Sunday, April 21, 2013

Bunny Day Camp and Medications

This is the continuation of a story that first started here. It's incredible to me how difficult it has become to write each post, but I have this gut instinct that it is a story I am supposed to tell. So we continue, one agonizing day at a time:

Thursday, April 4:

(Facebook status update):

Update on Lilly: "We have urine production!" the doctor told me very excitedly yesterday when I came to pick her up. It's a good sign, it shows the kidneys have not totally shut down, but we still have a very long way to go. I dropped her off this morning again for monitoring and subcutaneous fluids, will do so again tomorrow, and then Saturday is the real test to see what her numbers at at. My one source of hope (As dangerous as hope can be) is that her activity and appetite are surprisingly normal. The receptionist yesterday relayed to me that the vet told her he was SHOCKED that she wants to eat, with those numbers she should be on death's door. The girl told me that she then stated "Well clearly she's not ready to go yet, she's a little fighter and she's not giving in." It brought tears to my eyes (which I'll admit is not uncommon these days) because that is the epitome of who Lilly is- she has always been a fighter, singularily stubborn and determined. I've been struggling with finding the line between how hard to push and when to let go and stop prolonging the inevitable. After hearing that, my answer was clear: as long as she has the determination to fight for her own life, I'll fight with her. When she starts giving up and succumbing, I will respect that. But as the vets office told me: "it's not often we see an animal that determined to keep living." So for now I'm trusting, and praying, and even begging God for more time with her. Thank you so much for all the support, at times I get hard on myself for being this upset over a rabbit, but you all haven't let me give up hope and for that, I thank you. Keep praying, for me, for her, for discernment as we move forward.

I'm angry. I'm not even sure who I'm angry at, or why, but anger lurks beneath the surfaces and it is a potent emotion.

Lilly is starting to show small signs of improvement. I can tell her mood is slightly less sluggish, but I'm beginning to feel the exhaustion of prolonged stress and anxiety. I drop her off at the vet on my way to the hospital, and pray and hope she has a good day. This time, because I know she will be spending a prolonged period of time, I pack her bag. I laugh at myself, feeling like Im packing a child's lunch: a baggie of pellets, a baggie of hay, a baggie of green veggies washed and rinsed. Her water bottle attached to her carrier cage, and her water crock because she drinks better out of that. It's like Im sending her to bunny day camp. I stroke her head as the tech comes to get her and I whisper a prayer for her health..

It's a difficult day at work. A long term patient has started a very rapid decline and we are running tests to see if there is anything left to do. I empathize with his family, slightly. There is nothing scarier than having medical tests run and waiting for those answers. I say a prayer for his well-being, and compartmentalize as best I can. I can't afford to let my personal drama affect my professional life, and I have enough going on at home, not just with Lilly, that I don't need to bring work stress home with me as well. It's a delicate balance, but I have many good talks with coworkers that encourage me.

I get to the vet's office and wait for her to be brought out. I text a friend "even though intellectually I know she is ok, I am always anxious until she is physically back with me. It's the only way I really know she's ok. I have this fear that she passed and they just don't want to tell me." I'm being ridiculous as she is perfectly fine, even eating a bit when they bring her out. The doctor is optimistic. "We had a good day today!" He informs me he thinks they will be ready to recheck her kidney function on Friday, a day early. For the first time since this experience started, I begin to have hope that there will be a future for us. I take her home and try to keep myself from obsessively monitoring what she is eating and doing. I continue my tv fast; it's more difficult tonight, but I do it, particularly without internet. I read an actual book, I read more scripture. I feel an odd pull to read some aloud to Lilly. I feel like an absolute idiot doing so, but at this point, I am willing to try anything. I continue praying and asking God for her healing, I specifically pray for her numbers the next day. They have to be lower. They have to be lower, or there is nothing else we can do. It feels like a tease to have gotten her this far just to get bad results, but all I can do is trust. I take an herbal sleeping supplement to quiet my mind and help me get at least a few hours of sleep.

