April 20th 2005 12:07 pm
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Maggie, Maggie, Maggie...
Just 17 days ago, we rescued you from a shelter where you'd been caged up for over 4 months. Your first days here were so exciting--so much for you to process and explore, this strange new home with two strange new mommies, a strange new doggie and kitty, too. You had so much curiosity, energy and pep. What happened?
Monday morning you awoke with just the slightest limp, a limp that worked itself out after just a few minutes of your getting up from your doggie bed. We watched you throughout the day, but saw no more sign of lameness. We even had a great walk that same night and you were just a little ball of energy--so puppy-like in spite of your 10 years.
Next morning, Tuesday, you were a different dog. Like someone had snuck in during the night and snatched our healthy, happy fur-baby from her sleep and replaced her with another -- one who, upon my waking, was sure to break my heart.
This imposter was not you, Maggie May. You did not leap up to your feet and begin your morning dance all around me as I made my way across the bedroom floor toward the kitchen. Instead, this "Maggie" just lay there, staring up at me with an oddly helpless look, a helplessness I didn't understand until you tried to stand...but couldn't.
After much struggle, you finally raised yourself to a sitting position. Thinking you were perhaps just a little stiff from your walk the night before, I called and coaxed you until you finally, and so bravely, tried to walk to me. As soon as you took that first unsteady step, I could see it was something far more serious than a little morning stiffness. You could barely use your hind quarters and, every couple steps, your hips would collapse back down. This "Maggie" whimpered with pain with every strained effort to walk.
Stunned at the acute transformation, all I could numbly think was, "Who are you and what have you done with our Maggie?"
I watched you like a hawk, followed your every painful step, throughout the morning, expecting the "stiffness" to dissipate as your old body warmed up with movement. But, unlike the morning before, there was no rapid recovery. And by a few hours later that same morning, when I arrived home early from work, I found you curled up on the floor of the back office, unable to get up and greet me with your usual enthusiasm. Called the vet. Appointment for 6:30 that same night.
Geesh, was this all just yesterday? It seems like a month of Sundays have passed since just yesterday morning. Last night we loaded you into the car (we had to pick you up, as you were unable to make that little hop up into the backseat.) Thirty minutes later, we're at the vet, and you are already looking and acting better. Hmmm...what will the vet think? That your two mommies are just nervous new parents, over-reacting to a little stiffness?
The vet ruled out anything "abdominal" and proceeded with a thorough orthopedic exam, prodding and pulling every bone, vertebrae, and joint...OUCH!!! Boy, you sure winced when he rotated your left hip. "Eureka!" says the vet, "she's got ARTHRITIS!" and proceeded to recommend a lifelong regimen of--what else? -- Deramaxx (COX-2 inhibitor, same class as Pfizer's proven dog-killer, Rimadyl, except that Deramaxx has NEVER BEEN APPROVED by the FDA for ARTHRITIS TREATMENT, only for post-operative pain.) Sad, isn't it, when the patient (or, in this case, the patient's guardians) know more about the risks and intended uses of the drug being prescribed than does the vet who's doing the prescribing. All too familiar story, 'eh Maggie? If only we'd known about the deadly consequences of Rimadyl (and Deramaxx, Metacam, EtoGesic, and all the other NSAIDs whose human-counterparts--Celebrex, Vioxx, etc.--are currently under investigation by the FDA), if only we'd known then, before obediently dosing our beloved G'Kar, what we know now...
G'Kar died from complications caused by Rimadyl poisoning. As the vet matter-of-factly began his diatribe on the miracles of NSAIDs, I stopped him. Told him that Rimadyl killed our first dog. Told him how we will never make that same mistake again, yet he insensitively continued to banter on, extolling the virtues of Deramaxx and the rest and how he's been giving COX-2 inhibitors to his dogs for years and how more dogs should be given them rather than left to suffer needless arthritic pain because of ignorant pet owners. We kindly thanked him for his time and left...
We started Maggie last night on a low dose of enteric coated aspirin--Ecotrin--two 81 mg. tablets, or 162 mgs. (Current studies have shown Ecotrin to be far less damaging to gastric linings than either buffered aspirin or aspirin-antacid combinations; hence, our decision to go with Ecotrin.) We watched Maggie for a good two hours post-dosing for any sign of allergic reaction. By 11 p.m., when we saw no adverse reaction, we finally went to bed...
4:30 a.m. this morning: Maggie sleeps peacefully in her doggie bed in the living room...a huge concern. The last few nights, she'd been in the habit of coming into our room during the night. Not finding her this morning curled up at the foot of our bed was a sure sign something was amiss.
Maggie made no effort to get up from her bed. She hadn't moved from the bed since 9 p.m. the night before. Not good, not good at all. I had to hand feed her whilst she lay, fixed, in her bed. Gave her a higher dose of the Ecotrin--3 tablets, or 243 mgs.--with her food, which she finished, even licked her bowl clean. At least her appetitie is good.
It was time to get Maggie up and moving. The only way I could achieve this was by putting on her leash and saying, "Go for a walk?" Maggie responded, but ever so slowly and oh so painfully. I took her out front and we walked up and down the sidewalk a few halting steps at a time. And what I observed made my heart sink...
Monday morning she had but a slight and temporary limp upon waking. Tuesday morning, she had trouble standing, but the weakness was confined only to her hind quarters. This morning, Wednesday, her hind quarters were still equally weak but now, she was also holding up her left front paw, not wanting to put any weight on her left leg. Whatever it is, the damnable thing is spreading throughout her body! She's even worse today than yesterday. In spite of the vet's diagnosis, I'm dubious. Age-related arthritis?
Arthritis my ass. To go from a nearly imperceptible limp to an acutely debilitating condition in 48 hours is something else entirely.
It's now eleven a.m. and I've been getting Maggie up every hour or so to get her moving around a little. She isn't drinking water, either. I've been giving her water with a baster, which she swallows reluctantly. Nor has she had a bowel movement yet today -- another red flag.
It's now noon, and Maggie, for the first time in over 24 hours, took herself outside. She managed to make it just outside the back door where she collapsed onto the paved walkway. She loves lying in the sun, soaking up its warmth. Perhaps the heat of the sun will prove therapeutic...
The vet hospital just called with the blood test results from yesterday's appointment. A young female with a chipper tone delivered the news: "Maggie's CBC and chemistry all came back normal; Maggie's just fine!"
Except that...she's NOT. Told the cheery girl that Maggie's doing even worse today, that she's only got one good leg left to stand on. There was a brief silence on the other end of the line. Finally, she spoke, her tone conveying genuine concern. "Bring her back in. This doesn't sound like every-day arthritis."
You're telling me.
To be continued...
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