A Grand Slam, But We Still Lost the Game. Or Did We?

I am not a sports fan.  Well, there was my NBA basketball phase during the glory days of the late 80’s early 90’s,  back in the days of Michael Jordan, Larry Byrd, Spud Webb, Akeem Olajuwon, Magic Johnson and my favorite John Stockton of the Utah Jazz (I was a hormone-crazed teen at the time and he was just so darn cute).  I followed the teams pretty closely back then (It didn’t help that I briefly dated a varsity basketball player at the time, thus fueling my need to know my stuff).  I could spout all kinds of crazy stats.  I got court side tickets to a Utah Jazz-Houston Rockets game for my birthday one year. 

However, all my former heroes are now retired with bad knees.  I subsequently lost interest, all those over-tattoo’d young whippersnappers who dominate the sport now with their giant shorts just don’t seem to compare. 

Crap, got sidetracked again.  I was supposed to do a baseball analogy, hence the title.  Especially since our own Texas Rangers are playing in the World Series (AGAIN).  My husband  is not overly sporty himself. He does follow any home team that is winning, and the Texas Aggies and Dallas Cowboys no matter Anyhow, he keeps me abreast of major sports developments. 

Apparently I’ll get to the sports analogy at the end of the story.

Todays story is kind of a mixed bag.  The ending is sad, I’ll go ahead and give it away, for as you know any dog story worth its salt ends with the dog dying.  Just ask Marley, Ol’ Yeller, those dogs in “Where the Red Fern Grows” that made me cry in the middle of class in 7th grade, etc.  I pretty much avoid dog stories because I don’t need any more stress in my life. (Although I recently read “The Art of Racing in the Rain”, on a plane where I cried like a baby next to some pimple faced teen stranger. The book was brilliant.)

This story involves a beagle named Lucky.  As an aside, some of the most complex and educational cases in my career have involved beagles.  Hm, maybe that’s why they use them as lab dogs? 

Anyhow, Lucky was found running along a highway in Oklahoma.  She was plucked from the traffic and that’s how she got her name. However, as I alluded before, she didn’t live up to her name. 

She belonged to an old client whose previous dog (another beagle), Millie taught me almost everything I know about glomerulonephritis.  She was such a great, sweet girl, I did every exam on her while she lay on her back simultaneously getting her belly rubbed. 

Millie passed away about 2 years ago.  I was elated when her owners called that they had gotten a new dog (they were wonderful, wonderful clients).  I was a little deflated when I learned they had started using a vet closer to their home. It was walking distance, and much more convenient than my place.  However, given our previous history with Millie, they wanted a second opinion from me.   I swallowed my pride and she told me the story of their new dog.  At the time she was acting healthy, but had a problem.  They had wanted to get her spayed, but she kept running a high white cell count. 

Her white count generally hovered around 35.  That’s a significant elevation.  I see a lot of slightly elevated white counts, in the 15-17 (thousand) range, usually that’s due to stress, and I don’t get too excited, but when they pop up over 30 like that, I definitely take notice.  Something big is going on. 

White blood cells are the cleaning crew and defense system of the body.  They generally clear out dead or diseased stuff and attack bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc.  Lucky’s white cells were on high alert.

Pre existing infection is a contraindication to surgery.

Thus, her other vet had run a battery of blood tests, and tried her on multiple antibiotics to no avail.  That white count wouldn’t budge. 

I offered some suggestions and we ended the call hoping for the best.

A few weeks later, I got to meet Lucky in person.  Her new vet wasn’t having any luck, so her owner wanted me to take a crack at it. 

One of the good things about being the second opinion vet is that a big pile of the work on a particular case has already been done.  I get to look at that stack of information with new eyes and new perspective.  On a brand new case you have to figure out which tests to run and treatments to try.  On a second opinion, you just have to interpret and sort through all the stuff that’s already been done and go from there. Sooo much more information to base clinical decisions on.  It’s like a gift, a puzzle, all that free info! I LOVE it. 

The only thing I saw missing, test-wise was testing for tick borne disease. 

So I sent out a super-duper tick PCR profile to look for the DNA of every tick-borne disease that we can test for. 

The owner said her main clinical sign was anorexia and reluctance to move around.  She just laid in her bed.  On physical exam, the only place I was able to elicit pain was at her temporal muscles around her head.  Otherwise she was pretty normal. 

I took x-rays to look for a pyometra (infection of the uterus, #1 cause for a 30K white count in an intact female dog) and for any weird lesions in the bones, muscles, organs or elsewhere.  X-rays were unremarkable, no giant uterus.  We would need an ultrasound or exploratory to know for sure about her uterus and innards though. 

Meanwhile, I started her on Doxycycline (antibiotic effective against most tick diseases) and Rimadyl (for pain).

Since I haven’t published anything in a while, and it’s almost time for me to go home, I’m going to publish this one in installments (it’s a long story). 

To be continued…

And forgive me my grammatical errors anyone who’s followed me over here from Pet MD.  I had an editor there to keep me grammatically honest. Now it’s just me by my lonesome and it’s been too many years for me to remember proper sentence structure and punctuation.  I do miss the editorial help, I admit.  But not the deadlines 😉

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2 thoughts on “A Grand Slam, But We Still Lost the Game. Or Did We?

  1. Odd, the only pain was/is in the temporal region. Is that significant?

    I’m anxious to read the next installment of Lucky’s story. And, of course, fingers are crossed that you’ve figured it out and Lucky is on the mend.

    And you grammar is just fine. (Trust me on that. I’m a grammar and spelling fanatic!)

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