Sunday, February 1, 2009

Nema's Vet Visit

Yesterday I took Nema to the vet because a "mole" or growth of some sort had been getting bigger and also is changing color. It's near her right armpit. (Or do they call them leg pits on dogs?)

Going to the vet is a very anxious event for me, although Nema seems to be OK with it. That's because she had a very bad experience there last year. We took her in to be spayed. Directly after the surgery she seemed to be fine. The vet tech called me and said she was doing well and had been walked outside to use the restroom. They keep all the animals overnight so she told me I could pick her up in the morning.

That night we went out to a concert with a couple of friends. After the concert, around 10:30 p.m., I checked my cell phone and noticed I had missed a phone call from the vet at 9:30. I immediately knew something was wrong -- why would the vet call so late at night. I called and called and called the vet, with rising panic as they did not answer. Finally the vet tech answered and put the vet on the phone. He told me that when he checked on the animals around 8:30 he found Nema in critical condition, bleeding internally. He called two of his staff members to come from home to help him give her a blood transfusion. When I talked to him on the phone he said she was now in fair condition and that I could come see her.

About 11 p.m. B and I arrived at the vet's office. When I walked in a saw her it broke my heart. She stood up when she saw us, even though she had a catheter in her leg from the ongoing transfusion, and even through she was so weak she could only stand for a few moments. Her gums and inner eyelids were white from blood loss. I had never seen an animal in that condition before, and seeing my precious dog like that was nearly unbearable. Even writing this now, months later, I can't help but cry.

One of the vet techs stayed all night with Nema to monitor her and called us at home once an hour every hour until 8 a.m. to tell us how she was doing. Nema had to stay at the vet's office for several more days, and when we finally brought her home she had to be kept very still for several more days. She had a compression bandage around her belly and was still healing. A couple of weeks later Nema developed a fluid sac under the incision, which caused a large bulge under her belly. The vet drained that a couple of times and finally it went away.

I took Nema to a second vet for a second opinion about everything, but ultimately decided to stay with the original vet.

That was in October; now, three months later, she seems to be completely healed and has no negative reaction when we go to the same vet's office. But I felt bad because yesterday when we went back to the vet to get the growth checked out, they had to shave the fur around the growth to get a better look at it and we had to hold her down on the table. I hate having to do that. But once we let her down she seemed to hold no grudges.

The vet said we need to get the growth surgically removed and tested. He said they will use a local anesthetic this time, because even though she was OK with the anesthetic during the spay, it is better to be safe than sorry with Nema due to what happened last time. We scheduled the surgery for Feb. 11. I am trying not to dwell on the worst-case scenario, that it could be cancer. I am hopeful it is benign, or some other harmless growth.

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