Suzyatwell

I wish I had been intuitive enough to research and find these sites when our sweet girl, (11-12 year old ShihTzu) had been diagnosed with an enlarged heart 4 months ago. It was an accidental find, as her appointment was to discuss surgically removing a growth on her eyelid. Enalapril was prescribed for the enlarged heart and clavamax for a possible infection. The Dr. said, "let's set up the follow up for 3 weeks & re-check the bloodwork". The focus of the next 2 vet visits over the following 2 months revolved around removal of the growth on the eyelid. Although I mentioned it while setting up the appointment, I forgot to remind them about the antibiotic while in the office. We never re-did the bloodwork that indicated a possible infection. We never again discussed her high liver enzymes or her elevated white blood count. We never again looked at her heart. I was so naive - I had no idea what an enlarged heart meant, what it could turn into, what to keep my eyes open for, what to do, what not to do and what it meant combined with her heart murmur. I didn't even realize that her heart murmur, which was a grade 5/6, was the highest there was, (our 17 year old ShihTzu has had a heart murmer her entire life). I was asked if she was coughing at all, (very, very infrequently) and was told not to walk her in the blazing sun - my input was that she was restless at night and her heavy breathing often increased at night. 3 weeks ago tonight, she was gasping for air, and she couldn't lie down. We called the emergency vet & took her in. They said she was critical, and prepared us for possibly a 1 or 2 night stay. They immediately placed her in an oxygen tank, explaining the status and the plan. A 1/2 hour after leaving her there, after they sedated her - trying to stabilize her, she died. 3 months after the initial discovery, she died - 1 month after her last vet visit, she died. How did this happen? How did I not see prior to this day that she was struggling to breathe? Why didn't I know to associate her heavy, mouth open breathing with her heart condition? How did I not see that the heat/sunshine in any realm was taxing on her? It was a gift that the enlarged heart was discovered and I didn't have enough knowledge, enough information, enough foresite to make the best decisions for our baby. I remember the Dr. saying we would start with enalapril & possibly move to Vetmedin and/or a combination of things if needed. Why didn't we just start with Vetmedin? What was going to be more of an indicator that would make it needed? Why didn't we discuss the seriousness of her condition in more depth & why wasn't the prognosis clearly communicated? That's the question in my head over & over & over again, that's what I can't wrap my head around. I've pretty much been crying every day/every night for the past three weeks. I'm still in shock - I can't believe she's gone. She was the best, most lovable little girl. She adapted quickly to our household and she always tried to be the best she could be - always wanting to please & only wanting to be loved. Everybody, and I mean everybody loved her - she had a gift of making everyone feel very special. She had a lonely, sad, rough start in life - her first 5-6 years were spent in a puppy mill. She deserved to continue to live her life as happily as she had been, for as long as possible. I'm sick, just so very sick about the fact that her death could and should have been prevented - or at the very least, her life extended. If only I had known the signs. If only I had asked more questions. If only I had been educated. I just cant seem to forgive myself - I don't know how to forgive myself. I feel so guilty and I miss her so very, very much. I'm so sorry my sweet, sweet baby girl.

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William
Suzy:
I'm so sorry for your loss. Please keep in mind pets can hide most of their symptoms for a long time. It's probably natural instinct to them to just slow down or do whatever they need to do to survive.
I'm sure as in human medicine vets start with certain meds and go to stronger or different working meds if the first doesn't work.
I agree with Bonnie's mom. Talk to your vet if questions still linger in your mind. Nothing is your fault. Your baby had a serious heart condition that even a multitude of meds may not have cured.

