August 7, 2015 at 8:33 am #81407
I havent written on here before, but have found reading many of the articles somewhat helpful at this time. Sorry for the long post. I hope someone can relate to this complex and sudden situation I faced and am struggling to deal with.
Im 28 and have had a massive unexpected loss 3 months ago which I am not coping with at all. I have not lost anyone before in my life I was close to, and although it was my dog, she was absolutely more than a dog, such a gorgeous, active, affectionate and playful companion. Before it happened I was independant, had my own place, was very busy with work and juggling study, social life etc.
My dog Molly was only 8 1/2 and I just lived with her, she was honestly the centre of my world and she got suddenly & critically sick and I somehow agreed to put her to sleep and cant believe I allowed it. I have regretted it ever since the moment, and am not coping with life anymore. She was fine the Friday, sick Saturday and gone Sunday. It was way too soon, I was emotional and in shock and feel I made terrible judgement calls that weekend and dont know what my life is without her. I just feel so responsible for her I guess.
It was just me and her. Ive been single for a while, and have been very busy with work/study these last few years, and she was the one beautiful constant in my life who was always there with unconditional love, play, fun and comfort all the time. I think Im still shocked as I cant believe I let her be put to sleep, and feel I didnt think through the decision at all, it felt so rushed but she was deteriorating fast. I just cant believe how quickly life can change and I feel like my life is over. I honestly dont know what to do anymore, I dont want to go to work, I dont want to complete the same uni course, I no longer have any drive for life or my plans i had before. Things I did for enjoyment before have no meaning to me. I have been doing a lot of reading online and books on grief, guilt, regret etc and talking with various friends, counsellors etc but I just dont know how to live with my decision. I can hardly get out of bed. I feel I dont know who I am without her, especially having allowed that to be done to her, as I love her so much. She was such a central part of all my adult life, I got her when I was 19, and just didnt see this coming. I wasnt prepared, and feel I have made the worst mistake of my life.
She was fine on the Friday, when I got her up the Saturday she didnt want breakfast, she was shaking on and off and leaning to one side, she also had a lump on her left side of chest. As soon as I looked at her I knew something was quite wrong, she just wasnt herself. I took her to her usual vet clinic, her usual vet wasnt on, and she saw a different vet. I hate that this vet basically misdiagnosed and I didnt question her enough, nor did I follow my gut. The vet tested if she could get fluid from the lump on her chest, and it was just blood, the vet thought Molly may have a growth in the chest, a tumor of some sort, and we would need to wait until Monday to come back and take a biopsy. Molly had also had a cough on and off for 2 weeks, so she said to give her some antibiotics, keep her quiet at home for the weekend, and take her to emergency vet if I was concerned. I was quite upset, but still took her home not really thinking through what blood sitting in her chest meant, and clearly neither did the vet! She didnt outline any other possibilities.
I was meant to work that day, and after much debate I ended up leaving her at my parents who watched her while I was at work. She was lethergic for that time, but no more so than in the morning, she had some water and a bit of food, so I guess we thought she just wanted to rest. But she was normally full of beans, so I should have realised something was terribly wrong. When I got home after work, I wasnt happy so took her to emergency vet about 11pm. Honestly everything seemed to go wrong for her that whole weekend, and way too fast. They found she was very anemic and her blood wasnt clotting well at all. They thought maybe she had eaten a rat poison or something? As her blood wasnt clotting the lump in her chest was pooled blood. I thought it unlikely she had eaten a poison as nothing in the yard I can see, but agreed to treat her with IV fluids, plasma transfusion and blood transfusion. The initial assessment of her took so long it was 2 hours beofre she had any treatment. I left her there 2.30am having the transfusions, which all took a several hours. I told them to call me if anything happened or for update.
They never called. I rang about 9am the next day, she was halfway through the blood transfusion but her levels were still dropping dramatically. They did more tests and found she was still hemorraging internally, likely from the spleen. My family and I went in and the vet kept outlining how it was likely a blood tumor as if it was a toxin the transufions should have picked her up more and she shouldnt still be bleeding. This all came out of nowhere and we were all shocked. The vet said we could do an emergency operation, but her blood tests indicated there was some level of organs affected due to lack of red blood cells, oxygen etc, and that her prognosis was poor. And if it was this tumor, it was something like 75% chance it was a sarcoma where even with an operation the dog may only have weeks or a few months to live after. It may have been something benine, or an auto immune issue, but she didnt talk about that much. I said I want to do the operation, they wanted to do chest xrays and said if ‘abnormal’, they wouldnt necessarily recommend doing the operation. They did Xrays, and they were ‘abnormal’, she said Molly had fluid on her lungs which wasnt good for an anesthetic. They said we could do operation and CT at a different venue to get a better idea of if a tumor had spread, before doing op. My family and I decided we wanted to just do operation and to get it organised ASAP at this vet practice, which was also an option. I honestly said 3 times to the vet to do the operation, and each time she seemed to talk us away from it, heavily outlining Mollys poor state for surgery, likely poor prognosis and heavy costs. She talked of quality of life and whether I am doing this for me or Molly.
