the $6100 beagle

July 16, 2013 | Comments Off

Spenser’s latest stint at the emergency vet scared us to death and beyond. It started the night before when we noticed he wasn’t breathing as well as usual. By morning he was craning his neck in order to get to air easier, so we immediately went to the emergency vet. When we got there, though we were worried, we listened to the other person there with their pet, and he was crazy. He first said that his case wasn’t an emergency and was waiting outside for them to open during regular hours. But he came in when we did, and they wanted to take his cat back ASAP because its back leg had been quite injured. How is that not an emergency? And when they asked him if she were an outside cat, he replied, “No, only at night.” ¿Qué?

So now that I’m finally sitting down to write about this ordeal, I’ve realized that I’ve forgotten a lot about it. It was so hectic and crazy and insane and scary that I now believe it was too much for my brain to process.

Oh. First another side story. His oxygen cage’s floor was quite slippery, so we went out to get him a pet bed. We stopped in at a pet store that was voted “best in the county” – but they didn’t sell a single dog bed. It was also quite a dump that smelled. It looked like it sold mainly gerbil food and maybe some crack out of a back office. Needless to say, we found what we needed someplace else, but it wasn’t allowed to stay in his cage because his wires/tubes kept getting caught in it. They ended up using a bunch of sheets and blankets for him from then on.

The place we took him to changed around a lot of their rules since the last time we were there. Now owners are required to leave 75% of the higher end of the estimated bill behind as a deposit which leads me to believe that they have been screwed over quite royally quite a few times. Also, we weren’t able to visit him as long as he was considered infectious, but either that was dropped or forgotten by Day Two. That being said, we didn’t get to see him for one full day, but then we were able to, either in a separate room or while he was in oxygen. We called to check in on him every few hours of course, and they were pretty good about calling every day at 7:00am and 7:00pm.

Things were so up and down that it was crazy and overwhelming. At one point they would say that he had so much lung damage from previous bouts of pneumonia that he more than likely wouldn’t be able to get well again, while at another they said they wanted to try a different round of antibiotics. Mark and I broke down at various times. I was hopeful when he wasn’t, and he was hopeful when I wasn’t. Spenser would seem to get a bit better while in oxygen, but it wasn’t happening nearly as fast as they had thought it should. But the main doctor treating him suddenly thought this might be pulmonary hypertension. This revelation sent Mark racing out of here to buy Viagra at 8:00pm one night, which is what they take for this. Boy, is it expensive! For fifteen pills, it cost $500 (though we are now looking into the compounded version that would cost us like $400 a month, I think). So Mark took some over there, and nothing changed much for Spenser until about 36 hours or so later. And the evening before we brought him home, they said they’d exhausted all their options and there was nothing more they could do. Based on previous talk like this, we had lined up our mobile vet (and gotten backup mobile vet contact info) to be around in case we needed to bring him right home to be put to sleep. Then the Viagra kicked in. The doctor decided to sit with him in a room to see how he would do at home without oxygen, and he was handling it pretty well. We went in to judge for ourselves, and we ended up bringing him home with us, though we were still scared to death. He looked feeble and was skinnier, but he definitely wanted to be in the car and here at home. He’s in air conditioning and always by a fan or two, and he rarely goes outside for any reason thanks to piddle pads!

He didn’t seem himself still at first, and he was very fussy about the food he was eating. He threw up a bunch of times and looked miserable. He was getting even fussier with the food because he knew we were trying to sneak his pills into it. Mark tried to pill him, but we just couldn’t do it. I lined up two people I found online to help with that. I was glad I did because the first bitch never bothered to show up. But Spenser threw up the other girl’s pills too, and we were getting even more scared. The vet told us to try to give him Pepcid to help calm down his little stomach. So we made the unwise-ish decision to stop giving him any of his pills. Between that and the Pepcid, he started brightening back up. We tried bland chicken, Nutrish dog food, ground beef, and rice, and he started eating pretty regularly again! I’d say he’s even eating his treats 90% of the time once again too!

Now the only reason we stopped all the pills late Saturday morning is because he had an appointment with a cardiologist Monday morning to discuss if this is really pulmonary hypertension or not, and we planned on discussing the possibility of changing his meds around. And we were lucky and happy that he didn’t backpedal an inch.

So the cardiologist confirmed that he indeed has pulmonary hypertension and said something crazy about how the last two emergency stays weren’t actually about pneumonia after all, but were about this. But the scans showed it! He said scans are open to interpretation and that we should bring them in at our next follow-up (I thought they had been sent, but I should have known better since I had to make several calls to ensure that Spenser’s records got where they needed to be). Either way, oxygen was what he needed. The cardiologist said to keep him off the antibiotics which could be what was causing the stomach issues. But also possible is the Viagra itself, of which he actually needs double the dosage of what he was initially prescribed. So we came right home and gave him a dose, all the while hoping with all our hearts that his stomach was rejecting the antibiotics and not the Viagra. I’m of course worried that he will throw up at some point today and stop eating again. So though he is looking much better, we still are on pins and needles. It’s been so stressful, and it feels like I haven’t slept since he first got sick. Please keep all your fingers and paws crossed for our old guy!

I started noticing a lot of heart-shaped things around when Kip had cancer. I took them as little messages from Becca. Well, when Spenser was in the hospital, I distinctly saw three different heart-shaped things here and there, like a single heart-shaped treat sitting on the counter in the vet’s office the night we decided to bring him home. I take these as signs that we are doing the right thing or at least that we are doing the best that we can. Becca and now Kip are watching over us and guiding us.

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