I now understand the term harrowing experience. We had one yesterday with Joey.
When we got up she was lying on her bed with the other doggins, but she was unresponsive when we talked to her. When patted there wasn’t really much reaction, but we could tell she was still breathing. Giving her a little shake, she raised her head a bit… but largely you’d call her reactions listless.
So David rang the vet. We were worried it may already be time to say goodbye. The vet was fully booked, but David got an appointment anyway, clearly the distress about our little black dog opened the way for Sandie to see us.
Then her meds kicked in, and she was more alert. But we went to see Sandie anyway.
We were giving Joey her medication ever 12 hours. And it seemed that at the tail-end of those time periods she was becoming more heavy in her breathing, and more tired. So we were worried.
On the short 10 minute drive we talked about the “what ifs”… it’s a gut wrenching and painful thing to know you’re the ones who have to decide when “it’s time”. All the other pets I’ve ever had have had very definitive end-of-life situations. Joey’s is a degenerative affliction and we have no idea how to gauge it… well not until we finally spoke with Sandie.
We cried on that drive. But we were composed, or so I thought, when entering the vet. Upon our entrance we were greeted and immediately ushered into a consulting room, but not before people commented on how cute Joey is. In a full waiting room she held everyone’s attention, she really is that cute.
Anyway, one of the receptionists came in to tell us Sandie would be with us shortly. She got a soft mat for the stainless steel table and she returned with a form that she put on the counter away from us… and then I started to cry. It was a form giving consent to the vets to euthanise Jo. My name was on it, her name was on it… and I was in that moment living the harrowing experience. I hadn’t realised that David had basically told reception that it might be time when he called them, and that’s how he got the appointment.
Then Sandie came in… and everything changed.
We talked to her about the way Joey had been, we explained that we don’t want Joey to be in pain, we don’t want her to be here just for us, we don’t want to put her through anything that would cause her distress… but we don’t want to let go of her yet. I was cuddling her… I was not in a good way, and neither was David.
Turns out we were thankfully overreacting, Sandie said she saw before her a happy little dog that still had a long way to go before she was ready. She told us the signs to look out for, she said we’d know when it was really time. She also agreed that we could increase Joey’s medication to once every 8 hours rather than every 12, to cover that period where the medication was wearing off.
And she went through the Specialist’s notes with us. The guy we saw when Jo was checked out of the Specialist wasn’t the one who performed her procedures, Amanda, the vet was in another consult when we arrived, and upon going through the notes with Sandie it seems the one who checked us out maybe skimmed them before talking to us, he even kept calling Jo ‘he’, and when he was talking all this dire stuff, I had to correct him. You can’t be telling someone their dog is dying and continually refer to them by the wrong gender, it should maybe have been a sign that he wasn’t familiar with the situation.
The report says that while the scarring in her lungs is extensive, there is still plenty of activity going on. And while her heart is massive (I’m paraphrasing), it is still strong and otherwise healthy. The report actually said that the condition she has will progress over months, and possibly years! Which is very different from the 3-6-12 months we were told when checking Joey out.
Sandie agreed we were likely being hyper-sensitive to every little activity, or lack there of, and every noise that was coming from Jo, and she said we need to check her gums when concerned as this will be the most telltale sign that her breathing is not enough to sustain her longterm. Dulling of the colour, and a slow reaction to return to red when pressed will show that the issue has progressed.
So, great news, well as good as it can get… Joey is still dying, but with the medication she is on, hopefully it will be a long time before we need to make the decision to say goodbye. Which is freaking awesome because I am so not ready, that 40 minutes of distress yesterday wiped me out as the realisation that she might go bashed me about the head.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading my sob-story, and think good thoughts for our little black dog… I want to have her around for a long time to come. I’m off to give her more cuddles, and food, the meds make her hungry, and if any knows her knows she was always hungry before the medication, so now she’s more of an eating machine. 🤦♂️