Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Dog Named Blitz, Chapter 8 "Fourth Year, Part 3"

For background on this serial, please click here. You can also start at the previous section
I could tell by the voice of the doctor on the other end of the phone that something was very wrong with Blitz.  Immediately my heart jumped into my throat.  I pulled my SUV over to the side of the road as I knew driving at that moment was a lousy idea. 

"What is it?" I asked. The doctor stated "We took Blitz in for her predatory X-ray, and the results are not good.  Basically the bone of her leg is covered with dark spots.  It may be cancer, it may be some kind of mold, but before we do anything with her knee joint we need to treat it." 

The word reverberated in my head: cancer.  Cancer.  Oh my God. 

"I'm not sure how it was missed by your first X-ray," the doctor continued,  "but it is clearly extremely aggressive to be this noticeable at this point.  I'll contact your vet, review the situation, and you can decide how to proceed from there.  He'll call you once I give him the details.  Mr. Sidders, I am so sorry.  So very sorry..."

The line went dead.  I sat there, at the side of the busy road, trying to make some kind of sense of what just happened.  I started to shake uncontrollably as I dialed my phone to call my wife.  I spat out the details to her as best I could with the massive lump I had in my throat.  We agreed we wouldn't panic until we heard from Dr. Jeff at our clinic, and it would be best if I were home.  I hung up, moved back into traffic, and numbly drove toward home. 

As I entered our town, I made a beeline for our local church.  My wife and I were regular church goers, and I now longed for the some of the serenity it had previously provided.  I entered, and dipped my shaking hand into the holy water to cross myself.  I immediately made my way to the front, in front of a statue of Mary, where I alternated prayers to her for her intercession, and prayers to God to take this away.  I prayed aloud, "God, I don't ask you for much at all.  I've done my best to live the right life.  I've honored 'thy will be done.'  But this is too much.  The person that was my Dad has been taken from me.  Please, please God.  I can't lose my dog too.  Not now.  Please.  Please." 

The vibration of the phone in my pocket pulled me out of my prayers.  In looking down on the screen, the words 'Waconia Vet' were clear.  This was it.  I immediately exited the church's side door and answered the phone. 

"Mike, it's Jeff.  Mike, Blitz is a very sick dog..."

The words hit me like a punch to the gut and I lost my breath.  For the first time, the tears started to flow.  "While were not sure exactly what it is, things are very bad."  "What about the mold thing?" I asked.  "That has to be better than cancer, right?"  "No," Jeff replied.  "If it was mold, it is weakening the bone, and growing aggressively.  It is as bad as the cancer." "So what are the options?" I asked.  He explained, "If cancer, we could amputate the leg, and put her through an aggressive series of chemotherapy.  That may buy her some additional time, maybe as long as year." 

"A year?"  I though.  "Oh my God..." 

"If mold," he continued, "we'll definitely need to take her leg, but there are no guarantees that it has not spread elsewhere.  Or you can choose not to treat her, and we'll keep her as comfortable as we can for as long as we can." 

It was now time for the question I did not want to ask.  "How long is that?" I asked.  "Two to four months," came the quiet reply.  "Six at the very most." 

Two to six months.

"What do I do?" I said as much to myself as I did to Dr. Jeff.  "Mike, I can't tell you.  You and Vera need to talk.  However, it may be wise to have the 'U' do a biopsy on her leg to see exactly what were dealing with.  Basically they'll put Blitz under, make a small incision on her leg, and scrape off part of the bone.  With that we should know for sure what it is."  With the impact of the sudden and dire news hitting at full force I had moved into a state of shock, and uttered my acceptance for that path.  "OK," Jeff said, "I'll call them and let them know to proceed.  It is too late tonight for the procedure, but they promised to do it right away in the morning.  You can pick her up the day after, and we should know what we have shortly thereafter.  Mike, I'm so sorry.  I have no idea why we didn't see it on the first X-ray.  I have gone back and rechecked, and now that I know there is an issue, I can indeed see a small speck. I should not have missed it.  The radiologist should not have missed it.  I'm so sorry."  I let him know it was not his fault, and given how quickly things had changed, it would not have mattered anyway.  "I know," Jeff replied.  "But I still feel like I failed you guys, and I'm so sorry."  We agreed to talk again once we got word back from the University, and I thanked Dr. Jeff for his care.  "We'll do all we can, Mike.  Again I'm so sorry." 

I hung up, stood there in the beautiful afternoon on the church's side steps, sat down, put my head in my hands and bawled. 

After composing myself, I got up and looked back at the church's door.  I considered going back in, but it appeared too late for any kind of divine intervention.  I turned, and headed for my car and home.  Upon entering the car I called Fuzzy to update him on the status.  I called him at work, and gave him the information that I had at that time.  "Where are you now?" he asked.  "Sitting outside of St. Joseph's Church in Waconia," I replied.  "Meet me at Floyd's," he said.  "Aren't you working?" I asked. 

"I'll be there in 15 minutes.  Leave now and I'll meet you there."

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