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Very Unfortunate Prognosis

Autumn leaves lined our afternoon drive to the veterinary specialist where Una was scheduled for an ultrasound. Such a deceptively cheery day, I thought. Maybe it bodes well. But then the Garmin GPS delivered me to a political office, and after getting directions from the vet, I arrived later than planned. Then was a difficult struggle to get Kung Fu Panda out of his car seat and into the Baby Bjorn while holding Una's leash, made more difficult by the fact that someone parked too close to the passenger side of my car, forcing me to work from the driver's side.

When I stepped in a dark liquid mess left in the parking lot by Una, I knew the cheery day had been a deception.

Things turned around for me briefly, as I realized that my shoes did not have deep treads. Rinsing the messy shoe in a convenient puddle and wiping it on the grass cleaned it up sufficiently.

In the waiting room, Una was well-behaved, since she didn't know this clinic and had no reason to fear it. After checking everything out, she was fairly quiet while I filled out information on a clipboard. KFP, in his Baby Bjorn, rubbed his head against my face, which was adorable if a bit distracting.

Una did bark a little bit, but I could not distract her with treats, since she had been prohibited to eat for the 18 hours before the test. Out of sympathy, I had eaten lightly that day, as well.

They finally took us into an examination room, where a technician took Una back to have her stomach shaved for the test. "She's been shaved so much lately," I remarked, thinking of the fur on her rear flanks that was just growing back after a skin infection, and the little patch on her right front leg where she had a catheter inserted to give her a dose of fluids when I took her in for an initial diagnosis.

If only the problem had stopped at Anaplasmosis, the tickborne illness. She'd fought off such an illness before, eight years ago. But both veterinarians at the veterinary hospital where I take her agreed that an ultrasound was the best way to tell us why her liver was so severely swollen.

The veterinary specialist spoke to me briefly about her recent illness and then, after reviewing her X-rays, did the ultrasound in the back room. When the technician brought her to me, Una's belly was nude and exposed. I couldn't resist touching it, and it was surprisingly soft. I felt like I was violating her, as if I was touching her inner organs.

Finally, the specialist returned with his written report. After offering Una a treat (which she dropped on the floor), he sighed heavily and began, "It's not good news."

Rather than the lymphoma one of the vets had suspected, which could have responded to treatment long enough to give her a period of remission ranging from months to years, the specialist told us that her liver and spleen were full of cancer. In fact, cancer had consumed 80 percent of the total splenic volume.

Furthermore, one of the masses had ruptured at some point, although she was not currently bleeding. He said the internal bleeding was probably the source of the anemia.

This was the sort of illness that snuck up on you, he said. Neither the dog nor the human would know anything was wrong until it was really wrong. Unfortunately, at this stage, he said it's inoperable. Likewise, chemotherapy is unlikely to do her any good. The only thing he recommended would be antibiotics to stave off secondary infections.

Her life expectancy? Four to six weeks.

"I'm sorry. I wish it was better news," he said. He handed me his written report. Under "Recommendations," he had typed only "Very unfortunate prognosis."

I shook his hand. "Thank you for the answers," I said, my voice wavering. He had the receptionist come into the examination room to check me out so that I wouldn't have to move into the lobby again with the dog and baby. They probably also feared that I would break down in the middle of the waiting room. But it was only KFP who cried, growing impatient with being in the same place for so long.

My tears would come later, during our car drive home on a heart-breakingly beautiful Fall day.

Having answers doesn't always make you feel better.

