Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Lucy at Ten

About three months ago, our 10-year-old Lab, Lucy, was diagnosed with diabetes.

Brian and I were surprised by this diagnosis, because up until a few days before we took Lucy to the vet, she seemed to be in relatively good health.

The only clue that something was amiss: a sudden onset of incontinence at night.

According to Lucy's veterinarian, her pancreas just stopped working.

In the weeks that followed the diagnosis, Lucy visited the vet's office quite frequently, so the doctor could monitor her blood sugar levels and try to determine how much insulin she needed.

At first, Lucy was really lethargic. She slept A LOT and rarely barked at much of anything.

One time when Lucy spent the whole day at the vet's office, Brian picked Lucy up in the evening and the doctor raved about what a perfect angel she was. The vet said, "She was so mellow and easygoing and didn't bark much at all."  

Fast forward three weeks and Lucy returned to the vet for another full day of monitoring.

This time, she was not nearly as mellow or lethargic.  In fact, the vet said she barked so much that it was driving her crazy.

That's the Lucy I know, I thought. She's back! Clearly, giving her 16 units of insulin twice daily was working.

Since late October, Brian or I have been administering insulin injections, approximately 12 hours apart.

At first, I was super nervous about giving Lucy her insulin.  I don't like receiving shots, let alone giving them. My paramedic hubby was very patient with me, showing me how to roll the bottle of insulin between my palms, how to fill the syringe with insulin, how to pull up Lucy's skin, and how to properly inject the insulin.

It sounds long and drawn out, but it takes only seconds to do it.

Now, with over 100 injections under my belt, I'm not fazed by it.  It's just part of life.

Part of our new normal.

Noah loves watching me give Lucy her insulin. He sits on the rug nearby and after I give Lucy her "medicine", I say, "Good girl!" and he repeats, "Good girl!"

Noah has watched me give so many injections that I think at this point, he could give Lucy her injections. Ha!

The other day, Noah was standing in our family room next to Rudy, our other dog. Noah had a small flashlight in one hand, and he had a handful of Rudy's fur in his other hand. He "poked" the flashlight into Rudy's back and said, "Shot. Good girl!" He flashed me a smile and I grinned.

Granted, he got the wrong dog--the one who doesn't have diabetes--but his intentions were good.

One night, as I fed Lucy and administered her insulin--with Noah watching nearby--that old saying, "If dogs could talk..." came to mind.

I contemplated what Lucy might be thinking now that she's slowing down considerably, now that she eats special high-fiber dog food, now that she has me (or Brian) poking her with needles twice a day. 

If Lucy could talk, here's what I think she would say:

Darn, I'm gettin' old.

This arthritis stuff stinks. I can't run anymore. And I walk super slow. 

What is this dog food? It tastes like cardboard. I want my old dog food back.

Not this place again. (The vet) I want to go home.

Getting old *really* stinks.

 I love naps.

Why do I have to poop so often? Must be that darn dog food.  

Mom's alarm is going off!  That means it's time to eat!

Eating twice a day instead of once...woohoo!

So glad I'm not peeing in the house anymore--that was downright embarrassing.

Stop it, Rudy!  You're so annoying. Icksnay with the eye licking, okay?

Aahh...canned food again! I remember this from my puppy days.

I love when that little boy who they call Noah says, "Hey, Luce!" with a big grin on his face.  Makes my day, I tell ya!

As I was writing this list, I chuckled, thinking that at 70 years old (Lucy's age in dog years), I may be thinking and uttering some of these same sentiments.  Ha!

Despite her age and her diabetes diagnosis, Lucy is doing well. But I don't know how many more days she has left with us. Because of this, I find myself petting her more frequently, reminding myself to be patient with her as she walks *very* slowly from place-to-place, and watching her more and more as she interacts with Noah.

Prior to me snapping the iPhone photo above, taken just days after Lucy was diagnosed with diabetes, Noah had gently placed his Pooh blanket and his "nigh-nigh" on Lucy, and then laid down near her on his bedroom floor. 

We had told Noah that Lucy was sick, so this sweet gesture was (and still is) all the more touching. A little love from our first son to our first dog.

It will always be one of my favorite memories of the two of them.

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