In my last post, we had so much to look forward to in 2022! But we didn’t even get to ring in the new year before 2021 threw a punch. Chris came home from work with a small head cold that had him dragging on Christmas Eve. He pulled through pretty fast and we got to celebrate Christmas. I went to work while he had some already planned time off and then I was knocked on my butt. It hit fast, I was sitting down to write my article and was overcome with fatigue. So I opted to take a quick nap, but I couldn't sleep. That’s when the chills hit, so I got out of bed, went to my local Walgreens, bought a thermometer and took my temp. 98.9, I’m usually 97.6 so to me this was a low grade fever. I headed back home, and five minutes later I took it again, 99.9. I got under my covers and took it again, 101. So I called out of work, told Chris I wasn’t coming home for NYE so I wouldn’t infect him. He talked me into making the three hour drive back home because there was a snow storm coming and I still cannot drive in the snow. I packed up and started my drive. This was when the body aches hit, and I was getting colder. Oddly enough, I had quite a bit of energy, so the drive wasn’t as bad as I was worried about. I stopped for gas, grabbed some motrin and continued to drive home. The motrin really helped, no more aches or fever, it’s my little miracle
drug. The next day we went to get a rapid test because we were supposed to have friends coming over to help us ring in the New Year. Negative. So we let them know the results, but that I would still quarantine just to be sure, (no one wants the flu either). Later that day my cousin Melissa talked me into getting the better test, so I decided to get the PCR instead. December 31st I finally joined club Covid. Four days of a fever and aches, one day of pure exhaustion, and I was fine. For me, the flu has been significantly worse. Plus, I really enjoyed the alone time I was given, I caught up on shows, I took naps when I felt like it, Chris brought all my meals to me, it was a dream. I had a standing appointment with my Dr. that I moved to a virtual appointment and she told me I was fine to leave quarantine, and join the world again. So I did. And what perfect timing, because we were driving to TN to pick up our dogs that had been visiting their grandparents for SIX weeks!! I missed them. We called to make sure they were ok with us coming and off we went.
The plan in TN was to not only pick up our dogs, but to have our delayed Christmas with Chris’ family. Once there, it started snowing giving us a white Christmas, and because they can’t handle the snow, the nieces had the day off of school, before it even started to snow. That had us laughing. Even funnier, was the fact that Rebel had
become scared of the hardwood floors and we eventually had to lay towels down for him to make his way through the house. I personally haven’t seen him scared of hardwood floors, we have them at our house and he's just fine. On go home day, we enjoyed a cup of coffee, loaded up the dogs and started our eight hour drive back to Michigan. We wanted to spend the weekend enjoying the dogs before we had to board them so we could go back to work. We went on some walks, Addie got to be a lazy bum and Rebel got to help Chris plow the driveway in the ranger. On Monday, I caught a flight over to Chicago for work while Chris stayed behind to take care of the farm and dogs one extra day before driving in on Tuesday. Wednesday morning I got a call from the boarder to tell me that Rebel had explosive diarrhea twice. He ate most of his food the night before, but wouldn’t touch it this morning. I assumed maybe he had an upset stomach, he does have a very sensitive stomach anyhow. So I brushed it off, said he would be fine and to call me if things got worse. I spoke with Chris who said, “by the time you get over there, he’s going to be back to normal”, I laughed and we agreed. But I did call the boarder back and asked some additional questions, she said his tummy also felt hard, and he had no energy, so that was weird. So we agreed if things didn’t improve by the next day I would come get him and take him to the vet, never in my wildest dreams did I expect things to play out the way they did.
At 5pm in Chicago the boarder called back and said he had another episode. “I have a three hour drive to you, the soonest I can get there is 9pm, will someone be there or should I just get him first thing tomorrow”? I was then told he couldn’t wait that long and with my permission they would like to take him to the hospital. “Yes”. I called Chris to let him know Rebel was heading to the hospital and I was taking the car to go meet them. By the time I got there he had been given some medication and fluids to make him more comfortable but they needed us to pay before they would do anything more for him. Something that annoyed us, but we also understood. Shannon, the boarder was still at the hospital waiting to hear anything she could about Rebel and to fill me in on what she already knew. So we chatted for a bit, I told her I would leave Addie with her since I didn’t know how long this would take. My hope was that it was a false alarm and I would have him in a few hours, worst case scenario, I’d get him back the next morning. I was exhausted from not sleeping the night before, and my usual daytime nap had been interrupted. So I was basically going on about 4 hours of sleep. I told Shannon I would keep her posted and I went to try and see him. Their lobby was closed so I had to wait for them to call me in my car. Two hours later I had an update, the x-ray showed some sort of gravel in his stomach and they thought that’s what was upsetting him. They were going to just give him fluids until he passed that and he should be good to go home the next morning. Perfect! I asked to see him, and they said come on in. I walked into a side room where they brought him to me. He walked in, and it was as if he didn’t know me at all. There was no wagging tail, no sign of any joy, he just stood there. I gave him a hug and some kisses and let him know he was going to spend the night there and that
I would be back to get him tomorrow. “Feel better buddy, I love you”. I felt bad for keeping him that long and made it a short visit so he could get back to resting. I told them thank you, paid the remaining fee and headed home. I told Shannon what I was told and decided not to go to bed just yet. You see I have a small addiction to Ancestry.com and I had been in the middle of investigating my 8th great grandfather when I got the call Rebel was going to the hospital. So I decided to start my investigation again. Thank God I did. Had I gone to sleep, I never would have heard my phone ring at midnight, about 30 mins into my Ancestry investigation.
