My Sweet Luca Took Flight with the Angels – May 6, 2020

I had to say goodbye to my sweet Luca on Wednesday. He was such a trooper! Together we used our wills to fight the cancer that had invaded his throat. The tumor was discovered back in September when he had a breathing emergency. It was in a spot that wouldn’t allow for surgical removal so the specialist surgeon did a tracheostomy. He came out of that surgery with flying colors. Next we saw an oncologist and the biopsies showed he had squamous cell carcinoma. When that cancer is in the tonsil it’s extremely aggressive so the prognosis wasn’t great. He started chemotherapy in early October and to the oncologist’s amazement, Luca quickly entered into remission. She said she had never seen chemotherapy work so fast in shrinking a tumor.

Luca stayed in remission for several months. And he just went back to being the same ol’ goofy boy that I loved so much. Over the months he continued to squeak his toys almost endlessly and run in the yard with our guest dogs. He was such a lovey-dovey dude, as anyone who met him can attest, and he gave freely his sweet kisses. And his tail! That white-tipped tail of his was constantly wagging. Always! Even if he was just lying on the couch chilling out or had gone off by himself for some quiet time to snooze in my bed: whenever I’d enter the room he would wag that tail, and I’d hear the thump-thump-thump as it whacked against the couch cushion or the mattress. That always made me smile big and I’d call him the nickname he quickly earned, “Thumper.”

Sadly, after being in remission for 7 months, that awful cancer came back. And not only had the cancer come back, he had also developed a stomach ulcer and anemia from the NSAID anti-inflammatory drug. The cancer came back because it often builds up a resistance to the chemo, rendering it useless in fighting off the C-monster. His oncologist changed his chemo drug, took him off the anti-inflammatories and started him on a medication to heal the ulcer. In his next monthly check-up, the bloodwork showed that his red blood cell count had come all the way up to normal, the tumor was smaller and his swollen lymph nodes had significantly decreased in size.

With a sigh of relief, we went back home, only to have to turn around that evening and head back to the emergency hospital. He was having a hard time breathing and they put him on oxygen right away, did x-rays and an ultrasound to determine what was happening inside him. His lungs showed that he had aspiration pneumonia so he was admitted to the hospital, where he stayed for 3 nights. He gave the vets a scare that first night, as the emergency doctor told me she thought she would be calling to tell me that my dog wasn’t going to make it. But crisis was averted and they took tremendous care of my boy.

On his second night there the oncologist called with concern because Luca developed swelling in his neck and throat area, his tracheostomy hole was closing and the swelling could block it entirely. He also wasn’t able to be out of the oxygen for more than 10 minutes before he started struggling. She said his recovery wasn’t progressing into a positive arena and that he couldn’t stay in oxygen forever. She then said, with hesitation, “We’re pretty much out of options.”

I told her to please give him one more night and see if adding an anti-inflammatory with less side effects and one that doesn’t so negatively impact the stomach would make a difference. She agreed. And that’s when my praying and pleading started in earnest. A few of my friends have already heard what I’m about to tell you but I was so moved by it I have to share. That night I was sitting on the edge of my bed, crying and praying. And I started thinking about the time my Dad was in the hospital with pneumonia for the third time. One evening my Dad’s hospital nurse called and told us that he was in bad shape and they needed to move him into Hospice. She scheduled us an appointment with the Hospice Coordinator to discuss the details of the process. The next morning when we arrived at the hospital the nurse ushered us to an office, closed the door and waited for us to be seated. She then said that my Dad had made a major turnaround and that he had done a “complete 180.” When we went into my Dad’s room, he was sitting up, eating (no surprise to anyone who knows him!) and he gave us a big smile. For the next few hours the nurses and respiratory therapists and doctors were in and out of his room, and all of them commented about how shocked they all were at his turnaround.

Well, as I’m sitting on the edge of my bed crying, I looked up and said,

“Daddy, you gotta help Luca! Please help him get better. Give him some of your 180-ness so he can have a turnaround like you did…”

The next morning, Luca’s oncologist called and immediately said, “Your boy is a rollercoaster!” He had been out of oxygen for 90 minutes at that point and was breathing normally on his own. The swelling had gone down to almost nothing. She wanted to keep him there for the rest of the day to make sure he could really breathe on his own without oxygen boosts. She called me in the afternoon, said that Luca had been out of the oxygen for over six hours and that I could pick him up and bring him home. Wow! My Dad heard me. I’m convinced that “Big Ed” definitely had a hand in Luca’s 180.

That was Wednesday April 22nd. It was awesome bringing Luca home. And he was really doing great! We had a good solid ten to twelve days together in which his demeanor was very upbeat and he was all about the love. He was playful again, enjoying his squeaky toys; he’d grab one in his mouth on his way out the door and each time he’d leave it out in the yard so when he came back in, he’d run over and slide on the tile to grab him another one. He was eating like crazy too! I kept telling my friends he hadn’t eaten so robustly in quite a while.

