The questions we all struggle with:
When is it time?
How will I know?
Should I wait for them to pass naturally?
Life is extremely valuable and precious. While we never want to say goodbye too soon, we want to avoid any and all suffering, if at all possible.
There are entire books and countless articles attempting to answer these questions. The truth is: there are no easy or exact answers.
I am here to support and offer guidance based on my experience both professionally and personally. Ultimately what I say to all of my families: You know your pet best, as a veterinary practitioner, I see my patients for maybe an hour or two at the most, they are often excited and more active due to my presence. You see your pet the other 23 hours of the day, 7 days of the week. Our discussions or your observations and impressions are as important if not more important than what I see on a physical exam. Quality of life is not a single day or single event, it is often a tumultuous series of ups and downs, ever-changing and unique to each patient and personality.
Some people say “you will know when your pet gives you that look.” Some of us may never get that look or our pets devoted and stoic nature shield us from recognizing their daily struggle.
QUALITY OF LIFE
Sometimes a series of questions will help us gain perspective.
WEEKS– Are we having more good days then bad days? Are relatives or friends, who don’t see your pet everyday, commenting on their change, or decline in health?
When we have bad days, is it taking us longer to rebound? Are we rebounding to where we were before we got sick?
DAYS – is a good day today the same as what we consider a good day last week, or last month?
It is normal for our expectations to change as we do everything we can to accommodate and support our pets as their disease progresses and the require more assistance, however symptoms that were once a “shock” OR of great concern slowly become the new normal… the first time your pet didn’t finish his food, couldn’t take the stairs, stumbled or spent the night panting may have initially caused great concern to your family, but now has become the every day.
MOMENTS - are we having good days or is it "good moments” in an otherwise difficult day?
When we are getting to just the good moments, my concern grows very deep. We risk losing those moments of “good” and our ability to provide comfort and we start to stumble over that fine line between struggling and suffering.
Quality of life scale: https://aplb.org/support/euthanasia/quality-of-life-scale/
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