“Hi this is the Dr at the vet hospital, we did some additional x-rays and basically we think Rebel might have sepsis. You can do surgery, but his quality of life wouldn’t be the same. We had one client pay $10,000 to have the surgery, it was successful, but four months later the dog got it again and didn’t make it. We don’t have the equipment here to verify if that’s it and he would need to be transferred to another hospital, one is in Grand Rapids and the other is in Lansing”. I asked when he would need to be transferred and how exactly does that work. She said, he needs to
go immediately and I would need to pick him up and take him, they would call the hospitals to let them know I’m coming so they knew to be ready for me. My only thought was, is this really happening? I told her I needed to call Chris, we’ve never discussed situations like this, but I do know that he’s a dollar amount guy, and I didn’t want to do something that he wouldn’t do. So I called his phone, which he of course had on silent because no one expected this to happen. So I ended up calling the hotel to patch me to his room. I filled him in on what was happening, we knew if it was Sepsis this would be fatal for Rebel, but we needed to know. So I had him call the hospital back while I packed for a night of sleeping in the car, and back to the hospital I went. On the way back, Chris called me and expressed how worried he was about me driving since I hadn’t had any sleep. I told him I would be fine, I would focus on Rebel and that would keep me awake. It got quiet for a second and I decided to ask the tough questions. Seeing as how he was out of town and had to fly, plus how fast this all went really bad, I needed to be able to deal with this the way Chris would. So we had a tough conversation. We needed to find out what was going on with Rebel, we already agreed that Sepsis was terminal for him. If it was anything else, Rebel would have to be able to make a full recovery for us to move forward with any treatment. Chris knew I would do anything I could to make sure Rebel came home with me, but we needed to discuss that not being an option, in the off chance Rebel didn't recover. Next, if I did have to put him down, would he like to have him cremated. I told him it was something I regret not doing with my last dog Bear. So he agreed to do that as well. I would keep him informed, but I still didn’t believe things would keep getting worse.
I got to the hospital, someone was supposed to help me load Rebel into the car, I cannot lift a 90 pound anything, let alone a sick dog who usually gets into the car uninvited. Seriously. Once last summer Rebel jumped into Chris’ truck while the door was open. Somehow the door closed while he was still sitting there waiting for someone to take him for a ride. I just so happened to look out the window and saw him sitting there patiently waiting. I ran downstairs to get him, and we learned that day, before any car doors could be closed, we needed to look for Rebel. But on this day, his body was as sad as his Lab eyes,
his tail wagged slightly and the two of us helped him into the car. I had put blankets down to keep him comfortable on our hour drive to Grand Rapids. I wish someone could have been in the back seat with him, but in reality he probably would have been uncomfortable with that. We headed to the hospital in Grand Rapids that we were told to go to, but I needed to call on my way to tell them I was an hour away. Since I couldn’t multi-task I asked Chris to help me out. 30 mins later I hadn’t heard from him, so I called wondering what the heck? Apparently that hospital not only didn’t know I was coming, but also didn’t have room for us. They referred him to another hospital, who didn’t answer. He finally figured it out and sent me the address just as I was calling him to see what was going on. I updated the address and it luckily saved me about 20 mins of driving. I was starting to feel my exhaustion now, it was 3am on Thursday. The hospital was great, he had filled them in on what was happening, I had the paperwork from his first stay and they took him back and let me get some sleep in the car, after filling out the paperwork that is. Chris had gone to bed and I opted to look for flights back for him. The first one would have him in Grand Rapids by 3pm. I sent him the information, and passed out. Two hours later I got a call from the Dr about Rebel. She saw the gravel that the other hospital saw, as well as some small piece of possible wire, she thought maybe that had been in there scratching at his stomach lining which could be causing the little bit of fluid the other hospital saw. She didn’t see the amount of fluid that would concern her, but she was going to give him additional fluids and keep an eye on him with that. What really concerned her however was the size of one of his kidneys, it was so large that she couldn’t find the other one. As was his pancreas, she was more concerned about his possibly having pancreatitis. Something she was more hopeful about, but given the size of his pancreas she wasn’t 100% sure he could pull through. We decided to continue to give him more fluids, more than he was currently getting in hopes it would flush him out. I would go get some sleep at a local hotel, and I would call her when I woke up. I got to the hotel at 6am, filled out more paperwork for the hospital, updated both Chris and Shannon, silenced my phone and was in bed by 7am.
