This morning, I dropped off Jelly at the vet hospital for her scheduled ultrasound. She’s been prone to bladder infections over the past couple of years and, lately, in the past few weeks, has been having an alarming number of “accidents” in the house. She’s going to be fourteen this February so, yes, she is getting on in years and that may account for it, but these recent developments have come on so suddenly that I thought it best to get her checked out just in case.
As I always do whenever one of my dogs is about to undergo a procedure, I have someone run me through the specifics. No anesthesia, I was informed. She’d be brought into a dark, quiet room where the ultrasound device would use high frequency sound waves to create an image of her stomach and bladder. It would be relaxed, non-invasive and, at the end of the day, perhaps one of the more pleasant of diagnostics. It sounded so nice I was tempted to make an appointment for myself as well!
I was told they would phone me with the results and a pick-up time for Jelly, so I drove back home and had just sat down to catch up on my emails when I noticed the breaking story on the news feeds. Shocking and incredibly sad. While I’m sure this incident will reignite the long-standing debate on gun control, I think the bigger issue should be mental health and what, if anything, can be done to protect the general population from individuals with obvious psychological issues.
Today’s shooting comes on the heels of a report that an ex-doctor who murdered his own children, aged 5 and 3, during a bitter dispute with his wife, has been released after spending four years in a psychiatric facility. Four years! Ex-doctor’s release proves need for new law, minister says. Just last week here in Vancouver, a man who had been seeing a hospital psychiatrist, attacked three random elderly women, two of whom remain in critical condition. I’m not sure what the answer is but, clearly, the system we have in place isn’t working. I feel as though we just had this conversation (November 29, 2012: Soliciting your opinions on parental responsibility and time travel opportunities! and November 30, 2012: On parental responsibility and time travel II!).
Anyway, today’s events were horrific. And only ten days from Christmas. I can’t imagine what the grieving parents must be going through. Heartbreaking.
Suffice it to say, I found it difficult to accomplish much today outside of following the news reports. I picked up Jelly later this afternoon and, about an hour later, received a call from the vet. On the one hand, there was no sign of any mass in her bladder (a worst case possibility they had warned me about), but something in the results set off, well, if not alarm bells then let’s call them pre-alarm bells. She told me it wasn’t necessarily the case, but there was a chance Jelly could have developed Cushing’s Syndrome, an overproduction of the hormone cortisol, usually the result of a tumor in either adrenal or pituitary gland. The disease is apparently more common in older dogs and treatment can be tricky because, in many cases, the side effects of the treatment are often worse than the disease itself. She asked me whether I’d noticed some recent changes in Jelly’s behavior…
Is she drinking a lot more water? Is she peeing more? Does she pant a lot? Does she always seem very hungry? Well, she’s a pug. As for the other three symptoms – yes, yes, and yes. Perhaps more alarming is the fact that these self-same symptoms have cropped up in Lulu lately. In the past couple of weeks, she just can’t seem to get enough water. Or food. She’ll park herself in front of the wok kitchen where I store the dog food and barks until she gets a some kibble. Very unusual for her. And, yes, she’s been doing A LOT of heavy panting at night.
Jelly is scheduled to go in for some follow-up tests next week and I’m considering bringing Lulu in as well.
I’d received the call from the vet while Akemi and I were out shopping for groceries and, as I explained the situation to her, the older woman walking in front of us informed me that her brother died of Cushings. He had mistakenly been diagnosed with diabetes – apparently the symptoms are similar – and was treated with insulin. In this case, the cure contributed to his death. A sad story but she seemed spirited if not a little wistful. She stopped at the bus shelter. I noticed the roller bag sitting beside her. “Come on,”I said. “Let me give you a lift.” She thanked me for the offer but informed me that her destination was well out of my way – a good twenty minute drive from where we were. But, given the type of day I’d had, I actually looked forward to a leisurely ride through a new neighborhood.
And so, I popped her stuff in the trunk and gave her a lift. She was delightful company, an Irish transplant who shares my mom’s affinity for dogs and Maeve Binchy books.
Sure, it was twenty minutes out of my way – and I did get lost on the way back home – but it was, nevertheless, the high point of my day.