My oh my. Where to start. It has been nearly 6 weeks since the death of my beloved Indie. My heart horse who I just spoke about in my last post.
I feel semi-ready in this moment to write about her death. So I will act before it passes.
Having experienced the traumatic and untimely death of our precious Doberman, Morgan, and being an ER nurse in a past life, I was still in no way even close to being prepared to lose Indie. Especially in the fashion that I did.
To be brief (not) but informative: I awoke on Friday October 12 for work as I do everyday. I let the dogs out and got out to the barn around 5:45 am. I immediately knew Indie was not right. She was displaying colic symptoms (walking around aimlessly, not interested in hay/feed, biting at her sides, stretching her body out). I gave her Banamine, the typical initial pain treatment for colic, and ran in to call the vet.
[As a side: Colic in horses is a very broad term. It generally means abdominal pain and can range from gas pains to an intestinal torsion etc. It is the #1 cause of death in horses. Some types are preventable and some you can do nothing to prevent.]
My vet arrived before 7 am and did a full exam, she inserted a nasogastric tube, pumped her stomach, administered a large amount of mineral oil, administered a sedative pain medication and had me walk her and check on her frequently. She left me with two injectable doses of the pain meds to give as needed.
Indie seemed to improve for the next hour or two. But then she started to decline. I blew through the pain meds and they barely touched her. I notified the vet. Indie continued to decline.
By the time the vet arrived for the second time Indie was in so much pain that she was thrashing and throwing herself on the ground, down and up and down again, rubbing her face in the dirt, rolling and getting her legs caught in the fence rails. She was inconsolable. It was absolutely gut-wrenching to be so helpless for someone you love so dearly.
Collin and I managed to get her up on her feet and then she changed. I could see it in her eye first. She was not herself anymore. Then she started sweating and shivering all over. We covered her with a cooler (fleece blanket) and waited on the vet.
The vet arrived and reassessed her and told me it was bad. She didn't think she'd be able to even get her on a trailer and to Cornell for surgical assessment. She lifted her lip to reveal purpling gums, a sign she was becoming septic. My vet said the kindest thing to do would be to put her down.
I basically lost my mind.
Never in a million years would I have thought that I would be anywhere close to losing my sweet 7 year old mare. She was supposed to be with me for 30 more years. Teach me so much more than she already has.
I chose to end her pain and suffering. It was one of the hardest things I've ever, ever had to do in my life. I did not cope well with her death. If I would have been allowed, I would have laid over her for the rest of the night and into the morning. I just sobbed.
Luckily my parents dropped everything and came to be with Collin and I. Collin, who is very even keel and never lets his emotions take over, was visibly shaken. He said he wouldn't wish seeing that on his worst enemy.
To make matters worse, the other horses were clearly confused and depressed wondering where their best friend went. For the next week, Kippy would stand on the knoll and whinny into the pasture where she last saw Indie. I caught Aspen standing up by Indie's grave on the opposite side of the fence, a part of the paddock she rarely ventures.
In fact, they are still going through the readjustment period and trying to figure out their new herd dynamic without Indie.
For several weeks after her death and after the first few days of utter scream crying, my brain seemed to make a survival mode switch and *snap* I suddenly wasn't sad, I couldn't cry.
It was the strangest thing.
I knew what had happened, I knew she was gone, but somehow I felt like she was just "away" for now.
This week, for some unknown reason, the numbness went away and I feel those pangs of sadness again.
I miss her so much. It physically hurts me to think about her being gone.
Of course, that day I begged my vet to tell me what I could have done differently. What I did wrong.
She said I did and do everything possible in caring for my horses to prevent colic episodes but sometimes you cannot prevent these things.
She proceeded to tell me about how she lost her most beloved horse in a very similar way when she was younger. She said that the pain will never go away, I will just learn to live with it and that very few people will fully understand the exact pain I'm going through.
She finally said, "you'll figure out the 'why' of this tragedy some day."
I responded "what was your 'why'?"
"So that I could be here with you" she said.
Grief...it is the price of love.