Wednesday, March 04, 2009

In which I ramble on forever about sickness and money

Update on me: I went back to the doctor again this morning. I've been on prednisone, a second course of antibiotics, a decongestant, an antihistamine, an inhaler, a cough medicine with codeine, and a nebulizer for a week now and I'm STILL having a hard time breathing.

Just walking from the waiting room into the examination room had me out of breath today. Even trying to carry on a conversation with someone at a normal volume also puts me out of breath. Definitely not normal.

So they ordered up some chest x-rays today and they'll have the results tomorrow. They'll call if they see anything I guess. I have ANOTHER follow up appointment again next week. Hopefully I'll finally be better by then.

They're keeping me on the nebulizer and changed my inhaler to a more powerful one. They moved the prednisone back up to a higher dosage and have me taking a lot of that for the next 24 days. I know it can have some side effects, so hopefully that won't be too bad. It does taste horrible, no matter how fast you try to swallow them, so I'm having Tom try to find some gel caps that I can put the tablets in for swallowing. I hope that works.

But enough about me. Someone else in the family is dealing with health issues too.

Sampson. He's one of our first babies. He and Abbey are brother and sister and have been with us ever since they were 6 weeks old back in 1999. About 2 years ago we noticed Sampson had a lump on his chest. It was tiny, you couldn't see it, just feel it. We asked the vet about it at his yearly appointment and the vet was sure it was benign. He said we could have it removed, but it would cost upwards of $600. Well we had Nicky by then and had just bought a house, so it didn't seem like much of a priority. I don't care if he's a lumpy dog, I just want him healthy. So we let it be. Over the last 6 months to a year though, this thing has gotten huge! It just keeps growing. Finally when we were all sick two weeks ago, I noticed that the skin over the lump had split. It must now be growing so fast that the skin couldn't keep up. As soon as we were well enough to leave the house, Tom took Sampson back to our vet. They did a complete analysis of him and he's healthy as can be (liver, kidneys, lungs, heart all good) except that they also did a biopsy. And it's cancer.

We kind of figured that a while ago. We'd also noticed more lumps on him, and figured we'd just watch how he was feeling. Putting him through surgeries or chemo or anything else would just be super expensive and not really fair to him. We just want him happy and comfortable.

But now with there being an open wound, well that's just gross, and even though he doesn't seem to feel any pain from it, infection is just too likely. So now we have to do something.

Our vet said they couldn't do surgery on something like that, I guess because of the size or something, so they referred us to the UF Vet School. Tom took Sampson in yesterday and Sampson got to spend a whole day being poked and prodded and stuck with needles. They did aspiration biopsies on all his lumps and found just the big one seems to be cancer.

We outlined a plan for a not too crazy surgery. They'll remove the lump and a good bit of the tissue around it, anything that seems visually involved. And then close the wound by bringing the remaining skin back together. What we won't be doing is taking a 3cm extra amount of tissue and skin around the tumor. We won't be taking out lymph nodes and stuff either.

While this probably means he'll still have microscopic cancer bits in there, taking out the lump this way will get rid of the open wound issue and make him more comfortable, without having a lot of side effects that would happen if you get into taking out muscle and extra bits. It'll also make the site easier to close, seriously this thing is like the size of a grapefruit right now, and if you take all that skin plus another 3cm all around you'd have a hard time pulling the rest together to close it up.

Altogether we've already spent a good $700-$800 already with the diagnostics and stuff. He's on an antibiotic now to ward off infection from the wound too. But now this surgery is going to be another $1500. Ugh. It's cheaper than it could be if we did the more radical surgery (that was estimated at 3k minimum). So in the end, we're doing it.

Please don't point out that it would have been cheaper to do all this back when they estimated a mere $600. I know already. But really, back then there was just no way we could pay that. Now at least we have a little cushion from financial aide and getting our tax refund will help too. It kills off any money we'd hoped to have for any fun stuff (like well), but it really is what we have to do at this point.

I mean, I can't put him to sleep when really he's totally fine except for this big lump. That's just not an option. Kind of like Abbey, when she had to have her TWO knee surgeries. We weren't going to put her down just for having a boo-boo knee. (Hm, maybe Sampson was just making sure we got the opportunity to spend just as much on him as we did on his sister.)

So Sampson goes in this Friday for surgery. They said they'll probably keep him over the weekend for recovery. And then I'll get to fork over a ton of money. Ouch!

Next to go to the vet is Abbey and Benjamin. They're healthy, but overdue for their exams and need to get checked out. At least they should be a lot cheaper though. I think the only problem with them is Abbey's incontinence. She has to be kept in the kitchen/dining area because she's a little leaky sometimes. Theoretically she needs estrogen therapy, but I think she just needs to work on those Kegels. She doesn't listen to me though.

I love my dogs, but I can't help but think how much easier (and CHEAPER) it would be to have just one. Or even, dare I say, none. Likely we'll never have none though. Tom and Nicky love their dogs too much to have a house without at least one. (I love them too, but there are days when I'd like to be able to go somewhere on impulse and not have to arrange a sitter.)

Ok, totally rambling now. Best tie up this train wreck of a post and move on. Maybe I'll pop in some nice photos for you.

Sampson in 2006

Sampson in 2004

Tom will hate this photo, but this is how Sampson loves to cuddle. He was mopey after we got our third dog, Benjamin and needed a cuddle. He's a very cuddly dog.

Sampson laughing at us from his collar. This was back about 6-8 years ago probably. It always struck me as funny.


Anonymous said...

So sorry about Samson.
Very concerned about your condition, Angie--keep us advised.
Love you all bunches and bunches,
xxxoooMom/Grammie :)

jodifur said...

aw, poor baby.