My family and I somehow decided not to put Molly though it, and she was put to sleep in the afternoon. She was in a lot of pain and on meds, and her belly was swelling up with blood which is a horrific image I have in my head. I cant understand how I didnt push more to do the operation. I wanted to save her more than anything, then somehow did the worst possible thing that would guarantee she would die. I am so confused. It all happened so fast, and I love her so much I just cant accept I allowed this. She was so energetic and vibrant beforehand, although looking back my family and I think she had been weaker on walks over the last few months before that weekend, and had been picky with her food on and off for several weeks, but I had just moved house 2 weeks before it happened, so just thought she was anxious. Since it happened, I have researched all about spleens, and the statistics arent as bad as the vet outlined, I have read about many dogs who live successfully without spleens and have good quality of lives. Even if it was a cancer, I would have taken care of her anyway and I just cant believe I took away her chance. I always usually research things and get to the bottom of things, but there was no time. The vet didnt outline how if we didnt do the surgery, we would never know what it actually was! So I am going insane not only because she is unexpectadly gone forever, I will never know if it was benign or a cancer or something else, I will never know how things may have been if I took her for a second opinion earlier on the saturday and got her treatment sooner. It is a complete mess. I feel the vets managed it badly, and Molly was let down by everyone and by me.
I keep reliving her last day all the time especially her last moments, it is truely horrifying. I feel it was surreal at the time, and I feel like I am still in a nightmare. I have felt like this for 13 weeks now, have been to GP and even started antidepressants just 2 weeks ao, as I am barely able to get out of bed. They havent helped me in any way yet but I will give it a bit more time. I realise she may just be a dog to some people, and some people just dont understand. But she was honestly like a child to me, I was totally responsible for her and she constantly followed me around at home, and it is so horrible and quiet in my flat. I am truely stuck in life and just want my life back. And this came completely out of nowhere, and I dont feel she had to die. I feel like I normally dont give up, and I feel I didnt fight for Molly and let her try fight whatever this was. I just cant believ I made such poor choices, I know I was under a lot of stress and emotional, but I dont know how to live with actively ending her life and taking away her chance.
I have had shitty family issues and stressful times in the past, and Molly was honestly the brightest most beautiful part of my life. She also brought my immediate family more together to some extent as she was the joy of all our lives, when I visited them with her.
If anyone has any thoughts, similar experience, advice it would be appreciated. I have been told lots by friends/family about to live in the moment, and stop rehashing the past, and that I need to accept it and move forward, but I just cant believe she is gone, I didnt think through the finality of it and it is truely devastating. I just dont know how to accept my life as it is now, it is so unexpected and empty, and I honestly dont know what to do now in any aspect of my life.
Sorry for the long post if anyone reads it,
SarahAugust 7, 2015 at 8:59 am #81409
Sorry just realised how medically focused this is, I am also an intensive care nurse for humans so feel like such an idiot for missing her signs and for leaving her at home on the Saturday with my parents!! And for giving up on her as its not in my nature. None of us realised how sick she was. But I feel the first vet should have done more tests or told me to take her straight away to an emergency clinic, not reassure me to take her home and watch her. Molly was such a gentle, playful and loving soul, and her life was just cut way to short.
Thanks for reading.August 7, 2015 at 11:10 am #81414
I read your original post almost to the end and stopped before reaching the end. As I was reading it I felt empathy for you and then I felt sicker and sicker. I felt empathy for you and for Molly. I am still feeling quite sick having read the details, unfolding of her demise. I forced myself to keep reading until I stopped. I said to myself: I had enough. I can’t or won’t go on.
If I- a stranger to you and to Molly- had such difficulty and a growing sickening feeling only reading your post- I imagine your difficulty, your pain actually living these fast unfolding events was extremely difficult to process and endure. I imagine your distress was extreme.
