rharris
Lily, my Maltese who was merely 3 weeks away from her 2nd birthday, had a congenital heart defect called pulmonary/pulmonic stenosis in the severe category with a grade 5-6 heart murmur.  For a little over a year, I thought she was having seizures and the vet had told me her murmur wasn't really an issue since she wasn't showing any clinical signs... but those seizures were actually fainting spells, so she had been having clinical signs for awhile.  I didn't get an ultrasound performed until last month, after my vet said it sounded really bad and she really needed to get checked out.  After her diagnosis and prognosis, the cardiologist consulted with A&M for a procedure called balloon valvuloplasty and put her on heart medicine (beta blocker) to keep her heart rate lower.

Well, on April 20th, we had her lab work done with a 2nd ultrasound at A&M and they told me there could be a risk, as with any surgery but they had not had a patient die during the surgery before.  The doctor said they've had some dogs not get a benefit from the procedure but hadn't lost any.  So, I decided that I definitely wanted to try the surgery, as it was the only thing that could save my baby.  I saw her after her 2nd ultrasound for about 5-10 minutes and I reassured her that I would be back to see her.  I really thought I would, as the doctor had told us she had never lost one during surgery.

The doctors called me in the morning to let me know that Lily did really well overnight and would go into surgery at 10AM and would usually take between 45 mins to 2 hours, and that no news was good news.  So, at 12noon I got a call and I was expecting them to tell me she was out of anesthesia and we could go see her since it had been 2 hours since she was supposed to start.  No... she called to tell me Lily was doing really bad.  Her heart had stopped and they were trying CPR to get her back, and they were going to keep trying and call me back in a few minutes.  6 minutes later, the doctor informed me that they couldn't keep a heart beat without the paddles and that they had lost her.  When we got to the hospital, within 10 minutes of the first call, the doctor was already waiting for us and put my mom, stepfather, and I in a conference room.

The doctor explained to us that Lily had been doing really, she hadn't had many complications (such as arrhythmias) and they were surprised as she has had the worst heart they have seen (one doctor has been doing this procedure for 2 years, the other 7 years).  Her heart muscle was so thick that some of it wasn't receiving enough oxygen and they could barely see her valves, but they continued since she was doing so well.  They were one step away from inserting the balloon to widen her valve when her heart just stopped.  They were not expecting this. The doctor tried to comfort me and tell me any of the cardiology team would have tried the surgery too and that it was the right decision since she wouldn't have had a chance of a normal life otherwise.  Lily's will was there--she was a little spunky, sweet, intelligent, momma's girl who would have done anything to stay with me--but her heart was not. She fought until the end, since they were able to get some heart beats.  As the doctor put it, "She was such a happy little girl, but her heart was not".

I know I made the right decision, as I always would have wondered if the surgery would have helped her if I hadn't tried it.  It's just so upsetting knowing that I would have had more time with her if I hadn't done it.  But I feel guilty as I was not able to see her the day before her surgery very much and couldn't spend the last night with her.  I had left her favorite blanket of mine with her for comfort, but I wasn't able to be with her.  I just keep thinking that I let her down by not going to see her when I know that was the only thing she would have wanted.  She was SUCH a mommy's girl that she got so excited and they couldn't have her heart excited before the surgery, so I couldn't see her :(  I just wish so much that I could have spent that last night with her.  I know we both would have wanted it.  This is just so shocking, I still can't believe this happened to me and my baby.  She was the first one the doctor has lost, and this has been the longest I've ever gone without seeing her.  I let my mom babysit her a few times for 2 or 3 days, but this is the 4th day and I'm feeling very upset and useless.  I've been crying constantly for the past 3 days, as this outcome was unexpected by everyone.  I keep thinking that Lily is upset with me for leaving her there and not being able to see me one last time.  I just wish I could see her smile one last time and see how excited she would get when I would come home. Be able to tell her goodbye and give her that last hug and kiss and hold her for the last time knowing that was going to be the last time.

