On November 4 I had my first ever “Juno” walk in which a trainer traveled to my home for the purpose. What? You’ve been handling Seeing Eye dogs for over thirty years and it was your first Juno walk? The Seeing Eye admissions person didn’t believe me. Lukas called me “legacy” or “an anachronism” or something not terribly flattering.
Anyway, Jan said Kismet looked great.
On November 6 I presented at an International conference in Virginia. Lukas watched Kizzy work. “She’s still got gas in her tank.” I was relieved. I was filled with pride that the little dog was still working for me at the age of twelve and a half.
What I learned over the 2015 Holiday season is something I wish upon no one. Salt in tears burns when it hits an open wound. If you plan to be doing a lot of crying make sure you’re completely healed from your recent eye surgery.
For the first time since Kismet got sick a month ago I can write again. For the first time in two months I feel back on an even keel. I didn’t really sign up for what my “day job” has turned into but I’m learning to take it with good grace.
It all started when I had reconstructive surgery on my left eye in November. It’s been thirty-three years since my suicide attempt and the surgery was overdue. My left eye is prosthetic. So why was I worried? Turns out Jim had a much more stressful day than I. Just before they took me into surgery the surgeon told Jim he could have Kismet with him anywhere in the hospital except the recovery room. So Jim wandered off to the waiting room and was helping himself to a cup of coffee when he was confronted by an armed policeman.
I was still “under the influence” in the car on the way home when he told me the story. I listened in mounting horror as his story unfolded with visions of headlines dancing in my head, “Police Brutality…”
Four days before Christmas I had surgery on my right eye. The light perception I have is in the superior field of that eye and the upper lid had gotten droopy. In other words, over the past year or so I had gradually become totally blind. That surgery was a piece of cake and produced almost “instant oatmeal.” There’s still a little swelling that needs to come down but it’s marvelous to have the light back in my life.
The real trouble started in the middle of the night a few days before my second surgery. Kismet woke us up in the middle of the night. She was making sounds of respiratory distress. First thing Friday morning we took her to our local vet. He did everything he could but couldn’t find anything. “But what about the anxiety,” I asked. He ended up putting her on Xanax.
Little Kizzy made the same sounds again the next night so we took her to another vet. We were there for five hours. This vet found fluid in her lungs. He showed us the tiny lesions scattered throughout both lungs. “If cancer is causing the fluid I’ve never seen it caught so early.”
Although we’ve had dogs our entire lives we were in uncharted territory. Our local vet did the best he could. The vets in Birmingham did the best they could. We did the best we could.
Kismet did the best she could.
Kismet died in our arms early December 28.
The illustration for this post is Kismet’s brick in the “Path to Independence” at The Seeing Eye where she was bred and trained. The brick says, “KISMET -BELOVED -IMPISH -BRILLIANT.