Playing god

My wife and I recently received some very bad news. It’s one of those things that really kicks you in the junk, leaving you nauseous with tears in your eyes. Early last week, I noticed that one of our dogs had a swollen neck. We took him to the vet, who then did a bunch of tests, and a few days later gave us the results. Though we had our suspicions, we weren’t prepared for it. Cancer. Our youngest dog, Sully, a 6 year old black lab/pit mix, has lymphoma.


Sully man, the Blanket

Sully isn’t the first of our dogs to have this. We had a small beagle/corgi mix, Cosmo, who also had lymphoma. He passed away 5 days before our oldest child was born.

Nothing prepares us for this. We spoke with the doctor, and he recommended we see an oncologist for treatment, since it’s stage 1, and the chances would be good. The problem is, the cost. We took a beating on Cosmo’s treatment, thousands of dollars, and that was before having kids. Now, we’re stuck. Our vet is willing to do the treatments himself, and help us out as much as possible with the costs involved, but it may not be enough. We may not be able to afford what could be done to save him.

The other part of this, is that there is absolutely no guarantee that it’ll work. We could spend a few grand and he could still die in 6 months. So now we’re in the fucking shittiest of all positions…we’re “playing god”.

Now we have to wait for the cost numbers to come back from the doctor, and when they do, we have to make a decision. Is the amount of money, and subsequent debt, worth it when weighed against the risk of it not working, and the discomfort for Sully during the treatment. Chemo is nothing to sneeze at. The treatment can be brutal for dogs, just as it is for people. So we have to put a number and a weight on his beautiful life, and it’s fucking torture, made worse by the fact that he doesn’t understand what he’s going through, or about to go through. We hold him, kiss him, cuddle him, and look into his eyes, all the while feeling like we might betray him by not being able to afford to treat him and extend his life.

Personally, I feel like a cold hearted betrayer. I’m a judgmental person to begin with, and the personal torment levied here is huge. How could I make such a decision? Who am I to value or devalue such a life? What makes my personal wants or objects worth more, when I could sell my keyboard, my Xbox, my pinball machine, for enough money to cover treatment? Where would it stop? Should I sell my personal possessions for a chance at maybe 2 years more? If I don’t, am I a monster who doesn’t deserve the love Sully gave me unconditionally?  These are the things going through my mind during all this, and though I’m mostly a rational and logical person, I have no idea what the “right” thing to do is. I hope I make the best choice, and I hope Sully forgives me if it’s the one I don’t wanna make.


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9 responses to “Playing god”

  1. Jackie R. says :

    I’m so sorry about this. I’ve been there too many times. I don’t know what the answer is, and my heart has ached for you since I heard. I send you love.

  2. Caitlin Edmonson Carroll says :

    Said dog is currently sitting at my feet while waiting for me to drop something tasty off the table for him to eat. We’re going to make the best decision for us & him. There is no question about that. We love him. We have a fantastic vet who is putting all positive thoughts into this. I’m hopeful.

  3. Catie says :

    Hey you I am sorry to hear about Sully, it will suck either way….as a dog he can’t tell you whether or not he has a DnR or a living will. I try to think about it this way, how would I want to be treated or would I go through the same treatment if there was zero guarantee. Is there a way to try it for a short period of time and if everyone involved decides that it is not the best desicion? There is never an easy answer to this….are you prolonging the disease or putting him out of his misery? That is a desicion that you and your family have to make together….recently Wade had to “put down” one of our cats because she was hit by a car and her back was broken and we could tell there were other injuries we decided not to prolong her misery, so believe me I can empathize.

  4. David DeMar says :

    I’ve been there myself, and all too recently: we had to make the terrible decision to play god with the life of our beautiful 14 year old cat Sebu just a few months ago. You’re never prepared for it, ever, and telling yourself that whatever your decision is for the best doesn’t help you get to sleep at night any easier.

    I wish you didn’t have to face this. I’m so sorry.

  5. Mr. Persona Non Grata says :

    Just to follow this up, in case anyone checks back, our vet is fucking amazing and gave us a price for the same treatment our old dog had, but for less than 20% of what we were charged by our last vet!!! We’re going ahead with the treatment, and have our fingers crossed that it’s not too late.

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  1. Saying goodbye | Unwanted Criticisms - April 24, 2013

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