I played God last week.
I made a life-altering decision regarding the health care of one of my oldest and dearest friends.
And I'm still not sure I made the right decision for the right reasons.
This is Horace.
You don't have to look too closely to see that Horace has a rather pronounced growth under his left eye. Up close it's about the size of a marble and resembles a blister, but it's firm. He's had it for about a year now. We thought it was going away at one point but he scratched at it and it swelled up large and angry before settling down to its current size where it's remained for a few months. It doesn't seem to bother him in the slightest.
I like to think of Horace as my first born. I swooped him away from a litter when he was five weeks old because I feared neither he nor his mother were being cared for properly in a party house inhabited by a rotating group of young 20-somethings.
Horace became instantly, inordinately attached to me, accompanying me daily to work and on errands and weekend trips to my parent's house. He was there that Saturday night when I invited in for a nightcap the shaggy-haired guy who had driven me home from a party on his motorcycle. Only after that shaggy-haired guy made a big fuss over Horace did I realize he might be the future father of my child.
Horace's vet says the growth probably isn't cancerous now but could very well become cancerous in the future. She also said that, because it's so close to his eye, the only way to remove it would be to knock him out completely with general anesthetic.
The procedure would cost over $1,100 and Horace would be at the vet's for two days.
Horace is 11 and a half years old. Horace is a homebody who hates to be out of our sight for more than a few minutes. Horace also has a heart murmur - something we determined a few years back, after several hundred dollars of tests.
Horace is not going to get his growth removed.
I can't face it, quite frankly.
I can't face watching him shake and cry (yes, he sounds just like a baby) with stress when I leave him to a doctor who will administer an anesthetic from which he might not ever wake (putting older animals under is always risky), to remove a growth that he's lived with happily for a year.
Animals don't understand that certain things we subject them to are for their own good: they don't understand that sometimes short-term pain now staves off long-term misery later. I cannot rationalize this to my Horace: all he will experience is sheer terror and confusion.
And Horace is getting older. And Horace is my baby. And I can't do it.
And $1,100 is a lot of money.
Rob thinks I am making a mistake. He thinks the growth could turn cancerous later and then it will be too late to operate. He thinks Horace has many good years left and that I will never forgive myself if he dies prematurely because I didn't give him proper treatment when he was still relatively young and healthy.
But Rob is deferring to me, because ultimately he knows that Horace is my responsibility and my baby. But I know he thinks I am making a mistake. I know he thinks I am taking the easy route because it is easier, cheaper and more convenient right now.
I wish I could be sure he was wrong.