Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Worry

It started Sunday morning. Having stayed up late the night before, J and I decided to sleep in as long as our bodies would remain horizontal. I remember thinking at one point (perhaps upon realizing that my Grandma had probably been awake for five hours by then) that Gee, isn’t it great that Daisy likes to sleep in, too? She never jumps on the bed at 6:30 to demand I let her out when there's still dew on the lawn!

Daisy, for those of you unfamiliar, is my four year-old Cairn Terrier. She was brought home after Marley, my first attempt at owning a Cairn, broke my heart by dying of kidney failure at 12 weeks of age in the summer of 2002. Daisy can shake the snot out of a stuffed devil and makes the strangest gurgles and whines while chewing a purple rubber shoe that lost its squeaker long ago. She’s also a champion barker: at the ringing telephone, at dogs walking by on the sidewalk, at squirrels with the temerity to scramble through our backyard, at human sneezes, at the call signal for our local public radio station.



But her sweet side makes up for it all. She’s my buddy, and never fails to crack me up with her nightly sprints around the house, her “nyum-nyum-nyum” growl when she’s annoyed, the way she play-bows before a single piece of kibble on the rug, dancing around it before burying it in the couch cushions.

Did I mention she can throw a tennis ball back at you? No small feat for someone lacking opposable thumbs!

When I finally came downstairs on Sunday Daisy sidled up next to me as usual, hoping I’d drop a bit of cereal on the floor. I noticed that she had a cut on the bridge of her nose. Upon closer inspection, I spotted several raised blisters across the top of her muzzle. I figured she must have simply gotten into something in the night—maybe she’d been bitten by a spider, or perhaps she was exhibiting a severe allergic response to some weeds she’d been sniffing and rooting around in during our walk late the night before. Either way, I was confident it would clear up by the end of the day. She's a terrier! Terriers are tough!

I was wrong. By Sunday night her upper nose was a swollen, bleeding mess. She was lethargic, looking at me as if to say: just make it stop. So like the good little hypochondriac that I am, I got online to see if I could determine what the problem might be.

What an interstellar mistake. By the end of the night I was sobbing, determined that she had an autoimmune disease that would require lifelong, painful treatments and we’d have to say good-bye to her long before we should. I wondered how I could come home from work if she wasn’t there to greet me at the door, wagging her tail and flopping onto her back for a reunion belly-rub. I could visualize the empty, quiet house, her untouched basket of toys in the corner, the fact that I'd probably still find doghair on the furniture, maybe a long-lost chunk of rawhide wedged behind the fridge even years after she was gone--talk about your recipe for an intense crying jag. Good god it can suck to have an overactive, worry-prone imagination.

After reaching nothing but a busy signal for an hour at my vet on Monday morning, we actually got a break: a ten o’clock appointment had cancelled—could we be there in fifteen minutes?

Daisy’s nose was even worse by then: the ulcerated mass of lesions had swollen dramatically. She was lethargic, lacking even the energy to bark at the grumbling coffee maker. I didn’t want to be “that owner,” but I decided to bring with us to the vet a printout describing the autoimmune disease I feared most, with the name of the condition (pemphigus foliaceus), key descriptive symptoms (ulcerated lesions across the bridge of the nose), and age of onset (four years of age. Good lord, Daisy’s four years of age!) highlighted in yellow. So I folded that printout and brought it in with us, because two hours of online research certainly trumps years of veterinary training.

After a long wait in the exam room, the vet whisked Daisy back into the bowels of the facility to shave her nose, which must have been quite the ordeal, given Daisy's general hatred of all things vet-like. (Also, we could hear her yelping down the hall.) He then prescribed some antibiotic ointment and pills and was hustling us out of there when I spoke up, “Um, I know it probably drives you nuts when people try to diagnose their pets' illnesses on the Internet, but you don’t suppose she’s got an autoimmune disease, do you? Her symptoms are a pretty good match.”

He shook his head, futzing with some paperwork at the counter. “Let’s see what the antibiotics do. Half a pill daily, and put that cream on her nose twice a day. It should clear thing up in no time. Come back in ten days for a follow-up if it’s not healing.”

Ten days? my mind echoed. Ten days of wrestling my dog twice a day to rub salve on the raw wound above her nose? Ten days of watching her suffer, of trying to keep her from scratching her healing wound?

“What can we do to keep her from scratching it? Should she get one of those collars?”

