Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Update on Nigel (Sir Semicolon)

Well, the weekend came and went, and as I indicated with my last post, it had its share of emotions mixed into it.

Apologies for my mildly hysterical post on Friday, by the way.

Honestly, I spent all week really looking forward to the weekend because I'd been so busy with work stuff (both my regular work and my volunteer stuff...post about that coming later) and Friday promised some respite from all that...until it didn't!

So here's the basic rundown of what happened: Nigel ate dinner on Tuesday night and then threw it up. He didn't eat on Wednesday, and on Thursday my mom took him in to the vet because he still wasn't eating, and he was very lethargic. At that point (Thursday evening) he was pretty dehydrated, so they gave him some fluids under his skin and told my mom he'd need to come back the next day to be monitored by the clinic staff. So Nigel spent all of Friday at the vet on an IV drip, and I stopped by after work to check on him and talk to the vet.

At that point (around 2pm on Friday) he still wasn't eating, drinking, or going to the bathroom. It was pretty obvious that there was a problem, but nothing was showing up on normal x-rays so the vet suggested doing a barium study to check Nigel's intestinal function. To do this, they feed the animal barium dye and then take x-rays at various time intervals afterwards (immediately, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, etc) to watch the progression of the dye through the GI tract.

At 6pm we got a call that it didn't appear the dye was progressing, and hadn't been since about an hour and a half into the study - and also that he'd thrown up twice since the study started. They told us we should pick him up and discuss our options, including transferring Nigel to the emergency vet for further care.

When we picked him up the vet showed us the x-rays (Nigel threw up on the way to view those) and she gave us a variety of prognoses:

1) The obstruction could still move, but he would need to be monitored anyways and given fluids to prevent dehydration.

2) Surgery would be necessary to remove the blockage.

3) It appeared that his intestines were distended, which was not a great sign - removal of the blockage could include removal of a portion of his intestines. This was the worst case scenario because it increases both the recovery time, and the chance of infection.

(I really wanted to post some of his xray photos but I can't get them to load correctly on my computer. I will keep trying and update if I can make it work!)

Armed with this knowledge (and a copy of his x-rays) we left for the emergency vet.

Nigel proceeded to throw up in the car. It smelled delightful. I hope you can sense the sarcasm. (Fast forward: My mom got her car super-detailed the next day, which did actually smell pretty nice.)

Everyone at the emergency vet was fantastic. When the vet came in and talked to us she said they wouldn't jump straight to surgery - they were going to monitor Nigel a bit more to see if maybe his intestines had stopped functioning properly (due to something he'd eaten) and decide if medical stimulation of his intestines (using a medication) could get things going. If not, they would proceed to surgery, and she would call and confirm everything beforehand.

Cue my Friday night panic post.

We got the estimates and went and said goodnight...and I started crying. I felt so terrible leaving him alone with that IV drip in his arm. Then he tried to walk out with us and I felt even worse! I felt like he thought we were abandoning him and couldn't convince him otherwise :(

But we went home and waited. By 11:00 we hadn't gotten a call, decided, 'No news is good news,' and got ready for bed (with a panicked, dejected, and on-edge Stewart pacing through the house). And as if on cue, the phone rang. It was the vet, calling to say that they'd continued the barium study and not only was the dye not progressing, but it was clearly outlining something rather large blocking Nigel's intestine and she wanted to proceed with surgery. We okay'd the procedure (which included the extra step of suturing Nigel's stomach in place to prevent bloat, or stomach-flipping, since large breed dogs are susceptible to it) and laid down in bed.

I was pretty tired, so after 20 minutes of EastEnders I managed to fall asleep until my mom came in at almost 3:00am to tell me that the vet had called, and Nigel was doing very well. The surgery took two hours (twice as long as expected), and they removed this wonderful stuffed animal head in the process:

But the reason the surgery was so lengthy was because, in addition to that piece of fluff, they also had to remove 42 inches of intestine that appeared necrotic.

That really surprised us. I thought maybe they might have to take some intestines out (I was really hoping they wouldn't) but not three and a half feet! We've figured that's roughly a third of his small intestine.

All of this information presented, we went back to bed, still a bit worried. I called at 8:30 on Saturday to check on him and the attending doctor sounded very optimistic about everything, but said that it's an hour-by-hour kind of post-op, and they wouldn't know if we could take him home until late Saturday night. After lunch, our regular vet's office called and Dr Dan said he was very happy with what the other vet had said, and that Nigel had everything (youth, vigor, and good health) on his side, and he expects a full recovery as long as we're careful post op.

So at 5:30 I called the emergency vet again, and they said Nigel was doing well but wouldn't eat, and left it up to us if we wanted to go in and see if we could get him to eat something. My mom and I had been debating this because we didn't want to cause some other GI distress by going and seeing him and then leaving again, but we decided he might perk up a bit if he saw us.

Well...he was out of it. Totally loopy and hopped up on pain killers - but we did get him to eat a slice of bread and a few bites of chicken, and we took him outside for a little roam (which he was thrilled about) before leaving for the night. I called again at 9:00pm to make sure he was settled for the night and they told me he'd eaten a little more after we left. The nurse seemed confident we'd be able to take him home Sunday.

And she was right. I called yesterday morning and the vet gave me the run down, then said we were welcome to pick him up when we were ready. So at 1:00 we went over and picked him up, then got him settled at home:

All shaved! And there's a nice long incision in there...12 inches and 30 staples!

Chilling out and watching Outlander with me. Okay, he's not really watching it.
So he's home and safe. He's not enjoying not being able to play with Stewart...honestly he seems a bit bored. But he's supposed to be bored and healing, not jumping around and getting his incision and intestines infected, so there you go.

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