Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dog Days

First thank you all for your comments to my last post.  They really mean a lot to me and helped a good bit (along with 3 calls from friends who covertly read my blog).

I did not run yesterday.  I did not do pushups.  Instead, yesterday morning I dressed for my 3 mile run in my lovely Brooks running skirt and my "run happy" shirt, my socks and my running shoes.  I had all the intentions of coming home and doing my run before starting work for the day.  You'll note I said, "coming home."

The girls left with Mr. Darcy for school, and Annie dog and I set out for the vet's office.  The night before I found a terrible bruise on her sternum, one that looks like a giant raspberry stain and was very dark red in the middle.  I cried.  I thought that with everything else that was going wrong with her that it must be internal bleeding. So that morning when I woke and it still looked just as bad, if not worse to me, I called the vet's office before they opened to let them know that Annie and I would be doing our best to get there when the office opened.

About 5 minutes after I left the house, I got a call on the cell.  The veternarians would not be in until 9 am but that I could have the 1st appointment of the day with Dr. Hobbs, who happens to be a friend of mine.  I snatched it up because not only is Kim a friend but she's a really good vet and I trust that she will tell me the truth without too much sugar coating.  So Annie got to go to get a cup of coffee with me, and then we went to the post office and used their fancy computerized system in the lobby to mail my Mom's mother's day present.  Then we took "the long way" to the vet's office and walked around to let Annie do her business, and then in we went.

Little did I know that I would not be getting home until about 7 pm last night.  We had x-rays and blood work and conversations about how Annie has been acting and feeling and what the x-rays and test results were.  We had to wait for some of it, and then it sort of became clear that there were a few things that could be going on, but it was hard to know what was causing the problem.

So around noon we headed to the veterinary specialists office.  When we did, Annie was acting like a spry little thing but something in the back of my head said that she was faking being spry just for me.  I waited a bit while they did vitals, etc. on Annie who they kept in the back.  It turned out that when they took her in the back, she stopped acting for me and she was in a lot of pain.

After 2 conversations with the specialists (one of whom even talked to Mr. Darcy on the phone because things were rather costly and my head was spinning from everything), we decided to go with the anti-coagulant test to make sure she wasn't having internal bleeding issues, an abdominal ultrasound to make sure that there was no tumor in the abdominal cavity and to make sure that the UTI she had wasn't actually a kidney infection, and a consult with the neurology department.  That was the short list out of the big list of all the tests that they would have liked to do.  The others were things that they would have liked but that wouldn't necessarily tell us exactly what was wrong.  The short list was what would tell us the problem and give us where to go from there.  The full list was $1375, and the short list was $875.

Then they told me to leave and be back by 5 pm.  It was 2:30 and I didn't even know what time it was, where I was in relation to the house, and my emotional state was pretty much wrecked.  Not knowing what else to do with myself, I drove home thanks to the GPS.  On the ride home, my cellphone battery died mid conversation and the GPS froze up.  But I was at least on a road that I knew would cut back down from Maitland (where the specialists are) to Orlando.  The GPS finally listened to me to turn off and then I turned it back on, and it worked fine.

I got home and answered a couple of work emails, changed out of my running clothes into regular clothes and then headed back to get Annie.  The rain poured down as I drove and it made me 15 minutes late because of traffic and rain.  But that worked out because they had only just finished up with her a few moments before I walked in the door.

Her abdominal ultrasound was fine.  Nothing to worry about there.  Her anti-coagulant study turned out fine as did her blood platelets.  But the neuro consult.  The neurologist determined that he was 95% certain that Annie has one, if not several, herniated discs in her neck that are most likely from degenerative disc disease in that area of her spine. The strong recommendation was that we have an appointment with the neurologist and that we do an MRI of her neck and surgery to scrape out the gunk that's in there to provide her with a very good chance of a return to a good quality of life.  The price tag? Well, first they'd have to do another ultrasound to make sure her heart murmur was the kind that would let her undergo general anesthesia and survive which would be around $400.  Then the MRI and surgery is $4500 to $5500.  Not to mention what we've spent so far.  Unfortunately, we cannot afford surgery, so we are hoping that the new set of pain medication will help her.

