- Lemony Snicket
The time to make the most difficult of choices has come.
Monday afternoon, I couldn't stand looking at Gogo's left hind any longer, and trailered her up to see Dr. H in the afternoon. We poked and prodded, we jogged her out, we flexed and palpated and shook our heads. We didn't even bother doing an ultrasound on the left... there is clearly some sort of compensatory issue going. She wasn't dead hopping lame on the right, but she was bilaterally lame.... equally as sore on both hinds, just pulling herself along with her front end. Honestly, with all that was going on behind, she didn't really look that great up front either for the first time in her life. She was absolutely crippled when we flexed her right hind. We did take a set of laterals on both hinds and an oblique on the right hind (radiographs), and while there was no obvious sign of pastern luxation (essentially the pastern dislocating and the bony column failing to align properly due to the breakdown of the entire suspensory apparatus), her sesamoids had rotated away from where they were supposed to be, essentially rolling downwards towards her pastern. Her suspensory and her sesamoidean ligaments are all fraying. (If you want further description of all the ligaments in that area and their workings, look at the second page.) Basically, her entire suspensory apparatus is failing.
My biggest fear at this point is that, given how rapidly everything has fallen apart over the past two months (and two weeks), she is headed for a catastrophic breakdown and I'll find her on three legs unable to move - or worse, down and unable to rise. One serious torque to this limb and everything will go. Considering the snowballing downward spiral she's in, and that I am unable to get her stabilized, it's probable that this scenario might become reality. There is no cure for this, and no fix. Nothing will ever take away her pain, and she'll always have some sort of moderate lameness no matter what we do. It is my personal belief that making an animal live in pain until they breakdown is wrong, and that it counts as poor quality of life.
It has finally all come down to this. I must make the choice no one ever wants to have to make. I have to let her go.
I'm having a very hard time processing this. On one hand, it makes sense, and I know it needs to be done. It gives me comfort to know that she's has a very happy ten months out in a field doing all kinds of happy horsey things, the way any horse would love to live: eating, playing with a herd, napping in the sunshine, lounging under a shady tree. She had a good retirement, and she deserved it.
But the other half of me can't process it. She's only 10 years old. Why couldn't I fix her? I did everything I could and more to help her. Why did nothing work? How could it come to this? She's so happy and beautiful... how could she really be moments away from disaster? Could I do more, could I save her, why did this happen, how could I have lost all three of my horses far too early and in such tragic ways? What did I do wrong, how could I have done this to them? They all deserved so much more than death at the end of it all. My poor sweet babies, where did I fail you? What did I do wrong to lose you all?
How could it have come to this?
I don't have a date yet, or a final plan. There is too much I have to think about that I'm still trying to wrap my head around. I'm very good and unfortunately versed in handling this type of matter, but it's just different when it is your horse. I'm hopelessly attached to her and the looming possibility of life without her is incomprehensible.
This song came on the radio when I was driving home from the vet with Metro all those years ago on the day they told me I needed to euthanize him... and it still makes me bust up crying when I think about it today.
Forgive me, Gogo. I did everything I could for you. The only thing I have left to give you is my love... and peace.