For the past 6 months, my pup, Ox, has been struggling with hypoglycemia. They believed he had an insulinoma (a tumor on the pancreas that releases insulin and makes blood glucose low). We’ve been treating it medically with prednisone, but the vet and the internal medicine specialist strongly encouraged us to have the tumor surgically removed. They said it was his best shot and they were confident he’d bounce back quickly.
Ox had surgery on Tuesday and everything went smoothly. The Tuesday night update was that he was doing well overall. Then at 3:30 am on Wednesday I got a call that his BG dropped rapidly, he was having seizures, and they were having trouble stabilizing him. Yesterday was brutal. Just call after call about the different treatments they would try and how he was doing. They ultimately put him on a feeding tube and put him on a medication called glucagon that they had to buy and pick up from another clinic since it’s so rarely used.
I finally got to see Ox late last night. It killed me seeing him with all those tubes and on all the meds, but it was so good to see him and kiss him and let him know I was there. The tech said he was doing great last night, that he was eating on his own, and that they had started to wean him off one of his meds and his BG was stable. She even said, “I think he’s going to pull through.” I left feeling hopeful for the first time in 2 days.
I got through last night without a call in the middle of the night, which was a good sign. I decided to call and check to see how he did overnight. The overnight doctor said they tried weaning him off the glucagon, but his BG started dropping again. If they can’t wean him off the glucagon, they will have to put him down.
I’m overcome with so many emotions right now I’m getting married later this month and it appears I’ll be grieving on my wedding day. I’m angry at the surgeon because she has horrible bedside manner, and because she was so confident he’d be fine after surgery and it’s been nothing but complications.
But most of all, I’m filled with guilt and regret over the decision to put him through this surgery. He was doing ok on the steroids. He had energy and was my playful, adoring pup. I can’t get out of my head that his last days here will have been away from me, in a hospital, hooked up to tubes and medications, and in pain.
If I had known then what I know now, we wouldn’t have gone through with the surgery. I would have enjoyed my last few weeks or months with him and made the most of them.
I don’t know how I’ll ever get through this. My heart is broken.
First of all, I’m so sorry. I know what you’re feeling right now, and it’s horrible. You may not be in a place where you can do this yet, but eventually please try to forgive yourself. Your intentions were good. You made a rational decision based on medical advice out of love for Ox. Not only would he forgive you for that, he’d hate the idea of anything associated with him causing you pain.
When I was a teenager, I went away for the weekend and my dad looked after my dog. Somehow, she got away from him on a walk and was hit by a car. He rushed her to the vet and she seemed fine, but they chose to keep her there overnight for observations. Something happened in that night, and she died.
I spent years grappling with the guilt that ChiChi’s last night on earth was spent in a place she hated, not knowing where I was. It still makes me tear up, all these years later. But ChiChi always wanted to cheer me up when I was sad; she’d snuggle up and cuddle me until I was laughing. She’d hate the idea of her memory causing me sadness, so I try to focus on the wonderful times we had together until I can see her again at the Rainbow Bridge.
Ox might still pull through. But no matter what, he has had a life full of love. He’s had a person who adores him. A lot of dogs never get that, and it’s the most fulfilling thing in the world for them. You made Ox’s life great. Please remember that, even through the pain.
Thank you so much. I’m sorry to hear about ChiChi and can’t imagine what that pain must have been like. I lost my first dog 2 years ago after having him for 10 years. I started fostering Ox after Duke passed away and ended up adopting him. He holds a special place in my heart because he showed me I could love another dog again. I never thought I would. It’s been a short 2 years with Ox and I thought we had so much more time together. I am still hoping he pulls through.
Your words are very kind and I will work on forgiving myself eventually ❤