Notice how HUGE his right leg and paw are? It's like he has a Saint Bernard's leg attached to his body.Levi is 10 and a half years old and almost one year ago exactly, while 9 months pregnant, I found a suspicious lump on his belly. I took him to the vet that day and he was in surgery the very next. After tests were completed we discovered it was a mast cell tumor, stage 3 (the very worst kind). Anthony and I decided to do chemo since, despite the lump, you'd never guess he had cancer. He was eating, drinking, pooping, doing all his normal doggie things.
When Hollis was about 8 weeks old we started the chemo treatments in a town 30 miles away and bi-weekly blood work at our local vet's. It was scary packing up my new baby every other week never knowing if he'd make the trip up without needing a feeding, but it ended up being great practice getting out of the house and slipping in public/side of the road/parking lot emergency nursings. Levi was great throughout as only dogs can be.
We finished the round of chemo in the spring and decided that if it came back then we'd let nature take its course. The cost was too high and I don't exactly expect him to live another 10 years since he's such a big dog (90 lbs) and don't want to torture him with needles 4 or 5 times a week just to squeeze out another 9 months. Anyway, anyone with pets knows what I'm trying to say.
Since then, no lumps or bumps and ol' Levi has been in good health. He's stiffer and slower in general, but I'm not worried about any of that, though I do live in fear of finding another lump and the inevitable future that entails. So you can imagine my upset when Saturday evening Anthony and I heard Levi whimpering. I called him over to investigate and he was limping, favoring his right front leg. I began to touch him and discovered a giant mass on his rib cage and another great big lump on the top of his leg. I had no idea where these had come from! Just that morning he'd been fine! No limping, no lumps, no anything!
I kept an eye on him Sunday with plans to call the vet first thing Monday morning. As the day progressed his leg began to swell and the skin of his armpit turned a dark cherry red. Monday morning the only appointment I could get was Dr. Doogie's (aka Dr. Wisbrock) 5 o'clock ER slot. I took it since it was clear Levi was in pain and I didn't want to wait for his next available on Tuesday.
Long story short, Dr. Wisbrock has no idea what it is. At first he thought it was probably the cancer coming back and just moved to his front leg through the lymph node system (which would explain the edema (swelling)), but after seeing the red skin and finding no masses he chucked that idea. Turns out that snake bites cause a similar reaction! However, no bite wounds could be found, so now he's running a tick panel (which costs $200, by the way). Apparently ehrlichiosis is a possibility, as is Lyme disease.
I suppose, though, that if that all comes back negative then who knows what my poor doggie has.
It's weird 'cuz I'm relieved, but I'm also disappointed. This isn't "it," you know? That terrible day is still somewhere in my future, lurking. Anticipation is probably 99% of the shit that you feel about some dreaded event. The event itself is never as awful as you think it will be. I learned that lesson when my dad was dying. That's not to say I'm not thankful about our current limbo status. I'm glad my sweet dawg will still be around for a while to come. He deserves a happy ending to a great life and I'll definitely do everything I can to make sure it happens for him.
Have a happy dog biscuit-y day! Levi sure will!