Sunday, May 27, 2007

Our dog Cooper

Dylan is doing well now, he just seems more fatigued that usual. We were discharged from hospital on Friday night after a platelet transfusion and we made our way to good friends of ours on the West side. We could have continued to stay in Long Island but we really needed to be as close to the hospital as possible in case of more fevers, and traveling from Long Island in an emergency situation would be very costly. Dylan’s shingles have now crusted over and he is scheduled for Bone Marrow aspirations on Tuesday. I am not 100 % sure when we are allowed to return to RMDH yet, so for now we will continue to stay on the West side of Manhattan. We would be so lost without such amazing friends, that I now consider my New York family. Lynn and Greg, Grant & Cheryl and Missy are always on hand when we need them the most, they have opened their homes and their hearts to us and for that we will be forever grateful.

So much just feels like it’s going on. I have missed a few updates so I will add them today. But first some really sad news for our family. Our beloved dog is now very sick and he is at the brink of fighting for survival. For fellow animal lovers you will understand how devastating this is for us. Tim told me he took him to the vet the day before last because he seemed not himself, hunched over and looking depressed. The vet did a thorough examination and he could not find anything wrong with him. He felt all his organs which seemed fine, there were no obvious lumps anywhere and he had been toileting fine. So after an antibiotic and anti-inflammatory injection he was sent home. The vet explained that doing and x-ray was pointless if he had no idea what to x-ray. Then yesterday morning Cain came out of his room and said Cooper had just wet himself. Tim rushed in to find Cooper unable to even lift his head, he picked him up and he yelped in pain, as Tim took him to the car to find the nearest vet open on a Sunday. This is totally unexpected, Cooper is a very healthy 5 year old dog, he had his vaccinations less than 2 months ago and the vet commented on how healthy he was. His temperament is so amazing, he is so well trained and wouldn’t hurt a butterfly. At the vet clinic, they tried to collect a urine sample, even though only a few drops were collected, it showed blood. They took blood tests and did an x-ray. The vet explained the x-ray was normal, none of his organs felt enlarged and he could not feel any obvious unusual lumps or masses, but when they took blood from his jugular, the vein blew up instantly and then they searched through his black fur to reveal severe bruising. After the results came back from the blood tests, it showed his red blood cells fine, but he had no platelets at all! His white blood cells were elevated as well. They then referred us to the 24 hour Animal Emergency Center that offers the best animal care and constant monitoring, of course this also costs an arm and a leg! They would not see Cooper without a large cash deposit, so Tim scrambled to borrow the money from family. They do not do platelet transfusions for dogs like they do with humans, so helping him to stabilize is difficult. They admitted Cooper, put him on fluids and administered steroids. Tim was told he has a 50 % chance of pulling through and to keep his cell phone near by at all times. Tim and Cain left the Emergency Center and cried all the way home. For us the worst part of this is the effect on Cain. Since Dylan and I left for New York, Cooper has been Cain’s best friend, he sleeps in his room every night and Cain trains, feeds and plays with him. Every night when Cain returns from school he is greeted by an excited and happy dog smile, then takes Cooper for a walk. Now I know that this is a common bond between boy and his dog, but for Cain it is very special after the extreme family situation he has had to adjust to. Overnight the vets have said he did better than expected but he is far from being out of the woods, more blood tests will be done soon to see if the steroids are helping him to produce platelets. Platelets are what make your blood clot and without them you can bleed internally and yes this is the same thing Dylan deals with on a daily basis due to the therapies. What has caused this condition known as thrombocytopenia? There are a few things, most of which we have ruled out as a possible cause for Cooper. It can be caused from rat poison, tumors, liver and kidney problems, infections, vaccinations and can also be a hereditary condition. In Cooper’s case we feel it is likely from the vaccination he was given less than 2 months ago, this condition of thrombocytopenia can actually happen in human children after immunization also. He is a totally indoor dog so rat poison is highly unlikely, he has no lumps or masses to suggest a tumor, and his liver and kidneys do not feel enlarged at all. I spent most of last night in tears and calling back and forth to Australia. I was a Veterinary nurse for ten years before I worked for Australia Post, so of course Tim refers everything to do with our animals to me and does not want to make any decisions without consulting me. We went through the symptoms and possible causes for hours. For now we wait and hope, and we try and comfort Cain as much as possible.

Our house is up for Auction next weekend, 2nd June. This in itself has had some hurdles too. The plaster board on the ceiling collapsed and had to be repaired and we had to resolve issues of me signing the necessary paper work from New York. Now the biggest hurdle of all is for the house to actually sell. If it does not sell then I fear this will destroy Tim, Cain and Dylan’s emotional state. If we can get what we are asking for the property then we can pay back the bank what we owe and then Tim and Cain can join us in New York. But the house must sell as we need to pay off all our debts first. Then of course we must get through the visa hurdles too. We just feel like these past few months we have been jumping through hoops. Nothing is ever easy, but I guess the harder it is the better the reward at the end, and being a family united again is certainly the best reward we could get.

I never got around with sharing a funny moment with you all, and this is a fine example of Dylan’s sense of humor and courage, even when he is feeling terrible. He was in the first few days of the 3F8 therapy and in tremendous pain. At about 8pm one evening he struggled to the bathroom like a little old man crippled with pain, and after 10 minutes he emerged with a smile on his brave little face and this is what I saw…

Dylan had finished the roll of toilet tissue and put the very last scrap that was left on the roll at the top, grabbed his coloring book and stood in front of me beaming and saying “look mum, I’m the statue of liberty” I laughed so much I had tears streaming down my face. Dylan never ceases to amaze me. I felt like he could see the distress in my eyes at him in agony and he did that to put a smile on my face and to let me know he was doing ok despite the pain and the heavy narcotics he was on for the pain.

These cancer kids are just incredible. I look at people, like Lance Armstrong, as great as they are, but wonder if they have any real concept of just how much and for how long these courageous kids continue to live their lives under such difficult conditions. They have not yet lived their lives like an adult has, yet they seem to be so much wiser and so much more in tune with life than what we as adults are. I learn everyday from not only Dylan but all the children I meet going through this battle. When Dylan was first diagnosed I dropped my previous belief that things always happened for a reason, I just could not see any reason for my son to get cancer. Now I look back on all we have been through, all we have learnt, who we have met and all we have done and achieved on this amazing journey. I try and look at what we have now and not what we have lost. I convince myself somehow that this is for a reason, if only for Dylan to touch the lives of others in a somewhat positive way, even for a moment. Whether there is a reason or not, thinking that provides me with comfort and gets me through being at peace with what’s happening to our family.