“The vet says something’s wrong with her liver” is probably the worst phrase spoken to me in a while.
Here, I discuss the roller coaster of two emotionally exhausting, however educational and fact-finding, days.
We took Gida to the vet on Monday. She was lethargic for a few weeks and wasn’t eating as much — in fact, doc said she lost a pound and a half off her 12-pound frame. Proportionally, that’s like me losing 18 pounds in a few weeks (don’t do the math). A gastrointestinal or urinary-tract infection seemed likely. So, they sedated madam twitchy and took blood and pee samples.
Sidenote: Have you ever experienced a dog on sedatives? After carrying her back to our apartment, my husband simply says: “So, she’s stoned.” Really? Really:
Later that day, after stopping her attempts at “walking” (running into the refrigerator), they called us back:
Something was off with her liver. Something about elevated enzymes. Something about an ultrasound to learn more.
What does that mean? All’s I know is that you only have one liver and things are bad when yours doesn’t work.
After feeling prickly and uncomfortable all Tuesday morning, they finally called: ultrasound showed nothing. At least nothing that would show up on an ultrasound, like a stone, tumor, or cyst.
But, also, not. Well, she might have liver disease. She might have any number of things that don’t show up on an ultrasound. The liver is a complex organ in dogs and humans. They told us as much and suggested more tests. They took a blood sample, fed her, waited a couple hours, and then took another blood sample. They’d look for a “contrast in bile content” to determine whether her liver was, in fact, wonked. (Technical term). Gida spent almost an entire workday at the vet.
Well, is she in pain? What if she needed a liver biopsy to be more definitive? I had one hell of a Google pity party, as you can imagine. Ironically, it’s risky to put a liver-impaired dog under, as livers help regulate anesthesia. How much quality time can we realistically add to her life? If she was one, I’d maybe feel more definitively. She’s 11, spaghetti monster willing, in September.
On Wednesday, we got some good news, so we’re cautiously optimistic.
Her bile tests (the most recent ones they did, before and after eating) came back completely normal. There is nothing abnormal in her liver. Her elevated enzymes from the first round of tests (which prompted the bile tests), could still be the result of a number of things. Doc thinks it’s either an infection or a toxin. For example, she might have eaten something poisonous or toxic. (WTF?)
Pawesome writer Katie has had some liver issues with her dog, Happy. She offered a ton of great insight, including use of a liver supplement called Denamarin — we mentioned it to the vet, who said that’s still a possibility. For now, we monitor Gida’s habits: eating, sleeping, pooping, peeing, being. Then, she takes another enzyme test in two to four weeks. Then, we talk about what to do long-term.
For years, I’ve been prepared for elderly humans in my life to leave that life soon. Maybe tomorrow, maybe a year from now, maybe a few years from now. Gida, arguably elderly, was not on that list, even though I doubt she has more than a “few” years left. Whatever “few” means in real time: a day, a year, three years from now, or three years and 100 days from now. Maybe she should be on the list?
So far, it’s cost $600+, some worry, and some heartache. But, you know what they say about the more you know.
Cautious optimism is still the name of this game.