So here we go.
I already wrote a few times about it since Thursday, but I'll put it all here anyway.
Thursday morning she woke us up at 3:20am and again at 3:40am, retching. Cory stayed up with her after 3:40, and she threw up probably 12-15+ more times during the day. Other than vomiting, she seemed happy, so we weren't sure what was going on. We went to work on Friday and kept her in the kitchen so she could vomit on the linoleum. After going to see Superman in the evening we came home and she was starting to look worse, so we took her to Willamette Vet so that they could check to make sure she wasn't getting dehydrated. They did blood tests and a couple of x-rays and gave her a liter of sub-cutaneus fluids and sent us home by 2am with no real diagnosis but with Pepcid and another pill that would keep her from vomiting. They said by morning she shouldn't be vomiting anymore.
Saturday morning she was still vomiting. I tried to feed her the rice and chicken and cottage cheese that the vet told us about, but within five minutes she was violently vomiting it up, this time without her stomach pumping first like usual - it just fell out of her mouth. I tried smaller batches, but that still didn't work. She just sat on the porch while I did some weeding, and watched me.
In the afternoon we took her back to Willamette Vet and this time the vet ordered a barium test done, where they have her swallow a thick-ish liquid and take x-rays every few minutes to see where the barium goes. It shows up in bright white on the x-ray. We left her at the vet and got a few movies, thinking that she wouldn't come home until late that evening. But just an hour or two afterwards, the vet called to say that the barium hadn't made it past the esophagus, which was also a lot bigger than it should be. It meant either she had swallowed something and it was blocking her esophagus, or she had a megoesophagus, which doesn't usually have a reason for it to happen, apparently. The vet called around the state to see which vet hospital had a camera that could go into the esophagus and perhaps pull out whatever was stuck. The only one they could find was Dove Lewis, so we hurriedly threw together a few toiletries and extra clothes and ran to pick Remmy up from the vet and take her up to northwest Portland. She was worse, with the barium from their experiment coming up out of her nose, and drooling a lot. Moving around seemed to make it worse, but once we settled her in the car she only had one accident with the barium coming up until we got to Dove Lewis, and then she was throwing up all over the place.
We arrived at Dove Lewis after 10pm and the triage nurse immediately took her back in the back, and then we waited. And waited. For two hours. And once we finally got a chance to talk to the doctor they had apparently done nothing but get IVs into her and take a couple of x-rays. I thought they were going to put the camera down her esophagus, which was why we were there in the first place, but the doctor said after looking at x-rays they were pretty sure it was megoesophagus.
Side note: Megoesophagus is basically what it's called when the esophagus stops working. It can be a congenital thing, but usually the vet doesn't know why it happens. Similar to people with esophagus problems, dogs that have it have to eat very slowly and be held upright (like holding a baby under its armpits) for up to half an hour to let gravity help the food get down to the stomach and to help keep them from vomiting the food back up. And another big, common problem is that when food is vomited back up, dogs can really easily sniff some of the food or fluids and develop pneumonia.
...which is exactly what happened to Remmy overnight on Saturday, after we left. Originally Dove Lewis was just going to try to get the vomiting to stop so we could take her home. But one night turned into three or more, once they realized they had to fix her pneumonia before they could release her.
We visited her at noon, in her oxygen cage. She was panting a lot and it sounded very fluid-y. She looked at us with very tired eyes, but she was very happy to see us and struggled to get up so she could reach our hands more easily. After we chatted with the doctor a bit about the pneumonia and the megoesophagus, we met Cory's friend Mike for lunch and a walk to Powell's Books to pass the time a bit. The doctor said it would be a few days, so after we visited Mike we started back to the car bound for Corvallis for a couple of days. But the vet called not even five minutes after we said goodbye to Mike, and we sat down on someone's retaining wall (ironically across the street from where Cory parked to pick me up and take me to the beach on our first "date," and when I got in the front seat I turned around and met Remmy for the first time) and cried while the vet told us how much money it was going to cost for us to keep her at the hospital for so long. (It was going to be $1500 a day.) We had talked about this moment many times before, and by the end of the conversation with the vet we had decided that because of the amount of money it was going to cost, and the amount of care it was going to take to feed her, and the very real possibility that it could be only a matter of days before she got pneumonia again and we'd be back at square one.
The walk to the car was very difficult, and the drive back to the hospital was very difficult, and then we had to wait for the vet again, which wasn't quite as bad because they knew why we were there and they had us sit in an exam room. The vet said one last-ditch effort would be to send Remmy home with a bottle of antibiotics, but she wasn't going to be able to get a pill down, so that wasn't really an option.
We waited a bit longer and they brought Remmy in to say goodbye while they ran Cory's credit card. She was wheezing and coughing and sounded really bad. Cory had a few minutes alone with her before I came in from the bathroom, and we petted her and talked to her and tried not to cry. A few times she stood up in very obvious distress and tried to cough up some of the liquid in her lungs, but it just sounded like someone drowning. It was so heart-wrenching that I wanted the vet to come back and take her so I wouldn't have to hear it again. She ended up in the corner of the exam room with her nose to the wall, and didn't really care that we were there.
Finally the vet came in with our receipt and we gave her a final pet and said goodbye.
The hours since have been kind of iffy. Sometimes I'm OK and sometimes I can hardly breath I'm crying so hard. It's so surreal. I feel like she's here on the floor, sleeping; and then I accidentally spell out "go" or "park" so that she doesn't understand and get excited, or I start to say "be right back" or she doesn't wander in at bedtime when I'm folding clothes on the bed.
I think one of the hardest parts about it is that I feel like nobody understands why I could be so upset about it. (I hardly understood myself when I first broke down in the exam room before we were even talking about putting her down.) I feel like people are saying to themselves "why is she taking an extra day off? It was just a dog! She smelled and was annoying, Megan said so herself." But she wasn't just a dog. She was more like a daughter. She was a huge huge huge part of our lives. We couldn't go anywhere without thinking about how to accommodate her. Every day is a struggle as we try to adapt to a new life without stepping on her dog bed next to my side of the bed; or moving things off the couch so she can come up and sit with us, or try not to jump up in the morning or right after work to take her to the park. She definitely was one of our very best friends. And guilt about the decision we had to make aside, we miss her so much. So much.
Also: please don't be annoyed if I don't respond to comments...