I was totally exhausted after the long day. I brought Nova home around 5 pm, and she was still blind. It is most likely permanent. The pressure in her right eye keeps spiking, so if it hasn't caused permanent blindness by now, it will probably do so at any time. There is a laser surgery available, but it is just so very expensive, and just a temporary fix, and there is no guarantee it will restore vision without knowing if there is vision even there to be restored. And there is no guarantee it will relieve the pain either. They tried several medications over the course of the day. They would work, then the pressure would spike. So this blindness is likely going to be permanent. I took about 10 minutes to reconsider the surgery, and tried so hard to see which direction my heart would lead me. I decided against it. I am sure I will have bouts of regret, but it just doesn't make sense to spend that kind of money on something that may or may not work, and is only temporary anyway. She could be back to where she was now in as early as a week to 6 months. It's just did not seem like the right thing to do.
So, it appears that I now have a new role. I am Mom to Tripawds.com's first Blind Tripawd. A "seeing eye person", if you will. Never thought I would be that, but I am dang proud. Everything right now is what the vets call "guarded". We are treating the pressure with the eyedrops and an oral medication (glycerin, she hates it, and puked it up) for a few days. If she is still blind then, then it is pretty definite that she will be blind permanently. At that point I will likely opt to have the same surgery I had for her in the left eye last week, which "kills" the fluid production in the eye. This will mean total blindness, but will also mean no more glaucoma pain, and no more expensive meds. If she doesn't adapt well and is clearly suffering, well then there will be a much different path to consider. This feels like the "right" route for us. As to how Nova will do as a blind Tripawd, only time will tell.
I have decided that I need to at least give her a few days to see how she does, and take it from there. I had to go with my gut. A Tripawds friend suggested I talk with Nova and try to connect and see if I can sense what Nova wants. I know it sounds wacky, but she is so right. Everything that Nova has done thus far since I've picked her up had communicated to me that she was not ready to give up, so I am going to support that.
Nova was ecstatic to see me when I picked her up, and her senses of smell and hearing seem to have taken over in a whole new way. It was one affectionate snuggle after another. She rode home in the van peacefully resting, then got up from time to time to sniff her way to my shoulder and rest her head on there like she usually does. We had a big long talk in the car about our plan. She thinks she can do it, and wants to try.
When we got home, I ran in to get the leash so I could walk her right out to the yard to pee, and Emmy burst out the door and jumped into the van. They had the most precious reunion ever, I could not stop crying it was so beautiful. Then Emmy led us out to the yard, and Nova's head was held high as she sniffed all her favorite places, slowly, but confidently. Emmy would sidle up to her as if to say, it's ok, I'm here and I will protect you and show you the way. We went in the house and she was different right away. It was like she had decided that it was time to get to know the house by her sniffer and ears. I walked through the living room and kitchen, where she spends most of her time, and watched her slowly sniff and discover the perimeter of the room. She ultimately found her water dish, where she proceeded to gulp up so much water (I shouldn't have let her) that she ended up puking. Before she did that, I offered her food, which she refused, but turned and sniffed her way to her favorite vantage point between the kitchen and the living room. My husband was shocked when she quickly found it, plunked herself down, then a few minutes later abruptly got up, stepped ON to the hardwood (rather than the carpet) and puked up all the water she'd gobbled down. I cleaned it up, and she rested back in her spot for a minute, then sniffed her way BACK to the food bowl, and ate her dinner.
The whole family walked through the house in the meantime, just watching her discover the house in her new way and expressing amazement and encouragement. She spent some time following our voices, all quizzical, like she was intent on learning the "new" map of the house. I went off to my son's baseball practice (since I have missed out on so many of my kids' activities these past few days), and came back and she got up to greet me. And last night (I get weepy just saying this) she sniffed her way and followed my voice into my office to sit in front of my desk while I typed emails. This was clearly not a dog who was ready to give up just yet.
When Nova and I had our heart to heart in the car, I honestly felt her telling me "You need to let me try this, Mom, and see if I can do it." I really feel this, and it is so unexplainable how you can just get these communications from your pets if you really try to connect and believe that you can. We didn't talk timeframe, but the hopelessness and despair of the last few nights was gone. I have to grant her this opportunity, I must. So that's what I will do. This is definitely going to be one of those "one day at a time" situations.
I left messages with her oncologist earlier in the day and her regular vet, just to get their takes on the situation. The oncologist didn't call me back yet, which disappointed me, but my vet did. He, like the optho and his entire staff, said that they did not feel it was time to give up. I've only had a person or two try to encourage me to not put Nova through such "suffering". But I honestly can say at this point that she is not anywhere near suffering right now. So I am not ready to give up. I will stand behind my girl to the end. Rene from Tripawds pointed out to me that many people think that an amputation is suffering, and cruel to your pet. But we all know better. I think back to that a$$hole back at the oncologist who said that I should have sent Nova to Heaven rather than put her through an amputation. My girl went on to climb mountains and hop confidently with no assistance. So THERE!
Last night went really well. The priority today is to clean the house to make sure there is nothing underfoot for her. Last night she slept on her bed and moved to the couch during the night. I heard her move in the night, and peeked out the door to check on her. Her ear perked up, so she knew I was checking, but she went back to sleep. This morning she found her way to her water bowl with no assistance, then sniffed her way to the door to pee, back in for 10 minute rest in her favorite nap spot, sniffed her was back to her bowl for her breakfast, then back to the door to poop (this is her routine).
I’ve been taking her out on a leash, there are just too many things to bump into outside but she’s doing well. I hope to teach her a pattern to follow to get out to the yard and back. We have an invisible fence, which is useless for her now (they haven't worn their collars since last fall since they learned the boundaries. So she will always need to be supervised. She came back in and sniffed her way to the boys room and jumped up on one of their beds. I am very thankful I have a 1-story home, the perfect style for a blind Tripawd.
Emmy (my other Dane) has been awesome, like Nova's personal guide. She nudged Nova’s head toward her food bowl, and guided her down the hall to the boys’ room. Nova jumped up on the bed like it was no problem and Emmy joined her, with her paw on her, for protection. She has assumed the role of protector. We are Nova's assistance team. She's the seeing eye dog, and I am the seeing eye person.
The only thing I don’t like right now is that I know there is pain from the glaucoma. I’m doing all I can to control it until middle of next week when/if the determine she is permanently blind then she will be able to have the injection in the remaining eye. Then the pain will be gone. I am not expecting any miracles with the eyesight coming back. The pressure is just too up and down in the eye. With the pain gone, we’ll see how it goes. Considering how well she’s adapted in the last 24 hours, I am not ready to quit. And neither is she.
As sad as I feel that my precious girl is blind, I feel this sense of peace that I know we are doing what is right for us, at this time, this moment, in our journey. Today we are going to create a pawprint garden stone together that I have had sitting on my shelf for the last few weeks. I plan to take some videos soon so that I can show everyone how she sniffs her way around to things. I will also add some pictures, I just don't have the time to download them right now, but will soon.