I enjoy challenging myself physically, so last weekend I went on a 200 mile bike ride. It just so happens that this ride passed a few blocks from our house so Bryan and I popped by for a short visit around mile 130.
I felt great all day, but around mile 170, one of my knees hurt so bad I couldn’t bend it without causing excruciating pain. I thought about bailing since abusing knees is a great way to permanently injure them, but when you’ve come that far, you really don’t want to quit. I popped some ibuprofen and tried to compensate with the other leg, but within a few miles, the extra strain led to massive cramps which forced me off the bike. Fortunately, it took only a few minutes for me to get a handle on the knee pain and continue to a good finish.
This ride worked out well, but the question still remains on how you know when it’s time to concede things won’t work out they way you hope. Anything worth doing requires perseverance and sacrifice. At the same time, if you refuse to exit with grace when you reach a point where all the willpower and effort in the world can’t help you, the line between dedication and delusion is crossed.
Knowing where these boundaries are is not just an academic exercise. For example, Keiko’s condition has been deteriorating steadily. As recently as a few months ago, we walked 4 miles a day. Now we walk 2 blocks. I’ve been sleeping on the floor with her for the past 2 months because she can’t climb stairs and needs to go out several times each night. She’s lost a huge amount of weight and is in constant pain from a giant and rapidly growing tumor.
You’d think that would make the decision obvious, but it’s not so easy. Her appetite is strong and she enjoys eating. I’ve been feeding her bacon and eggs for breakfast, and at night she’s been eating things like cheeseburgers, pizza, steak, meatballs, etc. She is content when she’s asleep. She’s been a very tough girl her entire life, so we will not give up until she indicates she’s not interested in hanging around anymore.
People who’ve known Keiko become sad when they see the fading shadow she’s become of her former self. At some point, there won’t be enough left for her, and we will have to let her go.
Dr. Lindsay and the other staff at the vet have been truly impressed with Keiko’s resilience, and he tells me that she will let me know when it’s time. I hope he’s right.Â Even doing what I know is right will rip my heart out, so it’s really important to get this right.
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