Friday, September 09, 2011

A Tough Decision

Our dog Dax has had various eye issues through his life, being the bug-eyed little canine that he is. Recently he had some inflammation in one of his eyes, so I began putting drops in his eyes left from the last incident and when it didn't get better in a couple of days, dutifully took him to the family vet for "the usual."

Unfortunately his diagnosis is nothing but "usual."

Turns out that at the ripe old age of 13 his ligaments holding his lens in place have given out, so his lens is flopping around inside his eye. He is currently looking over the lens and is farsighted, though he does have his vision. As long as the lens is towards the back of the eye it's not much of an issue, but if it moves to the front of the eye he would have intense pain, inflammation and it could cause a plethora of other issues which would need to be dealt with immediately.

The recommended treatment is surgery to remove the lens, leaving that one eye permanently far-sighted, but at least without pain and swelling.

Unfortunately this surgery is expensive, and that's for the procedure alone. It does not cover the cost of the medications he would be on for weeks after, or the required four follow-up visits. All told, we would be paying several thousand dollars.

Did I mention he's 13?

The challenge with this condition is that it is not nor would it ever be terminal -- it has everything to do with quality of life. If we were told he had cancer, that treatment would cost several thousand dollars and he may get one or two good years after recovery, that decision would be easy. If this eye condition goes untreated and worsens he will be in pain, but it won't kill him. That's not really fair to the dog to ask him to live with that kind of pain.

The other challenge is that if we really wanted to we could swing this, and for that I feel immensely fortunate. For many others, if their dog was given this prognosis surgery would be completely out of the question. It's not out of the question for us, but it does not come without sacrifice. At the same time, we are anticipating some major repairs on our aging house (see prior post about our 1928 sewer line) and need to be saving money for pay for those things. And did you know that our property taxes have gone up by double digits each of the past 5 years?

I know, these are all first-world problems, and I will say it again -- I am very blessed. But I also feel very blessed to have Dax in our girls' lives and want to keep him in their lives for as long as possible.

I feel strongly that when you accept a pet into your life you accept them for the entirety of their lives. As pet owners we do this willingly knowing that we will outlive these creatures that we come to so love. But when it comes to decisions like this, I have to remember he is a pet, not a human.

For now he is on medication to help with the pain, reduce the swelling and hopefully keep it from worsening. Right now I'm looking for more options, and would love to hear some from you.

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