Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Lumps and Life II

Baxter is doing his best "dog-shui" -- the art of placing himself right where I want to walk. He does this all the time, but today, as I gingerly step over him, I cringe slightly. I am looking down at a big, blue neck wrap and a couple of large, shaved patches on his back and hip, each with 3-4" lines of stitches. Baxter is in a remarkably good mood, all things considered.

Monday he went in to the veterinarian for several procedures: a dental cleaning, extraction of an abscessed tooth and removal of a few of his lumps. Lipomas -- or benign fatty tumors -- are fairly common in older retriever-type dogs, and Baxter has sprouted quite a few of them over the past few years. Our veterinarian does the occasional needle biopsy and usually just leaves them alone as long as they're not otherwise interfering with the dog's health. But because of the placement of a few of Baxter's lumps, our vet said he would take the opportunity to remove them if there were another reason to go under anesthesia. The bad-looking tooth needed to be handled, so Baxter went in for the works on Monday.

I always worry when anyone has to go under anesthesia. In this case I was even more worried due to Baxter's age -- he will be 12 in April. Thank goodness the surgery went well. When we picked him up Monday night Baxter was a bit bleary-eyed and the pain killers made him sway a bit when he was trying to stand still, but he ate, drank water and slept like a log. By yesterday morning, he seemed almost normal -- so much so that we had to keep him from running up the stairs and pulling on his leash when going outside (he's on exercise restriction due to a large lipoma on his hip that had some muscle involvement).  Today, without painkillers, it's pretty much Baxter as usual.

Our main concern now is that one of the lumps in Baxter's neck was not a lipoma -- the vet was surprised to see that it was a completely different type of tumor which he could not definitively identify with their equipment. He sent it off to a pathology lab and we should get the results by the end of this week. It could be benign, in which case having it removed means he's out of the woods on that one. If it's malignant, then the type of tumor will dictate next steps. Baxter's blood work was excellent and he has shown no signs of feeling unwell prior to or after the surgery, so that's a good sign that it may be localized and not too invasive.

Still, I am working very hard not to worry. Worry, it seems, comes almost as easily to me as breathing. Keeping it at bay requires conscious acts of self-control and/or complete distraction. Seeing Baxter recovering so quickly, with his sweet, mellow disposition and continued enthusiasm for little things like eating, going outside and being invited up onto the couch, is inspiring to say the least.

So my goal is to stay positive and keep my focus on helping Baxter stay comfortable, heal quickly and come through this as strong and healthy as possible. Any and all good wishes and positive vibes are welcomed!

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