And then, my phone rang. It was the vet. I'd taken my dog for a routine vaccine booster on Thursday, and they'd asked me if, "because she's getting older", I'd like to do a blood panel workup, just to make sure all is clear. Cinn's been acting like her normal self - read: pretty lazy but running around the yard on occasion - but I figured sure, why not. She is 10, and despite my wish that she'd live as long as I do, I am somewhat realistic. My vet told me that she'd be back on Tuesday so I probably wouldn't hear from her until then.
So when my phone rang at 9 AM on a Saturday of Memorial Weekend and I looked down and saw the vet's name pop up, I knew something was wrong. It was my actual vet, calling from home on her day off, on the other end of the phone. Usually the techs call when it's a routine "all looks good" and the vet isn't there. This did not feel right. To make a long story short, Cinn's platelets are very low. They're supposed to be at 150,000, I'm told. Hers are at 30,000. My vet told me, "it could be a lab error, or it could be very severe. If it were my dog I wouldn't wait until Tuesday when I'm back in." I
The emergency doctor, who was wonderful and redid the platelet test for free, confirmed that it was not a lab error. We talked about obvious causes and what we could do for each. They stuck Cinn like a pin cushion (and shaved part of her legs to do so) for further blood tests, and then did several xrays. Nothing came up positive, which was in one sense a relief, but didn't help to give us any answers. In addition, they said her blood was clotting normally, which it shouldn't be for such a low platelet level. More or less, they're somewhat stumped.
On the chance that it's an autoimmune disease, she's now on a steroid and another medication, plus extra strength Pepcid AC for her already sensitive stomach. She's home, and other than being extra hungry and thirsty and needing more frequent bathroom breaks, she seems ok - of course she did before I got the phone call, so that's not much of an indicator, other than I'm glad to see that she doesn't look to be in pain. All she knows is she's getting an extra "meal" (really her normal amount of food split into three meals instead of two because one of the meds must be taken with food) and she gets peanut butter three times a day, because I have to hide the pills in it. Unlike her mama, she's probably forgotten all about the multiple vet visits, the blood work, the xrays, and she's oblivious phrases like "autoimmune disease" and "possible cancer", for which I am glad.
We had a very, very close call, and are by no means out of the woods yet. If her blood work doesn't improve, we were told we can get an ultrasound "if a diagnosis of cancer would affect our course of treatment" - i.e. if we wouldn't plan on doing chemo etc, they don't feel we need to do the ultrasound. Those are never words I want to hear about a loved one, human or furry. Hasn't our family had our share of that awful disease enough in these past few years? I can't think about that yet, though I know I should be. My poor baby girl is going on 11 years old. She seems to be enjoying life. Would putting her through all of that be for her, or for me? I'm not sure. I'm trying to think positive.
If anything good came out of this weekend - in addition to the fact that nothing obviously ominous showed up on her lab work - it's that it reminded me how short life can be. I know it sounds dumb. She's a large breed dog. Obviously, her life has a span of, I don't know, 15 to 16 years if we're really lucky? But still, I'd just kept thinking that's five or six more years. I'll prepare myself slowly. But this is different. She showed now signs. I wasn't prepared for this news. It isn't five years from now. It was a holiday weekend full of expectations of fun and relaxation. And so I spent the rest of the weekend (hugging/spoiling Cinn and...) trying to focus on the moment. I put an out of office message on my email. I tried not to worry about things I had to do once the weekend was over. I didn't pre-plan everything down to the last minute for the upcoming week, like I usually do. Instead, I focused on spending time with loved ones and just enjoying it. I vowed to do this more often. Life really is all too short to do otherwise.