musings and rantings of a blue state non bio mom

the real-life adventures of me, my partner, and our journey through ivf-enabled same sex TWIN motherhood (with not so infrequent rantings about politics in general).

Saturday, April 29, 2006

my poor doggie!

My poor dog. She's always been an unwell animal--she's a Shar-pei, and unfortunately like many of her breed, has been horribly and inappropriately inbred. Biomom and I have given her the best possible care to deal with her myriad problems (including, but not limited to arthritis; Shar-pei fever, which is a complicated autoimmune disease that leaves her skin fragile, her gastrointestinal tract delicate, and her limbs painful; and a whole bunch of other probably related allergic responses. She's been in and out of the Penn Vet hospital and we've done -- and continue to do -- everything we can to ensure that she's got a decent quality of life. In return (and by nature) she has been a great, sweet, loving dog who frightens lots of other people with her bark and her anxiety attacks, but whom we love intensely.

Anyway, she goes for regular bloodwork to make sure that her liver is okay given the huge number of drugs she's on (including but not limited to prednisone, colchicine and ursodial for her liver, and a designer drug that costs a fortune that is usually used in leukemia but not in her case). Anyway, her last liver panels were elevated, so we were going to go in yesterday for a blood check in any event. But meanwhile, on Thursday, while Biomom and I were away at work, Bailey the dog had a bout of diarrhea (or several really). I cleaned things up when I got home but we decided to try to get her more thoroughly checked out.

I called her Penn Vet doc on Friday morning, leaving an extensive message about her symptoms (which included a distended abdomen) and I took her into our local vet for our bloodwork session (usually a lot cheaper and easier than our Penn vet). Bailey was lethargic (she hadn't eaten in 24 hours) and could hardly be coaxed to walk to the vet (it took us about a half hour to make it four blocks). When she finally got there and was seen, we did a full check up (on the advice of the Penn vet who was alarmed enough by my message to call me back within the hour). To make a long depressing story somewhat shorter, it turns out that the distended abdomen had nothing to do with her Shar-pei fever or any other of the million problems she has but is a huge tumorous mass. From what we saw on the xray, it's about the size of a large orange or small grapefruit.

We hightailed it over to Penn to see if we could get an ultrasound yesterday, but four hours and 100 dollars later (a drop in the bucket in the larger scheme of things), we left at 5 pm with the info that we'd have to come back today by 7am and admit her then (they wanted us to leave her but we didn't want her to spend the night away from home; this was a good call since she had a pretty good night and was feeling a lot better today).

She's now been checked in to Penn and we're waiting to hear about her status. We're really attached to this dog but we don't want her to suffer unnecessarily or have a real poor quality of life. I am not even sure what the ultrasound will tell us---really it might not tell us anything. At best, if only her spleen or liver is involved and no other organs or major blood vessels, they might be able to do surgery to remove the tumor. But she's not a particularly good surgery candidate (since she's been on steroids for so long) and healing will be hard even in the best case scenario. And knowing Bailey, we're probably not dealing wiht a best case scenario here...

The whole process is going to be hugely expensive, and of course that has me worried with little flex in the budget and two little ones on the way, and Biomom taking off some time from work. I've been pretty good about paying down debt, but there's still some outstanding long-term debt, and here we are adding to it. If we can give her back a reasonable quality of life, it's worth the money (within reason). But the big question here is "if" and I am not certain how to gauge the answer to that. Bailey is old (8.5 years) and in poor health and clearly in pain right now. I just want to do the right thing for her...




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