As many of you have noticed and commented, I haven’t been online in the last week. Given my 365 Daily Challenge and normally frequent interaction, it was unusual and unexpected. Even when I went on a two-week vacation last fall, I briefly posted each day to stay connected with all my online friends. There would only be a few things to keep me from blogging or responding to comments, and unfortunately, I experienced one of them this past week.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Ryder was my ten-year-old shiba inu dog, who had a huge presence not only in my life, but on this blog. As you can probably tell by my use of the past tense, Ryder is no longer with us. It’s taken me several days to even be able to return online and to try to let everyone know what happened. This will unfortunately be a very sad post, and if you prefer not to read it, I completely understand. I know how many people enjoyed hearing from Ryder, and I wanted to at least let everyone know what occurred this last week. You can skip this and just read a happier memorial here.
Ryder has taken anti-seizure medicine for most of his life. We ran regular tests once or twice per year to check his blood chemistry, as the medicine which prevented seizures also has the ability to destroy his liver. When we went to the vet ten days ago, as I could tell Ryder was too lethargic by normal standards, I expected to adjust his medicine and possibly add something else if he was starting to become arthritic. Unfortunately, when the blood test results came back, it showed his liver was severely impacted and that we needed to take quick action.
The recommendation was an immediate transition from one anti-seizure medicine to a newer one, but given the potential for Ryder to take on more side effects, the ideal course was to load a higher than normal dosage of the new medicine while slowly weaning him off the old medicine over a five-day period. Ryder was very ill over that weekend and stopped eating by Sunday morning. He was disoriented, vomiting and refusing to take his medicine. Both W and I were very worried, but knew it would be a rough transition. We expected him to recover within a few weeks.
After last Monday’s Ryder Rant, where he mentioned he was feeling blegh, things quickly deteriorated. When we wrote that post, I had every expectation of continuing my regular posts that week while Ryder recuperated from whatever was ailing him. Part of me knew he was going to become a different dog, but I didn’t expect the true extent as to how bad the situation had become. I checked again with the vet that Monday morning to let him know that things were getting worse. Given Ryder’s refusal to eat and take his pills, the vet scheduled an immediate ultrasound to check his liver and stomach.
At 2:30 that afternoon, we took Ryder to the veterinary hospital and had the ultrasound. When the technician brought Ryder back to us in the waiting room, I could see it on his face. By 3:30, the vet let us know that Ryder’s liver was beyond repair. I knew my worst fears had come true. I’ll spare everyone the details of the next few days, but Ryder was never able to leave the hospital. We checked him in for emergency care and tried for two days to load the medication into him, get him to eat and ease any pain. We knew there was a very small chance that things would turn around, but there were a couple of attempts made to help him, so that we could truly understand if his liver might function once the old medicine was out of his system.
By Wednesday morning, we knew there was nothing left to do. I made a few deals with whomever controls this world; I offered up a year of my life to give Ryder more time with us, and I begged for something else I loved (being a writer) to be taken away from me, instead of Ryder. I knew it wasn’t rational, nor did things even work that way – but I would have done it if were an option. When I accepted that Ryder only had a few more days, W and I focused on getting him healthy enough to bring home, so he could have a day in his own apartment where he could spend his last moments.
Throughout most of the week, W and I visited him in the hospital several times per day, for several hours. He was given extra medication, IV drips and constant attention. When we came home for breaks, we spent the time staring at the walls or the phone, in fear the call would come that he either had a seizure or things took a turn far worse. Luckily, Ryder’s last few days were seizure-free, and at most, he was uncomfortable and confused as to what was happening to him. We knew he wasn’t strong enough to make it home for even a few hours. I am disappointed, angry and sad I couldn’t give that to him.
On Wednesday afternoon and evening, he roused a little bit to give us a few lucid moments. We sat with him in a small private pet waiting room where he licked and kissed us a few times. He took a few spoons of his favorite vanilla bean ice cream, and slept next to his favorite toys. On Thursday morning, my parents came into the city to visit Ryder, as he loved them dearly. They were able to say goodbye and help comfort us. In the afternoon, W and I held Ryder for the last time, cradled in our arms, where he passed away peacefully.
I’ve spent much of the last week in a complete daze. I haven’t slept. I barely ate. My eyes have not had a moment without filling with tears. I couldn’t speak to anyone on the phone but the vet or my parents. W has been and felt the same way. We have been unable to go out or see anyone. While the rest of my post is all about how I feel or what Ryder has meant to me, it also applies fully to W, who has been the only reason I am able to function right now.
My heart is broken, and my entire core is unsteady. I lost grandparents, godparents and friends when I was much younger, and it all devastated me as a child or teenager, but this has truly been my first major personal loss as an adult. I’m experiencing everything from anger to guilt, but I know it is part of the process and will get better in time. I cannot look at his food & water bowls, bed or toys without breaking into tears; yet, I will not be able to put them away anytime soon. I haven’t just lost a pet or a close family member. I’ve lost a part of me, perhaps the single most important part of my humanity.
I tend to be quiet and shy, preferring to be alone rather than in groups or with others. I have often been told I hide my emotions/feelings and tend to have tunnel vision over what’s going on around me. Ryder changed all that. He taught me how to be selfless. He showed me how to put someone else first. He helped me realize how to care for someone dependent on you for nearly everything. Ryder has been a part of me for ten years. Every part of my day revolves around him, and always has. He was always healthy, but he took medicine twice per day – and I couldn’t easily adjust the time frames without impact. I was always on the lookout for a potential seizure. I talked to him all day long. He had a voice in our day and decisions.
I’ve decided to share two separate posts today: this one, to let everyone know what happened and explain my absence, but then a second, which you can see here, to tell everyone what Ryder meant to me. This very special dog changed me when he came into my life, and I fear he has changed me again when he has left my life. I know we all feel like this when we lose someone important, but for me, I’m scared that I will forget him, or that I will forget my humanity and my ability to love others again. Right now, seeing pictures of him, or sharing memories, doesn’t feel like it will ever be enough to connect with the real thing.
I am beyond grateful to everyone who checked in on me, or to ask about Ryder, in the last week. Despite being completely destroyed emotionally and uncertain where I was or what I was doing most of the time, it helped to see your messages. They made me cry more. They made me happy to know how much he was adored. It is in these life moments where I believe there is goodness in the world that will always overpower the negative and the evil. Thank you for being part of Ryder’s life and listening to me speak from a place of raw emotion. I’ve tried to control the extent of my words, as I want to look back on this time and remember Ryder with love and not sadness.
Humbly yours…. Jay
(It’s okay to LIKE the post, as I know it comes from a good place.)
About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”
I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.
The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.
Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.