Duuuude… This is good stuff….

It’s The Cancer. 

The lump we discovered on the cat’s back leg turned out to be a tumor. What kind? We don’t know. It doesn’t really matter. The good news is that it’s not in the bone. The bad news is that it’s already so big the removal option is amputation, and if I thought that would solve the problem I would happily fork over my money to have a three-legged cat. But it’s also so big that there’s probably enough healthy margin tissue to be certain of getting all the small cells. Surgery would have to be followed by chemo. Chemo would give him additional months instead of weeks, but they would be months filled with medications and doctor visits and expense and living with only three legs.

The afternoon was spent in a kind of actuarial mathematics: the severity of his discomfort increasing on an unknown curve towards the event horizon where the quality of life approaches zero, divided over the number of potential days left, adding in the invasiveness of the treatment options and limited by our bank accounts. 

In the end, the kindest option seemed to be deciding to pursue palliative measures (painkillers) and set a date to send him over the rainbow bridge. The vet gave him some painkillers in the office in order to take x-rays and he spent the rest of the afternoon high as a high school dropout, happily trying to roll in his food bowl. May he be that happy until the end. For myself, I’m just going to be sad for a while. 

I found myself thinking about end of life decisions later in the day: on the one hand they require an extreme kind of objectivity: cost, time, comfort. Days and dollars. Everything has a price tag. On the other hand it requires an extreme kind of emotional sensitivity: what will bring comfort to everyone involved. Considering the emotional weight of such a process,  It seems like the intuitive, emotional, right brain would be the optimal decision-makers, but I wonder if that gives the left- brain short shrift: the right brain feels the pain, the left brain can decide if it is right: of it is worth it, if it is in service of something better. It’s going to hurt either way, and feeling it is important, but I’d rather give him two comfortable weeks at home with no major surgery or disruptive routines of treatment than, maybe, six months of diminished and diminishing quality of life. 

So it was a rough day. I’m still working my way through the fallout. There is some relief to be had in having a plan and a tentative timeline, and the rest is all just letting the emotional work of letting go take it’s course.  No matter how much time we fight for, the end will always come too soon. In the meantime, the spring is a great time to spend your last few weeks on earth: the sun is shining, everything is coming into bloom, tomorrow the days will get longer. May we all be so lucky.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on March 11, 2017.

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