Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Telling the Truth Tuesday - I'm a horrible person

Why is it we sometimes don't tell the truth? Maybe we believe that if we tell the truth, we won't get what we want in a particular situation. Or perhaps we're afraid of what others will think of us if we tell the truth.

I almost deleted this post after a wrote it, because I'm terrified of what ya'll will think of me. But this is Telling the truth Tuesday, after all, so this is as good a place as any to do it. Here goes:

I'm a horrible person. That thought was the reason I was depressed and lethargic most of Sunday. Do you want to know why I thought I was a horrible person? Of course you do, otherwise you wouldn't be here, reading this, would you? We have a beloved dog, Buddy. He's 8 years old. He loves everyone, but especially hubby and me. He never snaps or growls at anyone or anything. He'd welcome a burglar with licks and snuggles.

Ten days ago, he started crying when he moved his head. We immediately took him to the vet. She recommended putting him on an anti-inflammatory drug before rushing to do x-rays, which are quite expensive. The meds seemed to work--Buddy stopped crying. The pills were to be given on an as needed basis, so we stopped administering them. Two days later, Buddy was crying again. Back on the pills. But then Saturday and Sunday he didn't want to eat. Here's where I convinced myself I was a bad person. I tend to immediately go to the dark side when there is the potential for something to go wrong. I started thinking, the x-rays will cost hundreds of dollars. Then, he'll need surgery, which will cost thousands of dollars. When my dad was alive and in his 80's, we questioned every procedure the docs wanted to do because, depending on the diagnosis, we most likely wouldn't do the treatments anyway, so why do the procedure.

I didn't think I was willing to spend thousands of dollars for surgery on an 8-year-old dog. And that made me feel like a horrible person. Does this mean I don't really love him? Does this mean I am selfish and greedy and don't really care? But I do love him. So what does that make me?

Yesterday, I took him to the vet again. Different doc this time. She was pretty sure after the exam that it was a disc problem. She put him on a steroid and muscle relaxer for the next two weeks. If he does better, we know it's a disc. If he doesn't, we take the next step. I don't even want to think about the next step, because then I have to face my horrible person issues.

What do you think? Is it awful to think about cost when it comes to healing a beloved pet? I will not allow him to be in pain, so if I'm not willing to do surgery, if that is what is prescribed, then I'm condemning him to death. Can I live with that? I'm terrified you're all going to think I'm so horrible, you'll stop visiting me here.
Hubby says he tries not to think about what could happen--he just deals with what is. I'm working on it, but it isn't easy for me.  Bottom line, I'm worried about Buddy. I'm asking Spirit to help me make appropriate decisions for everyone's highest good. That's all I can think of at the moment...



Cyndi said...

No, you are not a horrible person. Your personal finances are serious business. I wouldn't do it either. The reality is that this is a dog, not a person, and even after spending thousands of dollars on a surgical procedure, the dog may still require additional treatments, surgeries, etc.

I have a friend who feels quite differently about this. She has had 2 dogs with major health issues and has spent thousands on each dog. The first dog finally did die. The second one is still young.....only a couple of years old but recently required 2 separate surgeries, each at a cost of $2500!! And after all that, it is is still yet unknown if the dog will ever be the same or will not be more vulnerable to other ailments because of the original problem and subsequent surgeries.

I used to work with someone who refused to let a cat go, even thought the cat was ancient, very sick and required daily IV and enema treatments. No, I'm not kidding. It was awful to hear about. Of course, the cat finally did die.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that you have to spend your money wisely based on what's best for the humans in your family. If an animal is suffering, unless you have unlimited finances and/or are willing to allocate the funds for extensive treatments, the most humane thing to do is let it go.

Joanne said...

I second everything Cyndi said. Especially if the outcome of the surgery is unclear. If further treatment and surgery is required, you have to know the risk and your own financial limit. I'm sure you have and will continue to give Buddy the very best life possible, full of love, and within your own means. That's the best any of us can do. Horrible? Absolutely not. It's very commendable.

Mason Canyon said...

It's only natural to think of the financial side of what if when dealing with a beloved pet. Caring for an animal can be as costly as caring for a person. Pet medicines are outrageous, not to mention treatments.

We have gone through this with several dogs, two in particular. We did everything that could have been done and we still lost both of them. Looking back now DH wonders if the last surgery was too much for one of the dogs and maybe we shouldn't have done it. But in the end he would have done the same thing again. When the time calls for it, you do what your heart tells you.

One other way to look at. Your mind is thinking finances and such so your heart doesn't have to hurt as much. You focus on the cost and you're not focusing on the dog hurting or you losing it.

Karen Walker said...

Oh God, thank you Cyndi, Joanne and Mason. You are so right. I think I am focusing on the money so my heart doesn't hurt. Buddy is lying half in my lap right now, sedated from the muscle relaxer - it's hard for me to type, and my heart does hurt when I don't think about the financial aspect.

Jose Ramon Santana Vazquez said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Helen Ginger said...

If you're a horrible person, then so are millions of others. It's natural to think about finances. You also have to think about Buddy and his quality of life. He's getting older. He's in pain.

Our dog, Ruffles, died just before this last Christmas. She was almost 17 years old, deaf, blind, incontinent, and arthritic. We loved her dearly. On the other hand, I tried to put myself in her position and wondered what I would want if I were her. Just typing this makes me cry, even though I believe she's better off and not in pain now.

Aw heck, Karen, if I knew you're number, I'd pick up the phone and call you. I don't, so I'll just repeat, you are not a bad person.

Straight From Hel

Jody Hedlund said...

