I took Alien back to the Veterinary Hospital at University of Penn for her check-up with Dr. Holt, the opthamologist, today. Her right eye has not improved with the topical medication for the last two weeks - in fact it seems to be even more inflamed. Dr. Holt said that she is now developing glaucoma in that eye. I mentioned that her appetite has reduced - she won't even touch her dry food, and will only eat a little bit of tuna fish. They examined her mouth and found that she has an ulceration and a mass at the base of her tongue. They asked one of the dental service doctors to take a look at her.
They believe the mass is squamous cell cancer. Her tongue is thickened throughout the base and is no longer flexible, which is why she's not eating. According to the doctor, neither surgery nor medical therapy can prevent the growth of this type of cancer in this location. In her experience, even performing a biopsy can cause the cancer to increase in size quickly. The cancer is the likely cause of the problems with her eye and shoulder. Eventually, if left alone, she will starve because she cannot eat enough.
So.....I have a painful decision to make - when should I take her in to be euthanized. Dr. Holt said I should see if I can keep her eating as long as it's not too painful for her, treat the glaucoma so she is more comfortable, and spend time with her.
She's lying here, curled up in ball next to me, as I type. She's been such a wonderful companion to me for 15 years. This is really hard. It wasn't like they were suggesting I just leave her right then. I can have as much time as her cancer allows. So the big question: should I have her put to sleep before I leave on vacation in two weeks? Part of me thinks that would be best, otherwise she's going to have to stay at the vet's for over two weeks (health permitting), and I know that would be horrible for her. I'm going to just take it day by day, but I'm kind of thinking that I would take her shortly before I leave. Then I can have a good cry and go on vacation for a while.
I'm going to go to the supermarket later and buy her some of those outrageously expensive cans of cat food - what the heck, she should go out in style!
Sorry, this is going to be a short column today. Guess I'm not in a mood to talk tonight. I'll leave you with this - one of my favorite pictures of Alien - gnawing on her Bill Clinton catnip toy.