mishi

wednesday 2 march 2011….        t.f.

I’ve been of two minds as to where Mishi’s post should be written. The immediate and obvious answer was: in the blog that’s named for him, of course. But more thinking brought about a different response, and so Mishi’s post is here, right after his two daughters. If we had been left alone by the landlady and the crime-chick, or if the DMH had done its job in any kind of compassionate, helpful way, Mishi, when his time came, would have been buried with his daughters. Though Braon was cremated, I did bury some of her ashes in the family cemetary. Brainse and Mishi would have gone there too, either whole or as ashes, if it hadn’t been so important to some very sick people to attack us. Putting the three of them together here in the Braon blog is my paltry, symbolic way of seeing them together again.                                        

As Mugsy was my mother’s dog before he was mine, Mishi first belonged to my daughter. She got him when he was three or four months old. A month or two later (he was maybe six months old), she called me in great anxiety. “My puppy’s had a seizure. The vet said he could have got into something poisonous, or he could have epilepsy. The blood test for epilepsy costs a hundred dollars, and I don’t have it right now. So for now we’re just gonna wait and see if he has another one.”

They waited. Mishi never had another seizure, and the assumption was made by my daughter that he must have eaten something nasty. Fast forward five years. It’s 2002, and Mishi is now five and a half years old. He now belongs to me. On a hot August day, he has a grand mal seizure. I talk to the vet, the same one who had seen him for the first seizure so long ago. I was told to wait and see if he had another. The long years between seizure 1. and seizure 2. suggested that he could have a very mild case of epilepsy that wouldn’t require medication.

He did have another one. He had them for days, two and three a day. Frantic. Anxiety. Me, not him. I already had a cat with grand mal epilepsy (it ain’t contagious), so I’d been dealing with severe seizures for a while. But I had been dealing with six pounds of seizing flesh, and now I was dealing with over seventy. I already knew that once an animal went into status epilepticus, a cycle of rapidly-occurring and ever-worsening events, you probably couldn’t save them. This is what was happening, slowly, to Mishi.

There I was with no car. Calling the few people who might help me and asking for a ride.  Calling vets all over the place to find someone who would let me pay monthly, because I knew the office call and the blood tests would run over a hundred dollars. Mishi’s own vet wouldn’t even see him. Her staff told me she was too booked. Every vet around here saves one blank appointment every day for an emergency, but his own vet wouldn’t see him. And no vet would let me pay the bill in two or three installments.

Days into this horror, as I waited for this dog to die, someone who was sick herself but was talking to me daily, finally got well and gave me a ride and loaned me the money. We took Mishi to a vet I’d never met before because he was the one on call on the Friday night. The tests were done, valium and phenobarb were prescribed and filled at a drugstore, but I wasn’t to use the pheno until epilepsy was confirmed.

Later that evening, after the valium wore off, Mishi had a doozie. In the kitchen. Small pieces of furniture were broken under the weight of seventy-plus pounds of flinging dog. Pee and poop everywhere. Back on the phone to the vet. Vet was very somber, said give him double valium; I’ll have the blood results in the morning. Vet was very sad about the wanton destruction and mess in my kitchen; I really thought he might cry. Not that I was thrilled about the mess I had to clean, but my anguish was for the life of my dog.

Like my cat, Mishi did well. He and the cat both ended up regulating down to one seizure a month most of the time with minimal phenobarb. Mishi did have to be increased twice over the years, but he was still at a lower dose than many epileptic dogs. The same vet treated both of them, and told me in both cases that I was doing a good job with these animals, that they had both survived longer and on less med than most epileptic animals. Don’t know what I could have done, but love them, and keep their exercise managed, and keep their lives as routine as I could in the series of horrors I was living in in those years. For a total of 13 years I dealt with grand mal seizures in the little and the large. Despite the great number of them that I saw, despite my knowledge about the disease, despite the encouragement of the vets, I never totally lost my fear that the animal was going to die in that seizure. If you’ve never seen one, they are horrible to watch. I’ve known a number of people who simply got their epileptic cats and dogs the lethal injection, not because the animal was dying, but because they couldn’t stand watching those seizures. Here am I, the person other people like to mock for being chicken and weak and too fragile because of my serious anxiety and my Asperger’s oddness. And yet flimsy little me watched such seizures for 13 years and had no desire whatsoever to off the animals so I wouldn’t have to look anymore. Strength, like beauty, seems to be in the eye of the beholder. So is love.

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Mishi was Mishi, not a disease. Sweet, gentle, rather dopey at times. Extremely loving. Loved to run. Used to sing opera, I kid you not. He would do this when Mugsy got into a high anxiety state. Mugsy would cry sharp and high just like a human infant, and in solidarity with his frantic alpha, Mishi would sing opera. I wish I had it on tape. He was neutered when he was seven years old, and after that he never sang opera again. Here he was finally a castrato, and he stopped singing.

He loved lying down in mud, and the blacker and thicker that mud was, the more he loved lying down in it. Mud baths. A spa dog. How many times did I have to wash mud black as crude oil and thick as clay off of that silly boy. I’d do it all again — the mud, the seizures, the opera, and all that was Mishi — just to be with him again for one lousy day.

I’m fairly sure that he was given the lethal injection sometime in 2008. Where? When? Those who know won’t open their stinking pie-holes and tell me, so that I’ll have what yuppies like to call closure. So that I’ll know how my stolen friends ended. To find a new home for a dog nearly eleven years old with grand mal epilepsy would have been very tough. Not impossible, but tough. And if that new home did happen, I want to know who kept him and where, and when he died. Because there’s just about no chance that he would have lived until 2011 (thirteen and a half years) with his disease. The phenobarb causes liver damage and eventual failure.

I heap love on the indestructible energy of Mishi, wherever it has landed in the universe. And I heap loathing on every person who knows what became of him, and will not tell me.

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(part of the book Stolen Stars)

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