About a year and a half ago, I was woken up at 4 in the morning by the sounds of Jasper thrashing around in my bedroom. I quickly turned the light on to see what was going on and found him lying in the corner of the room, panting and looking slightly…bewildered at whatever had just happened. I reached out my hand to pet him and comfort him and, right while he was laying there, he had an accident on the floor. The incident was a bit troubling, but I kind of shrugged it off as a bad puppy dream and didn’t think anything of it. I got ready and went to work that morning, and mentioned it to my supervisor, who said, “It sounds like he had a seizure. Has that happened before?”
This was a bit frightening, because, no, this had not happened before. I made an appointment with the vet that week just to get him checked out, even though he seemed normal the rest of the day. She examined him and drew some blood for labs, and said to keep an eye out for any more seizure activity, because if it happened again he’d have to be put on medication.
Cut to last March, when my parents dog sat for a few days and he took a tumble down the stairs. His back and legs hurt him badly. I got him checked out again, the vet put him on an anti-inflammatory, and he improved over the next month, but since that episode there’s been a definite downturn in his activity level, which, with age and arthritis, is to be expected.
A few weeks after the incident my mother mentioned that during the time he spent at their house she’d seen Jasper’s head was jerking as if he was having some sort of spasm. I was concerned, but had not seen him having any other episodes of this, so I brushed it off as a muscle spasm/reaction to the fall down the stairs.
I knew it wasn’t, but I wanted to think it was.
A couple weeks ago, I woke up late on a Saturday morning, and Jasper started seizing, again. Violently. For thirty minutes. His eyes were rolling back in his head, and his tongue was flopping out of his mouth. I called the vet, panicked, and they had me bring him right in. The seizure stopped on the way to the office, and he sat next to me in the waiting room, exhausted. The vet examined him and took some blood to check his cell count for signs of cancer – seizures are oftentimes signs of brain tumors. She placed him on phenobarbital to calm the seizures, and asked that we follow up in a few weeks.
Last weekend was the scheduled follow up, and I was happy to report that, with the exception of one episode, the seizures did not come back, but I could tell when he needed the phenobarbital because he would have the same head spasm that my mother noticed a few months ago. The vet looked at me, sort of puzzled. “Really, because that…shouldn’t really be happening…” She then asked about any other sort of strange behaviors I might have noticed – change in his eating or bathroom habits, or if he’d been pacing around the house or walking in circles.
“Oh, yes, he’s been doing that for a few weeks now. Pacing, pacing, pacing, around the kitchen island. And sometimes he’ll walk around the house and kind of…get lost? Or stuck in the corner of the living room and just stand there for a few seconds, like he forgot where he’s going.”
The vet looked at me then, and I just knew.
“Those aren’t good signs, Jenn. Those are symptoms that he has a brain tumor.”
I knew it. I knew something bad was wrong. I knew this was coming. I just didn’t want to accept it. The vet added prednisone to his medication regimen (poor dog takes more meds than my grandpa, I swear) to calm the symptoms, but from here it’s just a matter of weeks until I have to make the worst decision of my life.
This is where it sucks. Not knowing if today’s going to be the day that I need to call the vet. Waiting. For him to get worse, to start seizing violently, for his personality to change, for him to snap. For him not to be my Jasper.
When it’s time for him to go, I won’t hang on. I won’t let him suffer, I swear. Until then, I’m the one suffering.