I hardly know where to begin this piece, but I know sharing the last two days with you, my friends will help ease the ache in my heart. We’d made the decision to have our boy, Dooley, euthanized and the appointment was set for four p.m., yesterday.
SEE THE PRIOR CHAPTERS IN THIS SERIES ⤵︎
The morning started out like so many around here, these days, lousy. The shroud of stress blanketing our home has been so thick, that merely drawing breath has been a challenge.
My husband’s ongoing health issues have resulted in my being a maid, a caregiver, an accountant, an errand-runner, and all the other necessary functions that keep a home running. And, I take care of our three cats.
No, two. Our two cats. Now.
I’ll explain. Yesterday, my husband had an appointment to get a wound on his leg checked out, which I’ve been dressing every day for a month and a half. The injury resulted from a fall. The appointment was to be his last one, thankfully. But, that never happened, due to the fact that my husband ended up in the ER because his legs gave out from under him as he was getting into the shower. Panic-stricken, I struggled to get him into the car and to the nearest emergency room. He wanted to go to the hospital where our providers are, but that would necessitate a forty-five-minute drive and I didn’t want to risk it, knowing that I’d have to be home in time to take Dooley…in.
We waited in the ER for hours as the staff ran a medley of various tests, and, as each hour passed, the beat of my heart felt like an anvil. Finally, at around 2:30, I left the hospital and started for home amid a raw, driving rain. The perfect day!
When I walked into the house, my heart sank because Dooley was there waiting for me with our other two cats, Conor and Lorna. Weak, but standing. I loaded him into the carrier and by the time I arrived at the clinic, I was in complete melt-down mode. Sobbing, snuffling, the whole nine yards.
Our veterinarian is a wonderful man. Kind. Empathetic. Everything you want in an individual who is going to take your cherished pet’s life.
Gently, he took Dooley out of the carrier, and as I wept, listened to his heart, palpated his stomach, and did all the other things vets do in an exam and then told me, that as we knew, Dooley was dying. But that said, as he didn’t appear to be under immediate stress, it would be alright for me to take him home so my husband could say his goodbyes. He made sure to let me know that, even though he wasn’t going to be in the office the next couple of days, there would be a vet to assist me, if need be.
He did make it plain that Dooley was not likely to “go” in his sleep and that, without euthanasia, his death would be a painful one. I already knew this but I believe my husband was in denial.
I took Dooley home and raced back to the hospital to find out that my husband had to spend the night, as his heart rate was elevated and they wanted to monitor him. He has atrial fibrillation, commonly known as A-Fib, which is a disorder in the heart’s rhythms.
After I got home, I chugged a glass of white wine and tried to wind down, to little success. I cuddled with the cats as much as they let me and even got Dooley to eat a bit of food. That has been the quandary, here. The steroid I’d been giving him “reanimated” Dooley around late afternoon and he’d want to eat. Very small amounts and then, minutes later, he’d want to eat some more.
So you can probably understand why I waited so long to bring Dooley the peace he deserved.
This morning, a switch went off in my head and I decided that our precious boy was my priority. Not my husband, nor myself, just Dooley. As usual, he was asleep on the loveseat and barely moving. When I administered the steroid via a syringe as I’d been doing, Dooley was so weak that I had to hold his head up.
“Enough is enough,” I thought. I called the veterinary clinic and, thirty minutes later, I was bent over Dooley’s little body as he drew his last breath. Before they put the catheter in, he knew something was up and squirmed around on the soft towel the technician laid on the table.
I felt like a murderer.
When the vet came in, a young woman, I was ready to snatch Dooley off the table and run, but, I thought of what a good friend who used to write on this platform told me: “Be strong for Dooley.” I don’t know if I succeeded, but I whispered in his ear and told our sweet boy how much he was loved, and that our six cats who’d passed before, were waiting for him.
I can’t get his little face out of my head, the way he looked at me. I hope he understood that I did what I had to, so that he wouldn’t suffer.
Seven times “at-bat,” and this never gets any easier, as you pet parents know. But, for those of you who’ve never been through this particular right of passage, please know that Dooley was at peace within mere seconds.
When my husband called this morning to tell me that he’d most likely be released, I had to tell him what I’d done. I know he was crushed that I didn’t wait, but I simply could not.
Do you understand? Was I wrong?
Now, as I wait for the call to fetch my husband, I wonder what Conor and Lorna are thinking. They’ll have to get lots of extra cuddles and kisses because they, too, will be grieving.
Our home already feels diminished.
Thank you for reading, and for those of you who’ve taken the time to offer your support, you, too, have a special place in my heart.