It all started about 2 months ago with a wound on my dog’s right front paw. A wound that appeared to be simple and required an uncomplicated procedure at the vet’s office.
The wound, procedure and bill were, in fact, simple. Simple, as many things, decisions or situations in life. When it was time for a follow up at the vet’s office, the wound was not healing properly resulting in opening, cleaning and putting a bandage again on the wound.
Four weeks passed and the infection was eliminated, but the swelling was not. The vet said let’s give him some more days to heal. One week more passed but the swelling remained with no intention to disappear, at least that was our perception.
Worried and fearing the worst, we took him to the vet’s office again. This time the vet said: “The infection has been eliminated, and the swelling might imply – and is very common in a 12 year old dog – a tumor. With a high probability of a cancerous tumor. The solution to avoid any risk of metastasis is to cut the finger and send it to pathology”.
The vet’s calm way of suggesting to cut the finger took me by surprise. He talked about it like if I were cutting my finger nails or getting a haircut. For God’s sake, he was talking about cutting a finger on MY dog, friend, companion, son, the critter who licks my tears, the one who senses my moods and consoles me.
No, he was not just talking about cutting a finger on my dog. It was like he was talking about cutting a finger on myself as well. My heart sank for a few seconds. I looked at my husband’s eyes, both of us were in shock. The vet left us alone to think about it.
When the Heart Speaks
We sat in the waiting room in silence. A few seconds after, a little voice inside of me said: “no”. It was a sharp no. I listened carefully. The next thing I heard was: “get a second opinion”. I respect science. I respect the vet. He might have all those titles after his name, but when my heart speaks I listen.
Once I heard John Morton say, and I will paraphrase it: When God speaks, he doesn’t repeat himself. He doesn’t need to. That was exactly how I felt it. It requires stillness, a silence inside of you, and calmed emotions. That sharp no was my heart talking.
It was not easy to stand for my belief. Other sources of information were pointing out to cut the finger as the best option. It reminds me of those times in life when you get a “gut feeling” but the whole world is against it. Have you had any of those times? Next time you have it be watchful, it might be your heart speaking. Just make sure the message is not coming from stubbornness, fear or ego.
The Second Opinion
We, in fact, took our dog for a second opinion. We took him to one of the best specialists vets in the area – SAGE Centers. They suggested the same thing: “cut the finger”, but this time the vet said something else: “There is a remote possibility that is not a tumor. It could be just remaining inflammation that is taking more than the normal time to heal. The x-rays are not giving additional information. The next best approach is to do a biopsy or cytology, but the cost is very high”.
Money was not the issue. Of course a big chunk of our paycheck has already been used in getting our dog well, but it cannot be compared with the happiness and love our dog gives us.
A biopsy was performed. It implied a new incision in his paw and therefore additional healing time.
Keeping my heart’s message clear was not easy either. Many times I doubted the decision. It was a risky one. A decision that might have costed him his life. A metastasis in another place in his body would have been deadly, while cutting the finger would have stopped the spreading of any cancerous cells.
There were times when I felt guilty. Guilty for prolonging the pain and discomfort. Guilty that my dog was not able to run on the beach freely or enjoy what he loves: chasing rats or lights. A lot of fear showed up. Fear of having made the wrong decision. This to me is how it feels sometimes when you follow your heart’s calling. You need to keep the steps steady in spite of doubts, pain, and mixed emotions.
These feelings need to be overcome and cleared out of your path. Sometimes it looks like you made a mistake. This is the time to use all the tools available to go through and keep going. During these days, I increased the use of the labyrinth as a meditative practice. It relaxed my body, mind and emotions. It soothed my soul.
Four long days passed and the results were ready. Tears of joy fell out when we heard there was no cancerous cells. The vet recommended a follow up in 6 weeks, a lot of rest, no running and easy walks for Toby.
I would lie if I told you I did not pray and commit to God to do something if the results were OK. I will not reveal what I committed to, but I will tell you that it is a new start for me.
There is still time ahead for a complete healing. We still need to be vigilant. We know he will not outlive us, but it is a blessing to have him for many more years sharing the joy of having a feisty, fun and happy Rat terrier.
Once again my heart is right. Stillness, silence inside and calmed emotions were a big key in learning to listen to my heart.
How often are you listening to your heart ?