Trying to Live an Imperfect Life in a Perfect Way

Palliative care involves managing symptoms, broadly defined, when faced with a life-threatening condition. It is a balancing act as you consider a person or a dog in terms of their many dimensions: physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual.

While I am pretty sure getting the Sacrament of the Sick would not provide any particular comfort to Zoey, I will say that I appreciate knowing people are praying for her; yes, that spiritual dimension absolutely can have implications when palliative care involves a dog.

And so the Balancing Act that is palliative care for Zoey currently has her at home and resting comfortably (all photos from this morning); there is absolutely no plan to have her anyplace else -- but we all know about plans, right?!

Her physical condition might be better managed at the clinic, where they could give her IV medication and not shove pills down her throat. They could act quickly if there were a problem or issue, and they are better trained to recognize an issue or problem in the first place.

But emotionally, cognitively, and socially, the clinic is not the place for Zoey. Home provides the gift of Normal Life, even if it means dealing with her great-niece, Daisy...

...and her granddaughter, Claire...

It is less stressful at home -- well, except maybe if you are a particular cat dealing with a large puppy named Claire...

And so what palliative care means for Zoey is that she stays home, with a trip in to be seen today by her treating veterinarian just to ensure the physical dimension is well-managed. Things can and do change quickly, and so ongoing assessment is an important component of any palliative care plan. 

Yes, it is scary terrifying. But my fear cannot determine the plan of care because this needs to be all about Zoey. I have many deficits but one thing I know about myself is that I have the ability to set aside my own terror and anxiety, and maintain a laser focus on trying to do what is best for this dog at this moment. That makes me intolerant of those who try to get in the way, but it also means I listen to my team because I know well I do not have all the answers. Quality palliative care always involves a team.

I want to address something else - whether palliative care for a dog is even worth it given the inevitably of death.

News Flash, Friend -- your death is also inevitable. Does that mean you want to die today? Does the discomfort in your knee or hip mean your life should be ended right now? Of course not.

Life does not have to be perfect to be worth living, and the inevitable death is no reason to stop being alive. All things in their time.

And so she lives to chase another ball...



by Lynne on Sat, 10/21/2017 - 09:31

Home is where she should be, and I'm sure where she wants to be. Not an easy path, and one I have taken many times with no regrets whatsoever, no matter how heartbreaking. I'm so sorry ... :(

by Linda T. on Sat, 10/21/2017 - 09:42

Your laser focus, amazing, the skills, the heart, your words, thank you ...

by Emmy on Sat, 10/21/2017 - 10:02

There's no place like home. Give Zoey a big hug for me, and hugs to you too, I'm thinking about you both.

by Lori S. on Sat, 10/21/2017 - 10:41

is a relative term and who better to assess that for Zoey than the person who loves her most and has her best interest at heart. I know it is not easy (by a long shot) but bless you for putting aside your interests in favor of hers. Love and hugs to both of you.

by Debi L on Sat, 10/21/2017 - 11:00

I sit here crying as I reply...Zoey is indeed a well loved special girl with a wonderful family. The best place for any of us, human or furry, as we near the end of our physical lives, is to be with those we love and who love us. It is a blessing and a gift that you are giving Zoey and she in turn is giving you all. As it should be. My thoughts are with you.

by Terri Zimmerman on Sat, 10/21/2017 - 11:34

I am so sad for the Bowman's and for Zoey. Her being Zeds littermate just makes me even more sad. Sending my love to her as well as my angel boy. ❤️

by Kay on Sat, 10/21/2017 - 11:40

It is too easy to get lost in your own grief. Zoey is lucky to have someone making decisions who is focused on her comfort and well-being to the end. Good thoughts going out to you.

by CA Heidi on Sat, 10/21/2017 - 12:25

We all are deserving of the maximum love and care, no matter what stage we are in. I know Zoey is the most happy at home with her family. We are all praying for a bounce, and that is the right place for her to be for it.


by Lynne on Sat, 10/21/2017 - 19:06

Mary-Anne, I've known you long enough to know that you hate people who say "well I had the same experience with my dog, etc, etc.," but I just have to relate this one incident with you. Please please please take this comment in the context that it is meant to be -- applauding you for listening to your dog, ok?

We had a dog, Mira, who was known to eat toys and etc., and had been through surgery not too long from this for ingesting toy parts. She presented with the same symptoms and when we took her to the ER vet her x-rays showed a mass pressing on her stomach. She was completely miserable, and in fact, had to be carried from our house to the car, and from the vet's parking lot into the clinic. Her blood work showed that her organs were in the process of shutting down.We agreed that she needed to be euthanized. They prepped a room for us and got Mira ready and left us to be alone with her. Mira looked us straight in the eye, and in no uncertain terms told us she did NOT WANT TO BE THERE. The vet came back in ready to do the procedure and we told them no, we were taking her home. They didn't flinch except to tell us that she had limited time and supplied us with pain meds and syringes, etc. We got her in the car and when we arrived home that dog, that needed to be carried out of the house and into the vet's office, WALKED back into our house by herself without assistance, laid down by the fireplace, and within 1 hour passed away peacefully & calmly in the presence of all that loved her. Mira taught us a valuable lesson that day that I have applied to every dog that has come after her. Listen to your dog and you will both find the peace needed in a passing. For sure, not the easy way out, but important for everybody.

by Mary-Ann on Sun, 10/22/2017 - 07:23

Thank you for being concerned that I might be insulted -- I assure you I am not. Your message is a good one -- we all should trust our dogs and our instincts.

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