Negative test results. But now what?

Yesterday Rooki had the ACTH stimulation test (scroll down to the previous post if you missed that), the purpose of which was to zero in on the possibility, raised the other day by bloodwork at the internal medicine specialist, of Addison’s disease. Today, from the time she got up, she was so obviously feeling better that I didn’t give her her anti-nausea med, and then she led the way on a full walk around the pasture. She swam, hunted, chased, ran, dug, all as if she was back to normal. The only thing pointing to her still not being well was the cow patty she left behind. But she felt great. And she looks great.

The camper has developed a whole new set of leaks, so I had to spend several hours trying to fix the godforsaken thing and in the end get a repairman and work on it with him. Roo hung around outside and stayed happy and alert through those hours, lobbying for some attention, curious about what was going on. These days I never expect that to last long. I looked at her constantly to see if any signs of trouble were coming back, but she was fine. Completely normal.

In the afternoon Dr. Stokes called with the results of the ACTH test. Negative. No Addison’s. The cortisol response to the glucose stimulation was perfectly normal.

I don’t put too much stock in her having felt better for a day—after all, that happened last week for two days before she took another dive. But the conflicting signals of feeling so good yet now having to be subjected to the next stage of the inquiry—endoscopy—is not just confusing, it’s bloody awful. It’s scary and stressful for her. And Dr. Stokes has warned me that when they scope a dog, they can’t snake the scope past the beginning of the small intestine, so if the endoscopy doesn’t turn anything up the next stage would be exploratory surgery. He wanted to be clear that I understood that. What does that mean? Are they expecting something bad?

I don’t know if I’m glad or not that she doesn’t have Addison’s. And if the past couple of weeks has been any indication, in another day or two she’ll be sick again. Then, if I give her the anti-nausea med, will it work if it’s after the fact? Will it be too late? But keeping her on it for prolonged periods isn’t a great idea, either. It’s not made for that.

I’m reaching new levels of exhaustion, sick, too, and obviously worried about Roo all the time. So, when we were finished with the pain in the ass jobs on the camper, another walk for Roo was the last thing I wanted to do. But I didn’t want to waste an opportunity for her to exercise and be able to have some fun while she was feeling good. She was the old Rooki again, just as she had been in the morning. 

I didn’t let her go to extremes, though. Getting too exhausted can’t be good for her, either. She wanted to continue, but I told her to forget it, Bearface, and clipped the leash on her and brought her back. As it was, this meant she had hiked three miles today. What happened next is another mystery.

At the end of the walk she wasn’t as hot as she normally would be, since on the leash for the last half of the walk she had to move at my speed, but she was still panting when we got back. It wasn’t cold, but it wasn’t warm, in the low 50s. On the way, there’s a water trough for the buffalo, and I usually hose her off there so she can dry out a little by the time we get back to the camper. She was fine. Normal. I fed her, and she ate without incident. No reflux, no sign of anything wrong. Fifteen minutes later I told her we had to go in the car, and she hopped right up, wagged, and was happy about it. Ten minutes after that, in the car, I put a hand on her and noticed that she was shivering. Her nose was ice cold. I took my fleece jacket off and put it around her. By the time we got back to the camper, she was still shivering a little, and didn’t want to be covered. Eventually she stopped, and now she’s sleeping soundly. Could she have shivered from being in a weakened state? I think she’s only shivered one other time in her life.

What could be going on with her? The only two things the docs thought her symptoms pointed to have been all but ruled out. But a lab test could be wrong. I doubt the ACTH is wrong, because one lab checks two results taken two hours apart and both fell into the expected ranges. But her pancreas was a little swollen on The ultrasound on Monday. It was the bloodwork that came back negative for that. Now, the endoscopy is coming up, but that’s being given with the warning proviso that it’s only good if it finds anything wrong with her upper GI tract. If it doesn’t she’ll need exploratory surgery?

That’s where we are. Another 300-mile round trip to Tulsa coming up, and another frightening time for Roo. And of course the question of whether she might be able to eke out another day, and then another, of feeling well, like she did today. What could be wrong with her?

Living in the camper is becoming impossible. But I believe we are stuck.