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Two Coats Are Only Good When Painting...

By Immydog
All jobs have their ups and downs. I know that.  But there are times when I feel as though this job, the job that so many people have longed for yet not attained, is just too difficult for me.  At these times, I want to fill out an application at a retail establishment, and become employed stocking shelves, checking out customers, and trucking carts in from the parking lot.  I suspect that a bad day working there, while it could be stressful as the general public can be quite offensive at times, is quite different than a bad day wearing this white coat. 
When I am wearing my white coat (figuratively), it is part of my training to tell a client when their animal's body has reached its limits.  It is comforting for me to be able to look at them with confident eyes, and reassure them that the next step is giving their beloved furry family member its dignity back.  The decision is ultimately theirs to make, but I hope that having someone reassure them that the choice they are making is the right one, eases their pain in some sense.
But, I sit here now writing this story as a pet owner.  I sit here now writing this as a veterinarian who is a pet owner.  I sit here and I despise having to wear both coats at the same time.  I sit here and I wish I could look to another authoritative person, someone who knows more than I do or better than I do, someone with a coat whiter than mine, and trust that person to guide me through this difficult part of pet ownership.
Today, I am the proud owner of a 13 year old tortoiseshell cat.  I named her Petunia (Tuni) because she kept popping up in my garden.  She has been a companion of mine for 13 years of my life.  I have known her longer than I have known my own children.  Today, I discovered that she is dying.
Two Coats are Only Good When Painting...
I look at my cat sitting in a hospital cage and I wonder, "Do I put you to sleep today? Should I put you to sleep tomorrow?  Should I take you home and let you have one more night with me?  If I take you home, will you get hurt while being so weak?  How much time do I take, when medically I know you are not responding to treatment, and yet I am not ready to lose you?"
Two Coats are Only Good When Painting...
I will need to make this decision at some time in the next 24 hours, as I am certain her body cannot take much more than that.  I will be the one making the decision.  I will be the one administering the medications.  I will be the one placing the stethoscope to her chest, listening for her heartbeat to fade.  I will be the one caring for her body afterwards.  I will be with her, alone, holding her as she falls asleep for the last time.
Then tomorrow I will wonder, "Should I have tried one more thing?  Should I have waited one more day?" 
I know this, because this is not the first time I have had to wear two coats...
Two Coats are Only Good When Painting...
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