He was on a ton of medications and I had my alarm set every day with six different Medication Time alerts. But within the last week he started feeling not so good. After tweaking some of his medications (in terms of giving it or not giving it, changing the dosing amounts, rearranging the administration times), I was seeing both improvements and declines. But I thought I had final stumbled onto the “magic potion” with the medication regimen alterations and I told him so the other night. I called his primary care vet and filled her in on what I was doing and we implemented a plan to adjust his meds on a day by day basis depending on how he felt.

On Monday I knew the end was near, the swelling in his neck was present, his breathing started sounding a little “wet” again, his tracheostomy hole was getting smaller and he just seemed sad. Like he had no energy at all. I contacted the vet and told her I wanted to wait a few days to see if stopping one of the medications would get him to feeling better but that we should plan for Friday for her to come to the house to do the euthanasia. However, Wednesday morning when we got up, Luca had gotten way worse overnight. I texted Dr. Willis and told her that we couldn’t wait until Friday. I knew there was no coming back from where he was at that moment. The Cancer Monster had won.

So the evening before last, at 6:00pm, Luca was released and took flight with the angels. I told him that Picasso (who passed in December) and ‘Grandma’ (my Mom, who passed in June of last year) and my Dad would be there to greet him. I told him they would bring him into the “pack up there” and he’d meet all my greyhounds who came and went before he came to be such a vital member of our family back in 2012.

The house is so quiet. Just a few minutes ago, something caught my eye and I looked over at the couch and expected to see him there. And then the crushing reality hit me. My heart is broken once again. That last eleven months have been absolutely horrible; I’ve had so much loss, first with my Mom passing in June and Picasso passing in December, two days before Christmas, and now my precious Luca is gone. I’m really all alone now. The silence is deafening.

Godspeed My Bubba.

I so miss you already. I love you so much. You will always live on in my heart. And I will hold dear all the memories of how much and how often you made me laugh with your silly personality and your outrageously hilarious antics.

Thank you for all your kisses! I cherish each and every one of them. It crushes me that I won’t ever get another.

Thank you for filling my life and my heart with your amazing presence. 

Sweet Luca, I pray you visit me often in my dreams. Bring the rest of the family with you when you do…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here is the playlist that I put together for Luca’s send-off. The night “we” put it together, he was lying next to me on the couch, approving each song. This is his playlist. When Luca made his transition, the lyrics from “Keep Me In Your Heart” were playing. And as my tears flowed as I watched him being driven away, “In the Arms of An Angel” was playing…

 

I LOVE YOU ALWAYS SWEET BOY!

 

19 thoughts on “My Sweet Luca Took Flight with the Angels – May 6, 2020

  1. Michele, I am brokenhearted! Through our communications in recent weeks I had hoped that Luca would stay in remission and be by your side for months or years to come. You went through a terrible ordeal, a disconcerting roller coaster ride, as Luca’s condition improved and worsened over and over again. I am sure Luca made a comeback because you reached out to your dad in prayer. I am terribly sorry the positive outcomes didn’t last. You will always remember how valiantly Luca fought to stay alive and stay with you, and please acknowledge yourself for all the tireless effort and prayer you invested in the battle on his behalf. I feel your deep pain at the lost of Luca coming as it did not long after you lost his brother Picasso and your mom and dad. The words to the songs in your play list along with your own words and the slideshow presentation that gives us a look at Luca and other animals you loved and lost, all make this special tribute the best I have ever experienced. It is difficult for me to write because I am so moved and tears are blurring my vision. Please remember that you are never alone, Michele. You have many friends like me who care deeply about you. You also have memories of those tender and funny moments with your dogs that will live forever in your mind and heart. Please hold on to the beautiful thought that your wonderful Luca and Picasso are now romping and playing and thumping their tails up on Rainbow Bridge. They are becoming friends with my Toto who went there before them. Let us pray that we will all be together again someday, reunited with our beloved pets and lost human family members, and on that fine day our sorrow will turn to joy. My heart goes out to you, dear friend. I send prayers that you will somehow find comfort in what I and others express on this bitterly sad occasion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Tom . You’re such a great friend and even though I haven’t been blogging, by posting my own or visiting others, in quite some time I sure have appreciated and enjoyed our email exchanges. You were right along on this rollercoaster with me and I know your prayers helped both me and Luca. For that and much more I’m very grateful. I hope that Luca and Picasso and my other Greys up there (8 in total) have found Toto. If they haven’t yet, I know for sure they will when either you or I get up there!
      Thanks for your friendship and your heartfelt comment here. I’ll be back in touch soon. ❤️

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    • Love you too Patty! Great to hear from you. Thanks for reading Luca’s tribute post. He sure liked you! And he loved Domino & Whiskey too. Give your sweet babies a kiss from me. When all this virus stuff clears up and life goes back to normal — however our new normal will look — we definitely have to get together and go grab a pizza and some alcohol to wash it down with! ❤️

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  2. Michele

    I am so very sorry to hear of your loss. I want you to know that you are NOT ALONE. You have your angels watching over you from above, and you also have your angels here on earth that are going to help you through this difficult time.