I have been crying my eyes out and looking at pictures of her constantly. I've missed school, and I feel completely helpless. She was my baby, my everything, and I don't know what to do with myself without having her around. I know I tried to make her better but I still feel like I let her down. I went and talked to her grave yesterday and I felt a little better, but I still feel really depressed. And I keep having dreams of her. One was that she was laying next to me in bed and I actually rolled over IRL to pet her to realize it was only a dream and started crying. I had another one where I went back to my apartment and she was there. It was a normal habitual day: giving her breakfast with medicine, playing with her, picking her up, rubbing her belly, etc. But I woke up and realized it was just a dream and started crying again. Has this happened to any of you before? I'm wondering if it's Lily trying to tell me she's happy where she is, and in her world she IS with me having her normal days sleeping next to me, always with me. 

This is just SO hard. All I really want is Lily back.

RIP Lily, Maltese: May 15, 2008 - April 21, 2010
Quote 0 0
reovi
I think that is exactly what she is trying to say.  She wants you to know she is looking over you and is with you for all your normal everyday duties and around the house.  I think she is happy with what you did for her-not many owners would have gone through the trouble of going to a specialist and trying surgery in the first place-that in itself makes you a good mom.  Almost all of us who have had our babies pass recently are feeling guilty, for one reason or another, but I think that stems from our grieving, because I have not heard of one person's story yet where I have thought they could have or should have done more.  You and your Lily will see each other again, and you still have your dreams, take comfort in the thought that she is running with a strong heart past the bridge, but she will always be with you, and I guarantee she wouldn't want you to feel bad because it sounds like you were a GREAT mom!  Keep coming back, tell us about your girl, post her in the Monday night candlelight ceremony-I think it may help you, and remember we are all here for you and we are all grieving so you are not alone.
Quote 0 0
larryboy
Oh, Lily was so darling and cute!  She really does look like she's laughing in one of your photos.  I am so deeply sorry for your loss.  I just lost my fur boy this past Tuesday.  We had the incredibly horrible decision to put Larry down.  He got sick a week ago, and we knew that we had to try the drugs, as he wouldn't survive surgery (he was almost 17).  The drugs didn't work.   Like you, I still have feelings of guilt that we should've done things differently, that I didn't use the last few days with him the best that I could.  But we had to give Larry a chance to try the drugs...just in case he'd get well.  I would have never forgave myself if I hadn't tried.  And you had to give Lily that chance.  It's so hard when we expect all will be well, and then life throws us a really huge boulder.  It's stuns us.

Lily knew your thoughts and love were with her when she was at the hospital.  Be sure of that.  And how lucky you are to have had dreams of Lily.  I think she's trying to send you a message that she's fine and happy.  How I wish that I would dream of my Larry...just to see him again, if only in a dream.

The shock and the depth of the sadness you and I feel for the loss of our animal soul mates will lessn.  It will take time.  I know I hate that platitude, but it really is true.  Be kind to yourself.  Lily loved you as much as you loved her. 

Please stay with us on the forum and when you're ready we'd love to hear  more about the fun times you had with Lily.
Patty
Quote 0 0
rharris
I did sign her up for the Monday night candlelight ceremony, and I wish I had known about the prayer list before her surgery.  Sometimes I feel like I am doing better, I can get a few laughs and smiles, but then I just start crying.  I try to remember all the good times without getting upset, but then I get upset because I remember I can't have those good times with my baby anymore.  I was only able to have her for 1 year and 10 months... her life was cut so short :(  And after knowing how bad her heart really was, I'm surprised she lasted this long without any sort of surgical or medical intervention (since I only started her on heart meds a month ago).  I guess it's because she loved her mommy so much and wanted to be there with me for as long as she could.  I just always wonder if it would have made a difference if I had found out about her heart defect earlier and tried the surgery earlier, although the cardiologist and doctor at A&M both told me it probably wouldn't have.

