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Old November 5 2010, 09:42 PM   #1
J. Allen
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Too Many Decisions

It's been a stomach churning week. Yesterday, my mom went in for surgery (an ileal urinary diversion loop). The surgery was successful, though it took almost 6 hours instead of 3, but I'm just glad she came through and is starting to recover.



A week prior, my dog Dallie nipped open what we thought was a hygroma on her leg (a fatty pocket that dogs get when they make lots of hard impacts with their elbows or knees). She had it for years, but in the past year it started to grow rather large, and we had a vet look at it. He said it would get larger but that it was essentially harmless. It started to develop a rash and pockets of irritation on it, and so he said he would look at it, but his costs for the labwork were too expensive with my being laid off.

When she caused it to bleed, however, we knew something was very wrong, and when I took her to the vet (her old vet, not the one who said nothing was wrong) this past Monday, he said that it was most definitely not a hygroma. He scheduled an appointment for Wednesday, and we wrapped it up. The next day, Dallie gets a high fever and I take her in. She's given strong antibiotics. Not long after we get her home, she won't walk. I swear to you not a day prior she was walking just fine, and now, she can't stand up without falling over. I call the vet and they say it's from the fever, and that I should watch over her closely until Wednesday, which is what I do.

So Wednesday comes, I take her in, and he's examined this thing (which is, I might add, the size of a softball on this 38 lb black lab mix), and he said hygromas were mostly fluid and fat, and he poked a few spots with a needle, and they all bled. He said that this wasn't a hygroma, it was something else, and he wanted to take lab tests to find out, so he got some blood from her and told me to come in today, which I did.

I brought her in, and he said that after looking over the blood sample, he found that she had a few issues going on with her. Firstly, she had a mild case of Pancreatitis. She was also anemic, her kidneys weren't functioning very well, and he said that the growth on her leg was a soft tumor, and that it did contain cancerous cells. The tumor was soft because it was made up almost entirely of blood vessels, and he says operating on it could kill her because of her advanced age (she's 15, almost 16 years old), so he gives me the options.

He says, "We can give her cortisone and another antibiotic, and if she starts walking, eating and drinking inside of 4 days, we may be able to do something else, but if she doesn't, then I would recommend that you consider having her put down, because this tumor is going to never stop bleeding. Now, if she does start walking, eating and drinking in the next couple of days, we can try the surgery. The best I could offer is a 50/50 chance of survival. If she does, she might get better. If she doesn't survive, then it won't matter, and it will be as if she was put to sleep."

I have until Wednesday at the latest to see if she improves. Even if she does, though, the chances of her living past next week are slim. I want to take every chance I can to save her, but we're so short on money and I don't know how much that kind of surgery costs.

To anyone who has ever had to face this option or something like it, what did you do? I honestly don't know what to do. On one hand, my little girl is facing life threatening surgery at the best, and on the other hand, I may have to have her put to sleep. My best little friend, my little shadow who has followed me around for more than 15 years, I would have to make the decision to put her to sleep, and I just don't know if I could do it. I tell myself I won't let her live in pain and agony, but it means taking her little life.

On top of all of that, my mom loves that little dog, and she is healing from a very delicate surgery, and finding out that little dog has been put down (she would find out quickly. I can't hide anything and I can't lie), I'm afraid that would put her healing in danger (my decision would come before she was released from the hospital as she needs to spend a full week in for healing).



This is Dallie about two years ago right before it started forming (quickest picture I have handy):


I need some help making this decision. It's too big for my shoulders to carry and my heart to decide.
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Last edited by J. Allen; November 5 2010 at 09:54 PM.
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Old November 5 2010, 10:00 PM   #2
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Re: Too Many Decisions

Very sorry to hear that. Certainly can feel with you. Have an old dog as well and know how the heart hangs on such a friend.
Ive had to make the decision of putting an animals to sleep on several occasions. I made my decisions considdering the animals quality of life... if there was something I could do or could have done for the animal, that could save her/his life and still have him/her have a life without suffering Id do it...no matter the money.
If I know the suffering would go on and be too much and I knew I would do it more for me (cause I dont want to let go of the animal) and not so much for the animal, I choose putting her or him to sleep.
An example: Mickey had a tumor. The operation would have cost him his whole leg and a bit of the side and would have been torture, the survival change after the op would be a minimum and he would have never been pain-free again, unless always on heavy medication and he was old, already on the top for his species.... I decidet against the opertaion. He had a few more weeks to live, but when the tumor grew too big and he started to have pain I let him put to sleep.
You can only make the decision yourself, as you are the one who is in the situation, however Id say if you decite, decite what the best is for your dog. (Not for you and also not for your mom...cause as you said, she loves the dog...and if she does so I coubt she would want her to suffer, but also wants the best way for her).
Still that decision is always a hard and painful one. Wish you strengh for youserself, your mom and your dog.

