The other morning I had a nightmare. This isn’t unusual for me however, it has stuck with me for several days.
In the dream I was at a busy stable. I had just hitched Dear One to a post and was checking her hooves. This revealed a horrible separation that was going to be fatal (Dear One died when trying to recover from founder – more then likely a heart attack). I remember stating aloud that I was going to have to choose to euthanize her.
Then I woke up.
Why this is a particular haunting nightmare for me is that the last three years of Dear One’s life, when I knew she was suffering from Cushings, I was faced with one stone wall after another in trying to care for her. I ran up against Uncaring Vets, Ignorant Barn Owners, and Sanctimonious Horse People. I was stymied at every turn – could not get blood tests, could not get prescription drugs (the drug she was on even went through a national crisis of being unavailable for a short time), could not get the type of feed I needed, and more trials that I won’t mention here.
Those that were with me during those troubled years, know what a toll it took. One thing that I could not get out of my head was that we had no place to bury her. For those who have not had a horse die on you, let me explain that burying a horse is no easy manner for those that don’t own land. The majority of the time, they are picked up and their body is rendered (cut up) and disposed of, one way or another.
I am not sure why this preyed on my mind so much. My religious beliefs don’t give the body any significance, I am an organ donor and want to be cremated. I hold no meaning or sacredness to where my father is buried. But the problem bothered and bit at me constantly.
I was lucky that when she did pass, my vet stepped in with the name of a landowner who would bury her, intact, on his place. For that alone she would always be my vet. Because when no one else gave a damn, Dr. Cowgirl did.
When I got the confirmation that Big Guy had fractured his pelvis and would need a long term stall rest, with an uncertain outcome, (what had exactly happened to Dear One for 90 days before she died), Dear One had been dead for about 14 months. The pain and grief was way too raw and then This……
The next 90 days of full stall rest were a time of waking nightmare for me. I held it together, but some days I had to shut everything down emotionally and not exist. I would not have been able to function except Hubby helped get me through with unending patience and support.
I did not know if I would eventually make the decision to euthanize him, where I would bury him, or if every time he laid down, he wouldn’t re-injure his pelvis or bleed out from the femoral artery. I tried not to worry about it and just bring positive energy to the barn where I cleaned his stall, checked his feed and water, groomed him and just spent time sitting in his stall.
Each month, my finances had to be stretched more – I had not figured I would be paying for regular vet visits, buying shavings for a 24.7 stall kept horse, and alfalfa so he could have a natural source for calcium, in addition to medications and supplements.
It’s not surprising that my BO and I got into a confrontation about what I felt was a lack of care for his special circumstances. Empty water buckets, no hay, fouled bedding… only confirmed, again, that I was his sole caregiver even though I was paying full board care. Everything would need to be doublechecked. Everything. No one was to be trusted.
I remember with astoinishing clarity the day Big Guy was let out into a small paddock from his stall confinement – the heart in my mouth wondering if he would be okay and the tears of joy as he took those first steps, his nostrils flaring and the light in his eye sparking.
Now we seem to be well on the road of recovery and rehabilitation. I am more confident then ever that Big Guy can come back to some sort of riding use and that mentally, he is doing well.
However, there is always a part of me that knows how helpless I truly am against what fate wants to dish out. There are circumstances beyond my control and there is a limit to money and what medicine can do.
And some days I remember this in my dreams.