Midnight Is Sick

Our dog Midnight is sick and maybe dying. This following post has nothing to do with marketing or picture books but I wanted to tell you about Midnight and how I’m constructing my life. She wakes us up two or three times a night. Last night my husb got up with her at one a.m. and I got up at seven. At first I thought she’d done real well, sleeping until seven but when I got back upstairs and husb told me he’d been up, I had to change my mind. She has this high-pitched bark that tells us she is in distress and we must take care of her.

This waking us up in the middle of the night has been going on for at least two months now. She is literally dying of thirst and needs to go pee.

We’ve had all kinds of tests. We have done all kinds of urinalysis. The bottom line is that she has diabetes insipidus. Not diabetes mellitus, the kind where you need insulin but insipidus where she needs the antidiuretic hormone. She just can’t concentrate her urine. The water she drinks is literally running out as fast as she drinks it.

Right now we’re giving her an antibiotic on the off-chance it’s a kidney infection. But it hasn’t been helping. It’s been about nine days.

And she’s sleeping all day. We take her around the pond paths a couple of times a day and let her out to go pee but really, what kind of life is that for a dog? She doesn’t roam anymore. This is a good and bad thing. At least when she was roaming (we live in the country) we knew she was chasing deer and following her nose. She was enjoying herself. Or anyway this is what we always told ourselves.

It was bad because we have a leash law. If someone, who didn’t know her and her ways wanted to, they could take her to the animal shelter. She has a collar with ID’s, our name and number are on there. There were times when she was younger that a far away neighbor, several miles from home would call us to come pick her up. We always told ourselves she had a fine adventure that day.

Now she is old. She’s twelve or thirteen years old, a Heinz 57, a mutt that’s a mix of Lab, Border collie and Terrier and whatever else.

The vet said we could treat it- the diabetes insipidus but that it wasn’t cheap. It was eye drops with the antidiuretic hormone in it. We’re waiting to hear what he means by “not cheap”. How expensive is it?

The antibiotic hasn’t made much difference. She still drinks too much and pees too much and wakes us up two, sometimes three times a night.

What would you do? Would you try to treat the diabetes insipidus no matter how expensive or would you put your dog to sleep?

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About ClaraBowmanJahn

Journal writer. Author of "Annie's Special Day" And coauthor of Edmund Pickle Chin, A Donkey Rescue Story." Proud mother and grandmother of wonderful kids. Wife of brilliant husband. Servant of two cats. Member of Pennwriters and SCBWI.
This entry was posted in Clara Bowman-Jahn, life story, memoir and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Midnight Is Sick

  1. Oh, Clar. I’m so sorry to hear about Midnight and your dilemma. These things are always so hard. If it was me, I guess I would find out what “expensive” means and whether I could afford it. Then I would want to know how good an outcome could realistically be expected. Will Midnight be comfortable, pain- and distress-free, and happy? Will her quality of life be good? If you can afford the medicine and it’s really going to help, I’d give it a try. But if the medicine is unlikely to improve her situation dramatically, if she and you are going to be suffering, then I would say it’s probably kinder to let her go, even though it’s hard. I understand, really. We had a 2 year old lab who developed severe epilepsy. Although epilepsy is supposed to be treatable, nothing worked on our dog. Nothing. 2 years old and she was having cluster seizures – as many as 15 seizures in a 24-hour period. Three times we had to take her to the animal emergency room in the middle of the night to get IV valium to halt the seizures – close to $1000 every time. The third time they made a mistake and she ended up brain damaged. We went through a terrible year. Looking back I can’t believe it. In the end, we had to put her to sleep at age 3 1/2. So I truly understand what you’re going through. I hope the medicine is affordable, and I hope it works and you get your old happy Midnight back. But if not, at least she has lived a long and happy life. Good luck.

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    • clarbojahn says:

      Thank you, Susanna, for your kind words. Thinking about it in this way is helpful indeed.
      I am so sorry you had to go through such a hard time with your Lab. She was just a puppy. At least Midnight has had a good life.

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  2. Clar, I am so sorry. I lost my poodle at age 17 a few years ago. Like Susanna, I’d find out what expensive means, if it will definitely help and what will Midnight’s quality of life be like. It’s a tough dcision, but my dog had lived a long life. We let her go and were with her when she passed. My heart goe out to you. Was the photo of Midnight and the cat a recent picture. If so, animals know when something is wrong and stay near by. Were they friends too? That picture really captured my attention. Hope things improve. — Pat

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    • clarbojahn says:

      Yes, the photos are recent. We took them last night right before I posted this article. We have two cats but the other one is not friends with Midnight like this one is. They do seem to communicate to each other in kitty and dog ways. Each to his own way. They are so cute together.

