Mattie’s Melanoma

Sounds scary… and it is, but Mattie is “just” our 12-year old lab mix with whom we have shared our lives since she barely had her eyes open at the rescue shelter. One month ago during a routine visit, our astute primary care vet picked up a discoloration on her right iris. The differential diagnosis was very limited. By the time we managed to secure an appointment with the veterinary ophthalmologist post-vacation, anyone could see that her normally brown eye was distinctly black. The surgeon was certain that Mattie had melanoma, but she was reassuring most ocular melanomas in dogs behaved less aggressively than in humans in that metastases and local invasion were much less frequent, but her eye needed to be removed. Sad – we were all sad that Mattie would lose her eye even though she had lost most of her vision already. By the time she had surgery yesterday, her eye was already protruding, inflamed, and she had pronounced glaucoma. Thankfully, Mattie came through the surgery just fine, and we will pick her up later today to see her new perpetual wink.

Why write about this here? Well, it makes me amazingly sad to realize that Mattie won’t be around forever. (As if I haven’t had many other pets who have died.) That sadness, though, is about so much more. Both of my parents have health issues that limit them physically and are forcing me and my siblings to face up to the fact that they will not live forever or even much longer. (One might think a physician would be able to cope with the inevitability of death – nope, for me it’s a tad different when it comes to my family.) As I prepare to go spend 2 weeks with my family of origin, my anxiety is growing, and my eating is getting out of control for the first time in 8 months. Doesn’t matter that I’m not eating enough to gain weight. It matters tremendously that I cannot cope with my feelings other than returning to the cupboard to snack over and over and over and refuse to document what I am eating. Some things about my overeating are different. I am not eating fast foods. In fact, I took a drive the other night when I felt especially restless. I passed one McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, Wendy’s, Carl Jr.’s, etc. after another, I was surprised at my disgust at the thought of eating such food. Soon as I got home it was another story – non-fat cottage cheese, an hour later non-fat yogurt, 30 minutes later a protein bar. Even my writing about this is disjointed…

So what am I doing to try to get back on track? I “came out” about my transgressions to my spouse (and here) and asked her to speak up if she saw me eating mindlessly. I made her promise for us to get back to eating our regular evening meal together  rather than just doing our own thing, which has been going on the past 4 days. I have recommitted to writing down every morsel that goes into my mouth. I boiled up a bunch of eggs and put the low-calorie protein shake (ick) on the counter to use in place of protein bars should I feel the absolute need to eat after dinner. I bought some new teas to make in the evening. This being southern Arizona, hot tea is not so grand this time of year, but the ritual of hot tea at night was a wonder for me this winter, so I’m going to try it again. My less painful knee will be taking more morning walks. I put my journals all over my usual haunts (even in the car) so that I can scribble what is going on in my brain when anxiety/restlessness hits.

For now, I’m waiting to hear what time we can pick up Miss Mattie. The house just isn’t the same.

black lab dog wearing sun glasses

Mattie in her glory days

Black lab lying on floor

Mattie at 5

old dog

Headed to vet yesterday


5 thoughts on “Mattie’s Melanoma

  1. I am so sorry about your beloved Mattie. On to the eating. I have been in much the same place but for different reasons. My overeating now is also very different than it would have been 6 months ago. But it is still something that I need to address and stop. It sounds like you have a good plan for going forward. If you need a little more moral support… feel free to shoot me an email.

  2. I’m sorry to hear what Mattie is going through. I know how much that kind of thing affects us.. when those we love–and this includes our fur family–are suffering.

    I had those same kinds of thoughts recently when we had to say goodbye to Dusty, who had been with us 16 years. It brought home the brevity of life.

    I sounds like you stopped the avoidance behavior, and now have a solid plan in place to get back on track. That in itself will help you cope with stresses…

    I hope Mattie gets to be around a lot longer… I know she is in a loving home, and what years she has left will be full of love and snuggles.


  3. Thanks for the kind words. Mattie is home and doing just fine as far as we can tell. Her mothers, however, are still anxiously awaiting the results of the pathology report, which will give us some idea how aggressive her tumor could be.

    I’m doing better with food just by returning to monitoring my food intake. After 8 months, the honeymoon with weight loss is over and reality is setting in.

  4. Pingback: Headed Home & Random Updates « Writing To Wellness

Comments are closed.