capitol:


Enjoying a rita:


One last fun shot:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

As of today...

my name is Stacey Lynn