Thursday, March 27, 2008
Four weeks ago, Addy, my standard poodle started favoring her right front leg. I mashed on all parts of it from top to bottom and couldn't figure out what was bothering her. As each day passed, she seemed to be bothered more. Finally, two weeks ago, I took her to the vet. She did two x-rays and said it was probably arthritis and gave us some pain pills. It didn't look like the pain pills were doing any good. She continued walking on three legs. But the pain pills ran out a few days ago. I came home on Tuesday, and the girls told me that Addy has been crying and whining all day. Obviously the pain pills had been masking the worsening of her condition. I called the vet, and they said to bring her in. Maybe she had lyme disease.
Yesterday, we took her to the vet, and the lyme disease test was negative. They did two more x-rays and still couldn't tell us what was wrong. But Addy now had a fever of 104.8, which is several degrees high for a dog. The vet gave her a shot for pain and fever, and referred us to another vet with more experience in orthopedic problems. Today we took her to that vet, and after three more x-rays, he told us she has cancer in her shoulder.
He told us the first step would be to completely amputate her leg. That would get rid of the pain immediately, but in 2/3 of cases of bone cancer, it has already spread to other parts of the body by the time it is diagnosed, so she might only have a few months left. In cases where they also do chemo, it usually adds about a year to the dog's life. I've known people in chemo, and I can't imagine putting a dog through that. Add a year to her life when a part of it would put her in more agony? That doesn't make sense. But what do I do?
For now, she is taking two different types of pain pills. She is not eating, and she only walks to the water bowl for water and outside to potty three times a day. Otherwise, she is laying down. I remember one day when I was a reporter, I shadowed a doctor who had a patient with bladder cancer. She wasn't eating, her weight was down to 85 pounds, and all she kept saying was, "I want to die. Just let me die. It's too painful." Her husband and her son kept telling her that she didn't mean it, and she simply said the same thing again and again. When they insisted that she didn't mean it and begged her to tell them what she wanted, she said, "I want to be cremated." I look at Addy, and I remember that woman lying in bed, begging the doctor and her family to let her die so the pain would go away. If Addy could talk, I wonder what she would say to me.