Friday, September 21, 2007

A dilemma of timing

When is the right time?

When is the right time to send Rosie to doggie heaven?

Is it at the very last moment when she’s in obvious pain and can no longer stand and walk or do anything for herself anymore?

Is it in a month or two when she’s starting to show signs of obvious weakness because the cancer is overtaking her system?

Is it now while she’s still mostly in control of herself and seemingly at peace?

When is the right time?

This is a huge dilemma for me. I got Rosie when she was 8 weeks old. She turned 14 almost a month ago. She’s been a significant part of my life for a long time. I love her dearly and don’t want her to suffer.

I’m going to lose her within 3 to 6 months naturally. If I wait until the very end, she will suffer, so that’s not an option. She will NOT suffer.

If I wait until she starts showing signs that the cancer is overtaking her, she won’t suffer – but I will. Everyday I will love her, tend to her and watch her knowing that might be the last good day we have. It will always be there festering in the back of my mind. She might make it through my birthday in October, or through Thanksgiving, or through Christmas, or even into the new year. How can I celebrate these things knowing she’s dying?

So when is the right time – for her and for me?

I don’t want to prolong her suffering. I don’t want to prolong my suffering either.

Is that selfish of me?

19 comments:

Church Lady said...

Oh, this is painful to read. I'm so sorry you're going through this.

My 7 year old has a rabbit named Spots. Once or twice a week I'll hear him crying in his room. And without fail he's crying because he's afraid of when Spots will die. "It's not fair. I'd rather die first," he says. Then tears slide down my cheeks and I'm no good to comfort him.

Can you talk this over with the vet? Tell him your concerns, and let him/her give you a range?

Ello said...

I agree with Church, talk to your vet and see what she has to say about this. I think your vet should be able to guide you to the right decision that is best for both of you. In the meantime, my heart is hurting for your pain too.

Anonymous said...

When she no longer seems to get any joy out of life. If she stops playing, isn't eating or drinking well,or seems like she is in breakthrough pain despite any pain medications. That is the time with pets.

I'm sorry.

Anonymous Sister of Anti-Wife (who has seen every episode of Emergency Vets with her kids at least 4 times over)

Precie said...

I happened upon your blog from another blog link.

I'm very sorry to hear about your Rosie.

We lost my Sunny in a similar way about 17 months ago. Bladder cancer (well, transitional cell carcinoma).

I don't know that anyone else can tell you the "right" time. I know I decided that I would keep her going only as long as her quality of life seemed good and happy. In the meantime, she stayed on a NSAID that not only reduced her pain but also helped stave off the cancer.

One night she stopped eating and drinking and couldn't sleep. When I took her to the vet the next day, X-rays showed that the cancer had metastasized. It wasn't a matter of choice...it was time to let her go.

I can only hope that the time ends up being just as clear for you and your Rosie. And I wish the best for you.

Stephen Parrish said...

You'll know when it's time.

As long as you believe it's not yet time, it's not yet time.

When it's time, you'll know.

The Anti-Wife said...

Chris and Ello,
I have talked to the vet. Aside from waiting for the obvious signs that she's in pain, it's basically my decision. He says she probably has somewhere between 3 and 6 months. That doesn't mean they will all be healthy months. It's like walking a tightrope.

The Anti-Wife said...

Anonymouse sister,
Would you send my anonymouse niece who aspires to be a vet out here to take care of Rosie and me?

Precie,
The vet wants to put here on a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug called piroxicam. It might upset her gastrointestinally, but it should make her more comfortable for the duration. She has to take it on a full stomach, so when she stops eating, we're done. Thanks for coming by and for the comments. I really appreciate it.

The Anti-Wife said...

Stephen,
I know, but that doesn't make it any easier. Thanks!

Precie said...

Omigosh--THAT's the NSAID we put Sunny on...piroxicam. I suspect that's what enabled her to live those remaining 6 months after diagnosis (and surgery that wasn't able to remove her tumor cleanly).

anti-wife--Just remember, whatever decision you make, you're doing it out of love for her. I'm sure you've given her a happy, loving home.

Bernita said...

I have been in this place of weigh scales and pain.
Stephen is right.

mcewen said...

We had a similar dilemma with our cat a couple of years ago.

The vet sent me home with 'terminal' cat and said that we 'as a family ' would need time to adjust [true] and that when we couldn't stand the suffering any longer to come back. So grim, I would almost have preferred if the 'choice' element had been removed [along with the responsibility] then I'd have had someone else to blame.
[pop along and pick up your award]
Best wishes

The Anti-Wife said...

Precie,
I'm not sure if I can last for 6 months. Hopefully after the initial shock wears off I'll get used to it.

Bernita,
Libra - all about balance and weighing things. I can see the pros and cons in all of it. Sucks doesn't it?

Maddy,
I too wish someone would just chose for me. My last dog had a serious seizure in the middle of the night, we were at the vet at 8 am the next morning, he gave me my options and a recommendation and it was a quick and easy decision to let her go. She was gone by 11 am. It was incredibly painful for me, but it was quick. 3 to 6 months seems like a very long time right now.

Merry Jelinek said...

Anti-Wife,

I'm so sorry that you and your Rosie are having such a hard time. Don't worry about being selfish, just reading your posts anyone can see that your top concern is for Rosie's happiness and well being.

I can't say that I've had this dilemma, though my mom in law breeds Norweigan Elkhounds and has been through everything in a dog's life you can go through - no matter how many you have you love them each no bounds... She's had a few with health issues towards the end of their lives and it becomes a wait and see. When the dog shows signs of being in pain and quality of life is no longer there, that's when she takes them in. Until then she showers them with treats and cares for them as long as she can.

Hope that helps some. Take care, and give Rosie a belly rub for me.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I've been there too, with my cat. Stephen is right. You'll know.

In the meantime, enjoy the heck out her and know that she's happiest with you.

Church Lady said...

It's Sunday night. You're in my thoughts. Hope you and Rosie are okay.

Bernita said...

And I'd like to add I believe doggies do go to heaven.
Heaven could not/would not shut out love.

The Anti-Wife said...

I think doggies are heaven. How else could they give you all that unconditional love.

I'm coming to terms with this whole thing now. Should be back to normal very soon.

Maya Reynolds said...

S: Stephen was right. You'll know when the time is right, and you'll do the right thing.

Selfish doesn't enter into it. If you were selfish, you wouldn't be posting these messages.

You've already told us. The pact between you and Rosie was simple. She gave you love and trusted you to care for her. You're doing that.

You and she are in my thoughts and prayers.

wordtryst said...

I'm really sorry to hear this. I'd ditto Stephen as well - you know her best, so you'll know when it's time to do what you must for her. I know it's not a simple matter, but you'll do the right thing.