Sasha’s first night home after amputation of her right arm was very difficult on all of us. She was in a lot of pain, and dysphoric. Her eyes were wide open the entire night, and she was doing something that she never did – whimper. Sasha has been through some serious stuff in her life, including having a fishing lure with two treble hooks hanging from her lips when she was a puppy, and she never whimpered for a second.
Liliana and I stayed with Sasha through the night in our living room. We were both scared to leave her alone on a dog bed while we slept on our bed. She was not used to having only three legs, and I feared that she may fall onto her right side if she tried to stand up. Besides, I couldn’t bear to leave her alone whimpering in pain, and confused about the whole situation. I love my girl, and I’m not ashamed of being a doting dad.
I layed with Sasha’s head in my arms for most of the night. She whimpered the entire time, but she seemed to go through episodes of increased discomfort about every hour or so. Liliana and I thought that she might have to go outside, and that her need to relieve herself might have caused her increased discomfort. Every time that the whimpering increased, we took her out. Sasha always seemed to feel a little better after coming back in from the back yard. Overall though, she seemed to be in excruciating pain, and Liliana and I felt helpless. Besides holding Sasha’s head, which did seem to comfort her a little, there didn’t seem to be any way of alleviating her pain. It got so bad that we called the local twenty-four hour emergency clinic twice to see if we could start Sasha on her pain meds ahead of schedule. The answer was yes.
When the additional pain medication did not have the affect that we had hoped for, Liliana called the clinic again. She explained to the Nurse that Sasha had not shown any improvement despite being given the pain medication. The nurse offered the suggestion that Sasha may be suffering from dysphoria, and that we should not give her any more medication until her originally scheduled dose time. It was one of the hardest things that I have had to do – watch and listen to Sasha suffer so much. If I am to be completely honset, there laying with Sasha, holding her head and speaking in a soothing voice, I questioned whether Liliana and I had made the right decision. Did we make a mistake in amputating her arm? Sasha is a healthy and spunky eleven year old American bulldog, who still loves to go for walks, hikes, catch Frisbees and go swimming. In future posts I will look at the moral and ethical issues surrounding euthanasia vs preservation of life by medical or surgical means.