So….the vet doesn’t think he’s going to be able to bring Cricket back to any quality of life and so we’re going to have to ruin a perfectly good Friday by putting her down this afternoon. You can see my post from yesterday for more background.
I can be present or not present when it happens.
I’ve never had experience with this before. I know one option isn’t “better” than another but do any of you have any suggestions or regrets about either being there or not being there in a pet’s final moments?
"As Tears Go By" was playing on my radio when I got back in my car after dropping my 15 year old lab mix off at the vet this evening.
I came home after work this afternoon to find her yelping and lying down in the back yard. The deep indention in the grass and the volume of flies surrounding her suggested she had been there a while. Her arthritis has been particularly bad for the past 3 or 4 days. It’s not unusual for her to stumble when she gets up or to need to take a few minutes to build up her strength after lying down a while. She has been beyond that the past few days.
I dropped her off at the vet’s tonight so that she may be seen tomorrow. It will be just me and Em here until Monday. It’s hard to manage two creatures who need so much assistance while I’m by myself, so I’m going to have her boarded there until Monday so I don’t get in the situation where I need to take Cricket to some kind of emergency care and have to manage to get Em in the car too.
She’s been in bad shape before, but not this bad. So I’ve prepared myself 3 times now for the vet to tell me that it’s time to let go of Cricket. And each time he has tried a new treatment that has worked for a while. So maybe the vet will have some course of action other than the one I know is coming at some point soon. I’m sad for the hard life she had - she lived alone with my dad for ten years. He could hardly take care of himself, so she had hardly any vet visits. Several years of seizures that turned out to be related to her diet. Fleas. Being left at the house when an F5 tornado destroyed most of the neighborhood.
Looking back I should have stepped in and reminded him to take better care of her. Offered to pay for the vet visits myself. Or just taken her away from him.
We’ve given her a good life the last year. We’ve taken her to the vet more times than I can count for various ailments. We bought a dog door so she could come and go as she pleases without being stuck either inside or outside all day. We’ve bought a lot of medication to manage her arthritis pain and recurrent skin infections. We’ve given her attention to the extent that we could given our other dog’s tendency to pick fights with her.
15 year old dog. That’s old for a bigger breed. I was a freshman in high school when my family got her. Living in Arizona and hating it. She traveled to Oklahoma with us when we decided to move back there six months later. A lot has happened to my family of origin since then, which I guess I’m really the saddest about. Dad is dead. Mom is living alone and working at Wal-Mart. My brother doesn’t have any other family in Oklahoma City.
I’m an adult now. I have a child of my own and a husband and stepsons and a house and a college degree and a nice job. 15 years have passed. Cricket has been a constant that I’ll be sad to part with, whether it is tomorrow or not.
I was more in control this week. I don’t think the next week will be very good re: food. Husband out of town this weekend, which usually means that I eat to pass the time and entertain myself. Dog’s arthritis is getting worse so I’m not sure what that means but I’m prepping for the worst. My front bumper came loose this morning so I’ll have to deal with that. But who knows?
I was gonna post my usual West Wing Wednesday quote but all hell seems to have broken loose on here.
Will you post it anyway? I miss the West Wing.
Thanks for prodding me, dear imaginary friend.
Mark: C.J., it’s Friday night, I’m supposed to have dinner with my girlfriend. She’s gonna kill me. C.J.: Yeah, but you know what, Mark? This is just the kind of thing that can cleanse the palate of a relationship that’s gone stale, like a fine sorbet Mark: It’s been going on for three weeks. C.J.: And she’s already bitching about dinner? Mark: C.J…. C.J.: Lose her.
Actually my favorite quote from the Stackhouse Filibuster is when Stackhouse finally yields to the other Senator and the other Senator says “My question is in 22 parts and might take quite a while. Perhaps you might like to sit and have some water while I ask it.” There wasn’t enough context to post it alone but it drives me to tears almost every time. Yes, I have easily watched this episode 6 or 7 times.
Steve McCroskey:Jacobs, I want to know absolutely everything that's happened up till now.
Jacobs:Well, let's see. First the earth cooled. And then the dinosaurs came, but they got too big and fat, so they all died and they turned into oil. And then the Arabs came and they bought Mercedes Benzes.
I’m very much an introvert. I need a lot of alone time to feel relaxed.
But I like to have people around me. I like overhearing conversations at work and occasionally participating. I like going to discussions at church.
