Tough Decisions

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Let’s talk about having to make tough decisions around your pet’s health care. I’ve (very!) recently had to make some tough calls for our precious Maine Coon, Charlie Bear, and it made me realize that, when it comes to the hard topics and decisions that suck, we often feel alone. You’re faced with this confronting burden of making decisions for someone else’s life. But worse, it’s your pet, and you love them dearly.

Our Charlie is the heart of our family, and though I know that my husband will never admit it, I similarly know that he’d secretly agree. Charlie means the world to us, and he’s only been with us for a year and half. The big bone-head is 21 months old.

So, I’ll give you the super short, cut-to-the-chase version: back three months ago, Charlie had a Femoral Head and Neck Excision done on his left leg. This means that he no longer has a round bone that sits in the socket of his hip. Instead, he has nothing but muscle holding his leg where it belongs. Well, Charlie Bear decided that he wanted a matching set, so after breaking the femoral neck on his RIGHT leg, he has had to have the identical surgery performed.

That’s bad enough, right? Our favorite baby coming home with bandages and a bucket on his head 🙁 But no, “Bad Luck” wasn’t done with Charlie just yet. We discovered a tiny 3mm wart-type thing on his foot, and of course it is a Mast Cell Tumor. (My day was getting better, and better! I assure you!) Here’s the kicker: whilst this one looks likely to be benign, we can have it removed only to keep finding them, and given than MCTs are often nasty, we are recommended to remove them each and every time. Now tell me: where does it stop?

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Forget the money for a minute, (yes, honey. We’ve spent THOUSANDS in these past months), but let’s think about his comfort. Is it okay to keep putting him under the knife? Is it okay to keep locking him up in confined spaces while he heals with a bucket on his head so he doesn’t chew at it? Is it okay to keep pushing medications down his throat and just hoping that we don’t find more lumps?

The answer for us was “No”, and that is the right thing for our family. We’ve chosen to stop the surgeries and just let our boy live. Don’t get me wrong: we’ll watch this little lump like a hawk – and we’ll watch Charlie for signs of pain or discomfort. But we’re not going to keep putting him under the knife “just because”. We have the opportunity to show kindness and love to our pets in a way that we’re not yet able to for our human families.

So it’s okay to ask lots of questions. It’s okay to repeatedly change your mind. It’s okay to be frightened, and cry, and call everyone that you know to “talk it out”. Making these decisions are hard, and it’s important that you make the call based on what’s right for you and your pets; it’s not about the vet, or your neighbor, or what your friends on FB might say. So be kind to yourself, and look into those beautiful eyes of your fur-baby and ask them what they want. It will bring you so much peace to know that you’ve done what’s right for them.

This is an actual video of Charlie that I have shared on YouTube in order to share this story with you all today. Be strong. We’re the best parents they’ve got <3

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2 Comments on "Tough Decisions"

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Kathy Gumpel
I’m not sure what I would do in Charlie’s situation. My rescue Freckles must be close to 20. Always petite, she’s gone from her usual 7-8 pounds to just three. Skinny doesn’t begin to describe it. She’s nearly blind. I’m standing by, ready to let her go at the first sign that she is in pain or distress. But she​ still likes to cuddle. It is upsetting to pet her and basically just feel bones. And although she eats only a tablespoon at a time, she wants her food. It has to meet cat standard: not out more than an… Read more »
Pamela Knudsen

I agree with your position on Charlie’s health situation. I enjoyed this blog–very informative and Charlie is one happy boy and so cute! Thank you for sharing what you are going through with him.