The day I most feared is now past. God took Baasha Monday night November 19, to be with his family and old friends.
I am not able to talk about this, but I'll try to type something for you.
Being Thanksgiving week, I am overwhelmed at the number of details that God manipulated for us that made it easier to handle, as horrible as it was.
Unexpected, unprepared, in shock, several little things happened that made a big difference in my tragedy. I wrote them down to not forget.
I got home from work at 6:45 and my man said immediately, "Baasha was lying down but I went out there and he got up." I went out to feed but no Baasha/Bellis. I cleaned up poop around the barn and did my food whistle, that they always come to. But I never have to use it at mealtimes so I started getting stressed. I especially got worried when I heard Bellis respond to my whistle in her food nicker. She hears me and she's not coming, and she's close. It was totally dark so I ran and got a flashlight and as I made my way out there, I saw Baasha down. The weird thing was, when I spoke to him, he jumped up and ran away from me. That never happens.
I ran to get my man for help but just as he came out, both animals had made their way to the barn, but Baasha had his nose on the ground and was in distress. Poison, tetanus, brain injury went through my mind at his odd behavior. He kept rushing around, nickering to ? and then dropping his head to the ground again. I let him in a stall but he ran right out. I frantically told my man to call a vet, any vet.
I had an extra bag of shavings and opened it up and pour it below my horse who was then trying to lie down, his legs buckling, but not sure what he wanted. I yelled at him to STAND so I could take his temperature, which was normal, and I made him stand until all those shavings were fluffed up beneath him. I removed his blanket. He was filthy with caked on black mud all over his body except where the blanket was, even his ears and eyelids were muddy.
His expression - he was not with us. He obeyed me but he was not here. He was completely inward and I'd never experienced that before. Why thankful? There was only one way for this to go and I did not have the torment of asking what my options could be.
My poor baby lay down groaning a high whine and kept trying to figure out which way lying hurt less. His legs were braced, and he kept looking at his stomach. I say looking but his eyes were half closed and vacant.
The vet who arrived was the one who loves Baasha, the one who saved him from the bridge 4 years ago.
Dr Paufler made Baasha get up and listened more intently than ever before to all his quadrants. Nothing to hear.
Baasha has never colicked in his life, and at this point I knew he would not survive his first.
The vet found a blockage and injected Baasha with a pain killer/muscle relaxer.
Baasha perked up immediately, came back to us with his eyes and looked normal. The vet said there is still a blockage, so he has to go to the clinic. The meds worked enough that he was able to travel. To die here would have been unimaginable, logistics-wise.
I had not been able to function this entire time - my man had to get a halter and lead, and put Bellis in the other stall. I was helpless.
I find it interesting that Bellis did not want to be near Baasha. Not far, but not near. She never looked over the wall to see what was happening with him, as she normally would.
"I have no trailer and I don't want to ask a neighbor to go through this with me. Please find someone for us who hauls professionally."
The vet called Mr Braun, who I've mentioned here before - he owns the local gas station and does competitive driving with drafts and ponies. He has that other donkey I visited.
Mr Braun's horse trailer showed up almost immediately (I'm soooo glad I did not have to use a neighbor for this). I frantically remembered I needed to get a cooler for Baasha to wear, and then, oddly, I said, "I have to go get Baasha's travelling robe."
I knew it would be a final trip and I wanted him in the nice black polarfleece blanket that I love. (Later it came to me that the term travelling robe comes from a Babylon 5 episode where a little boy's parents take him somewhere to kill him, wearing his travelling robe.)
Shaking, I put it on with my man's help (I was still pretty helpless).
I took him to the trailer and said, "Get in" and he took a look and then stepped in, as he always does. He cried once to Bellis, who cried back.
Getting to the clinic was worse than waiting for the vet while my horse was suffering. It took almost an hour on tiny curvy backroads, and Mr Braun drove agonizingly slow so Baasha wouldn't fall. I thought there's no way he's still able to stand, but somehow he made it upright.
Mr Braun talked the entire time about his life with horses, and losing some he loved. This nonstop horse chatter saved me from freaking out and telling him to drive faster. He said, "How old is your horse?" "27." "Really, I thought he was a young horse."
