Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Rolling (Bladder) Stones...

***Disclaimer:  Too much information to follow about our dog's bladder and urine.  Reader beware.***

I've been saving this post until I was almost certain that our little guy was going to be okay.    I say almost certain because we have had several complications post-cystotomy surgery (bladder surgery) for our pup.  It has been a very long couple of weeks...full of stress, emotion, meds, pain, antibiotic ointment, and a cone.  Here is the story of our beloved dog and his awful, no good, very bad bladder stones...


It all started the week that I went up to Nashville to prepare for the move.  I noticed Duncan slept a lot (I'm usually at work all day and have no clue what his daily patterns are at home), and he seemed to shiver quite often.  I figured he was just cold (the temp had dropped that week), and went on about my business.  However after arriving back in Rome and getting all of our things moved into the apartment, Duncan's behavior got really strange.  First off, he peed all over the top cushion on our houndstooth chair.  That was really out of character (and fun to clean up!), but I figured he was just annoyed with us for having so much stuff in the apartment and maybe he was just stressed.  However within the next week, he also peed in the floor and even on our bed (the same bed that he sleeps on with us).  That seemed really unusual to me.  Although I was frustrated with him, I starting really thinking about other behaviors I had noticed.  Some days he was a bit slower in running up the stairs at the apartment, and he was drinking more water than usual.  It was time to take our furry friend to the vet.

I found an animal hospital down here with good ratings, and we went in on a Friday afternoon to see what was going on.  The vet listened to my concerns and ran blood and urine work to start.


I started tearing up while they took him for the blood work, not only from hearing him cry, but realizing something really could be wrong with our little guy.  Here he is back in the room with me waiting for that mean old vet to get back.

Long story short (and $300 later), the vet decided that he was 80% sure Duncan had developed bladder stones.  The vet was very upfront about the situation we found ourselves in.  Although bladder stones can be common in small breeds, the surgery is VERY invasive, expensive, and the recovery would be somewhere around 2 weeks.  I did well with the news, saving my tears for the parking lot, but I was devastated.  The vet went on and on about potential complications, the level of pain involved (they split the badder down the middle!), etc.  However, he also explained that Duncan had likely been in a  lot of pain all along.  You see, bladder stones develop after a severe bladder infection.  Oops.  We had missed the signs.  The amount of guilt I felt was pretty overwhelming.  Our beloved pup had been suffering and we hadn't seen it.  Ouch.  We rescheduled a second ultrasound for the very next Monday to hopefully get 100% conclusive results.


Monday's ultrasound confirmed what I had already convinced myself to be true...our furry friend would need immediate surgery.  We scheduled for Thursday and prepared to hunker down with him that weekend to take constant care of him.

We spent the next few days loving on our little guy and wondering if we were making the right decision.  You see, there was a tiny chance that the stones (if a certain type) could dissolve with medication.  It's risky to wait it out to see if they will dissolve, so we chose the surgery option.  We wanted him better...sooner rather than later.  But it was really hard preparing our minds for putting him through this when he seemed basically normal at home. 


 Thursday came and Andy dropped the pooch off for surgery (I knew I'd be too emotional to leave him).  We were told the vet would call us as soon as the procedure was finished.  Well, I finished the school day with no phone call.  Worried that I hadn't heard anything, I called on my way to a training.  Bad decision.  The vet tells me the reason he hasn't called is because the surgery did not go well at all.  The bladder walls were thick with infection, and the stones were jagged and rough--thus doing a number on the bladder (however, this was also good news, because with the jagged look of the stones, that told us they were the kind that would not have dissolved with meds--we made a good decision to do the surgery--one positive).  They could not get the bleeding controlled very easily.  After closing him back up, they discovered he was peeing straight blood.  Thus meaning, there was significant internal bleeding.  All of this to say, the vet had not called because they were pretty positive they needed to open him up again.  About two minutes before I called, the bleeding had slowed to a drip, so the vet felt good that things were looking better.  Duncan was not waking up very well either, likely due to the anesthesia and loss of blood.  Tears were streaming as I tried to stay composed during the call.  The vet felt sure he would need extra monitoring, meaning he likely wouldn't come home Friday after all.  That was the last blow for this mom.  I got off of the phone and called Andy blubbering uncontrollably.  I somehow got it together in time for my training, but the rest of the evening was rough.  There is nothing like coming home and hearing the "ghost" of your dog (pet owners know what I mean).  I kept thinking I heard him coming up behind me...a lonely reminder that he was sick and hurting in a crate without us.