    Don’t isolate yourself from those around you. I know that sounds a bit odd at a time that we are being instructed to self-isolate. So let me explain what I mean. There are ways to stay connected with others that don’t include being in their physical presence.

    Immerse yourself in activities that bring you joy. Reconnect with old friends.

    And when the time is right, you’ll find another Luca or Picasso to fill your heart and soul again.

    ~Mary

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much Mary. It actually felt good to write a blog post again. It’s been so long, since my Mom passed I think. I will likely get back into blogging, at least on a semi-regular basis. I know I can always count on my blog friends to be there for me. Thanks for coming by and reading about my baby. I’ll be in touch soon… ❤️

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    • You’re so right Janet. As much as I wish he were still here with me, I couldn’t bear to see him not be his normal happy self. I don’t have children but I hear parents say all the time “When my kids hurt, I hurt.” And it is that way with me and my dogs. If my dogs are miserable I’m miserable. And I know Luca was not having any fun…
      Thanks for coming by. I think I’ll be coming back to blogging soon. I have a lot to catch up on and will look forward to catching up with you! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a beautiful tribute, Michele. My heart breaks for you! 😥 I am so very sorry for the loss of your beautiful boy. You did everything you possibly could for him. Please know you have online friends in your corner during this difficult time. Reach out anytime! Sending much love and consoling hugs. 💗

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Debbie. I know you know how this hurts. And I sure have appreciated our emails over these several months. You’ve sent some great laughs at a time when I sure needed them. I’ll be in touch. Thanks for checking out my post. Hope you have some time to hang with the playlist. I found some awesome dog-specific songs with equally awesome videos. My favorite is the one with all the dog art.
      XOXO ❤️💜❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      • Please don’t hesitate! I’m here for you any time, and I hope you have other friends nearby who can offer support in person. 💗 Listening to the playlist now. Thanks for sharing that! Take good care of yourself, my friend. 🌹

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Michele there are no words for your loss – I wish I could be there for you and give you some comfort and support. This Tribute to Luca has me in tears I know how much you loved him. Please know you are not alone you have me and I’m sending my love! Please call me when you feel up to it – I’m so sorry I was praying he would make it longer. Sending lots of love and hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Anita. Thanks for being there for me as Luca and I went through all this. I so appreciate all the love and prayers. I was so hoping that you would get to Austin so you could meet Luca. He would’ve loved you! And I know you would’ve fallen in love with him too. Kiss sweet Midnight for me. Lots of love ❤️

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  5. I’m so sorry, Michele. You wrote about Luca beautifully. I don’t know what to say. I’ve had to watch more than one of my beloved friends be euthanized, but never after such a roller coaster ride. Luca adored you and stayed with you as long as he could–no doubt about it.

    Love,
    Janie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Janie! So good to hear from you. I know I’ve been out of touch for so long and I apologize for that. Hoping to get back to some semblance of normalcy and get back into the habit of blogging. I miss ya all!
      Thanks so much for your kind words. Luca sure did surprise a lot of folks with his resiliency. We both fought hard for his life and I’m grateful for all the extra time we did have together. The Angels were looking out for us.
      I’ll look forward to connecting more in the very near future. Lots of love to you and your precious furbabies. ❤

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  6. So sad, MICHELE. And there really are no words.

    Your story makes me think of the two times that I had to let dogs I loved “go”. I screwed up both times, and I can’t even talk about it all these many years later. I only hope that I will see “George” and “Mickie” again someday, and that they will understand why I let them down.

    At least you did what had to be done with courage and in a very positive way.

    Life… smh… it’s not easy at all.

    ~ Stephen

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Stephen, so good to hear from you! And as for your closing comment: Ain’t that the truth?! Life is so freaking hard, more often than not unfortunately.
      I’m sorry you had to experience losses with George & Mickie. It the worst kind of pain but I believe as you do: you’ll be reunited with them someday. And remember, in Heaven there is no judgement. They will be happy to see you again for sure!
      Thanks for stopping by. I’m looking forward to dipping my toe back into the blogging waters…
      I’ll see you soon. XOXO

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So sorry to hear about this. It is indeed a rollercoaster with cancer. My Percy had an inoperable sarcoma, but he went up and down several times before it took him away. That was three years ago this month. I lost his protege, Bertie this week. No rollercoaster, not even knowing what was really wrong. One day off his food, next day no output, next day, gone. No clues for the vets, but at least he didn’t suffer long. He was such a big character, though. Sorely missed.
    Lots of love,
    Jemima

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Jemima, I’m
      So sorry to hear about your loss of Bertie this past week! And that’s kind of worse when they go so unexpectedly, without any warnings or clues. To have that shock on top of the normal grief associated with death compounds the loss. I had one of those too, well actually two when considering that I lost one during a routine teeth-cleaning procedure, and the lingering questions can be haunting. At least with Luca, when you have a dog with terminal illness at least you have a chunk of time to be able to do and say everything you want to them before saying goodbye.
      Thanks so much for stopping by. Sending you hugs too. God bless.

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