To anyone who actually reads this and responds, thank you so much. I need to get this off my heart...
Over the past 3 years I've had to say goodbye to 3 fur-kids, 2 senior cats to kidney disease and now my absolute rock, my 13 yr old dog who has been with me since 8 weeks old. It has been just over 3 weeks and I'm wracked with guilt/second guessing myself not to mention the intense grief/loss of my best friend. Saying goodbye was not expected, not yet. I had hope...until literally overnight, I didn't.
My experience with euthanasia decisions has always been made at the "no doubt" end of life. Perhaps with both my cats I waited to long, doing sub q's/palliative care at home etc, but I never had to question my choice in the end. With my dog it was different, it was fast, scary, without any support and in the end I was left in an emergency situation, alone, trying to do right by my best friend. I fear I failed him.
My dog was a brachycephalic mix (pugxboston) and we had battled minor health issues his whole life - allergies, eye ulcers, trach cough, hip dys by 6 yrs but we figured things out together and he was healthy, strong as a tank and full of love all his life. 2 years ago his coughing got worse. For a year I was in and out of the regular vet office almost weekly. We tried antibiotics, puffers, I bought hepa purifiers, removed every irritant possible, had my Hvac cleaned, ripped out all carpet, nothing helped. After 1yr he was referred to a specialist at a top hospital. He underwent a bronchoscopy, diagnosis = chronic bronchitis. He was put on more drugs, that's when things started downhill. By December the lcough was 24/7, the prednisone was increased and the cough just got insanely worse. He also started losing balance in his hind end, but it wasn't his arthritis, it was almost like he was dizzy, he would just fall backwards, then his front legs started getting tired from carrying his weight and he would fall forward. Then his GI went nuts. Jan = back to the vets, more meds but now for his GI. By Feb after multiple attempt with diff meds he wouldn't eat, passed bloody mucus, mobility was failing, he had loud grumbling and stomach pains. Back and forth from vets, no answers - my vet literally just shook his head and said "this isn't good". For 3 months I hand fed, stayed up cradling him through the nights, carried him outside for potty breaks at all hours, researched vet studies constantly and kept pushing for a diagnosis - I was not losing my dog to chronic diarrhea. In March, after we has exhausted every blood/urine/fecal speciality test, trial medications and diets changes his Specialist did an ultrasound at the hospital. They found a liver mass (but couldn't get to it to confirm anything) and his small intestines were inflamed - still no answers or improvement. Next option was to be put under for an endoscopy - risky with his COPD and now weakend physical state. I had had enough and insisted we taper him off the drugs (now 7 months on prednisone) that never helped his breathing and seemed to just make him worse (turns out they were all known to cause GI issues). Come April he was hungry again (in fact starving all the time), finally eating reg food and stool back to normal (yeah, we did it!) - except, his hind end mobility was much worse (I used a support sling most days) and he was now blind, losing his hearing and seemed to have some minor neuro symptoms (meh, he was an old boy, we got this). A short lived happiness. By May he was drinking and peeing A LOT. I insisted they run the blood tests yet again, he was down 20% of his body weight but eating tons! Tests came back - diabetes - 2 days in ER. He came home and I had hope, we finally had a diagnosis and treatment! I did his first glucose curve a week later, his blood sugar was so high all day the meter couldn't even read it. His specialist was not happy and increased his insulin dose substantially, next curve due in a week. That was Wed AM, then...during the night he started coughing up blood and clots, I tried not to panic, he was stable. Thursday was spent on the phone with vets - his specialist said "at this age and considering the other health issues I highly suspect cancer". All vets offices were booked until the following week because of covid backlog. The emerg was at capacity, they could take him but had minimal staff, I spoke at length with triage - if he was stable I could bring him in the next morning when more staff would be in and could see him sooner. I had 2 choices - take him back to the ER and leave him alone (thanks covid) for them to start all the diagnostics AGAIN, most of which were invasive, and cross my fingers he didn't have an emerg while there when I couldn't be with him...or, call the hospice vet to come to my home and help us say good bye. I have no idea why after years of doing heroic caregiving I called that hospice vet, it's like my gut instincts took over my emotional ones. Late Thursday night around 1am I found him awake and pacing in a confused like state. We went for a late night pee break and then I settled him back into bed with kisses and head rubs until he feel asleep. I spent Friday with my boy. That morning when he got up for breakfast there was blood some on his leg, chest and blanket. I gently cleaned him off and tried to act like it was a normal day. I let him eat as much as he wanted ignoring the "only food every 12hrs" diabetes regime, he got his insulin and inhaler meds, we went for a good walk (of course he suddenly had the energy to go without a sling and even roll in the grass once). He was alert and...still coughing up blood that afternoon, now 36hrs since onset, it to my heartbreak wasn't going to "stop". He was tired and deeply napping when the vet arrived, he never even knew she was there. I held him in my arms with his fav toy and said good bye. Then I lost it and have cried every day since.
I just can't wrap my head around it now. The hospice vet said it was the right decision as did my regular vet (after the fact stating my boy had been "sick for a very long time"). I got a nice sympathetic card from his specialist too. But why after so many months of providing 24/7 care all by myself and fighting for answers/treatment, after him miraculously making it through 3 months of massive GI issues and 2 recent days in ER and coming home for less than 1.5 weeks, did this happen? Diabetes can be managed, chronic bronchitis can be managed, the unknown GI issue we were managing for over a month now. None cause lung bleeding. He had SO MANY tests already and very recently, how could he just suddenly be sick, with something new, again...cancer wth?! I was afraid to take him back to the hospital and put him through the type of testing he would need to confirm this newest illness (being put under for a lung sample, MRI or CT's, more xrays and iv catheters - when his breathing was already double compromised and obv there was something going on with his blood). And I felt like putting him through that just to confirm a cancer diagnosis at his age and in his condition, would have only been to validate a decision for myself to let him go..and even if it wasn't the dreaded cancer, the only other diagnosis options were extremely guarded to poor (pulmonary hypertension and/or lung blood clot)...and we needed time to get his diabetes regulated, what would happen to his poor weak little body until that happened?...but what kills me the most, he was finally eating and loving too after so many months thinking I was about to lose him (albeit literally starving to death because of malabsorption) and he still enjoyed slow walks (sometimes) and he still loved on people (always), he still occasionally found and chewed his fav worn out toy and begged for a treat...he was still him, just a much weaker, thinner, more bad days than good, chronically ill version. I promised to give him the best life possible...I pray I did right by him...
Mama loves you buddy