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Guilt and Grief


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I had to put my 13 year-old-cat to sleep on Tuesday night after a whirlwind of two days. Bobo was diagnosed with diabetes three years ago and since then had been maintained on twice-daily insulin injections and once or twice a year glucose curves at the vet (I was never successful with the home meter, though I tried). He was an indoor and outdoor cat--he came inside during cold or rainy weather, and I would let him outside as soon as it was nice out. I inherited Bobo when my dad passed away six years ago. He spent close to a year in our laundry room for the most part as we tried to regulate his diabetes because he had poor control of his urine and bowels, but we eventually got it under control to the point where we could let him outside when it was nice. He was the sweetest cat in the world and the neighborhood kids all adored him.

On Sunday, my neighbor called me to let me know that he was by their porch, couldn't walk, and was crying. I rushed him to the emergency vet and he was having a hypoglycemic episode--he hadn't had one before. He stayed overnight and then I transferred him to his vet in the morning where he stayed all day getting testing, fluids, and his glucose monitored. He went from a blood glucose level of 27 the night before to 280 the next evening before I took him home. The vet encouraged me to bring him back for fluids and monitoring the next day, which I did. However, she wasn't sure what caused this episode since he'd never had one before, and she felt like it must be an underlying issue. Since the overnight hospital stay and the all-day vet stay cost about $2,000, I wasn't able to pay for ultrasound or additional imaging, knowing also that I wouldn't be able to pay for subsequent treatment for an underlying illness. If I had the money to do it I would have, but I simply don't and I can't get over this guilt.

Bobo did well at the vet all day Tuesday, but when I went to feed him dinner at home on Tuesday night I found him lying in a pool of pee. I rushed him back to the emergency hospital where his blood sugar had once again dropped to 25. The vet said that she could give him fluids again and do further testing, but that he would likely need to be hospitalized multiple nights to get him stable and then there would be an underlying issue to identify and treat. In the area where I live, this would have amounted to nearly $10,000, which I don't have, nor do I have the credit or credit score to take out more loans. The vet said that she didn't think it would be wrong or inhumane to euthanize him. Right before they put him to sleep he ate some baby food and purred while I pet him for a while, and he seemed content and calm right before they administered the medication.

I don't know if anyone else has experience with diabetic cats or hypoglycemic episodes, but I would love to hear any stories. I've tried to look online but can't find any examples of multiple incidents back-to-back. I feel horribly guilty because if maybe I had just paid for one more day of hospitalization it could have broken the cycle, but I had no financial means to continue this process. I feel like I let Bobo down and my dad, too. Thanks for reading/listening.

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I am so sorry for your loss and this whole experience.  It seems to me it really is luck of the draw.  I met Kitty when she was ten and acquired her when she was 12...she's now 24 and never been to the vet.  I tried taking her several times when I first got her but she somehow sensed she was about to go for a ride for nefarious purposes and disappeared on me, I finally gave up on it.  I tell you this not to rub it in but to assure you that it really is luck of the draw, I've also had cats that died much younger, they all got the same care, I think a lot of it is in their genes.

I had a boss with a diabetic dog, she only lived a year after her diabetes diagnosis. He also had to give her shots of insulin. Diabetes seems to be harder on animals than humans.  He was giving her good care and regular trips to the vet, she just didn't last.

You did the kindest thing, in my estimation.  When it affects their quality of life or causes them suffering, it seems it's time, that's always the rule of thumb I've used...we want to keep them here with us but sometimes the kinder thing to do is letting them go, much as we deplore that.

I hope these articles will be of help to you...guilt seems to be part of grief, we ask ourselves the endless "what ifs" but it's not that we've earned or deserved guilt, it's as if we're trying to come up with some other outcome than the one that happened.  As much as we hate finances to be a part of our decision making, it is a very real and evident factor, we can't afford what we can't afford.

(((hugs))) Sometimes creating a memorial helps us in honoring their memory and in our continuation of love for them.


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Bobo's Mom,

I'm just so sorry to hear about your kitty and the difficult circumstances surrounding his passing.  It's so hard under any circumstances to lose a loved pet, but this sounds really tough!  I too have a lot of guilt surrounding whether I did everything I could for my cat, who died a few weeks ago.  It's horrible, this feeling. But honestly you truly don't know whether Bobo would have gotten better after another night in the hospital or if it would have taken thousands more dollars and more time for him in the hospital.  There is no way to know these things.  It sounds like you did the best thing for him to avoid him suffering any more.

My cat had hyperthyroid and diabetes.  After being given insulin twice a day for a year, his blood sugar stablized, but he had to be given pills for his thyroid twice a day. He lived for almost 6 years with the thyroid condition before he got lung cancer at 16.  He never had any hypoglycemic episodes, but they sound very scary, I'm so sorry you had to go through that!

From what you've said, it sounds like you were incredibly kind, patient, and giving to Bobo.  Not many people would even give their cat medicine regularly! I know some people surrender cats when the going gets rough, but it sounds like you gave him truly excellent love and care.  It sounds like you went above and beyond, and I'm sure he recognized and knew that.  Think about all the healthy time you gave him (three years!!!) because of the dedication you showed giving him his medication regularly.  Three years is a good amount of time to live with diabetes for a cat, and it must be in part due to your diligence and love.




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