… and my heart still aches.
After fracturing and dislocating my left ankle and needing surgery—less than six weeks after fracturing my right leg—I had a choice for follow-on care upon leaving the hospital. Everyone recommended I go to rehab (i.e., a nursing home), but I chose to return home rather than go into rehab. My reasoning was simple. Romeo.
I adopted Romeo from the shelter when he was 12. A few years later he developed diabetes and had done well with insulin and a special diet. But the people who volunteered to take care of him while I was in the hospital were uncomfortable giving him his insulin. One neighbor said he hadn’t eaten any of the food she’d put out for him. So I was worried.
After a very scary trek up 3½ flights of stairs in a chair, the EMTs settled me on my sofa and set up my hospital-issued items. Romeo came out greet me, but he was listless. Aware that he hadn’t eaten, I tried giving him some of his favorite treats, but he didn’t eat them at all. Thus, I knew he was on his last legs.
During the night, he came into my bedroom (where his favorite water dish was) but didn’t get into bed with me. In the morning I called my vet for the name of an in-home veterinary service, then made an appointment to have him euthanized. Lap of Love was able to schedule us for early afternoon. “Dr. Danielle,” the vet who took care of us was absolutely wonderful. I’d told her the door was unlocked, to just come in and I’d guide her (by voice) to the bedroom. As she walked down the hall, she first saw Romeo and gushed about how beautiful he was. Then she turned the corner and saw me and my big-ass cast, and bemoaned my sorry state. But she was lovely and caring, talking me through the procedure, letting me know he was no longer in pain, and treated him with the utmost respect and tender loving care.
She thought I’d had 17 great years with Romeo. When I told her I’d only had him for 5 years, she was even more impressed. She said I’d saved him twice, once from the shelter, and again when he contracted diabetes. (Apparently some pet owners won’t deal with such a disease; thankfully no one I know!)
Romeo’s death added to a very low point in my life, making life nearly unbearable. In retrospect, he had begun to fail a couple months prior. He’d developed neuropathy, I just hadn’t recognized it. And I’m not sure how I’d have taken care of him since I could barely take care of myself.
But I loved him and I’m grateful I never took his love for granted, telling him several times how happy I was that he’d chosen to live with me.