caring for senior and ill animals...esp. palliatives.
we dodged the bullet with the rock...this time. and rock is going to die eventually from the effects of his deadly disease.
but just because he is terminally ill with feline leukemia does not mean his death is acceptable. if he dies because he was well cared for and his disease finally won the day...well ok then..i can accept that. but if he died because we dropped the ball and didn't react fast or thoroughly enough. then that is a whole different story.
we accept the fact that these guys die of various things...and it can reasonably be virus infections or secondary infections or the anemia and natural progression of the disease. we KNOW they don't have functioning immune systems, and we KNOW that they are likely to be over run with an infection one day...esp. in a shelter environment. we KNOW they have stomatitis issues (sores in the mouth) and that may impact their ability to eat or drink and we may lose them because of that too. we know they die of aggressive cancers and fluid around the heart.
BUT...this is a big BUT...just because they are terminally ill and are subject to all of these life threatening for them things...does NOT mean that we passively sit by and watch them fade away and just chalk it up to their disease. that is not palliative care, that is just warehousing dying animals.
sometimes like rock today...the tide can be turned, and it could have been turned alot sooner for him if we had been more on the ball.
palliative care means they are going to die but our goals must be to keep them healthy and comfortable for as long as we can. and that means that we jump on the first sign of illness and try to make it change its mind and try for a different day.
i am thanking god today, that rock did not die. the other FeLV's that have passed away, died when it was really their time. and you don't know that unless you are paying really close attention and following an intelligent course of action.
we may lose misfit soon...we have been battling her illness for quite awhile now...we have not been inert and just let her get sicker and sicker without any help.
but rock slipped past us...we did not communicate very well...we had a giant hole in their safety net that we almost let him slip thru.
so i just want to put this out there...for not only all of us at saints to think about and learn. but for others who rescue too.
there is a level of care that these animals can expect from us whether they are ancient, have cancer, or a deadly disease...they can expect that we will control their pain and any other unpleasant symptoms they have. they can expect that we will give them good solid and responsible medical care, they can expect that we will keep them clean, comfortable and stress free. we will give them warm and comfy, clean beds to sleep in and appropriate fresh water and food in clean bowls everyday...if they can't eat crunchies, we will always provide plentiful good soft canned, so they have a choice. they can expect that we will pay attention to how they are feeling and what they need, every single day.
it only took a few days of not doing our job really well for rock to almost die...this is not good enough.
we need to see this, we need to understand this, we need to learn from this so it does not happen again.
this is why it is good to have insight and not be afraid of the truth...cuz quite honestly, i could have turned a blind eye to what happened here and swept it under a rug and pretended that it was just his time...and who would have even known? because after all...rock is terminally ill and is expected to die.
well the rock would have known and so would have i.
there is a real burden in being responsible for the terminally ill...and this burden of responsibility is solely mine.
i am so glad you are feeling better rock, thank you for being so strong.