So yesterday was National Dog Day. We celebrated by taking Ellie to an internal medicine specialist.
When I last updated you on Ellie I thought the end was eminent. We were giving her fluids and trying the kidney medication, but really I viewed that as a way to put a couple of weeks between what was obviously needed and the start of kindergarten. Even that was a hard decision and came with lots of caveats of "if she stops eating again then it's time" or "if she can't get up to ask to go out it's time"... all these lines in the sand of quality of life I was not willing to ignore just to put some time between the first day of school and the loss of our sweet girl. Basically, we weren't willing to let her suffer, but if we could humanely buy some time we would.
So as each day went by it was a constant reevaluating... how was she? Was she eating? Was she getting up and moving? Does it need to be today?? But each day that passed was a day at least the same and sometimes a little better than the day before. She was eating a good amount, but no dog food. We were (are) making her meals. She was drinking a lot, asking to go out, wanted to be with us and would follow us from room to room, barking when people came in... she was doing okay. Not great mind you, but okay.
And so here we are entering into the third week of school. She is doing... better. Definitely better than her darkest days four weeks ago. But her arthritis is still an issue and her lack of interest in food is causing constant stress for us with the worry that any minute she will stop eating all together. So our vet recommended a specialist. Actually, they recommended him back when we found out about the kidneys and the cushings, but at that time it felt like wasted money trying to stop the inevitable. It still feels a little like that, but if we are giving her all of these medications and trying to have her feel better, we figure we might as well pour our money* into the smartest doc in town.
Yesterday we met him. I absolutely adore him. It cost only slightly more than a regular vet visit. He was very aware of the cost of everything without making me feel guilty. He didn't want to rerun blood work yet because he said it didn't really matter what it said, based on her clinical signs he would suggest the same treatment either way. I appreciated that. He supported everything our other vet has done so far, which was reassuring, but also added two new steps to the process that he thinks will help with her arthritis and her eating, our two major concerns. He said her kidneys are bad but not awful, and that while she will most likely need the fluids for the rest of her life, we can hopefully get her healthy enough to only need them every other day or maybe a couple of times a week. Right now we are doing it twice a day, so that was exciting.
He was also realistic. He said that if these things don't work, then we need to begin to accept that medicine only takes us so far, and that she might just be at the end of the days. I appreciated that too. That he sees the line where it's okay to accept there is nothing more we can do.
We started the two new medicines yesterday and we already see a difference. She ate dog food this morning for breakfast. DOG FOOD! She is moving better too. So we have hope. Not a lot, but some.
What it all comes down to is we love our girl. And we are willing to do these things if the make her comfortable and happy until the end of her days. She really is a very good dog.
*If you are curious, we do have limits on the spending. I wish we didn't have to, but we do. Everything we are doing is actually pretty reasonably priced, all things considered. And the cost of giving her the monthly medications she is currently on is not bad. I am happy I got a new job that gives us a little more freedom to make these decisions based on what we feel list best and not on money.