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The scenarios are not so different. There are lessons here.
Speaking as someone who watched her 92-year-old grandmother be twisted slowly into a fetal ball by Alzheimer's, and as someone who has had the privilege of living with several animals who eventually needed my end-of-life judgment, I agree with this author. Why can we be more merciful to a cat than a grandmother???
I watched my beautiful mother slowly die in hospice for what seemed like an eternity. My dad has asked/told me that if he ever gets alzheimers or becomes bed ridden that he wants me to put a pillow to his face until he is gone. I wonder if I could or should (i know the law)follow through on his request/demand. That said, I beleive there is no greater individual right than to choose when to stop living.
My grandfather was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer in his eighties. He was a decisive man, refused treatment or surgery and decided that he wanted only medication to control the pain while in hospice care. We visited as often as possible and he went with dignity. I would wish the same for myself. My mother, a RN has this written in most certain terms in a living will.
I had to put asleep my dog about 1 1/2 years ago. I was with her when the vet gave her an injection and she died quietly in my arms. I just cried for 3 days straight. Now just last month, my dad became ill and ended up in a hospital. The doctor came in and told us that there was nothing to do and he should go to a hospice hospital. After a short visit there, the nurse turned down his oxygen (this was done with doctors approval and family approval)and my dad passed away within 1/2 hour. Again, I was bedside with him. Again, I cried for days. All I can say, both of these painfull events have changed me. I now have another new dog, but I do not have another father.
I remember asking my vet, "How will we know"? He was stoic and simply said, "Don't worry - she'll tell you when it's time." And she did quite clearly, gazing up at me as I cradled her in my arms. "C'mon, Mom - let me go." And we did. Thank you to the University of Minnesota Animal Hospital for assisting us during such a painful event in our lives.
Just 2 short weeks ago I had to make the end of life decision for another beloved pet. My mother died after a prolonged and slow decline. She said to me something similar to the two patients of this physician. I have often thought that we are kinder to our pets at the end of their lives than we are to humans.
My father was a stoic man who grew up in the great depression. His father was a deputy and my Dad likened himself to John Wayne. Rough and tough, rarely showing emotion. He had a small rescue chihuahua. This dog has been mistreated and appeared to be bent in half when he walked. He was always at my Dad's side. As he aged it was apparent the dog was suffering. I continually asked my Dad to do the unthinkable and end his suffering. He assured me the vet said the dog was fine. My father died a few weeks ago. The doctor said he knew he was very ill but he didn't want to trouble anyone and didn't confide in the family. We took the dog to the doctor and vet said "about time". He had told my Dad for a year the dog needed to be put down but the stoic, show no feeling man,couldn't bring himself to lose his friend.
Reading these comments is bringing a tear to my eye as I think of the beautiful people and pets no longer in my life.
This is a great article and something I think about often. Just recently my parents put down our family dog that had been with us since I was 13 (I'm now 28). My father commented that it was harder on him when his dog died than when his mother passed away. His only explanation for this was not that he loved his mother any less but simply that she could tell him in her own words that she was "ready" to go. She often expressed that she was tired of living the way she did and wanted to be reunited with my grandfather who had passed away a number of years earlier. As our pets cannot communicate in this way, we second guess our choices to have them put down.
I agree with all the sentiments expressed in these post. Three years ago, I was diagnosed with a usually fatal cancer (esophageal, Stage 3), went through weeks of chemo/radiation, and ultimately had a massive 0-hour surgery to remove the esophagus and 1/3 of my stomach. The recovery was nearly four months in hospitals on a feeding tube. Unfortunately, the final six weeks were in a nursing home where my care was so poor that it set my progress back weeks. Being a formerly vital, young-spirited 66 year old, this experience was a sheer nightmare. I felt utterly trapped by both this wretched environment and my own body. I vowed that I'd rather die than every be installed into a nursing home again. Perhaps this short-lived and intolerable situation was but a preview, but for me it served as a lesson that some quality of life simply must be present in order to preserve one's spirit. I'd now be the first one to sign up for a euthanasia option were it legalized. As other posters have written, we have mercy on our pets yet are sometimes forced to watch our human loved ones suffer to absolutely no avail.
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