I think it was PT-Law Mom who once wrote that most people only blog when they want to bitch; when they’re happy, they’re out doing other things. There’s an element of truth to that in some of my posts in the sense that when something comes up, I don’t necessarily want to call up a friend and say, “Hey, guess what shitty thing happened to me today!” but I do often find myself wanting to process and collect my thoughts. Writing does that for me. The virtual hugs from commenters are a much-loved bonus.
Take Martha, for example. I pretty much haven’t discussed her with my friends since her passing, but I do find myself regularly mentioning her on the blog. Because, well, she was awesome, and some days (most days) I still miss her. And most of the time I smile at her memory, but I do have the occasional half hour here and there when I’m like, “MARTHA! Come back, Martha!”
So, if you haven’t guessed already, I’ll go ahead and say, “WARNING, SHIT AHEAD. SHIT TO FOLLOW. IF YOU DON’T WANT TO READ ABOUT MY SHIT, STOP NOW.”
First off, let’s list the things that I am grateful for and appreciative of. (Yep, it’s one of those posts.)
- I just spent an awesome week in Austin. J
- I just spent an awesome week with my baby Seester. J
- I avoided the ACL hoopla, but saw TWO awesome shows. J
- I didn’t know that there was a four day holiday in the UAE this week, but as a result, I had almost zero work to do while I was there. Awesome. J
- My sister, who has an issue with dog hair, actually let Augie stay in the apartment the WHOLE time for the first time ever. Awesome. J
- I was invited to join a new band and play a gig with them next Saturday. Awesome. J
- In the past few weeks, Augie has learned how to cuddle like a champ. Mega-awesome. J
- I am totally about to order a new super-portable, super-cool laptop for work…and then I’m going to write it off on my taxes. Sweet. J
Things about which I am slightly quizzical, fearful, and pissed:
Took Augie to the vet today for her annual check-up, shots, etc.
While Martha was a total pro at vet visits, Augie kinda hates them. Cried, squirmed, barked, moaned, you name it. In her defense, she had blood drawn, got a shot, had some liquid blown up her nose, and in addition, someone poked a little stick up her butt. On the plus side (sort of), after she had a total cow at the first procedure, I stood up, got in her line of sight, and patted her on the head through the final three indecencies, and she was much calmer with her mommy there. (Such a sweet little pumpkin!)
And oh, remember that tumor? It hasn’t grown, but when I asked them about it today, the vet was like, “Oh, holy crap. This needs to come out right away.”
Right away? I took her to you guys five months ago when it looked exactly the same, and you acted like I was being alarmist.
“Don’t worry, though,” she told me, “Only about 50% of these mammary tumors are malignant.”
Only 50%? Those are good odds? Are you effing kidding me?
While the vet and I were hashing out surgery costs, potential prognoses, and the like, the vet tech came in and handed the vet a little plastic object that looked like a pregnancy test.
“She’s positive,” he told the vet.
“Positive?!?” I said. “I got this dog ‘fixed’ six months ago after the doggie shelter incorrectly told me that she was spayed.”
“No,” said the vet, “she’s heartworm-positive.”
And then I got the look of shame. Except I’d been giving Augie her pills! The vet questioned this as THEY hadn’t done a heartworm check before, and I was like, “NO! I had this dog that died [yeah, that got me ANOTHER bad dog owner look], and I had leftover ones….and then I came here and argued with you guys for more pills when I ran out because I had a sheet of paper from the shelter saying that she’d been tested in December 2012, and I swore up and down that I’d been giving them to her since I adopted her in March 2013, (which I really-really did)!...(and P.S. it was a genetic disease, assholes….and I did a six thousand dollar surgery despite the low odds, fuckers…and then I had to put her down because she had necrosis of the spinal cord, so shove it up your ass, bitches. No really, go fuck yourself.)”