Friday, April 5:

(Facebook status Update):

Update on Lilly: Today is critical. When I picked her up yesterday the vet came out to let me know "we had a really good day", and that he is ready to recheck kidney function during her stay today. This is an improvement as we had originally planned to draw labs tomorrow; I'm encouraged to hear that he thinks we're ready a day early. However, the results of these labs are important in determining how we move forward; if they are not down to at least half of what they were, the prognosis is not great. That being said, her eating/drinking habits have almost returned to normal, and as she has started to become a regular pain in my ass again I can tell that she is physically feeling better, so I'm optimistic! Guarded, but optimistic. I'm still scared to start letting myself really relax, but considering I truly thought I was saying goodbye on Monday, the idea that we may push through this is incredible. Thank you again for all the texts, prayers, support, this whole ordeal has made me realize how many amazing, good-hearted people I have in my life. I'm selfishly going to ask you to pray that her levels ARE back to normal today, but all I can do is trust that God will see me through no matter the outcome.
 I awake Friday morning to my brat stomping around her cage. It's a good sign, it's the re-emergence of her personality. We pack up again for the day, all her food in a bag, extra treats to encourage her eating. Any relief I have felt over the past few days at her gradual recovery is quickly erased by the anxiety of knowing that the test results today will tell us everything. I leave her again and head off to work. 

The test results are not good for the patient. The doctor is concerned and ordering more intensive analysis. We start having conversations with the family about end of life decisions. Nothing is imminent, but it's important to make sure everyone is on the same page. I find myself finally in a position again to offer counseling and support to friends going through their own issues, and I apologize for being self-consumed that week. Every single one yells at me for being to hard on myself. They know this is rough on me, and they aren't judging me.

Finally it's time to go pick her up. My heart is pounding inside my chest as I approach the receptionist. She goes back to find the doctor; upon her return she leads me into a private room and says he wants to take with me. She quickly stops and says "things are alright! He just wants to talk to you! I realized how that sounded." I laugh quickly and thank her. Even though I know she's alright, I'm still scared to here what he says. It strikes me that waiting for a doctor is the scariest experience. It doesn't matter if its a vet, an oncologist, a dentist, or even an eye doctor. The waiting is the worst. I text and call family and friends so that I don't feel so alone. I continue reading Psalms.

The doctor comes in with a big smile on his face. Her creatinine level has dropped from a 10.35 to a 2.5! A quarter of what it was. Still too high to be normal, but it's something we can work with. He wants to put her on antibiotics for a week, along with a probiotic since the antibiotic can cause diarrhea. He tells me he wants to "see her next week, unless she starts deteriorating... which she won't". I beam, happy and thrilled. 

He then tells me, on a different note, that his son knew my bereavement from earlier in the week. He tells me he knows I can't reveal details but asks if I had been involved, and as we discuss he opens up to me that he is worried about his son, for a number of reasons. He taps into my expertise in child development and asks for advice in how to encourage his son. He states that so many of his son's peers are dealing with difficult issues, and he doesn't know how to handle them all. We talk for a good ten minutes and I offer the best advice I can. He thanks me. 

I pay my bill. It's been expensive, not out of control, well worth the care, but definitely expensive. I decide to reframe my thoughts and instead of being frustrated I spent so much money, to be grateful that I had the money to spend. To be thankful that I have enough in savings that I can afford to take care of Lilly without worrying too much. To be relieved that I didn't have to choose NOT to care for her because I couldn't afford it. I thank God for his provisions, and deep down know it is because I do regularly tithe. God always provides when I need it financially. It was a lot of money. But well worth it.

A friend comes over for dinner. In fact, she had texted me earlier simply stating that she knew I would want to be with Lilly for the evening, and she is bringing me dinner. I am thankful a)for the chance to see her b) for the gift of food and c) that she understands without explanation that I need to be with Lilly. I've been feeling isolated from friends throughout this process as I am required to revolve my schedule around the rabbit, and some friends have not been as understanding and even made me feel guilty that i am missing out. In that moment, I do not care. Spending time with the bunny trumps needing to go out and party. But this friend understands. She comes over, and we relax. We talk about the week. I catch up on her life, and fill her in on details of mine. There are a lot of other things going on besides Lilly that I can't share on social media, and it is nice to have the face to face contact.

