In early February 2017, Phil had an accident that landed him at the vet because he was limping and refusing to come upstairs. Turns out he had probably ran into something and scratched himself. The scratch got infected and swollen and the leg was filled with fluid. We did an xray to rule out cancer and Phil was started on a round of antibiotics and pain killers and he slept downstairs for several days and started using my $700 runner, that I had made especially for him, as a pee pad. I thought it was just his meds and passed it off.
After he finished his meds, he continued to have accidents in the house and he was drinking A LOT... like an entire bowl of water in one long lapping session. For the most part, Phil returned to normal except for these issues. His leg was fine, his limp was gone. Then, I also noticed that his belly was SUPER sensitive to any pressure. Back to the vet we went. I explained the sensitivity and the drinking and they concurred there was probably an issue. We agreed to redo his blood work, put him back on doxy for 30 more days, and a urinalysis was done to check his protein levels and specific gravity in his urine.
One of the suggestions I received was to do a sonogram on Phil's abdomen to check for abnormalities. I was also informed that a particular cancer runs in his bloodline (yay for greyhound linage being tracked!) can be found in that region. I scheduled the sonogram and then had to cancel it due to funds. Another suggestion was maybe it was a tick-borne illness that was causing the problems, which a long course of Doxy would possibly help with.
From the 2nd set of labs, the vet suggested maybe Phil was going into kidney failure but it was in the very early stages and she prescribed Phil a blood pressure medication (which would help reduce the protein in his urine which is the cause of kidney damage). This didn't explain the belly sensitivity, but did possibly explain the accidents. I posted Phil's lab results in one of my rescue groups for others to take a look at. I got some feedback from a few individuals and held off on giving Phil the blood pressure medicine (since the vet hadn't taken his blood pressure). I waited about 2 weeks and didn't notice a difference with just the Doxy, so I started him on the blood pressure meds.
All while dealing with Phil's problems, I'm dealing with my hip issues which turned out to be a torn labrum and would require surgery.
When I called the vet to reschedule Phil's sonogram appointment, I was informed that the office, where I had originally booked said sonogram at, did not offer sonograms since their machines were new and they were still training. Instead of arguing, I just said, "Ok," and called other vets. If they were "in training" I didn't need that in my life. I needed certainty. I ended up making an appointment at the vet office that Phil and Meri originally went to when we moved to Charleston. I had Phil's records sent to the 2nd vet's office so that way the vet could see what we'd done and the results from those tests.
After a very long discussion, the vet agreed to do the sonogram I had requested and sent off more blood for more tests. Those tests came back inconclusive of anything specific. As in, still no answers to WTF is wrong with my dog.
So I asked what the next steps would be and the vet told me they could run a test for Cushings disease, which had been on my radar. It didn't cost a fortune, so I agreed. I waited to do the test for a week, which was hell because I could have just taken him that week, but didn't want to disrupt my schedule.
All the while, the accidents in the house and in his crate continued. Additionally, his energy for walks has seriously depleted. Where he was able to do a mile or more last fall, going more than a quarter of a mile means cheerleading and encouraging Phil the entire way home after he just stops walking because he's tired. My boy wants to keep up, but he's just tired.
Cushings test day finally came and I dropped off Phil at 08 and went back home to anxiously await the phone call that said he was ready to be picked up, which finally came at 2:15. I high-tailed it to the vet's office. I won't lie, at this point I was hoping that he had Cushings so that way something was actually wrong with him so we could treat it.
The result of the test was negative. Phil doesn't have Cushings. The vet said he would be referring us to a specialist and it was up to me if I wanted to continue to rule out issues. I went home and cried and cried and cried.
|Post Cushings test.|
I cried because I was frustrated at not being able to figure out what is going on Phil when I know something is going on with my boy. I cried after adding up all that I've paid so far in 2017 for Phi's vet bills and it doesn't even include his wellness visit nor his dental. I cried more at the fact that Phil's vet $$ account has been depleted. I cried after the specialist vet called me to set up the appointment and I had to ask how much it was going to cost ($468 for the consult and another sonogram) and I had to tell her that I had just come from the vet and I wasn't currently able to make a decision at that moment about whether or not to bring him in and that I'd have to call her back to set up the appointment. I cried about not being able to help my Baggins feel his best again. I cried when I posted on one of my rescue FB groups asking for a sanity check. I cried even harder when I saw some of the responses. I cried so much I had to go get the tissues from the bathroom because there were some ugly cries going on.
The bigger issue was that when Teh German got home, I had to talk to him about all of this...
since I had decided that I was going to stop putting Phil and I through the hoops of trying to figure out what is going on and instead just deal with, what we would call, old age and make him as comfortable as possible until the signs that he is done are no longer avoidable (holy run-on sentence).
Teh German didn't take it well and I'm struggling with that but that's not directly related to Phil and for another post.
TL;DR: I'm accepting that something is wrong with Phil
and I'm not going to know what it is.
I'm out of money and the reality is that Phil is 9.5 years old (he'll be 10 in October) and he's getting older. Even if we find out what is wrong with him, he may not actually live that much longer, even if we are able to treat it. I'm trying to be objective about this, and logical, which is extremely difficult because my heart wants to put all the dollars into making my boy better, but the reality is that he will eventually die and nothing I do can stop that. This is probably the beginning of that process and acceptance is extremely difficult.
I know that many of you have followed along with the Phil situation over the last months and I appreciate your support.
The reality is that I don't know how much longer Phil will be with us. I plan on having his annual wellness visit and his dental done. I'm hoping that after his dental is done he may perk up some... and it will help with his breath, which will soon be noxious again since he's no longer on an antibiotic. He will still be attending the GEGR picnic, even though I don't expect him to run around very much.
I'll be surprised if Phil makes it through the summer. I say this because heat is especially hard on older dogs and I live in Charleston and summers are brutal here. I won't mind if he does keep kickin' for longer than that, but low expectations are easier to meet.
For now, I'll be doing what I can to make my Philalicious comfortable. Even if that means walking 4 doors down and turning around and dropping him off at home so the rest of the pack can do a longer walk and using the carpet cleaner more regularly. Anything for my Baggins.
Part 2: 5/4/2017