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Old November 5 2010, 10:16 PM   #3
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Re: Too Many Decisions

J. Allen, while I hope the best for your mother, and all of your family, I don't mean any offense with my question. Does your mom mind that picture being posted on a message board? I mean my mother wouldn't be happy about it.
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Old November 5 2010, 10:18 PM   #4
J. Allen
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Re: Too Many Decisions

Finn wrote: View Post
J. Allen, while I hope the best for your mother, and all of your family, I don't mean any offense with my question. Does your mom mind that picture being posted on a message board? I mean my mother wouldn't be happy about it.
She said it was okay. She's having me post it on Facebook, too.
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Old November 5 2010, 10:28 PM   #5
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Re: Too Many Decisions

Ah okay. My mom doesn't even have a profile photo
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Old November 5 2010, 10:44 PM   #6
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Re: Too Many Decisions

Sorry man, I hope she pulls through. We lost ours years ago and it happened so quickly, before we were even able to do anything such as give him medicine. Even then, the vet wasn't sure what he had, but could only tell he had water in his lungs.
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Old November 5 2010, 10:51 PM   #7
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Re: Too Many Decisions

I agree with TerokNor that Dallie's quality of life must be the main factor in deciding what you must do. I've had to have several older pets put to sleep over the years and it is heart-breaking, but knowing none of them suffered too bady was a comfort to me. I'm sorry you have to go through this, J.

I'm glad your mom is recovering. I've said a few prayers for her.
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Old November 5 2010, 11:28 PM   #8
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Re: Too Many Decisions

Sorry about your dog, but it seems pretty likely that you're going to have to put her down soon. Pain, quality of life, plus if she can't walk, and you have to basically carry her outside to even go to the bathroom, how long can you really keep that up, and are you doing her any favors doing so?

It's the shitty part of having a pet, but when it's time, it's usually obvious, and it's cruel to keep them hanging on.

And spending the money on a surgery that has a coin-flip chance of even being survivable, to say nothing of whether it will really buy her much time or not for all the pain/suffering, just doesn't seem smart. It's thousands of dollars you don't have. And spending it won't help her much, or for long, even if you decide to sacrifice your own quality of life to take the chance...
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Old November 5 2010, 11:40 PM   #9
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Re: Too Many Decisions

I'm sorry to hear this, J. But the others are right: You have to put your Pet's quality of life above your own feelings. What will she go through if she has the surgery? What will her condition be if she survives? I know you want to hold on to your friend as long as possible, but will she really be happy?

If she has a good chance of making a complete recovery and living for several more years, then you should go for it. The Vet will probably have a payment plan that will allow you to spread out the payments if they know of your situation. If she has little chance of survival or if she will be badly compromised afterward, then the most compassionate thing to do is to minimize her suffering. Let her go as happily and peacefully as possible. I know that's not what you want-- neither would I-- but our Pets depend on us to take care of them to the best of our ability.
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Old November 5 2010, 11:44 PM   #10
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Re: Too Many Decisions

Very sorry to hear that; she's a very sweet-looking dog. I'd reiterate what others said and let her quality of life guide you in your decision-making. This is a tough one.
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Old November 5 2010, 11:44 PM   #11
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Re: Too Many Decisions

Very sorry to hear that; she's a very sweet-looking dog. I'd reiterate what others said and let her quality of life guide you in your decision-making. This is a tough one.
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Old November 5 2010, 11:49 PM   #12
JarodRussell
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Re: Too Many Decisions

Sorry to hear all this. And your mom is okay with you posting a photo of her in a pretty miserable state on the Internet (photobucket )?
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Old November 6 2010, 12:33 AM   #13
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Re: Too Many Decisions

JarodRussell wrote: View Post
Sorry to hear all this. And your mom is okay with you posting a photo of her in a pretty miserable state on the Internet (photobucket )?
That question was answered above.
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Old November 6 2010, 01:04 AM   #14
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Re: Too Many Decisions

Hey J., our family faced this issue last year when my dog scratched open a benign tumor on her ear, and it became gangrenous. She was the same age as your dog; our vet gave us the option of amputation surgery but cautioned that due to her advanced age and a heart problem, she probably wouldn't survive anesthesia or live through the trauma of losing an ear.

When considering her quality in life, think about these (very tough) questions:

Keep in mind that your dog won't be able to comprehend why she is in pain if you choose surgery, and how much time, considering her age, would surgery actually buy?

Would it be enough time to recover and enjoy some life without pain?

Or will her projected life-span post-surgery be too short to exit the recovery phase?

This is assuming she's strong enough at her age to survive something like surgery in the first place.
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Old November 6 2010, 03:19 AM   #15
J. Allen
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Re: Too Many Decisions

Thanks all of you for the support. Mom's doing well, and is recovering nicely. As for Dallie, she went to the bathroom by herself today, standing on her own four feet. She was weak and wobbly, but it's obvious the cortisone and Cipro is already making her feel much better. I was elated. She's not eating anything yet, but she is drinking water. So far, so good. That said, I feel more assured that if I have to have her put to sleep, that it will be the best decision for her. I really don't want her in pain. I don't. The idea of her suffering just for my own selfish ends doesn't sit well with me. As for the surgery, the vet isn't even certain how long it would extend her life, and like many of you, I think it may be just a far reaching and expensive pipe dream. She's almost 16 years old, that's a long, long life for a dog, and it would be unfair of me to try and prolong that if it leads to pain and suffering.
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