We talk about prayer. I talk about how odd it has been for me to openly ask God for something specific, and I joke that it shows how far I really have to go that it SHOCKS me that he answered the prayer. Why does this surprise me? It's rattled my theology in many ways, but in a good way. I share some other struggles going on and how this experience is helping me give that to God as well. If he can provide miraculous healing for my rabbit, clearly he can also handle the other issues. My friend is quiet for most of it, but then smiles. "It's clear this is really having an impact on you, and maybe that's the reason why it has happened. I'm glad to see you having more peace with your relationship with God."

I agree whole heartedly, but also feel a bit uneasy. She's hit the nail on the head of a thought sifting around in my mind "Did God cause this to happen? Why is it fair that he is causing my poor innocent rabbit to suffer just to teach me a lesson. It's not right." I shake the thought off for the moment, ready to just appreciate the happiness that is my bunny. 

Giving her the antibiotic is certainly difficult. I have to somehow get the syringe in her mouth, and she is certainly not having it. It takes about 15 minutes but we get it done, though she is certainly ticked at me. I don't care though, we've turned a corner, or so I think. I give her more food and water and am excited to see her willingly go for it. As I go to bed that night I smile at her, pull her out to cuddle for a bit, and thank God for her life. 

Saturday, April 5

(Facebook Status Update)

Update on Lilly: we've turned a corner and I couldn't be more excited, or relieved. Our key indicator for the past week has been her creatinine levels (which give us an idea of her kidney function). Rabbits should really be between 1 and 2, and her levels on Tuesday were 10.35, aka... toxic. However, yesterday her levels read 2.5! Still higher than they should be, but they dropped to a quarter of what they were, hallelujah. For the next week I have her on an antibiotic and then we will recheck levels next week. The main concern now is that the antibiotic can cause GI issues, so the vet has also put her on a probiotic to try and prevent diarrhea (as loss of fluids right now could be deadly). It's been... interesting attempting to provide oral medications a couple of times a day, but we're figuring it out. She's been stomping up a storm and throwing things every chance she gets, a clear sign that she is feeling better, and amazingly she has become incredible affectionate; constantly in my lap, rubbing up against me, nipping at my toes if Im not petting her. We have a ways to go yet, but for the first time in a week I'm allowing myself to believe that we may actually beat this. I am so grateful for the support of my friends and family; it's encouraging to see how many people love me, but also how many people have grown to love her as well. Obviously I think she's super special, but it warms my heart to see that others feel the same way. I love you all! Please continue to keep us in your prayers and let me know if I can return the favor. ~Bethany and Lilly
 Saturday was amazing.

Not only was Lilly clearly feeling better, but she had become incredibly affectionate. Always wanting to be right with me, happiest when being petted. I was on cloud nine, not only was my rabbit doing better, but she was back to her friendly loveable self. I could not stop praising God and thanking him. I had to work on Saturday but things were calm.. enjoyable even. I contemplated starting to write my experiences, but every time I started to type, the words simply wouldn't come. It was as if God was preventing me from writing, for some reason. Frankly, I didn't mind. As much as I wanted to remember the experience and the miracle of her healing, I was tired of thinking and reflecting. So for the moment, I sat. Content.

I wondered if perhaps this experience also was helping me to not stress on the other issues in my life. Perhaps this was a chance for God to show me how far I had come since I had moved to Miami. And I was learning to pray and ask again. That was big. 

Growth and maturity. Still bothered me it was at Lilly's expense. But hey, she was healthy, not only was she peeing normally, there was not a single sign of diarrhea, indicating the antibiotic wasn't messing with her stomach. I was happy. And thankful.

To Be Continued....

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Thanks for taking this journey with me! I always love to hear your thoughts and promise to respond whenever possible.