Friday, May 10, 2013
Lucy refused her breakfast.
As I had never known Lucy to refuse food before, especially dry dog food (aka “kibble”), this was a matter of immediate concern. I poured filtered water onto her kibble to soften it and offered it again. She looked at her bowl, looked at me, and just stood there, panting.
Clang, clang, clang, clang….
Alarm bells began ringing wildly. Insidious whispers began to cloud my head and something clenched in my chest. I put her bowl up on the counter. Maybe a little time would soften it up enough to enable her to eat it. But something was wrong.
I waited until Sasha had finished her breakfast, then sat down in the living room and began running my hands carefully over Lucy. Lucy is our fourth dog, Sasha our fifth. Our first, Roscoe, had died of congestive heart failure brought on by the undermining of his heart muscle by the excess adrenalin of Cushing’s Syndrome, a tumor (cancer) of the pituitary or adrenal glands. Our second, Daisy, had died of not one, but two cancers, one a Mast Cell Cancer. There was all of one week between the emergence of the first growth, testing, and giving her up to God. Our third, Winker, had also died of congestive heart failure. However, she had not had cancer; her heart failure was due to deformities relating to her birth as the runt of the litter. She had a 4 out of 6 heart murmur from before we brought her home from the SPCA.
I found the lump right away. About an inch in diameter, it rested to one side of her throat. I reasoned it was applying pressure to her esophagus. She also seemed to be panting more than usual. Ok, time for full panic mode.
I called my boss and took the day off. If this was going to be the beginning of the end for Lucy, I had to be here. When I served the girls their second breakfast, Lucy ate the now soggy kibble readily. Ok, maybe I was over-reacting?
When my husband awoke for the day, he, too, examined Lucy, and pointed out the second lump, under her right armpit, in the same location as the sebaceous cyst that had burst a few weeks earlier, and for which she’d been on antibiotics for the past two weeks. He also mentioned that the two lumps were more than twice the size they were when he first noticed them, six days earlier.
Ok, no, I didn’t actually scream. But yes, I laid into him, for not telling me this sooner. She had “lumps,” multiple lumps. Lumps, in our experience, meant cancer. And Daisy had died a week after her lumps appeared.
We made an appointment with Lucy’s vet for testing. Checked our bank account. Tried to go about our usual routines. The emotions were in full riot and the dogs noticed.
We walked both girls, then loaded them both into the car for the short trip. Even though only Lucy was being seen, both girls would behave better if they went together. They don’t like being left at home alone. After Lucy was seen, the vet showed us a syringe half full of lymphatic fluid, some clear, some bloody. I asked the assistant if that was enough. She said, oh yes, that was more than enough.
The vet found a third lump in her groin. All three lumps were lymph nodes. I forked over my $299.
It was a miserable weekend. I didn’t waste it, digging out my cancer and nutrition books, double-checking resource websites, compiling notes. I have learned a lot since Roscoe went home to God. This time would be different.
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