You are my sunshine, my only sunshine...

by Paola Espinoza

I got Franklin 2 years ago once I felt I was economically, socially, and overall ready to take on the responsibility of a becoming a fur mom. Never saw myself as an “owner” but simply a fur mom. The day I went to go see the yorkie pups, I was convinced I wanted a girl. I wanted ribbons and tutus! As I saw the 4 siblings, 3 rowdy little ones and then the little runt in the back, getting trampled as the other 3 jumped in excitement. I felt a connection right away and decided to hold him. From that day my heart was stolen and I never looked back. Franklin became the love of my life, my best friend, my child, my soulmate. I planned my whole life around him, and his happiness was my happiness. Waking up next to him and going to sleep together was the highlights of my days. I counted down the long hours (12 nurse shifts) until I could come home to him where I would be greeted with a wagging tail and great smile, such excitement! My heart melted each time. How could life get any better!?

I took Franklin to get neutered in April of 2014, and when I picked him up I was told they found an abnormal lab value. His BUN (blood urea and creatine) was significantly elevated at 109 (normal is 0-27). I began to sob, being a new nurse I knew this was a partial reflection of his kidney function and could not be good. The vet who I truly trusted assured me this could be a cause of a variety of things- fasting, stomach ulcers/GI bleed, and that I should bot be alarmed. We were sent home on pepcid and carafate. So we scheduled a recheck in 2 weeks. Again, an elevated BUN, and again a reaffirmation that I should not worry as his other kidney function lab value was within normal limits (creatinine). We rechecked again after I kept asking, and nothing changed. He told me I needed to just accept he had a weird BUN level and it meant nothing, pretty much told me I was obsessing over nothing. I agree I was an OCD momma but he was 3 lbs, how could I not be!? I sought out a second opinion and also got nothing, so I agreed it was just something random. I mean it happens to us humans, so it could happen to him too. Let it be known as I have looked back although his creatinine was "normal", it was at the high normal and so was his phosphorus (another blood level that displays kidney failure). But I didn't know..

A week ago I noticed that my little guy had not been acting like himself at all. No barking at the mailman or anything that walked by our house, not wanting to play, not wanting to really eat (more than his usual finickiness), and much more lethargic sleeping and being lazy. I was hesitant on taking him in as I was ready to hear the same thing, nothing wrong and just an anxious mom. I only wish it had been that… My usual vet was not available for another week, so I took an appointment with the medical director the very next day. As he went over his history and chart, I like any other OCD mom began telling him everything and when I mentioned this weird BUN value that was consistently overlooked, his eyes grew in worry. he told me this can never be just a random thing, so we decided to start with lab work that would come back the next day. I agreed, and there began my worst nightmare. The next day, I got a phone call at work in which the vet gave me the worst news, my little guy was in end stage renal failure. his lab values were through the roof, including his BUN. He told me I had months. Months!? Months!? What? No way, we have years and years together, not months…I left work, drove him over where he received an ultrasound of his kidneys. Again, devastating news. His kidneys were the size of a fingernail, 1.2 cm. I was told my two year old has kidney of a fifteen year old. How could this be? How could this have not been caught sooner!? Over the course of the next 4 days my little guy received IV fluids for 2 days, I set up an appointment at UC Davis, CA for more options. I was not giving up, money was not an issue, and I would do whatever to save him as long as his quality of life remained. Unfortunately, the IV fluids didn’t help as we hoped and that gave us another bad sign. I was told I no longer had months, but “not much time left”. Days, weeks!? NO. no. I was feeding my baby applesauce, gatorade, ginger tea, and water with a syringe. Not even pizza (his favorite food) caught his attention. Monday was our appointment. one more day baby, hold on one more day. Sunday he was more awake, laid out in the sun, his favorite thing to do. By Sunday night, around 11:30 I noticed I had drool all over my leg. I took him to the room and noticed his eye looks glazed, he let me know, "momma Im not making it passed tonight". I told his daddy, "I think he’s going tonight, he’s not making it through the night". I tried to stand him up and he would crumble to the floor. I laid his blanket and laid him on top. we began to say our goodbyes. I told him to go, that we would be okay. I told him i loved him more than life itself, and he was my world. I laid him on my chest one last time, and then I felt him twitching. I laid him down again, and then my poor child began to seize. I was terrified, I was scared, I was angry. Not him, make it stop God. Seeing my child go through this tore me up, these 2 minutes or so of him seizing felt like an eternity, and i was helpless. I couldn’t do anything. When it stopped, a few second later he took his last breath, shortly after his little heart stopped… He was gone.

