I’m trying not to drag out Sasha-related updates forever and a day since it’s got to be a bummer to read, but there do seem to be a few more things I want to say about her. These are kind of disjointed and roughly in order of how likely they are to make me cry. I figure if I start with the less likely, I might actually make it through to the end.
First, the costs. I did a round up of the costs up to the point of her diagnosis earlier, and now, through the magic of having all my transactions in Mint, I have a complete summary of every thing I spent on Sasha, except money I spent at the grocery store on things like chicken and steaks and carpet cleaner. That was probably only about $150 though so minimal in terms of skewing things.
Sasha was only with me for 86 days, so that came out to the rather horrifying sum of about $113 per day. Definitely not what I had budgeted for getting a doggie.
People keep asking me how I feel, and the answer to that is, I don’t really know. So many emotions, really.
I’m sad, obviously. Sad that I never managed to figure out how to keep her in the damned pen. Sad that she didn’t get to eat the large bag of liver treats. Sad that she was so beautiful and quiet and she had such a hard life. Sad that she was obviously such a determined fighter — her blood levels were so low that she really shouldn’t have been able to live for basically the last month — but she couldn’t win.
I also feel guilty that I wasn’t able to save her — I know it’s not my fault, but what you know and what you feel aren’t always the same thing.
And I feel a little relieved, because even before she was sick, we were having trouble adjusting to life together, and after she got sick, it just got worse. Plus, the financial aspects of her illness have basically eaten away all of my cash savings, so it was a huge stress. (I’m not broke broke, this isn’t a plea for a fundraiser.)
And, of course, I feel mightily guilty about any feelings of relief that I have. But then I sort of beat myself up over feeling guilty, since obviously I did what was reasonable and good — and that doesn’t make me feel better about myself, it just makes me feel bad in a different way.
And I have happy memories of her, too, of course, though not nearly enough of them since our adjustment was pretty bumpy. And the happy memories make me happy, but they also make me sad.
So, yeah, kind of a mess.
People also keep asking me if I’m going to get another dog, and I don’t know the answer to that either. Obviously I’m unlikely to get another dog with horrible unexpected medical problems, but the fact is, if I did get another dog right now, and they had even not-particularly-horrible unexpected medical needs, I wouldn’t be able to pay for them. And I firmly believe that someone who can’t afford vet bills can’t afford pets. So, definitely not until I’ve had some time to save some money.
And it was a tough adjustment, one that never really gelled before Sasha got sick. Maybe it was never going to work out. Maybe I was going to be exhausted, and afraid to leave the house, and bad at dog training and cleaning pee off my floor forever. So I’m a little gunshy, I guess, about bringing another dog in and having to go through that adjustment period again.
I also wanted to write about was the actual process of putting her down. It was a bit of a mystery to me, though Dr. Martin explained what was going to happen quite clearly beforehand, and I thought it might be useful to other people to know that it’s not wildly terrible. This is a your mileage may vary situation since it depends on the reaction of your dog, but for Sasha, they sedated her first and she went to sleep — though, in true Sasha form, she fought against sleep as hard as she fought against being kept in a pen or being removed from the lobby or doing anything else she wasn’t interested in doing at the time. Not that it was a violent struggle, she just kept that little head up off the table as long as she could, and then determinedly held her eyes open.
After she was asleep, Dr. Martin added the drug that would put her to rest, and it was almost instant. She just … stopped. Somehow I expected something more — some visible difference between life and death. But there wasn’t; it was just that she had been alive and she wasn’t anymore, and nothing else was different. She was still warm and beautiful, she was just … not alive. I found that both upsetting and relieving at the same time. (Hardly the only conflicting emotions involved in this process.)
In any case, it was very peaceful. Far nicer than the likely outcome of her being allowed a natural death, which would have been a heart attack or a stroke — probably painful for her and scary for both of us.
I had the option to have her ashes, but I declined. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t let me scatter them in the lobby anyway.
Talking about Sasha here has been so much a part of having her that I’ve thought a fair bit about how I would make this post, but in the end I don’t think any of the things I could write would be right.
Goodbye, Miss Sasha. Mommy loved you.
I’ve been struggling with the decision on what to do about Sasha, as anyone who has had the depressing misfortune to have talked to me in person recently knows. She’s slowly sliding downhill — eating less, moving less, tired more. She doesn’t appear to be in serious pain, but she is unhappy. There are good moments and bad ones, but the general trend is down.
In the good moments, I have hope, and I think ‘maybe the azathioprine is working!’ and in the bad moments, I try to pick up the phone to make an appointment to have her put to sleep, but I never quite bring myself to do it before another good moment gives me more hope.
I have made an appointment for tomorrow morning to have her blood checked again. If there’s an improvement in her red blood cell count, then I will keep hanging on, in hopes that the drugs really are turning things around. If it there isn’t, then there likely will never be, and I will let her go. She will not be able to tell me when she is in pain, and I do not want to let it get to that point.
One of my neighbors just sat with me in the grass outside our building, told me of her miraculous recovery from a tumor and prayed for Sasha. It isn’t my belief system, but it is still immensely touching to have someone be so kind and caring.
And now, to contrast with the previous sad post, some pictures of Sasha upside down.
I have no idea how Sasha decides from one moment to the next whether or what she is going to eat. After a full day in which she rather worrisomely refused to eat anything I offered her - from steak to liver treats to plain rice - she suddenly decided to eat a massive amount of Cesar dog treats, and even accepted a few of them dipped in liver sausage that glued her evening meds to them.
On the one hand, yay for taking her evening meds without fuss. On the other hand, it is intensely frustrating to not know whether she is not eating because she won’t eat anything or because I have failed to hit upon the magic thing she will eat today.
Sasha and the giant beef bone. (Cooked bones, bad - I know. But at this point, does it matter? And she won’t eat much else.)
I just got the results from this morning’s blood tests and made the decision not to give Sasha another blood transfusion. Barring a miraculous remission caused by the azathioprine, Dr. Martin believe she will probably not survive another week without one.
But at this point, giving her one seems like it will be prolonging her death, rather than prolonging her life. Her prognosis, even with a transfusion, relies on a miracle from the azapriothine — and it’s not showing any signs of helping yet.
She didn’t tolerate the last transfusion well, and I am not going to torture her so I can feel less guilty. I don’t know if this is the right decision, but it seems slightly less wrong than all the other options.
She wouldn’t eat anything this morning — not even liver treats. But I bought her a striploin when we got home from the vet, and fried it up for her, and she’s eating that.
Maybe this whole not eating thing is just a ruse to get a better quality of things to eat?
(I wish. I really, really wish.)