Thursday, July 30, 2015

Saying Goodbye...

I debated on sharing this post. At first, I couldn't find the words to write it... then after I wrote it, I couldn't find the strength to publish it, and almost deleted it. But, I've shared so much of his life with you. You've all been a support system greater than I could ever imagine. These 3 days in June changed my life forever. So, here it is... My last 3 days with Corbin....

I came home from work around 7pm on Thursday... the dogs were all in the yard, Adam was grilling up dinner.  After welcoming me home, Corb was laying on the deck, chomping on his ball.  He stood up and began to whimper.  I had never heard Corbin whimper before.  I told him to come inside.  He took one step and screamed in a pain that we couldn't control, we couldn't stop.  I quickly called the vet but could barely get words out... finally, I was able to say "Corbin, it's Corbin!" and heard a familiar voice on the other end say "Come in, come in, we'll take you when you get here."  Corbin got sick in my car, which he never does and whimpered the whole way there.  The vet available was one I wasn't a fan of... she didn't know Corbin well and the last time I saw her, I was pretty sure she thought I was insane.  Corbin acted fairly normal, but I kept saying "there is something wrong with my dog, something is not right."  She dismissed us and sent us home with some pain meds.  I tell you this part not because of the vet... but to remind everyone, no one knows your dog better than you.

We went home and I stayed up to midnight baking cupcakes because I was so annoyed over our visit.  Corbin went to his crate, his safe place when he's not feeling well.  At some point he came out to the couch and I decided to sleep there with him.  I didn't sleep much and was thankful for a friend on the west coast who listed to my rantings and concerns most of the night. At 8am, I called the vet and explained I wasn't happy with my visit the previous night.  They scheduled me in with a vet I trusted and off we went.  Corbin was so lethargic, he wouldn't get out of my car on his own... As I carried him into the vets office, tears streamed down my face as the realization that something was very wrong hit me.  Dr. Elson walked in the door to see Corbin laying flat out on the exam table... he said "oh... this is not Corbin."  I couldn't have been more relieved to see the face of someone whose opinion I trusted and valued.  I told him what the past 12 hours held in between sobs... He sat on the table with Corbin, calmly stroking his fur as he took in all the information I was spitting out.  They took him back for some xrays and did some blood work.  My mom came to wait with me because I wasn't certain what was going to happen.  Everything looked pretty normal.  He was a bit dehydrated and his white blood cell count was low.  He was diagnosed with "clostridium overgrowth causing hemorrhagic gastritis."  A very painful stomach bug.  He got some fluids and some meds and we went home.

I had also made an appointment with his chiropractor for that afternoon.  After we got home, Corbin was still extremely lethargic.  He still wasn't walking on his own by the time we arrived at Dr. Gunderson's office.  Dr. G adjusted him and did some B12 acupuncture injections.  She was very concerned with his level of lethargy.  After looking over his records from earlier that day, she encouraged us to go back to the vet hospital for more fluids and a redo of his blood work.  We went home and I tried to feed him, but he wasn't interested in anything.  We went back to our vet and saw Dr. Goden, who was also familiar with Corbin.  Again, everything looked normal on paper... some things looked better than they did that morning, but no one could figure out why Corbin was so lifeless... The B12 perked him up a bit, and he walked out of the vets office that evening, the first steps he had taken all day.  He slept all night and drank some water.

The vet called the next morning to see how he was doing.  He was pleased, and relieved, that he was drinking on his own.  We tried feeding him small amounts of baby food... mostly me smearing it on his jowls so he would lick it off, but he wasn't interested at all.  Around 1pm he started vomiting again.  I called the vet and we decided to bring him back in.  After that call, I called Dr. Mike.  He had been on vacation, but no one knew Corbin like he did and I desperately needed his opinion.  Having a wonderful vet who takes my calls at home is an amazing thing.  I told him what was going on and told him what his blood work was like.  He agreed with the diagnosis and treatment and eased my panic.  When we got back to the vet, Dr. Goden was waiting with a plan.  He took Corbin in the back for more x-rays.  While I was waiting for him, someone appeared in the door way.  Assuming it was a tech coming with an update, I looked up.  It was a tech, but not one I expected.  One of my favorite techs had left the practice a few months ago... but there she was, in the doorway.  My sheer shock was followed with a loud gasp and then sobs... she knew Corbin well.  She did his x-rays that afternoon and asked what was going on.  I gave her the short version and asked what she was doing there.  Someone wasn't able to work and the asked her to fill in. It was pure fate to have her there with me that day.

