Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/46/d94734139/htdocs/littlehawk/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/fs/package.module.fs.php on line 263

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/46/d94734139/htdocs/littlehawk/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/fs/package.module.fs.php on line 263

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/46/d94734139/htdocs/littlehawk/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/fs/package.module.fs.php on line 263

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/46/d94734139/htdocs/littlehawk/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/fs/package.module.fs.php on line 263

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/46/d94734139/htdocs/littlehawk/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/fs/package.module.fs.php on line 263

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/46/d94734139/htdocs/littlehawk/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/fs/package.module.fs.php on line 263

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/46/d94734139/htdocs/littlehawk/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/fs/package.module.fs.php on line 263

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/46/d94734139/htdocs/littlehawk/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/fs/package.module.fs.php on line 263

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/46/d94734139/htdocs/littlehawk/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/fs/package.module.fs.php on line 263

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/46/d94734139/htdocs/littlehawk/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/fs/package.module.fs.php on line 263

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/46/d94734139/htdocs/littlehawk/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/fs/package.module.fs.php on line 263

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/46/d94734139/htdocs/littlehawk/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/fs/package.module.fs.php on line 263

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/46/d94734139/htdocs/littlehawk/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/fs/package.module.fs.php on line 263

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/46/d94734139/htdocs/littlehawk/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/fs/package.module.fs.php on line 263

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/46/d94734139/htdocs/littlehawk/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/fs/package.module.fs.php on line 263

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/46/d94734139/htdocs/littlehawk/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/fs/package.module.fs.php on line 263

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/46/d94734139/htdocs/littlehawk/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/fs/package.module.fs.php on line 263

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/46/d94734139/htdocs/littlehawk/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/fs/package.module.fs.php on line 263

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/46/d94734139/htdocs/littlehawk/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/fs/package.module.fs.php on line 263
The Face of Death « Littlehawke's Muse

The Face of Death

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Face of Death

Most people who work in any kind of healthcare field know that death has a smell. It is distinct, ever permeating, lingering and tell-tale. Death also has a face. That of giving up, been trying too long, in too much pain, the suffering, the abandonment, devoid of all hope. This is the face of yesterday which haunts me still today.

A man brought in a coonhound of some sort to the ER yesterday afternoon late. She’d had 3 puppies. He thought he had seen one the night before coming out feet first. That was over18 hours ago. She was branded. She lay on the floor of the lobby, too weak to stand, or even attempt to get up. I don’t even remember her name. I picked her up and carried her to the back treatment table where I took her vitals. Her brown eyes looked up at me. “I’m tired”, she said. “I hurt so much”. She stank. She had horse manure and hay stuck to her feet. Her tail was covered in dried blood, placenta and merconium. Her ears were dirty inside and smelled like rising bread. She was so miserable. I stayed with her while the doctor went to talk to the owner.

She had her first three puppies on WEDNESDAY. Today was SUNDAY. Five days she lay trying to have the remaining puppies. Five days. I bent over her and held her head in my arms telling her how sorry I was. No one should have to go through this. No one should have to live like this. She sighed and nuzzled closer. Probably the first human contact she’d really had like that ever. She was, “an outside dog”. She’d had her puppies outside in the snow and cold on the coldest week of the season thus far. I was livid.

A few minutes later, we were given permission to do the emergency C-section on her. I placed an 18 gage IV catheter in her right cephalic vein, started the fluids and carried all 65 pounds of her to surgery. We masked her down with ISO, intubated her, flipped her over and shaved her belly. Scrubbed and prepped, with heart, breathing, temperature and O2 monitors going, the Doctor started the surgery.

The first horn of the dog’s uterus looked normal post-partum. The dog’s heartrated held at 130, resperations at 14 and O2 sats at 99%. The other horn came out. Perforated in more places than a soak hose, the foul stench filled the room. Both the Veterinarian and I gagged and did our best to not vomit into the kick buckets on the floor of surgery. Clammped off, tied off and cut off, the leaking rotting uterus containing three rotting dead puppies was tossed into the trash. The dr. said she wasn’t going to tell us not to try to save the remaining three puppies, but didn’t think we’d have any luck. Between you and me, I wasn’t going to cut into that mess to reveal what I knew to be decaying bodies to try to save them for a life like this dog had led. It was better this way. At inspection of the intestinal tract, it looked as if the dog might not make it out of the clinic after the surgery, the walls of the intestines were becoming polka-dotted. Something called Petichia which heralds the onset of DIC. (Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation- imminent and painful death) But on we tried. Then the dog’s breathing stopped and the heartrate dropped to 35. We have a kick ass team at our clinic. We’ve worked together so long that we all knew what to do. The words “Crashing Dog in Surgery” rang out and drugs appeared as I bagged the dog, Kimmie did CPR and Adrian shot drugs through her IV ports at amazing speed. Two rounds of drugs and we had a strong heartbeat with spontaneous respirations. We finished flushing out the abdomen and began to close. She was doing well. We’d been in surgery an hour now. Then her breathing stopped and she flatlined. Drugs came again, more CPR and more bagging. We worked her for 25 minutes this time, 4 rounds of drugs. Still flatlined. We let her go.

Tears rolled down my face as I watched Dr. M close the abdomen with continuous sutures that she never uses on a live animal for fear of them ripping open like a petfood bag. The monitors were left on and the Oxygen was left running. Hoping for what we knew wouldn’t come, we finished closing and Adrian got the cadaver bag, removed her IV and I extubated her. We turned her over and I watched her spirit leave her body, her eyes blank and unseeing stared out.

“Time to call the owners, they are going to be mad.” Said Dr. M. I wanted to scream. It was all I could do not to go out there and beat this man with a baseball bat as it was when I found out he’d left her like this for 5 days. I didn’t give a rat’s ass how HE felt about this at all. All I could see were the unseeing eyes of this poor dog who had pleaded with me just a couple hours before to make it all stop through her eyes. Well, it was over now. She’d never have to go back to being a breeding dog who never saw people except to hunt or check on the puppies. She was 7. 2 years older than is recommended to breed and have young, she’d suffered and endured that which no human or animal should for almost a week.

It’s been a day now since this happened almost. I am still seeing her eyes. I can still smell her as she was when she came into the clinic. Usually writing this stuff down helps me to not carry it with me so much, I have a feeling that this will stay with me a while. A few of them have over the 13 years or so I’ve been doing this. Some of them wonderful memories, some of them like this one, haunting, sad, infuriating. I dreamed about her last night. I saw her face this morning when I woke up. How much longer I can do this remains to be seen. I think I care too much sometimes to be effective, to do a good job and stay sane. But if I don’t at least try to fight the good fight and help those who cannot speak for themselves…… who amongst us will?

Would you?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.