Saturday, December 19, 2015

Ivan's Birthday

          Ivan’s 15th birthday was December 13. Our celebration was particularly poignant because we did not think he would be with us when December arrived.
      When we lost Dasa in July we really thought we’d get to keep Ivan for another year or so. The low protein diet we cooked for Ivan along with all the fluids we included in his meals had been keeping his kidney problems in check for the 2 ½ years since he was diagnosed.
     And then in October, Ivan developed a cough. Despite antibiotics, the cough became worse. Our vet took x-rays and immediately sent us to an internal medicine specialist and a cardiologist.
   They discovered Ivan has a tumor on his heart which is creating fluid in the sack around his heart and causing the cough and other serious problems. They drained the fluid, but we declined surgery to remove part of the sack around the heart, which would buy us maybe a few months,  but would be very difficult for Ivan. When the cardiologist gave us a grim prognosis of a few days, we were shocked and stricken. I wanted to curl in a ball in the back of the closet.
      Our wonderful doctors at our local vet hospital advised us to take it day by day. Every weekend I call our vet hospital and get our doctor’s schedule for the week, so we know when she can come to our house. Our kind and wonderful vet came to our house when it was time for Dasa to leave us, and she is willing to come for Ivan when we need her.
     We decided the low protein kidney diet wasn’t necessary at this point, and now just feed Ivan whatever he wants, which means lots of chicken, also some steak, cheese, ice cream, etc. When we have salmon, Ivan gets salmon too.
     We feel very fortunate that we’ve enjoyed some bonus weeks. This has given us time to spoil Ivan a bit more than usual and to focus on just the day at hand. I am very grateful for the extra days, but I try not to look too far ahead. I know this short reprieve is just that, and we try to hold each moment close to our hearts and let Ivan enjoy as much as possible. He coughs, and my heart seizes when I hear him. but so far it is not the cough of doom we heard before the cardiologist drained fluid from the sack around his heart.
     We know it is coming very soon, but I’m trying to think of the present. I know each moment, each joyful moment, is simply all we have. This is always true, but when reminded of this, those moments become jewels. At night I think only of how sweet and soft Ivan feels next to me. That is not to say I live in such a Zen state that I transcend reality and compose odes to a raindrop. One of my friends said I am the least Zen person he knows as I’m always going full speed. This is true, but I’m making a good attempt at not crumpling in a heap.
     Today, Ivan is with us and enjoying life. And we are grateful.

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