The vet acted as if I’d told him a knock-knock joke he’d already heard a thousand times. “She’d be miserable in one. The cream should help with the itching.”

Daisy was looking pretty miserable without one, but I chalked that up to the whole nose-shaving experience.

On the way home, I was optimistic. We had ointment! We had bug-fighting pills! I would order natural supplements and make her a homemade dinner! Staph infection, begone!!

Unfortunately, it’s now late Tuesday night, and while she’s peppier than she was yesterday, her nose is still a raw, bumpy, oozing mess.

I’d say it was pretty gross if she wasn’t my dog. I guess in that respect I think I can relate to parents. I mean, who cares about a little icky thing like vomit when the health of your child is at stake?

She’s sleeping at my feet right now with a white lifeguard nose and dream-twitches. I’m hoping that she recovers, and that we’re not looking at a shortened lifetime of steroid treatments and pain and tests and vet visits. The Internet is full of heartbreaking stories of animals in similar situations. I’m hoping she recovers because I think she’s got a lot of house sprints left in her, and a lot more barking at squirrels to do. And I’m just not ready to say good-bye.

33 comments:

  1. now that makes me sad and i don't even own a dog.

    here's to daisy getting better sooner than the 10 days!

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  2. Aggghhh! Poor you! Poor Daisy! Oops, I'm probably supposed to be making you feel better but I'm a dog owner and all I can relate to is the worry that you must feel. Put your trust in the vet and hope for the very best and DO NOT LOOK UP SHIT ON THE INTERNET. But you can look up "poop" because that inevitably leads to me.

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  3. Poor puppy!!! Speedy recovery Daisy.

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  4. Stay. Away. From the Internet.

    Really.

    I've done the same thing when something wasn't right with my kids, and years ago-- with my cat (who was with me for 19 years, despite the boatloads of worry I'd experience whenever she was sick).

    Just try to assume Daisy's gonna be okay, unless proven otherwise (I know, easier said than done-- but try. It really helps).

    In the meantime, pamper that sweet little girl, and try to relax.

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  5. Auntie Em9:55 AM

    Awww, Poor Daisy dog! I hope my little niece-puppy gets well soon! She's a fighter. I've got faith that she'll be back to her spastic self in no time. (;

    Take care of your little girl... let the meds run their course, and take care of yourself too! Tell my bro hello from me!

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  6. Awww, poor doggie! I can't say for dogs, but it's been my experience that those Victorian collars keep them from scratching, and they get used to them in a day or two. But Daisy sounds like she might not suffer such an indignity gladly.

    I hope she gets better soon - keep in mind that it's very unlikely that she has an auto-immuhne disease rather than just an infected rash. But 10 days is a LONG time to wait! I would be freaking out, I do admit.

    Keep us posted, and good luck! Get well soon, Daisy! She is adorable, by the way, and I'm not a terrier person.

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  7. I love Cairns! And yours is adorable - I'm crossing my fingers for you/her. Is there perhaps another vet that could give a second opinion - or is the prognosis for that auto-immune not that quick? Meaning ten days isn't too long to wait-n-see about the effectiveness of cream and pills...

    Get well Daisy!

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  8. Gah! I'm with those who say stay away from the internet. What does the internet know, anyway? The internet is the same fine people that brought you "omfg", "pwned!", and "MSNBC".

    Not. To. Be. Trusted.

    Hope Daisy's feeling better soon.

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  9. Anonymous1:53 PM

    poor baby! the vet didn't have any idea what might have brought this on? sounds like a strange thing to just happen out of nowhere...

    hope she's feeling better STAT!

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  10. Daisy is a cute dog. I tend to be the opposite of a hypochondriac, so I'm guessing she will be just fine. The internet can be a scary place for diagnosing any problems whether it be pets, computers, trees, gardens, or tv. I wish Daisy a speedy recovery.

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  11. Jess - here's hoping that things continue to look up for your bag o' barks.

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  12. That would worry me too. I know vets are expensive, but I'd be inclined to take her for a second opinion if you can swing it.

    Regardless, I hope she improves quickly and that there isn't anything further to worry about.

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  13. It sucks that the vet was so dismissive of you. Have you thought about switching practices? I really hope Daisy is okay.

    I'm dogsitting for Barky this week and he just LOVES the vet. It's at the corner of our street so every time we go for a walk he RUNS as fast as he can to their door. I always have to tell him that they're closed. Ha...

