This morning I dropped Bryce off at Angell Memorial for the second time in two weeks- her fourth visit in the past month. Between each visit we’ve been asked to wait and watch her symptoms- until last week when her joint taps showed abnormally high neutrophil counts in each limb tapped (15,000 in each of her rear and approximately 18-20,000 in her front left). At that point, were referred to internal medicine but had to wait four days while she was pulled off her Rimadyl (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory). Today she’s undergoing an abdominal ultrasound as well as chest and tarsus x-rays.
Our hope is that we’ll be able to determine whether her immune-mediated polyarthropathy is idiopathic or secondary to an underlying disease.
Yesterday, Korrie and I took her to see the internal medicine specialist, Dr. Brum, and his associate, Dr. Simon. We loved them both. Dr. Brum especially comforted me as a parent. As soon as he saw her – panting and struggling to move- his eyes softened and a slight “Oy” escaped his lips. “She’s struggling.” He spoke to both K and I equally; explaining potential issues and options in understandable medical language. He supported my holding Bryce as he examined her. He recommended a course of diagnostics and treatment that was thorough, reasonable, and expedient. Later, when he saw us in the waiting room, he came over to pet B and give her a treat.
She started a course of doxycycline, which is what they use if it’s an issue caused by infection. Dr. Brum noted that this is precautionary as he doesn’t believe it’s caused by infection. Thus, if we don’t see a marked difference in the next 24 hours, we will switch to steroids. He doesn’t want to wait long.
Yesterday, we ran full blood and urinalysis panels to check underlying diseases (liver, pancreatic, kidney, and tickborne). Those results, as well as her red and white blood cell counts, came back normal. That’s good news.
Today’s tests will help us rule out tumors.
She weighed in at 66.4lbs yesterday. To compare, she was 67.2lbs two weeks ago, 69lbs a month ago, and 72lbs in January. We brought “doggy crack” wet food home to facilitate eating as the doxycycline causes upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea. Slowly, over the course of 12 hours, waiting 4 hours between each feeding, I was able to handfeed her 1.5 cans of wet food and 0.5 cup biscuits. This is the most she’s eaten in weeks.
We will know more by this evening. I’m praying it’s not cancer.
Overall, I’m feeling more positive than last week about her recovering, but it’s terribly difficult to watch her struggling. Yesterday, her back legs kept going out and she would drag herself with her front paws even to switch laying down positions. This morning, her front legs went out so I carried her to the car and then from the car into the hospital. My heart is breaking. But, this veterinary team is well-versed and positive, so I’m trying to adopt that outlook. Dr. Brum is hoping for marked improvement within two weeks once we begin steroids and supporting medications. He know we’re moving in August and so wants to get her improved, stabilized, and into a long-term treatment plan. Then he’ll work with us to identify and inform a vet in TN to keep her well.
This morning, while we waited for the clinical care coordinator, I massaged Bryce’s ear tips and scruff, reassured her with a smile as I said goodbye, told her I’d be there to pick her up with Daddy this afternoon, and said a prayer.
Now the solo waiting game begins – again.