Story of Michael, Caregiver to His Mother and Her Cat Companions

Trial by medical profession negligence and home pet euthanasia gone wrong


Stories. Life stories. For every creature that has ever lived, there is a story worth telling; all similar, but each one is unique! But here, I tell the stories of only three, and those with only a fraction of the detail and richness they contain. This telling is usually avoided because doing so triggers images and memories that are so ghastly for me. I tell them here only because doing so may give value to the suffering of these three by giving others a chance to avoid something similar.
Although some say we are to find some humor in everything, there is no humor in these stories. None of the subjects can tell me they found any humor in what they experienced. It certainly didn't appear to me that any of them did. I certainly didn't. So I think it would be irreverent for me to inject humor into any of their stories, even if I found it possible and wanted to.
I begin with the account of my care-giving for Miss Kitty, Norma and Tinkerbell, including the effects and results. It contains links to the stories of these three who were my priceless companions. Then I explain how and why I work on this website.
(Photos by Michael of PetEuthanasia.Info)

I began caring for my mother Norma on June 21, 2010 so that she wouldn't have to go to a nursing home. (For Norma's story, click here.)  Miss Kitty was her cat companion then. (For the story of Miss Kitty, click here.). Norma was able to walk safely then and took good care of Miss Kitty. All I had to do was manage the litter box. When Miss Kitty died on Aug 3, 2010, Norma went without an animal companion until adopting Tinkerbell from the local animal shelter several months later. (For the story of Tinkerbell, click here.) As Norma lost her ability to walk during the next several years, I assumed more and more of the care for Tinkerbell. I assumed all care and for her, including the treatment of her diabetes, after Norma died on April 23, 2018. 
Trauma has been known to produce some surprising effects and responses. Do any of the following seem either unusual or familiar to you? For me, the effects of this trauma seemed to be those usually seen. But my responses seemed unusual and perhaps counterproductive, at first. But after more than a year of doubt and uncertainty about my responses, I encountered explanation and validation for them in the book It's OK That You're Not OK by Megan Devine, Founder of Refuge in Grief.
Oh, don't worry. I know I have it pretty good, as they say; an important initiative to work on with and health good enough to do it. But especially good is that my life is saturated with imagery and memories of the tragedies of my three companions. I rely on them to continually drive me to continue working on this initiative; to prevent anything similar to those avoidable tragedies. Here's a story of my time living in a minefield of bitter memories. 
When I learned that Tinkerbell and I weren't the only victims of traumatic euthanasia, I frantically tried to warn other potential victims and to learn how often this happens and to work to reduce its occurrence.
Soon after Tinkerbell's atrocity, I acquired the reflex of interrupting the invasion of its images and memories by desperately grasping at any distraction available or by repeatedly telling myself to stop thinking of them. If I don't, I either break out in a sweat or I get the feeling that I'm free-falling paralyzed, into a black void.. Even so, trying to get to sleep can be a bad time. I try to make sure I'm exhausted by the end of each day so that I can get to sleep fast and not have to fend off ghastly imagery. Waking up can also be unpleasant because sleep is a refuge.
Most of the time of care-giving for Miss Kitty, Norma and Tinkerbell was extremely stressful and I was desperate to have each of their lives end peacefully and pleasantly so the memories of those times would be bittersweet instead of bitter. But they all ended tragically and we were all traumatized. I try to avoid encountering any others who are in need of help because it's all but impossible for me to turn away. If I don't, I again become a reluctant caregiver. It would be easier to consider becoming caregiver for another animal companion if I could be assured that animal's life wouldn't also end in euthanasia atrocity. At this point, I can't be assured.
Pet euthanasia incidents that cause or increase distress and/or pain in the patient also end it. It's done and nothing will ever change that. All that can be done is to try to prevent those kinds of incidents from occurring again; to work "upstream" to prevent trauma to future patients. This will also reduce the "flow" of traumatized witnesses "downstream" from the source of this trauma for whom something may be done to make any resulting distress easier to bear. My work on this website allows me to work in "midstream", doing some of both, but without becoming a personal caregiver again; something for which I don't think I'm well suited.

