Yes, I take my dog to the vet

The Wonder Husky is recovering from her own surgery today. Yes, I take my dog to the vet. Embarassing, but true. With my own pets, other than the cats, my clinical expertise flies out the window, and I become a worried dog and horse mother.

Yesterday, while walking with Tipper, I noticed a swelling under her jaw. Oh no, I panicked. She’s twelve-she’s a cancer dog. With what Earl has been going through with a cancer scare, I thought Tipper had deadly cancer.

Upon returning home from an abbreviated walk, I palpated all her lymph nodes and looked in her mouth. The nodes were normal. Her mouth was gross. Her right upper carnassial tooth, the really big one in the back, was red, coated with tarter and calculus. It was one nasty-looking tooth. I watched the swelling increase during the day, so the thought of lymphoma went deeper into the recesses of my brain. Tip has always had teeth problems. I check them regularly, and clean them at home. She gets a regular dental at least annually. This one just got away from me.

Tipper got a shot of penicillin and some ‘peanut butter aspirin’ last night. Today at the clinic, her bloodwork was normal, the dental x-ray of her tooth showed a giant abscess, and a needle aspirate of a lymph node was normal. She’s not a cancer dog.

Tip will come home with clean teeth, and an extraction of the largest tooth in her mouth. Ouch! It’s doggie painkillers and antibiotics for a few days for my love dog.

What clued me in yesterday was that the swelling increased practically as I watched. She became the facial Elephant Dog. On Sunday, there’s not much to do but wait until the next morning.

Tipper loved eating four cans of cat food hand fed from a tongue depressor. She first learned that in my cat clinic. One of my employees, Manda, actually taught Tipper to drink a Slurpee from a straw. Manda would let Tip in the clinic when no patients were around. So much for dog smells in a feline-exclusive practice!

I’m not a big fan of canned food except for patients that have difficulty eating. In the store, there were all these flavors such as “sliced roast beef with baby carrots,” and “chicken stew with organic gravy.” Balderdash! The labels are for humans. We read the labels, and we like roast beef. All the dog cares is that the food stinks.

I’ll go pick up the Wonder Husky later. Being a Husky, I imagine she will whine all day. They do that. Even a basic physical is an exercise in vocal agony for the practitioner. Yeah, it’s a Husky, all right. Wwwwooooooo! Who cures tinnitus, anyway? I’ve had it for years.     

Did Earl dodge a bullet?

A lot has been going on lately at El Rancho Pig Sty-o. Earl is about to celebrate the 39th anniversary of his kidney transplant on the 17th of this month. He has been doing very well with Uncle Jerry’s kidney. Dr. Thomas Starzl, the surgeon who pioneered liver transplants, did the surgery at the University of Colorado when it still was pretty experimental. We just had a letter from Dr. Starzl about Earl’s transplant.

As a long-term transplant recipient, Earl’s biggest risk is skin tumors blowing up to huge sizes with the possibility of metastases. Not the really scary melanomas, but in the average person, the garden-variety squamous cell carcinomas that don’t go anywhere. The dermatologist who has been doing Mohs surgeries on Earl’s tumors recommended a radiation oncologist for one tumor just in case it had gone deep into his tissues even though the pathology report was clean. We met this doctor and loved him immediately. He did a routine CT scan, making a mask for his face to mark the spot for the radiation, and scheduled him a PET scan for today.

While visiting our primary care doc, I asked if it wouldn’t be prudent to do a colonoscopy, as Earl had never had one, since he was going into radiation therapy on one spot of his face. The doctor agreed, Earl finally agreed to it and had it yesterday. Yep, it was positive for colon cancer. Earl did the PET scan today, which covers the entire body, and we see the surgeon tomorrow. The gastroenterologist who performed the colo feels pretty sure that it is confined to the colon, but it needs surgical removal. The timing came together just fine. Hopefully, the surgeon can get to Earl’s tumor soon, so E can be riding when the weather turns nice. The surgeon is very good. He operated on a hernia Earl had from his 39 year-old incision three weeks ago on our 27th wedding anniversary.

Each time Earl goes to a doctor, whether for a procedure or a visit, he sacks out in bed for a few hours. Frank, who sleeps against my pillow, unfailingly joins him. I actually pull back my covers for Frank.

In the meantime, I contacted our AFLAC agent, Joyce, who is guiding me through the claims process. We bought AFLAC cancer policies after Jean was diagnosed two years ago. She had AFLAC, and it made a world of difference to her peace of mind, and financial position.

Folks, schedule that colonoscopy on time, and provide for a diagnosis of cancer by protecting yourself with a good cancer insurance policy.

Some positive news: I am about to embark on an “encore career.” I was accepted to the University of Wyoming to pursue a Master of Social Work degree. I love Laramie, it is close by, and I’ve had a condo there since last summer. A student at my age is not such a freak show. The AARP showcases many of its members going back to school for encore careers. Anything is possible, positive attitudes required.

Postscript:  The gastroenterologist just called with the biopsy results. No cancer seen in the four samples of the mass. It could be that there is cancer underneath, and the mass will be taken out. Could Earl have dodged a bullet?

Small bites for a big dog

A few weeks ago, I took Tipper, our 12 year-old Siberian Husky, to see a colleague of ours who is a marvelous vet for dogs. Yes, I take my dog to the vet! I thought Tip was a little thin. So did her groomer when she had a bath. While palpating her abdomen, I could feel her liver. Usually, the liver is not felt on a healthy pet. I went to John’s clinic with a feeling of doom.

At the clinic, John also thought she was a little thin. My puppy monster normally is a 60 pound dog, but she was at 56 pounds. John could feel her liver as well. We drew blood, which came back as normal, and did a survey film of Tipper’s abdomen. Every vet knows that working on a Siberian is true hell. It is difficult working on a normally wonderful animal who becomes a screaming maniac. Siberians scream and howl no matter what you do. To put a 60 pound dog on an x-ray table is asking for permanent ringing in the ears. 

Anyway, the films showed mild enlargement of Tip’s liver, but no masses. We went home, and the pup was fine.

Just this last week, we opened a new bag of dog food. Instead of the regular Science Diet Senior Light, we found we had bought the small bite version made for little dogs. Problem solved. Tipper likes the small pieces and is eating more. Tipper has lost many teeth during her long life. It is proven that this is a genetic disorder. Her cousin, Keli, our first dog, never lost a tooth in her 15 year life. Perhaps Tipper’s teeth were sensitive, and are now feeling better eating small pieces of food.

End of discussion other than to say that all three cats like it too.