Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Night in the (Vet) ER

Good morning! And it is a good morning, in spite of lots of things I’ll tell you about in a moment. Nothing like a little high drama at midnight to put things in perspective!

First I want to say that I’m very thankful this morning. God is so good to us! I’m thankful for lots of things –

That our night at the veterinary ER produced results as positive as possible, for the moment;
That surgery on Tuck’s eye can hopefully wait until her daddy returns from his business travels;
That we were not the poor dog who got carried into the ER, trailing a very scary amount of blood;
That we got home as early as we did (11:30 p.m.);
That both Tucker and I mercifully got about 8 hours of much-needed sleep following our exciting evening;
That I did not get into an accident rushing down GA 400 to the vet’s office at very unsafe speeds, with the passenger seat of my car blocking the side mirror (so Tucker could curl up in the backseat floor on her bed, and not be jostled any more than necessary);
That I did not get into an accident driving home at midnight up GA 400, which is very long and very straight and very dark that time of night, when I was so tired my eyes were crossing;
That Tucky was a sweet little trooper through the whole evening;
That they even have medication to treat this condition;
That we live in an area with access to a 24 hour emergency/veterinary specialist practice, including an excellent canine ophthalmology specialist; and
That God answered every one of my frantic prayers, repeated overandoverandover as I drove, to keep us safe, get us there quickly, keep my car running (it hasn't been reliable lately), not let me leave anything burning on the stove as I rushed out of the house, for our dog not to lose her remaining eyesight because I didn’t get here there in time, and for her (hopefully) not to have to have a major surgery before Daddy gets home.

As you can tell, it was a pretty wild night around here. At least in terms of what we’re used to defining as wild! Most of you know that our 11 year old Beagle girl, Tucker, has developed glaucoma in her left eye. The condition is progressive, and in cases that stop responding to medication, the only alternative is to remove the eye. Typically, the dog loses sight in the eye long before removal becomes necessary, so we want to do everything we can to preserve the sight in the other eye in the meantime.

Glaucoma is a tricky condition. In humans, it’s often recognizable in an instant by its off-the-charts pain signature. People come into the ER with incredible eye and head pain that can develop quite suddenly. In dogs, the same type of spike in pressure can occur (even with meds) so we’ve been watching for just that event (in either the “good” or bad eye). If it happens in the good eye, we’ve got hours and maybe only minutes to react in time to preserve at least some eyesight. Glaucoma puts pressure on the optic nerve, which (if unchecked) kills the nerve and causes pretty much immediate, permanent blindness.

So, with that as our backdrop, I arrived home from work yesterday afternoon to find a very punky-looking Tucker bear with two very droopy, red eyes. She was fine when we left yesterday morning for work, so this was an alarming change. Bloodshot appearance (with spiky blood vessels showing, not just the “normal” red of the eyelid’s interior) is a hallmark of glaucoma and is what we saw in the other eye. So when I saw the same type of bloodshot look in the heretofore good eye, I got very worried – and off to the ER vet we went. It was not a very orderly progression of loading up the car, as I had just returned home from work, was starving and was frantically trying to think of anything we might need to take. But we made it – God is good!

The good news is, the “good” eye is still fine. The vet said she is probably just looking mopey on that side because of the pain on the other side. The bad news is the pressure in the bad eye was 63. Normal is between about 10 and 18, if that gives you any idea. This is a new “high” for her pressure in that eye, so clearly the condition is progressing. Repeated treatments with the meds at the vet did nothing to lower the pressure, so Tuck had a quick paricentesis procedure, which involves draining off some of that excess fluid. Thankfully, that’s not as invasive as it sounds. It’s done with a local eyedrop anesthetic, and it’s pretty fast to do. Relief is immediate for the dog, and so she was a lot more bouncy coming back in the room than she was on the way out.

So, we’re both home. I’m working from home the next couple of days to keep an eye on her and regulate her drop dosages as tightly as possible. If she spikes again and I can tell, we’ll rush right back to the vet and she may need hospitalization at that point, so they can drain it and treat as necessary until her Daddy gets home. I’m hoping though that we can manage it ourselves here for just a couple more days. I really don’t want to put her through that type of major surgery (the bad eye would have to come out). But I also don’t want her in constant pain.

I’ll keep everyone updated as we go along. Please keep us in your prayers!


Connordog said...

Poor Tucky!!! We're sending lots of love and zen your way!!!

Angela said...

Thanks Steph!!

Angie said...

OMG, you poor guys! Tucker is a brave little girl and she's lucky to have such a smart and quick reacting mommy. Keep us posted and if there's anything we can do, don't hesitate to ask! Love to you all!

Robin's Reports said...

OH no Mommy and Tucker! Prayers for both of you. I'm so glad that God was with you through each step of your journey last night.

sibtigre2 said...

Goodness! Much zen for Tucker! All of you will be in my prayers. I'm glad that you made it to the ER vet in time and safe. And that you made it home safely too!

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