But last week he presented suddenly with terrible breathing difficulty and I rushed him to the local animal hospital where 2 liters of fluid were drained from his chest. I was told that he probably had heart failure or cancer. I was devastated. But a few days later the fluid analysis report came back and it was suggestive that he may have some type of infection/inflammatory process going on, or it still might be cancer, though there was no evidence of either found yet. His blood work was perfect. His chest ultrasound did not show any obvious tumors. He spent several days in the hospital then came home and was relatively comfortable and happy for a few days before the respiratory distress came back. Back to the ER and 2 more liters drained, back into an oxygen cage and stabilized again. I was told that he needed an echocardiogram next which would require a transfer to a bigger facility, so I brought him to Tufts Animal Hospital. He arrived there stable and breathing comfortably but was placed in the ICU overnight for observation and a CT scan of his torso was planned for the next day. During the next day, Tufts ran an entire battery of tests on him to try to find the cause of this pleural effusion (chest cavity fluid). An abdominal ultrasound to look for tumors lower in his body, an echocardiogram to look at his heart more closely, an endoscopy to look for signs of esophageal tears r/t foreign body ingestion, a thoracic CT scan, more blood work, etc. They did not find anything that might explain the effusion. They also ran a SNAP test on his blood and found a positive response to anaplasma. This is a tick borne illness and can lead to systemic inflammation. George does present with symptoms of vasculitis which is a symptom of body inflammation. So they decided to go ahead and treat him with Doxycycline.
This treatment lasts for several weeks, and if he does respond to it, it will still take time for the fluid production to slow down to a halt. So he is still at Tufts, because his chest tubes are still in. As long as those are in, and the fluid keeps being drained out so his lungs can expand, George is a comfortable and happy dog. I spent hours with him last night at Tufts and he was the spunkiest, liveliest dog in the whole place. (see the video below of him chowing down the food I brought him!)
He showed compassion and concern for the other whining, crying dogs in the place. If he didn’t have the chest tubes in, you’d never know he was even sick! “He is not suffering, and doesn’t even know he is sick” said the Vet in charge last night. All of his body systems are working great, nothing is in failure, but he is in danger of dying if the fluid is not stopped.
What I am told is that he has the potential for a full recovery, or in the case of an idiopathic effusion (cause remains unknown) they can place permanent ports in his chest that will allow me to draw the fluid out with a syringe as needed on a chronic basis. Hell, I have been giving needle infusions of IV fluid to my kitty Hannah every couple days for the past few years and she's doing amazing! Id'd do this for George. It’s a waiting game now, and he needs time to be allowed to heal and recover from this, but he needs medical support in order to do so. These are not heroic measures. He is not on life support hanging by a thread. He just needs to keep having the fluid drained. The problem: The emergency treatment, diagnostic testing and ICU care has already run my bill up over $7800 and treatment is not over yet. (Just three days at tufts in the ICU cost a whopping $5757.00) I find it mind boggling that it has cost so much for care and testing that has not identified a problem that can be treated and resolved yet. I fear I will not have the money to treat him after paying for the diagnostics. Lot's of folks have messaged me suggesting I set up a fundraising page like this. After all of this investment, I can’t give up on my best buddy now. All donations big and small will help ease the burden, and give George's sweet soul a chance to continue soothing mine. Thank You all for your loving support! xxoo
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Penny Lane misses her buddy...
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