Is Ignorance Really Bliss?

First and foremost, you must go take a walk in the woods sometime in the next week or two.  Here in Collin County, the trees are gorgeous, we’re actually having a real live fall.  My littlest son and I went for a walk and the brilliant yellow and orange leaves were falling and making a clatter like rain.  It was so pretty.  There’s not much to look at scenery-wise around here, so make a point to get out there and enjoy it. 

The other day we were driving down some back roads on our way to Houston and my youngest proclaimed…”mom, why are there so many animals out here”!?   (in response to all the cows, horses, etc. in the fields).  At that point, I came to the realization that my kids are way too citified, and need to work on exposing them to some different environments…

So I’ve been seeing this little pug for the last oh 5 or 6 years about every 3 months for nail trims and anal gland expressions (gross, but he needs it).  He’s been totally healthy, but now he’s pushing 10+ years of age and the other day when he came in for his routine maintenance, something about him didn’t look right.  I asked his owner, and he said he’d been acting totally normal (sleeping more, but they figured it was age related).  He’d lost a few pounds since April, so we decided to do some bloodwork.  That came back with some white cell elevations and low protein, so the next step was an X-ray to see what was going on.   The X-rays were very suspicious for an abdominal mass, around the area of the liver or spleen.  Next step after that is either ultrasound or exploratory (being of the non-surgical pursuasion, I recommended the less invasive ultrasound route). 

So, Dr. Cole, our skilled board certified Ultrasonographer came by this morning and found a medium sized liver mass.  He said these types of masses are 50:50 benign vs malignant.  A simple biopsy is often unrewarding because it’s very difficult to tell the difference between the two.  So Dr. Cole recommended their money would be best spent by surgically removing the tumor and doing pathology on the whole thing (this will definititvely diagnose the mass as benign/malignant).  It’s in a good place (as far as liver tumors go) because it’s well encapsulated and in an easily accessible spot .  And, if you remove it, the dog will live happily ever after if it’s benign and for a year or more if it’s malignant.   With no treatment, if it’s malignant, then the dog will only live maybe 3-4 months. 

So, if money is no object, this is great news, just take out the tumor and you’ll get at least a year of good quality life (maybe more).  If money is an object, then you’ve got a huge, huge decision, do you spend the money and put the dog through the surgery, or prepare to let him go.  There is no wrong answer here. 

Now this family has a big heartache.  Had I not started the initial testing, they probably never would have known about this and just went about their business until the tumor got to a point where it was making the dog sick.  By that time, it probably would have been inoperable.  That’s usually how these cases go, it’s pretty rare to find abdominal masses when you can intervene. 

Would you rather know or not know?  Is ignorance really bliss or is knowledge really power?

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