Hooey Too

An update on Hooey:


He has an auto immune disorder. We knew that already, with the lupus. But when I relayed all of his added symptoms, the vet  was leaning toward rheumatoid arthritis. He did a blood draw, and the results were a bit inconclusive.

Hooey’s white blood cell count was very low. But his organ functions were good. To get a more conclusive diagnosis, we would have to do a biopsy of his kidney, his liver, and his nose. Basically, he has one of three things: arthritis, pemphigus, or a more severe case of lupus. The treatment is essentially the same: steroid injections plus oral antibiotics. The only difference is which oral med will work for him.

So we are starting with the one most likely to work for him, doxycycline. I’m probably not spelling that correctly.

We will see how he tolerates the combination and if his symptoms improve, especially his bad breath and dental plaque.

It isn’t great, but it is better news than I expected to hear. I figured I had a small window of time left with Hooey. Now, hopefully, we can manage this chronic condition and help him be as pain free as possible.

It’s funny. As pet owners, we can make the decision to end our pets’ suffering when life gives them a hopeless situation. We can humanely euthanize them, and allow them to die with dignity before they suffer too much. I’ve done it many times with dogs and horses. Every time, my heart breaks for that critter that has shared my life. But in my heart, I knew I was doing the right thing for them.

But when our beloved family members become incapacitated or terminally ill, we have to sit back and watch them slowly deteriorate. Lose all dignity. Lose all semblance of themselves. When terminal patients are ready to die, they can’t, legally.  I realize there is danger of abuse in terms of elimination practices. But it seems to me we as a society should be able to do better by our loved ones.

I know if I were to have a terminal diagnosis, I would want the option to go out on my terms. I don’t want to survive hooked up to machines or reliant on pain medication just to get through a day. I don’t want my kids watching me wither away or having to change my diaper, etc. I would want some control over my end of life situation.

This really hit home when my dad was in the hospital last March. He had always been fiercely independent. And I watched him lose that facet of his life. After his stroke, he had to rely on everyone around him for everything. It scared him. It worried him. And it embarrassed him.

He made it very clear he did not want machines keeping him alive. He didn’t want to go back on the ventilator once it was out. He didn’t want to live as a stroke victim.

And he would not have lived long had he come home in a wheelchair. Had he come home not able to walk or care for himself. Once he realized that he wouldn’t be at full capacity again, I think he allowed his body to give up.

So I have made sure that all of my kids know my wishes. And I’ve made that clear in my will. I don’t want to be trapped in a hospital bed, tethered to oxygen and IVs. Should something catastrophic happen, I want my kids to let me go.

And as long as Hooey is happy and feeling well, I’ll continue to get him his injections and oral meds. The schedule will depend on him. If he tolerates this first round well, it may be six months before symptoms show back up. If this combination doesn’t work well, we’ll have to try another antibiotic.

But as of this morning, he seems to be feeling better already. Fingers crossed that we can manage his condition for another couple of years.

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