The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done

March 20, 2003

My cat needs to be let go. She is 10 years old and starting to have some significant health and quality of life issues. All of her life she has suffered from a respiratory issues that at times makes it extremely difficult for her to breathe. About 5 years ago she started to have problems with constipation. Two years ago we had to take her to the emergency hospital overnight due to a severe blockage.

We have noticed a slowing down in her activities this winter, and an increase in blockages. She has had 3 bouts of constipation in the last 4 weeks. She has also started to lose control of her bladder resulting in several instances where she has urinated on the floor or couch. She urinated on the furniture again sometime yesterday, and this morning we found another fecal deposit the size of a golf ball. Today her anus is distended and obviously sore. She is avoiding us and will until the blockage passes.

Michele and I are both strong advocates of the whole living will idea for people. When we first started talking seriously about Abby's condition in February we started keeping a diary so that we could objectively measure her quality of life. Based on that diary we are now seeing that her life is starting to diminish. Since she can't tell us what she wants we have to take on the awesome responsibility of deciding for her, based on our knowledge of her and our desires for how life should be lived.

As I am writing this, Michele is contacting the vet to make arrangements for a final visit. We are going to let our sweet, dear, wonderful Abby go. I don't want her to suffer needlessly. I don't want my life prolonged through artificial means and I am not going to be hypocritical and force medicine or surgery on Abby. She can't understand and the trauma of the treatment outweighs any additional life it may buy.

We have an appointment for tomorrow afternoon at 3 to let her go forever.

Update (1:00 pm) After coming home early today to spend time with Michele we decided that putting it off until tomorrow was just making it worse. We called the vet back and we are going to let go of Miss Abby this afternoon. We fed her a bowl of her favorite ~ salmon, and now we are rattling around the house waiting for the time to leave.

We have shed a lot of tears already, and I know that many more will come afterwards. Miss Abby has had a wonderful life, full of love and care. I know that she has touched my heart deeply. I also know that as long as her memory lives on in my heart she won't truly be gone.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.