In my final blog post before Bangsiri died, I was forcing myself to be optimistic. I knew that my angel was in pain, and I was preparing myself for the possibility of losing her, but I thought stronger painkillers could give us a few more months together. I was in touch with vets on a daily basis, and I expressed my concerns to them many times, but I had to beg for strong painkillers. When the medication finally reached us through the postal service, Bangsiri and I had spent a little more than a week together at home and it was becoming harder and harder to comfort her.
The new painkillers seemed to help—for a few hours. But that night, she was in distress again. Increasing her dosage didn’t help, or at least it didn’t help enough. On the morning of Saturday, October 1, she was miserable. This was two days after the change of pain medication, and two days before she died.
That same Saturday, I took Bangsiri to a vet clinic in Itaewon in a sling. She was uncomfortable when we left home, but on the subway she fell asleep and had a peaceful nap in my arms like the old days. Then the crying started again when I had to transfer her to another carrier and get a taxi.
Once we got there, the vet X-rayed her tail and discovered a fracture. I don’t know how or when this could have happened—but later, when I looked closely at pictures taken in mid-August I saw that the tip of her tail was slightly bent. (Before her last haircut in mid-August, it’s impossible to tell because there was too much fur on her tail.)
The vet offered me some treatment options—amputation of her tail and another procedure known as decompression, which I think would have repositioned a disc in her lower back. But he was iffy about the treatments and didn’t strongly recommend them. He also said she was having neurological symptoms, based on her crying, which hadn’t happened at her previous checkup.
I asked what he would do if she were his dog, and he said he wouldn’t pursue aggressive treatment. He’d give her medication to make her feel comfortable. I followed his advice and she had a steroid shot that day, which was supposed to ease her pain for three days.
It seemed to help a little, but not much. The next day, she was crying again and was in a lot of distress. She had another steroid shot at the local clinic, but its effects were very limited and she cried a lot afterward. Via Kakao Talk, I asked the vet again what he’d do, and this time he suggested euthanasia.
That’s not what I wanted for Bangsiri, but I ended up following his advice the next morning when she didn’t improve after a night of on-and-off crying. This was NOT an economic decision, or anything to do with daycare arrangements or the difficulty of managing her condition. I didn’t think she could endure another day in that state, and in my panic there seemed to be no more options left.
I took her to her regular vet clinic on the Monday morning, even though it was a long ride on the subway, because I couldn’t stand the thought of dealing with unfamiliar vets and trying to explain the situation. Her vet provided the best possible care, but by no means was it a “good death.” She was in a state of complete physical and mental distress when the vet placed her on my lap after taking her into another room to put a catheter in her leg—she seemed out of it even before the shots were administered. I tried to comfort her by kissing her and telling her I loved her, and that I was sorry, but she was barely aware of me.
It never should have happened that way. Yes, she was aging and probably not that far from the end of her life, but it wasn’t her time.
I’m still not sure whether the tail fracture was the deciding factor, the thing that pushed her over her pain threshold, or if there were other health problems that all those tests couldn’t detect. If the fracture had been diagnosed earlier, maybe her tail could have been amputated before she deteriorated to the point where every minute was unbearable. Bangsiri had good vet care for a long time and I’m sure we had more years together because of the kind vets who helped us through crisis after crisis—but something broke down at the end and I can’t understand how this could happen. She’d endured extensive testing every month, with additional checkups on numerous occasions. I don’t believe she had to suffer so much, or that we had to lose so much precious time together.
There’s so much I wish I could do differently and it’s too late to ask any more questions. Still, I’ll always wonder if things could have been different.