Portland is Where my Dog died

My dog died suddenly last Wednesday 8/17 at 3AM. He had an hemangiosarcoma that burst and he bled to death internally. It was all so traumatic and scary. Basically he collapsed and I screamed and tried to pick up his conscious but limp body. I can normally pick him up even though he’s 72lbs, but it was impossible to lift his limp body. I pounded on my neighbors’ doors, but no one answered. I live on the second floor and I had to drag him down the stairs, trying to hurt him as little as possible. He was terrified. I was terrified and sobbing. Once I was at the bottom of the stairs, I managed to get his harness on and from there I lifted him up on his feet and I helped him up and walked as fast as I could to my car. He surprisingly got some strength back and managed to mostly jump in on his own.

He was breathing very hard as I drove 90 miles an hour to the ER vet. When I got there, I screamed for help. People came running out with a little metal stretcher. He had a seizure and his heart stopped. They performed CPR for 15 minutes, but they couldn’t get his heart to start again. His abdomen was full of blood as well as the sac around his heart.

I am so broken. I have had a lot of loss in my life, but this is by far the hardest. I’ve never loved anyone as much as I loved this dog. I know I’m not supposed to be this devastated by the loss of a dog, but I am. I was so connected with him. I have another dog and a cat, and I love them, but not nearly on the same level.

I don’t know how to keep going in life. I feel like I’m being punished for something, like my whole life is my punishment. I lose absolutely everything I love. EVERYTHING. He was my family. My best friend. My baby. My soulmate. The love of my entire life. I know that dogs die, but he was only 10. I’ve had him my entire adult life. Why does the universe take everything away from me? Why can’t I at least have my doggy soulmate for his full lifespan? Why did he have to die so traumatically?

I feel so guilty about how he died. He died Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. The Thursday before I took him to the vet to check out some pain he was having while walking with some weakness in his back legs. He is TERRIFIED of the vet and must take anxiety medication before we go. The vet said he had a herniated disc in his neck and that we would try some anti-inflammatory drugs and pain meds for 10 days and then see how it goes. The meds seemed to help. We went to the dog park the next day to walk around. On Saturday we went swimming for hours at a lake. He had such a great time and he was so strong and healthy. We took it easy on Sunday and Monday to not hurt his neck. Tuesday morning he was his normal self. Then he didn’t want dinner on Tuesday and he sat down during a potty walk. This concerned me because it had never happened before. Otherwise his potty was normal. I thought his neck was really hurting him again. He just wanted to lay in his bed and he began to pant a lot. I thought the panting was due to the pain and because it was very hot. I stuffed him with meds and put him in my bedroom (where the AC is) and gave him an ice pack. The panting didn’t stop and I noticed his belly was a little bloated. I don’t know why I waited so long. I was so anxious about it that I cried and then cleaned my entire apartment to distract myself. When I finally decided enough was enough, he only had 20 more minutes to live. I had no idea he was dying until he collapsed when he got up to go to the vet.

The ER vets were asking me all these big business and financial decisions. Did you know they charge for CPR by the minute? They kept asking me if I wanted to do x and x and x. I sobbed and said “Please save my dog. I don’t care what it costs.” They still kept asking. My head was spinning. I didn’t know he wasn’t breathing until they asked me about CPR. I couldn’t think. When he died the ER vet tried to explain things to me, but I didn’t understand. I couldn’t take anything in. The love of my entire life was gone.

I wrote a frantic email to his regular vet the next day because I just didn’t understand what happened to my baby. I wanted to know if I could have saved him, if he died because of my choices.

This was her response:

Hi X,
I hope you are taking it easy and taking time for yourself at this time. I was able to take a look at the records that dove had sent over. It sounds like he had a large amount of blood in his abdomen and around his heart. They did a quick ultrasound to see why his belly was so bloated and found that his whole abdomen was fluid filled (blood). The only thing we see usually that causes blood in the sac around the heart and blood in the abdomen, is a type of cancer called hemangiosarcoma. It is one of the worst diseases as it doesn’t show any clinical signs until it presents like that. It is a cancer that usually starts on their spleen and then can rupture at any time- even sleeping. Then they are essentially bleeding internally. With the blood being around the heart, it usually indicates that it has spread to the rest of the body. Prognosis is grave.
Just from a personal perspective, my husband’s family dog passed away from this as well as 10 years old. My family’s dog 6-7 years ago, was found to have a hemangiosarcoma on his spleen very early, but with me knowing what quality of life is with this condition, we ended up euthanizing him. Even when caught early, there is very little short of extensive invasive surgery and still only gives a short amount of time. I personally have not seen any pet that survives at any stage of this awful awful cancer.
Again, I am so very sorry for your loss.  I look forward to seeing you with Scout next time. Let me know if there is anything else I can do.
Take care,
XXX, XXXX, DVM

I feel some relief knowing that it’s not my fault that he died, but I feel so awful and angry at myself because I could have made his death less painful, calmer, and in my arms engulfed in love. I could have lovingly stroked him and said goodbye. Instead I let him suffer all night, his last few minutes were terrifying, and he died in a parking lot.

