Feb 1, 2009

My Worst Nightmare

Laura sums it up in her blog, but I thought I should do an update as well.


This past Wednesday night Zoe refused dinner. Not the end of the world, so I didn’t think too much of it. Thursday A.M., Zoe started vomiting. A lot. I followed normal dog procedure for these things and fasted her the rest of the day. She was still drinking so I wasn’t too alarmed… dogs sometimes get sick. I felt her tummy to see if I could feel any obstructions and everything felt okay. Friday morning I offered her food and she turned it down. She was still vomiting but not pooping. I talked to Kate and Brett and decided to make a vet appointment just to check things out. Precautionary. No big deal.

Dr. Kee gave her a once over and when she checked her tummy Zoetried to bite her. This worried me. Dr. Kee asked me how long this ‘mass’ had been on her abdomen. My heart stopped. I felt the mass and knew we were in serious trouble. It was about 4 inches long, hard, and lumpy. It was not there the day before. Dr. Kee threw out words like small intestine obstruction, colon obstruction, and aggressive cancer. The Dr. took my Zoe back to be X-Rayed and I did what I always have done when I’m about to panic. I called Brett, Kate, and Laura.

They called in the surgeon on duty for the night at Webster Groves Animal Hospital. It was Dr. Britt, Kate’s vet. A good sign. Dr. Britt told us what was to be expected. They thought that Zoe had a hernia. Dogs have two pockets close to their inner thighs. Males use them when their testicals drop; females use them to help expand when they’re having puppies. Dr. Britt suspected that the pockets had opened up and trapped a bit of something in the pocked and then contracted around it. If we were lucky they could repair the hernia, re attach whatever had fallen into the hernia, and life would be great. It could even be a mass of fat that had fallen into this pocket… that would be awesome.

It was her small intestine. We weren’t lucky. The hernia had strangled the intestine enough that a large portion of it had to be removed. Suddenly my dog was fighting for her life. Dr. Britt is an amazing vet. She tells it like it is, which I need. She called me after the 2 hour + surgery and explained to me that she was touch and go. She does this surgery all the time, the same way, and it frustrates her. There is no way to tell what the outcome could be, since there are so many things that could go wrong. Infection, the new intestine could leak, the intestine could fall again, clotting. She told me to be prepared for the worst. She explained how immensely risky this surgery was. She told me Zoe was struggling to wake up from the anesthesia. Her heart rate was low….weak. I lost it.

Since then we’ve had good news, as these things go. Dr. Britt calls to tell me that Zoe is passing milestones. She’s perking up. She held down water. Still be prepared, things could go downhill quick... We went to visit her Saturday afternoon. She looked better than when I took her in to the vet. She was perky and animated. This helped easy my heart. I pictured her lethargic and well, dying. If she was going to go, I realized that it would be peaceful and she wasn’t in pain. She cried for us when we left, we cried when we hit the waiting room. I didn’t want to be upset around her. I didn’t want her to worry any more. The vet techs adore her. They say they love her ears.

Saturday night was another big test. Food. Her first meal since Wednesday morning. If she could hold it down we would be looking better. Another milestone passed, a step closer to recovery, even though recovery is a long way away. They called me after her first meal to tell me all was good. She held it down! They would feed her again in a few hours. Rinse, wash, repeat.

I called this morning (Sunday) for an update. They said there was commotion in the back and they would have to get back to me. Minds do what they love to do when you’re worried… they bring dark pictures to you. Is it Zoe that is upsetting them? Did something happen and they’re not ready to tell me? I hope, guiltily, that it’s another dog. That Zoe is still in her little crate with a pink bandage around her leg to hold in the IV. I joked with the vet tech that they knew Zoe well if they were using pink on her. She said a dog like that could do no other color.

So Sunday is here…and we wait. Dr. Britt reminds me that we aren’t out of the red zone till we hit 7 days. 7 days and her chance of survival will shoot up drastically. I don’t even want to write the percentage they gave me for her survival Friday night. I’m not quite ready to face that number yet. Not till I have her home again. It’s looking like she’ll be able to come home tonight. I hope so, I want her home.

I’m not sure I could have handled this if it wasn’t for my dog friends, the people I have met because of Zoe and the rest of my herd. My dogs are the reason I have met you. They’re the reason I have Kate and Laura in my life, the reason why I spend all of my free time with the Lo-Downs or out at Purina Farms, or at agility. They’re the reason I met my animal rescue friends and have built up relationships all over the USA. My dogs gave me this. It’s unbelievable how completely a dog can change your life. It’s unthinkable when you might lose them. I always joked that my dogs were living forever. That the circle of life doesn’t apply to us, our circle is linear…

So that’s where we are now. I’ll be getting the internet on Tuesday so I’ll be better able to update you as I’m updated. Laura has set up a paypal account on Zoe’s behalf. That’s another thing that I do not want to face, my vet bill. We’re trying to figure out the best way to contain Zoe when she gets to come home…so she’s not annoyed by the other dogs but still able to be in the mix. We have to think about her new life, how things are going to be. What I’m going to feed her, is she going to be able to go to the bathroom on her own?

We have to keep thinking positive. We’re on day 2. We’re a day closer to day 7. If you could think good thoughts, say a little prayer, light a candle, whatever you do we would all appreciate it. Every little bit counts, and we can’t thank you enough.


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