One of my patients lives with her 80 year old mother and they have been taking care of each other until now, but that can't happen any more.
While my patient was in the hospital last week her mom fell and broke a hip. Since my patient has failed her last two rounds of chemo (meaning her body couldn't tolerate it, not her spirit) she's become steadily more debilitated. She has drains and tubes and pain and no energy.
She is unable to care for her mother in this condition and hasn't any family near for support so her mother will need to go into a nursing home.
We plan to try some more chemo that won't be a cure but might give her a few extra months, maybe even up to a year, but she will be ill through much of it. If she can't tolerate it or it doesn't work she has about two months so arrangement have to be made for her mother now as she can no way live alone and my patient's time is so uncertain.
One of the things that was worrying my patient terribly was their dogs. I found her crying in her room while rounding and this came out in the ensuing discussion. They have two Bichon Frise who they both just love and she was in tears last week worrying about their fate. So I told her they could stay with us. While she is able I can take them to her for visits and play dates, and when the time comes I will work on finding them a good permanent home.
It's something I had never considered before, what do people who can't afford a kennel and don't have someone to rely on do with their animals when they get sick? What if they are in and out of the hospital for a while, but will be cured and able to take care of them again? Are there temporary animal sitting services out there that I've just never heard about, places the will take care of them and give them back when the time is right and not charge an arm and a leg? Her kennel bill for this hospitalization is $700.00 and she can't do that again.
There is so much bad happening both of their lives right now I'm glad to be able to provide a little comfort, but now I worry about others in similar situations. I have a lot of patients with no family available and while Social Work can make arrangements for them, what happens to their pets?