When Chie rallied due to feeding adjustments (see previous post), it became obvious that once the nausea was fixed, the real problem was pain. Her back could never really straighten or relax because of the huge mass on her side, she couldn’t breath when she lay down, & she was exhausted when standing. She had to pee every 1-1.5 hours & she had difficulty even on the one step up to enter the house.
Keeping her interested in food was a struggle. Her favorite meal, in the last week, was oatmeal with cooked chunks of chicken thigh, but sometimes I’d have to coax her to eat a hot dog, or steak. Sometimes she just didn’t want to eat & it wasn’t nausea, so it must have been pain.
So I recheduled. Originally I had planned to contract a veterinarian to come out to the house to give her the shot out in the front yard, under the shower tree. When it was my cat Honeygirl’s time, we let her go here at home & it was ideal, since Honeygirl had never been to a veterinarian facility in her 19 years with me, nor did she even like going outside. Then, it cost me about $200 extra, for a total of around $400, & I considered it well worth it. But that vet had moved to a neighbor island, & there were only a few other mobile vets still here. Island Mobile Vet quoted me $650, & Hawaii Mobile Veterinary Services $670. Our own vet, who had first diagnosed her, quoted me $350 if done in the clinic.
I decided it would be ok to do it at the clinic. I would still be able to hold her while she passed, & that was the important thing. Chie had spent so much time in & out of different veterinary facilities in the last 7 months that she didn’t mind them like Honeygirl would have.
Her appointment was for Friday, May 6. On Tuesday night, I canceled plans with my boyfriend because, as I was getting dressed, it suddenly struck me that I only had 2 nights left with Chie before she was gone. I had to work Thursday night, & getting home in the early morning, we’d pretty much be just getting up & heading straight to the vet’s the next day.
Taking time like this, knowing the end is coming, is weird. I didn’t really have anything to tell her that she didn’t already know. All I could think of to say was that she had been a good girl. She already knew that. I didn’t want to freak her out by looking or sounding sad so I shut up after awhile. It was hard to wrap my head around her no longer being alive while watching her dote on Boomer & Madeline. I also began to question my beliefs about the afterlife, & in the end, I realized that what I believe makes no difference whatsoever. Whatever there is, it’s there, & whether or not my belief is correct isn’t going to change it. The only thing I had control over was how well things went for her while she was still alive.
There seemed to be a lot of screaming in my head, which I was very determinedly ignoring. The only goal was to deliver her as smoothly & peacefully as possible. I knew I’d given her a good life. I knew she knew she was loved. I knew she was ready to go. I knew I wasn’t really ready, but that, like my beliefs, wasn’t really of consequence in this scenario. So it was like walking a tightrope; I kept my eyes forward & I did not look down. Or inward. No point.
Thursday night (Friday morning) after I got home from work, fed everyone, & went to bed, Boomer would not stop crying. Chie was silent, but Boomer would not let me sleep. He didn’t want to go outside, he didn’t want a snack… he was just crying. I think he knew. I guess he must have read something off of me. Or maybe Chie’s suffering was disturbing him.
On Friday I got up early. She wanted to run outside in the front yard so I took her out. For everything we did in the last hours, all I could think was, “This is the last time she is going to do this.” And then I had to shut the dialog up because it wasn’t going anywhere productive,
For her last meal, Chie had a cheeseburger & fries from McDonalds. Turns out she doesn’t like ketchup so I had to scrape it off. The clinic is near my workplace so we stopped to visit with some of my friends before we headed to her appointment. She enjoyed the walk & was happy to see my sister there, waiting for us.
Once inside, she made friends with a very anxious little dog in the waiting room, & then it was time. The vet & VA lifted her onto the table & I stood at her front side while the vet injected a tranquilizer into her catheter. Chie grew very droopy & her pupils dilated, but she was still awake. Her head was still up & I knew she was aware of her surroundings. I don’t entirely trust tranquilizers to be pleasant experiences though… I know they’re assumed to be, but I had PCP once & it was horrible. Just the worst thing ever. So when the vet said to let him know when I was ready, I immediately said to go ahead.
It was a really big syringe full of pink liquid. Chie didn’t depart until it was about 3/4 empty. Her head drooped down to rest on the table. I think I managed to kiss her nose just as she went; I hope I was quick enough. As we were warned, her eyes didn’t close. I could tell she was no longer breathing. The vet & VA turned her so that she was lying on her side & left us in the room with her. Chie’s body was already cold. I was aware that I was looking at a shell & it was ok to go now.
I thought all the screaming in my head that I had been suppressing would now have free rein, but I found my mind to be very quiet. I felt peaceful. I cried a little, but I think it was just reactionary crying, not real grief. The real grief had been occurring while I watched her suffer.
So now I just miss her. When I got home, Boomer & Madeline looked for her for awhile, but eventually we all settled in for a nap. The house has been silent all evening; no crying from Boomer. I’m still waiting to see how they take her absence over the next few days, but I think dogs are better at accepting things than we are, so they will probably be ok. I take comfort in knowing that everything went smoothly & peacefully for Chie. I delivered her safely & carefully & lovingly. I did my job.
I miss her.