In the dark of the late night there lies the other side of rescue.
Most folks let you in enough to see the heroic rescues, the happy placements and the quest to acquire more funding. Few let you in to see the other side of strong will, tears, pain, feeling helpless and drained. No sleep, silent prayers as if there is a rescue god who can assist in preserving a life so dependent upon your efforts that you try one more thing, scour your notes for what has worked before and try your best to cling on to any positive sign or turn.
When the veterinarian offices are closed, and you are alone with your best friend trying so desperately to get fluids and meds into a lethargic pup that just wants you to hold him and rock him into a deep slumber where there is no pain and no sadness.
This is the side of supportive care at Mountain Haven. It isn’t easy, and it is an integral part of shelter medicine. You are forever learning and forever grateful for the veterinarians who offer their knowledge and guidance as you carry out their directives hoping to get the patient to turn the corner. It is a fight, and it is a heartbreak like no other. Sometimes, you are lucky and there is a road to health around that corner. Other times, there is only a stillness, a decision and an emptiness as you go over and over everything you did, every note you made and try to rationalize the helplessness and despair you feel. You are exhausted, can’t remember your last meal, and you clean everything as if you could wash away the pain along with the disinfection process. You can’t. No amount of bleach and disinfectant can make you better, no trash bag full of clothing to be thrown away can take that inner pain away with it.
You support each other. You know you did all you could, you know they are no longer suffering, and you know that if you no longer feel this, you should no longer be doing this work.
There is your glimpse into the other side of what we do. Our lonely times where we feel frightened, and the angst we feel when the result is not what we wish for. The process we must go through to grieve, to process the depression and turn it into action so we can go on, because we have to. It is who we are and what we do.
With tears and love;