Monday, March 10, 2008


After a hiatus of several weeks, I've returned to blogging.  Life got in the way: a terminally sick dog, a chronically lame horse, and a far too demanding job.  

Maggie, our sick pooch, occupied much of our time in February. Fine one day, she couldn't keep anything down the next.  The first well-meaning but doddering vet prescribed antibiotics. (Query to husband: how will the dog keep down antibiotics if she's upchucking mere water?) By the third day, Maggie was admitted to hospital and put on an IV drip.  Little changed.  By the sixth day, the vets decided to do exploratory surgery, suspecting a blockage of some sort.  We imagined a golf ball wedged in her guts, a decayed remnant from the days when our neighborhood used to be a golf course, many decades past.  We were dismayed to learn the culprit was the size but, alas, not the stuff of a golf ball: the offending tumor was removed, along with a section of the large intestine.

Maggie was given a 50/50 chance of making it through the weekend.  She went into surgery early on Friday morning, the 8th of February.  By Sunday we began to hope.  A few days later, emaciated and weak, she was released back into our care; that same day we learned the tumor was malignant. Maggie was diagnosed with lymphoma, an incurable cancer.  She would live another 4-6 weeks at best unless we intervened with chemotherapy, something we had never imagined undertaking with a pet.

We asked for further testing.  It seems that poor Maggie can't get a break: the tumor was staged as large T-cell lymphoma, the most aggressive kind. Even with chemotherapy, she will most likely live 4-6 months from the time of diagnosis, giving her until the end of spring or beginning of summer.  Of course, she could once again beat the odds.  As the oncologist noted, she was sufficiently plucky to survive the surgery, and she just might make it until the end of the year.

We're now two treatments into chemotherapy.  Initially, I was opposed, but our family vet urged me to reconsider, arguing that Maggie was a good candidate given her resilience and relatively young age.  And I couldn't stand Rod's misery.  He was fond of his old terrier Scruffy, but Maggie is something special, the canine love of his life.  Smitten from the outset, Rod has doted shamelessly on this lovable albeit occasionally difficult dog.  He just can't let her go--not yet.

So far, so good.  Except for a bit of lethargy, Maggie has sailed through chemo.  We're even seeing a bit of the old bounce.  Last night she drove a herd of deer from our lawn and swaggered back into the house, immensely proud of her efforts.  This morning she stares belligerently out of the cathedral window, growling warnings to wayward crows.  I'm worried about the fourth treatment, when she will receive doxorubicin, a brutal drug, but I'm trying to take it a week, nay, even a day at a time, no easy task for someone of my anxious and admittedly controlling nature.

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