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June 2007 Archives

June 7, 2007

The Saga Continues

Angus has had quite the story over the past two years. Around November of 2005, he was diagnosed with diabetes. He had been vomiting yellow bile and become PU/PD. Blood work showed a blood glucose well over 500. Our vet suggested that dogs don't just get diabetes; there must be some other underlying condition that brought on the diabetes.

We did some tests and eventually an ultrasound showed a mass somewhere around his liver and pancreas area; it wasn't quite clear. This must be the "underlying cause". We kept an eye on the mass, doing ultrasounds every couple of weeks as we were trying to get the diabetes under control and determine the nature of the mass. When Angus continued to have episodes of not eating and vomiting, we opted to have surgery to find out what the nature of this mass was. The doctors were concerned that it was pancreatic cancer.

The doctors at Veterinary Specialty Center of Seattle/ spent several hours removing the mass; a fist-sized tumor on the duodenum that partially involved the pancreas and blocked the bile duct. In the process of removing this, they had to remove part of Angus' pancreas, by-pass the bile duct, and re-route the small intestine, removing the duodenum.

Angus recovered well from his surgery, but he didn't put on weight. Worse, he started to pass a foul oil that oozed out of his anus and got on everything. It smelled of putrid death. This, we found out, is called Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, or EPI, and is common when you remove part of the pancreas. In short, the pancreatic enzymes that help to break down fats in the small intestine don't do their job. Fats pass right through the system. It's quite unpleasant. And since we had a dog that was on an meat-based diet, he had a lot of oil passing through. We learned about an enzyme replacement that would help Angus digest the fats in his diet. The stuff isn't cheap: $130 / 12oz bottle. But, it works.

Angus started to put on a little weight, but then he sort of stopped. We began to assume that he'd always be underweight as a result of his diabetes and EPI. However, we did not expect him to "suddenly" go blind. This is what happened about six months or so after his surgery. It turns out that we were not managing his diabetes as well as we thought we were. We didn't really know what we were doing and had not gotten a lot of direction or help from our original vet. Evidently cataracts are common in diabetics as the high blood sugar causes proteins in the lens of the eye to bind together and become opaque. So now Angus had to have cataract surgery to restore his sight. Plus, we needed to get his blood glucose under control. Angus came out of surgery happy and able to see.

We got a glucometer and adjusted Angus' insulin to stabilize his blood sugar. But, we evidently still didn't have it down right. What would seem like a good dose for one week would eventually end up being too little; Angus would stop eating, vomit, and spike a fever. We would see his blood glucose was high and we'd up his insulin dosage until his blood glucose stabilized. After several cycles of this, we finally decided to switch from Vetsulin to Humilin. That has made a big difference. Finally, Angus put on weight and we eventually had to cut his food from 3x to just 2x.

Now the latest (finally). On Friday, May 25, I notice his lymph nodes under his jaw were swollen. Of course, by the time I got a chance to tell Lisa about this, I had forgotten. Then Saturday morning, we let him out and he came in with hives all over his head. We called our vet and as we watched, the hives multiplied and spread all over his face, down his shoulders and legs, and all over his hind quarters. Our vet was getting ready to close since it was Saturday and directed us to the emergency vet. That was a very disappointing experience, but the end result was a dose of Benadryl and dex and a histological report that said his lymph system was inflamed.

A week later, he was still getting hives daily and his lymph glands were still hugely swollen. We took him to our regular vet to get blood work and new needle aspirates of his lymph glands. This time, the histological report was much less pleasant: lymphoma. This, in short, is not good. He's still got hives on a daily basis, if not constantly. We aren't quite sure what our treatment plan is going to be; we talk to the vet again on Friday to discuss this. Lisa is in a bit of shock about the whole thing.

At this point, we're just hoping for the best and plan on making things as good as we can for Angus (and everyone else) while he's still here. And we're hoping that he'll be here for a while more.

About June 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Quite the Menagerie in June 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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