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( 83 comments — Leave a comment )
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Oct. 20th, 2010 09:37 pm (UTC)
Damn! I am so sorry to hear this. Huge hugs, this is making me cry too now. Cancer is such an evil thing.
Oct. 20th, 2010 09:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the hugs. I knew it was really bad, because of her reluctance to eat food she usually would love. Her mother, father and brother all died at age 10. Since Una is turning 11 at the end of the month, I thought we would beat the odds. It's going to be a really shallow victory.
Oct. 20th, 2010 09:52 pm (UTC)
I'm so, so sorry.
Oct. 21st, 2010 05:50 am (UTC)
Thank you for the support.
Oct. 20th, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
I am so sorry.
Oct. 21st, 2010 05:50 am (UTC)
Thanks for the thoughts.
Oct. 20th, 2010 10:06 pm (UTC)
How did it get so late so soon?
It's night before it's afternoon.
December is here before it's June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?
Oct. 21st, 2010 05:49 am (UTC)
Very sweet quote. Thank you.
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Oct. 21st, 2010 12:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alycewilson - Oct. 21st, 2010 02:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 20th, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
Poor little Una! And poor all of you. I'm so sorry.
Oct. 21st, 2010 05:49 am (UTC)
Thank you. Una is getting lots of TLC from all of us.
Oct. 20th, 2010 10:17 pm (UTC)
I'm so so sorry. We had to put our cat down due to cancer, 6 weeks after Alex was born. It was terrible. I wish there was something I could say to help.

Thinking of you.
Oct. 21st, 2010 05:49 am (UTC)
That is terrible. It actually does help, in a strange way, to hear that someone else went through something similar to me. It seems so ironic, at a time when we're so happy because of KFP, to have something so tragic looming.
Oct. 20th, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC)
Oh no. I'm so, so sorry. It seems to be common to lose a loved pet soon after a baby arrives - my husband's 12 year old Siamese died when our son was 12 weeks old. It's as though they've hung on long enough to see you happy and settled and they know that you'll have support to manage without them.

I'm thinking of you. It's so sad to lose a family member. Una has been very much loved and cared for.
Oct. 21st, 2010 05:47 am (UTC)
She really is a member of the family. I'm wondering, too, if she has been hanging on for the baby. She loves him so much, and she was so good to me while I was pregnant. All that time, I thought she was slowing her pace on walks for my sake. Now I think she was slowing down because her body was battling cancer.

KFP is one of the things that still makes her smile.
Oct. 20th, 2010 10:28 pm (UTC)
Oct. 21st, 2010 05:46 am (UTC)
Thank you.
Oct. 20th, 2010 10:47 pm (UTC)

That's the worst. I won't ever forget my family's first pet when I was a kid... he was a huge, old Siamese that had been around since I was born. I couldn't imagine him not being there any more.
Oct. 21st, 2010 05:45 am (UTC)
Siamese cats have so much personality. I'm sure you have many wonderful memories of him.
Oct. 20th, 2010 10:49 pm (UTC)
Oh honey! I am so sorry for this news.

*BIGHUGS* to you and to Una. If there is anything I can do for you - anything at all, please call me. I'm here for you.
Oct. 21st, 2010 05:43 am (UTC)
Thank you for listening to me. It helps a lot.
Oct. 20th, 2010 11:14 pm (UTC)
*hugs* I am so sorry :*(
Oct. 21st, 2010 05:43 am (UTC)
Thanks for the hugs.
Oct. 20th, 2010 11:19 pm (UTC)
I am so sorry. I was really hoping for you that it was just the anaplasmosis relapsing. Alas, not to be so.

I guess do whatever you can to make Una as comfortable as possible. Spoil her however you can before you say goodbye.

Oct. 21st, 2010 05:42 am (UTC)
I was hoping for a miracle, too. I've decided that, since her birthday is the end of October, every day from now until she passes will be her birthday.
Oct. 20th, 2010 11:25 pm (UTC)
*hugs* I am so very very sorry babe. I wil keep you and family in my prayers.
Oct. 21st, 2010 05:41 am (UTC)
I appreciate it.
Oct. 20th, 2010 11:59 pm (UTC)
Oh Lord! I'm so sorry to hear that.
Oct. 21st, 2010 05:41 am (UTC)
Thanks for the compassion. These are difficult days.
Oct. 21st, 2010 12:13 am (UTC)
**hugs from across the miles** I'm so sorry, love.
Oct. 21st, 2010 05:41 am (UTC)
Thanks for the hugs. I needed them.
(no subject) - angelic_mystic - Oct. 21st, 2010 06:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alycewilson - Oct. 21st, 2010 01:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
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