Monday, July 21, 2014

Day 1679

Dot is going in for surgery tomorrow morning. When we visited her early this morning, there was a lot to be encouraged about. Her temperature had remained stable. Her white blood cell count was slowly returning to normal. She even wagged her tail when we arrived. The doctors were still worried though. Dot hasn't eaten since last Thursday and was still refusing to eat this morning. The specialist wanted to do a CAT scan, and told us that based on Dot's vital signs she could safely handle the anesthesia. I was worried about the anesthesia required for a CAT scan, but everyone assured me that Dot's vitals signs looked very good. We gave the OK for the CAT scan and Janet and I went back to work.

Later in the day, we got a call with the results. The doctors had found a golf ball sized growth in her small intestine and wanted to do surgery tomorrow morning. They were confident that this growth was the source of her problems. Janet and I are both reluctant to subject an older dog to surgery, but we listened to what the internal medicine specialist had to say. She told us that since the growth had not yet become large enough to perforate the intestinal wall and cause systematic infection, the chances for a successful outcome were excellent. She didn't call the growth a tumor because, as she explained, there were literally dozens of benign growths or lesions that could attach to the intestinal wall. She said that surgery on the small intestine was routine these days and that Dot would have the same surgeon that performed the thyroid surgery on Dash earlier this year.

If we did nothing and Dot still refused to eat, she would die. Even if she did start to eat, the growth in her intestine would continue to grow larger, until it eventually caused the intestinal walls to burst. Dot was still weak when we visited her this morning, but her eyes were bright, her tail was wagging, and there was no question that she wanted to go on living. As frightened as Janet and I are of major surgery, we decided to give her that chance.

I think we made the right decision. The surgeon who will be operating on her is superb and was largely responsible for saving Dash's life. The specialist took the time to explain exactly why it was so important to remove the growth now, before it grew even further and caused her intestines to rupture. When I talked to the specialist on the phone earlier in the day, I imagined that the growth she was talking about was the size of a grape. When we heard that it was already the size of a golf ball, Janet and I became convinced that we had no choice.

There are no promises when you are wheeled into a surgery suite. It doesn't matter if you are a dog or a person, there are literally hundreds of things that could go wrong. We have been through this before and it never gets easier. We made the right decision with Dash. We made the right decision with Spot. And we made the wrong decision with Greta. The key thing with any serious medical condition is that you've got to be able to make a decision. You've also got to be able to live with the consequences, even if something goes wrong. Hiding from problems and pretending that they doesn't exist is almost always the worst decision you can make.

When we came back at the end of the day to visit again, Dot greeted us warmly. I walked her outside in the grass in front of the hospital and she squatted and peed normally. We brought her favorite blanket and let her rest with us in an exam room while waiting to see the specialist again. Her doctors wanted to see if Janet and I could get her to eat something. It is apparently important to preserve normal Peristaltic movement in the intestinal tract prior to surgery. Without any food to process, there is a danger that Peristalsis could stop. Dot wasn't interested in dog food, but when we opened a small jar of baby food, she eagerly ate the entire thing. This was a very good sign. It was almost as if Dot was telling us that the surgery was OK and that she definitely wanted to live.

Tomorrow is going to be a rough day. Not only is Dot having surgery, Janet is having a Colonoscopy on the same day. Neither of these things could be postponed or avoided. I hope we made the right decision with Dot. I don't know what will happen tomorrow, but I do know what would happen if we did nothing. Dot deserves better than that.

The thought of having two dogs with cancer at the same time is both emotionally and financially draining. It's hard to believe this is even happening. It goes without saying that this has been a very tough year. Many people think of me as a negative person, but I am totally positive when it comes to the dogs. I believe in them. Dot is incredibly strong willed and tenacious. She may be old, but she loves her life and wants to keep on living. Our efforts may not succeed, but we're going to give her the best chance she's got. When she ate the baby food out of my hand this evening, I think she gave me her blessing.

Katie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day