Friday, February 13, 2009

Grief Causes Migraines

<------- Emma at my old apartment, Summer 2004

Back then Emma could still get on the sofa. Hell, back then Emma could vault my best friend's sofa from behind it with no running start.

It is a sad thing when an animal becomes elderly and senile. It's even sadder when that ends up causing low level resentment among those who live in the house. 

This past weekend Emma took a snap at Livvie. She made no contact, but she scared the daylights out of Livvie, who burst into hysterics. Things had been coming to a head for quite some time, so I made the call to the vet. My appointment was for this morning at 930.

On Tuesday afternoon while Livvie was working with her speech therapist she brushed Emma with her foot and Emma snapped at her again. 

A general vet estimate of Emma's age had her pegged at around 14 years old. That means she was 8 when I found her on the side of the road on April 1st, 2003. She's never been the nicest of dogs; she tried to kill the first vet tech she encountered, we always had to cross the street when other dogs were approaching, she bit me, she snapped at my cousin's daughter's face, she DID bite the face of the son of one of my best friends, she attempted to bite Rich... but dammit, she was mine. When I lived on my own with her some things were just easy to work around. You know? Manage the situation. I learned to manage my situation with Emma quite well.

Regardless of how crotchety she was, she was huge into snuggling. This is why it really upset me that her failing mind and body basically deteriorated in time for Livvie to be born and become mobile. I would have loved to be able to snuggle with this dog while Livvie ran around and played, but Livvie has a tendency to launch herself at you when she wants attention, and that would have been begging for a bite. So the baby gate became a barrier between the two of them. I kept it open sometimes throughout the day if I was there and supervising, but if I left the room Livvie was in the living room and Emma was in the kitchen and that was that. Even when I was supervising I was a nervous wreck during the day, waiting for Livvie to accidentally trip over Emma and get bitten. They seemed to have an understanding of sorts, as Livvie really did her best to avoid Emma and gave her a wide berth, but shit happens, you know?

I learned to manage the house soiling issue to the point where Emma had not gone inside the house for over a month. And then the vacuum cleaner phobia developed. I vacuum, she shits. I managed that by taking her out on the deck and hooking her to the heavy metal table while I vacuumed, and then walking her afterward to let her poop. See? Easy.

The failing body though, could not be ignored.

I counted the other day. Her legs went out from under her over a dozen times. Despite chowing down as heartily as she always has, she was becoming painfully thin. In fact, this morning she weighed 28 pounds. 9 less than her standard weight, and 16 less than when I found her 6 years ago. I lifted her out of the back of the Ford this morning and she weighed nothing.

She walked into things in the dark. Like the cars. And she would get lost, on leash, coming back to the house.

And then Rich took her out to pee the other night and she fell down all 4 steps.

So yes, it was time. The vet told me not to feel guilty. She said it happens to everyone when there's no acute health crisis happening. Things will happen, but then there will be a good day or series of them, so the decision is postponed. She also informed me that in her opinion I absolutely had to put safety first. 

It doesn't make me feel like any less of an asshole though.

So it's unbelievably quiet here now. Apparently the constant falling and scrabbling throughout the days made quite a bit of noise. The whining at 345pm for dinner at 430 is no more. 

At 415 my vision started to go. The tunnel vision began and it was followed by the auras. I haven't had a migraine since last summer, but it was coming fast and furious. I called the doc and got permission to take my meds. There's no other reason that it could have happened.

So is it grief or guilt that causes migraines? I guess both.

Please send good thoughts to my beautiful, loving, grumpy girl that she'll enjoy the Summerlands. In her world she's the only dog. There are plenty of tuna sammiches to steal. The world is hands extended to pet her constantly. And there are no kids. Unless they're calm ones who like to pet.

I'd like to add though, on Tuesday for the very first time Livvie walked over to Emma and very gently stroked her down her back. She did it three times, looking to me for approval. Emma tensed but remained still the entire time.

Thank you for that Emma. As far as ending memories go, that's an important one for me to have.

Rest in peace gorgeous girl.


Jmac said...

Safe Journey Emma.

You did the right thing. It sucks, it is so hard. So, so hard. You gave her a very good home. You loved her so very much. I'm so sorry that you have to go through this.

Love you.

Catherine said...

Tears standing. They're about to go south, just another second here. I'm sorrowful for your loss. I'm glad she was still for Livvie's petting her toward the end. Dogs know stuff. I'm sure she knew that was just the right thing. My heart is with you.

Me said...

Oh hon! What can I say? I will go light a candle in her memory now. She had a good life and the best mom she could ever hope to have. Doing the right thing does not make it any easier, but I think you did the best thing for Emma. I am going to go have a good cry now.

squirrelgirl said...

Such a hard choice, but you did the right thing. There is a special place for Emma over the Rainbow Bridge.

LizB said...

So sorry for your loss. Been there, done that and it sucks! {{{{hugs}}}}

Annie said...

Your post made me cry. I am so sorry. Emma is fine though and you must know that. Big hugs, XOXO

Anonymous said...

you know you have big, huge hugs coming from me...

Teri said...

I came to your blog via Blissful-Bohemian, and wanted to send my sympathy for the loss of Emma. Your tribute to her told so much, and reading between the lines, also told a lot about your life together.

I am a vet tech, have been 37 years, yup. Have seen a lot in those years, but when I read a story like yours, it just reinforces my belief that people who let a pet into their lives are far the better people than those who don't. Even if it means the pain of going through loss many times in our lifetime, we do it.

That last sentence just brought to mind a scene from a Woody Allen movie, Annie Hall.

"I guess we need the eggs"

Teri and the cats of Furrydance