Once again, I received the look of shame, along with a glance that indicated the vet thought I was lying. Awesome. J
“This is why PREVENTION is so important,” the vet said condescendingly. Might I also note that the vet looked like she entered this world when I was about to graduate from high school?
There are two treatment methods: one involves arsenic injections, a lot of pain for Augie, decent success rate, high-fees, eight weeks of crate confinement, and the possibility of death from little dead worms getting lodged in Augie’s veins and arteries. The main point of the confinement is to keep the dog’s heart rate down so that the dead worms are not flying through her system before they’re properly decomposed. (Hey, after living with a paraplegic, incontinent dog with multiple infections, this doesn’t seem so bad.)
The other is safer, cheaper and has a 20% success rate. (I had to ask the vet about both the costs and the success rates for each. This seems like information you’d automatically tell a client, no?)
No treatment equals, well, you know.
Let me interject now, and say, that if there is one thing that elevates Augie’s heart rate, it’s being locked in her crate.
Vets are really crappy about explaining this stuff, but thank goodness for the internet. Given where I estimate Augie to be with this disease, the possibility of worm-lodged related death seems relatively small. Also, while the vet swore up and down that she HAD to be in the crate despite Augie's crate anxiety, I think Augie is pretty chill ex-crate, so I think it would be ok. She’s really gonna miss eight weeks of walk and play though. Gah. On the other hand, this form of treatment just doesn't sit right with me, and my gut tells me I should go for the 20% option.
As for my responsibility in this? The vet admitted that heartworms will not show up in a test until six months after infection. I’ve had Augie for seven, so clearly, shaming me, the person who rescued this dog after she was abandoned in a park, sat in a shelter for five months, and who has had every shot on the planet in the last seven months and for whom I did a spay surgery, and who I so-so-so love, cuddle, feed, walk, and appreciate…yeah, highly warranted. (See this cute little, round booty, you jerks? You can kiss it!)
So…Augie has to do a round of antibiotics over the next month before we (yeah, that’s a royal WE) choose either the safe, less effective route or the nasty, arsenic injections. Surgery and biopsy of the tumor occurs in two weeks. Depending on that outcome, we’ll (again, royal) pick a heartworm treatment.
The more expensive route will cost about $1200, including the tumor removal which, honestly, seems like a drop in the bucket after the whole Martha shebang.
Cross your fingers and say a prayer for us both, kids, because, here we go again. (#again, #again?, #notreallywantingtodothisagainsosoon)
***How did she get it? Many possible options. Maybe the shelter didn’t give her the pills. The sheet of paper they sent me with the heartworm test for December had Augie’s shelter name, but it also listed her at 55 pounds; she’s fifteen. So maybe she never got the test. Or..maybe she did get the test and the prevention pills, but was infected after abandoned. Hey, it takes six months to show up. Why she was abandoned is still a mystery, but I’ve come up with two theories. Her age is estimated to be between 5-7 years, and she’s really well-behaved. Plus, she’s not a runner. When she’s off-leash, she always keeps the mama in her line of sight. So clearly, someone cared and loved her for awhile. The first theory, slightly weak, is that someone couldn’t take her to a new place and abandoned her during a move, but that doesn’t quite resonate with me. The second, more plausible option, based on her personality…I think she lived with an elderly person who became either senile/severely ill and had to be moved into a home or passed away…and then, that person’s jerk relatives dumped her. Or maybe her former family knew she was sick and abandoned her in hopes that she would recieve the right treatment. What I’m trying to say is, this was probably not anybody’s fault (excepting the dump). Whatever happened, I’m still glad she found me, that I drove four hours to Rockport, TX to find a dirty, flea-infested , sweetheart of a dog, and that we got to be part of each other’s lives. Awesome. J
In the meantime, we’re cuddling Augie a lot…despite her bruised butt from the rabies vaccination.
At the same time, my heart hurts...a lot, because I've been through this once already, and there's nothing harder than when it doesn't go the way you want it to.