It all started just over a week ago, when Lola vomited in the middle of the night on the weekend. It seemed like a little bug or upset tummy, as although she seemed a tad under the weather, it was a one-time thing and she was eating fine the next day. Then, it happened again on Wednesday. I got home from work and a couple hours later, she threw up her breakfast. Thursday morning she had little interest in eating her regular food, and I made an appointment with our awesome vet.
Thursday evening we headed off to see Dr. C and while Lola seemed a bit under the weather, she sure was happy to go for a R-I-D-E.
Dr. C thought she seemed a little quieter than usual, but was not too concerned. Lola was not dehydrated at all, her abdomen felt good (i.e. no obvious obstructions, which was one of my initial fears), and her overall exam went well. She felt as though it may just be a little gastro thing going on, and decided to try a bland diet, Pepcid and a course of antibiotics. To be sure, she opted for a full panel blood work-up, along with a pancreatic test.
Unfortunately, our vet was leaving for a week vacation the next day. She spoke with another vet on staff who was somewhat familiar with Lola's autoimmune issue, and asked her to call us with the blood work results and go from there.
Friday came and went, no call. I checked at the end of the day, but the results weren't back yet. Saturday, I was getting ready to head to the race track and she called.... and it was not at all what I expected to here. There were quite a few changes in Lola's blood since August. The vet told us she was positive for pancreatitis, her liver levels were elevated, and what scared me the most, her red blood cell levels were below normal. Normal range is 38-56 and my baby girl was at 34. While I was trying to scribble down all these words and numbers, she uttered the words non-regenerative anemia. What? My baby has is anemic? What does this mean??
Then... she started talking about possible causes of the non-regenerative anemia. Could be from her 16-months on prednisone. Could be anemia of chronic disease. Could be a tumor on her spleen. Then my heart sank. And, if it is a tumor on the spleen causing the bleeding, it could potentially burst and she could bleed out in her abdomen. My baby could die before we realized how bad it was.
Our next step was to do an abdominal ultrasound. The specialist who performs these at our vet's office comes on Wednesdays. That was 4 days away... and, because they never know when he'll actually show up, you have to drop your dog off first thing in the morning and let them sit there all day... waiting. Zeus had one a couple years ago when we first started chasing the cause of his elevated liver levels and instead of dropping him off, I opted to hang out in the parking lot with him for hours... waiting (I'm sorry, but if you are working at a particular vet's office once per week, couldn't you at least set a schedule and follow it?). Instead, we decided to make an appointment (with referral) at a big vet hospital (complete with every type of specialist you could imagine, plus they're open 24 hours a day) for Sunday afternoon. It's only 35 minutes away, so it made perfect sense to take her there.
Sure, I spent most of Saturday at the race track, trying not to worry and to think positive thoughts. And, yes, I asked for crossed paws all over social media. Well, I think it worked...
The staff at the big vet hospital were all amazing. Everyone was very friendly and the atmosphere overall was wonderful. First we met with the vet tech who asked lots of questions, then she took Lola off to have her belly shaved (oh, the horror!) and get her ultrasound. I think this is where I got most nervous... the thoughts running through my head for the past 24-hours began to pile up. I was sure they were going to come rushing in telling us she had this big tumor on her spleen and needed emergency surgery to remove it.
Thank you to all those who crossed their paws, fingers, toes and anything else!
The doctor who did the ultrasound found no tumors! He did find that her liver was moderately enlarged, and her spleen was somewhat enlarged... but he did not see any tumors! There were a couple other issues... a small adrenal gland (which could be from her prednisone), a thicker than usual wall of another organ (forgive me, I don't have the report in front of me and can't remember all the specifics off the top of my head)... but nothing major. And, he did not see any signs of pancreatitis, which the other vet at our regular office was sure she had. He couldn't attribute the enlarged liver to anything specific... could be something to do with her autoimmune disease, could be prednisone related, could be an infection, etc. He suggested we meet with an internal specialist after talking with our vet.
As you may know, we've been dealing with Zeus' elevated liver levels for over 2 years now. If that's what we're looking at, I'm happy. I'm still a bit worried about the low red blood count, but looking forward to developing a plan for our next step with our vet when she returns from vacation. I suspect she may have us meet with an internal specialist at the big vet hospital to get some further insight (we'd discussed this a couple of times in the past regarding Lola's autoimmune disease). But for now, I can breathe much easier again and I think my heart has finally stopped pounding out of my chest.
Lola may be a little ashamed of her shaved belly, but I'm pretty sure she thinks it was all worth it for another car R-I-D-E yesterday. She even gave the ultrasound doctor a kiss before we left.