We're back from the vet. Thirteen was out cold all afternoon, no surprise after all the excitement this morning. They shaved her tummy in preparation for the ultrasound that didn't end up happening, so she's a baldy girl now. Oh well, maybe it will keep her cool this summer.
Dr. Lindeke talked to me for a long time, and showed me Thirteen's X-rays. By the way, have I mentioned how much I love Dr. Lindeke? The personal attention she gives my dogs, & time she takes to explain things, is just wonderful. In this past week alone she called me from her home & even called me from her son's Little League game, because she wanted me to have the info on Thirteen as soon as possible. She has told me about her own pets too (dogs, cats and horses) so I know how much she cares about animals.
Anyway, she showed me Thirteen's X-rays. I could definitely see what she was talking about. Some of the vertebrae look kind of ... fused, connected to each other by a cloudiness around the bottoms of the discs. Apparently that shows that Thirteen has either had this infection in the past, or still has it now. Dr. Lindeke said that sometimes when an infection is low-level and chronic, it doesn't show up in standard blood tests. However, they took more blood to do another test, now that they know what to look for. Also they took a urine sample. She said that this spinal infection, discospondylitis, can be caused by an infection somewhere else in the body (like a uti) or by a fungal infection, so they have to check for both. In the past week Thirteen has had lab work done on every substance a dog produces. Except drool, and if there was any reason I'm sure they'd test that too.
She gave me an antibiotic, which she said would treat the spinal infection if she has it, and also the bronchitis and the skin irritation they noticed when they clipped her belly. If the antibiotic doesn't clear up her cough, we'll put her on a steroid too. Also they gave me some topical stuff because she got a razor burn in one spot from the shaving.
The antibiotic is kind of big and I have to give it to her twice a day for 6 weeks. I bought these "Pill Pockets," which are foul smelling mushy dog treats in the shape of a cup. Put a pill inside, smush it closed, and trick your dog into swallowing it without chewing. (This is easy with most dogs.) The funny thing is that according to the packaging, Pill Pockets contain probiotics. I have no idea what those are, but wouldn't they cancel out the antibiotics?
I looked up discospondylitis online. It's apparently quite painful, and treatment takes a long time. It sounds horrible to say that I hope my dog has a terribly painful spinal disease. But considering that I woke up this morning thinking she had terminal cancer, a treatable infection would be an incredible relief.
I've actually been feeling kind of weird this afternoon. Terribly relieved, also fearful and suspicious, annoyed that I can't just be happy unreservedly, confused about how I should feel, and in a weird way kind of let down. I guess mentally exhausted is a better way to put it. I've been thinking so much about Thirteen's death for the past week, that suddenly not having to worry about it is kind of emotional whiplash (as Georg put it).