Important consideration for current and potential pet caregivers, pet owners and pet parents
Which of the following is best for you?
Is it better for you to work "downstream" from the source of the stream of suffering by trying to ease what has already occurred?
Is it better for you to work "upstream" at the source of the stream of suffering to try to prevent it?
Is it better for you to work "midstream" in the stream of suffering, doing some of both?
Or is it better for you to do none of the above?

I try to avoid situations in which those I encounter may say "Hi. How are you?", even though I know they're just trying to be polite. I must either be silent, lie and say "I'm just fine, thank you!" or tell the truth that they probably don't want to hear....that I'm traumatized and I'm not just fine. The worst of the three choices is for me to say I'm fine because then I'm acting as if the suffering and deaths of my three companions is of no consequence. That leaves me feeling as if I've abandoned and betrayed them again! 
I'm grateful when they just say "Hello" and don't ask questions. That's what I do because, if I'm acting fine while I'm not, they probably are also and are in a similar condition! I'm probably just one among the millions of traumatized who often act as if they're just fine! And I know this applies to animals other than humans as well.
I've found that a death undeserved and tainted with guilt and regret has resulted in the "sweet" being taken out of memories that would've otherwise been "bittersweet". They become haunting instead. I'm haunted by bitter reminders of Norma and her cat companions; their favorite activities, their behaviors and the places where they spent most of their time. I'm haunted by the place where Miss Kitty was found hiding after being stricken and by her favorite box in which she died. All bitter reminders than could've been at least bittersweet had they all had the peaceful deaths they deserved. 
The most ghastly thought of all is that Tinkerbell may have regarded me, her companion, as a traitor who led attackers to her as she lay sick and dying? Did she see me standing by, doing nothing to protect her as these attackers overcame her and tormented her on the way to a nightmarish death? It's this thought that most paralyzes me with guilt every time I fall prey to it. It's not getting any better.
Although I still live where we lived, I spend as little time there as possible. I've closed one room off altogether. Four other places evoke enough ghastly vivid imagery to get me out of there and working on this website; the place below a lamp where Norma died and where I most often pricked Tinkerbell's ear for her diabetes blood sample, the place where Norma fell, the hall down which Tinkerbell staggered and the back of the sofa where she often was for her insulin injection and where she died. There are many others. The place is awash in reminders to get out and work on this issue.
I could move out and nearly did when Norma died. But I was Tinkerbell's caregiver and her veterinarian said that the stress of moving added to that of her diabetes could kill her. I think my moving would've simply added the guilt of abandoning the place where they all suffered. So I have stayed and forced myself to set up little shrines of some of their possessions instead, although I can't bear to look at them once they're done. The only things worse would be to dispose of their possessions or to hide them away. 
If I'd have made the move described above, it would've been to a neighboring town. That would've gotten me away from this town saturated with reminders of Norma and then instantly, of her suffering and death. I took her for rides on all the back roads and side streets and for wheelchair walks in the park and on all the recreational trails. Except for the busy main thoroughfares that we avoided, the entire community is off limits. I can't avoid all the outdoor aromas, sights and sounds that we encountered on those rides and walks.  When I have to encounter them, I run the gauntlet and pay the price.
My life will be very different than it would've been had Norma had recovered and Tinkerbell's death been peaceful.  Any memory of Norma or Tinkerbell instantly reminds me of how they died. I occasionally "test" some of those memories to see if they're becoming easier to bear. They're not. I still occasionally wonder if I'll wake up from this and I'll find that none of these tragedies ever happened and they'll all be here again. I probably always will. 

