Yesterday was stressful. I decided to get my nails done after work. Before heading to the salon, I stopped by the house to walk the dog and give her some medication. It was too early to feed her and give her insulin, but I figured I’d only be gone for 2 hours, so I had plenty of time. I got home later, fed the dog and watched her INHALE her food. She was also INHALING water. I noticed it, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. She typically inhales her food. About 20 minutes after she ate, I tried to give her medication and she refused it. I thought she might be annoyed that I had left her all day and didn’t push it. We went outside to chat with neighbors and when they tried to give it to her she also refused to take her medication from them, too. Weird. Georgia’s medicine is wrapped in food and she NEVER refuses food. I looked at her and noticed she looked chubby. Really chubby. My neighbor agreed and we checked her belly. It was HUGE.
So what did I do……I googled “swollen belly on dogs” and guess what popped up. BLOAT (click on the word to learn more about it). Now, I was aware that large, deep chested dogs get bloat. Georgia is a medium sized Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, so I thought it couldn’t be what was wrong with her. My nurse neighbor looked at her and said Georgia didn’t seem to be in any pain and it not worry about it. Um….that didn’t happen. My neurotic brain worried. All I could think about was the book/movie Marley & Me. If you have seen it, you know how serious bloat can be. I sat with my neighbors thinking “If I take her to the vet they are going to think I am insane”. Georgia wasn’t acting sick. Only her belly was big and she refused a treat. She wasn’t drooling or crying out in pain. After staring at her for 15 minutes, I jumped up, carried her to the car and rushed to the Veterinary ER hospital. Thank God that I did.
Georgia did have bloat. Not enough is known about the cause of bloat, but her ER vet guessed that her hoovering of food and water allowed too much air to get into her belly and it was too much for her little body. She had a tube placed down her chest twice to try to release the gas. We were lucky that her stomach didn’t twist (Dogs organs are not as static like ours. The gas can cause the stomach to twist/flip over and effectively cut off the esophagus and lower intestines, thus trapping the gas and causing death). The tubing only reduced the size of the gas bubble a tiny bit. The ER vet estimated the bloat was 5 ribs long. (Think of a regular sized latex balloon that you have to blow up and tie. That is how big the bloating was.) The vet told me he couldn’t hear Georgia’s heart murmur because the gas bubble was preventing her heart from getting enough blood. He left me for a minute to research any drug interactions that treatments could have on Georgia. She takes 6 prescriptions for some serious illnesses including syringomyelia, heart disease, hip dysplasia and diabetes. Basically some treatments for bloat could kill her because of her preexisting conditions. While pacing in the waiting room, I looked up and saw my baby’s picture on the bulletin board. This is where she fought for her life when diabetes ketoacidosis almost took her from me. I’m standing there, feeling devastated and suddenly I hear a loud BURP. I had to laugh because it was LOUD. Who knew a burp could be such a good thing? The vet was thrilled when I told him and said that it could mean she was starting to turn in the right direction. Another x-ray revealed the gas bubble went from 5 ribs long to about 3.5 ribs long. We could clearly start to see her heart and liver again on the film. The murmur could be heard (who would think that would ever be a good thing??!!!).
Even with this good news, she was not out of the woods. Georgia stayed over night at the hospital (and boy was she mad about it!). I was told they would call me if she made a turn for the worse. I signed a paper giving permission to do emergency surgery, if needed, and to resuscitate her if her heart or breathing stopped. I then left my baby with people I did not know….. praying this wasn’t going to be the end of our journey together.
I couldn’t fall asleep and tossed and turned most of the night. The phone rang around 6:30 am. Even with my morning stiff joints, I flew to answer it. My knee is still aching from that movement this morning. I was told that the medication Georgia received helped her to clear the bloat and she could come home. It’s so hard to get my body moving in the morning, but I was pushing as hard as I could to dress quickly. I was hurting from the lack of sleep. It was a miracle my dog survived the night AND honestly, it was a miracle I could actually get my fingers to hook my bra this morning. I had to scoot down the steps because walking down the steps would hurt my joints too much. Having RA in an early morning emergency is so difficult.
I got to the vet hospital as quickly as I could. The vet tech reviewed the three pages worth of directions to follow to try to prevent bloat from occurring again. There is no guarantee that I can protect her from this again but I will do my very best. When it was time to go, they asked if I needed help getting her to the car. I did, but I said, no. It hurt like hell, but I carried my girl to the car myself and drove us home. We were both exhausted. She climbed in my bed, but as soon as I got in, she left. Georgia is apparently holding a grudge. It’s funny because she was so happy to see me what I picked her up.
It’s okay. She can be mad at me all she wants. I’d be mad if someone shoved a tube down my throat twice and my mother left me with him overnight, too. I’m truly thrilled she is still with me to be crotchety.
Tonight my nerves are still shaky. My hands and elbows are really sore, and my knee is still screaming every time I move it. Being Georgia’s mommy is probably not good for my health, but loving her is good for my heart.