Liz left to check on Corbin and Dr. Goden came back.  Corbin's x-rays the day before on Friday were clear, you could see every bone and every organ.  The x-rays they just did were not clear... they were hazy, indicating there was fluid in his abdomen.  He asked if I could bring him back Monday for an abdominal ultrasound.  I said "Monday?  He won't make it until Monday."  Liz came back in with Corbin and got his IV started.  He got some more fluids and medication.  I told Liz what Dr. Goden had said.  I told her I was going to take him to the emergency vet when we left because he needed an ultrasound today.  She left the room for a bit.  When she came back she told me she had talked with another vet that was there who routinely does ultrasounds and he agreed to stay late so Corbin could have one.  I burst into tears and couldn't thank her enough.  Both vets stayed late, as well as a team of vet techs in case Corbin needed emergency surgery.  But, his ultrasound looked pretty normal.  They did a guided aspiration of the fluid in his system.  We finished his ultrasound and waited for the results of the fluid.  Adam and I were with Corbin when Dr. Goden came back in.  He said there was bacteria and a lot of white blood cells in the fluid, in a place in his body that should be sterile.  Corbin had gone septic.
I knew when I heard the word that there was nothing we could do to save him.  Dr. Goden gave us a surgical option, but I knew Corbin wouldn't survive a surgery.  And, even if they could find the hole where fluid was leaking out of and they fixed it... there was nothing that caused this to happen, and the odds were high that it would just happen again. Corbin's body was failing.

I promised Corbin a long time ago that I would never keep him alive for me.  That his quality of life was most important.  I talked to Dr. Mike, and he gave me comfort as we weighed our options.  Corbin picked his head up for the first time that day... and I saw my answer there in his eyes.  His fight was over and it was our time to say goodbye.

I was so thankful to have been with my vets, at a clinic Corbin was comfortable in and with people he was comfortable with. More importantly, people I was comfortable with. I knew the decision we made was the right one for Corbin. I didn't have to second guess myself or make a decision on my own. I had amazing vets that I trusted and an amazing friend in our vet tech. Had we gone to the emergency clinic, it wouldn't have been as peaceful and I wouldn't have been so sure. Corbin left us surrounded by love from everyone in that room...

Losing Corbin was a pain I had never experienced. The air left my lungs, the blood stopped flowing in my body, all of my energy left my life. My legs were weak, my head light, my face drenched with tears. Adam and I made phone calls to those most important in his life. I managed to get the words out, "we had to say goodbye to Corbin today," but the reality seemed so unreal.  Even now, 4 and a half weeks later, the idea of never feeling his soft fur again seems impossible. Corbin had been through so much... everyone always expected him to bounce back. His loss was a shock to everyone... especially to me and Adam.

Thank you for always being there for us. Our 5 years of blogging brought us to so many amazing people. Your support, love and strength have helped me through the last 3.5 years of Corbin's always changing health issues. I know he's enjoying his time on the other side of the bridge with those who went before him. What a party it must be...

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Amelia health update

To start with a refresher or to catch up those who may not know, Amelia was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This rare disease typically goes undetected until it's too late and a pet drops dead unexpectedly. Thankfully, 2 years ago my vet heard a murmur in her heart and we had a heart ultrasound done and we caught it. This disease causes a thickening of the heart walls.  While we have not been able to reduce the thickness, with medication and proper monitoring we have been able to slow down the progression.

So, bringing this to the current moment, Amelia had her yearly heart ultrasound on Monday. In comparison to last year, the addition of a new medication has helped the blood flow and her left atrium has improved because of it. However, her left ventricular walls have continued to thicken. We've increased her medication and bumped her yearly ultrasounds up to every 6 months.

Knowing that we could have lost Amelia tragically 2 years ago if this went undetected makes every day with her a gift. She could be the furthest from the vision of a heart patient. She's happy, spunky, energetic, athletic and wiggles more than you've ever seen. Don't bother trying to tell her she has a heart condition, because she won't believe you.

We knew Amelia's life span would be shortened when we adopted her, but we knew in our home she would have the vet care that she needed. We also knew we had the ability to love her for however long we were graced with her joyful personality. Although the results we received on Monday weren't miracle words, I'm so happy her disease hasn't progressed as quickly as it could have. So, we're happy she'll be our little wiggle worm for another bit longer. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015

Meet Kobie.

I'll never be ready to see my home without Corbin. I'll never be ready to welcome a new dog without his presence here. But, if someone had said they were not ready when Corbin needed saving, he would have never made it here to me. So, although I'm not ready, please meet Kobie. Our newest member of The Corbin House foster family. Welcome to your temporary home, handsome boy. It's what Corbin would have wanted.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Thank you

Thank you, everyone, for your kind words of love and support after we said goodbye to our Corbin. Seeing all the lives that were touched by my boy... it's been a light in a very dark time.  His crazy personality filled a room and filled my life.  Without him here, I feel so incredibly lost. He was a very special boy and has left an enormous hole in our lives.
Thank you sounds so little, but please know it means so much.  It's been heartwarming to see how many people were touched by his vibrant personality. We hope those who have smiled, laughed, gasped or cried over his life of adventure and mischief will pay it forward in his name. Volunteer at your local shelter or rescue, foster or adopt a deserving best friend, make a donation to a worthy cause. His life brought light to the world of rescue, and although he is no longer here with us, that light will continue to shine bright with his memory. Corbin's short 6 years on this earth may be over, but his journey has not finished...

I hope you'll stick with us as we navigate the next chapter of the Corbin House.