I’ve been writing this blog for 5 weeks, and have only managed 14 posts so far. It’s not that I don’t enjoy writing (because I do) and it’s not that I don’t have a lot to say (because I clearly do!), it’s just that life gets in the way. Or more specifically, I guess work mostly gets in the way! Sacking off work to be a full-time blogger would be pretty cool.
I know that I could probably blog more if I spent less time per post. Perhaps hit a few quick fire posts in my lunchbreak, that sort of thing. I reckon I could do this – I can be deadline driven and work well under pressure – however due to the content and purpose of this whole page, I don’t really think I can do Milly’s story any justice in 30 minute snippets.
You will therefore have to persevere with me whilst I arduously slave over a blog for a least a couple of hours in order to make it “just so” before I hit publish (often burning some genuine midnight oil in the process), and as a result, have a fairly low post frequency. I’m sure there is some guidance to be found that says to have a successful blog you post regularly, or at least consistently…. but, for now at least, I’ll have to reconcile myself with a mediocre one at best.
One of the most time consuming things is finding the photos that I want to include in the posts. I generally know the photos I want to include with a story – 99% of her pictures are etched in my brain – however locating them on the laptop is a different story. I have got folders by year, but with over 2000 photos to scroll through it can take a while.
I’ve realised a couple of other things this week…
Firstly, no matter how much or how factually I write, there really is only so much content I can put out there to share Milly with the world. Despite having all those photos, most of them never made it to social media, and that really feels like a waste.
Secondly, I have vaguely alluded to aspects of “that day”, but still have not had the courage to really share what happened.
Today, 15th April, marks two months since we lost our girl. In one breath I can barely believe it has been that long, but in the next I feel I haven’t seen her for so so long and miss her with such intensity that my heart hurts. There’s definitely a cliché about “what I wouldn’t give to see her one last time”… I know it’s not going to happen, and photos and memories are all I have, but it’s impossible to push that desperate thought out of your head. Just one more walk, one more cuddle, one more anything….
What would I have done differently had I know that her last day was actually to be her “last day”.. probably nothing, because she wanted for nothing as it was. For her it was definitely better that this whole thing came out of the blue and unfolded so very quickly. Had we spent a day “knowing” it was her last, we would have been in a complete mess and consequently she would have been very unsettled indeed.
This is the last photo I took of Milly. Test driving our modified floor level bed on February 13th 2018.
You can’t see it very clearly in the photo but I promise you she is smiling 🙂
I’ve come up with a solution to the sporadic posting, the wasted content and the glaring gap in the story…
Photo’s from my collection will be posted on Insta & Twitter in a quest to Remember A Day Every Day, and this post will fill in the blanks on the one day that I know I will never ever forget….
*WARNING* This is highly likely to be a sad post *WARNING*
The story sort of starts on Wednesday 14th February. I say “sort of” because there is absolutely nothing of relevance to note about that Wednesday. Totally normal day. Totally normal behaviour. Totally normal everything. After dinner, tea, chocolate and an episode of Suits on Netflix we three made our way to bed as we did every night, and promptly fell asleep.
Thursday’s alarm is an early one – 5.35am for me – in order to get up and get to the gym. Matt’s alarm follows soon after so he can take Milly out for her walk before getting ready for work, putting the bins out, and heading off at 7.30am.
When my alarm went off that morning I just wasn’t feeling it. I just felt a bit “meh”. Slightly sore throat and just meh. This is really rare for me but I switched the alarm off, sent a quick WhatsApp to Em to apologise for my absence in class and turned over on the pillow. I dozed for a short while but then woke up to Matt urging Milly to be careful because she looked a little wobbly. This wasn’t totally unusual – she was an old girl – and her first few steps in the morning could be slightly off balance until her joints and muscles warmed up.
I heard that familiar noise of the utility room door catch and realised that Matt was about to head out as normal. Jumping out of bed I rushed in to remind him that I was working from home, and as I wasn’t gymming (I was already too late to go) I would take Milly out once it was light and slightly warmer. Milly and I took ourselves back to bed whilst Matt carried on with his morning routine. Lie-in’s are very rare these days, and absolutely unheard of during the week. I took advantage of extra minutes and Milly and I had a lovely snuggle on the bed, which is something we had not done for quite a while. I am sure that at this point there was still nothing to notice.
It was around 7.15am when things started to go downhill. We were all in the kitchen – Matt making lunch, me drinking an enormous tea (#standard), and Milly seemingly just chilling. It was then that Matt noticed that Milly had had a really big weewees accident. Again – not totally unusual – she had been experiencing some urinary trouble on and off for around 18 months – but this was a really big one, which was surprising considering she had already been outside. I let her out the back door and that is when I realised something was very wrong. Poor Milly was staggering and swaying, unable to fully control her limbs, a little bit like she was drunk. Then, still swaying, she was very sick. I was crouching by the back door just saying “she’s not ok Matt, she’s not ok”. The panic was rising in my chest. We brought her inside and she could barely stand up straight. Matt put her water bowl in front of her and, completely disorientated she knocked it over and tried to go “through” the turbo trainer rather than around it. She seemed to stabilise on her feet though – perhaps she was ok afterall?? – and now nearing 7.30 Matt went to brush his teeth. I was still crouching down, asking her what she was feeling, and it was then I realised that both of her eyes were twitching repetitively from side to side. Cue absolutely blind panic and fear. I started screaming “SHE’S HAVING A STROKE”.