Under the extremely distressing events unfolding so quickly, you didn’t have time to … pace yourself, to walk slowly- in your mind- through the events, thinking calmly what to do at each step. You had no choice but to operate under extremely stressful conditions. You were in a war zone of sorts. Things were happening quickly, out of your control and you didn’t have the TIME one needs to recuperate from the various crises, one after the other. You didn’t have the breaks you needed to regroup.
The standsards to your evaluation of your functioning in these conditions should be different than the standards under slower, calmer conditions.
You had no way of telling AT THE TIME what was going to happen next. It is only in retrospect that you know what happened every step of the way, and only in retrospect you get the breaks you needed then to figure out- retroactively- what to do. Only it all happened and done with. As you evaluate your performance then, remember you didn’t have the vision then of what was about to happen- you didn’t have that advantage. You have that advantage now but couldn’t have had it then.
lastly, and it may be strange to bring this up, but it is my sincere input: if I was Molly, or if I was in Molly’s place in those last few days, I would have preferred that you have put me down. I mean it. I know pain, mostly emotional pain and i hate it and am scared of it and I wopuld have begged you if I was in such intense pain and poor prognosis, I would have begged you to put me to sleep.
I wouldn’t have wanted to go through the operation or operations. As a matter of fact, I already discussed this topic with my husband. I told him that if I get a horrible disease that I would want to do one of those medical suicides in Oregon. This discussion took place a year ago after I fell of the deck and suffered ongoing pain on my side (where the kidney is) for months.
anitaAugust 7, 2015 at 1:24 pm #81423
I had two very similar experiences. Once with a dog and once with a cat.
It sounds like your dog probably had undiagnosed hemangiosarcoma. It is always fatal. She was fortunate that she suffered for such a short time. You made the right decision for her. My dog was fine (we thought) until she started having breathing difficulties. Within four days she could no longer eat at all and was gasping for breath. She was a rescue and I had only had her three years. It is believed that she had lung cancer. Dogs slow down gradually and the signs of illness can be so subtle until it is too late. Also, their metabolisms are faster and the disease process can be very quick. My cat had diabetes and lymphoma and was in treatment. He suddenly took a turn for the worse and the ER vet recommended euthanasia that night. I still beat myself up about both decisions, but I know that I really did the best I could with the information that I had.
You should sit down and have a long talk with your vet about what was or what may have been going on with your dog. He or she will probably be able to give you insight into your experience. If you can have your questions answered, you can begin to heal. And, believe it or not, you will be able to love another dog someday.August 7, 2015 at 9:31 pm #81436
with the unforeseen circumstances and lack of time to weigh every outcome (due to rapidly declining health), you didn’t want to see her suffer. Don’t beat yourself up or even worry about the vet being wrong. I understand Molly was a blessing to you. Get a nice picture framed and be reminded of the good times spent together. I have a mixed breed and although he is doing relatively well for 15, I am constantly thinking I will probably have to deal with him passing away within the next 3 years. You will smile again, breathe, get out in nature and enjoy your friends, listen to a favorite band or artist. None of what happened was your fault.August 8, 2015 at 9:54 am #81450
I registered with Tiny Buddha just so I could reply to your post, which is immensely moving. You did a good thing by reaching out the way you did. I think your pain is too much for you to bear (basically) alone.
You need much more support, I think. I don’t know where you live, but if such a thing is available to you, please consider a grief support group. It can be hard just to make yourself go, but I think you need to place yourself where you can talk and talk for a while. Some will say it’s better to redirect your mind, but my own feeling is that it would be premature. You are feeling fully right now, and I think you need to do exactly that, only with more support.
Also, there are people who experience the loss of an animal more acutely than the loss of any human. For most of my life, I didn’t know that. I also think grief can depend on the particular individual we’ve lost, no matter the species. There are a great many variables that play into grief.
Loving an animal is such a courageous thing to do. One way or another, love always ends in loss. When a person’s love involves an animal, that loss tends to come sooner than when our love involves human beings. It probably comes as a surprise more often too. I don’t know that for sure though.
Back in the 90s I lost a cat who had literally changed my life. She was as much a revelation in death as she was in life. Like Molly, she was not even nine when she left. I couldn’t deal with it at all. At first I couldn’t make myself go to support groups. It was as if no one could possibly understand what the loss actually was because no one knew her. No one understood what the whole world had just lost. I hated that she had been this magnificent being, and the world was completely oblivious. A few years later I took a health class and wrote my final paper on the subject of grief surrounding the loss of a beloved animal. My professor agreed with my thinking that the matter was overlooked societally and culturally, and she agreed with my sense of the enormous significance. This is still true, though things seem to be getting a bit better.
