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Saturday, October 3, 2009

The vigil

We're missing our Joy and are also anxiously watching our other old grey, Rika, as she struggles with the progression of her bone cancer. Rika's pain can be controlled and she still has quality of life, enjoying cuddles and wandering around the yard on a warm day. She hops around the house on three legs, can climb up stairs but not down them. This means she has to be carried outside or from the 2nd floor to the 1st floor...Craig and I are getting a lot of exercise with squats and lifting our 55 pound greyhound these days. Rika's appetite is diminished due to her pain meds so instead of her normal 2 meals a day, we're feeding her small amounts 4 or 5 times a day. Spoiling her with frequent snacks does encourage her to eat and we're also giving her fish oil capsules which may slow her deterioration. She likes snoozing on my bed while I work on my computer each morning after I get the kids to school...she can longer jump up on the bed by herself so she stands next to it and whines until I lift her up. Then she settles down with a satisfied sigh, putting her head in my lap. Her days are pretty good but her nights are more challenging. She wakes up at least once or twice in the night crying and we have to figure out what's bothering her. It's a lot like having a baby again; we go down a very similar checklist to the one we used when Kate was an infant...is she hungry, thirsty, cold, in pain, needing to go out? We're taking turns with the night shift and with sleeping next to Rika when she needs us...sometimes she trembles until the pain meds kick in but she seems to draw comfort from one of us being with her. Even the kids are in on the act, bolting out of bed to offer hugs when Rika starts to cry and sneaking her bits of her favorite snacks during the day.

Is all of this tiring? Sure...but as I tell the kids, this is what families do...they care for each other.

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