Take care of yourself during this time. Maybe getting some information will help you rid yourself of some of the guilt we all feel at this beginning stage. Just keep in mind it's always easier to look back on things and have questions etc. during the time we go through it we are just following the directions we are given.
❤️💕
Kim
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Teacherof3
Dear Suzy,

I am so very sorry for your loss! Your baby was so precious, making everyone feel special and loved.  I do understand how you feel, as my lovely Daisy Mae also died suddenly of an enlarged heart. The vet had mentioned a heart murmur at one visit, yet on the next two visits he could not find the murmur again, and said that it must have been a mistake. I had no idea until I woke up one morning and found her in a terrible state. I rushed her to the vet and had to say good-bye right then and there. You are not to blame. I, too, felt the same guilt, wondering if only I had done this or that, would my baby still be with me? But I was reminded to think about the wonderful life my baby had while she was with me: how she was fed the best food, cared for, snuggled, played with, talked to, included and respected as a member of the family. That is what made our pets lives good. We must not blame ourselves for medical issues when we took them to our vets and tried to be the best parent we could. The pain will be there, but I hope you can let go of the guilt. The love you had for your baby is evident to all.

Lot of hugs!
Jeannie
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Suzyatwell
Jeannie, William & BonniesMum,
It means so much that you've each taken the time to share your own experiences and to offer suggestions & encouragement. I will follow up with the vet, I've already started a list of questions for more clarity. If I'm able to feel a little less pain and/or if another family receives the much needed education that I didn't, it'll make it worthwhile.

Thank you very, very much.
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gizmomybaby
So sorry for your loss of your baby girl a think wee torture ourselves with gulit and its horrible x I has to get ma son gizmo pts 2 weeks ago tomorrow Av never felt pain like this in my life asking myself did I do the right thing should I have fought more x I fought a 25 month battle with his nasel tumour and am crushed inside x alough he lived that extra 25 month doesn't help the pain x I never wanted him to leave me am broken and lost x thinking of you xxx
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Suzyatwell
I'm so sorry for your loss - Gizmo must have felt so loved because I can feel it as you speak of him. I understand your pain. He was a lucky little guy not just to have you, but to have you make the same decisions that he would have if he could have.
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Chinadoll
Suzy, first let me say how so very sorry I am for the loss of your little girl, I know how difficult this journey is. Your story is close to what I went through. Our mixed terrier Nicky was diagnosed with an enlarged heart in July of last year. He was put on vetmedin and his condition did improve over the next few months. We had to let him go in April of this year(he was 17 1/2 yrs old), his condition had gradually taken away his quality of life and he began to have a struggle with breathing again. The story is very different for our little chihuahua Chinadoll. She was diagnosed with a 'slightly' enlarged heart in August of last year and put on a blood pressure medication. In January, she went to bed one night, sleeping on my chest, and I could tell she was having a rasping sound trying to breathe. No coughing much at all. I took her in the next morning, they put her in an oxygen tent, within 3 hours she was dead. I was shocked. There was no warning, no worsening signs, no excessive coughing, nothing. She just died, her heart gave out. So I've had on and off guilt over how long Nicky had been able to live with the condition and how short China's life was after the diagnosis. I know you feel guilty, you wonder what you missed, but it is so difficult to know how they feel. They hide it so well. I already had one dog with this condition and he exhibited all the traits, while China showed almost none. I actually took her in last August just to have her heart checked because of what Nicky was going through. So I've accepted that her condition just changed so fast that last week, and I know I would have done anything to save her, anything, but I just didn't know. Please be gentle with your self, your love is so evident in your words. This path of grief is so hard, and with all the second guessing, the what if's, it can drive you insane. I pray for peace and comfort, I feel you heartache, I'm so sorry you have to go through this. Bless you.
Charlie
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gizmomybaby
Thanks Suzy he was mummys special boy its 5am roughly here in Scotland and am cuddling into his bowl I can't bring myself to wash it x its a horrendous feeling this grief of losing our baby's x this wee forum makes you feel not so alone as wee are all going through the same x I feel your pain and am the same with the what if,s and its torture x I know wee are told to think they aren't in pain anymore but wee are left with the terrible pain without them x like a big hole x sending huggs & love to you x I'm with you here xx❤
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Suzyatwell
Charlie, thank you so much for sharing your story. You have no idea how much it means to me that all that you've shared regarding your experiences with both Nicky and China. Hearing about China specifically really helped with huge burden I've been carrying. I wasn't too sure how this site could possibly make me feel any better, but I knew for a fact that I couldn't feel much worse. My sister was actually the first to bring my sad, sad heart a bit of relief and my brain a bit of rest. Because of her, I decided to see if others had similar stories.  Luckily for me, you've all been super supportive and offered some much needed encouragement.

