Finally we are on top of it and Bentley is, for now, stable with a couple more blood tests coming up to hopefully rule out two more possible sources for the symptoms we wrestled with during these many months.
This summer those same feelings of helplessness crept back into my life with Bentley's health issues. I was not looking for a cure, I was seeking a plan that would keep Bentley feeling as well as he possibly could while simultaneously avoiding unnecessary tests that were stressful, painful and which would, in the end, not help him at all.
It took me a while to determine that a good part of my pain was being unable to help him feel better. That was causing me as much pain as his diagnosis and the anticipation of his death. Losing Bentley on the heels of losing Bill...the two most important beings in my life, was just about more than I could bear.
But I knew there was a missing piece and finally, I realized it was that too familiar feeling of helplessness that was tormenting me. For a long while, no one could figure out what was wrong. Then finally with the help of people at Colorado State University where research on Goldens and cancer is a priority, we knew he had a rare and newly identified form of lymphoma. Luckily it is also a slow growing form.
Of course, I will grieve when Bentley dies. I am already experiencing anticipatory grief. The pain I will feel when he dies will be gut wrenching. Bentley has walked with Bill and with me through the best and most joyful as well as the most difficult days of our lives.
Since Bill died (and even before) I have cried into his fur and hugged him when sadness engulfs me. He is ever present and ever patient and looks right into my soul as if to know my every thought and feeling. I only pray his death will be peaceful and pain free, and that I am with him when it happens. I pray I do not have to make the decision to take life from him but I will not let him suffer one minute longer than necessary on my account.
In the meantime, unlike many canine lymphomas, this newly identified and rare form of is indolent (slow growing) and we could have many months together. What a gift as long as he is comfortable and happy.
He is my buddy, my family, my constant companion and he cannot be replaced by another dog just as Bill can't be replaced by anyone else. Bentley is Bentley. You, pet lovers, know what it is to share life with a pet and to lose a pet.
In the meantime, he and I are enjoying our daily walks-morning and evening and as the days cool, a mid-day walk. We are enjoying sitting together often and just being peaceful or playing together when his energy allows. he can still get up on the bed and into the car though not with the agility he once had.
I do not believe he feels helpless at all.
He lives in the present moment. A lesson for us.
He is a presence in my therapy office soothing those with whom I work and approaching them when their tears flow.
Bentley is and has been a healer, a teacher, a comfort, and a source of laughter.
When do you feel helpless?
What do you do?
Have you ever lost or anticipated the loss of a pet?
How do you feel about that loss today- right now?