I have never felt so much pain. anguish. anger. sadness. guilt. I lost my reason for living. I lost the love of my life. He didn’t die peacefully, he seized. Even though he did not feel pain (research shows dogs don't feel pain during seizures as scary as they present), I felt so mad at myself. How could I not protect him from this? What kind of mother was I? I held him for about an hour before I wrapped him in his blanket and placed him in a little box, as he would be staying the night before I could transport him to the crematory. I was devastated, in shock, in a nightmare. His life was so short but impacted us in so may ways. he showed me what it meant to truly love unconditionally, and with no judgement. He will always be my irreplaceable soulmate. He fought for so long, and never showed he was battling this. He did that for me because he knew what he meant to me, he knew he had filled a hole in my heart and didn’t want to leave, wanted to hold on as long as he could. Now thats love!

I have contemplated on emailing the vet who overlooked such important blood work. although he was born with this, and nothing could of stopped it, the proper diagnosis early on could have allowed us to place him on the appropriate diet and medications that would of bought him months, even years. I want him to know what he could of prevented, the heartache that could have been diminished. I want him to be aware so that next time he doesn’t just overlook a mothers worry, and make note that there is a reason their bodies present with these lab values so that he can save another family of heartache and a premature death. I am not sure if this is appropriate? But I think it might help me heal and might help another fur baby.

RIP Franklin, I love you always and forever my baby!
Gone too soon. My greatest love and my greatest heartache...

Comments for You are my sunshine, my only sunshine...

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May 05, 2016
Your Story is Much Like Mine
by: Jessica

Paola, when I read your story, it really resonated with me. I just lost my beloved fur baby to kidney failure that we knew nothing about. I also blame our vet for not doing enough to save him. My little guy lived to be older than yours, but he still only was 9 years old. We adopted him when he was 2, and it was love at first sight. I loved him with all my heart and soul. He did everything with us and slept with me at night. He was a little snuggler and always wanted to be on my lap.

One night a couple of weeks ago, he woke me up in the middle of the night with vomiting. He kept on vomiting, so the next morning we took him to the vet. Then we told his blood tests showed he had kidney failure. I asked how that was possible when he had absolutely no symptoms! The day before he was totally and completely normal - good energy, eating well, and peeing the same as always. Apparently he also had 2 bladder stones, which we were told was a bit unusual for dogs. The vet said they wanted to keep him overnight for IV fluids, but basically that we could pick him up in the morning. We would just have to change his diet and maybe give him some medication.

The next morning when the vet phoned, he told us that one of the bladder stones had obstructed our baby's urinary system overnight, and his kidneys had stopped working completely. Then apparently he went into uncontrollable seizures so that he had to be anesthetized. We were told his chances of surviving were 50/50 if they operated to remove the bladder stone. To make a long story short, they couldn't get his kidneys to work again, and the seizures wouldn't stop, so we had to put him to sleep. I was absolutely in shock and completely devastated. That was 4 weeks ago and I still feel physical pain whenever I think about it. I have so many unanswered questions about how he could have been fine one day and dead the next. I feel like something went wrong at the vet and they didn't tell us.

Anyway, I see you lost your baby a year ago, so I hope the grief is much less by now. I just wanted to tell you that I know pretty much how you felt because your dog's experience was much like mine.

Mar 09, 2016
I Feel your pain
by: Carol E

Paola, I really feel for you. It is heartbreaking when we try to do the very best for our pets, and we can do nothing to change the outcome. By all means contact the vet, you may save another animals life that way, and make him aware of not taking some things on face value. It will give you a certain sense of closure. It was not your fault. You did all you could've ,even questioning your vet.I am sad at what happened to your dog.But you did right by him. He would not have felt anything at the end, even though that was distressing for you. Think of the lovely memories of good times with him. Hold them close, and you will treasure them in time.

Jun 23, 2015
So very sorry
by: SoSadDad

Paola, I know the pain you feel, and it is not an easy thing to accept. I have lost two children. And while it does not compare, yet I know the pain of losing a pet is very real and very heartbreaking. It has been several years since we had to give up Harriet because of advanced stomach cancer. I remember crying so hard as I held her while they gave her the shot. And we have Zoie now, a Lhasa. She is getting older and we dread the thought of losing our last "child." She had a routine surgery to fix her leg when the ligaments around the knee gave out on one rear leg. The Vet messed it up and tried two more times, but it is stiff as a stick now. I believe you should inform the vet who first saw your yorkie of the circumstances, and not with anger, so they will listen. Again, I am very sorry you are experiencing this pain.

God bless you,

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