My Molly Has Died

So, yesterday’s MidLifeBlogger’s post was meant to be a Bits & Pieces.  I had three cool things to tell you about, not the least of which is a post on MidLife-Beauty.  But yesterday I didn’t write at all.  Yesterday I mainly cried.

The day before yesterday, my Molly died.  Just those words bring the tears.  Can I write through them or should I take a break……

Her death was unexpected and yet not.  For a year or so she was being treated for a chronic heart condition. “Left sided congestive heart failure with mild pericardial effusion. Degenerative mitral valve disease with moderate to severe valvular insufficiency and moderate valvular prolapse with severe left-sided cardiomegaly. Degenerative tricuspid valve disease with trace insufficiency and moderate valvular prolapse without right-sided cardiomegaly. Atrial fibrillation. Severe pulmonary hypertension. Increased respiratory rate and effort likely related to the pulmonary hypertension. 

Such big words and an awful lot wrong for a little dog who only weighed about 16 pounds. Those last three were new problems as of late July, and we went home from the vet with new meds and a new regimen. Six different drugs, some given every 12 hours and others every 8.  The timing of them, I don’t mind telling you, taxed my math-resistent brain, but I was determined to Get Them Right.  I set my alarm for an hour or so before I’d normally get up so I could start and finish the regimen at reasonable hours.  To amuse myself, I used the Barking Dog alarm on my iPhone, and more than once I thought it was the neighbor’s dog incessantly barking again!

This all happened just before one of our planned trips to LA.  Molly loved to travel.  She had her own carseat, which we called her ‘basket’ and she drove all over the west with me. Her cardiologist, Dr. MacKie, said it was okay for me to take her to LA.

“She doesn’t know she’s sick,” he said, “and it’s all about quality of life now, what makes her happy.”

But I knew parts of our LA stay would require her staying alone and that didn’t seem very happy-making to me.  So I left her home in the excellent care of Dennis and I flew down to LA by myself.

When I got back, she seemed much better. Her energy level was up and she was acting like her old puppy-ish self.  The new meds seemed to be working and I couldn’t wait to take her back to Dr. MacKie for a Recheck. I just knew he was going to tell me that the a-fib had resolved itself.  I made the appointment for exactly two weeks from from he last saw her: Tuesday, August 7 at 3:20 p.m.

On Monday, I gave her a bath, which she predictably hated.  I brushed her and clipped her as long as she would allow it, which wasn’t long.  But still, she was a relatively furry white puffball when we got to VCA Sacramento Veterinary Referral Center.  As we went in the door, I looked for her name on the big board where they welcome all the dogs that have appointments that day.  It wasn’t there and I was disappointed.

As usual, we had to wait a bit for Dr. MacKie.  Molly walked around, she sniffed, she drank water, she cuddled in close and she barked an angry warning at a very large Doberman across the way.  That was Molly, fearless when she felt I needed her protection.

Dr. MacKie came out with his two resident vets (VCASVRC is a training hospital), both women, both looked friendly.  And Dr. MacKie–short, rolypoly, with endless warmth and time to give both Molly and me.  She liked him–because he so obviously liked her.  He sat down with us and we talked a bit about her progress.  I told him she had seemed so much better.  Except, maybe this morning, when she’d been a little off again.  “Let’s take her back and see what the recheck says,” he said.  I gave her leash to one of the resident vets.  They all trotted off together.  Just once she turned around and looked at me. “Bye, bye,” I said.  “I’ll see you soon.  Be a good doggie.” Satisfied, she turned and walked away with the three vets.

And that was the last time I saw her alive.

She crashed on his table.  Turned blue.  He came out to tell me and to offer my choices: he could try to draw out the excess fluid from around her heart, but she might not live through it.  And if she did, we were buying a most a month or so.  Or I could let her go.

I didn’t really dither over the decision.  “I want to hold her while you do it,” I said.

“Of course,” he answered, and led me back to one of the empty examining rooms.

Then he came back and said, “I think she’s making the decision for us.”

And the next time he came in, he was carrying Molly wrapped in a blanket.  I thought he was bringing her to me to euthanize.  No, she was already dead.  He put her in my arms and I felt the warmth and weight of her body. Then, as now, I cried for how much I didn’t want to be without her.

She was so intricately woven into the fabric of my life that there is nothing I do, no small act that doesn’t bring up my grief anew.  I am awash in sorrow, and yet I wouldn’t have given up those years with her for anything.



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