i have been stewing all day

Posted: December 29, 2008 at 7:15 pm

about the differing standards of quality of care and alas, it is your rescue,  remark.

i suppose my crazy time isn’t quite done yet…oh well.

i have three dogs and several cats here that i am really worried about. i am trying to figure out their puzzles and not let them down. chyna is a no-brainer, she is only 2 yrs old. we had a specialist come out from the emergency clinic to endoscope her. by the time he got here, the mass of fabric in her esophagus had started to move thru the small bowel…so we wait to see if she obstructs further down before cutting her open to take it out…it might pass on its own. but we will go and get it if she runs into trouble again.

i had a long talk with the vet today regarding bridgette…she is good, doesn’t seem the least bit ill with the new dose of lasix. on wednsday when we repeat the xrays, maybe we will know more..the pathology came back on the aspirate sample…no infection…maybe cardiac or hernia  inflammatory response…maybe tumour based…inconclusive.

if a hernia, the vet said to leave it alone and not try to repair…she has compensated for it so don’t rock the boat…if it is cancerous? the question becomes how well we can protect her from a sudden respiratory crises? i will have to have the answer for that one.

kai? such a very big worry. the abx’s and pain meds are helping…he is more alert, more interactive, he holds his head up higher when he walks so now we can actually see his face. but he still has a long way to go before i consider his having a good quality of life. will we get the answers we need tomorrow when he has his assessment? will we finally be able to decide how to proceed in his plan of care because we have the basic information we need? hopefully.

toby is still toby but toby is getting so frail…20 years old is very old for a cat. ronnie is sick again, that last convenia injection only lasted for just over a month. is his time coming now too? has his FeLV  progressed too far?

how are mom and babes faring at the vets? the 2 little girls, stella and sidney were fixed today. all of them are still lighting up the black light to some degree but the vet said their ringworm is very much improved, just a couple of more weeks of treatment and they should be clear. will spaying/neutering/vaccinating them set them back? or has their immune system recovered enough wellness to fend off this one last attack?

so i worry about all this stuff…who is not feeling well, what can we do about it? who is nearing the end of the road? who needs some extra help?

and folks think this is easy? that untangling thread upon thread of clue upon clue and trying to come up with the right answer is something i lightly do?

i freaking well hate it. i hate being responsible, i hate the buck stopping here. i hate being the one who has to decide…is it treatment or is it torture? is their suffering time limited or will it continue? if it is limited, how do i reduce that suffering to something minimal until the medications begin to work? do they still value their life and what can we do to make it even more enjoyable for them?

it is ALL about them, but shit, being all about them means that i have to find all of the right answers for them too.

so much easier and less stressful to just turn them off… too old? dead… too sick? dead…too much worry and work to care for? dead and dead again.

do you know what it means to see and feel pierce thru your heart, jewel scream and freeze in pain for more than 21 days? do you know of the desperation and the doubts and the fear that plagues you as you keep looking to find a way out? i so wanted to end it…but i couldn’t because somehow i knew there was the right combo of meds for her…i have seen it too many times with my human patients, this struggle to find the right drugs.

and do you also know what it is like to see jewel today pushing her torpedo body thru 3 feet of snow, rolling around on her bed and groaning in pleasure, swimming in the pond, carrying her ball around, yelling to get what she wants? yelling to be first because she is the all important JEWEL?….do you think it feels good?…it does… but it is forever overshadowed by the knowledge that one day this combo of meds will no longer work and there just aren’t any other roads to follow….on the day that jewel’s pain comes back, it signals the end of this life that she embraces so fully.

palliative and end of life care is not something you do half assed. you give it every single thing that you have got. you put your fears and sorrows away, you shoulder your guilts for decisions gone wrong, you pull every single thing the animals ever say to you altogether and try to make sense out of it for them. they have suffered for a long, long time before they got here.

they suffered in silence surrounded by humans too busy, too selfish, too cheap, too squeamish or weak and lazy to really care. and for that suffering they endured the answer is not to bring them here and put an end to them and their suffering like turning off a light. poof…all gone, you are in a better place now….this is the nice way of saying, all gone, now you are dead.

saints means that we look for the answers if and when we can find them and if and when we do…we give them those answers as a gift of feeling well and happy again for awhile.

and if we can’t, we let them go.

don’t even get me started on how much it hurts to reach THAT final decision. but i reach it over and over again…how many times this year alone did i hold them and say,  ‘i am sorry, there is no other way” …did i do it 30 times this year?…more???… has anyone else had to pick death over life 30 times for animals they loved  in one single year?

don’t talk to me about quality of life and standards of care…talk to our vets who have stood behind every single decision we have ever made about searching for answers and letting them go.

suffering at saints is different than suffering in other places because we have the medical care and expertise to minimize any actual suffering while we search.

it is me who suffers (and not all that silently.) there are no drugs to erase my pain, physical and emotional, as i take this roller coaster journey with them.

and at the bottom of all of this is the single thought that really pisses me off…i shouldn’t have to be here for them. they shouldn’t need me to advocate, struggle and give them a chance…they should not need me….they should not need me…they should not ever, ever have needed me. but they do.
life has not been fair or kind or respectful to them….until they came here.

it is all about them, and it is all about me too because sometimes i am all they have.

4 Comments on "i have been stewing all day"

  • Deb says

    I’ve said it multiple times, Carol, I don’t know where you find the strength to make the hard decisions over and over again. Deciding that Mabel-Mae had come to the end of her journey and needed to leave us before it all became about what was best for us and not her was heartbreaking. You are forced into that abysmal position over and over and over. One only has to look at the wind chime tree in the Memory Garden to know the depths of your sad responsibility.
    Anyone who knows you well understands that nothing is more important to you than the SAINTS. Their comfort, their well being, their health, both physical and emotional, and their happiness is paramount. You need not explain your choices, your actions, or your decisions. Nobody who has yet to walk a mile in your shoes has any right to question, criticize or doubt, and I don’t see one person who wants to be you. Who would? You can’t seem to win no matter what you do.

  • nicole says

    good post. that is one of your crazy rants that i am happy with.

  • Marianne says

    Hi Carol and everyone associated with SAINTS. Gasp I feel terrible my comment regarding Bridgette may have started the other poster wondering if it was time to let her go and questioning your decisions.

    It’s easy for me to say – but please don’t let it get to you. For every Marions of the world, you probably have thousands that disagree with her post.

    I’ve never met you or any of the volunteers but I do foster special needs/senior animals for various rescues. I adopt ones when all avenues for adoption have been exhausted and know first hand the difficulties you face. For many years I taught children with disabilities and unbelievably some people have the same mindset regarding the validity of working with these children. Everyone deserves a chance and you and your crew are providing it!

    Kudos to you and those that disagree are in the minority. You are an angel and have my admiration as I’m sure same goes for 98% of us who read your blog. You are their voice.
    Carol majority rules and we believe you and everyone associated with SAINTS is doing a fantastic job!!!

    Marianne

  • Marianne says

    OOps sorry I posted three times…although enthusiastic I didn’t mean for that to happen. Using a new Mac ,,,,I’m going to apply makeup to my red face now.
    Marianne

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