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  14. Repeat after me: It will be okay. Daisy will be okay. Unless the vet tells me she's not okay, she will be okay.

    Feel better? Yeah, probably not.

    Poor Daisy. I'm sure it will be fine but in the meantime maybe you want to look into finding a vet who is a little more sympathetic. I don't care if he's a vet or a brain surgeon, he shouldn't have been so dismissive. I "broke up" with my last vet for something like that.

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  15. Poor Daisy, give the medication time to do it's job :( How scary though! Hoping for a speedy recovery!

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  16. I want a dog. And yours is so cute. I keep saying I'm going to get one, but then I think about DH's allergies and the kids not being responsible ....

    Oh, decisions, decisions...

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  17. Saw the photo, started laughing, will read more later :)

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  18. Poor little muffin. :( I hope she's fine too, and I think it's weird that the vet dismissed your autoimmune concerns without really seeming to think about it.

    The internet is a dangerous place for health research, let me tell you.

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  19. Well - the vet could have at least acted like he heard you concerns. Maybe given you an obligatory "That's a good point, but I don't think that's her problem" kind of response.

    But apparently shaking you head accomplishes the same thing. Right.

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  20. I refuse to look up health information on the net anymore (for people/dogs/or other). I ALWAYS freak myself out. My dog Jazz once got a huge bump on her eye that oozed and swelled for days. I was convinced it was cancer. She had all the symptoms! Fortunately it was just a cyst. But I think all that worrying has prematurely given me white hairs. :)

    I hope your baby gets better soon!

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  21. Awww. Poor baby. I'm sorry! Well, if you are really worried take her to another vet. Maybe a dermatologist? I did that for my dog. Expensive but worth it.

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  22. Poor Daisy. I hope the infection is better and she's back to her old peppy self.

    Having a sick pet always throws me into a state of worry and despair as, like you, I tend to imagine the worst.

    Hope you're both feeling better now.

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  23. Oh Daisy. Terriers are heartbreakers. I have two. One is slightly suicidal and tries to kill herself on a regular basis (she ate rat poison etc) Keep us posted.

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  24. Weird! Are you sure it's a Staph infection? Could it be an allergic reaction to, say, a household cleaner? It's just odd that it came on so suddenly. Hope she makes a speedy recovery!

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  25. My standard poodle, Oliver, started with allergy symptoms for the first time in his life this year. He's almost 9 and has never had any problems.

    I've worked with dogs for almost 20 years and despite not being a vet, am very knowledgeable about pet health.

    Despite all that, I turned into a quivering mass of scared dog mommy, convinced that his skin was going to slough off and put him through such misery that the only kind thing would be to put him to sleep.

    Turns out some Benedryl, Omega 3 and some hydrocortizone cream are all we needed. He's all better now, thank goodness.

    I tell you all that to say this: It's perfectly reasonable to freak out about the health and happiness of a creature you love and are responsible for. (Though I will admit to some embarrassment over my own freak out)

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  26. Poor dear Daisy! Don't worry - I'm sure that she'll be fine. It's just so hard to sit and watch her itch and look, well, icky.

    Hope she's better really soon! And stop self-diagnosing via the internet. Bad habit. Very bad habit. Seriously.

    Stopping by to say hi during a really exciting Friday evening in Brewtown. Hang in there!

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  27. Ooooh Daisy! I hope your little girl's better soon Jess.

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  28. Oh, Jess....I am so sorry and certainly hope she recovers speedily. I say this as a dog lover who recently lost her own beloved pet far too soon.

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  29. Oh, I hope Daisy is doing better by now. I know how it feels to have a pet suffering even one bit -- my sweet older cat hurt her paw a couple of months ago, and it was awful to see her wince and limp. My best wishes for a healed doggie nose are coming your way!

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  30. I hope Daisy feels better very soon. I'll be thinking of you two.

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  31. Your vet does not sound like he has the best bedside manner or communication skills; if my vet blew me off like that, I'd be looking elsewhere.

    Pets are a part of our family - I refer to my Schnauzer as my "first baby". It's the norm, rather than the exception, to freak out and worry like crazy when they are sick.

    Daisy sure is cute! I hope she's feeling better by now. (((hugs)))

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  32. Hope Daisy is ok! I'm waiting for the update!

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  33. Aaaaawwww, what a sweet little face!

    (ok, I just have to mention that my word verif is : woohwer
    Hee!)

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