Puppy Ills

Yesterday, during the day-long Thanksgiving preparation, Casey suddenly yelps in pain and then limps away to hide in a corner. We’re all concerned and wondering what the heck happened because she hadn’t had any kind of injury or been in a situation where she could have been hurt. Thinking it may have been some kind of “regular” paw injury (ie; someone stepping on it, or something dropping on it) or perhaps even something like pulling a muscle, we lay her down and let her rest. After a few hours she’s up and about if somewhat slowly. Except, she’s not playful, she’s not hungry, and you can see she’s still in a lot of pain. Every now and then, when we touch her, she yelps and tries to “climb away”.

Well, by the end of the day, we’re really concerned and decide to take her to the Emergency Animal Hospital. Getting her into the car was full of cringe-ing as she just kept yelling in pain. When we pull up, I’m a little amazed at the size of the building but expect that it shouldn’t take long to see someone. After all, I think, as amazing as a 24/7/365 Animal Hospital is, how busy could they really be, right? What a shock. Getting checked in went quickly enough (under 30 minutes) but then the wait began.

All around the waiting area I see tissue boxes practically littered around us. I’m a little confused but don’t say anything. Then, I take a look at the patients and realize that these are not cats and dogs just out for a check-up, they’re here because they’re really sick. Over the course of the next 4 hours, I find out how sick as I watch dogs throw up bloody bile, hear nurses call DOA on a cat, watch the news of another cat’s health be diagnosed as diabetes and the harsh decision to put her down is made… etc etc. I’ve been in plenty of emergency rooms over the years, but never have I seen the amount of tears and crying as I did last night.

We finally get to see the doctor at around 1am and review the symptoms with her. We put Casey down and she sets about sniffing around the room like she has no issues. I’m a little confused but then a physical check is performed (ears, snout, paws, etc) and pretty soon she’s once again yelping in pain. It’s a weird thing in that the doc would touch her and she would cry in pain. Touch her again in the same spot and nothing. Move somewhere else and the same repeats. Finally, she manages to localize it on the center of her back. A discussion ensues as to what it could be and we agree to x-rays to ensure nothing worse.

At around 230am we get the news. She definitely has a herniated disc but does not have any impacted discs or cancerous fibers around her spine. She can hold herself together well enough that emergency surgery is not needed. Pain medication and anti-inflammatory pills are prescribed. However, the only way to completely cure her is with surgery. Pre-surgery also requires a CAT scan (on a dog? and I would normally laugh at the pun but just couldn’t) to properly localize the bad disc that needs removal. All told, this would cost in the range of $3,000 to $4,000.

Apparently Bichon Frises are prone to such problems and she’ll be 6 in January. We expected to have her around for at least another 5 years. Doc said that even after this surgery, there’s no guarantee that the same issue doesn’t arise elsewhere up or down her spine. I knew the ER visit was going to end up being almost $500, and we had already spent triple that last year when we got her operated for stones in her bladder. Now, looking at coughing up 4k… we’re left to wondering how we’ll afford it (if we go through with it). Casey’s our “first baby”. She’s Melyssa’s first real pet. Kyle and Charlize have known her all their lives. This is not an easy decision to make. If she were 10 years old, sure. But now? With maybe still having half of her life left? With the fear/ worry of something else coming up afterwards if we get this resolved?

It’s been a very, very, long night… 🙁 I think it was 3am when we finally turned out the lights. Kyle and Charlize, of course, got up at 7am as they’d been in bed since probably 9pm last night. I, feeling like crap (obviously)still had to get up to take care of them since I believe I’m the best equipped with living sleep deprived :). Chantale and Melyssa are still asleep and although Casey’s in her bed in our room, she doesn’t look like she actually slept. I’m hoping the pills I’ll be giving her soon will start to ease her pain.

I’m thankful today’s a holiday because there’s no way any of us would have been able to function.

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