Funny how ideas always seem to synergize and intertwine. Edison realizes electric heat can also turn into light. A telephone beside a matrix printer becomes a fax machine. Most good ideas only seem to come from nowhere.
I learned a lasting lesson from one of our other pets, a cat named Mommers. She was stricken with an ATE, a clot lodged in the arterial fork that sends blood to the brain on one side and the hindquarters on the other. Her hind legs were paralyzed, the vets considered it hopeless. Yet it was clear to me in Mommer's eyes that she was not ready for the needle. I drove her home with my conflicted brain struggling for some MacGyver-esque solution. I had heard of ATE, and also heard that cats' peripheral arteries were more than capable of supplying enough extra blood to prevent organ death until the clot dissolved. For some unknown reason, they simply don't. More googling led me to an Edison moment. Cats' hind legs are enormously powerful and have a correspondingly enormous blood supply. The answer was right there, in Mommers' veins and not her arteries. "Cusps" they are called, the little one-way valves that allow used blood to fight gravity and return to the heart. Like any one-way valve, they leave a vacuum behind them when they close, a vacuum that would suck in arterial blood. I slapped my own forehead. Just working Mommers' legs and massaging the veins could turn them into lifesaving pumps, an auxiliary heart.
And so we did, every 30 minutes for days. We and those cusps were her extra heart. The vets were amazed when ten days later, she had some discoloration in her paws, but she was walking. No amputation would be needed, and her kidneys were working fine. The first place she headed was the litterbox, wobbling but happy.
There's no happy ending, because it turned out the ATE was caused by a tumor. We lost her anyway when the ATE recurred. She didn't have the will to fight a second time. I saw that in her eyes as well, so we put her down in the final comfort of her Daddy's lap. But it could have been happy if the underlying cause had been different, and I vowed never again to give up on any animal whose eyes showed the will to go on. The rest wasn't even MacGyver, more like Sun Tzu. Learn to think like the enemy and then out-think him. Some fights are unwinnable and some shouldn't be fought, but surrender is purely optional.
Chance's fight is unwinnable and I know it, but I also know he'll fight like a demon for his very last breath. So how to help, how to buy him a few more hours or days or weeks? His breathing is decent when he's on his feet, the park showed me that. The tumor is gradually kinking his airway, so It gets bad when he lays down. The last two mornings he was practically anoxic, he had to shake his own brain awake after being lifted from bed. That anoxia, I realized, will kill him much sooner than the tumor. I also realized that we don't need to let it. No dog needs a night's sleep, they're purpose-designed for napping. Getting him awake every few hours for a treat will definitely prevent dying in his sleep until the kink worsens. We don't know how long the tumor has been there, either. If it's slow growing, that may take awhile. Even if it's a few extra days, it's a precious while.
What the hell, Daddy's prostate gets him up three times a night to pee anyhow. Not even any real sacrifice. So there, it's a losing fight but I'm damn well going to fight it. We'll let y'all know how it goes.