Like the others who’ve replied, I also believe you did the right thing. There’s really no winning here, Sarah. Self-questioning is a normal part of grieving, but it feels terrible. It’s one reason you need support. I am so moved, and so deeply touched by the power of your love. For all of her life, Molly was incredibly fortunate that you were there for her.
CathleenAugust 10, 2015 at 12:01 pm #81544
Dear Sarah, I am so sorry for your loss! Your post took me back 15 years when my dog had the same diagnose and I had to make this decision. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I told the vet to operate and they did, my dog died on the operating table.
I was concerned more with my own conscious being clear then the suffering I put my dog through. I would never do that again.
You did the right thing.September 5, 2015 at 6:59 pm #82921
I feel your pain – I have a pet and he is more precious to me than most humans !
You are an intensive care nurse and you made the right decision under the presented circumstances. What you feel now is loss and pain which causes regret of not having done enough !!. I have seen this happen up close in cases of human deaths which are sudden, and it causes the same trauma in the mind.
Please DO NOT beat yourself up. Human or animal – if it is time to go, it is time to go – NOTHING can stop it !!!
As with humans who cross over, pets are our angels watching over us and always with us in spirit.
Please read this short article – it will help:
GOD bless !December 16, 2016 at 5:38 am #122854
hello, i just came across your post because i was searching for something i can relate to. i have just gone through something similar with my dog – the spleen thing, her abdomen filling with blood, etc. listen, it sounds like your vets didn’t explain things well, but what your dog was going through she wouldn’t have survived it, and the surgery would have been risky to the point she’d not have made it off the operating table. i understand the feelings of guilt– i am having them, too– but my vet spent a lot of time explaining it all to me. it has been the hardest time in my life, and i share a lot of your feelings. i’m extremely apathetic about life- my dog was like my kid, too. my only real family. if it helps at all, i get it. i really do. and i find so few don’t understand. tell me, how are you doing now?
also, thank you for writing this – people like me search for others who have this type of companionship with their dogs.
tjJanuary 5, 2017 at 5:21 am #124606
Hi, Sarah, I hope you are coping and on your road to self forgiveness. I lost my beloved dog Chichi last year and I thought I have moved on but aftrr a year Im back to square one. she was living with my family with our other dogs as well, she got sick for over 1week, but vet didnt take her in said its just fever didnt do futhrr tests and meds will be ok. She was not eating for over 1 week and I didnt realize how serious that was bec she was a tough and strong dog never gets sick. I didnt get the chance to see her before she go, I’m about to go home 2 days before she died. It kills me everytime I go back to that day that I should have gone home to visit her when she’s sick but did not. I was tied up at work and some personal commitment but i had a choice, I always have a choice and I’ll forever regret what I did. I believe our beloved pets would not want us to suffer, would forgive us everytime, support and understand our choices. We need to forgive ourselves, It is hard but thats the only way. In your case I think you did what you think is best for her. We will heal, we will move on but will never forget them and I believe we will see them again waiting for us when the time comes. When I think about it, my fear of death fades.January 5, 2017 at 7:28 am #124610
My heart goes out to you. My sister’s beloved dog died suddenly recently. She went downhill very quickly and it was all so sudden. The whole family were devastated as we all loved her dearly. My sister tortured herself, wishing she’d noticed sooner or done more.
Please be gentle on yourself. I echo what others have said: you did the right thing and you need to forgive yourself. I know a good process for this, which I learnt on a More to Life weekend. I can talk you through it via e-mail if you wish. In the meantime, look after yourself. Your beautiful dog is at peace now and I’m sure she’d want you to be at peace with yourself.
RosieJanuary 5, 2017 at 8:09 am #124614
I am also a nurse and understand your clinical detail you describe, and your doubts and “what if’s”. . I had a beloved Golden Retriever that was my happiness and joy. I worked from home and he was my companion at all times. With his crippling illness, the vet asked me ” Are you doing this for you or for him?”. That stopped me. I didn’t want him to go, I didn’t want to be lonely, I didn’t want to take the responsibility for his death, though it would have been peaceful and quick. I realized he cant tell me what he feels, though I saw it with the lethargy and struggle in his eyes. The hardest thing, I did, was to have him put down at home, with me holding him to the end. That was what I did, though I knew it would be tremendously painful for me. You will always miss the dog, so display pictures of her around your home and remember the better times. It will get better! Your dog is at peace and no more suffering. She is smiling from the Rainbow Bridge and wants you to know you did the right thing.