12341494_10100581842115889_6059653213890342186_nI love him so very much. I don’t even know how to deal with this. I feel so broken. My other dog is so depressed and confused. She’s been scared of me. She saw me scream and drag her brother outside and then he never came back. Why do so many bad things happen to me? Why am I not allowed to have love in my life. I try to be a good person, but it’s never enough. Cooper loved me as much as I loved him and I loved him with absolutely everything in me. He deserved so much better than this.

I’m trying to make up for the way he died by honoring him. There is a rescue group here that rescues dogs from California shelters and relocates them to our state because we don’t kill animals very often. I created a fundraiser to raise funds to rescue dogs from the high kill shelter where Cooper was born in 2006. This group may make this long term and set up “Cooper’s Fund” that is a long term fund that people can continue to donate to for the purpose of rescuing dogspecifically from Cooper’s shelter. I hope Cooper would be proud. 

https://www.gofundme.com/CoopersHonor

I’m t81afjJP-wFL._SY355_rying to find a place where I can purchase 100 orange rubber balls (chuckit balls) that were Cooper’s absolute favorite thing in the world. I want to tie notes on the balls from Cooper to the dogs who may find them, and then spread them around at all his favorite places. The coast, the river, the dog park.

I got his ashes back this afternoon (Wednesday). They came back in a plastic baggie in a cheap tin can. I can’t bear this, so I’ve been looking at urns. It’s the most depressing thing on the planet. I don’t want my baby to be bone dust in a box. God my heart hurts. There is a huge sucking wound in my soul.

Now I am totally alone in the world. There is no affection in my life. No cuddles (my other dog doesn’t like to cuddle or play), no spooning giant black labs at night, no one to force me to take him on big adventures. No one to buy ridiculous things, like dog shirts and life jackets. My heart hurts. My life hurts. My soul hurts. One moment it doesn’t feel like it really happened, and at other moments I literally fall to my knees because the weight of the sadness is too much. Sometimes I forget (especially if I’ve taken sleep meds) that he’s gone and I call for him to come sleep with me and then I remember. I’ve not been able to keep food down. I need to take xanax more than normal just to manage my paranoia about my other dog. I’m so hypervigilant about her breathing and any noise she makes. I keep relieving Cooper’s death. I  keep having nightmares about his death or that they were cremating him alive.

My soul hurts. I’m broken. I’m alone. 0978d9b2fdb32c87f4434af2083fcc98

Visceral Loneliness

i_am_nothing_without_you_by_homanga

I don’t have any family connections. I am Facebook friends with a sister who I’ve never met and isn’t interested in getting to know me, but besides being on a list among her 1200 other “friends,” we have no relationship. After that I have about 60 “friends” on Facebook, but truth be told, very few of them are friends from real life. But even among the short list of my real life friends, I don’t have any relationship with them beyond Facebook. I have a phone that I mostly use to feed my internet addiction and have something to stare at and feel less awkward in public, but it never rings except for medical professionals or student loan bill collectors. I occasionally text with a friend or two, but even that is very occasional and brief. If it weren’t for work, there would be weeks where I would literally not physically or verbally interact with another human being at all. I work in an office, but everyone has their own private windowless boxes offices, so sometimes there are days where I won’t see or speak to anyone.

Why can’t I make and keep relationships? I think I am a relatively good person. I try to be anyway. I am very soft-spoken and somewhat reserved, but also goofy/silly and playful in person. I’m not a complete idiot. Why can’t I keep people in my life? Everyone tells me that I can make great friends that can be like family, but I can’t even make friends, let alone friends so close they feel like family (whatever that feels like). I can’t even seem to maintain a relationship with therapists. I got pretty attached to my current therapist, but now she’s moving away after spending a year convincing me that wouldn’t happen. After she leaves, that will mean in the last year and a half I’ve shifted through 3 therapists. WTF is wrong with me? One dumped me because she was pregnant and then decided I was too complicated. Another sort of dumped me, but she dumped the whole clinic, too. And now my current therapist is moving away after I let myself start to feel safe and attached. If I decide to continue therapy after this one leaves, that will be 4 in a year and a half! What is wrong with me?

I am so alone in life and I am so viscerally lonely.

No One Gets the Family They Wanted

I’m so tired of people telling me no one gets the family they wanted growing up. This is the most invalidating and isolating statement. My breath becomes tight every single time I hear it (usually in therapy). I don’t bother to explain or argue, because no one understands. No one gets it—gets me. Nor do they seem to want to. It is the same mantra every single time. No one gets the family they wanted. “You just have to make your own family with friendships,” but friends are not family and you can’t make friends if no one wants you.

