Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Poor Dog, Part II

Betsy has never recovered from her ACL surgery. After her pain meds were gone, she was obviously still in pain, so I started giving her baby aspirin. This helped some, but she continued to walk stiff-legged. I tried weaning her off the aspirin a couple of times, but then she was truly miserable.

She had been back to the vet clinic where the surgery had been performed a couple of times, once to have the sutures removed and again when I felt she should be improving more rapidly and wanted someone to see her stiff gait. They seemed to think she was doing okay, and assured me it would just take time.

Six weeks later and she still has good days and bad days. Today is a good day - she is willing to hobble around and can make it up the one step it takes to enter the house. Sunday was a bad day - she whimpered and trembled, not even getting off her pillow for popcorn.

Today we went back to the vet clinic where the surgery was performed, to make sure the problem was not related to the surgery itself. While waiting our turn, one of the techs came out to give Betsy some love and commented that Betsy felt warm. The exam revealed no fever, but Dr. B found some swollen lymph nodes. Fever + swollen lymph nodes = infection. Swollen lymph nodes without fever = ???

He drew some fluid from the most swollen lymph node and examined it under a microscope. He had two other vets look, too (which I later found added to the bill). They felt there was a definite possibility of a tumor.

Further diagnosis involves blood work and a biopsy, and presumably more visits, so I decided Betsy should return to our regular vet whose office is much closer to home. In case my regular vet didn't treat lymphoma, we discussed possible treatment if it were a tumor: chemotherapy, three doses, three weeks apart, administered "in hospital".

Um, how much does that cost? I asked.

Oh, it won't be that much, said Dr. B.

I recently had a lawyer tell me his fee would not be that much, I countered.

Ha-ha-ha! Okay. Around $200 a treatment.

$$$! went my brain.

Only because it has to be done in hospital. The chemo itself is not that expensive.

How successful is the treatment? I asked.

Oh, very successful! I get almost 100% remission rate. But it will come back eventually, and then we just try a different chemotherapy. And then another.

$$$$$$!!! went my brain.

Oh, and by the way, her other knee is showing signs it will need surgery, too. See? Dr. B wiggled Betsy's "old" knee. Jeesh, I'm thinking, don't add to the damage!

As I was leaving, I asked Dr. B if I should continue to give Betsy the aspirin. Oh, no, don't do that. The aspirin may be masking a fever. Huh?

$100+ and a phone call later, we are on our way to Dr. M. I'm petting Betsy as I drive, thinking, Hmmm, her ears feel warm. When my kids were small, I used the Mother's Kiss Method of Fever Detection. There is something about a feverish child that just feels different from a hot and sweaty one. Dogs don't get sweaty, but Betsy definitely felt unusually warm. Maybe it is just an infection?

At Dr. M's office, Betsy still had no fever. I told him the whole story, then suggested, before we go crazy with tests, that we just try a round of antibiotics. He agreed, added a different pain reliever to get Betsy off the aspirin, and offered a cortisone shot to boot. I said, Let's try just one thing at a time. Besides, he said that if it were a tumor and I decided to treat it, the cortisone may affect the efficacy of the treatment.

So now we are home. Betsy has been dosed and is near comatose from exhaustion. And so am I (exhausted, not dosed). I think I'll just knit a bit and take a nap.

Owning a dog - and being a dog - can be exhausting.


Who? Me? said...

Hi! I'm delurking here. I read but usually don't comment and I can't even be sure to tell you how I found your blog...

Anywho...my reason for commenting is your poor puppy! I'm so sorry for all the things you're going through with her. Something you may way to try is Ester C. You can get it in the grocery store with the vitamins. I don't know exactly how it works, but it seems to be a HUGE help with arthritis and joint pain for dogs. It's done wonders for my parent's dog. Hope everything goes well!

flurrious said...

Poor Betsy. I hope you find out what's going on with her soon.