Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Diagnosis

Since I do the majority of my ranch chores around sunset, I'm usually too exhausted to make dinner.  Sometimes I make dinner for both of us, sometimes my husband makes dinner for both of us,  sometimes we make our own dinners, but most of the time I skip dinner all together because I am too tired and sore to move.  I skip lunch most days too.  My diet most often consists of breakfast and a couple of snacks in the afternoon.

Last night I pushed myself to make something for dinner and as soon as I sat down to eat, my phone rang.  Yes, I turned it back on because I was waiting for Scrappy's blood test results.  It did turn out to be the vet calling.  She asked me if I had pen and pad of paper, so I knew the results weren't good.  We talked for a long time, and I ended up having to scrape my dinner off the plate into the trash because it wasn't salvageable by the time we hung up.

I had taken him in mainly because of the tumor on his toe that was twisting it to the side.  She originally thought he had either Valley Fever or cancer.  His white blood cell count is fine.  The cause of that turned out to be a thyroid problem.  So, he'll be taking new medications for that.  I'm waiting for the pharmacy to call.

However, he has much more serious problems.  Obviously, I was aware that he slept a lot and peed much more often than the other dogs.  I just chalked it up to old age, but it turns out that greater than 75% of his kidneys are not functioning, so he's headed toward complete renal failure, and that is causing him to be anemic and have to pee a lot.  The readings for his pancreas are high, but he's not diabetic, so I don't have to start him on insulin.  I do have to start him on medications and prescription dog food for the kidney failure.  The doctor said he won't be coming back from this one, and I shouldn't expect him to live more than six months.  I thought six months was generous.

The prescription dog food costs about $120 for a month's supply, and I had just stocked up on his current dog food, which we learned is too high in protein for him to be eating.  I only ordered a few weeks' worth of the prescription dog food because I'm already seeing Scrappy taking a nosedive with his health.  Although, the vet said that one of the medications she previously gave him the other day is not good for him with his current diagnosis, so hopefully the symptoms I've seen recently are just a result of getting too much of that medication.

I really appreciate the way this vet went over everything with a fine tooth comb and was willing to wait for me to come up with questions.  It was fairly late in the evening and I'm sure she wanted to go home and eat some dinner too.  I also like that she prioritizes each of the dogs' health problems instead of insisting that we tackle them all at once so that she can acquire my entire bank account.  That's the difference between her and my old vet.  She actually cares more about the animals than her income and doesn't want to make too many changes at once, so that she can track what is and what isn't working in their treatment.  It takes up more of my time, but it's what is in the best interest of the pet.

I feel somewhat fortunate that all of this is happening right around the time that the snowbirds head for home, because it's been difficult getting Scrappy out to do his business, and the last thing I need to contend with are loose dogs and people who distract my dogs by loitering around our property.  I'd rather contend with the rattlesnakes and coyotes.  Where I used to be able to take all three dogs out in one trip, now I pretty much need to take Scrappy out by himself.

Due to his blindness, he won't walk into the garage unless I let in light, which means turning on the lights or opening the garage bay before we walk out of the laundry room.  I need three hands for that, or I need to carry him.  He doesn't like to be carried, so I try to gently guide him on a leash, but leashes have their limits.  Sometimes he balks worse than Rock, and can't get him to budge, so I have to pick him up.  At mealtimes, he doesn't want to miss out, so he sticks so close to my legs that he trips me repeatedly while I try to prepare all the dogs' food and medications.  He also walks into the doors and walls, so we have to move him out of the way to get the doors open.  Then when we come back inside, he stops in the path of the door swing so that we can't get it closed.  He also walks super slow while the other dogs pull me, so my arms get yanked in two different directions.  And because he's blind, he'll walk right into Stewie's urine steam while Stewie has his leg lifted.  We've got all kinds of issues going on now that we never had to deal with before.

Now we also get to enter the merry-go-round of cycling through different techniques to get him to take his medications.  One of them is sticky and he keeps spitting it all over the floor, so I have a lot of mopping to do.  I've owned dogs my whole life and every one is different, so I've used all the techniques.  In the case of Scrappy, we can only use one technique for a couple of days before he catches on and forms an evasive maneuver, so that we have to switch to another technique.  My dogs are very, very, very, very special needs.  His thyroid medication only comes in a pill and no technique for administering pills works with him for very long, so the pharmacy is going to do some extra labor to put it into liquid format.

In the meantime, I'm just trying to slow down enough to take care of the old man so that his last days can be lived in comfort.


6 comments:

Crystal said...

Well that's not good news about Scrapy but now you know. At least he can be happy for as long as he lives.
That vet sounds great looking over everything and not just rushing through, that's how they all should be

Camryn said...

Yeah, not good, poor old boy. Sounds as if for the most part he's unaware of his issues. Easier on him at least, sure hope the change in meds is helpful. Luckily my guys take their pill form meds with peanut butter. They actually love getting their daily meds. I'm lucky with that. There is a technique for suringing liquid meds. Just be sure to tuck it into the very back corner, they have no choice but to swallow.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Scrappys diagnosis. But I'm sure even though it's hard you will make his last months comfortable and he knows he is loved.

Mrs Shoes said...

"In the meantime, I'm just trying to slow down enough to take care of the old man so that his last days can be lived in comfort."

You're such a caring pet owner & your devotion to them is regularly reflected on your blog; I wish all little dogs had such good homes as yours.

Cheryl Ann said...

We had the 6 year old German Shepherd that I took in from a colleague for 2 years. Then, her eyesight went and she lost control of her bladder. Poor thing. My horse vet actually came to our house and put her down for us as I held her. I really appreciated that. Lady passed in my arms quietly and softly.

Linda said...

I'm very sorry to read this. I am impressed by your vet telling you to get a pad and pen because, in my experience, once I hear bad news, it's hard for me to take in all the other details. You are an amazing caregiver and that is selfless of you to care so much about making Scrappy's last days safe and comfortable.