Saturday, December 19, 2015

Latest health scare

On the 15th day after the removal of the giant tumor from Autumn's liver, just a single day after she was allowed to run and bounce through the woods again, I wondered whether I was imagining things, or her belly was bulging again. I brought her back to see the good Dr. F, who said that her belly was filling with fluid due to a heart valve failure, unrelated to the liver problem. Apparently, she has had an intermittent heart murmur for a while, but he had diagnosed it as part of the recovery process from the major surgery on her liver. However, now it has been long enough that we can see that the heart degeneration is real and unrelated. He gave us a fairly aggressive regimen of drugs to treat it, and drained 1.2 liters of fluid from her belly, but warned us that if the belly filled up again, that would be it. I asked, and he informed me that she was not in pain. I informed him that I did not want to be one of those people who drags on their dogs' lives long after their quality of life is over. He said that that was my call to make at this point, but if we ever got to a point at which she was in continuous pain and did not have a promising horizon, he'd let me know. So we agreed to try draining the fluid once, and he sent me home with the drugs.

Autumn's appetite is back, although not to the rather enthusiastic level it was at even a year ago. And she still enjoys her walks, although they are short and leashed as she has been put on activity restriction for a further three weeks.

Autumn sez, "I am feeling better, I object to my activity restrictions, and I like all of dese pillows."

"including the black pillow beside me"

The new additions to Autumn's suite of old lady meds, and how we manage them:

Her grand total, in order of least to most scary, is now:
* acidophilus (which all three ladies are on due to the nasty husky habit of eating mysterious finds on the trail
* glucosamine (which all three ladies are on)
* Diethylstilbestrol (DES), which she and Linden have been on for several years now as a hormonal supplement to control urinary incontinence
* A liver recovery drug, but this is temporary
* A diuretic, which should drain the fluid from her lungs
* A high blood pressure pill, but this should also only be temporary as she recovers from the liver tumor removal
* A heart strengthening drug, which is a huge pill to which she strongly objects

Wow, that's a lot of pills!

Autumn's had a wonderful life; she's been truly blessed to have been loved and petted and adored from the day she was born. When she goes, I won't be sad for her, but I'll be sad for me. I'm going to miss her, so much. I just hope that her end is peaceful and unequivocal. My worst fear is that she dies during some medical treatment that she hates and puts her in pain or discomfort. I hope Dr. F, DL, and I can judge when is the time to start saying "no".

Here is her belly, newly drained. I took a photo so I'd notice better if it changes!


Rena said...

It's always something.
The lasix will help give her some more energy and make her more comfortable. It's a temporary stopgap, but a good one. When you said heart failure and fluid in the chest cavity, I thought about how I've seen that so many times with both humans and animals. It's what happens when we live a long long full life - something eventually gives way.
It's hard to see the decline of someone you love. Hoping for many more happy days with the doggies and then a quick and easy end.

gina said...

I'm glad Autumn, and the other fuzzies, have a caring family. It's hard to make the decision to end a life but it's hard also to watch someone you love going down hill. I'm sure you all will make the decision at the right time. You'll have wonderful memories and photos........

e. davis said...

What a wonderful life you provide for your fuzzies:) Looks like Dr.F is a very loving, compassionate Vet- a blessing to have. Know that you are in our hearts during this difficult time.

Arvay said...

@Rena, yes, people who have seen humans go through a similar plight find Autumn's regimen familiar. She does feel better, even wanting to run, which is not allowed! Thank you for your kind thoughts!

@gina, I do hope I make the right decision at the right time! Thank you for your kindness.

@e. davis, he is! We also have several other vets on call for when he is unavailable, who are equally competent and caring. Thank you for keeping us in your heart.