Near death experience with Nori

Fortunately this story has a happy ending, but it was sad and trying to live through. Sunday afternoon Nori, our 5 year old black lab, threw up extensively in front of Susan and I, and there was troubling stuff in it – mashed potatoes, chicken bones, and other food stuff we couldn’t identify. None of it came from us or our property – she had crept off somewhere, found it, and eaten it, and it made her really sick. Nori’s very food focused thanks to her experiences as a pup living through abandonment during hurricane Katrina, and when she wouldn’t eat her supper that night Susan and I were both mildly troubled. When she wouldn’t eat her breakfast in the morning, and wouldn’t go to the bathroom, I knew something was really wrong and after some debate Susan took her off to the vet. They immediately referred her to the animal hospital.

The hospital’s first guess was a possible blockage of her innards, most likely by chicken bone. Fortunately shortly after they admitted her she got violently ill from the rear, and at the time they thought this was a great sign and that she would soon be on the mend. They x-rayed her and found nothing foreign in her, which was a relief and another good sign.

Unfortunately by Tuesday she hadn’t really improved, and they decided to keep her for observation. She wasn’t eating, and she was still throwing up and leaking from her rear constantly. By this point they concluded she had a bacterial infection of some sort. We were worried but not terribly so.

Wednesday morning Nori ate a little bit and so by lunchtime they concluded it was safe to take her home. Susan picked her up and spent the afternoon watching her, and it wasn’t pretty. She wouldn’t eat, she was still constantly and pretty much uncontrollably leaking from the rear, she was in significant pain that was causing her to constantly pant and quake, and she was completely distressed emotionally. This was really really hard to see and absolutely heartbreaking. She was looking for comfort and spent her time trying to literally crawl under our clothing and huddle against our skin, shivering in pain and staring up at us with pleading eyes. The closest I’ve come to crying in years was that night, looking into her eyes and feeling helpless. At this point I was beginning to think she would die, and the following morning was worse – while she did seem to sleep that night, when she woke up she wouldn’t eat anything, and after drinking a little water she threw it up all over Susan. We called the hospital and they had us bring her back.

This time they did an ultrasound and again found no blockage. They concluded their initial diagnosis was still the likeliest explanation, she was just sicker than we thought, but the ultrasound did pick up fluid in her abdominal cavity. Apparently this is not unusual with bad digestive infections, but it’s also a sign of certain cancers, so they sent a sample to the lab. Meanwhile she went back on the IV and Susan and I sat on pins and needles, getting an update from the doctors every 6 hours or so.

Thursday was status quo until the evening when Nori finally ate something after 4 days of eating basically nothing, which was a great sign, and Friday morning she ate again. They decided if she ate around lunchtime we could come get her, and after she did I went up late afternoon and got her.

It was like night and day. While she had clearly lost a fair bit of weight, and has a shaved belly and rear end (a rear end that looked ridiculous when I first got her – it was literally as red as a baboons ass), she is back to her peppy self – no more pleading eyes, a not infrequent grin to share, energy to bounce around the house and, most importantly for Nori, beg us for food 😉

So – she’s not entirely out of the woods (5 days of a diet of small portions of rice and boiled meat, a bunch of different medications, low activity), but things are definitely looking good. The lab results came back and there was no sign of cancer. Our fingers crossed that she comes through this just fine and with no lasting side effects, except perhaps more of an aversion to food from the trash/wherever the hell she found those mashed potatoes and chicken.

As a side note, we do wish we had health insurance on the dogs. This was expensive, owe $2k and we’re not quite done yet. I’d spend the money again without thinking twice, but man, it still hurts the wallet. This has been the most expensive month of my life, what with a new house, appliances, a tractor, and this being the capper. I told Susan we’re going to rent Nori out as a ‘companion’ to the neighborhood dogs to help pay for all of this l-)

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