Bosco had an upset tummy over the weekend – he wasn’t eating a lot and he’d had a touch of diarrhea. Monday night he got me up six times needing to go out, and each time necessitated putting him in the shower stall and cleaning his bum. I love his floofy pants but they do make it messy when things aren’t quite right in the area.
On Tuesday morning I decided that he needed to go in to see the vet. My usual vet wasn’t working at my location (the clinic has two locations that they staff) but I didn’t want to wait so I agreed to bring him in to see the male vet, Dr Martin Rebele.
Bosco is such a very good boy. He lay down on the floor of the room and waited patiently, with me rubbing his belly. When Dr Rebele came in, he let him poke and prod him. There was one area that caused him to yelp as Dr Rebele was feeling around. The initial thought was either pancreatitis or giardia, both of which Dr Rebele explained to me in a way that didn’t make me feel stupid. I find sometimes vets (and doctors) forget that the general public doesn’t have the same education and don’t take the time to check for understanding.
I left Bosco at the clinic after authorizing them to do the tests. They said they would call by 1pm, so I went to drop off a cheque at the dealership where I bought a car on Monday. (That gets it’s own post. This one is Bosco’s.) Hailey took me out for lunch, and then I met my dad so he could see the car. Just before we met, Dr Rebele called. The tests had come back negative and he wanted to do an ultrasound. I agreed and he said he’d call back in about an hour.
An hour and a half went by and I hadn’t heard yet, so I went to the clinic. They put me in a room, and shortly after Dr Rebele came in carrying Bosco wrapped in a blanket. He put him down on the floor and I started stroking his head gently. Bosco was moaning and whimpering in pain. Dr Rebele showed me on the ultrasound that there was a mass on his spleen, but that they hadn’t seen any other issues. At that point he said he wanted to do exploratory surgery because while we have technology, nothing beats a human eye actually looking to see what’s going on. I agreed without hestitation.
Then he dropped the bombshell. He said that if it turned out to be cancer, there was the chance that it could have spread too far and that I might have to make the decision to let him go. I sat on the floor with my beautiful boy, tears dripping off my face, wondering how an upset belly had led us to the point where I might be saying my last goodbye. Dr Rebele didn’t let me have too much time with him because Bosco was in too much pain to wait for long. He picked him up and carried him out … and I sat alone in the room, rocking back and forth, sobbing and whispering the words, “Please let him be okay. Please. Please,” over and over again.
I called Hailey and told her she needed to come. I almost couldn’t speak. Although I am generally extremely private about what I share on Facebook, I posted that I needed thoughts and prayers for Bosco because there was the chance I might lose him. Then I sat there and I waited.
At some point I spoke to Jen on the phone. She was stuck downtown at a conference with no car because she had carpooled. All the fucking days! She would have left work in a second to come be with me, and she felt terrible that she couldn’t be there. But she was still a lifeline to me, because we spoke until the other vet, Dr Whitehead, came in to give me an update.
Remember how I said some vets don’t speak to clients properly? Dr Whitehead is a prime example. She is very nice and seems very competent, but she kept using medical terminology that I wasn’t familiar with. And the only thing I wanted to know at that point was whether I had to let him go. She was telling me stuff about his spleen and how it was flipped over and kinked, and finally I interrupted her to ask whether there was cancer. She looked confused for a moment and then replied that no, there was no [big word] or [big word]. I gasped out, “So I’m not going to lose him today?” and at her startled, “No!” I put my head down in my lap and sobbed.
After that I could start to comprehend what she had been telling me. His spleen was folded over and the mass that showed up on the ultrasound was actually the half of it that was stopped up with blood and very swollen. They wanted to remove it, to which I immediately agreed. Dr Whitehead went back to relay this to Dr Rebele, and I continued to wait. Helen the office manager and tech came in to give me an update that Bosco was doing well and was being stitched up, and finally Dr Rebele came in to give me the official outcome.
His recommendation was that while we could send the spleen to be biopsied, a lot of the time the results came back inconclusive because cancerous cells in the spleen tend to be like blood blisters which pop and then there is nothing to biopsy anyway. Originally he had said he wanted to biopsy the liver too but he changed his mind on that. One lobe of Bosco’s liver has rounded edges rather than a sharp delineation, and this can be caused be age, secondary back up from the spleen situation, or cancer. The thing is, if it is cancer it is inoperable, and it is a blood borne cancer. A lot of the time after a biopsy the cancer spreads quickly because of the hole that has been created by the biopsy. His recommendation is to moniter it with ultrasounds going forward, and just enjoy every moment I have with my boy.
Bosco had to stay overnight in order to continue the IV of fluids, antibiotics, and pain meds. I insisted that I had to see him before I left. I was no longer sobbing but I did still have tears dripping down my face, but I explained through them that I had to see him breathing before I could go home and leave him. After cautioning me that I couldn’t stay long and that Bosco needed to be kept calm, Dr Rebele agreed and Helen took me to the back. He was lying on his side facing away from me in the large crate, tucked up under a blanket with hot water bottles snugged up against both sides. He was breathing steadily and not making any pain noises. They didn’t offer to open the door so I didn’t get to touch him but I did speak softly to him. He was not out of the anaesthetic yet but who knows what we know or hear when we are under sedation.
Hailey was waiting for me at the house, and we took her two and Maia out for a walk in the sunshine. I needed to get out, to watch happy dogs sniffing, to breath the fresh air. It was a beautiful afternoon and I felt so grateful that I was able to enjoy it.
I picked Bosco up yesterday afternoon. They kept him for the day in order to maintain the IV but reassured me that he was bright eyed and perky, and he ate his breakfast. When I got him home I got him comfortable on the couch, and he stayed there all evening with me. I even brought him his dinner there. I had prepped during the afternoon and made boiled chicken and white rice, and Hailey had brought a bunch of freebies home from her work like a bag of Honest Kitchen that I will move him on to today. He took his meds like a champ, and he slept.
It was a bit of a challenge to convince him that he could manage the stairs up to the bedroom but once he got going, he made it all the way up. He slept through the night, first on the bed and then moving to the floor as per usual. This morning he went out to pee with minimal coaxing, and gobbled up his breakfast.
I am beyond words to explain how grateful I am that I still have my beautiful Bosco with me. I’ve only had him for four years and it’s not enough.