Friday, July 22, 2011

The Scare of a Lifetime

Most of you that read this drivel I post know that I've had Cliff the Mutt since he was 4 months old.  Well that little fur slug will be 13 next month and he almost didn't make it.

He is the one that has been with me through thick and thin, marriage, divorce, marriage, failed baby attempts and many surgeries.

He's never judged me.  He's always been by my side.  In returned, I made sure he was well trained, well behaved, had a solid routine, good food, soft blankies and a rotating roster of canine and feline step brothers and sisters over the years.

For all these years I've been really lucky with Cliff health wise.  The vet I had when I first got him tried to convince me he absolutely needed knee surgery or he'd never walk again.  He has a genetic defect called Sublimating Patellas, meaning you can dislocate his back legs at will if you are being a jerk and messing with my dog.  It's not life shortening.  I keep his weight under control, and 10 years since I found out about his knees, they have never been an issue.

Cliff and I have been a Pet Assisted Therapy Team for the Sonoma County Humane Society.  The little old ladies at a couple of local Alzheimer's facilities just adored him when we made the rounds.

People still see him and ask how old my 'puppy' is and are just shocked when they find out his age.

Cliff and I have been gearing up for a major life change and being a responsible pet owner he had his check up at the vet.  We found out that his heart murmur had exponentially increased in the last year.  That was scare enough since it's the heart murmur Oscar had that killed him.  I'm not ready to lose another pet right now to the Rainbow Bridge.

So Cliff started heart meds (if only we'd known Oscar's had gotten bad enough for it but he didn't make it to his yearly :-( )  and then I had to go out of town for a week.  Cliff stopped eating two days before I got home.  He could be coaxed to have a little and then he'd walk away.

Last Tuesday morning (July 12th) he wouldn't get out of bed.  So I got to work and called the vet and said get me in please.  They kept him that thinking it was something intestinal since he wouldn't eat.  Gave him barium to track in through his system and he stayed there the rest of the day.  I got to go back at 5:30 and the diagnosis was blocked small intestines which means surgery.  Which means Mom bursting into tears.

Surgery that requires opening up the intestines is inherently high risk but not doing it meant a painful death for my boy if there really was a block, so off to the emergency clinic that would do the surgery where he would spend the night and have surgery the next day.

This is the first time in the entire time I've had Cliff that he's ever had to stay over night with strangers, let alone one that came at him with sharp objects.  So Wednesday, July 13th (there's that number again and I'm not really superstitious about it) they open him up in the morning and I call back all day to get an update.

Update is - No block!?!?!?  What?  I cut him open for nothing!  Calm down Ms Rinella....  Turns out Cliff's allergies have finally taken it to a whole new level and he has lymphacytic/plasmacytic Inflammatory Bowel Disease and it was bad enough that the walls of his intestines in at least one location had swelled to the almost blocking point.

Since they cut open his intestines they had to keep him a few days.  Neither of us handled it very well.  Finally I got to bring him home on Friday  afternoon.  He went berserk when they brought him in to me (my boy loves me).  Luckily, this disease can be cured 90% of the time with a dietary change, so he is on a new food.

One week later he's completed his antibiotics.  He doesn't seem to like his new food much, but I think that will change when he realizes he doesn't have a choice.  Since he still has stitches, he's hanging with me at work this week so I can keep an eye on him. (Many thanks to my boss for that).  Those come out next Thursday.

All I know is how grateful I am that I still have my little fur slug.  He's recovering well.  The incision site looks good.  Separation anxiety is high, which is understandable.

He's one the best things in my life right now and I'm not taking any days I have with him for granted.  This was a scare, but one we are both making it through.  He's my boy, and I'm the only 'Mom' he's known.  I'll continue to spend the rest of his days making sure he's happy, healthy and put quality of life over quantity.  I almost lost him, and almost had to make 'that' decision, but I would have made the right one for him, because he's all that matters.