Hepatitis C Survivor  

So There Was This 125 Pound Lap Dog...

Written By:  Teri Gottlieb

On Valentine's Day 2003, my husband and I brought an 11 week old Rottweiler home from the local shelter. Her name was "Potter".... apparently the shelter had no idea that this dog was a she and not a he! "Potter" was regal. She carried herself like she was something special. We gave her the name of a queen... Sheba. From the beginning it appeared she was my husband's dog. She'd sleep on his chest as a puppy and he did all the training. He claimed her as his and she was, until the day I started Hep C treatment.

So the day came when my treatment was to start. From the time I was diagnosed to the time I started treatment ten months had gone by. I had read everything I could about my impending treatment and I was pretty sure I knew it all and I was ready.... WRONG. I gave myself my first Peg-Interferon shot at my Hepatologist's office under the watchful eye of my Hep C nurse Laura at about 3:30 on a Friday afternoon. It was August 5, 2005... Summertime in Chicago. It was hot that day, like maybe 90 hot. I drove home and we had dinner planned with the family. My son was over for the evening and my two step-kids were there as well. I even made a last minute grocery store trip and I was in such good spirits! And then it happened. I was in my kitchen with my family around me and everyone was getting ready to eat. My step-daughter Cady had made Chicken Parmesan with her Dad. It was their specialty. I'm sure it was real good that night too but I wasn't going to find out.

Very quickly I went from feeling great to knowing I was in serious trouble. It was like all the life had been drained out of me all at once. It was about 7 in the evening. Three and a half hours after I took that first shot of Peg-Interferon and I was going down for the count. My husband and son caught on very quickly that something was wrong and they carried me to my bedroom. Now all the attention was on me and they had a great dinner waiting for them. This isn't what I wanted. They (whomever "they" is) describe the symptoms of treatment as "flu like symptoms"... Now I really want to know who coined that dumb phrase because this wasn't anything like any flu I'd ever had. I was sick. I was also very, very cold. Did I mention it was like 90 outside? I was FREEZING. In my bed, under the covers and I couldn't get warm. Enter darling husband with another blanket... and then another one.. and then another, until I had every blanket and quilt in the house on me. There were 12 of those suckers and I was shivering. No matter what I did, I couldn't stop shivering.. I was cold and I started crying. Yes. I am a BIG baby. I'll admit it, I'm a wimp but this was brutal.

So there I am, shivering and crying and feeling like death warmed over and in struts the new best member of my support team. My lap dog. That 125 pound Rottweiler came to Momma's rescue. She jumped on the bed, moved the covers around so she could get right next to me. She got under those blankets and leaned up against me and laid down right there with me with her back up against my body. She was giving me her body heat. It worked. The shaking started to subside... I started to get warm and calm down. Blankets didn't work, turning the air conditioning in the house off didn't work (that just made everyone else uncomfortable) but the dog knew how to fix the problem.

Without fail, every Friday night for the next 47 weeks, Sheba showed up on my bed around 6:30 at night. She was ready and waiting to do her "job", and she did it well. From that first fateful night, Sheba took on all sorts of responsibilities when it came to me. My husband worked in the City of Chicago when I was on treatment and we lived in the Northwest suburbs, so he left early every morning and took the train in to work. Before he left, every morning, he told Sheba to "Take care of Mommy." and she did. She wouldn't leave my side all day long. When I was too sick to do anything but crawl to the bathroom, Sheba was there next to me, every crawl of the way. I would lean on her for support and she lovingly gave it to me. Sheba gave me the strength to continue thru 48 grueling weeks of treatment. She became my very best friend. She became MY dog and never left my side. Until....

On December 3, 2011 Sheba and I were having a very lazy day. I wasn't feeling well and I was sleeping a lot that day. Sheba was napping with me. During one of those naps, her great big beautiful heart stopped. She was 9. She was loved so very much. She will be waiting for me at the Rainbow Bridge when my time comes. Until then, I am sure she is playing with all the tennis balls she can find up there!