Thursday, March 27, 2008

Decision


Four weeks ago, Addy, my standard poodle started favoring her right front leg. I mashed on all parts of it from top to bottom and couldn't figure out what was bothering her. As each day passed, she seemed to be bothered more. Finally, two weeks ago, I took her to the vet. She did two x-rays and said it was probably arthritis and gave us some pain pills. It didn't look like the pain pills were doing any good. She continued walking on three legs. But the pain pills ran out a few days ago. I came home on Tuesday, and the girls told me that Addy has been crying and whining all day. Obviously the pain pills had been masking the worsening of her condition. I called the vet, and they said to bring her in. Maybe she had lyme disease.

Yesterday, we took her to the vet, and the lyme disease test was negative. They did two more x-rays and still couldn't tell us what was wrong. But Addy now had a fever of 104.8, which is several degrees high for a dog. The vet gave her a shot for pain and fever, and referred us to another vet with more experience in orthopedic problems. Today we took her to that vet, and after three more x-rays, he told us she has cancer in her shoulder.

He told us the first step would be to completely amputate her leg. That would get rid of the pain immediately, but in 2/3 of cases of bone cancer, it has already spread to other parts of the body by the time it is diagnosed, so she might only have a few months left. In cases where they also do chemo, it usually adds about a year to the dog's life. I've known people in chemo, and I can't imagine putting a dog through that. Add a year to her life when a part of it would put her in more agony? That doesn't make sense. But what do I do?

For now, she is taking two different types of pain pills. She is not eating, and she only walks to the water bowl for water and outside to potty three times a day. Otherwise, she is laying down. I remember one day when I was a reporter, I shadowed a doctor who had a patient with bladder cancer. She wasn't eating, her weight was down to 85 pounds, and all she kept saying was, "I want to die. Just let me die. It's too painful." Her husband and her son kept telling her that she didn't mean it, and she simply said the same thing again and again. When they insisted that she didn't mean it and begged her to tell them what she wanted, she said, "I want to be cremated." I look at Addy, and I remember that woman lying in bed, begging the doctor and her family to let her die so the pain would go away. If Addy could talk, I wonder what she would say to me.

7 comments:

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

What a beautiful dog, and how terrible for you to be facing this decision. I don't know if you read my blog, but we were at this point last October, although perhaps with a poorer prognosis. I couldn't put my Rosie through radiation, the only treatment available for her heart-based tumor, so we put her down while she was actually feeling pretty good because of the maximum dose of prednisone she was on. I've never had to do something so hard, or experienced such loss. Rosie will always be my only "forever dog," and I still cry over losing her (like I am right now), but I had to do what was right by her....

Anonymous said...

You and Michelle (previous post) each have/had wonderful family members who are in pain. I will not refer to them as pets or animals because that would diminish what they come to mean to us. The love that they give us is so unconditional that it is so hard to see them as anything less than family members.

I have had two friends who have had to take loved ones (a husband in one case and a brother in a different case) off of life support. The husband died one week after the couple had their first child. You need to put Addy's pain over your own, and do what is right for her. It is only human for us to be selfish and want to hold on the our loved one's, even if they are in pain.

One other thing to think about ... one more year for us is 7 more years for her. Would adding that much more time to her life be that much more time in pain?

My suggestion would be to gather the family and take her to vet one alst time. Gather as a family and let her slip one last time into a painless sleep.

Anonymous said...

Dear Debbie,
My family had a similar experience with our Collie, Ginger, at the same time that my mom was in chemo and radiation for her brain tumor. In two weeks Ginger went from typical dog to cancer patient - from being independent to having my mom and dad carry her outside to relieve herself. It was not what she was used to. We asked the vet to make a home visit to put her to sleep. It was very sad but I know that it was the right decision. In the whole scheme of things I believe that Ginger took the cancer from my mother so she could live. My mom is well and tumor free at this time. I thank Ginger daily for her sacrifice.
Meredith Morrow

City Mouse said...

I just discovered your blog, but even just reading today, I know for sure how loved your animal family members are, and how important they are to your family. It's a very tough thing you're having to make a decision on, and being close to that gorgeous dog, I know you'll do what is best for her. Thanks for the excellent writing, and best wishes for the pup.

Juliann said...

Hi Deb,

I am so sorry to hear about your dog. It is one of the most painful things we have to deal with.
Our rottie was diagnosed with hip bone cancer a few years ago. Same thing, limping and in pain. The vet said we could do the amputation, chemo, etc. but their was a risk of sudden breakdown in the limb which would leave him lying in the yard in horrible agony. I couldn't bear the thought of transporting him to the vet for the shot in that painful condition.
So we made the decision to let God take him then and there, and held him and petted him as he was humanely euthanized by our vet.
Again, I'm so sorry. Just something to consider as you ponder your decision.

Susan said...

So sorry your family has to deal with this with your Addy and that she is in so much pain.

You will all figure out the best way to handle this. Good wishes

pedalpower said...

We had to put our black standard down last year. It broke my heart. Reading about yours brings it all back. Ours used to play just down the road from you...at my aunt's place. I met you long ago on Flylady. I'm so sorry for your loss and now for what you have gone through with the dog bite.

I met your Margaret tonight. She's a charming young woman. I know you must be very proud of her.

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