Saturday, January 22, 2011

Part 7

Despite the fact that she was still pretty small and that she had swallowed a mechanical pencil (or at least a large part of one) the veterinarian suggested that we “wait and see” rather than immediately go after it. He said that dogs will often pack stool around objects and then they pass on through. But to play it safe, I was to look for the object in her stool, and she would go in every day for an x-ray to track the progress until it passed.
I was very thorough, closely examining each little poop that she passed using latex gloves bought especially for poo examinations. Each little piece was carfully picked up, looked at and smashed, even though I was looking for an object several inches long. And you could tell the days that the pencil reached a place that hurt, and the days when it was “free flowing”… those were the days Maggie acted like a normal puppy. And every day we went in for her x-ray and they would report the progress. And each day she got more and more reluctant to go in. She started balking at the door and by the time she had a few x-rays, I could tell that she was becoming really fearful of going back with the tech. Just for the record, I don’t think that they were really mean to her or anything, it is just that she was young, it was scary, and I’m sure that my own anxiety made it worse. Day after day, we watched the progress of the pencil until one day… it… was… gone. Gone! Didn’t show up the x–ray! And to this day, I have no idea when or where she passed that pencil. I was so thorough on my poop check, I will never know how it got past… or passed.
It was also during this time that I learned something very important about my pet’s medical care. Since Murphy passed, I had continued to do research on auto-immune diseases in dogs, because the cause had remained a mystery that I felt obligated to solve. On one of our “pencil” visits, I mentioned to the vet that I was convinced that Murphy had acquired a particular tick-borne illness that led to the auto-immune. He said “no, if it had been that, we would have seen joint pain and her getting lame before it got that far.“ I was speechless. Murph had been in multiple times in the preceding months with joint pain and lameness, but had seen a variety of vets… never this one. And by the time he saw her, there were pages and pages in her chart about her most recent visits, and I suppose he never turned back the pages to the visits for her joints. I didn’t talk to him about it… there was nothing he could do at this point, and there was no reason to make him feel bad. But I did learn two good lessons about animal care. The first is about consistency with your vet. Now we schedule all of our visits with the same vet, no more taking whatever vet is available at the most convenient time for me. The second is that I have vowed to take an active role in the research for any pets I have with a serious or continuing medical issue. Not that I suggest that I am smarter than my vet, only that I have a lot more time to dedicate to research. No vet can do as much research for every animal in their care as I can for just one dog. And while I was relieved to finally find a probable cause for Murphy’s illness, it was very sad as well, to realize that this was something that would have been curable had it been treated early on.
I’m so, so, sorry Murphy-girl, that you suffered needlessly.

1 comment:

  1. We have learned the same lessons the hard way. Now we make sure to see the same vet on every visit and still we take nothing for granted.