Counting the days

29 Dec

Well, this sucks.

I’m not going to sugarcoat tonight’s post. Right now is a pretty crappy time.

For the past three months we’ve been taking Zooey to the cardiology vets at the University of Minnesota to have fluid withdrawn from her abdomen (the fluid builds up because of the heart-based cancer tumor and presses on her lungs, thus causing difficulty breathing). The vets have been amazing, but the fluid taps are becoming more frequent and harder to do. Oh, and fluid is also starting to pool in her skin outside her abdomen causing swelling.


So now we’re left with a decision: keep doing the taps or decide the end has come.

Based on my earlier paragraph, you might think the answer is obvious, but it isn’t.

You see, each time we do the tap, Zooey is like normal — eating her food, going for long hikes in the woods, chewing her rawhide bone, etc. The old saying — “You’ll now it’s time when she has more bad days than good” — just doesn’t apply. She still has more good days than bad.

But there is some bad. For example, she’s still losing weight despite having a “normal” appetite. Closer to “tap days” her breathing becomes more labored. And there’s that fluid build-up outside the abdomen I just mentioned. But other than that, she’s still mentally strong and not showing signs of being in any sort of pain.

So that leaves us with the terrible decision of having to decide when to put her to sleep.

At this point we’ve decided that day is Saturday — four nights and three days from now.

We could go on, but for how much longer? Do we give up now while she’s doing well or wait for her to be miserable? Are we just postponing the inevitable for her and us if we wait?

This is one of the worst decisions I’ve ever had to make. Maybe the worst ever. With our last dog Jasper, it was obvious that the end had come. With her, it’s not obvious at all.

What does this feel like? I don’t even like to step on a bug and now I’m being asked to make a decision that will end my best friend’s life. Too dramatic? Sorry, but that’s what it feels like.

Fortunately Veronika and I are making this decision together. I hope that we’ll find some measure of peace and clarity before Saturday. And if that is the day to say goodbye, that we’ll do so knowing we’ve done all we can and given Zooey the best life possible.


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