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  3. Kelly says:

    I’m so sorry. I agree with Susanna. I just lost my cat on October 29 (is that just about a week ago, now?) She was 12 years old too. She had unspecified liver disease. The doc discussed treatment with me but said it was expensive, and the chances for any real recovery were low. Even if we put lots of money into her, there was little chance it would make much difference. So at that time I decided to just bring her home and let her live out her twilight years in comfort. I did not plan to put her down, I wanted her to die peacefully at home.

    But she went downhill very, very fast. Within two weeks I had to put her on a liquid diet, which she still threw up, and she would stand up wherever she lay and try to eliminate, which looked really painful. She had stopped purring a few days earlier. Last Friday night I came home and there was mess everywhere. It looked like she had had a very painful day. Her eyes were vacant and I could tell she was only looking inward at her own pain. So I decided that if nature didn’t take her overnight, I would take her in the next day, to stop the pain.

    I am very much at peace with my decision. The day I took her in we took a walk around the block first, and she lay in my arms and for the first time in weeks seemed to be at peace. Then we went into the vet and she went down comfortably, with me stroking her head. So much better than dying painfully and alone in the dust under my bed.

    So I think my advice is that you need to reach the point where you feel at peace with your decision too, whatever that may be. Sometimes money to extend a senior pet’s life just isn’t the best decision, and we need to let them go. Or it IS the best decision, and we get to spend a few more quality years with our companions. I think the key word is “quality” though. And I believe you will know what that means when the time comes.

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    • clarbojahn says:

      Dear Kelly, so sorry to hear about your cat. That does sound so sad. I am glad you feel at peace with your decision though even if it was hard and painful. After blogging about it and getting such courageous views on this topic, I will be better prepared to do what we need to do, whether it be the medicine or putting her to sleep.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. 🙂

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  4. suzicate says:

    My heart goes out to you. It is such a difficult decision. I suppose it will come down to whether or not the treatment will give Midnight a longer and more comfortable life. The questions to ask yourself are whether you can afford this treament, is it beneficial, and is Midnight currently in pain. We had this happen with our cat (who was 21 at the time) and the vet said it would cost upward of $5000 and would only give the cat another month…his advice was to put the cat dow which we did. We had a dog we had to put down as well after an illness an was bleeding internally. It was such a difficult thing to do. Just remember there is no wrong choice in whatever you decide to do, though I know it doesn’t make it any easier.

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    • clarbojahn says:

      We haven’t really asked the vet the questions of how will Midnight be when she is getting the medicine. If it will improve her quality of life or not. We just assumed it would.

      We will definitely know more what to ask when the vet calls us back.

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  5. Very sorry to hear about Midnight. Do the best that you can. There’s no right or wrong choice. It’s always tough.

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    • clarbojahn says:

      Thanks for reiterating there is no right or wrong. It makes the decision so much easier to make. Right now we just want to sleep through the night. And Midnight is uncomfortable, too. She sleeps all day and is not her happy self.

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  6. Julie says:

    Oh Clar, I feel so bad for you. Unfortunately you are the only one who can make that decision, and I’m sure your heart heart will tell you what is right. My mom’s dog had the same problem and eventually had to be put down (after a few months of treatment).

    It is so hard to say goodbye to our beloved animals, but I believe that if we open our hearts to them, they will let us know when it’s time to release them.

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    • clarbojahn says:

      You mean she had diabetes insipidus? That your mom’s dog had the same exact thing? I would love to talk to you more. Can you give me your email?

      Yes, after blogging about it, I think it will be easier to make the decision. I will be more informed about both our dog’s and our needs.

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  7. Oh I am so sorry to hear about Midnight. Our pets become so much a part of our family. It is so painful to know what the right thing to do is. I wish you wisdom to make the right choice for your family. Sending you all lots of positive thoughts and a big hug.

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    • clarbojahn says:

      We have found out the price of the medicine called Desmopressin and it doesn’t seem too expensive. The vet said it would take about two weeks before we would see results. So we’re waiting.

      Thanks for the hug. 🙂

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  8. pattyabr says:

    I would ask the vet what the outcome is by treating her, in other words what is the success rate by treating her. That information would help me weigh the cost with the outcome. Three years ago our daughter discovered a bump in our dog, Dot’s, lower jaw. It turned out to be a cancerous tumor. We got a specialist involved, pathology completed and we opted for the surgery to remove about 2/3 of her lower jaw. It was a successful surgery, traumatic for the dog but she has adapted well. It was pricey endeavor but we feel that it was well worth it with a good outcome. I am thankful that chemo and/or radiation was not involved, that would have been a difficult decision for me.

