I was reading back through our old blog recently and realized what a wonderful journal it was of our lives. I feel really grateful to have the time we spent in Australia so well documented with photos and details of what we did each day, where we went, how we felt, etc…These last few months have been very hard for us, yet very significant, and after thinking it over, I feel it’s worth sharing. I know I will want to look back on this chapter of our lives in the years to come, and feel it’s worthy of a blog post, all the good and all the bad. It is all bringing about such change and is really shaping the future we are planning together. So, here’s a little recap of our winter 2014/2015 (apologies in advance for how long it is!)…
In November, our sweet Jesse became very sick. We had noticed for awhile that he seemed “off” but thought it was just old dog behaviour (less energy, appeared to be showing signs of arthritis, etc…), but one day he became especially lethargic, weak, and his back legs began to collapse. We rushed him to the vet immediately and thus began the endless testing to try to figure out what was wrong with him. Blood tests showed his platelet count to be dangerously low, as well as low red and white blood cells. He had x-rays, but all was clear, and all tests for tick borne disease were negative. At that stage, we were told he might only have a couple more days with us. On a whim, the vet gave him antibiotics thinking perhaps it was an infection and amazingly, within hours, Jesse bounced back and seemed more like his old self. We were hopeful and relieved that he’d caught an infection and we’d treated it appropriately. Unfortunately, although his blood levels had improved, they were still not where they should be and weekly blood tests were required to monitor them. Jesse was so good at the vet and the technicians often commented what a star patient he was. He looked quite cute with his little bandage, and loved the treats he would get for being such a good boy!
Sadly, after his initial bounce back, Jesse continued to show signs of being ill, even with the antibiotics. Both our vets were at a loss as to why he was sick and referred us to a vet oncologist. It was then that we learned Jesse had a very aggressive form of leukaemia and even with treatment, the absolute best case scenario would give him six more months with us. Our hearts were so broken. After a great deal of thought, we decided to try chemotherapy, mostly in hopes of having one more Christmas with our fur baby. Jesse seemed exhausted after the treatments (we did one injection treatment, and one oral pill treatment), but overall his cancer responded really well to the drugs and Jesse seemed happy, healthy, and well all over the holidays. That was the best Christmas present we could have ever asked for!
We focused our energy on enjoying the holidays as our little family of three. Luckily, Steve was off work for six weeks, a combination of comp time from three years on a very busy project and holiday time. Both Steve and I had been dealing with some health issues leading up to Christmas, and the time off couldn’t have come at a better time.
Jesse enjoyed Christmas like a puppy again, full of life, always trying to steal presents from under the tree, and rolling in the fresh fallen snow. We knew he was having a good day when he could playfully roll and bury his nose in the white, fluffy, fresh fallen snow!
Sadly, Jesse took a turn for the worst in early January, and started to show signs of not feeling well again. He had been on antibiotics permanently for weeks, to avoid infection (his white blood cells were too low to do the job on their own), yet still it seemed he had managed to catch something. By mid-January, he had fever, became incredibly weak, and was visibly ill. An antibiotic shot from the vet and new antibiotic pills didn’t help. The oncologist was surprised to see him so sick, especially considering his cancer was under control at this stage. The vet mentioned how sad it was that he had managed to avoid getting serious infection even when his cancer was at its worst, and had now caught something so severe when his cancer was doing so much better. Truthfully, Steve and I were both heartbroken. We had said all along that we were happy to continue treatment, so long as Jesse didn’t seem to be suffering and he had been doing so well, but that was no longer the case. He still had an appetite, but could only eat when hand fed because he was too weak to stand long enough to eat. We knew it was time. It was the hardest, most painful decision we have ever had to make. On January 17th, 2015, we said goodbye to our gorgeous boy. It was a very peaceful passing, and for that I am so thankful. I posted the above photo on Facebook and Instagram when it happened, with this caption:
Today, we lost our best friend. Sadly, we said goodbye to our Jeddy Bum only a couple of months after he was diagnosed with leukemia. Our hearts are broken, but this photo sums up exactly how I want to remember this sweet little guy…beautiful, spunky, naughty and full of love and life. I am so grateful that we got to be his humans for over 13 years. xoxo
Honestly, January and February felt long, cold, dark, and lonely. We both missed Jesse so much and the house just didn’t feel the same without him. It was strange to adjust to a routine that didn’t revolve around caring for a dog. I realized I had literally spent my entire adult life (we got him when I was 21 years old) planning around Jesse. I still miss him so much. If I’m speaking very honestly, my heart truly has never felt that broken. It’s amazing to me just how much impact an animal can have on your life. Jesse was always there for me, all the ups and downs of day to day life, all the big life events (our wedding, moving to Montreal, moving to Brisbane, moving to Melbourne, moving back to Montreal, family deaths, happy celebrations, you name it!), Jesse was my constant. As someone commented on Facebook, he will forever be my first puppy love, and this is very true. He really was such an important member of our family, and he’ll always hold an extra special place in our hearts.
Steve and I tried to focus on the positives of winter (a season neither of us really like!) and went cross country skiing, took long walks up Mont Royal, and tried to soak up as much fresh air and sunshine as we possibly could under layers and layers of warm clothes. I realized quickly that I have officially reached the age where style no longer matters when it’s -30C with windchill, all that matters is being warm! My teenage self would be shocked and disappointed! ;) All joking aside, spending time outside really helped to clear my head and balance my emotions, even if it was freezing most days!
Another big challenge that we faced this winter was infertility. After trying for a baby for two years, we finally met with a fertility doctor and learned that babies are not meant to be for us. Mother Nature has other plans for me. It’s been a tough pill to swallow, but I’m slowly getting my head around it. I think deep down I knew this might be the case, and that’s why I waited so long to see a doctor. At least before seeing the doctor, we had hope it could happen. The results have led to more testing (blood work, an MRI) and I’m optimistic that if any positive can come from all this, they will hopefully figure out why I am always so fatigued, always have such pain in my muscles, poor digestion, anxiety, etc…After years of seeing doctors and managing my symptoms, a true diagnosis would be amazing. I’m still waiting anxiously for my results, but hope to know more soon. In the meantime, we are rethinking our future plans and trying to imagine what it might look like without children. It’s a work in progress, but thanks to the support and love from Steve, our family, and close friends, I’m slowly making peace with it.
Honestly, just after receiving the baby news, I was pretty down, but once again, Steve and I tried to focus on the good in our lives (without sounding too cliché, it really does help me to focus on gratitude!). We visited Quebec City twice this winter, once after we lost Jesse, and once after the baby news. Steve had to go both times for work, and I tagged along. It is amazing what a little change of pace and routine can do for your spirits, and the charm of Quebec City was good for my soul. I’m planning to post more about our visits there soon!
At this stage, with signs of spring in the air, and winter behind us, we are looking forward to what the future might bring. I have a feeling it will bring about some big changes and I’m wholeheartedly open to it, and excited to see what will come next (hopefully, more regular blog posting!;)
Thank you so much to all of you who have supported us and made us feel so loved over the last few months. We love you and feel so thankful to have you all in our lives. Thanks for reading. xoxo