My blog has moved! Redirecting…

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit http://missbhavens.com and update your bookmarks.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Go For The Bronze.

This has been a harrowing couple of weeks, to say the least. Work has been insane, there's this whole Supreme Court thing going on, my boyfriend is on his way to New Orleans to rescue his belongings and examine the extent of the damage to his beloved house, and I am overwhelmed with mixed emotions about my sweet dog (including, but not limited to: fear, anxiety, anger, exhaustion, and hope). First, I'd like to send out a huge thank you for all the kind words and warm fuzzy feelings in regards to the declining health of my dear, darling furry friend. Miss Maisie sends out a heartfelt right-paw handshake (she never did offer the left, I don't know why) and a slobbery lick, to show her appreciation. Let it be known that she is currently being spoiled rotten, with Mary Jane candies, Laughing Cow cheese cubes, hot dogs, and the occasional turkey triple-decker club sandwich.

The biopsy came back positive (that is to say, really very negative) and Miss Maisie has been diagnosed with lymphosarcoma, which is apparently very common in dogs her age range and breed mixture. Although she looks like a too-tall, 90lb golden retriever, pretty much every vet she's come in contact with believes her to be some sort of Collie/German Shepherd blend, which would explain a lot of her behaviors. A retriever, she ain't.

My vet, however, cannot treat canine cancer, and The Maise and I hopped into a pet taxi (!) and headed to the doggie Oncologists at the animal hospital in Manhattan. Growing up in New York City I never learned to drive, and I knew someday it would catch up to me: at $80 r/t for the pet taxi, it certainly has. They told me what I basically already knew, that left untreated I'd lose Maisie in two to eight weeks. Unacceptable. Then the good doctor laid out a treatment plan that consisted of in-patient intravenous chemotherapy three times a week for six months to the tune of $6000,a protocol regarded as the Gold Standard for lymphosarcoma. I got a big lump in my throat, because as much as I love my dog, I simply do not have that kind of cash lying around. I can't even afford the $240 a week to get her to the hospital in the first place! I was about to suggest that they could send me home with all the meds and tubing so I could put my nursing skills to work, but I thought better of it. Also, my mother, who I brought with me as both moral support and information filter (I tend to shut down in these situations and lose key details)cut in and basically said "Well, what about the Silver and Bronze Standards?".

My mother does not have pets. She does not fully understand the tightrope walk that accompanies talking to vets. Maybe I've just been unlucky, but over the years I've been made to feel horribly guilty for what is perceived to be a lack of understanding on my part concerning the high cost of pet health care. You balk at the money involved and you get That Look from your vet. Those of you with pets know the Look I'm talking about. This new vet, not content with just The Look, shot back "Well, these are estimates, you know, this is not a car we're talking about; it's a living thing!", which I didn't appreciate. There was no way I was walking out of there without a treatment plan for my dog, but there was also no way I could fly $6000 for a treatment that might buy her two more years, but then again might not. The Silver Standard was out of my league, too, so we took The Bronze.

Maisie will be getting five whammy IV chemo treatments over the next fifteen weeks, along with some oral meds and some eye drops to deal with the cancer cells invading her right cornea. The good doctor says that larger dogs respond well to this treatment protocol, and I believe her. I was skeptical at first, about chemo treatments for the dog. Chemo is rough stuff--nothing like a little poison to make you better! Supposedly dogs and cats respond well to chemotherapy, with few side effects, if any. I was suspicious that the reason they take so well to it was because they cannot talk and therefore can't tell you how crappy it really is. But actually, she IS taking to it rather well! This is Maisie before her first treatment:



And this is Maisie after!



That little shaved bit on her left front leg is where the meds go, and that glare off her right eye isn't a camera glitch, her eye is all clouded over, but it's looking better every day with these Atropine drops. She has gotten back the spring in her step, and is back to being the nudgy, playful, dopey lovebug that she always has been. The vet called me Sunday to see how she was doing and asked if her lymphnodes seemed smaller, and I was slightly embarrassed that I hadn't checked, but really I hadn't thought that a single treatment would have such an effect. The lemon-sized balls in her neck had all but vanished, and the ones by her rear legs were nearly gone, as well. If this is what happens after one treatment, I'm dying to see what happens after five! All this and no nausea, too! It's almost too good to be true. One down, four to go.

And I feel good about it. I feel that I have done the responsible thing. When you take on a pet, your job is to be its caregiver, friend, teacher, boss and advocate. And you do these things lovingly. Maisie has given me nine years of unconditional adoration and companionship, the very least I can do is make her twilight year(s) as comfortable as possible, and let's face it: I selfishly want to keep her around. As long as she isn't in any pain, and isn't suffering any indignities (dogs don't like peeing all over themselves any more than you do), I will continue to treat her for as long as I can. No, Doctor, she is not a car.
posted by missbhavens @ 4:50 PM |

6 comments

<< Home