Friday, June 12, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"Borrowed time"

It is time to tell my patient friends in The Club more about my furry friends fate. One month ago he had been passing a dark liquid as his bowel movement and had stopped eating for a few days, he was unable to get up and I was lifting him a few times a day to wipe him off, his weight had gone down from about 75 lbs to about 54 lbs, the vets said they thought he had internal bleeding and insisted on my bring him in. His right rear foot was swollen to twice its size and his left rear knee had a nasty open pressure sore. He growled when I touched him and had not had a bowel movement in 27 hours. However I had taken a hand truck and laid it flat and got the building porter to cut a piece of plywood to form a platform that I put a pad on so I could take him outside where he could smell fresh air and hope to relieve himself. That did get him to accept some chicken breast that I fed him by hand. I ordered the beast not to give up. He was carried into the vet on a stretcher and the doctor said the dog was suffering and should be put down. He then moved to examine the dog's feet, without warning me first. For the first time in his life the animal bit someone. Just before that he delivered an enormous and spotless with no blood dump on the examining table. I said No to the Veterinary and took him the next day to the Neurologist who prescribed a steroid, a painkiller, antacid and Tylan powder but expressed doubt.

It is with considerable pleasure that I can relay to my friends in the club that my four footed friend has had a miraculous recovery. He is now almost running and waving his favorite squeaky toy in the air and flirting with passing girls. His weight has rebounded to 63 lbs. There is to be sure still some balance problem when he lifts a leg next to a tree. He is effectively cured and might be with us for three or four more years.

I for one never doubt the efficacy of prayer.
The best line on a job I see so far is selling fancy bed sheets at a famous but to be undisclosed location for one third the in itself ludicrous income I was drawing a year and change ago. That is to say it will probably be for less than Unemployment but I can't turn it down. Holders of GEDs in my small home town are pulling in more and my probable boss will be about half my age. My intentions are to be the soul of enthusiasm.

Thank you. Since I declined to spend $5,000 in the interest of science we may never know but the best guess is a bad lumbar disc.

They are good souls. It would I suppose be inappropriate to remember after your story what Groucho as Rufus T Firefly said to Margaret Dumont as Mrs Teasdale after she told him that her husband had died in her arms?

To drag things back to the level of theory for The Club I have been considering where the first Veterinary went wrong. I know that he is a good man and a good doctor. Veterinarians are charged primarily with easing suffering. In this they differ from physicians who treat human beings for whom the relief of suffering is a secondary concern. The ending of a life is therefor an inextricable part of the Veterinarians craft and many of us would no doubt find it harder to put down a dog than a man. The dog being innocent and the man deserving and all else being equal. The doctor concerned said to me that he felt that because the animal was bright alert and responsive, to use their jargon B.A.R., his inability to stand and play or do other normal functions increased his need to be destroyed. So why did I persist and deny the impulse that was put to me as the more humane path?

The Veterinarian erred in two ways I felt. First he arrogated until himself a standard that denied the broader range of experience that thousands of animals do live with successfully every day. You see animals with mobility problems and wheeled carts that live joyful lives for several years. While this is a difficult and complicated process it should not be dismissed a priori. The costs and procedures need to be properly evaluated in each case. In some cases it will prove to be at best a dragging out of the end that only does inflict suffering, that may be true for many but not all larger breeds.

Second and more importantly here the Veterinarian failed to take into account new information. He reached his initial expectation based on the report that the dog could not walk and had possible internal bleeding. When the animal delivered a large pile of evidence that he was not bleeding and did with support walk a few steps he did not modify or even take a moment to reconsider his position. That is why I refused him. To my mind the beast's hostile reaction to being touched was a good sign, indicating that he had not given up. If he had just lain there passively and the Vet had paused and gone "Hmm that is interesting but on balance I must urge you to this course" then I might well have yielded to professional authority.

Now of course the doctor looks uneasy when I go to his office for supplies. I do not intend to change practitioners. For years now it has been his partners that treated my friend and I like the office. His problem is that even though I do not intend to act against him he can not forgive me for being correct. It is much easier to forgive someone else for being wrong.

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