Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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Archive for October 3rd, 2010

Boat blog: Getting ready for the weekend

Posted by indigodream on 3 October, 2010

Friday 1st October

We had a charity cruise planned for Saturday and had a full boat-load coming along to enjoy a day’s cruise along the Lee and Stort from Cheshunt to Harlow. But Indigo Dream needed a change of personnel because we’ve had quite a horrible week full of stress and bad news…..

We’ve been worried about Lou for some time; like Blue before her, she’s been slowing down all year and many visits to the vet suggested a combination of her chronic kidney/bladder problems and arthritic knee. But we ‘ve been feeling as if we’re missing something, something big, without any specific evidence apart from a very gradually deteriorating dog. We’ve been musing about her seeing a specialist and were all geared to push our vet for a referral on Friday. But events overtook us – on Tuesday evening Lou vomited a load of blood (our bedroom carpet will neve be the same again) – a quick call to the emergency vet gave us an action plan to manage her ’til the morning. But overnight she had black tarry diarrhoea – a sure sign that she was bleeding quite heavily somewhere in her intestine. I spent the whole of Wednesday morning in the vets – first with out own vet then later at our local animal hospital, which has some world-renowned specialists. They admitted Lou to hospital for supportive care and a barrage of tests – she was to stay there until Saturday.

Her haemorrhagic gastroenteritis, while very dramatic, was an acute condition and seems to have resolved nicely, though she’s no longer allowed to take anti-inflammatory drugs (which limits our analgesic options – this may matter soon) and may need a bland diet i.e. chicken and rice, for some time. The specialist in internal medicine was very happy with her progress, but very concerned that Lou still seemed to be having some abdominal pain, which she’s had for some time (previous diagnoses include bladder infection and generalised muscle spasms). The internal medicine specialist did an abdominal ultrasound and a host of blood/urine tests and Lou’s kidney seem to be in fine working order, though she did find a small area of fluid around one bit of the intestine. The internal medicines specialist called in the orthopaedic surgeon – he says that Lou’s knee has now fused and is no longer causing her pain…..

So they called in the neurologist who studied some X-rays of Lou’s back and dropped the bombshell – two of Lou’s vertebrae are eroded – probable cause – malignant tumour. An MRI scan confirmed a mass on the vertebrae – 80% chance that it is malignant, 20% chance that it is an infection.  Luckily the fluid around her intestine is not a secondary cancer – just general inflammation from the gastritis and nothing to worry about. We authorised a biopsy and Lou’s future depends on the results, which we should get next week.

It it’s an infection then we’ll treat it – it’s a long course of antibiotics and she’ll always have a weakness in her spine. If it’s a tumour then we probably won’t treat as it involves major surgery to remove the diseased bone, pins to keep what’s left of the vertebrae together, up to three months of post-operative pain, chemotherapy to keep the cancer at bay and lead-only exercise for the rest of her life, which may be 3 – 6 months up to a maximum of 18 months if we’re very lucky. The post-operative prognosis would depend very much on the type of cancer. We’re feeling crushed – the thought of losing Lou so soon after Blue is really too much to bear, so we’re clinging to the hope that the mass is a curable infection.

Our cruise was looking increasingly difficult – Lou would be too unwell to leave with Richard’s mum and, to be honest, we’d been thinking of leaving Ty and Lynx at home anyway. Ty was a bit random on the boat last week and Lynx is due his next epileptic fit in the next few days and I was worried that he might be hurt if he had a fit on the bank and fell in the river.  You can tell we are paranoid, Lynx’s first epileptic fit was  very mild, no issue at all, nontheless he was unconscious for 2 minutes , which is fine on land but a disaster in the canal.  Luckily his fits are very predictable at the the moment. The obvious solution was for one of us to stay at home to look after the dogs while the other sorted the charity cruise; but the cruise is really too much work for one, even with what we knew to be a competent crew, many of whom have been on our boat before.

Who could we call? GREYGAL of course!

I will be eternally grateful to Sarah, who came to our aid at a truly desperate time. She agreed to some along and help and, at our request, volunteered Susie and Ranger to represent the cause – you can’t have a cruise for greyhounds without any hounds on board!

I breathed a sigh of relief and, on friday morning, loaded the home delivery of provisions into the car and set off for Cheshunt. I had a good trip up, despite the appalling rain and spray on the M25. I parked within yards of the boat and loaded her up with goodies. I was relieved to find Indigo Dream exactly as we’d left her – we’ve had no problems at the Cheshunt moorings. I moved Richard’s bike onto the roof and gave the inside of the boat a good clean. My plan had been to stay on board overnight, but by 4pm I had done my chores and was feeling gloomy, worrying about poor old Lou and failing to swallow the unpalatable fact that I might have to say goodbye to her soon.

It was no good – I drove home and spent much of the evening hugging Lynx and Ty (who didn’t object at all!). Lou had had to stay an extra night in hospital, but we hoped that she’d be allowed home on Saturday. We went down the pub for supper and that gave me some relief from the circular thoughts spinning around my head. It was much better than brooding on the boat by myself, even though it would mean a cruel early start on Saturday morning…..

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