I was supposed to be foster sitting Thursday-Monday for Harlee the 9 year old basset with Addison's disease while her foster mom traveled to CA for a teaching/performance music event. Instead Harlee is sick in the hospital and they aren't positive what the problem is yet. Below are edited versions of the email updates her foster sent me about her condition and what the plan for the weekend is as she HAS to go on her trip or ruin the teaching/performance event as no back up can fill her spot on such short notice. She's an emotional mess and I feel so bad for her.
Harlee has been a very unhappy dog today. I discovered when I went into the kitchen this morning that last night, some time before I got home from rehearsal at 11 PM, she somehow managed to get into the pantry and down two packaged chocolate-flavored pie crusts (leaving the empty pie tins and a portion of the wrappings as evidence). She seemed fine last night and until about 6 AM today, but has clearly been very uncomfortable since then. She hasn't eaten anything all day today, hasn't jumped up on the bed or couch to snuggle with me or otherwise seek attention, and is moving very slowly (and not very often).
We saw Dr. J this afternoon. He seems to think that she will be fine by tomorrow morning. She is supposed to have only water today and tonight, and then a small meal in the morning. I am supposed to monitor to make sure she eats it and keeps it down. If not, I need to bring her back in to see him again.
I will try to get up earlier than usual so that I can feed Harlee her breakfast long enough before 10 AM to see if it stays down. If it does, and if you and/or Andy are willing to keep an eye open for trouble during the day, I can still bring her to you as planned. [You can always call me if there is any trouble, and I can be the one to take her to her vet.] It it does not, or if you want me to be the one to do the watching tomorrow, I will have to keep her with me until later in the day. Hopefully she will be back to normal by breakfast time and this will not be an issue.
I hate to have to leave Harlee with you so soon after she has been sick, but I can't really cancel out of this trip at this point. I hope you are OK with sticking with the plan ......
thurs morning phone conversations
Harlee's foster mom called and said Harlee wasn't looking/feeling well and was taking her back in to the vet that morning and would update me in the afternoon once they know more.
full update around 1am this morning
Hi, everyone! I just got home, and want to give you all an update on Harlee.
Short version: She is doing OK, and does not appear to be going into crisis mode. She spent the whole day at my local vet's, and was then transferred to the Hope Center at closing time -- not because she was in any imminent danger, but because she needed to be kept on IV fluids for at least the next 24 hours, and also because they are still trying to figure out what is going on with her.
Despite our concerns earlier today, my regular vet (Dr. C) told me late this afternoon that -- on paper -- there is nothing to indicate that Harlee has been suffering from chocolate toxicity or is heading towards another Addison's crisis. Her EKG results were normal, and so are her electrolytes. The only odd result that showed up in her bloodwork was an elevated kidney value. They need to figure out whether she perhaps has a kidney infection, or the beginnings of kidney disease, or some other disease or disorder, or whether she was simply dehydrated because of not having eaten anything or drunk much since Wednesday morning. Other terms that have been floating around are gastro-enteritis and possibly pancreatitis.
When I brought her in to see Dr. C. this morning, Harlee was clearly in great discomfort. She was totally off her food and extremely lethargic, and her tail was way down between her legs from the time we got up in the morning to the time I left her at the vet. When I picked her up eight hours later, I was relieved to see her trot out to the waiting room with her tail up, and start wagging it as soon as she saw me. It came back down again a little while later, but she clearly no longer felt as miserable as she did in the morning.
I started to write the longer version of the whole story as part of this same email message, and that has delayed my sending out the message (I've actually been home since 10:30 and started writing it shortly thereafter). But I just picked up what I've written so far and transferred it to a separate message box to finish later, because Dr. A from the Hope Center called me a little while ago with a status update -- and I don't want to delay any further getting that information to all of you.
Dr. A confirmed that Harlee does not appear to be in any imminent danger. They will check her kidney levels again on Friday to see if hydrating her has made the critical difference, and in the meantime they have started her on antibiotics in case the urinalysis reveals an infection when the results come back. The test for pancreatitis has already come back negative, but it is not totally dispositive so they are going to check further on that, too, on Friday. They plan to do an ultrasound, which (in addition to being another check on the possible pancreatitis) should also give them a better idea of what is going on with her kidneys and whether there might possibly be a nasty surprise there (although it seems an odd coincidence that it would show up right at the same moment as the chocolate incident).
Dr. A expects that they will want to keep Harlee at the Hope Center until Saturday morning, at least, and assures me that there is no reason why I should not go off on my trip Friday morning as planned. [For those of you who don't know what that's about, see the longer message that will follow.] DeniseMe, who was originally planning to keep Harlee for me Thursday-Monday, will in all likelihood pick her up from the Hope Center when she is ready to go home and keep her until I get back Monday morning. If there turn out to be issues which make Denise reluctant to take responsibility for Harlee at this time, Lrescue's person who must approve medical expenses has authorized us to board her at Caring Hands until I get back. Dr. A is aware of these alternate plans, and has both Denise's phone numbers and L's cell phone number so that she can discuss the situation with the appropriate person(s) once the results are in on Harlee and a decision is made about when to release her.
Sorry for the long delay getting out this message, and for the further delay there will be getting out the more complete story of the whole incident (which I will certainly try to do before I leave for LA). I do not expect to have email access once I leave home Friday morning, but I will have my cell phone with me Please call me if you have any questions or concerns, and I will return the call as soon as I am able to. Thanks ......
I had another call from Dr. A this morning.
The good news is that Harlee is stable right now, and that her kidney values are back to normal.
The bad news is that there appears to be some fluid around her heart. She may (or may not) be hemorrhaging, and it may (or may not) be indicative of some kind of tumor. Dr. A is wondering whether the whole chocolate ingestion issue may have been a total red herring, and whether something else entirely has been going on with Harlee this week. It seems to me like too much of a coincidence in timing for that to be the case, but what do I know about these things?
Dr. A will be getting in touch with L about additional tests and treatment later today, perhaps including an ultrasound of Harlee's heart. She is still hopeful that Harlee will remain stable and be able to leave tomorrow, but obviously it depends on what they find out today. It may be that she needs to remain under closer guard and to be kept calm and quiet to avoid aggravating the condition of her heart.
I really don't want to go on this trip at this point, but I feel stuck. What started out as a weekend gathering of musician friends from across the country, primarily to provide support and entertainment for one among us who is terminally ill, somehow morphed into a workshop. It is now a scheduled event with assigned music that all of us have prepared and will be playing for an audience expecting to learn something about it. My heart is no longer in it -- I would rather be here with Harlee. But, as they say, the show must go on. And it can't go on without me.
Dr. A points out that Harlee may not end up being able to go home this weekend anyway. And if she remains at the clinic (for the reasons mentioned above), I wouldn't even be able to visit her there without putting her at risk of getting too excited and aggravating her condition. If I am going to be sitting here helpless anyway, I guess I might as well be doing something useful in LA -- and also visiting with my friend who is ill, which was the original purpose of this trip. But I know I will be worrying about Harlee the whole time I am gone, and I will probably still be wavering about what to do until I actually get on the plane (or don't). Obviously, I will let you know if I do not.
This is pure torture ......
So yeah, Foster mom for Harlee is feeling absolutely awful right now. Compounded by the fact that last weekend her 16.5 year old passed only months after her 17 year old passed. She has a huge heart and loves to rescue seniors and has just recently lost two of them. Hoping she doesn't loose a third dog in such a short span of time. Please send some well wishes her way.