Friday, September 17, 2010

End of Life decisions

Nerina will turn 15 in February.  But I don't know if she'll make it to her next birthday.  The past 2 weeks have been trying for us as we've been dealing with Nerina's apparent seizures. This week, she's been having "petit mal" seizures daily, that last about 5-10 minutes each.  Her head just starts shaking and twitching as we watch helplessly.  She lays down and we hold her while she goes through this awful time.  The first time it happened, I just cried thinking she was about to die.  I thought she was having a heart attack and would die right there, in my arms.  But she didn't.  Instead when the tremors stopped, she just got up, walked over to her bed and went to sleep.  All day long, I prepared myself to call the doctor to put her out of her misery.  But later in the day she greeted me at the door, tail wagging, brushing her muzzle into my leg as though to give me a big, sloppy, wet kiss.  Not only was she not in any visible pain, she had more energy than usual. 

The next day, Mr. C called me to say she's been having seizures all morning and he thought she was about to die.  On my way home, I called the doctor for a house call and possible home-euthanization.  For 2 hours, Mr. C and I pet Nerina, fed her a delicious dinner, took her on a walk (a very, very short one) and sat waiting for the doctor to come and tell us it's time to euthanize her.  As they arrived, Nerina got up, tail wagging, and greeted them at the door.  They were surprised to find out that she was the sick dog I had called about. 

How am I supposed to make this decision?  Am I being selfish by keeping her alive?  Am I choosing to euthanize her too soon?  What if she isn't in pain?  Ughh!  Lots and lots of questions and the doctor was of little use.  A CAT scan is out of the question, could be a  million things,  he's seen worse cases/better cases.  I'm just supposed to know.  After an hour of not deciding and poor Nerina just looking at all of us, I couldn't do it!  I chickened out, hoping there was a reasonable explanation for her seizures.  The doctor took some blood and went away. 

It's been a couple of weeks now and the seizures went away.  We took her off of her pain medications...apparently, they can cause seizures!  The downside is that her arthritis is more painful.  She isn't able to walk much and falls constantly in the house.  Once outside, she can get a good grip of the ground and seems much better.  I know that my days with her are numbered, probably no longer than a month if I'm lucky.  And I wish I was a better parent to her throughout her life.  So for the remaining time we have together my only goal is to make her happy and comfortable.  And to look back at how much she has enriched my life over the past 14 years.