He’s dead.

The vet that did our second opinion was much more empathic than the other one and she took the time to do a complete exam. Instead of picking him up immediately, she left him in his box for a while and observed, giving him the time to get used to the new surroundings. Now I finally get how a physical exam can work like a tool to build trust – I’ve known it for quite a while but seeing that someone looks over your pet with care, even though the diagnosis is very clearly visible, helps with starting to trust that that person might be knowledgable about rats.

Why am I whining so much about a dead pet? Well, because I’d never do things like that to a human being. Unfortunately, his temperature had already started dropping (32 degrees Celcius) and he was very tachypneic and short of breath so we had to do something to alleviate his suffering. I’d have given him a shot of morphine and midazolam and taken him home with us- in humans it is a great way to treat both pain and shortness of breath in the terminal stage. However, apparently that particular property of morphine isn’t known among vets because our only option was euthanasia.

I still think it’s barbaric. We sort of did adhere to the human criteria (second opinion, unbearable unsolvable suffering) but I still think it’s barbaric, dying in a foreign surrounding without your closest friends.

And now he’s dead, buried in the garden of our parents-in-law (we don’t have a garden of our own yet). It’s just an animal but perhaps that’s the worst part: you can’t explain, say sorry, ask his opinion. There was nothing we could do to make him understand us – some dogs or cats can be highly sensitive to your message but Mr Grey Rat just looked at us with weary and tired eyes, completely oblivious that we were about to end his life.

On the other hand  – he was ready for it. He was just an inch from dying on his own. Should we have left him home? A question I can’t bear to think about…

Some links (in Dutch) regarding palliative care – I had to learn these things by heart, how could I not desire care like that for Mr Grey Rat…

Dutch guideline palliative sedation

Dutch guideline dyspnea in the terminal stage of life

Some English journal articles on opioids as a treatment for dyspnea in the terminal stage of life (taken from the guideline)







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