Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Very Scary Pain

I mentioned a couple posts ago about Vegas having had multiple injuries/health issues we've faced. Around Thanksgiving time Vegas started limping. In fact, it was the day before Thanksgiving. I came home from work a little early and headed out with she and a puppy that had been visiting, Quinn. We took advantage of the nice weather and daylight and did a little over 4 miles. She was her normal self, sniffy, happy, and enthusiastic about being out. As soon as we got home and came inside, she was lame on her right front. I thought it was her shoulder. I basically decided to rest her for a few days and see if she got better. She'd had off and on lameness issues and I know she can be a bit enthusiastic so a soft tissue strain is not unlikely.

By the middle of the weekend with no improvement though, I was starting to let panic and "worst case scenarios" set in. After all, Great Danes are known for getting osteosarcoma. Around the same time lots and lots (and lots) of Great Dane friends were receiving an osteo diagnosis or had recently or were losing their dogs to this terrible cancer. By Saturday I was trying to get her in to see a chiropractor. I'd first pursued the regular vet for x-rays but since they couldn't fit her in for over a week figured the chiropractor might be able to adjust her and she'd see some relief. This was me optimistically trying to think of something else other than the dreaded C word. I almost had an appointment but the cost was going to be nearly double what our usually chiro is so I decided I could wait. On Saturday I called the vet up the street and made an appointment for Monday for x-rays. Our regular chiropractor was able to get us in on Tuesday so at least I could look forward to both of those things in hopes of having my mind put to ease.

On Monday at the vet, we saw a newer doctor at the practice. She was wonderful. She listened thoroughly and did a comprehensive exam particularly spending time manipulating Vegas' front legs and asking her to move them in all manner of directions. She, of course, knew osteo was common in big dogs such as Danes, but given the symptoms she said she didn't think it necessarily was the first place to jump to. After examining her, she actually felt like Vegas might be a little sensitive in her low neck/upper back area on the left side which could explain compensation on the right.

Dr. Lyn thought going to see the chiropractor was a good idea. Since she didn't immediately think osteo, rush to x-ray, I decided to wait. We did decide to do a cold laser treatment though, just in case that gave her some relief. So that was the end of that visit and we went to see Dr. Mike on Tuesday. I took the day and worked from home so we could head out to his place in Carlton mid-day. Long story short on that one, he worked her over very good, found she had a couple of tweaky spots which was to be expected since it had been about two years since her last adjustment, but felt thickening in her elbow as opposed to concern over her shoulder (which is where I thought the pain was). At that point, despite a good adjustment, he still thought x-rays were in order.

On our way out of Carlton I called Kindness back again and was able to get an appointment for x-rays a few hours later. Let's just say the stress returned in full force.

So I went home to work a few hours and was back at the vet around 4:15 that day. We saw another female vet as Dr. Lyn was out for two days. She basically repeated the exam, asking questions, and doing her own checkup of Vegas. We then moved forward with getting x-rays. I walked with her to the x-ray room and left Vegas in her care and the technician. I went to wait in the waiting room.

Ten minutes passed, then perhaps fifteen or twenty. I was wondering what was taking so long but since I didn't hear anything didn't get overly anxious. Finally the doctor came out to see me. She wanted to know if they could give Vegas an injection to help calm her down; she was giving them difficulty with x-rays, too tense, etc. I went ahead and OK'd it and another thirty minutes passed. At that point the doctor came to get me and I went to meet them in the x-ray room. She and the tech first wanted to show me the wound on Vegas' inner thigh/knee. She'd struggled on the x-ray table and scraped her knee to the point they had to put surgical glue on it. The leg also had a bruise forming and Vegas was pretty worked up.

They showed me the x-rays and I got to breathe a huge sigh of relief when the doctor showed me what she called osteophytes in her right elbow, but didn't mention cancer. I broke down, in fact, in sheer relief. She was surprised and in her response, had no idea why I'd worried about that since we were looking at elbows, said "osteo doesn't occur in elbows." At that point, she realized our concern and we talked about the fact that I had suspected shoulder initially, the chiropractor thought something was amiss with the elbow, and that the first doctor had put in the chart to radiograph both elbows and shoulders. The stress started sneaking back. The doctor said we could go ahead and do shoulder x-rays if I wanted. At that point Vegas was done. I was done. We were emotionally tapped out.