    Prayers for Midnight.

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    • clarbojahn says:

      Thanks Patty for your prayers. They mean a lot. As you can see from the above comment we now know the price of the Desmopressin and it is something we can afford. One thing I’ve learned from this blog is that all kinds of people have all kinds of pets with all kinds of health issues and they do the best they can. It has been a valuable lesson for me. Just like them, you did the best you could and it was the right thing for you and for your dog.

      The vet said it would take about two weeks before we see results. I think the results would be her sleeping through the night and not being so thirsty. That would be good.

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  9. mtnwriter77 says:

    I went through the same kind of thing with my hound back in 2004. He was 12, and had something going on with his liver that the vet feared was cancer. We kept him going for months with periodic cortisone shots that gave him a boost for a few weeks, but then he would slide downhill again. Around that time I read an article about how to decide when it is time to put a pet to sleep. Obviously, cost is part of it. But far harder than cost is the emotional component. This article said to tune in to your dog, and he/she will tell you when it’s time. When he can’t get up on his own or go out to go to the bathroom, and doesn’t want to eat, and his tail doesn’t beat the floor when you’re nearby, it’s probably time. At the end of one of his cortisone highs, he fit that description perfectly. He was in obvious discomfort. I held him through the last night and carried him outside (he weighed 80lbs, but had constant diarrhea) when he got restless, and we headed to the vet first thing in the morning. On the way there, he laid his head on my lap, took one last deep breath, and went on his own. I questioned if I’d waited too long and made him suffer. So when our Jack Russell Terrier was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma a year later, I tried to be more vigilant. Six months later he crawled onto my lap, shaking and looking at me with eyes that said “please help me.” We went immediately to the vet this time, and I held him through the process. I was much more at peace with that timing.

    About cost – I love my animals and would do just about anything for them that I can do personally. But unlike with humans, you can’t buy good health insurance for pets. When the cost of care gets prohibitive (as defined by your individual budget), I think it’s time to make the practical decision.

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    • clarbojahn says:

      Your comment is a beautiful testament of how much love an owner has for their pet. I think your right in asking your dog about the decision. I agree in not letting her suffer and about honoring her life. As stewards of choosing when they die, I also think it’s more than cost. When she doesn’t enjoy life anymore I think it will be time to lay her down.

      Thank you for your story. It adds to my decision about what to do.

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  10. Widdershins says:

    This sucks whichever way you look at it.

    Ask your vet lots of questions. then have a chat with Midnight and ask her what she needs.

    Candle in the window for you all.

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    • clarbojahn says:

      Thank you, Widder.

      I’ve been talking to Midnight a lot lately. She knows we want to honor her life. She knows we want to do the best thing by her. She just loves us. It is nice knowing she is OK with whatever we decide. She has been a great dog. 🙂

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  11. Oh Clar, I am so sorry to hear about Midnight’s illness and the difficult decision you are facing. We have two beloved Goldens, a frail 12 year old female Rosie who is slowly deteriorating and a frisky 18 month old male,Max. My husband and I have this discussion about Rosie everyday ..when is it time? I don’t think anyone can tell you. In your case, I could want to find out the expense and projected benefit in the medicine.You’ll do what you have to do, knowing you have the dog’s best interest at heart. You really hit a chord here. Our pets are our family and seeing them suffer is unbearable. Wishing you peace and resolution as you make your decision.
    Blessings,
    Kathy

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    • Clar says:

      Since I wrote the above we have gotten the Desmopressin and started it. Midnight has slept through the night three nights in a row now. She’s happier every day. The medicine is something is something we can afford and it is easy to administer. Just one drop in each eye twice a day. I’m glad the indecision is over.

      I hope you have gotten some good info from this post to help you with your decision. It’s a tough one. 🙂

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  12. jannatwrites says:

    First of all, I’m sorry to hear about this dilemma you faced with your dog. However, I’m happy to read in the comments that the meds were in your price range and Midnight is doing better. I do hope it continues to go this way. When to let a pet go is such a difficult decision, full of second-guessing.

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    • Clar says:

      Yes, the medicine is letting her (and us) sleep. However as the days go by she is more and more lethargic not even finishing her food for dinner. Food used to be the big thing with her. She used to enjoy it so much we split it into morning and night feedings. Now at meal times she leaves some in the bowl. I’m experimenting with different kinds and hope to wet her appetite for something else.

      Thanks for the kind words, Janna.

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