It’s usually difficult for me to make friends. People hardly ever “get” me. I hardly ever speak, because it takes a long long time for me to accept that a person actually is interested in something I say. I don’t like the sound of my own voice (figuratively) so when I speak I actually need a reason. When somebody interrupts me or doesn’t acknowledge something I was saying as if they were thinking about something else the whole time - I pull back. A lot. So I tend to blend in to the background most of the time. I’m the girl whose face looks familiar but nobody knows anything about her.
I want to feel like I belong. When somebody has a party, I want to be invited for some reason other than pity. If I died, it would be nice if somebody noticed before I started stinking up the neighborhood.
This image used to come up when you hit a 404 link on my website, with a note explaining that he was “in time out for having reorganized the website without the proper redirects” which I thought was funny, but I got a very angry email from someone who was apparently doing a presentation and happened upon it and next thing you know: naked baby butt on the screen.
One year ago today was possibly the worst day of my life.
On July 22nd last year, Dad had heart bypass surgery two hours away in Oklahoma City. The surgery was over late in the afternoon and he spent all evening and night gradually waking up from the anasthesia. The morning of the 23rd, he was supposed to begin recovering.
Everything was going absolutely perfectly with the surgery and recovery process. I should have been ecstatic.
But Dad was still groggy from the surgery and on some serious pain meds and anti anxiety medication. In short, he was high and not acting like the amiable person he usually was in public.
Basically he was having a LOT of trouble functioning and retaining information. He kept asking how the surgery went because he wasn’t able to remember the last 50 times we told him he was doing fine. He didn’t understand why he couldn’t get up and go to the restroom to urinate - He was catherized but apparently there was still some sort of psychological urge that was telling him that he needed to empty his bladder.
This was frustrating for him. And he was not happy about the frustration.
He was very hateful to the nurses and even to me.
It was so hard to see him like that, because that’s exactly how he was when he was abusing alcohol in my early childhood. You knew he was hurting, but he was being so mean to you that all you could think about was what an asshole he was. He was never really mean to me when I was a child - he reserved almost all of his abuse for my mother. The abuse was all verbal, that I know of, not that it makes it better but it kind of does, I guess.
The other thing that was going on was the huge question of what was going to happen with Dad when he was out of the hospital. He was supposed to go home in a few days, and nobody could tell me that he was going to be substantially better before he was sent home. He lived alone, and I was two hours away from him. My brother lives near Dad’s house but he works full time. Was he just going to be confused all day at home? Was he going to down all of his pain meds and overdose, unintentionally or not? How was he ever going to remember all of the do’s and dont’s, like not putting pressure on the midsection of the body when getting up out of a chair or while coughing.
I was scared that he was going to expect me to quit my job and offer to let him move in with us. I was scared that I was going to expect this from myself. I was scared about how we were going to pay for everything, since I had no idea what kind of insurance he had, if any, other than medicare.
To make matters worse, it had been over two days since I had seen my baby, who was four months old at the time and back in Tulsa with Rod. I still had a strong, strong need to be with her physically - probably an evolutionary urge to ensure that women didn’t wander off too far from the cave. I was planning on going back to Tulsa that night, and I was worried that I was going to have to stay there with Dad instead so that I could apologize to the nurses on his behalf when he acted like a jackass.
I was a wreck most of the day - helping him out and being as good of company as I could. But I couldn’t take much. I pretty much just wanted to cry all day because of all the uncertainty and I didn’t want Dad to see me crying. I went for long walks around the hospital. I went to the chapel. I went outside under a tree. I went to the cafeteria. I actually spent more time outside the room than inside the room.
I didn’t want my life to change at all. I didn’t want Dad to have to move in with us and screw up our happy little family. I hated that he smoked for so long and weakened his heart. I hated that he was an alcoholic which made his abusive mood so hard to take at the hospital. I hated that my mom divorced my dad 9 years before and was leaving me and my brother stuck to have to deal with all of this alone. I blamed him so much for pulling me away from my baby. And I hated that I was so selfish thinking about poor me while Dad had gone through such an ordeal.
A particularly distressing encounter occurred while I was out of the room - Dad had got himself out of bed (a no-no) when I returned, he kept saying that a physical therapy person had come in there and got him out of bed and just left him like that. The nurses kept telling him that this was impossible - they were watching the door, and a trained physical therapist would never do that. He got increasingly irate with the nurses contradicting him and yelled at the nurses until they got frustrated and sedated him some more.
I cornered one of the nurses after this. I was crying visibly, with increasing intensity. I told her I had no idea what to do. I told her that Dad lives alone and I live far away and my brother works and I have a four month old and he has a history of drug abuse and I was scared that he was going to hurt himself and I wasn’t sure how we were going to pay for all of this. And that I was sorry he was being so hateful.