When we arrived at the emergency area, I got out of the car to look for the office but couldn't find it, and I just couldn't function. I just stood there in the dark, not really looking for the office, not sure how to find it, and giving up.
When my man jumped out of the car I came too and found it. They told us to bring him in and remove his robe and get into the stocks.
I remember I'd asked my man to get Baasha out of the trailer. He went to his head and jiggled the halter and said, "OK Baasha" but I'd forgotten my man didn't know how to tell Baasha it's time to back up. Baasha was so good at trailering, he would stand there until told to get out, and at the speed you require. I jumped in and got him out.
Baasha was perfectly agreeable and "with us."
A tech had to braid his mane to hook an IV to. It was awful watching her do this. His mane was hanging in mud dreadlocks. His tail was also completely black and hanging to the ground.
It crossed my mind later how appalling and potentially neglected Baasha looked, so muddy, but the vets did not have to wonder - a married couple stood at his head the whole time, hugging each other and crying. No doubt he was important to us, "our son".
She shaved a bit of his neck right through the mud while the vet shaved his belly.
The ultrasound showed what Dr Paufler said: twisted gut.
The tech started to walk away with Baasha and the vet told us to come to the office with him. I said WHERE IS SHE TAKING MY HORSE and he said a stall.
I did not want him out of my sight but we followed. He took our information and as I spelled out Baasha's name several times (he kept typing wrong) I knew it would be the last time I had to spell out his name for someone.
He asked for Baasha's passport.
Right, Baasha's an American horse. No pass. I actually had to sign something saying "No passport."
We told him we wanted no operation, no special measures. It was awful but thankfully I did not have to say it myself, my man helped me and the vet just made me confirm that I understood. He tried speaking English but German was better because he doesn't know much. He kept using this awful word for euthanasia - Erloesen. I said "Why do you keep calling it that? Doesn't that mean delete?" and he said, "It means to save." And sure enough, it came back to me from the Lord's Prayer: "Erloese uns von den Boesen." Deliver us from evil.
I wanted to be with Baasha. He was hooked to an IV and Mr Braun had hope, "He is hungry, he's looking in the trough for food! He doesn't look so bad."
The vet said, "Is he acting agitated from hunger (missing dinner) or is he in pain?" My man said, "Since we've never seen him sick, it's hard to say." I said, "The kicking at his belly is not something he does normally."
Baasha kept circling. I went in and pet him and saw that the IV was dripping onto his back. The the tech fixed it. I said, "He doesn't know those automatic waterers, you have to give him a bucket." The vet reminded me eating or drinking would be bad for him now. I said, "Of course - it's just habit that I not leave my horse with no water."
He wanted us to leave and he'd call if the condition changed. I found it odd that he said, "I'll call in the morning" because I knew Baasha didn't have that long.
Baasha lay down in a little ball with his nose pointed at his stomach and drifted away from us mentally again. I went in and kissed his forehead and that is the picture I have in my head of my horse now, the last time I saw him.
They sent us home and as soon as we got here my man started writing a blog entry to let you know. In the middle of this blog entry the phone rang and the vet said Baasha did not respond to a powerful painkiller that should have offered him relief for the next 4-6 hours. He asked if we wanted to come back to be there when he "saved" him.
I knew Baasha's mind was gone, he did not recognize me or care if I was there. He did not even look across the aisle to see the other horses - he was completely inward. I also knew that another 30 minutes of agony was too long. I said go ahead.
There was only one person I knew I had to tell - my sister. She's owned Baasha with me for 24 years, he's hers too. For some reason I was able to recall her phone number and I dialed it, but I couldn't say the words. My man took the phone. He told her, and I went on to tell the details. She deserved to know everything. She'd been dreading this call a while. She was able to tell my family, and my man was able to tell his, the next day.
She cried for 3 days, looking at the street where she saw him get into the trailer. She made sure that everyone within a mile knows that Baasha is gone forever.
It was so horrible, her braying, I kept praying she'd stop.
Yesterday I cleaned up the pasture and it was so awful knowing this was one last loving chore I could do for Baasha and then there's nothing else. Bellis did not leave my side, except once or twice and then she'd come cantering back to me and standing against me, pressing into me. I cried over her. She had herself wrapped around me so I couldn't walk, just cry into her big long ear. I did not want that job to end, but it did.
