The morning of Heather's surgery was surreal. Prior to, I had no idea how I was going to deal with having to hand her off to a vet who I don't particularly care for but I knew was more than capable of handling the case. I kept telling myself: it's only a dental. Heather's energy and enthusiasm that morning was above and beyond her usual happy self. She was so playful, I was convinced this was her way of telling me everything was going to be all right and there was no reason to worry. And so, I left my home with Heather and Mr. K in tow and with a happy heart, expecting nothing more than news of a possible tooth extraction at some point later that morning.
We had a quick consult with the vet before Heather went in for surgery. I pointed out the benign tumors that were to be removed while she was asleep and after the dental was complete. Then, I showed the vet what I had thought would turn out to be one of those fatty deposits that develop in old age. But, never wanting to assume anything, I asked she take a quick look at it and give me her opinion. The vet felt it and said, "Wow, that is hard!" She took two needles and quickly tapped into the spot. A few (what appeared to be) dried blood particles were retrieved. She said she doesn't usually get blood in the syringe for these kinds of tests and wanted to take a closer look. When she came back, she said the mass had to be removed that day but she couldn't say for sure whether the tumor was benign or malignant.
I thought: ok, I can handle this. I wasn't expecting this but all the vet needs to do is scoop it out and Heather will be just fine. I gave the vet my blessing and told her that the tumors were top priority and not to worry if we had to reschedule the dental. I left the office feeling sad but confident that all was being done that could be done and my girl would return home to me just the same later that night. How quickly after I left the vet, however, did that resolve fade and panic set in. The more I talked about what I had discovered that morning, the heavier reality set in. I was distraught. I wasn't ready to face "the big C," if that was, in fact, what Heather was battling. I had read plenty of my readers' own experiences about their Scotties' battles with cancer and how soon their Scotties' lives were taken after the diagnosis. The stories were heart breaking in and of themselves. I could not imagine having a story of my own to tell, less than three short years into my life as a Scottie Mom.
Much to my surprise (and contrary to the vet's own estimation of time), the vet was able to complete the dental on top of the tumor removals. I thought: that's got to be a good sign, no? By the time I had gotten into work later that morning, I got a call from the vet's office saying Miss Heather was already awake in her cage and sitting up. The vet did reveal she had to cut a lot deeper than she expected and she doesn't like to see tumors that embedded in muscle but she felt "cautiously optimistic" they had gotten it all and hoped that the test results would reflect that. Three days later and still no test results but you bet this site will be one of the first places I report the news when it comes. For now, I cling to the hope that the vet's cautious optimism was right on the money and our girl will be cancer free. Call it naivity or just blinded by love for my Scottie girl, but I have a strong feeling Heather's going to make it...and not just make it, but LIVE it! That zest for life is never gone from her eyes and she appears just as happy and healthy as the day I first met her back in April 2011.
One thing's for sure: whatever the formal diagnosis is that lies ahead, Heather has not lost an ounce of her spirit, compassion or personality throughout this ordeal. She has been such a good sport and is still so eager to experience life and to push on to the next big adventure. While hoomans may grimace at the sight of her very large incision, stitches and staples, Heather does not let her wounds stop her from doing her wiggle dances and walking down our hallways with her bottom up in the air so she can enjoy a good chin scratch from the carpet below. She very much still enjoys her meals and I think she's going to hate transitioning back to the dry food simply because she loves the taste of the moist food so much! It's been hard knowing my role as Scottie Mom and caregiver cannot keep her from such experiences and having to rely on fate to deal us a good hand of cards in this game of life but if my little girl doesn't let it get to her, why should I let it get to me? Heather's courage and strength inspires me to believe in the best simply because my girl deserves the very best: a long, happy and healthy life filled with nothing but Scottie love from her closest friends and family! Many thanks to all who have shown support for Heather in her health happenings thus far. We appreciate you more than you know. Much love, The Scottie Mom.