Everyone keeps asking what exactly was wrong with Reggie at the end. Most of you know that he’s had lots and lots of health problems over the years, but this time…wow. It might be easier to list what wasn’t wrong, but I’m not sure what that would include.
Here’s the list the animal hospital doctor rambled off to me on Feb. 11:
- Liver shunts, which we’ve known for years
- 3 new stones in his kidneys and bladder
- A re-occurring limp and unexplained pain
- Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA), which was first diagnosed in Nov. 2008
- A red-blood cell count at 20-21% that wasn’t improving with treatment; it had been the mid-30s
- Pancreatitis, which might be caused by the IMHA
- An enlarged common bowel duct, which might be caused by the pancreatitis
- Pigment in the bloodwork, which might be related to the pancreatitis
- A very high fever, which did come down with treatment
- Extreme weakness, he struggled to stand and walk
- A heart murmur
- A nodule on his liver
- A growth/tumor on his liver, which might have been cancerous and might have caused the IMHA
Because of the heart murmur, they couldn’t push fluids very fast and that meant he wasn’t getting meds or nutrients very fast. But worse, other than his fever coming down, he wasn’t responding to the meds he was getting. The doctor at the hospital wanted to do a needle biopsy on the liver growth, chest x-rays to evaluate why Reg was anemic, and various heart tests. If the biopsy was positive, then he said surgery might be needed. I finally interrupted and said, “But he’s over 12 and half years old! I don’t think he’ll survive surgery.” To top this off, if we did the biopsy on that Thursday the results wouldn’t come in until Monday or Tuesday, and the doctor admitted Reggie might die before the results arrived.
Reggie’s regular doctor basically shrugged off all these tests. He said, “IF Reggie survives this time, he’s going to get sick again. He’s going to have IMHA the rest of his life, he’s going to have pancreatitis again. The question is how much more can the two of you take…IF he survives this time.” He was concerned about the new liver tumor and the ramifications it would have. He and I decided that I would visit Reggie at the hospital, and I would decide whether he was better enough to come home or to have him put down.
You know the rest; Reggie’s fever was down, but he wasn’t improved. I spent an hour and a half walking around the hospital holding him, talking to him, crying, but he was completely listless. I couldn’t have him suffering like that. He’d been on meds for almost a week, and had crashed instead of improving. I wish I could hug him again. And again. And again. He’s missed.
So what was wrong at the end? Everything listed above, and I wonder if maybe something else too. It was so strange, Tuesday evening Reggie was jumping around, playing a bit, and eating really well. Two hours later he started throwing up and was uncomfortable and edgy in his own skin. After a rough night, Reggie seemed a little better, drank water, took his meds, and slept for several hours. But after he got up, things were seriously worse. He struggled to walk or stand, he wouldn’t eat, and wouldn’t drink. I called the vets and said we were coming and started putting on shoes and a coat when Reggie suddenly decided to drink water, and drink a lot. This made me feel better, but after this nothing went well. Each time Reggie’s been sick the past 15-16 months it has hit really hard and fast, but he’s never had trouble standing or walking till this time. So I wonder what caused that and why he wasn’t getting better. The not getting better was probably everything and the new tumor, but why so suddenly from eating to not standing? I guess I’ll never know. He was a wonderful dog and will always be missed.