SUMMARY: Not the best news.
Tika had been coughing a bit more this last week. And then Friday night she coughed off and on all night. Seemed like an exact repeat of what happened before she had her near collapse back in November, but at least this time I was at home rather than at an agility trial, so I canceled my movie plans for the morning and called the vet's office (luckily my regular vet usually works saturday mornings).
Got a late-morning appointment. Gave Tika her usual sedative an hour before (because she stresses out SO much about being at the vet's office).
Tossed both dogs into MUTT MVR and drove the 20-30 minutes over there. I keep thinking that I should just find another vet who's closer--there are a ton of them w/in 5 minutes--but I've been going there since 1979 and they know my dogs' history and all. Anyway.
Took Tika into the lobby. Was told we'd have to wait because the doctor was dealing with an emergency. They have fairly comfortable vinyl-covered seats, perfect for pets whom you want to have on the seat with you. Tika, even with the sedative, wasn't wanting to hold still. Popped up on her hind legs to look over the counter to see what the receptionist was doing. Hopped onto and off of the bench a couple of times to look out the window. Hopped up again, gave me an odd blank look, and collapsed in my arms.
I yelled, "there's something wrong with my dog!" as she started to twitch and arch her neck, and then she went limp as the receptionist dashed into the back calling for assistance. I thought she was gone for a moment, but no, she was breathing fine, evenly and calmly, and her eyes were open.
Way too calmly. Even on sedatives, she's wired. But she just lay there and I held her. A vet tech came out and said that he could carry her into the examination room, and she just let him, so very much NOT like Tika. That's when I noticed that the seat and my jeans were completely soaked, and that's the moment when it sank in that she'd just had a seizure.
In the exam room, the vet rushed in while she lay quietly on the table, but upright now rather than on her side, as I held her and stroked her. He checked her eyes and her gums--a little pale, just like back in November, then checked her pulse and her heart rate. While I tried not to sob out loud.
At that point, Tika started panting more like Tika does most of her life, and wanted to stand up, which she did shakily while I held her up.
Another minute or two and she said she was fine, although now on the floor, she tried to shake herself off and just fell right over (because I let go of her when she shook, doh).
I mentioned to the vet that I'd heard that he was dealing with another emergency. Yes, he said, a dog had been having seizures. (Guess it was that kind of day.) Dog had been stabilized and he had just been giving instructions and info to the owner when they called him to check Tika. Anyway.
So, here's the deal.
Her heartrate is now about 220-240 a minute! But pulse 80-90ish. She has always had an athlete's slow heartbeat, and even back less than a month ago at our previous visit, it still sounded good except for the murmer that indicates ongoing degenerative heart disease.
The discrepancy meant that her heart had started fibrillation--rapid beating without having a chance for the blood to fill back in between beats, so blood was actually pumping (pulse) only once about every 2 or 3 beats.
This is SO no good. Means that her chances for a sudden fatal heart attack or stroke have skyrocketed.
They kept her for a couple of hours to do an EKG and a current x-ray to check for fluid in the lungs or the chest cavity (the question about the coughing). Also a blood test again to check for kidney function, etc. I took Boost over to the nearby part and actually into the dog park there while we waited. (Maybe a quick post about that later.)
EKG shows that only the upper half of her heart is actually working, lower half is struggling. That's bad.
X-ray showed no signs of fluid. That's good. Means her cough was probably just the bronchitis that she also suffers from. But x-ray did show narrowing of trachea in throat and near the heart, so it could just be harder for her to get enough air all the time. Interestingly, he suggested 1/2 tsp of Robitussin DM as needed for the cough. That seems to help, although she REALLY doesn't like the taste of it, so I have to be creative in getting it into her.
Added one more med to her regimen--digoxin. Vet tried to get in touch with the doggie cardiologist while I was there, but wasn't in on the weekend. He's going to call them on Monday to try to get a phone consult about medication and actions to take, and possibly I'll take her in there if it seems necessary to do so.
Then I practically had a heart attack when the receptionist told me, "That comes to $750." At least I didn't start having a seizure on the spot, but my brain wanted to.
I don't really want to get into heroic measures and extreme medical options. She's 12 and a half, which still doesn't feel that old to me at times, because she's still so fast and perky most of the time. But really that is an old dog, and I've been so lucky so far with her.
We'll see how things go and when and where. I'm back to playing a waiting game--is she going to go today? Tomorrow? Not for months? When she doesn't move when I come into the room, is she gone? Dang old dogs.
Dang, good old Tika. Didn't eat enthusistically this morning, which is unlike Tika historically. Spent a lot of the day up in the bedroom, which is her go-to place when she's not feeling well...or when she's feeling neglected.
My girl. My Merle Girl. So hard to think about not having her. Trying to think about *having* her and enjoying her. But she's definitely never going to do agility again. If she wants to do frisbee, fine. If htat's how she goes, that's fine. But I don't want it to be while doing that dog sport that she has done so very well in for so many years. It was a gift.