We wrapped things up, she gave me a CD of the x-rays, and we paid and left. When I got home, Vegas was a mess. She almost immediately went to the back door and as she came back toward me like, "Hurry up, Mom" she was squatting in the rear. It appeared as if she was trying to defecate. I let her out quickly and watched as she hobbled into the yard, now not only her front right bothering her but her rear left. It was a sad, sad, heartbreaking thing to watch. I started getting concerned. She came in after having had diarrhea only to rush back out again a few moments later. I didn't feed her although it was past that time because she had the medication at the vet and her tummy was off. After she was done going outside I brought her in and got situated on the couch. She started crashing, not acting right. I couldn't keep her warm. She was jumpy like she was hallucinating. She even snapped at Leo once. She was starting to scare me.

As I'm there, on the couch with her, I've got her wrapped in blankets and I'm FB messaging with a friend who was a vet tech for years and texting with another friend who is a vet. My vet tech friend, Mel, was telling me to check her pulse or heart rate and I just couldn't get it figured out. It seemed like she was breathing shallowly but her color remained good. If I had known this was going to happen... the vet's office didn't give me any clues when I left. As I'd been checking out she was still amped up on adrenaline is what I figured so no signs of all this. No additional lameness from the injury that occurred there, no shocky signs, no doped up post-anesthetic demeanor. Nothing. I had no idea this was coming. It was AWFUL. It took about 3 hours on the couch cuddling with her before I could get up and do anything else. It took another hour or two for her to act semi-normal. We finally went to bed around 11 that night and she'd had a small dinner and was nearly herself, albeit a little dopey and woozy still.

By the next morning, fortunately, she was back to normal except the lameness was way worse. I stewed on everything for two days. I was very upset and disappointed. My girl was worse from all the harassment of medical professionals. The vet did something and caused her further injury - why didn't they come get me sooner? Why would they try to fight with a 120 pound dog? And they never prepared me for what I was going home to that night. I finally called and had to leave a message for the first doctor I had seen. She called me back a day later. I learned at that time the second vet was none other than one of the practice owners. I couldn't believe it.

In a nutshell, in addition to the two things I mentioned already, the vet hadn't taken the x-rays we really wanted and she had overcharged me. I expected 2 x-rays, perhaps 3, but not 5 which is what I realized I'd been charged for the next day. Dr. Lyn was empathetic, listened to my concerns and told me she would call back. I spoke with her on Saturday and she offered to either refund me two x-rays that were not necessary, give me a credit to use on a future visit, or comp me the x-rays of Vegas' shoulders that we wanted. She also told me I could be there during x-ray except when they actually took the image, at which point I would just step out around the corner of the room.

This is the option I chose and we went in Monday to see her again and get those x-rays. Fortunately, those shoulder x-rays showed Vegas clear of any tumors or suspicious activity. So at present, what we ended on was a diagnosis of osteophytes in her elbow which basically causes arthritis and a plan for me to get her on Adequan. Over the course of that week I shopped for the best price on adequan and got a written prescription from Dr. Lyn.

She was to get 2.5ml twice weekly for a month followed by 2.5ml once a week for two weeks then to move to once a month. I'm happy to report that Vegas is now moving into the once monthly phase of her adequan treatment and in the last week or so I think I've seen improvement. We'll never get to return to agility again and I have to monitor her activity more. She's got an ongoing prescription for tramadol  and we use this to mitigate any discomfort from activity. She's not limping nearly as perceptibly any longer and we're enjoying regular walks again. I'm very grateful for the relationship with Dr. Lyn and hope that Vegas continues moving forward in a positive fashion with no further setbacks. I aged at least ten years during that experience and it breaks my heart to see so visibly my girl aging.

1 comment:

  1. I give all of my dogs adequan but in particular I have a dog with severe hip dysplasia and adequan has given her pain relief and mobility. I hope it continues to work for your girl!