Thursday, January 27, 2011

rigby's surgery

What better way to start off my posts for 2011! The year started just as crazy as it ended. Our guests left, Christmas decorations started (and I say started because it took a good part of January to get them all down & organized in tubs and put in the attic) coming down.. and Rigby got sick.
 David takes care of the doggies in the morning: let's Rigby out, gives him his AM meds when he's on them (which with this poor puppy has been most of the time we have had him), feeds him, feeds Jude, and puts Rigby back in the bed until I get up to let him out for the day. January 3rd, a Monday, I had a text when I got up telling me that Rigby had gotten sick that night/morning in his bed but that it was cleaned up in there and his bed was in the garage. Of course a few red flags went off because off all his issues, but he was acting fine with me, ate some, drank and went out to play with Jude. I brought him in around 3 to feed him and within the hour he threw up twice. Little strange.. especially because he was playing fine outside most of the day. He went and laid down sometime around 4 in his "room" and didn't come back out until the next day. He threw up a total of 6 or 7 times by Monday night. In two of his throw ups, there was plastic from toys, rope from toys, and a piece of water hose. (Jude HAD an old hose he liked to drag around the yard and woods, apparently Rigby thought it was a snack). I tried to give him ice cubes (which are his treats because of his food allergies).. he wouldn't take any. He wouldn't drink, he wouldn't really eat. I called the emergency vet, completely freaking out, and they told me to keep an eye on him, but not to try to feed him or give him any more water until his stomach had completely calmed down and to call back if things didn't improve. Funny thing, the place I called Monday night is the place that he had his surgery Thursday night, not at his regular vet.
I took him to the vet Tuesday morning. He was up, eating, drinking, and playing. He practically ran into the vet office (he has been there so much they are his friends :)). They suggested X-rays and some medicine to help calm his stomach but I declined because he seemed to be acting better. We figured he had thrown up everything that was causing him to be sick and he'd be fine in a day or two. We scheduled a follow-up appointment for Friday morning. Little did we know that this was just the beginning to, honestly, one of the longest weeks of my life.
He was more himself Tuesday than any other day, but still wasn't acting quite right. I attributed that to throwing up so much the night before and kind of let it go. Kept him inside the rest of the day, we had to monitor his poop to make sure it wasn't getting too soft so he couldn't go out in the back with Jude. By Tuesday night he was laying on his blanket and not moving. Wednesday, he did not get up at all, except to go poop. We had to get up throughout the night to let him out because his diarrhea had gotten so bad, he was constantly having to be let out. He was eating, but not as much because we had cut his food way back. Sometimes he would drink, other times we found ourselves forcing water down his throat with a medicine dropper.
By Thursday morning, David and I were both really struggling. Exhausted. Hadn't slept through a night without getting up, more than once since Sunday night. And constant care since Tuesday morning for him. Worried. Not really knowing what to do because of the costs of the x-rays and the potential of it being a waste of money with nothing being in there. I had the little boy I keep, Tripp, that day but luckily David was off. I took Rigby out to potty and saw basically, straight blood come out. That settled that. David took Tripp with him to run an errand and I took Rigby back to the vet. They of course suggested X-Rays, bloodwork, organ functioning tests (he had to be on steroids for about a month due to another issue, which is bad for his liver apparently), urinalysis, etc. David got there and we decided to go on with the plan of treatment they suggested. He had to stay at the vet all day getting pumped full of fluids- hoping that it would help push whatever was still in his stomach out. The X-Rays did show that was still a foreign object in there and we were trying to avoid surgery at this point. We left him there and went to get some lunch and to pick up Tripp's brother from school. When we went back to pick up Rigby I got a phone call as we were pulling in that his condition had worsened and that they suggested emergency surgery immediately.
Of course at this point, I am a mess. David and the vet are both trying to calm me down, and we are trying to decide what to do about Rigby. While we were there talking to the Dr about options, he actually threw up another piece of plastic. In my mind, well good, it's all cleared out he should be fine. But the Dr didn't think so and suggested taking him to the emergency care clinic. They brought him out to me and he was just so pitiful. He had drool hanging out of his mouth (yes, he's a bulldog but he doesn't ever have drool just hanging out of his mouth).. and there was a constant drip of blood out the other end.
We got him to the ER clinic and talked to the Dr there. He re-did the X-Rays and there was another piece of something in his belly, down near where it would move into the intestines, except it was way too big. He suggested more fluids to see if it would pass, though he wasn't hopeful because of the size and said he would wait a couple hours but that was it because his intestines were concerning to him. I guess normally the intestines have a smooth appearance along the outside, but Rigby's had a ruffled look to them. He was concerned about tissue damage if blood flow was getting cut off to those spots, which would cause an even bigger issue. After almost having a heart attack about the costs of the operation, we ok'ed it. I did feel better at this office. The Dr seemed very confident and had actually done the exact same surgery to his dog twice before.
His partial obstruction had become a full obstruction and they operated late Thursday night. I got a call about 1 o'clock Friday morning that he had come through the surgery and they had a removed a very large, hard plastic from his stomach. It would not have been able to pass through, or been thrown up because of the size, so we made the right choice. :) I went to visit him Friday morning in the hospital and he looked just pitiful but by Friday night when David and I went back to visit he was becoming more himself. He is on a special diet because of his allergies so that was a hassle in itself, they wanted to feed him wet food but his food is only available in dry. Thankfully, that issue got resolved with my freak out attitude, a few phone calls and his Dr at UGA. He did eat a little wet food which was a huge concern, but we didn't have any issues with it, THANK THE LORD! Friday night we were able to take him outside for fresh air and to stretch a little bit. He was trying to run around the parking lot, went and sat by my car and David's truck, he was ready to leave.. but had one more night of observation to go. We picked him up Saturday morning and brought him home.. for another lonnnnnnnnnnnnngggg 2 weeks.
He had to take 9 pills a day, wasn't allowed to be running or jumping, couldn't go outside with Jude and play, etc. Now this may seem like no big deal to some of you with dogs. But you try keeping a 65 pound, 7 month old, energetic (when he wants to be) puppy entertained inside your house for 2 straight weeks and you will change your mind.Oh, and remember the pills, that you can't put in any special "treat" for him to eat. He is so used to pills he knows what they are and spits them straight out of his mouth.  And of course it snowed and got icey everywhere during that time, so my special little puppy wants to run in it and slide on his stitched up belly all over the yard. GOOD TIMES.
Poor Jude lost a lot of toys throughout everything, stuff that he was fine with having in the backyard to play with, clearly Rigby wasn't so we had to trash some of his favorite things. I think he'd rather have Rigby out there with him though :)
I didn't know you could love animals as much as I love my boys. It was a very, very hard 3 weeks, and that feeling of helplessness when we didn't know what was wrong or how to fix it is one of the worst in the world. I know my puppies aren't actual babies, but right now they are MY babies :)
This post is much longer than most that I will post I am sure. If I already had a blog it would've been easier to have it broken down throughout the actual time it was all going on. But here's the story, the actually, believe it or not, condensed version.
2011 started off crazy, and not the greatest. BUT, I am thankful for David loving the boys too, and knowing how much I love them and being willing to do what we needed to do to help Rigby get better.

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