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Teri's love for Mustard (Part I)

While I'm grateful for our dog Mayo, I really miss Teri and Mustard:

Today marks one year since Mustard passed away. I can't believe it's been a year and what's happened since then. May 17 is a significant day that Teri always wanted me to remember. "0517" was her important code for unlocking her iPad and computer, and maybe even her debit pin. It meant a lot to her and why the least I can do for Mustard and Teri is to share with you here.

Teri truly adored Mustard. And anyone who spent time with Mustard could understand why. While we were married, I accepted being in "second place" since he was here before me and never complained about anything. Teri said it took her about five years to "completely fall in love" with Mustard. I hoped to experience that same kind of endearment from Teri. We were getting there. Then Mustard passed away, and she fell in love with Mayo, but it wasn't the same as her love for Mustard.

Teri adopted Mustard when he was just a few months old. That whole story is worth its own post. She would always talk about how Mustard was there for her during significant moments in her 30s:

  • Going through a breakup (after being engaged)

  • Moving to Foley and Cherry's house

  • Settling into Raymond Drive (the house where I met her)

  • Most of her tennis matches

  • Undergoing cancer treatment #1 in 2017

  • Moving to her brother's house in 2018

  • Getting married to me and moving to CA in 2019

There's probably a lot more significant events that I'll organize after I get through reading her journals.

Tonight, I've been looking at pictures and videos of Teri and Mustard. There are so many of them (3500+). Some were unexpected, like the video of us saying goodbye to Mustard when he was put to sleep in the comfort of our home. It's overwhelming to think about all the memories I shared with Teri and Mustard. Let me share one memory with you for now.

In early 2020, Mustard developed diabetes and needed insulin shots twice a day. A year later, we took Mustard for a routine deep cleaning at the vet, which required sedation. When we brought him home, he had no energy, which was very unusual. We thought it was due to the sedation, but the next day, he still wasn't improving. He even collapsed on a walk, just ten feet away from the driveway, something he had never done before since he loved going for walks. I had to carry him home. The vet recommended electrolyte fluid therapy, but unfortunately, it didn't work. I remember parking our car on the street outside our home and bursting into tears. Teri remained calm, although a bit confused about my emotional state, we even got into a bit of an argument. I knew there was a high chance we would have to say goodbye to Mustard, and I wasn't prepared for that. Our vet didn't seem to have any other options, besides doing more blood work to check for cancer. At that point, I didn't think it mattered whether Mustard had cancer or not, as operating on a nine-year-old terrier mix didn't seem like something we would be comfortable with.

We reached out to an Animal Clinic in Chino Hills for a second opinion. The new vet detected keytones in Mustard's breath and informed us that he had Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). It didn't look good. The vet presented a "last resort" treatment plan for the DKA, with a transfer to another hospital for overnight care. Given Mustard's age, existing health conditions, and the cost involved, I was doubtful about moving forward.

We went back to the car to discuss our options privately. I called my mom. I cried some more, but Teri didn't. By then, I knew it was time, and I suggested to Teri that we might have to let Mustard go. While I loved Mustard, the research I had done on treating DKA didn't offer much hope, and it would also be expensive.

Of course, I left the decision to Teri. Without much hesitation, she said we should go to the other hospital and start treating the DKA. We would take it day by day. Although I remained pessimistic and skeptical, I was grateful that she still wanted to fight.

Three days later, Mustard was discharged from the hospital and back to his normal self. I couldn't believe it! I felt thankful, humbled, tears of joy and relief! Mustard stayed healthy for the next several years. It was another reminder that Teri was always better than me when it came to making important decisions. I'll identify this to be one of our patterns in our marriage:

  • Something significant happens, requiring a big decision

  • I dive into "research mode" trying to figure things out on my own, usually out of fear and anxiety

  • Teri remains calm and wants to discuss things

  • Eventually, I calm down and see her perspective.

  • I'll usually give in since "I'm over it" and I don't like to argue

  • Things usually work out for the better

  • I thank God for putting such an amazing woman in my life (and in this case, many more years with Mustard)

In May 2022, Mustard started having seizures. His health declined rapidly. Two weeks later, Mustard was put to sleep in the comfort of our home. While we were heartbroken, we were thankful that Mustard wasn't suffering. So much of what I went through with Mustard reminds me of the recent experiences I had with Teri's recent battle with cancer. I'll share more later, its getting late. In the meantime, please check out the video Teri made to honor Mustard. She said she felt significant relief and acceptance after completing this video. I'm so thankful she made it.

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