Karen, You are absolute NOT horrible!! I think we would all be struggling with these issues! Pets certainly do become important members of our families, but we also have to know what our limit is with how much we're willing to spend and do for them. I think that limit will be different for each of us, depending on our own values, finances, and situations. So, you have to do what works for you. We will all support that decision and most of all support you!

Mary@GigglesandGuns said...

No way are you a bad person. Of course you love your dog but he is a pet and not a person so giving him the best is different. If it comes to a point where he is in pain most of the time (all the time if not medicated) what favor are you doing him?
He gives you all he has to offer. Do you want the suffering to continue so you both are martyrs? Sometimes love requires us to say good-bye. In the case of animals we are able to end their suffering.
Your feelings just show what a great loving person you are.

Sharon Lippincott said...

Here's yet another way to look at it. Pets give us a special kind of love and relationship. Each one I've known has contributed something unique.

This thought just came to me: Perhaps each pet arrives in our lives to give us a gift. When we have received that gift (we may not recognize either the gift or that we've fully received it), it's time to thank the pet and whatever Power sent it, then let the pet go where it needs to go, and turn loose.

This makes room for another pet with a new gift when you feel ready. By hanging onto a pet whose time has come, you are delaying the arrival of your next gift.

Maybe. It makes sense to me. But I've got to admit that I haven't had a pet for ages. I'm allergic to cats and some dogs. I like to stay gone all day or travel on a whim. I wonder what gift I'm missing out on for the lack of a pet?

Karen Walker said...

The vet just called with the results of Buddy's lab work. She's pretty darned sure he has diabetes on top of the disc problem. It means he'll need insulin twice a day. I am crying too hard to write more right now. You all have helped me so much to process what's happening. Thank you.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

No, because you an hubby still need enough money to survive to take care of Buddy!

Don't panic about the diabetes. Our cat Hobbes was diabetic for seven years and required insulin shots for almost five of those years. Once we got a routine down pat, it was no big deal. And since pets require far less insulin, it really wasn't that expensive. We used needles twice, so the grand cost for the insulin and needles over a three month span was less than $35.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Karen, you're just human. Most of us go through these crises with out pets and never know if we're doing the smart or right thing (which is why I've resisted getting a new pet for a lot of years now). It's a personal decision. You do what you have to do.

Elspeth Futcher said...

You're not a horrible person. Good grief. I applaud your honesty for saying you worry about the financial aspects - because everyone does and not everyone has the temerity to admit it. I understand what you're going through - we had the same situation here with a well-beloved cat. Guilt over spending money - guilt over not spending enough.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I think most of us have been put into this position, Karen. We, unfortunately, had to put our 16 year old cat down a couple of years ago and I STILL feel guilty about it (my daughter was absolutely devastated). We had to weigh the cost of the treatment with the rate of success (low) with the suffering of the animal (high.)

Although we had to have our pet put to sleep, we tried to remember the fact that we rescued her to begin with, that she knew we loved her, and that we'd taken very good care of her up until the time of her death.

It's so hard not to feel guilty, but we *shouldn't*.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Anonymous said...

You're not a bad person. We spend a lot of momey on our pets, but should we have to make difficult decisions regarding the cute critters, we will do so. Currenlty our Yorkie id in declining health. There will come a point where we may have to put him to sleep rather than spending a ton of money that may not do much but make our vet's car payment.

Stephen Tremp

Ann said...

It is a hard decision. When we love our pets, we don't want to part with them. It comes down to what is best for the pet. If a surgery will cure the pet or is it just being done to prolong the pet's life for your own sake. It is natural to think of finances in this time of financial uncertainty. You will do what is best for you and your pet. After all you love him.

Anonymous said...

Karen, A few years ago, my then roomie brought home an Easter lily a day or so before he planned to deliver it to his mother in the care facility where she lived. We did not see it happen, but apparently one of our two cats got inquisitive, and took a bite of a leaf. Within only a couple of hours, the poor cat was lying on his side, with legs twitching and foam bubbling out of his mouth.

We drove poor Waldo to a veterinarian we located in the yellow pages on a Saturday, who suggested we leave him there for observation and he would call when he had a diagnosis.

When he did call, his prognosis was not hopeful but he said for the estimated fee of $700 he could monitor the cat and see what magic he might work with no guarantees that Kitty Boy would ever be restored to his previous condition less than 24 hours ago.

Having said that, he pronounced that Waldo, who still could barely raise his head, was also likely blind from his chewing on the visiting plant that I did not know was poisonous to animals until I later searched online and found many houseplants are dangerous to inquisitive pets.

I had the same thoughts you did about being a terrible pet owner, but I heard my voice tell the good doc that this was a kitty rescued from a 'flea market' (no pun intended) and I could not justify experimenting with my $700 and that the gut feeling putting kitty out of his misery was a better approach. I gave the word to do so, and promised to cover that expense.

Within an hour the good doc phoned back to say his office manager had offered to adopt Waldo but I would need to sign over ownership of him in a document releasing my claim to him, if he did, in fact improve.

Ummmmm - let me think - oh Hell yes! And when I returned to the vet's office to sign the paper, the receptionist glared at me as though I was the Devil's spawn, but I was able to say to her that it was wonderful that she would take on this situation, as I could not justify the expense, but perhaps with her connections he could have an opportunity for a miracle.

Still icily staring at me, I could envision what her home must look like if she takes every poor creature home who has had an injury or illness that moves them one step from crossing over into that great unknown.

It's a horrible feeling playing God. When we breathe in the love that an animal brings to us, we never like to think of when it will change. I've had to put animals out of their misery, and that was the only way I could possible feel I was demonstrating my love for them. I do trust that you will be able to reach that acceptance, and I know it is never as easy as it might seem to write about it as it seems like betrayal of unconditional love.

Certainly I'll be holding your hand while you and Spirit come to terms. ~ Joie