I felt better after this for some reason, even though all the nurse really did was give me the name of a case manager who I could call and discuss things like this with. She also told me to go back to Tulsa to see my baby because a baby needs to see her mom and a mom needs to see her baby. So a few hours later I did.
During the two hour drive back to Tulsa, I was pretty much a mess. I wasn’t sure how any of it was going to play out, but with every passing mile that was getting me physically further from the situation I felt better. Seeing Emerson again was another big lift to my spirits. But after she went to bed, I pretty much lost it again. I started worrying about all of it. My brother texted me from Dad’s hospital to tell me that he was being mean to the nurses again and also that one of Dad’s “friends” was trying to smuggle him some cigarettes (also a no-no). I took one of the Percocet I had left over from childbirth to make it all go away for the day.
It is sad to say that I actually consider this day to be worse than the day Dad passed away earlier this year. Sadness I can deal with. Clearly defined tasks like working with a funeral home and shutting off a phone line, I can deal with. Uncertainty is what turns me into a quivering pile of panic. Uncertainty can’t be shrugged away with a sarcastic comment. Uncertainty requires action and gathering information and weighing options and making a decision that pisses off the fewest people. Uncertainty requires mental thrashing and a desperate search for equilibrium.
Even a year later, my heart still races thinking about it.
I eat when there is special food around. I eat because it’s a holiday. I eat because it’s a vacation. I eat because it’s the only thing I do for myself some days. I eat some things because my dad liked to eat them. I eat because I need to keep something a secret from other people. I eat because it calms me down. I eat because there’s nothing better to do sometimes. I plan to eat when I need something to look forward to. I eat to reward myself for dealing with something I don’t want to deal with. I eat because I just don’t care sometimes. I eat when I feel alone.
What’s the matter, haven’t you ever seen a woman crying at the Tag Agency because she has to get the car title notarized in order to transfer it to her brother but the car isn’t in her name it is in her dead father’s name and nobody seems to understand the point or significance of bringing a death certificate and letter appointing her personal representative to the estate and she was already turned away from the notary at the bank because he had to speak with their legal department because he had no idea what a personal representative is and no she didn’t bring the will what does a will have to do with anything if she’s the personal representative of the estate and oh she needs to take it to a different notary oh she thought there might be one here since it is on the sign on the door and oh it turns out there is a notary here she needs to go wait by that window and then wait in line oh wait not that window the one where there is nobody at and who exactly is she waiting on anyway and she yells across the room to the original lady to verify that there actually is a notary there and the original lady walks across the office slowly with a cane and finally notary emerges hahaha sometimes you need to throw a rock at us to get your attention typically offices have a bell or something to get people’s attention and oh wait I need to go check with my manager your last name is so long can you add one more last name that’d be funny wouldn’t it and that’d be $5 please just to watch you sign your name haha have a wonderful day before?
Wow - I agreed with this article 100% but there’s a lot of hateful and condescending comments.
At the end of 3 nights with no sleep, I was a worthless human being when they sent us home at 8pm on evening 4 of being at the hospital. I wasn’t comprehending simple instructions and was in a state of panic that I wasn’t going to be able to be alert enough to take care of the baby. At home, you can “sleep when the baby sleeps” but this is not true at the hospital. You have to eat during the day, and be seen by the doctor during the day. And get talked to by social workers and breastfeeding consultants during the day. So those people who think that new mothers should just suck it up can bite me.
Good news is there probably won’t be any more out of town jaunts for the rest of the summer, and therefore fewer scenes like this.
Seriously, my only two bad days this week were Saturday and Sunday. But they were REALLY bad days.
I remember watching some show like Sally Jesse Raphael when I was young, where they went through a severely obese person’s daily menu - something like starting out the day with a dozen eggs and a pound of bacon, and then eating a Big Mac Meal every hour for the rest of the day. That’s how my weekend was. By design. My dad’s cousin cooked a big meal for us while we were in Texas, plus five different kinds of dessert. We eat or pick up something to eat almost every time we stop for gas. Plus hitting McDonald’s on the way out of Tulsa. Plus the ice cream cone at Dairy Queen followed by the Chicken Fried Steak dinner at the Lone Star Roadhouse followed by the sympathy ice cream sundae given to us by our waitress.
But that’s what’s fun for me. When there’s so much stress that goes into being out of town, especially with a baby, it’s nice just to give in to one of my biological urges. And now that I’m back in town, I’m eating more sensibly and exercising again.