Last year at this time, Jake’s legs went from ‘his gait is so funny’ to ‘why is he not using his hind legs!’. A vet visit led to an emergency neurologist appointment. MRI, Spinal Tap, the works.
After we looked at his hot mess of spine on all the photos, and determined that it was not cancer or infection, we sat down to discuss what would happen next. The net, net was: he will never get better, and in fact, he will only get worse. They couldn’t tell me how fast any of it would happen and they didn’t even feel like they needed to see him all that regularly. In that moment I felt like I was not qualified, I mean why wouldn’t we come back weekly so they could tell me what point he is at? What would happen to him? How would I know what was happening was normal?
The neurologist was wonderful. He immediately sensed the panic (ok fine, I may have been crying hysterically and talking in a pitch that only Jake could hear) and said 1. Here is my cell phone number, call me anytime. If you ever think Jake is in pain, we can help with that. 2. He reiterated, he will not get better. He will have good days and bad days and eventually he will not have much use of his hind legs at all.
It was so matter of fact. Up to that point, every issue I ever had with my dogs was along the lines of ‘let’s try this and see’. I asked when he’d need wheels and the vet said: not yet, but you’ll know when.
Jake is being measured for his wheelchair tomorrow.
And I’m ok with that and I’m so flip floppin happy that wheelchairs for dogs exist and that we can afford it. I am not sad. In the last year I have learned to champion Jake. When others look at him and say they are sad or ‘poor Jake’, I say with complete and utter conviction: he is fine.
Here is the thing though. If Melvin started limping, I’d have him helicopter’d to the Mayo Clinic. Melvin’s issues still need to cause me concern and I need to be aware of his changes. My vigilant eye for Melvin must stay honed (in case that mystery cancer shows up) but for Jake I have learned to separate the inevitable from something that could be new/treatable. For Jake, I have had to learn that today is just another day closer to him not being able to walk. And if he knuckles all day, well, whatcha gonna do? I am not nearly as upset seeing knuckling as I was one year ago. That is due in part to my now split personality. Also, I think I may be a vet.
Jake’s getting his wheels! We’ll keep you posted on how long it takes after the measurements happen (tomorrow) and the order is placed (later this week). I’m guessing he will be rollin by early 2015.