23 November 2008


Last year, we determined that our golden retriever, Madeline, had Glaucoma.  Our family veterinarian, Dr. K, suggested this diagnosis as a possibility but encouraged us to seek the opinion of a veterinary opthalmologist.  The specialist, Dr. O., confirmed our fears regarding Madeline's eye and a medication regimen ensued.  The medications appeared to control the pressure in her right eye for a while but eventually the eye was lost due to an uncontrolled pressure spike.  I began to refer to Madeline as "One Eyed Jack" and we worked to keep her remaining eye healthy.  We have now determined that her former "good eye" has now received the infamous Glaucoma diagnosis accompanied by an increase in medications to prevent pain and blindness.  We emerged into a fairly stable medication routine with our one eyed canine and resumed with life's busy schedule.

Last Monday, I awakened very early.  Well, 6:15 AM is really not all that early when one has children, I have learned.  I stubbled out of bed and found Madeline sitting in the living room, the right side of her eye area covered in blood.  It appeared as if she had been very bothered (Yes, I am the master of the obvious) in the area where her right eye once was.  She seemed restless and uncomfortable, which was apparent given she had been scratching her face with such voracity throughout the night.  Dr. K. was not in the clinic, so Madeline met with one of the other doctors at his practice.  He suggested that her prosthetic eye (a ball placed in the socket of her skull) had migrated thus, the discomfort and her aforementioned scratching routine. He placed a call to Dr. O. for further consultation.  Perhaps, the prothesis can simply be removed and all will be well, with regard to Madeline's health, we hoped.  We scheduled an appointment with Dr. O for later in the morning.  Madeline seemed a bit less bothered by it all and I felt a bit more relieved.  

I had a special event at Eamon's school and so Bernard took Madeline to meet with Dr. O.  He had his own hypotheses as to the reason for Madeline's discomfort and pain but his hypotheses did not include the prothesis as the culprit with regard to Madeline's discomfort.  We decided to allow a biopsy to establish if there was indeed an infection or something more serious.  We were hoping for infection and antibiotic treatment.  On the way home from school, I received a call from Dr. O while he was in the operating room with Madeline.  He discovered that the prosthetic had not migrated and there was no infection.  However, there was something I did not necessarily anticipate when I discovered my bleeding dog this morning: Cancer.  Madeline has a new diagnosis to add to her chart, Neural Sheath Tumor, a type of sarcoma.  Dr. O removed the tumor and reported that this type of tumor tends to be slow growing and localized.  Dr. K. called the next day to reiterate this diagnosis which, in his experience, tends to reoccur locally but generally does not metastaticize.  The etiology is unknown, as with most cancer diagnoses.

Madeline seems to be handling all of this in stride.  She returned home from surgery on Monday afternoon scrounging for treats and looking for crumbs of food that may have fallen under the dining room table.  She has received an increased amount of hugs and ear rubs this past week.  We wonder how long we can prevent the Glaucoma from causing irreparable damage to her remaining eye.  We wonder if "The Cancer" will reoccur and when. 

This experience has been another reminder of the fragility of life.   Life changes without a moment's notice. I sometimes struggle with living in the moment.  I worry about the issues with which I have little or no control.  I concern myself with the "what ifs" of the future.  I worry.  I perseverate.  This "Manic Monday" has clued me, yet again, to the importance of true appreciation for the blessings of the present.  One of my life's many blessings is a dog named Madeline.

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