It is not that I just didn’t get the family I “wanted.” It is not that something was just absent from my life. It is that my soul was put in a vacuum and sucked dry and the dehydrated mess that remained was put in a blender and pulverized into dust leaving nothing of my essence behind.

It is about not just having one abusive family or one family reject you. It is doing everything you possibly can to be the best person, child, student, musician, artist, athlete, quiet, well behaved, silly, sweet, smartest kid you could possibly be so that someday someone might want you, love you, and decide to keep you if you’re good enough. Not only does that day never come, but you believe it has over and over again until the next family changes their mind about wanting you.

And you didn’t just get rejected by the family you were born into, but the next family, and the next family, and the next family, and the next family, and the next family…dozens of times. It is having people tell you that they love you unconditionally and then finding out that the conditions are actually pretty strict and very fragile. It is being promised forever, and having forever mean 7 months. It is finding out that everyone you thought ever cared about you did so for a paycheck. And even the money didn’t make you worth it. It is about knowing that there is something so very wrong and awful about you that you can’t even keep a therapist in your life. Even paid professionals continually run away.

It is about having a folder listing every single opinion and negative interaction anyone has ever had with you and the world is keeping score. The more dings, the less people want anything to do you.

It is about knowing on a very visceral level just how vehemently unwanted, unloved and unlovable you are. It is knowing that something is so deeply wrong with you that you can’t keep anyone around. It is knowing that murderers and rapists have people that love them, but no one has ever loved you. It is about knowing that you were so unwanted by people and society that no one protected you or cared what happened to you. When bad things happened to you, you’re told you should be grateful that you had food and revolving ceilings over your head. It is about being violently raped at 9 years old, needing reconstructive surgery, and then returned back to the same house without any sort of investigation, so it continues for years. When you tell people, they tell you to stop telling lies and then add it to the list: “warning false accuser” which makes you worse than unwanted and unlovable, it makes you scary.

And it is about thinking you finally found a family at 24 and it is being totally convinced with the enthusiastic proclamations of “meant to be” and the answer for all the suffering. That we would make a family together and even be linked biologically if I help them have a baby. It is going through months of medical treatments and surgery to help them have a baby and then finding out that you were only worth loving until they got your eggs and then you weren’t worth the effort anymore. And this time you are not only rejected by and lose another family, but you also lose a baby, your hormonal health, your fertility, and any faith that anyone will ever honestly know you, love you, want you, and keep you.

It is about drowning in the knowledge of how just unwanted you are in the world and listening to people repeatedly make promises and proclamations that you know will turn out to be lies they tell themselves and you. They all tell you you’re lovely and then they tell you their leaving.

But yeah, no one gets the family they wanted growing up.

Music, foster kids, and NonProfits

I’ve been dreaming of starting a nonprofit organization that provides instruments, music lessons, and music therapy to foster children. I started a fundraiser to buy some guitars for foster children for Christmas. I successfully raised $2000 (including the matched donation from my employer). Because I did this and voiced my dreams about the organization, my friend, coworker, and accountant for the nonprofit that I currently work at is going to help me start the organization and establish a 501C3.

I’m feeling pretty excited. I’ve known the name of my organization for two years, but I don’t want to mention it here in case it’s successful someday and people go back and see how crazy I am.

My violin and music was so important to my survival in foster care. It gave me confidence, purpose, and an outlet for my intense emotions. It even gave me a college scholarship! I lost my violin every time I changed schools or foster homes until a foster children organization bought me a violin when I was 14. Now I get to do that for other foster kids! And I get to help foster kids who would otherwise never have the opportunity to play an instrument. Maybe this is my purpose now. Maybe this will make a difference. Maybe.

Thankful (edited repost)

Thanksgiving is a very difficult holiday for me.  It serves as a reminder for what I am missing in life.  If it were up to me, I’d take a long road trip and camp in the wilderness until this gluttonous holiday is over.  I can only really remember foster care after the age of eight.  I don’t remember much of my time and placements before then.  There are 10 Thanksgivings in foster care that I remember.  I spent every single Thanksgiving, except for a couple, at a strange table with strange people in a strange house.  Every family had their own traditions and quirks.  One family made these special cookies with Hershey kisses in the middle of them and everyone had to eat one and say what they were thankful for that year.  One family had a treasure hunt.  One family played a basketball game before dinner and the list goes on and on.  I never got to enjoy these things as tradition because I was always the new person.  I was always unknown.  I was always just a guest.  I was never part of the family.  I spent every thanksgiving as an outsider.  I observed.  I sat quietly and watched families enjoy the time they had together and studied them.  I would watch my foster family interact with each other–everyone grazing on appetizers, hanging out and enjoying each others company.  This is what family is, I thought.  I want this.  I want to be part of this.  Will I be here next year?  Will they be my family next year?  Do they remember my name?

