12 May 2006

This has absolutely nothing to do with weight loss

Well, actually, it sort of does in a very round-about way. My dog is 13 years old and is generally healthy ... except for a rather large mass discovered about a year ago in his liver. It's about the size of a softball, and because it's in the liver, they aren't able to determine exactly what it is without doing exploratory surgery. So, because he's generally healthy and it didn't seem to be affecting his everyday life, we made the decision not to do the surgery but to monitor the mass via ultrasound instead. So, another ultrasound was done in September of 2005, and at that time it was found that the mass either didn't change or slightly reduced in size. And, nothing had changed about his behavior.

It's now a year later, and in general, nothing's changed about his behavior save one thing, he doesn't eat as voraciously as he used to. Now, this has only been going on for about a week, but he's my baby and I was concerned. So, I took him to the vet this week, and they drew some blood to do bloodwork so as to compare it to the most recent results. For this bloodwork and the exam and other various things, I paid $192, a lot of money for me right now. The results: his liver enzymes are higher than they were the last time by about 300 points. So, what the vet is suggesting is another ultrasound (at about $300) and then maybe a test for Cushing's disease.

I'm having a very difficult time with all this because: a) I really can't afford it (and, that's where WLS comes into play b/c of having to buy new clothes a lot more often than I used to) b) it's not like he's not eating at all or lethargic or visibly sick or whining all the time c) I sometimes feel like vets push you into doing unnecessary tests b/c I've heard about the pressure to do that at some vet clinics. So, I feel like a horrible doggie mom. Am I putting his health in jeopardy b/c of my needs/feelings/wants? Or, like the last few times we've done tests, are they going to come back with inconclusive information that yields little to no results subsequently resulting in nothing being done for him? I'm leaning toward keeping an eye on him to see how the eating thing changes and to see if anything else crops up, but it still bothers me that I feel my decision is being influenced by the cost.


Sandi said...

Is Cushing's disease life threatening? Is it a time sensitive issue that if he has it absolutely cannot wait a month or two? If there is a chance that your doggie has something that could kill him , well, you know. But if he acts fine and is in no pain and the disease is just a chronic condition that isn't going anywhere, well, then wait a month or two and just wear the clothes you bought even if they get baggy on you in a month or two.

I guess you need to find out all you can about the Cushing's thing to see if you need to act immediately or can delay a little while...

good luck

Melissa said...

Your doggie is an elder. Find out about Cushing disease on the net. Is a surgery necessary at his age, will it prolong his life. Or should you just meke him comfortable and allow him to live his doggie years out. Hard decisions. I don't know what to say, pets are so much like family. Hope things work out okay.

Holly said...

older dogs have health issues. like many human doctors there are some vets that believe that they should do EVERYTHING in their power for EVERY SINGLE DOG no matter the monetary or emotional cost. i had a similar sort of thing happen when i agreed to have my old dog go through cancer surgery. when i asked how long she would live he told me his wife's dog had the same surgery and is still living 2 years later. i agreed to it.

then i went on the net and discovered 95% of the dogs with this particular kind don't make it another month after surgery, that when it is discovered it has already metastized and even huge doses of chemo or radiation wouldn't help.

i was SO ANGRY. i had maggie for another 6 weeks after her extremely invasive cancer surgery requiring removal of her spleen, 2 tumors the size of grapefruit, and multiple blood and plasma transfusions.

i don't think it was about making money. i think it was about the God complex that physicians have. they think that it is their duty to extend life no matter what.

sometimes just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

Jenn said...

Cushing's isn't normally life threatening in dogs. I actually did a bunch of research last year when they were thinking it was the cause of some changes in him, but it came back negative. What's hardest for me is not wanting to put him through anything that isn't going to help in the long run when he's so happy and seemingly healthy overall but at the same time wanting to do whatever I can to make his life better for him. My husband and I have always said that if he's miserable we won't prolong his life for us, but it's not even close to that point yet. At least I hope not.