Right now she is taking Tylenol with codeine, valium (well, she will once CVS gets it in – supposedly by 1 pm today), and prednisone. We’re going to give it about 2 weeks and if she’s not out of pain (because she’s in an extreme amount of pain, we will most likely have to put her down. I talked to her vet, my friend Kim, last night. She was really sweet to call us last night to check on Annie. I only got home with her around 7 pm right before she called. She told me that if she’s not out of pain in 2 weeks that we need to “make the next decision” to give her comfort. I talked to her about what putting her down would mean and she said to me that if Annie was 2 and had no heart murmur, she would say “let’s try to find someone to adopt her out to someone who would pay for the surgery.” If she was 15 or 16, she would say, “I don’t care how much money you have, don’t do surgery because she’s toward the end of her life span.” And with Annie at 10 right now, the fact that she has a serious heart murmur plus the surgery not being affordable, then if the medicine can’t get her comfortable she thought it was a very sad but understandable decision. She is really in a ton of pain, although she tries to hide it sometimes. When we got home last night, she was so happy and wanted to see Bill and the kids so much that when we pulled in the driveway she started crying this little cry she does when she really wants you and missed you. Once I put her down on the ground, she ran into the house and found Bill then the girls and then after giving everyone kisses and being loved on, she went into the other room and fell back into her painful posture.

The irony is that the raspberry stain turned out to be a bruise from bloodwork that they did but it lead us to all this. It is breaking my heart right now that if this medicine doesn’t work for her that we’ll have to put her down. It’s like we’re putting a price on her life, and it’s killing me.  Mr. Darcy doesn't seem to get that, but then he was at work instead of the vet's office and the specialist's office and didn't have to go through the waves of emotion like I did and then he went to play poker once I got home from the pharmacy with Annie's medicine. And now he's on his way to Boca Raton for work and won't be back until late Friday. 
For me, Annie is not "just a dog" but a part of our family.  Almost like a person.  I've never been able to look at animals as "just animals."  I don't even like killing ants, unless they're inside the house.  Annie deserves love and respect and for us to treat her just like another member of the family.  I guess that's why saying no to surgery is so hard for me.  The logical side of my brain says that is money we can't spend, but the love side says that if it was one of the human members of the family, I'd do it.  Mr. Darcy says he loves Annie and that we should love and respect her but we need to realize she is a dog.  He is certainly not as upset about things as I am.  Sad yes, but I don't think he can even understand what I went through or why I was so emotionally spent by the end of the day.

So this morning I did my pushups (Day 2 week 2) and went for a 3 mile run.  I could have swum instead, but I really felt like I needed to RUN, plus I didn't want to be too far afield from Annie.  I wore the same running attire as I had on yesterday.  Ladybug told me I "stinked" even before I left for the run.  I smelled the shirt and realized it was the scent that Annie gives off when she's scared.  And most of the day yesterday, I'm pretty sure she was scared.  She fears the vet's office even though she likes Kim.  And then going to the specialists office and not being with me for most of that couldn't have been that soothing for her.  I wouldn't be surprised if there was a scared scent from me on those clothes too.  But I wore them anyway. 

I realized as I ran that I wore them because I wanted to run away from yesterday and all that went on (including giving the tylenol with codeine liquid to Annie with a medical syringe in her mouth while she cried because it hurt her to turn her head that way just to get the syringe in the right spot), even though I can't really run away from it.

I did 3/1's like Coach said and I didn't push myself.  I resisted running harder when I felt like I wanted to.  I just ran as I felt comfortable.  I had a little nerve pain here and there, but it wasn't anything I couldn't work through and by the 2.25 mile mark it really was negligble.  It was a good run.  I felt like I could have gone longer, which is always good. And even with doing the 3/1's I finished in 34:24 - just under a 11:30 pace per mile.  So it was a good run.  I won't do weights today because I have a hair appointment on tap for lunch time plus getting Annie's valium from the pharmacy, and then I have solo parent duty tonight.
But I'm hoping to swim tomorrow... and bike 20 miles on the closed road Saturday morning.  The closed road will no longer be closed as of May 10th at 10am.  So I've got to use it before then!

I hope all of you had a better day yesterday than I did.  Happy Training~


  1. SO sorry to hear about Annie's ordeal. I also have that human like attachment to the pets I've had in my life...they most certainly are a part of the family and the unconditional love you get from them is priceless. I hope the pain meds help her live more comfortably. Hope you
    get in some good workout time for sanity purposes at least.

  2. I'm sorry that you and your family are having to go through this! I hope the pain medication will work, and give Annie and you some more time together.

  3. So sorry to hear about your dog. I hope the pain meds work for Annie. She knows you're doing what you can...that's why she puts on the brave face for you.

  4. I hope the pain meds work. I have an elderly do too and it is tough to make those choices. And yes, they are a part of the family.