This afternoon we drove down to Warrenton so Dr. Cliver could examine Mina. I knew it would likely be the last time we’d go there together. My goal was to let Dr. Cliver see Mina and to talk about reducing the Prednisone, since the only effect it’s having on Mina are side effects. Her lymph nodes continue to grow.

Mina has gained some weight, almost two pounds, since our last exam. That’s because she’s now allowed to eat whatever she wants as long as it’s not on the list of instantly toxic foods. The Prednisone has increased her already good appetite to a ridiculous level, and it’s about all I can do to keep food prepared for her! But the weight gain doesn’t even matter at this point, because after Dr. C. felt the string of gigantic lymph nodes around Mina’s neck she said, “She doesn’t have very long.”

Her words didn’t surprise me; I’ve been with Mina as much as possible while maintaining my good employment status and I’ve seen the gradual decline. I’ve also watched her gag on food that she can’t get past her trachea because of the pressure from her mandibular and sub-mandibular lymph nodes. Her chest nodes are also quite big and limiting her ability to breathe freely.

I stay up with her at night while she coughs and gags as fluid collects in her throat because it can’t pass down easily. I listen to her raspy breathing as she sleeps and see her energy decrease more every day. Sure, she’s still perky when she’s around the people and canines whom she loves, but it’s short-lived and she pays for it by sleeping for hours.

I love her so much. I love Mina more than anyone or anything on this entire planet. Can you understand how it’s possible for two different species to have such understanding and comfort between them?

When I asked Dr. C. about Thanksgiving she said it was unlikely that Mina will be here with me. It’s not because she doesn’t have the will to live; she has that in spades and is braver and tougher than you or I will ever be – it’s because she faces suffocation or choking to death. I am not going to allow that to happen to Mina.

We’re also decreasing her Prednisone gradually, starting tonight. She’ll get 5 mg. instead of 10 mg. We’ll decrease it by 5 mg. every week, but Dr. C. said that Mina won’t live to get to the end of the reduction and I know that’s true.

Then, I mentioned how Wolfie was having a better morning than she’d had in a long while on the day we scheduled her euthanasia. I felt so conflicted that morning. Should I give her more time when the calendar was marked with red Xs that indicated the bad days? Dr. Cliver said why not let her go out on a high note? Why is it a bad thing that our last day together might be a fairly good day? And I understand now the beauty of that, of not letting Mina become so ill that she’s choking for breath and can eat only baby food and can’t make it up the stairs on her own. She has a great deal of personal dignity, and I want her to have that until the very end.

So, we came home and stopped in the office to see Auntie Lolo and Robb. Mina bee-lined past her Auntie and went straight to the kitchen where there was a pizza box on the table. Mina LOVES pizza. She always gets my crusts and a little of the sauce. Today, courtesy of Auntie Lolo who picked off the olives and pepperonies and cut up a slice in little pieces, Mina had an entire slice of cheese pizza.

1 mina eating pizza

She sat for about a split second before nearly biting off Auntie's fingers!


3 mina eating pizza

I don't think she chewed a single bite.

Then she drank about a half gallon of water. Her belly is bloated and she’s sleeping now, I can hear her raspy breathing from over here. I think this weekend she’ll have a nice dinner with Auntie Sue and Uncle Robin and maybe some special meals in the coming week. She does love mashed potatoes and gravy. I think pancakes for breakfast this weekend, too.

Thank you, all of you, for your thoughts and kind words and prayers. I may not always say it, but it means so much to me, and to Mina, to have that comfort.