Everyone responds to trauma in their own way. Here are some of the things I've done after witnessing these tragedies.
First, I forced myself to move; to walk in familiar places and to perform familiar routines, even though I seemed to be just going through the motions without purpose. I forced myself to eat and tried to sleep.
I came to this library and went online to try to learn more about what happened to Tinkerbell and I.
I contacted Jill Breitner who helped me contact Dr. Sally Foote. She suggested I tell deans of colleges and schools of vet medicine what happened and to urge them to teach low stress handling to their students. I sent such a letter to the dean of every accredited college or school of vet medicine throughout the world and received many affirmative replies.
I both called and sent a letter to a co-owner of the vet clinic of my dissatisfaction and refused to pay for the actual euthanasia part of Tinkerbell's home procedure and urged certification in low stress handling.
I submitted a letter to the editor of a local paper in an effort to warn others of what can happen during a pet euthanasia. This letter was refused, even though it mentioned no clinic or veterinarian.
The same letter was sent to editors of 28 newspapers in my state in hard copy before I learned few papers take them anymore. I received got confirmation of the printing of only one botched copy.
I met with the mayor and chief of police to make sure they knew what happened to Tinkerbell and and could happen to others, including children, in this town.
I filed a complaint with my state's veterinarian exam board. To see a copy of this complaint, click here.
I posted a review on the website of the clinic that performed Tinkerbell's atrocity and a review on the website of the hospital that provided what I think was incompetent treatment for Norma.
I began work on this website after connecting with another victim of a pet euthanasia turned nightmare. She suggested that I include tips on filing complaints.
I continue my effort to amend Norma's death certificate and my effort to prevent other elders from experiencing what she experienced in the treatment of the trauma before her death. It took me several months to realize Norma's mistreatment was worthy of a complaint, and about a year more to file that complaint with the appropriate state department. 
I work on this website using these library computers by walking the mile here most days of the week, sometimes twice a day.  All this walking keeps me from being paralyzed by imagery and memories of these incidents. Walking is also what got me through the day after Tinkerbell's atrocity. 
I leave home as early as possible and return as late as possible because it’s easier to be there after dark. Home is filled with momentos and reminders of the suffering and death of my mother and her two cat companions. 
I've lots of time to work on this website. Tinkerbell's death was the end of the personal care-giving I never wanted to perform because of its stress, the almost certainty of error and their costs, which seem far too high for me. 
I work to develop this website keeping in mind the euthanasia atrocity inflicted on the companion cat of the person who helped me set up this website, which is one of many that makes mine sound like a pleasant stroll in the park! We both contacted Jill Breitner after our respective pet euthanasia atrocities and connected after that. Even with the help of my initial wonderful instructor, I can do this work only by focusing strictly on the technical aspects and the objects I'm manipulating. That prevents those images and words from reminding me of the subjects they represent; those who suffered and of how they died. 
I work at this library on this website because I participated in the euthanasia incidents of two cat companions of my late mother Norma. That of Miss Kitty I describe as only faulty, while that of diabetic Tinkerbell was an atrocity. Both experienced an increase in their suffering before death that I think was unjustifiable and could've been avoided. Neither of them deserved to die that way and neither euthanasia delivered what was expected or requested. To me, this is an injustice to be exposed, opposed and prevented from recurring.
I work at this library on this website so that Miss Kitty and Tinkerbell will not have suffered in vain. I work to give meaning to their suffering. This work is a tribute to them.
I work at this library on this website because that takes me away from where Miss Kitty was stricken and lay sedated before being taken to her faulty euthanasia. It takes me away from where Tinkerbell's atrocity occurred. This work here at the library also takes me away from where my mother Norma died; at her home in the same room where her Tinkerbell died a year later. The images and memories of these three deaths are always ready to invade my thoughts when at home...those of Miss Kitty, Norma and Tinkerbell. 
I work at this library on this website in an effort to make up for the suffering that my negligence caused to those in my care, even though I know that is impossible.
I work at this library on this website because when I return to my house of horrors after a productive day here, the momentos and reminders of the suffering and death that happened there have less effect than they otherwise would. 
I work at this library on this website so that you and your animal companion may avoid anything like what happened to Miss Kitty, Tinkerbell and I. But I also work to give you a chance to learn you're not alone and don't have to accept what happened if you and your animal companion have fallen victim to euthanasia gone bad.
I work at this library on this website because this issue of traumatic animal or pet euthanasia is as good a place as any and better than most for me to take a stand. 
Finally, I work at this library on this website because I don't want to "get over it", to "move on", to become desensitized to what I saw. I stay with what happened, holding the images and memories at a distance, at computer keyboard and screen distance, manipulating them instead of them manipulating me.  I use them as an incentive to try find out how common is animal or pet euthanasia gone wrong and if it's found not to be an extreme rarity, to make it so. 
Please consider acting on this initiative with me.


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