Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It's OK To Let Go

As I was walking thru the parking lot at work the other day, getting ready to go inside, I heard my name being called. It was one of our long term clients, pulling in for an early appointment. I went over to her car to say hello and was met with two sad faces and a slowly wagging tail.
My heart sank, for I immediately knew what was to come.
Our patient, who was diagnosed with congestive heart failure about a year ago, was not doing well at all. We had been keeping a close eye on him over the last few weeks, as he needed more Lasix than normal and was having a lot of coughing fits. As I petted him and gazed into his sweet Maltese eyes, I heard the owners ask me if I thought it was his time.
We talked about quality of life, the quality of Teddy's life, and life in general. From what they told me I did believe he was suffering and not able to enjoy the things he once was.
I told them I would meet them inside, and hurried inside to punch in and tell the in - window that they were coming.
I escorted them into our Comfort Room. We talked some more, and shared stories of Teddy and his life with this man and woman that loved him so.
My vet came in, and we listened as they described his physical condition. Both their faces searched ours, for a sign that it was time to let him go. Teddy snuggled between them, comforted by their warmth and loving hands as they took turns petting him.

They decided to let him go, to give him peace.

The husband was having an especially hard time coming to terms with this, and even as he watched me walk away with Teddy to place his catheter, his face showed words that he could not say out loud.

The triage techs held Teddy as his catheter was placed, and I gave him some oxygen to make his labored breathing easier for him. I know it did him some good because his tongue color became more pink and he was not struggling.

Finally we brought him back to the Comfort Room and he eagerly went back to his mom's arms. He took up his spot between mom & dad as we began our task that is both caring and painful at the same time.
His dad was telling him how much he loved him and what a good boy he was. Mom was stroking his soft fur and holding back tears.
As my vet sedated him so he could pass peacefully, Teddy did something I've never seen before. As he was slowly relaxing, he seemed to focus for a second and then he lifted his head back up....turned to his dad....and gave him a few kisses, licking his face three times, then settling back down to relax again. His passing was very peaceful after that, as he was loved and petted in his final seconds.
I wiped my tears away, my vet reached over to get a tissue for her eyes, and as silence settled over the room I could not get Teddy's final action out of my head. His dad started to cry in earnest and I said to him, "He wanted to let you know it was OK to let him go, he kissed you to give you strength and love as a lasting memory of him."
I believe he was letting them know that he would be OK, waiting at the Rainbow Bridge until they all met again.

It was the most touching euthanasia I have ever witnessed, and Teddy's memory will stay with me forever.
Rest in were loved every much.