Joogsie July 4, 2007 - ... Not Looking Back
Who knows? She may live to be 20!
As I shared last week, Joogsie was scheduled for surgery yesterday. I also shared that we approached it with some trepidation. Her age (for a Great Dane) and recent weakness had us wondering how well she'd hold up. But we knew she didn't have a lot of time if we didn't go for it.
Yeah, I know it's better writing style to let the tension hang in the air for a bit rather than letting the cat (?!) out of the bag in the first sentence. But I wanted to share the good news.
I was pretty encouraged when we went in. Tuesday was the best day she'd had in a while. As much as I hate them because they destroy digestive bacteria, the antibiotics were helping her fight an infection. So we piled in the car and she assumed a rest and wait position - unusual, but not entirely unheard of for her.
She popped up when we entered the parking lot, apparently eager to get this over with. I wish I felt the same. I think my stomach and throat traded places somewhere along the way, and I felt like I could burst into tears if someone so much as looked at me crossways.
Our wait wasn't long, and as things were explained to me a tech came and took her in for prep. This was it. Would she make it? Would I be taking home a tired and sore pup or an empty shell that I'd be digging a hole for? It really weighed on me. But she seemed not worried in the least. I envied her confidence. Off she went with the tech, without so much as a glance for goodbye.
Her surgery was pretty tough, lasting a couple hours. I drove over to a park in town and parked in the shade of a tree. Leaning back I prayed, read Colossians, texted a few folks, called wifey with a very non-informative update that mainly served to make us both feel better and continued to wait.
Yeah, it's not open heart surgery, but she's a dog and had her abdomen wide open for a long time. The scar runs from the tip of her sternum down to just before her vulva. I haven't counted the staples, but there are enough to keep a 120 pound Great Dane's innards from falling out an incision about 1 foot long.
About an hour into surgery, I received a call. They found out what that mass was. The spleen had developed a tumor about the size of a softball. The choices were basic - leave it or take it. Leaving it would almost ensure an eventual rupture, causing her to bleed out. It's possible that it's cancerous and would metastasize too. Taking it leaves her without a filter to help remove infection from her blood. The choice was pretty simple.
They recommended I get it biopsied, but wanted about $200 to do so. I told them there was no sense. Even if it's cancer, we're not doing chemo. I won't put her through that. But we are planning on getting her some CBD oil to help her heal, strengthen her immunity and to fight any cancer that may be in her body. At this point there's no clear indication either way.
Of course, they took out the female parts due to infection. That was pretty much a given. And they pinned her intestine so it can't twist. That's a fairly common problem with some large breeds. And she does love to roll in the grass.
Other than that, she got her toenails trimmed. They'd gotten a bit out of control.
The day before
After waiting all day, I finally got to see the poor girl. She was still pretty dopey from the anesthesia, stumbling along like a drunk sailor. But her breathing was measured and she was on her feet, so I was elated.
Picking her up elicited a little yelp, as did getting her out when we got home. But she's holding up nicely.
She wasn't interested in food or water last night. I tried to entice her, but she was completely tight lipped. Today was another story.
This morning I heard a little whine (maybe a slight yelp) early. I was already awake, or I probably would have missed it. When I walked in on her, she was alert and attentive. Yay! A bowl of water was set in her lap, which she drank as if she had just crossed the Sahara. Double YAY!
After she held that down for an hour, I brought her another bowl of water and food. She drank, and ate about half. Another hour passed and she drank again and ate the rest. Then it got really exciting - she struggled to her feet. At first the hips didn't work right and she flopped over. I assured her it was fine and to just lay there if it was too much. But she's a strong willed pooch, and decided it was time to move.
Another struggle revealed stronger legs than last time, as her resolution got her to the large watering bucket. After a good long drink (I was worried too long and about to pull her from the water), she headed to the door. Yep, she wanted out. So we stepped into the yard and she relieved herself of the little water she'd had so far, along with whatever drugs her system had been able to flush out by that point.
She's resting, drinking and eating well. Her pain meds are going down just fine too, with a little help from some peanut butter.
The future may hold a slightly different lifestyle for her. We're researching it, because the recommended diet for dogs is just as asinine as the one for humans. For instance, it's recommended that she eat a dog food that has rice and corn as the first two ingredients - for a carnivore! I could see something protein rich or really fatty, maybe. But grains? She's not a ruminant. Who pays for the studies that suggest this stuff anyway?
They said to take her off the raw meat diet, due to concerns regarding potential germs. This is because the spleen helps clean the blood, fighting infection. We're not sure how we feel about it. They did say that cooking it would be fine. This one is still up in the air. We just can't imagine that a grain rich diet is good for her though. It's not even good for humans. But that's what we've been advised.
She's supposedly more susceptible to infection now, so they don't want her around other dogs unless it's already part of her environment. No more walks in the desert or forest? Hrmmm... doubtful. I think we'll probably offer her a rich life, and if she gets infections from it, then we'll try to deal with them as they come up. In the meantime, we'll provide all the immunity boosting supplements we reasonably can.
Right now, I'm just delighted to have her home and in one piece ... well, besides the pieces they took out and threw away... and the footlong incision in her abdomen. She's alert and seems content now. We have two weeks to baby her before the staples get removed, then she's free to roam again. I'm hoping to see that assertive girl come back to wrestle with me.
I have some philosophical thoughts I'd like to share shortly, about this experience and some thoughts about how blessed we are. Hopefully it'll be out by early next week. For now, I have a baby to take care of.
Thanks for reading, your concern, well-wishes and prayers. We appreciate it.
Another Joe & Joogsie