On Friday the vet called to say that things looked significantly better and he would send him home Friday after all.  I was ecstatic, but nervous all the same.  When it's a dog, how do you know when they are hurting, having complications, etc.??  But we were so glad to have him home, nothing else mattered.  The rest of the weekend was a blur with carrying him back and forth outside to use the bathroom, getting him used to his new prescription food, shoving pills down his throat around the clock, and watching his every pee to see how much blood was still coming out.  Andy and I were a team, both waking up in the night with him to get more pain meds or take him outside.  He was very uncomfortable, whining and shivering toward the end of his pain pills, and he just wasn't himself at all.  When you walked in the room, he wouldn't lift his head (the cone he was wearing didn't help), he couldn't move without help, and his hind legs seemed to bear the weight of his pain (they could barely hold him up).  We tag-teamed church on Sunday so that one of us could be home with him, and we dreaded heading back to work on Monday (worried sick that something would happen during all of those hours away from him).  But, we did what had to be done.  Andy would come home during his lunch break, and I would rush home after school to check on him.


We felt decent about his recovery until Tuesday of this week.  I came home to blood splattered all over our bedding where he had been laying all day.  A frightening sight to say the least.  I immediately pulled him up to look at his incision, and blood began flowing down his belly.  I called the vet and they said to rush him up there as fast as I could.  I threw him in the car, panicked and worried that he had internal bleeding of some sort.  They got me right in, and after checking him out, they decided his incision was not healing well.  He had developed an infection that required an antibiotic ointment.  I left the office feeling less than confident that it would be a quick fix (which it wasn't--still bleeding a bit!), but felt better that he didn't require further surgery.  


So, we somewhat had dodged a bullet...until the next day.  Yep, Wednesday I came home from work and immediately took him to potty.  He strained and squatted ten to twelve times, but he could not produce urine.  I'm no vet, but I knew that this was not good.  After trying multiple times, I took him back in to eat, and then we went back outside to try the bathroom.  No luck.  Really worried by this point, I bring him in and call Andy.  As I hang up, Duncan squats and uses the bathroom all over the floor.  Awesome!  It was like something had burst loose in his system.  Shortly after I clean that up, he goes AGAIN not far from the first spot.  So, I felt better that he was able to actually go (I was really fearing a blockage after searching WebMD for animals--yes, there is such a thing), but really concerned that he was going in house right in front of me.  I started worrying about incontinence (that is a risk with this surgery), a bladder leakage (which would require further surgery), etc.  By this point, I just sat down and had another good cry.  We were nearly a week from surgery and he wasn't better.  We even chose to cancel weekend plans with friends from Nashville after he had another accident the very next morning.  Something about a bloody, pee-stained apartment seemed less than inviting for friends.  After a call to the vet, it was decided he may have developed a UTI and was experiencing bladder spasms as a result.  How do you develop an infection on antibiotics, friends?  So frustrating!


Andy picked up the meds Thursday afternoon, and we are finally starting to turn a corner.  I won't say Duncan is 100% yet, but he seems to have a bit more energy.  And so far today, no tee-tee in the house.  His incision is still an issue, but we are hoping the ointment is going to fix that any day now (ideally).

I fully realize you just gained WAY too much information about our dog and all that has gone on with the treatment of his bladder stones, but nonetheless, it has been our life for the last week or so.  You really realize how much you love something when you go through a situation like this.  I thought over and over about how I would have taken his place--it was awful to see him in so much pain.  We are ever grateful for this pup, and he means the world to us.  He is our firstborn child of sorts, and we really had to pull together to get him well.  I never ever want to (get back together--Taylor Swift reference--sorry) go through this again, so we are well on our way with prescription food to keep him healthy and strong.  A less puppy-related post to come soon. Promise.:)

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