Thank you all, I'm so very appreciative. 
  
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Shark88
So, so sorry Suzy. Our pets are family and often can be closer than a brother. Life for most animals is just way too short and especially for dogs and cats. Try to find some measure of comfort knowing that your girl is now at peace in heaven. I say that because I believe animals not only have a soul but they are also innocent creatures in the grand miracle of creation. It was not the animals that brought the curse we all have to live under in this world, it was Adam and Eve. Your suffering will last for a period but someday your joy will return. Your little girl is now running freely and drinking the living waters from the river of life which passes through ithe animal kingdom in heaven. If you are a follower of Christ the Lord, take some comfort in knowing that someday you will see your little girl again. The rainbow is a sign of God's love to both man and animals.
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Suzyatwell
Thank you shark 88.  I believe that I'll see my baby girl again - both in my dreams and in our life after. As so many people have said, their pets are "One in a Million" - with so many "one in a millions" out there, there has to be more than one for each one of us.  Today is 1 month since Clara left us - I'm still crying every single day and the pain is as fresh as it was on day 1. I wake up several times throughout the night and she is the first thing I think about. I'm on the verge of tears pretty much every moment of the day. I've began to look for another rescue or re-home, the house is just too quiet. She was the life of the house and the brightness in our days. Our 16 & 17 year old girls are still lovey, but MUCH LESS lovey and needy than Clara was, (needy in a good, comical, fun way). Understandably, they sleep a lot and we want to give them the best possible, most comforting life in their final stage as we can.  It's different - it very different than it was a little over a month ago, our lives were happy, fun and filled with love & laughter. We go back and forth between should we bring another into our home at this time? I'm thinking yes.
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Shark88
Suzyatwell, if I had two other elderly pets to care for, it would be unlikely that I'd add to the stress during this time.  Each person is different though.  After having to put down my beautiful best friend Siberian Husky in late June, (due to reoccurrence of a rare spontaneous pneumothorax - due to blebs), I decided I couldn't go through the experience again....i.e. the experience of watching the vet execute my very best friend (to stop her further suffering/pain).   Memories of that terrible experience seem to pass through my mind every day.   Everyone deals with that differently too.   And if I were to ever get another pet, I feel like I would just be replacing my best friend Laika, with a substitute.   That is my rationale.   Anyway, I pray that The Almighty give you comfort during this very difficult time in your life and also the wisdom to make the right decision as you go forward.  
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Suzyatwell
Thank you Shark88. It's been 5 weeks now since we lost our amazing girl. Not a day has gone by that I haven't cried at least once during the day. I'll forever feel that had I been more educated on her condition, had I known what to be aware of - the signs and symptoms, I could have reacted sooner. There were signs days/weeks earlier - had I only known what I know now. If I would have recognized her struggle, she would still be with us. At the very least, I would have done everything within my power to care for her. She relied on us to make the best decisions, that was our only job. I can still see her little face looking at me as I walked out the door. I came home from work, I rushed around to leave again and that was that. She likely had been struggling to breath all day and finally, I arrive home - only to leave her again. I plan to talk with my vet, this or next week. I have a list of questions and my hope is that the next owner who has a pet with the same condition will be more educated than I was. That the next owner will be given a prognosis and will be told what to watch for. As far as the new addition? It's almost unbearable coming home every day to the lack of energy in the house. Our older two girls are the loves of our life - they require a lot of love, which we have plenty to give. I've been online every night looking at rescue sights - it's not as easy as I thought it would be to find another rescue female shih-tzu. I've emailed about a few & have had a few conversations. I've expanded my search and I'm also now looking at puppies. 
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Chinadoll
Thinking of you Suzy, you have my prayers and I pray for healing and peace. Let us know how your search goes. Bless you.
Charlie
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