Day 19: A new vet

We were late getting to the vet today. It wasn’t my fault. Roo was feeling good and detected a mouse and started digging a hole and wouldn’t stop. The only blame that falls on me is from my not having had the heart to make her stop. From here on out, she can do pretty much whatever she wants. We’re on her schedule now.

The new veterinarian, Dr. Gail Mason, made a terrific impression on me, and more importantly, on Roo.

“Oh,” she said when she came into the exam room, “nobody told me what a pretty girl you are!” She spent some time buttering her up and Roo loved it. To reinforce Roo’s opinion of her the doctor began to feed her cookie bits. With Roo’s case of prednisone munchies, she actually begged for more, and Roo is not, and has never been, a beggar. Roo was relaxed throughout her visit. I’m not even sure she knew this was a doctor’s office. She was completely unstressed afterwards.

Dr. Mason confirmed that the wound on Roo’s arm was the result of the way the chemo had been administered at the other place. She said there wasn’t any doubt about it. The chemo drugs are toxic, and if they leak, they start to kill healthy tissue and the dog gets exactly what Roo has. A miserable wound that is slow to heal. She said it happens, though in 28 years not to anyone she’s treated. She wasn’t saying this to criticize the other vet, and I had given her no reason to think I wanted to hear any criticism of them, but because it was an obvious medical fact. The way the skin necrotized, the difficulty Roo is having healing. Another reason never to go back to that first hospital, especially since they told me that they didn’t administer chemo in that IV. Hard to believe.

Dr. Mason said that if Roo were her dog, what she would do is break from the CHOP protocol Roo is on, for this one visit, and administer L-asparaginase today instead of the vincristine she was scheduled for. This way, she could be given the doxorubicin next week, on her Tuesday visit. That doxorubicin is the hardest of the chemo drugs, and afterward I wondered if this change was due to her opinion that Roo’s disease is farther along than the other oncologist had said. The previous diagnosis was Stage IV, but Dr. Mason said that Roo was in Stage V. Stage V is when the cancer has reached the bloodstream and bone marrow. So, while that’s bad news, it still doesn’t mean that Roo won’t be able to achieve remission. It does mean it might be harder. Dr. Mason also took all the time necessary to discuss upcoming treatment, the vaccine that Roo would be able to take if she got into remission (towards the end of the course of chemo), and she questioned me about Roo’s diet and instructed me to make a few small changes, like no more raw meat for now, because of the chance of catching something from it, no carbs, and other stuff like that. 

Afterward, I took Roo for a walk. Virginia happened to be leaving her house at the same time to walk to town so we started off with her, but by the time we got around the corner Roo planted her feet and put her head down.

Now, I never thought of Roo as stubborn until Virginia pointed out to me how stubborn Roo is. How it never occurred to me I don’t know. To me, Roo’s determination not to do something she doesn’t want to do just seemed like the expression of an opinion, not an argument. But, one day, Virginia tried to take Roo for a walk and Roo wouldn’t consider it. She wouldn’t budge an inch unless I went along.

“Wow,” Virginia said, “she’s so stubborn.” She didn’t mean it in a negative way. Virginia loves Roo. She was right. I had just never seen it. And it’s true, Roo is an incredibly stubborn dog. But, I admire it.

So, Roo planted herself. She didn’t want to walk towards town.

“Maybe she’s too tired after the vet and the chemo,” I said. “I better bring her back.”

Virginia went her way and we headed back. Or so I thought. What Roo had been insisting on had nothing to do with going home. She wanted to go to the park, which was in the other direction. We went there. Once again, she had to be stopped from going in the water because of that wound on her arm. I’m a little unsure of how far to let her walk, but she wanted to keep going when I turned us back after 20 minutes or so. It was a good thing, too. Towards the end of the walk she was moving slow.

I put her in the car and drove her to town where she had to wait while I went into a health food store to buy her some goat milk. Beside the milk they also had a very pricey jar of goat yogurt. This I opened and put down on the arm rest for Roo.

So, that’s the update. Roo is feeling good, but the fight with this damnable cancer is far from a sure thing. In the meantime, what the hell. You’ll find me spoiling a stubborn dog — and glad for every chance I might still get to do that.