I just have so many thoughts that keep circling in my head.  I feel guilty about not being at the hospital even though I knew I couldn't be, about her not sleeping on the hotel bed with me the last night I was able to spend with her (it was REALLY uncomfortable so I bet the blanket was more so), not catching her condition soon enough, and more.  I've also been looking at other Malteses online just to keep my mind distracted, there is no way I could get another dog right now... my pain is WAY too fresh.  I love Lily so much, and I want to get another Maltese because I like the breed but I feel like I would be replacing her and would get upset when it didn't act like her.  She was completely perfect for me in every way and I just wonder how I could ever manage to get another Maltese knowing that they probably won't be as perfect for me.  Has anyone gotten the same breed after losing a pet?  Was it a good decision?

She always made me smile, and would be there right next to me whenever I was upset.  I told her everything.  If I had a fight with my boyfriend, I would cry to her and ask her for advice and talk to her as if she was a person.  She would always look so upset when I was crying but she would just kiss me, snuggle and help me feel better.  She would stay up with me late at night, or try to at least, and cuddle up right on me to keep me company when no one else in my apartment was awake.  She would always follow me around the apartment, no matter what was going on or who was giving her attention, even if I was just going to my bathroom.  I didn't need to use a leash to take her outside because she would always follow me around.  If she was wandering off a little further than normal, she would always check behind to make sure I was still there.  At night when I was getting ready for bed and about to lay my head on my pillow, she would run up really fast and lay right on it to get her belly rubbed.  She would love to play with people's hands and would eye them and pounce when she wanted to play.  She was protective enough to bark at the door if she heard weird noises, but she was never yappy.  She was very intelligent:  she would find ways to get food off the table, use pillows and clothes on the floor as stairs to get to places you wouldn't think she could get to, was very easy to housetrain, and listened well to those she knew.  There was really not a single thing about her that greatly annoyed me; I loved every part of her.  She was my angel.  Which is why I think this is so hard.  I will never find another Lily, and I'm scared I will be disappointed when I decide to get a new pet. 

I want her to know that I still love her very much and will never forget her, and I hope she can give me guidance on which new furball I will eventually get and when.  It's weird, but I almost feel like I would be a bad mommy if I got another pet because no one can live up to her sweet personality, but maybe that will fade as time goes on.  It's just so hard letting go when the love/attachment bond between her and I was so strong... and I hope it is always that way.  I want to keep having dreams about her so I know how she's doing and that she knows how I feel.  Right now I'm having these dreams while staying at my mom's house, as going back to my apartment is something I am dreading.  Lily is buried here at my house, so having her nearby is comforting, but her actual home was my apartment.  I'm scared to go back and miss her like crazy, and I'm even more scared of moving out in June.  Will she still follow me to my new place?  Or will she linger in my apartment when I'm not there just because it was her home?

Thank you all so much for listening to me... I tend to feel better when I talk/type things out and hearing what you all have to say really means a lot to me.  I'm sorry some of my posts may be long, but it's because those are all the things I am feeling and are going through my head at the time.