We keep spoiling her with carrots cookies, Baasha's mashes and affection. I thought if she doesn't colic as well from all this it will be a miracle.
But then at 5 PM as I tried to make my first Thanksgiving dinner, my man ran into the kitchen and said, "There's a donkey at the door."
Mr Braun had brought over his donkey gelding to be Bellis' companion.
I did not ask for this, but it must have been God's answer to soothing her pain.
This morning for the first time in 3 days, there is silence.
I went to work but I was in a state of panic that someone would try to talk to me. I had called in sick Tuesday because I was not at all well, and I was afraid my boss would hug me or something. Thankfully this did not happen. I was able to do my job, but then when it was time to come home, I didn't want to. I called my man, "Last time I came home, something horrible happened." He convinced me to come home.
My photographer friend was here last month to get some pictures of a happy healthy Baasha. I also had finally, FINALLY gotten an Arabian halter for his pretty face.
I find myself with an unexpected apathy now. I had my life's priority of 24 years removed, and now there is no purpose to what I do. Everything was for Baasha. All my energies and focus were serving his needs and fulfilling the dream of finally keeping him with me. I promised him years ago, "Before you die, I will take care of you myself." I even have this donkey that exists here soley for him.
Before the end you know Baasha had some digestive problems, thus the bloodwork and meds, but I'll never know what it was. During the last few months, he finally asserted himself with the donkey. Whether it was a silent illness, I don't know. But it was wonderful to see him finally say, "No, donkey, I will not move for you." and "My hay, donkey, you eat when I say." I always smiled - I even have a photo of him snarking at her over a bag of hay. His last photo. He would always stand over the hay bag after eating his mash, and doze, and Bellis would sneak bites out, and he'd glare at her, but never bite.
Baasha would sometimes sense her mood and start nibbling along her neck, which turned into biting down hard and he'd nicker at her like a stallion, as long as she could take it. That was Bellis doing her job, giving him an animal to nibble on.
Before Bellis Baasha was always standing at our little gate, waiting for me to drive up and feed him. But Bellis took that spot, forcing him to stand behind her. Well in the end, he claimed his spot back, and it was so wonderful to come home and see Baasha with his head over the gate, ears up, eyes sparkling, nickering at me. My man says this is how he'll always remember Baasha, at the gate, where he'd lift a hoof for my man to shake for a treat.
I wish I'd had the chance to spoil Baasha before (well, Sunday night I did, but I had no idea). I mean, I wish I'd been able to give him a bucket of apples, a deep bed of straw with shavings even deeper, below, but there was no opportunity. Instead God made it as easy as possible for us - there was never a question, there was never an option, there was no time. It all happened between 6:45 and 11PM.
I always thought I'd take some tail hair but there was no way, it was just mud. However last Winter when I shaved him, I accidentally cut off a chunk of mane, what, at the time, annoyed me intensely. Now I have it. Perfectly clean, white, long mane. It brought us both to tears again when I brought it out.
Saturday he had nibbled on my fluffy polarfleece shirt, with that dreamy look in his eye - he cannot resist fluffy shirts, and I was happy to see him canter twice for no apparent reason, clear across the field, donkey following.
I never want to forget his low rumbling nicker when he'd canter to the donkey and me if we got too far away from him. She tended to follow me around when I cleaned the pasture. That low, "Mmm Mmm Mmm" in a single tone, in rhythm with his hoofbeats. It was like he was scolding her, "Don't get too far from me."
10 AM Friday: Still silent here.
My grandfather would always say the Lord's prayer, but in English. Since he knew Baasha, I hope he takes the time to go find Baasha this week. Or maybe next week; Baasha has a lot to do.
- Vater unser im Himmel,
- geheiligt werde dein Name.
- Dein Reich komme.
- Dein Wille geschehe,
- wie im Himmel, so auf Erden*.
- Unser tägliches Brot gib uns heute.
- Und vergib uns unsere Schuld,
- wie auch wir vergeben unsern Schuldigern.
- Und führe uns nicht in Versuchung,
- sondern erlöse uns von dem Bösen.
- Denn dein ist das Reich und die Kraft und die Herrlichkeit in Ewigkeit.
- * -- Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven