Chairman Bao is a Shih Tzu. We travel a lot. I drive. He watches. We've logged at least 10,000 miles and he's never once said, Sweetheart, don't you think you should stop and ask someone?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

One week after surgery, and Bao is doing really well.

His energy levels are amazing. He's supposed to take it easy, but he prances like a puppy and it's a constant effort to stop him jumping up on things. The stitches that I can see look fine, but I'm always worried he'll overdo things and tear the internal sutures.

He had to stay at the veterinary hospital the night after his surgery. They had him in a cage, and apparently, he hated it. (In fact, the night veterinarian finally took him out of the cage and let him spend the night in a little bed at her feet) Well, he's never been in a cage.

But now he's scared of the elevator. As soon as the door shuts, he runs in little circles and as soon as it starts to open again, he's off! And then he just wants to get as far away from it as he can. He's been riding in elevators all his life, but I guess the cage experience really freaked him out. Hopefully, this will improve with time.

They had to shave his back end, and part of his tail, but he still looks good. The external stitches come out next Wednesday.

Thank you for your support. In some ways, this has been harder on me than on Bao, and I don't think I'd have got through it without you.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bao's surgery was uneventful, and successful. He had no trouble with the anaesthetic, his heart was fine, and they fixed the hernia.

I saw him shortly after he woke up. He was still very wonky from the drugs, and they're keeping him there overnight. I'm not happy about that, but there's a qualified veterinarian on duty all night, and if there was a problem, he'd be better off there than here.

I wanted to bring a sleeping bag and stay with him, but when I saw the area, I realized that this was unpractical.

It turned out to be a more complex surgery than anyone had anticipated, and took nearly four hours, but as I say, it went well. How can you ask for anything more than that?

Thank you all for your good wishes and good vibes. If all continues to go well, Bao can come home tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Guess what? They've postponed Bao's surgery until Thursday.
So he'll have another whole day of pampering!
And we'll save the T-bone steak for tomorrow night.

Bao's surgery is scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday) morning. He had a very bad episode late Saturday afternoon, trying in vain to poop and screaming in agony. This never happened before, and it must never happen again. Pleural effusion or no pleural effusion, the hernia must be repaired before it gets any worse.

I'm trying to make today a happy, pleasant day for both of us -- especially for Bao. This morning, we did his favorite walk. This afternoon, we went to lunch with our friend Jeanne (in the photo) at the Olive Garden, one of Bao's favorite restaurants. (He loves the pasta. And he loves doing lunch) He'll have a T-bone steak for dinner. When you're a dog, it's all about food.

Now we're curled up together on the couch. I'm watching a Lifetime movie, and Bao is sleeping off lunch. I'm much too anxious about tomorrow to do much of anything. Thank goodness for Lifetime movies!

What else can I say? I love this dear little dog more than words can say. Surgery is risky. There's nothing I can do except hope and pray that it will go well, that Bao will be okay. But we have to do this surgery, we have to take this chance. I cannot and will not see Bao suffer the way he suffered on Saturday afternoon.

Please, send us your loving thoughts tomorrow morning. Love is the most powerful force in the universe and love will see us through this -- I believe that. I really do.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bao has developed another new symptom, so the hernia surgery has been put on hold until we can figure out what's causing this latest complicaton -- fluid in his pleural cavity. Not in his lungs, but in the pleural cavity.

Just to make things interesting, he hasn't got any of the other symptoms one would associate with this condition -- he's not short of breath, his appetite is normal, he's alert and energetic (well, as energetic as a Shih Tzu gets) and his heart rate is also normal. In fact, without the help of an echo-scan, you wouldn't know anything was wrong with him.

Our regular veterinarian (Dr Mike) got married and has been away on honeymoon for two weeks. Meanwhile, Dr Chris (the cardiologist) prescribed Lasix on Thursday. So now the poor little guy (Bao, not Dr Chris) is constipated. On his advice, I stopped the Lasix today, because it dehydrates him. Sometimes I think the medications are worse than the illnesses.

A friend of mine pointed out that because Bao has me (rather than an insurance company) he probably has access to a higher standard of medical care than most of us two-legged Americans. That is a sobering thought.

On a brighter note, Bao jumped up on the medium-high couch today -- first time he's been able to do that since February!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bao had another pericardial effusion last week. It just came out of nowhere -- and again, no one knows why this is happening.

So now he's got to have surgery. But not heart surgery. The pericardial effusion is idiopathic -- a fifty dollar word that means "we don't know what's causing it". (The one thing we do know is that it's got nothing to do with his mitral valve problems) My friend Jeanne has a background in medical technology and she thinks Bao's chronic perineal hernia might be what's causing the problem. In an attempt to avoid surgery we've been managing it with stool softeners, but Bao still can't push everything out so there's always "poop in the loop" -- and that can't be healthy, says Jeanne. Maybe he's got an infection or an inflamation, and that's what's causing the fluid to accumulate around his heart.

So I asked the cardiologist. Of course, this was the first he'd heard about the hernia. (He's been focussing on the other end) But when he examined Bao, he was appalled. Apparently, the damned thing has become much, much bigger. It's life-threatening, said the cardiologist. If it becomes necrotic, Bao will die. Repairing the hernia, said the cardiologist, must be our first priority. Although he doesn't think it's what's causing the pericardial effusions, he is also unwilling to rule it out. But either way, it's got to be fixed.

The surgery itself isn't complicated, and the surgeon will be a board-certified, veterinary surgeon. There will also be a specialist anaesthesiologist, and a cardiologist standing by. It should be okay.

We're meeting with the surgeon on Thursday. Surgery will probably be before Easter.

I'm not in my usual state of panic. Maybe I'm just exhausted. At the moment, Bao is fine. All we can do at this point is enjoy each hour of each day.

I'm thinking we might just spend the rest of the afternoon by the pool.