I’m sitting here at Starbucks. A tall steaming Americano on my right and a breakfast of oatmeal and blueberries before me. Twenty minutes ago I handed over my beloved four-legged ball of fluff over to the vet. The Poodle, just a few months shy of 8 years of age, is undergoing his first surgical procedure (well….actually the second. He was fixed when he was five months old).
I spent a restless night worrying about it all. And now, fresh from leaving him shaking at the veterinarian’s office, I’m a mess and it isn’t even 9 a.m.
It’s not a major thing (at least the vet doesn’t think so)….but still. He is being put under and there will be stitches.
We’ve been watching a growth on his back since I discovered it last February. I took The Poodle in at that time and after a quick exam, the vet didn’t seem terribly concerned.
“Dogs get these all the time,” he said noting my worried look. The vet is a nice enough guy. He’s just not necessarily a people person. Rocket-man says that he is just a bit off on social skills. I figure it matters not. He just needs to be a good animal doc for my boy. After I think this, I realize I sound somewhat selfish….as if my boy is the only preciously-loved pooch in the universe.
“This one is small, most likely just a sebaceous cyst–a plugged oil gland. No need to do anything; just keep an eye on it to see if it gets bigger.”
Little it stayed…for months…until a week ago. While snuggling together on the sofa late one evening, watching an episode of Outlander, I noted that it had practically doubled in size, seemingly overnight. I scheduled a vet appointment the next day.
“Well, it’s now a little over two centimeters,” said the doc. He then took a needle sample of the fluid. It was quite thick and had some blood in it.
“I’m going to take a look at this under a microscope,” he said. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.” As we waited for the doc to report back, the Poodle panted nervously pacing back and forth in the small examination room. I reminded myself to breathe and kept repeating a little mantra I’ve used over the years when I’m scared out of my mind: release my fear…release my fear. Trying to get my attention, The Poodle repeatedly nuzzled me with his snout. He’s anxious and he feels my anxiety. It was as if he was saying; “Come on. Enough of this already! Please take me home ….please….oh pretty please!”
I couldn’t agree more. I scooped him up in my arms and held him close whispering “It’s going to be Okay. You’re my good boy.”
Five minutes later the vet was back in the room. “Well, there is bacteria in the fluid so there is evidence of inflammation,” he reported. “So, to be on the safe side, let’s go ahead and remove it.” We scheduled the appointment and so here we are today….
As I take a sip of coffee in a tucked away corner of Starbucks my phone rings. It’s the vet’s office. I answer quickly. He’s only been with the vet for a half-hour at this point and I know the procedure has yet to begin. Now the doc tells me The Poodle will need an IV drip as a precaution during the procedure. His blood work shows his kidneys aren’t functioning optimally again and the IV drip will ensure my boy stays well hydrated during the surgery. I am more than dismayed over the blood work results; I had thought he was doing better since his blood work over six months ago was back in the normal range. The doc has had my pooch on prescription dog food for renal disease for well over a year now stating that his blood labs show early kidney disease. He doesn’t believe most dogs should be on high protein diets. I’ve not embraced his opinion. Still, I’ve mostly followed his advice despite the fact that The Poodle doesn’t much like the Hill’s prescription food. To get him to eat it I mix in a tablespoonful or two of canned salmon or grain-free wet food once a day. Apparently his blood work shows he has now progressed to stage two renal disease.
“How many stages are there,” I ask. “Five,” was the reply.
I fight back tears.
“Well discuss options later this afternoon,” said the doc.
I would remain agitated all through the remainder of the afternoon waiting to hear the results of the surgery. In fact, I didn’t accomplish one productive thing in my preoccupied state. It’s probably a good thing Rocket-man is out-of -town on business travel.
At precisely 1 p.m. ….the appointed hour I was told to check back in…I called to check on my boy. The doc said it was just as he predicted; a sebaceous cyst….”quite harmless”….and he’s up and walking around. Doc didn’t feel it was warranted to send off for a pathology test. Relief swept over me like the rush of an ocean wave. Still, there is the renal disease to contend with. Doc is recommending a daily ace-inhibitor blood pressure pill to stabilize the progression of the disease. He also recommends an ultrasound.
I picked up The Poodle at 5 p.m. Oh was he over-the-moon with joy to see me! A large area on his back has been shaved as well as a patch on his leg where the IV was placed. He looked better than I expected. He seemed to be his old, happy self though I know a dark cloud looms over him….over us all…with the renal disease diagnosis!
As I gingerly place him in the car for the ride home I am overcome with a flood of tears from the stress of the day and the reality of it all. It takes me a few minutes to calm myself down. “I’m not going to have you forever my four-legged love,” I said sobbing, as I drape myself over him. He looks me in the eye, then nuzzles my cheek…
I’d swear he knows. He is one smart dog.
This evening I’ve kept him closer than usual…caressing him for long stretches while I sipped on red wine and read. It’s just the two of us tonight with Rocket-man away. Still, I’m more than content to have my boy’s head on my lap. As this long day winds down, for now at least, I refuse to think about renal disease, death, or anything that remotely smacks of reality for that matter.
All is good…really.
Well…except for one tiny regret….
I went face down into a bag of tortilla chips from the stress of it all.
“I’m not proud of that,” I whisper to my slumbering poodle love.
Tomorrow, I’ll do better.