Lately I’ve been bunking on the couch in the living room to be near Mina at night. I have to give my back a break tonight, though, ’cause my couch is not comfortable. Eco-friendly, yes, comfy? Not in the least.

Mina’s nights are pretty rough. She pants heavily, with a raspy sound coming from her throat sometimes. She drinks a couple of bowls full of water, and she needs to go outside at least once or twice. The coughing gets really going near the hour of the wolf (around 3 a.m. when you can’t sleep because you’re worried about something), and when she gets any sleep at all, she urinates and sometimes awakens with a start. When Mina’s awake, I’m awake.

I’ve compared notes with Colleen, who’s beloved Tosca is also taking big doses of Prednisone for lymphoma, and we think the panting is caused by the Pred. It’s worst at night, because during the day Mina mostly sleeps.

She takes at least one walk per day to visit her friends in the leasing office, but then we stay pretty close to our building. She has stumbled a couple of times on the stairs and during walks so her arthritic right carpus is getting worse, and I’ve noticed some weakness in her back legs, too. Poor girl has barely any muscle mass left from the cancer, and her weakened immune system from the chemo adds to the problem. I will say, though, that there are some improvements since ending chemo in early September. Her belly,which had turned completely black during chemo, is starting to look more pink. Her hair is coming back and there’s no sign of the return of the sarcoptic mange.

But this is all cosmetic stuff, the cancer is definitely wearing her down. I’m trying to let her know by not making her walk any further than she likes, and by offering to carry her up the stairs (an offer she steadfastly refuses), that she doesn’t have to act as if she feels better than she really feels. I let her sleep when she wants and I feed her at least four times a day – big meals – and she’s allowed to snack on anything I have, too. She can eat shitty dog biscuits, which she seems to love, try vegetables off my plate, and have whole jars of organic baby food for dessert.

So far, she’s given me no indication that she’s had enough, but I fear that will come very quickly, and probably at night.