Phone in hand I dialled the emergency vet – she was trying to tell me the prices of the different out of hours timeslots and I cut her off with WE ARE LEAVING RIGHT NOW. Flurry of activity for a few minutes whilst Matt put blankets in the back of the car. I was trying to get dressed without leaving her alone, which was a bit of a challenge. Matt carried her to the car and put her on my lap in the back. She couldn’t hold herself upright and was sick again. Longest 20 minute journey ever and I was trying so hard to keep calm – for her sake – but the panic was wrapped around my throat.
We quickly realised that the wobbly start and the weewees accident were obviously connected to whatever was going on. I was also already battling in my head against the “what if’s”. What if I hadn’t been here? What if I had gone to the gym as normal?
The initial arrival at the vets is a bit of a blur. Matt did the communicating. I was a wreck. I know that we saw the nurse and gave her what little details we had of what had happened. She would need to go with the nurse…. this was exceptionally hard. Out of the house I never ever let Milly out of my sight, so to have her taken away from me when she was acutely ill was really hard. Thankfully I did have the presence of mind to tell the nurse of her “dog” issue and they said she could go into isolation… but was she ok with a kitten they asked?! ABSOLUTELY NOT. The kitten’s cage received a blanket lid.
A few minutes later the vet came back to us and confirmed that her symptoms were neurological. They could run a blood test, looking for a treatable cause in the liver or kidneys, and we of course agreed. She warned us at this point that the neurological damage was likely irreversible, and that the prognosis was not good. Don’t even know what was in my mind at the time. It wasn’t traditional panic. Perhaps “calm panic”, if there is such a thing. Vet said the tests would take 45-60minutes, and was there a number they could call us on. AS IF WE WERE GOING ANYWHERE. I was gobsmacked that she even considered we might go home. But I guess maybe some people do. We went and sat in the car for a few minutes, and I sent an emergency text to my parents putting them on standby. I knew they had planned to go out for the day, but I knew that they would want to know about this. I also needed them. Despite being a fully fledged adult, and having Matt alongside me, I still use my parents for a huge amount of emotional support. They couldn’t be there, but I needed them to know what was unfolding real time, so texting was the next best thing.
After a short while we went back to the waiting room – I didn’t want to risk wasting one minute if they were trying to locate us in the car park. Goodness knows how, but 45 minutes passed and the vet called us back in and gave us the news that I think we both knew was coming. Matt and I must have spoken during the wait – we must have done – but I don’t remember any of the conversation. I think we communicated in single words, looks and hand holding alone – but however we did it we were completely united and of one mind.
The blood tests were 100% clear. Nothing going on in the liver or kidneys, which meant there was something going on in the brain. I didn’t process much of what the vet said after that. I just wanted to see her. Vet realised I was not going to cope with going out the back into the emergency zone, and arranged for the nurses to bring her to us.
She came into that room supported by two nurses, her harness and lead, and with a towel round her middle holding up her back legs. It was just awful. Sitting down on the floor we managed to get her laying up the length of my legs, with her head on my arm. She was largely unaware, and just looked bemused and confused. She could hear us though, and I have to believe she was comforted by our presence, our touch and our words. Vet said that we could take as long as we needed to make our decision.
The “episode” was still continuing.. so almost two hours of her “feeling dizzy and drunk” (we think) but not knowing why. As someone who suffers from motion sickness I can relate to that. It was approaching the start of surgery, and although she may not have noticed anyway, I didn’t want her last moments to include any distress from the presence of dogs in the waiting room, so we knew we didn’t have long. We probably had 10minutes or so just holding her and talking to her, but when she tried to stand up, faced the corner and threw up again we knew it was time. Matt slipped out to give them the nod.
There’s a saying out there that single most important thing you can do for your beloved pet is to make the right decision, at the right time, and to be there. Whilst we cannot really take credit for the decision – there was just no choice – we controlled the timing and we didn’t leave her side.
Had you asked me merely days before I would have told you that there was absolutely no way that I could have been present for that event, and if I had to be then I would have been wailing and crying, completely hysterical and attempting to wrestle the sedative out of the vet’s hand. Add in that I am of an extremely delicate disposition, and can almost pass out at just the suggestion of someone else’s physical pain. I imagined I would be overpowered by that familiar yet horrendous fainting feeling and end up on the floor myself.
Our darling darling Milly went to sleep in our arms just after 9am on Thursday 15th February 2018, with a single text to my dear mum confirming “she’s gone xxx”.
When push came to shove, none of my expectations played out and I was really surprised at myself.
I just held her warm little body, stroked her furry little face and whispered into her velvet ears until her heart stopped beating and beyond.
Because when it came to it, not only did I have to, but despite everything my body and my brain were telling me, I wanted to. She was everything to me, but more importantly I was everything to her… and this was the very last thing I could do to show her my love.