Monday, October 14, 2013

Heffner Update

Hi there!  It is I, the infrequent blogger.:)  Lets start with some completely happy news!  I have some brags about Bess that I will be putting in a separate blog post.  So stay tuned (if there are any of you still out there!).  On some less happy news, Heffner has been pretty sick recently.  The upside is that he's fine now.  The down side is that there were a few points where I was expecting the worst.

It all started with a limp.  Heffner tweaked something in his neck several years ago and it went away with some pain meds, anti inflammatories, and decreased activity.  Periodically since then, he would tweak it again.  Within 24-48 hours, he would be fine.  Sometimes I would give him a little something to ease his discomfort, but mostly it wasn't necessary.  Recently he started favoring this same shoulder off and on for a couple of weeks.  He didn't show outright pain and it wasn't consistent.  But it also wasn't going away.  I was about to leave for a trip with some friends and I didn't want to worry about him while I was gone and I didn't want my dog sitter to have to worry either, so I took him in to the vet.  Unfortunately (very much so), his regular vet was not in the day before I left on my little trip, but I wanted him to be seen anyhow.  I should probably also mention at this point that he had a little bit of a cough as well.  It was something that I hadn't paid attention to because Bess has some lung scarring and has a persistent periodic cough that I'm used to hearing.  I didn't think much of it.  But a cough combined with the favoring of a limb had me instantly jumping to the worst case scenario.  I was convinced that Heffner had osteosarcoma and it had already moved into his lungs.  Yeah, not pleasant to be pondering.  The vet that examined him palpated his legs and put him through some range of movement exercises and he didn't show any signs of pain.  Okay, so no pain upon palpation.  If it was osteosarcoma and had already moved to his lungs, he should have been in some pain.  Sweet, we can cross that one off the list (mind you, I didn't cross it off the list that easily at the time)!  She prescribed some pain meds/anti inflammatories for the limping and some wide ranging antibiotics, just in case the coughing was potentially leading to pneumonia (something I am all too familiar with).  So while I am forever a worrier when it comes to my dogs, I felt that things were under control and that I could go and enjoy my trip.

Things stayed that way until I got a call from my dog sitter shortly before my plane was leaving to head home.  "Is it normal for Heffner to not eat?"  No, no it is not.  This dog is the reason why NO food can be left out any where in the house because he will eat it.  When I got home, Heffner was definitely not doing well.  He was still slightly favoring the same leg, but had less energy and was a little dopey to boot.  I was not liking that.  Over the next two days he wouldn't eat anything at all for me.  He would turn his nose up at any special treats that I tried with him.  I took him off the pain meds, but continued with the antibiotics.  I then made an appointment with my vet to have him checked out.  He gave me false hope by eating his dinner one night.  The next morning I had to coax him to eat his breakfast and he puked it back up within a half hour.  Not good. 

When we went to see his regular vet, she gave him a full going over.  She found an arrhythmia that hadn't been there even the week before (spoiler: turned out to be nothing more than a benign sinus arrhythmia).  Still no specific pain, but he was definitely not himself.  I agreed to have chest and neck x-rays done on him.  X-rays came back clear.  Both good news and bad news.  Something was obviously wrong with him, but nothing was apparently wrong with him. :-/  Some blood had been collected on him to check everything out.  As I was paying the bill and almost heading out the door, his vet came up to tell me that after spinning the sample down his plasma was yellow, which meant something was up with his liver.  Crap.  Now I had a whole slew of things to potentially be worried about.  She would have the full blood results back the next day and we'd figure out what to do from there. 

Blood results were in and there was definitely something going on with his liver.  There were a few things that it could be.  The mildest was an inflammation of the liver due to the heavy hitting meds that he had been on.  Another was pancreatitis.  Still another was tumors on his liver.  In order to find out what was wrong with his liver, an ultrasound was needed.  With the ultrasound, came a specialist.  Oy!  While it's great that they were calling a specialist to be absolutely certain about what they were seeing and what was going on, specialists come with a heftier price tag and this was definitely going to hit my credit card hard.  But what else can you do?  There was also the potential that if there were tumors on the liver, a needle biopsy would need to be performed to figure out what we were dealing with. 

The ultrasound was performed and everything came back clear.  Hmmmm.  Good news, but also not so great news.  So they decided to perform the needle biopsy any how.  Here's where I will admit that I was a little annoyed.  I thought that I would at least get a phone call to ask for consent since the needle biopsy was originally only going to be performed if tumors were found on the liver.  That didn't happen.  Knowing now that my dog is fine, it's very easy to get irritated about this finer detail.  However, the end result is that I know for sure that my dog is fine.  Something that I will also have to admit that it took a couple of friends gently reminding me about to get me to stop bitching. 

Upon initial examination of the cells, nothing was found.  I still haven't heard the final results of the biopsy (the ultrasound and biopsy occurred on the 10th, last Thursday), but I'm assuming that's because there's nothing more to report and my vet wasn't in the office today.  The final diagnosis is an inflammatory response due to the original meds that Heffner had been prescribed.  He's never been on either one before and he sure as hell will never be on either one again!

So yeah, I've been more than a little worried about my chaperon.  Not that we're ever ready to lose any of our guys, but the possibility of losing him well before I was ready (he and I have already discussed that he's supposed to live at least as long as I do), was a little difficult to deal with at times.

At this point I'm happy to report that he is doing well.  Eating normally.  There were a couple of days where all I could get him to eat were canned pumpkin and tuna fish. **verp**  He wouldn't eat ANYTHING else.  Trust me, I tried the gambit, including all the traditional bland diet constituents.  Canned pumpkin and tuna were the magic sauce apparently.  And he's now back to acting normal.  I'm still restricting his exercise.  Bess is my running and hiking buddy and will be for a little while to come.  He's not favoring the leg and I want to make damn sure that continues.

So here's to an otherwise healthy Heffner and a crazy way to come back to blogging after about four months off. ;) 

P.S.  Bess and Ruthie are (knock on wood) happy and healthy!

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

You're forgiven for taking a little blogging hiatus....we all do it. You should see the gaps in MY posts! LOL

Phew! Glad you found the cause and he's back to himself once again.

Now I gotta wait for Bess's exciting news.......don't wait so long next time, eh? :-)