Monday, October 5, 2009

Can I Come to Terms?

My animal companion of 13 years 5 months is dying. I have to decide when to euthanize and it sucks to be faced with that decision. Her diabetes has gotten too bad to be controlled on diet alone. The vet explained to me that she would need insulin shots. She went through all of what that would entail. I had to be totally honest with myself and the doctor- I can't do that. The vet asked me if it was needles that bothered. I shook my head. No. I don't have the time or the money to devote to doing that properly. I'm very familiar with how diabetes works and consistency is the key. Unless I can do it right I'm just putting her through more suffering by sticking her with needles and running her back and forth to the vet for blood work. It's very difficult to home test a cat's blood sugar lever. You have to prick the ear. It's possible, but hard. I explained to the vet my life right now and she understood. I felt that she empathized with me and she agree that tending a diabetic cat is both time consuming and expensive. Our only other humane option is to euthanize her before her condition leaves her constantly suffering. Rhi had lost 2 pounds since her visit 6 months ago. The vet feels that this is the beginning of the end. However, she still has some quality of life- her vitals are good, she' still eating and not vomiting and she still has some interaction with the family. She said that if I told her I was ready to euthanize that day she would be okay with that but she isn't constantly suffering right now. I chose not to euthanize her days before WC's birthday. If the vet had said she's in pain then I would have. But the events of the past few months have left me with sort of a negative relationship with her and I didn't want it to end like that. I wanted to take her home and some good final weeks- however many that may be.
They did a couple things to hopefully help us these next few weeks. They said her anal glands were very full & they expelled them. I have no earthly idea what that means but they said it should stop the butt dragging (yay). And the constant overflow of sugar in her urine is a magnet for bacteria and she has a UTI- of course. They gave me 14 antibiotic pills to cram down her throat. In hopes of stopping the urinating everywhere.So, I don't have to continually clean up after her. I also picked up some puppy training pads, so she doesn't have to make it all the way back to the box if she sleeping in the living room with everyone else. She will still be put in the bathroom while we are away.
The vet explained to me what will happen to her body as the diabetes worsens. I will spare my kind readers the details. And she told me a couple of things that if I see then it's time to bring her back. Otherwise, I will "just know" when it's time. I'm having difficulty believing that I should play God and decide when the end of her life will be. I'm praying for peace and if God concerns himself with domestic animals then grant me the knowledge of being able to get this decision right.
She went on to explain to me how the euthanasia would work and what they would do. I can choose to be in the room and hold her until the end or not. And she told me to be thinking about what I want afterwards- I can have her cremated or if I want to take her for burial or them to dispose. I'm sure she didn't use the word dispose but I think my brain checked out  at some point there.
Back home I cried, guilty because I at least couldn't try the insulin. Jay said to me, there isn't any guarentee even if you do the insulin and get it right that it would make her all better again. And he was right, that morning she'd started bleeding out of her rear end. It didnt happen at the vet and they immediately couldnt determine why but with her condition there wasn't any point of exploring it any further. I love him because in talking about it, he didn't even mention the money aspect of it. It was all about the constant running back and forth to the vet and the needles. And the time that I don't have to devote to being consistent with it.
Over the past few weeks I've mentioned to WC that Rhi is sick and she's old. And he knew she was going to the vet on Saturday. Sunday, after church, I told him that she would not be getting any better. He asked if that meant she'd just be peeing all over the place. I explained that hopefully the medicine would help that but her sickness was something her old body wouldn't recover from.  He nodded and went on. I didn't go into any more detail than that. I just wanted him to be aware and will bring it up again as time passes or discuss it if he brings it up on his own. We have a book that I'd gotten at the suggestion of Michele, called Dragonfly Door, which discusses death. I may bring that out and read it again to him. I don't even know about CJ at this point. He will ask about her- I just dont know how to explain death to a 2 year old.
At this point, the vet can't say how long she has left. My hope is that we at least get through Christmas up to maybe early Jan. But honestly, it all depends on her condition.

1 comment:

Michele said...

Oh sweetie, I'm crying right now all over my computer. It is never easy to lose such a loved companion. Having said goodbye to several, I still get teary when I see programs on the types of dogs/cats they were and I still miss them, especially my dog.

What you are faced with doesnt have an easy answer. On one hand, you dont want to play God, on the other, you dont want Rhi to suffer. You have done so much to try and help her; you arent giving up by not being able to give her a treatment that still might not work. You are loving her by giving her a quality of life and love as she ages and passes on.

When Jimmy was really little and we lost a dog, my mom told him that the dog was in heaven. Even though I was older and understood death a little better, I remember having this image of that dog, running through the pearly gates and down the streets of gold. It will be hard, since a 2yo isnt going to have a defined idea of what dying is all about. And Will is probably going to have an adjustment as well, even if he is well prepared. I think the book can help. I can make other recommendations too, if you'd like.

I am saying a prayer that St Francis (patron saint of animals) will comfort Rhi and walk her home peacefully. It may sound nuts, but call St Luke's; the blessing of the animals was this last weekend. The priest may be up for having you bring Rhi over for a prayer.