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Feeling Overwhelmed


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I guess I should give a short background to help you understand my somewhat abnormal connection to my dog. I rescued him almost 9 years ago, back when I first got sick myself. I have chronic pain due to a couple autoimmune disorders and Rusty has been by my side since day 1. I have lost my job, broke my back, been in the hospital and moved across the country without friends or family and he has been the 1 steady thing that has been by my side nonstop. We are together 24/7. I have this odd connection to him, as some may call it since they just don't understand why I am so connected to him. With that being said, he was diagnosed back in November with prostate cancer. They do not do surgery in animals with prostate cancer because it is too difficult and complicated. I have surprised myself at how well I have been handling this. We have done chemo treatments to prolong his life as much as it allowed but now I just have that "feeling" that things are coming to an end. The difficult part with this type of cancer is that he acts normal and does not seem that ill but he will eventually stop being able to urinate and defecate. He has had an increase of drops of blood in his urine in the morning and can no longer hold his pee as much as he used to. These are all signs of progression. He now gets up several times a night to go outside so I have not gotten a good night sleep in several weeks. I am now feeling very depressed, tired and as of 3 days ago I cry everyday. I was holding up very good but something has changed. Just like a light switch and now I am anxious, guilty feeling and depressed. If I have a thought of feeling like will this be easier on my anxiety when it is all over I immediately feel guilty. If I leave to go somewhere and am gone for a while I feel guilty because I know he is on borrowed time. I find myself struggling really bad right now and I have no clue what I will be like when he is actually gone. Just really overwhelmed and needed to vent to someone who may know the feeling. 

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Hi there,

I just lost my very loved kitty of 16 years a month ago, and wanted to respond to say that what you are going through is so very tough.  I'm so sorry you have to experience this. It sounds like your connection is just a close, normal connection with a companion who gives you lots of support and unconditional love and has been with you through some really tough times!  I can really relate to that.  It's normal to be connected like that to our pets.

My cat, Buster, also had cancer. We found out when he had a really scary episode where he couldn't breathe. We took him to the ER doctor, they ran tests and kept him on oxygen overnight and found out he had cancer. He recovered enough to come home and lived for about another month.  We consulted with a hospice vet who visited the house and helped us to look at his quality of life and his breathing/pain.  I think it would have been even harder without her help.  It was so, so hard as it was.  Everything you mention I relate to...the light switch of feeling grateful to have extra time at first, then depressed at the inevitable future, anxious because every moment felt like it could be his last, and guilty every time I had to go to work, leave the house, etc. 

I don't know what to say except what you are saying really rings true for my experience as well.  I was so attached to my "baby cat" and it was so heart-wrenching both having to worry about him suffering and also having to eventually make the decision to ease his suffering and let him go. I wonder if you are able to work with a hospice vet in your area?  I can't tell you how much my hospice vet helped me.  She helped me to assess my kitty's health, level of pain, gave us pain meds, and finally helped me to know when he was starting to truly suffer to avoid another recurrence of that traumatic night where he couldn't breathe. As sad as it was, his passing was really peaceful too, and we were able to keep him home. No more endless visits to the vet that he hated.  

Like I said, it's hard where you are at right now, and it's hard where you are going I won't lie, but try to find some support where you are, and come back here when you need to talk, or just let it out.  It helps.  

Sending you light and hopefully some comfort, knowing someone hears you and has gone through something similar, though never the same.

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Oh Hon, I am so sorry, for your dog's situation, for the feelings of guilt you are struggling with, just know that this is normal in grief.  I had a dog that was incontinent the last two years of her life, but I didn't have her put to sleep until her quality of life had so diminished that she was whimpering during the night with pain...then I knew it was time...I could not continue to keep her alive for my own benefit.  That final decision is so hard, but that is the criteria I've always used.  When that time comes you can console yourself that you gave him the best life you could and you will continue to cherish the memories and love him always in your heart.

You are in the hardest of places right now, in my opinion, and I pray for strength for each day, the grace to bear it.  I hope you will continue to come here, it helps.

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