RIP Lily, Maltese: May 15, 2008 - April 21, 2010
Quote 0 0
reovi
I completely understand about wanting to fill the void of losing your baby by getting another, and it is a different decision for everyone.  For me, I want to wait until I am not crying all the time, because I know animals are sensitive and I don't want him/her to be anxious from the get-go.  I want him/her to come into a loving home where I can devote my time and energies to making him/her part of the family, and right now part of my heart and soul still belong to Polar-not that he will ever be out of my heart but I want to devote more of it to a new baby-give them a fair chance.  I have gotten the same type of dog after losing another, and it is not a problem, but I am REALLY aware of Danes risks for Wobbler's and next time I will probably get a an older rescue Dane that has gone through that growth spurt period.  Have you thought of fostering?  If you are really wanting to get another right away, maybe that would be a good option?  I know alot of rescues give their foster families the first chance to adopt a dog in their care-then you can really see if it is a good fit...
Quote 0 0
reovi
I completely understand about wanting to fill the void of losing your baby by getting another, and it is a different decision for everyone.  For me, I want to wait until I am not crying all the time, because I know animals are sensitive and I don't want him/her to be anxious from the get-go.  I want him/her to come into a loving home where I can devote my time and energies to making him/her part of the family, and right now part of my heart and soul still belong to Polar-not that he will ever be out of my heart but I want to devote more of it to a new baby-give them a fair chance.  I have gotten the same type of dog after losing another, and it is not a problem, but I am REALLY aware of Danes risks for Wobbler's and next time I will probably get a an older rescue Dane that has gone through that growth spurt period.  Have you thought of fostering?  If you are really wanting to get another right away, maybe that would be a good option?  I know alot of rescues give their foster families the first chance to adopt a dog in their care-then you can really see if it is a good fit...
Quote 0 0
rharris
Oh, I completely understand... if I got another furball now I would still be upset about Lily, and like you said, it's not good for them.  I feel like my heart will belong to Lily forever, as she has been my first pet to raise entirely on my own.  It's hard for me to talk to my friends about what I'm going through as many college students don't own pets, or at least not my friends.  I'm just so sad, I got her right when I moved out of my freshmen dorm and I'm about to be a senior without my baby :(  I made the adjustment of moving out of my house at the same time I got her, and she made me grow as a person and I'm so sad she's not here to continue to help me grow.

I have thought about fostering, but I am afraid that no one would allow me to be a foster, as I'm fairly young.  I'm also afraid I would get too attached and not want to give them up, as I tend to get attached easily.  I just love animals, they're my biggest soft spot.  What I'm really afraid of is getting another Maltese and thinking, "Oh, Lily's back!" or something to that extent.  Do any of you believe that animal's spirits can come back to you in another dog?  I would like to hope so, but I'm not sure if that's because all I'm wanting is Lily and because I'm upset.

RIP Lily, Maltese: May 15, 2008 - April 21, 2010
Quote 0 0
reovi
I understand what you mean.  I got two of my dogs when I was in college.  One has passed and one I still have.  They saw me through alot of stuff.  My Pauli who is still here is seeing me through my boy Polar's death last week.  I, too, am a BIG softy for animals, and I have often thought about my past doggies coming back to me.  You don't know how much I wish my babies would come back to me, but I also wish them happiness and freedom and playing beyond the bridge.  What about volunteering in a shelter, maybe you will become attached to one there, or at least doing some good there might help your guilt?  I am thinking of doing that, since I can't make a donation the size I would like to help other dogs like my boy...
Quote 0 0
rharris
Last night my mom had a dream about my dad (who passed away in March 2003) for the first time in a long time and he told her that we will be okay.  She told me this thinking it's about Lily, so it's comforting to know that he's still watching over us during this rough time... and maybe Lily is with my dad!  I had another dream about her where it was like a normal day again, and I didn't realize that not everyone gets them.  I should consider myself lucky, but I'm really afraid that the dreams will just stop :(  I just miss my Lilybaby so much, I don't want to let go of whatever I can get. 

It's now been 6 days since I've seen her, 5 days since she's been gone... I still don't feel much better.  Still feel guilty about not being able to see her much while she was in the hospital, not getting her ultrasound earlier, and trying the surgery earlier.  I know it was a mistake on me and my vet on that she was having seizures but that's why I didn't do anything about it earlier :(  He told me that seizures usually wouldn't be fatal unless they were cluster seizures so as long as I calmed her down and it didn't happen too often she should be okay.  I just can't believe that there were signs all along, I feel so bad letting her go through that not knowing how bad it really was.  What if I had known earlier and gotten the surgery earlier?  Would it have allowed her to live longer... would she still not have lived through it?

RIP Lily, Maltese: May 15, 2008 - April 21, 2010
Quote 0 0