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Denial — A Stage of Grief

One of the stages of grief is Denial. Think I’ve been there a lot lately. Up to Sunday night (Sept 26), Maggie has been displaying no symptoms. In fact she’s been running around like a puppy. Sleeping like a log. Eating well for the most part. Bright, alert, energetic. Just being Maggie. Sunday morning she’d been running around chasing chipmunks and squirrels. Refusing to come to me so we could go home, after being there an hour. I felt she’d had enough and it was time to go home for ‘breakie’.

She was restless all Sunday afternoon which I chalked up to excitement about seeing her Dog God Mother, Soo. Maggie loves her so much. When we were leaving I’d taken off her leash as she was about to get into the car and she ran off to say goodbye to Soo.

Then Sunday night she was very quiet. She slept with me and was restless all night — moving from one side to the other as if she couldn’t get comfortable and having twitches/spasms/tremours that were not dream related. 

The next morning we went for a leash walk, for about 45 minutes. She was pretty active on the walk, as active as she can be on an extendable leash.

Maggie wouldn’t eat much of her regular breakfast. I’d cooked up some steak for them and gave her some of that which she ate. So I opened up a can of salmon and she ate almost all of that. Tara got a few pieces but she’d already eaten up all her breakfast and since she’d had a short leash walk I didn’t want to give her too much. Weight’s an issue with Tara right now. Anyway, at least Maggie had some protein, if no vegetables or vitamins. She ate her breakfast for dinner so got all her goodies.

We spent the day at the office and she was quiet all day.

When discussing her prognosis everyone always asks ‘is she limping’ and I’ve been so happy to say ‘no, not at all.’ Well that afternoon she started favouring her leg. Not putting all her weight on it and moving with a slight limp. She was pretty quiet all day. By the evening she was putting less weight on it.

Around our usual time for our evening walk both Maggie and Tara were curled up on the couch — you might think that was a very clever move since it was cold, dark and rainy. But that’s never stopped Maggie from wanting to go for a walk! When I said ‘want to go for a walk?’ she didn’t even lift her head off the couch. I took out the garbage, which usually involves an audience at the door but when I came back they were both still on the couch. ‘Want to go for a walk?’ I asked as I walked into the living room with their leashes — no movement. Now I’d expect that from Tara but not Maggie! So I put the leashes and my rubber boots away and called A. to let her know that there was a change in Maggie’s behaviour and to see if we needed a different homeopathic treatment.

By now it was 9:00 and we gave her Conium. Spoke with A. again at 11. Maggie seemed more comfortable. I wasn’t. It’s impossible to stay in denial when I seem Maggie’s symptoms of pain staring me right in the face. I found my voice catch when I was talking with A. and a wave of sadness wash over me and thought Oh God, maybe this is really happening. “It’s too soon”.

Maggie had a fairly quiet night but we only had a half-hour leash walk this morning. However, her limping was getting more pronounced so at 1:45 I gave her a dose of Metacam. At 3:15 she got a dose of Symphytum. It’s now almost 5 so she had the Metacam 3 hours ago and the Symphytum 2 hours ago. She seems a little more cheerful. So am I! Even as I wonder if I’m going back into that stage of grief — Denial.

My therapist, K. frequently asks me ‘what are you making this mean?’ Interesting question and I wonder that right now. What am I making Maggie’s actions over the last two days mean? I realize that I was making it mean, ‘she’s dying…now’. So I’m focusing on that, letting it go, and changing what I’m making it mean to ‘she’s displaying a symptom that we can address. We will make her comfortable again and we’ll go back to running in the woods and playing with chipmunks and being happy and laughing and playing real soon!’ Just as I type this she’s run in from outside and come up to me for a hello, smiling and happy. Maggie triumphs again!

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