By 11am I wasn’t able to sleep anymore, and I decided to check in on Rebel then head home, shower grab some clothes and relax at the hotel until Chris landed. When I asked for an update they said his fever had spiked a few times and the glucose was helping give him a little energy, but overall no change. They said I could come see him after I got back from the house, so I rushed home. I took care of the farm really quickly, but we had the neighbor kids coming over to help us feed the animals, so I didn’t do very much. As I was packing my clothes, I reached for one of my two pairs of socks with Addie’s face on them, and it made me emotional thinking Chris didn’t have a pair to remember Rebel. I got mad at myself for thinking like that, because I knew he was coming home. I also made some food for him because they said he still hadn’t eaten and they didn’t have any of his meals from home. I made it back to the hospital with about an hour to spare before I needed to grab Chris. I brought the food in and said I’d like to see him before I go pick up his dad. They took me into a room, so I could try to feed him and spend just a little time with him before I had to leave. When he walked into the room he had a little wag to his tail, like he recognized me this time. But his whole body was still very sad. He had a hard time laying down, or sitting, and you could tell that’s all he wanted to do. He was so uncomfortable, it was that moment I knew he wouldn’t be coming home. He still refused to eat, so I decided to take him for a walk. It was the slowest walk we have ever been on, he saw my car sitting out front and I knew he wanted to get in the car and go home. That killed me. I told Rebel I was going to get his dad and that he would be there in a few minutes. When I took him back into the room I lost control of my emotions, I begged him to please get better, and that if he came home I would open every door he wanted to go in or out of. That was his favorite thing, aside from going for rides, hanging out in his ranger, and eating, he loved to come in one door just to be let out another door. I wiped my tears, told him I loved him and would bring his dad back with me. When someone came to get him, she told me the Dr wanted to talk with my husband and I when we got back. As soon as I walked out of the building I burst into tears, I knew Rebel wasn’t coming home with us and that we would be letting him go.
On my drive to pick up Chris I pulled it together and decided to let him come to the realization on his own, rather than telling him my thoughts, so I just smiled and told him we needed to get back. We went straight to the hospital, they brought Rebel to us again, and in just that short amount of time, he seemed even worse. The Dr came in and told us they had sent a lab to another location and that not only was his kidney and pancreas overly large, his liver was also worrisome. The organs could have actually caused him a little Sepsis, but basically his body was shutting down and that we needed to let him go. We agreed. She gave us some time with him, and we took him for one last walk, we called the kids so they could also say goodbye, and while I really wanted Addie to be able to say goodbye, I knew he didn’t have that much time. We went back to the room, started to discuss the plans, but he just looked like he was slowly dying in front of our eyes, so I asked if we could wait on that and to have the Dr come in. As soon as she gave him the morphine, he laid his head down. He was finally comfortable. We made sure he knew how much we would all miss him, and that we loved him so much, life would not be the same without him. She gave him the second injection, he stretched out, buried his head in Chris’ lap and was gone. We cried ourselves to sleep that night.
RIP Buddy, we miss you so much.
Two weeks after Rebel had been gone, our concern for Addie had become significant. She was stressed out, depressed, and her anxiety was well above normal for my normally anxious little girl. Getting another dog was too soon for us, but it felt like the right thing to do for Addie, so we rescued a puppy, something I really didn’t want to do because I’m not a puppy person. But off I went to Southern Indiana to rescue a farm dog, straight from a cattle farm. Since Riley has been at our house, I’ve lost a bunch of sleep, and have felt super guilty like Rebel would have his feelings hurt. But Rebel loved dogs, and would love Riley, and the one thing we laugh about is Rebel is up in heaven on the best playdate ever and has no clue we’re not there. And Addie, her stress and depression seem to be gone. She’s even playing with Riley and letting her cuddle with her occasionally. We know she misses her best friend, as does everyone in our house. Rebel will always be in our hearts. He was such a cool dog, and a big love bug.