Hannah's Hospice: Decisions Are Getting Real

It was only a week ago that we last spoke here, but in even that short amount of time, we've seen Hannah's cough worsen to a point where I'm starting to worry that our time with her is going to be much shorter than we hoped.

With Hannah's cough getting worse, I decided to xray her chest again to see what was happening with her lung tumor. The answer was not good. The tumor has grown from 5cm in diameter to 8cm in diameter in just six weeks. This means her increased frequency of coughing is likely related to this expanding mass, and I know that with this mass growing as fast as it is, the time we have left with her could be quite limited. Decisions about her future are becoming very real, and the sadness this brings on is almost overwhelming at times. It is now that my decisions around going the hospice route vs. surgery and chemo are being tested. It's a struggle between the heart and the mind, with the heart wanting to do everything possible to keep her with us and the mind knowing that I would be doing that for me and not for her. There's a time and a place for surgery and chemo, but I'm confident in the choices we've made not to go down that path with Hannah. Still, no amount of confidence could take away the heartbreak we feel watching her decline like this. Every cough is just another reminder of how little time I have left with her. 

I will start Hannah on hycodan to try to help with the hacking cough that is now happening every time she gets excited about something, from eating to just going outside. I've also shortened and slowed all of her walks to fit with her current abilities. The speed of changes I'm seeing in her just over the past two weeks is alarming, and these changes are increasing at a pace that means she might not make it through the summer months. For the moment, she's eating well and is still a very happy dog, so I know we're not there yet, but our time together is nearing an end. Hospice is not easy near the end and it takes support from everyone that knows and loves her. Tears in my eyes are preventing me from writing much more, but I'll continue to keep everyone posted on her journey.

Until next time,

Dr. Hawk