Posted by hansmyhedgehog on 11/15/2011 5:40 PM (GMT-04:00)
[BTW: My dog’s name is Jackson, like where you live, though I haven’t called him that regularly in years. Once he grew up he started going by Jack… I just call him by his full name when he’s being scolded, which isn’t very often… he’s a wonderful friend.]
Thanks for the kind words. It’s been a tough year. See, Jack started showing some signs or symptoms I hadn’t seen before, particularly a dramatically increased appetite and thirst. I had to upgrade his water bowl to a large bucket and he still was going through it in a couple of hours. And his appetite was ‘ravenous’ at best. After seeing my vet, then a specialist and a surgeon (from 3 different places, to get more honest and less business-oriented feedback) and lots of lab work and an ultrasound, we figured out Jack had a mass on one of his adrenal glands – which made it 1.3” in diameter whereas the other, healthy adrenal glad has a diameter of 0.5”, so it was almost 3x bigger. It was/is most likely a tumor, but because it was in such a weird place a biopsy would require the same surgery as to go ahead and take it out (it was also resting against his vena cava – not a ‘good’ place at all). And here’s the kicker: the surgery is so complicated and dangerous, 10-20% of dogs don’t make it through the surgery. Those are horrible odds. Suppose I told you I was going to cut off some of your fingers, say, 10-20%? That’s a lot of fingers! Needless to say, I wasn’t too thrilled about putting him through surgery. He has had 2 surgeries in the past anyway, but those were both orthopedic – torn ACLs in both his hind legs (at least I had about 2.5 years in between them, as they were around $2k a pop) – and how many times have you heard of someone dying from knee surgery? So those were tolerable and Jack’s legs are ok, shy of some serious arthritis that bothers him a lot (he can’t climb-up in my Jeep anymore, I have to boost him). This was a whole different thing though.
So after a lot of thought and discussion with my ‘medical council’ I came up with an idea that everyone agreed on. See, as long as the mass didn’t get any bigger, and Jack didn’t show a number of symptoms they gave me, he might be ok. That 1 ultrasound I had done was 1 snapshot – it would take another after a certain duration of time to see if/how-fast it was growing. So I decided to get another ultrasound 3 months later, and if it wasn’t any bigger and Jack was doing ok we would just continue to do the test every quarter, etc. Everyone was on board, though I must say the surgeon was the least enthused, as he wanted surgery of course (he is a cutter), but he agreed as long as I did get the ultrasounds every 3-4 months and if there was any growth, to do the surgery as Jack wasn’t getting any younger and that’s a factor, too.
So… 2nd ultrasound (first follow-up) it was still 1.3” – great news, all things considered. 3rd ultrasound, still no growth, still 1.3”, so the adrenal glad was holding steady. BUT (the dreaded ‘but’) they found something else, another growth, in his bladder. And not even on the backside of his bladder, near some meat or fat or whatever… it was in the worst possible place, where everything meets – his bladder, urethra, the kidneys… I think they call it the trigon or something like that, but basically it looks like a busy intersection, so if the thing grows in any direction, that’s pretty much it. Unlike that adrenal glad mass, however, this could be checked for cancer. It required a nasty test, a catheter and draining all of his urine out, then going up in there and scraping… The specialist said Jack was the first dog she ever had (in 16 years) that didn’t require any sedation for the procedure. He’s tough! She also told me beforehand that she was already 99.99% sure it was cancer from just what she saw in the ultrasound. But we still had to be check to be sure – you can’t treat somebody for something you ‘think’ they have. And sure enough, the tests came back with the worst news possible.
I spent well over a thousand dollars that week. It completely wiped out the remainder of my savings, which had already taken a beating this year from the adrenal gland stuff (those ultrasounds cost close to $400 every time). Some people think I’m crazy for doing so much (and spending so much) “on a dog,” but most animal lovers completely understand. He’s my family, my best friend and my kid, all rolled in one. And I don’t think medical decisions and treatments should ever be dictated by dollars and cents.
Surgery isn’t even an option here. Untreated, he has 3-6 months. The meds he’s on now give him a 20% chance of shrinking the cancer and slowing-down the process, to give him more time and a good quality of life. Chemotherapy increases that to 40%, but chemo is $350 a treatment and I’m all tapped out. I’m hoping to have some saved up in a couple of months.
To answer your question, no I wasn’t able to find a ticket. The weekend before the sale I actually made enough to buy one of the cheap tickets – I sold some of my personal belongings, including my iPod and one of my guitars (an old, cheap, damaged one). I was online an hour before the sale, right at 9am… and wasn’t able to get anything. I typed in those captcha codes 100 times, at least. Nothing. What made it more annoying was that I saw tickets available on ‘broker’ (scalper) sites over a week before they went on sale, for 10x the face value, and higher, of course. And the morning of the sale it seems like the scalpers got most of the rest of them… if you read the comments on the boards that day, you’ll see that a lot of people didn’t have any luck. 10/31 was a very stressful day! At 2-3pm I gave up.
It was probably for the best anyway, for the same reason I had to wait until today to write you back. Yesterday Jack broke another tooth, a K-9, his second one since this all started (cancer is horrible) and I had to take him to the vet. They have to get the rest out, or it will abscess, and the last thing Jack needs is any type of infection. So I have to have that done in the morning, and it cost close to $200 for the other one, so that’s that, I suppose. It sucks! I don’t have a lot of revenue coming in, anyways. I was ‘downsized’ when my position was eliminated at the company I worked for (my entire department was moved to the Philippines). So now I’m trying to become a teacher, which requires some certification exams I almost have completed. And to make money and experience whil