Today I went to what has to be one of the saddest places on Earth ... the "hospital ward" at the vet's office. It is with a boulder on my chest that I write this post, but I find that writing is often therapeutic for me, so here it goes.
Our beloved Maggie Mae has been steadily losing weight for about 6 months now. At first, it wasn't anything drastic, so we figured it correlated with Oliver's arrival and was perhaps related to nervousness. Overall, Maggie was acting like herself ... barking at the front door, begging for leftovers, and snuggling up close to us in bed. Then, about 2 months ago, she really began to look thin. Her little 12 pound frame didn't give much room for weight loss. She was still eating, but it seemed like she only wanted table scraps. Often, her dog food would go for days untouched ... but, when she got REALLY hungry ... she would eat. Since her annual vet exam was due in January and she wasn't showing any other symptoms, we waited to take her at the first of the year.
Her January exam went well other than marked weight loss. She weighed 9 lbs. 13 oz. down from 12 lbs. the year before. Her vet listened to our account about her eating habits and suggested either dietary changes or an expensive bloodwork panel. We opted to attempt dietary changes first. We tried a slow change over to canned dog food ... which worked for awhile until she began to vomit. Then, we switched to simply chicken with white rice. Again, it worked for awhile ... until she began to vomit. Then, Maggie Mae stopped eating all together.
This Tuesday, we took her in for the bloodwork. Well, today I received a telephone call from the vet explaining the results. It wasn't good. In fact, it was very bad. Maggie's kidney enzymes, Creatinine, and BUN were extremely elevated ... so much so that it was nearly certain she was in chronic renal failure. As soon as I heard those words, my heart stopped. I know from my nursing background that people in CRF are candidates for kidney transplants or dialysis. Neither are options for dogs (unless you are a millionaire). The vet was gentle in his recommendations, but really gave us only a few options.
As I type, my best friend is hospitalized at the vet's office to receive IV fluids, antibiotics, and antiemetics. Her little body was so full of toxins that she could not eat without vomiting. Her current therapy will flush her kidneys enough to allow her to temporarily feel better. However, after a tearful heart-to-heart with Maggie's wonderful nurse Sherry this afternoon during my visit, the prognosis is probably not good.
There is a fraction of a chance that this therapy will restore enough function to Maggie's damaged kidneys for her to return home and thrive on a special diet and some kidney medications. If that is the case, we will be thrilled. However, much more likely, this therapy is palliative. It will allow Maggie Mae to recover enough to come home a spend a few special days with her family before crossing over the Rainbow Bridge.
We could force Maggie to "fight" her condition with daily, home subcuteaneous fluid bolus injections and a drawer full of medications ... as well as frequent (even weekly) trips to the hospital ward at her vet's office to prolong her life. But, neither Justin nor I feel that is the type of life our little girl would want. If her kidneys do not resume function on their own from this initial treatment, they never will. She would spend the rest of her life on IV drips (at home and inpatient) only headed toward an inevitable death.
My heart is absolutely broken.
She's not even "gone" from us, and I miss her terribly. I already find myself looking for her on the end of couch or at my feet to find she isn't there.
Maggie Mae has been my confident, my silent but all-knowing best friend in the world. She has seen me through countless challenges and snuggled away my tears. If she were here right now, I know she'd be doing just that.
I love her so much.
As always, prayers are greatly appreciated during this time as we make difficult decisions about our first "baby," Maggie Mae.