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Posts: 11
This post will be long.

Wednesday, I had to let my beautiful boy Junior go. I went to the vet to get a wellness check. I wasn't intending on saying goodbye. However, our conversation turned to his discomfort and many health problems. My vet advised that I should say goodbye to my baby.

The backstory is, for 9 years, I nursed Junior through severe epilepsy. His neuro said he was the worst she had ever seen. She was always stunned he was still alive. However, I moved heaven and earth, spent thousands and thousands of dollars I did not have, and made sure everything in my world was about keeping Junior alive. His daily medications would choke a horse. However, I was able to achieve decent seizure control, and he had good quality of life. Fast forward to age 9, and Junior develops spinal degeneration. 7 months ago, he went completely down in the back. I got him a wheelchair, a sling, and proceeded to do everything in my power to make in comfortable. 

As time went on, he became incontinent, so I had to change diapers a few times a day, no big deal. Then he lost control of his bowels, so I would try to time that right, no big deal to me. I always treated him like I would any sick family member. The trouble is, that for about the last 8 years, my entire life has revolved around his care. From the minute I opened my eyes, and until I closed them. Many nights spent on the floor helping him get through seizures etc. The past 8 months, I have been his legs, and he has been completely dependent on me for life, sustenance, all of it. I retired early in part to care for him. My whole life has been only about Junior, and his needs, and making sure he was treated with dignity and love. 

So, Weds, I showed up at the vet with Junior, and I leave without him, and I am completely and totally devastated. My life exploded. To further it, he was alert, eating well, and he did not want to go. He licked my face repeatedly, pawed at the door etc. However, he was in some pretty serious discomfort. His liver was failing, he had fluid build up in his abdomen, and his front legs/shoulders/elbows were shot, from taking the weight when he lost the ability to walk on his back legs. Even though I used a sling, he still had to compensate. When he laid down, he winced badly, and it was clear it was hurting him considerably. This discomfort started a little over a week ago. Also, he started to totally freak out whenever I had to change his diaper. That was another red flag I suppose.

Anyway, to end this book, I've come to realize that caregiver guilt and grief is very different, because all of a sudden, you aren't concerned about what time it is, what meds he needs to get, do I have to take him out, does he need water, or a slurry etc etc etc.

I hope I can get a handle on it, because as of right now, the wheels have fallen off, and I'm finding it very difficult to really want to carry on my life without him. I feel incredible guilt I could not save him this time, and I feel he wanted me to bring him home. That is very very difficult to deal with.

Anyway, that's my rant, again, apologies for the length.



Posts: 580
Dearest Dogman,
I know how you feel. I was Termy's care giver for several years. Heart murmur, Seizures and old age. I too changed his wraps everyday for the last six months of his life. I feel you would do it all over again, as I would just to have them near. I left Termy go because he was truly suffering and winter was coming and I knew he wouldn't have made it through the winter without a lot more suffering. Yes a care giver's heart ache is very hard. In the end it's still the guilt that buries you. You were a wonderful dad and you did everything you could have to keep Junior happy and healthy. Please try to let the guilt go, Junior understands and know that you loved him and you would have done anything if there was anything left to try. Be gentle with yourself and know in your heart that you were and still are Junior's hero. I know that going on with your life is really hard, I too didn't want to go on and was suicidal for about six months and I am coming up on Termy's two year Bridge day . But this hurt runs deep because you loved so deeply and were so connected to Junior. Remember the journey you shared with him. I am sending you all my understanding and compassion during this very emotional time,
Love and doggie hugs
Termy's mom

Posts: 11
Thanks kindly for your thoughtful reply. As you well know, I will have to struggle, and just get through it. 

I can say for sure, that if I knew for sure where he is, I'd go there. But I don't. I have a family, and I have to make sure I keep things together for them I guess, even if I don't care. 

Also, I may have to consider another special needs dog at some point. It seems I have that to give, and it would be a way to carry on a legacy in Junior's memory.

Thanks again for your kind, and thoughtful reply, it was a huge help.


Posts: 640
Having been a caregiver more than once, the deaths of my pet children after caregiving led me to not want to life life anymore. And it has taken a long time to get from that place. Once you get from that place you don't jump right into a place of "I want to live now". You go from not wanting to live, to a neutral place. That's kind of where I am right now. There has been progress I suppose..but the neutral place is difficult too as it up to me (and us) to find joy and happiness. And that takes effort.

Being a caregiver and losing our loved one is really, really tough. When Emerald died after being her caregiver, I was in the kitchen one night about 7pm and just started crying as it was a time I would have been giving her daily IV fluids.

Your description of being so attached really resonated with me. Your life was revolving around your boy and so it was with me and my girls. Spending money I didn't have but never giving up. First thing on my mind when I would wake up was them. Really, I had no life outside of being a caregiver.

Your situation is made more difficult in that you did not expect to leave the vet without your boy.  I hate to say it, but I too have experienced that. More than once. Going to the vet and leaving alone. And in some of the cases, it was not planned. It is very traumatic. I think vets should take into consideration what they are doing to people. They should give us a chance. Not all euthanasias have to be done "right on the spot" even if euthanasia is considered an alternative. It leaves the pet parents devastated to decide to end the life of the person they love most "right on the spot". I think it is insensitive of say the least.

 Many of us don't have family. I am one of them. It has taken me years to get from not wanting to live due to pet loss to a neutral place. For us without a support system, our pets were our support system. In losing them, we lost not onlly them but everything we had.

I am very sorry you are in such a place. Keep sharing about your pain and talking about it. I called pet loss hotlines for a very long time. it helped.

Posts: 11
Grievingmom, thanks for your thoughtful post.

Yes, it seems to me that the caregiver, and by that I mean the palliative caregiver specifically, is really left with an exploded life. I was also his epilepsy caregiver, and while that wasn't palliative, it was always taking up most of my focus. And at end stage with spinal degeneration, my whole house resembled a hospice, plastic covered mattresses all over the floor, in the bedrooms etc. Diapers, powders, creams, shoes, stuff every place. Never sleeping a full night, always up, turning him over if he got uncomfortable, listening for breathing changes. Crazy crazy lifestyle I guess.
I am fortunate my Wife is here, or I'm pretty certain I would not survive this situation. I don't know how you got through to neutral without family. 

Everyday, his meds are given at certain times, he must have his bladder expressed, and enough fluids given, often in a slurry, to get him to drink up enough liquid. Usually, as of late, it was constant changing of diapers because he didn't wait for bladder expression anymore, he was totally incontinent. Maybe it was unfair he was still here, but he was alert, loved, and I mean loved his meals. He also loved me as much as I loved him. That means he would have hung around, even if his pain was excruciating. That is what I have to get through my thick skull. That isn't fair to him. 

So I guess we are supposed to just move on.  That notion is foreign to me at this time. I have not put anything away yet. The plastic covered mattresses are still all over, the supplies, his pillows. In fact I have one of his pillows on the bed with me now. Again, I'm blessed, my Wife said take as long as it takes, don't worry about any of it.

His vet really loved Junior, and I think he was concerned I'd take him home and he'd suffer more. I just would have liked to have a day with him to say goodbye. 

So, on to robotic existence we go. 

Blessings and Best Wishes to you as you continue to face the struggle.

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