Wuzzy Rat and Blogathon 2010
Dr. V and her veterinary website Pawcurious headed a huge fundraiser over this past weekend (Blogathon 2010) in which bloggers from eight different blogs (half veterinarians’ blogs and half other pet lovers’ blogs) posted one blog post an hour for 24 hours. They blogged to raise money for a service dog through 4 Paws for Ability for Bradyn, a four-year-old boy with epilepsy. If the day was as much a blur for you as it was for me, or if it went right by you entirely, take heart! You have not missed everything!
If you would like to donate for Braydn, click HERE.
That link will take you to the first Blogathon post on Pawcurious where you can donate directly through "Chip In" (which works with PayPal) or directly to 4 Paws for Ability.
Last week I was obsessively preparing for Blogathon. I was getting more and more excited…and then I saw it. Wuzzy Rat had a HUGE mass on her lower left jaw. Suddenly, all of my energy was gone.
Dr. Merkley (a veterinary surgical specialist) was one of my very favorite teachers in veterinary school. He now has his own veterinary surgical practice in Omaha, and I get to work together with him on surgical cases every once in a while (I love some of life’s full circles!). Dr. Merkley told me once that if I ever needed a surgical specialist for an exotic pet, he would do the surgery if I would do the anesthesia.
So, I prepared to call Dr. Merkley and inform him of a probable impending hemimandibulectomy (removal of part of the jaw) to control what I assumed was mandibular osteosarcoma (bone cancer).
Had I done ANY diagnostics at this point? NO!
I agonized over whether this would be more helpful or painful for Wuzzy, and would it buy her any time? But I needed to at least know what she was struggling with, if at all possible.
First, Wuzzy would need a thorough examination and skull and chest radiographs. Even this would not definitively confirm my presumptive diagnosis. But skull radiographs would show a distinctive bone destruction pattern if cancer were present, and we would be able to check her lungs for metastasis (spread of the cancer).
Over the next few days, Wuzzy declined rapidly, becoming more lethargic and more pained, even eating less than normal (that is as alarming in a rat as it would be in a Golden Retriever!). If she did not improve, major orthopedic surgery would not even be a safe option.
I brought Wuzzy into work with me three days ago. When Angela (one of my awesome pet nurses) and I got her out for her examination, Angela said, "…Dr. Finch? Didn’t you say this mass was bigger yesterday Osteosarcoma does not typically behave that way does it?" We both smiled.
In the interest of not grossing you out, I will skip the next ten minutes of Wuzzy’s case and jump right to the part where I called Russ and yelled "Abscess!" and he cheered louder than he does when the Huskers score.
Wuzzy is sitting next to me now. She is still pretty congested and on some pretty strong medication (she had two affected areas, and I still do not know what caused the infection). But here she is in all her goofiness and feeling so much better.
Our Fuzzy Rat recently died, and we are still dealing with that. I honestly did not know how I was going to participate in Blogathon 2010 if I had to also let go of Wuzzy Rat right before we started. I could not have been in an upbeat mood and probably would have stepped down from participating in the Blogathon, as much as I love it.
I have been told many times in the course of my career, even by other veterinarians, that I would get used to death, and that euthanasia and losing pets would become easier and less painful with time. I am so very glad that that has not been the case. The day it is will be the day I will step down from practicing veterinary medicine, as much as I love it.
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/slambo_42/2751446827/