Finally a Diagnois for Princess Fiona

Princess FionaWell our journey to figure out what’s wrong with our Princess Fiona has ended and we have a diagnosis finally. We were back at Purdue last week for an MRI and spinal tap. I really liked the attending vet this time. She was excellent! I like to ask a ton of questions and offer up ideas that I’ve read about and she was very patient and encouraged the dialog. She was very worried about putting Fiona under anesthesia for the MRI but there weren’t any other tests that we could really do.  This day was even longer than last time as we were there almost 11  hours. Lucky for me, I followed my own tips for visiting a teaching hospital so I was much more prepared this time. I was also very lucky to have one of our Facebook friends come up and visit. Her work was cancelled so she was able to stay with me for several hours and made the time pass much quicker.

The vet called us in while they were still imaging her brain as they already had an answer. My sweet, beloved, precious, angel baby Fiona has a terminal brain tumor. I was able to see the images from the MRI which were very interesting although I’m sure it would be way cooler if it wasn’t your dog’s brain. The tumor is pressing in and causing her to have hydrocephalus from the spinal fluid.  Her brain ventricles are enlarged with the fluid and the tumor is restricting the flow out of the ventricles.  Really the only option with this would be radiation and it only slows the tumor, never cures anything. With radiation treatments, she would have to go under anesthesia every time and with her very low heart rate and low blood pressure, she is not a good candidate for anesthesia. So the only choices were to not wake her up from the MRI or treat her symptoms. As she has never appeared to be in pain, still eats, walks around, snuggles and does all her regular activities just more slowly, letting her go was not an option for us at that time. So we are treating her with steroids to decrease the inflammation and hopefully the symptoms from that and another med to decrease the production of the spinal fluid.

This has honestly been the worse thing I’ve been through with our dogs. I’m thankful that we finally have a diagnosis and that it’s not just my imagination but I certainly never imagined that it would be a brain tumor. Most likely, she has a type of tumor that is sometimes associated with Cushing’s(although she doesn’t have it). It’s a tumor sitting on the pituitary which controls many bodily functions. This type of tumor is not usually cancer but still there really is nothing that can be done for it.  I have been in touch with our regular vet who also practices holistic medicine so we might be adding some supplements. I think the irony in all this is that if she had eyes, it probably would have been diagnosed much quicker although the treatment would have been the same. I always expected her to pop up with mammary cancer since she was not spayed until she was maybe five or six.

As long as she is not in pain and can still find joy and bring joy to others, she will remain here with us. Once we see her quality of life deteriorate, it will be time to help her cross the Rainbow Bridge. I honestly have no idea what I will do without her and  her love in my life. She came to us when I was so sad after losing my dad and my Dachshund Cocoa Puff. We always swore that those two helped her get to us to help us through our grief. I can’t imagine why she’s being taken away at such a young age when she brings so much joy and love to everyone she meets. It all seems so unfair but nobody ever said life was fair. I’m sure we’ll find the strength to go on and continue helping the seniors and special needs but it won’t be the same without my little fluffy Fiona there by my side. I know this post is pretty rambling but I wanted to put it all out there so her friends would know exactly what is going on and my brain isn’t exactly thinking straight. Thanks for all the good thoughts, prayers and donations for our girl and thanks for opting to adopt.

Fiona the doxie

June 24, 2014

If you follow us, I’m sure you are aware that our Princess Fiona is sick with some sort of a mystery illness. We’ve gone to our regular vet, a specialty vet and even a teaching hospital. We are headed back to the teaching hospital this Thursday for an MRI with spinal tap. I certainly learned a lot from our previous visit so I thought I’d share with all of you. In all the years, I’ve owned animals, I’ve never been to a teaching hospital. I had read their FAQs but I still feel like I wasn’t adequately prepared for the experience. Here are my tips to make your trip(and my next one)much smoother.

  • If you and your vet are even “thinking” your pet might need to go to a teaching hospital, do it. Don’t waste your time and money on having other tests done at your vet or even a specialty hospital. I was concerned about the stress on her if we went to Purdue so I took her to the specialty hospital and had a total cardiac work up done by a vet that is in the process of being certified in cardiology. Purdue wouldn’t accept the cardiac ultrasound since she wasn’t certified and they said that everyone apparently measures just a little differently. So basically the $900 that I spent at the specialty hospital was a waste as they only used the chest X-rays. They were also able to use blood work from my regular vet but wanted to repeat the abdominal ultrasound that she had done, again because she wasn’t certified. I declined that as we really needed to spend money as wisely as possible. I’m still kicking myself over this although I thought I was doing the right thing at that time.
  • If you are there to get a diagnosis, it’s most likely an all day process. Their FAQs said to expect that but I guess I didn’t really think it would take that long. Our appointment was at 9 AM and they took her to the back and away from me about 10 AM. Although I talked to the vets and saw them, I didn’t see Fiona again until after 4 PM. I know she was very stressed as she had tried to bite them and she’s not a biter.
  • To put your pet at ease, take their favorite blanket to keep them company. I meant to take her pink bag she rides in but forgot it and didn’t want to turn around. I think if she’d had it, she wouldn’t have been nearly as stressed.
  • Take snacks and drinks for yourself. Depending on how long it will take, you can probably leave the hospital. They told me it would take several hours so I decided I would go look for the lakes that I had seen listed on a sign. I drove for quite some time and never found them.  I ended up stopping at a cute shop and sat there reading my book but didn’t realize that I didn’t have cell reception so I missed a call from the hospital. This time I’ll pack a cooler and just got outside and enjoy the weather within cell phone range.
  • Make sure you electronic devices are fully charged. If you’re going to be there most of the day, you want to be able to use your phone or read from your Kindle.  Sometimes your battery gets drained quickly in those conditions so make sure you have at least a car charger with you.
  • Take a pad of paper and pen with you. If you have questions ahead of time, take the list with you. If you didn’t have any before, chances are that you’ll think of them while you’re there so write them down. The vets have been great to deal with but it’s much quicker to get an answer while you’re there than to have to call back. Don’t forget questions about their care at home, test results and follow up visits.
  • Leave yourself plenty of time to get there and check in. I had directions that seemed pretty simple but I still got lost. If you can take someone with you to navigate, even better. Plus it’s great to have someone to talk to and they can help you with your list of questions/concerns for the vet.
  • Make sure  you know what the payment policy is and get an estimate before you go. This is not your hometown vet so you won’t be allowed to run a tab. They were really great about informing about other testing that they wanted to do and what the cost would be. Take some extra money for yourself especially if you forget snacks. Don’t hesitate to tell them what your spending limit is so you can make the most of the money that you have. They can help prioritize and get the most bang for your buck. If you think you will need more money, you can apply for Care Credit ahead of time so you’ll have an idea what your limit is with them. Some teaching hospitals will let you apply while you’re there but it’s better to know ahead of time what your financial limitations are. The really cool thing about Care Credit is that you can use it for your own medical bills.
  • Most of all , remember to breathe and ask questions. The veterinarians are there for you and your pet so make the most of their knowledge and skills. They want to find out what’s wrong with your pet and make them better but they can’t do it without your input. I actually printed up a time line of her illness and gave it to them so they could glance at that to start with. It helped me remember dates and tests as well. Make sure you know your financial limits and discuss it with your family ahead of time so that your emotions don’t take over. It helps to know exactly what you will and won’t do for your pet before being asked to make that decision.

Hopefully these tips will help you if your pet needs care beyond what your regular vet can offer. I’m hopeful that our next visit with go more smoothly and that we’ll finally have some answers for our sweet girl. Thanks for reading and as always, thanks for opting to adopt.