Thanksgiving is a day that reminds me that I’ve never had that kind of connection.  It reminds me of what I’m missing.  It reminds me that I don’t have family.  It reminds me of all the Thanksgivings I cried myself to sleep overcome with desire for family, stability and tradition.  It reminds me of how different I am from the average American.  It reminds me of how undeserving I am of family.

While I have somewhere to go this year, that wasn’t always the case.  After I aged out, I always spent Thanksgiving by myself but not by choice.  When I lived in the dorms in college, the entire dorm would shut down for the weekend.  I would be the only person in the entire building.  I would run up and down the hallways, check out all the laundry rooms, and lounges on each floor.  From my room on the 12th floor I could see a family sitting down to their Thanksgiving dinner.  I watched them for a little while and made up conversations I thought they might be having.  One year I lived with my now ex girlfriend in a dorm room.  When Thanksgiving came, she went home and I was all alone in an empty building again.  I know her family is more important than I am/was, but it still hurt.  

Thanksgiving reminds me of how lonely I am and how much I fear I will always be.  It reminds me of how alone I’ve been my entire life.  Thanksgiving also makes me angry.  I’m angry that I’ve lived in 42 foster placements.  I’m angry that I never got adopted.  I’m angry that I almost never spent Thanksgiving in the same place twice.  I’m angry that most people have families and I don’t.  I’m angry at myself for not being cute enough, smart enough, special enough to be adopted.  I’m angry that no one ever wanted me.  I’m angry that I’m serving a life sentence for the crimes and mistakes of my mother.  I’m angry that she gets to live a free life while I’m confined and caged by my anxiety and memories.  The night after Thanksgiving dinner is also an anniversary that haunts my dreams and thoughts today.  Thanksgiving night was the beginning of my three year sentence in hell.  Thanksgiving was the beginning of my second long term living nightmare of my childhood.

I don’t mean for this entry to be so negative.  I want to like Thanksgiving.  I really do.  I want to enjoy this special family centric day despite it’s controversial background.  I am thankful for a lot of things in my life now.  I am grateful for having somewhere to go this Thanksgiving.  I am thankful that I will know most of the people at dinner this year.  I am thankful that I love the people that will be around that table.  I am thankful that those people are in my life.  I’m thankful that no matter how alone I feel, I’m really not.  I am thankful that I have people in my life today.  I am thankful for that little boy that shares my DNA.  I cannot imagine my life without him or his parents.  I am thankful that they are still in my life after everything that happened.  I am thankful they didn’t drop me when things got hard like I expected them to.  I am thankful that they didn’t even have to invite me to dinner this year.  It was just expected that I would come.  I’ve never had that before.  I’ve never had a home for Thanksgiving.  I am thankful that I have a home and a job.  I am thankful that I am healthy and relatively sane.  I am thankful I don’t have schizophrenia.  I am thankful that I have access to health care and therapy.  I am thankful that I have a great girlfriend who loves me very much even if she can’t read my blog or hear my life story because it upsets her too much.  I am thankful that my childhood is over and I am thankful that I am an adult.  I’m thankful for pecan pie.
I truly am thankful for all these things.  How do I get myself to focus on the good things in my life today and not the pain?  I want to find a way to make the darkness and memories to go away.  I want to just forget all these things and enjoy the holiday.  I want to be excited for holidays and not dread them.  I hate this time of year but I want to love it.  I want to feel festive and excited and happy.

Here I am again, alone for all the holidays including my birthday last month. No matter what I do in life, I will never have a family, even as an adult. What do I need to do? Giving someone a baby wasn’t even enough! That relationship didn’t last long and I’m back to being alone on Thanksgiving every year since. I honestly feel like nobody in my life has ever loved me just for me. There are always conditions and demands that I be pleasant and easy to be around at all times no matter what is going on with my life. I always have to be “worth” the effort of loving me in order for people to stick around and once people get what they need or want from me, it’s harder to remain worth it. Any amount of struggle and people are done. So that’s where I’m at again. I had somewhere to go for a few Thanksgivings as an adult and I had a little while of believing I had finally been part of a family. But like every other family and relationship in my life, I am no longer useful and worth loving, so they are gone. They took a huge piece of me and then threw me away. Just like everyone else.

Birthdays

The first thing I do on my birthday every year is cry. In foster care foster parents or group home staff often forgot or didn’t know my birthday at all. Now as an adult, there is no one to even forget my birthday. There is not one person on this planet who loves me. That’s not even a cognitive distortion. It is my reality. I’ve been alone my whole life.

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