A Perfect Birthday Gift for Sean

After six long weeks, Chico finally got that horrid Elizabethan collar removed. Last Thursday, he had his biweekly appointment with the eye specialist. He’s healed up so well and is now down to just a couple of eye drops a day—which is such a relief.

The outdoors is so much more fun with no collar

The outdoors is so much more fun with no collar

Leaving the eye specialist's office, listening to Bob Marley and loving the no-collar thing

Leaving the eye specialist’s office, listening to Bob Marley and loving the no-collar thing








It’s hard to believe that this was his medication routine just weeks ago:

Chico Meds 1.14.13 copy










Sean’s birthday is in 11 days, less than two weeks way. How perfect is it that we get to give him the awesome gift of Chico having his eye sight back. That was all Sean ever wanted, and it’s what we wanted most to do for him.

Happy birthday, Sean. We love and miss you.

Sean Daliet and Chico 1

Sean Daliet and chico 2

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Only One Option

Right after Chico’s eye surgery, when he was having complications and Mom and I were overwhelmed by fear for his well-being and by the costs we were facing, some folks said we had a “tough decision to make,” suggesting we had some other option other than to get Chico well. For us, Sean is so wrapped up in our care of Chico, in our love for Chico, there was never a choice to make. If we had somehow lost Chico, it would have been like losing Sean all over again.


Ready to play

When I see Chico now, so bouncy and full of life, those crazy weeks during his surgeries and post-op care and the challenges we still face—even with the latest generous donations to Chico’s fund, Mom, with her small retirement income, is still facing a $2,700 bill from the stomach surgery—are all worth it…for Chico, for Sean, for us.

Exploring sights and smells

Exploring sights and smells


On the lookout

Chico is quite the chipper little pup when I see him these days. For the past several weeks, Mom has been caring for Chico 100 percent, without any help from me. It’s been back to work for me, so I’m not at Mom’s as much as I had been. Plus—thank goodness—Chico’s post-surgery care has tapered off a bit. So when I haven’t seen him for a few days and I pop up at Mom’s, he gets awfully excited when I walk through the door. Last time I saw him, he ran around in circles, yapping and yelping, his tail beating a tattoo against my hands and arms as I tried to grab him for a big bear hug.

Boy, I missed him, too. IMG_1058

Mom’s handling all of Chico’s eye drops (yes, he’s still taking a few), along with his regular daily care (she’s also in the middle of treating her other dog, Mya, for heart worms). She took him to his latest follow-up visit with the eye specialist just over a week ago. The latest news is that, although his daily drops have tapered off to five different ones administered three times per day, he has a new one added to the list, replacing one of the older ones. We were hoping he would get the Elizabethan collar removed at this visit, but he has to wear it for at least another two weeks. Chico had two types of stitches during his eye surgery: one dissolvable set inside the eye on the cornea and one set at the corner of his outer lid to keep the eye partially closed (protecting the internal eye). The outer stitches were removed during the last visit, but since the inner stitches haven’t yet dissolved, he has to keep the darn collar on.

But with the lid stitches removed, he can open his seeing eye so wide now! And he loves checking out everything around him. Before his surgery, whenever Mya would run toward him, wanting only to play, Chico would get a bit freaked out, barking and fussing, because she would run him over or sneak up on him. He couldn’t see her coming and that was alarming for him. Now, those two are new best buds.

New best buds

New best buds

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More Good News

Chico took a trip this afternoon to see his regular vet, Dr. Gentinetta at VCA Causeway Animal Hospital, for a glucose spot check. With all that he’s been through the past couple of weeks with his surgeries, his glucose levels weren’t well-regulated, and we were struggling to get his levels within a healthy range. We had to raise his insulin dosage, then lower it when he became ill, then slowly raise it again. It’s far less dangerous for him to have too little insulin than too much, and it always takes time to build him back up to where he needs to be. Anyway, today his levels are great!

Sean was always touting how special Chico is. And I hate to brag, too, but he truly is a remarkable little dog.

No more cataracts in Chico's right eye

No more cataracts in Chico’s right eye

Little fighter

Little fighter

Chico and the man

Chico and the man

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Return of the Happy Puppy

When Sean was working toward getting Chico his eye surgery, he may not have been aware of just how much post-op care was involved or how overwhelming it would be (administering eye drops and medication around the clock, dealing with surgery complications, and seeing Chico sad as he recovered). But he knew that the surgery, whatever it entailed, would be worth it in the long run for Chico.

Ready to go bye-bye

Ready to go bye-bye

Of course, he was right.

Chico had two post-op appointments this week—one to check the pressure in his eye and one to remove the staples in his belly. The ruling at both was unanimous: Chico has bounced back exceedingly well from both surgeries. Yay!

But Mom and I knew that already. We could tell because Chico is back to his old happy puppy-dog self. He is feeling so much better, “talking” a lot, playing with his toys again and enjoying the outdoors. As a matter of fact, he wants to be outside even more than he did before the surgery.  We think it’s because he can see all the great stuff happening around him.

Chico’s belly incision has healed very well, he’s just about finished with his GI meds, and he doesn’t have to go back to the GI doc (unless other issues arise). As for his right eye, it is healing very well, says the eye surgeon, Dr. da Costa. He still gets five different eye drops throughout the day every day, but he sees! And that is the most exciting thing. So, even though, Mom and I doubted for a moment whether we had done the right thing by subjecting Chico to the eye surgery, we are so glad now that we did.

Waiting to go outside

Let’s go outside!

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On the Mend

Resting, with a full belly after evening meds

Resting, with a full belly after evening meds

I’m pleased to report that Chico is doing much better! This afternoon, he was released from the emergency animal hospital, where he had been since Saturday morning, and Mom and I are thrilled to have him back with us. Chico knew he’d arrived home, perking up and wagging his tail, as soon as Mom pulled into the driveway.

His belly has approximately 20 staples to secure the surgical incision, which stretches from just below his breastbone to past his peepee. But he’s eating and drinking well, and his GI tract is getting back to its normal schedule.

More than 20 staples secure the surgical incision

More than 20 staples secure the surgical incision

Of course, he’s on six new medications—including an antibiotic and anti-inflammatory, an anti-nausea med, an appetite stimulant (to make sure he eats enough), a GI regulator, and pain medication—to help him heal from his surgery. These are in addition to the eight medications he continues to take to help his right eye heal from its surgery.

That’s a lot of medication for a 20 pound dog, but, no doubt, he needs them all. We are just relieved our little guy is on the mend.

Sean was so on-the-money when he used to say that Chico was “like a cat with nine lives.” By my count, that makes Chico somewhere around life number 5 (see Chico and Sean for more on this). And thank goodness for that…because we need him around for a good while longer.

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An Emergency Situation

The very last time I spoke to Sean it was about a week before he passed away. He was so happy, telling me about the donations he was getting through the fundraising site he had set up for Chico two weeks earlier, how friends were calling and telling him to drop by their houses because they wanted to give him money for Chico, and that he had also just received in the mail the check I had sent to him as my donation. He had planned to use that check to open a bank account for Chico. Ever the optimist, even though at that point the donations only amounted to a few hundred dollars, one of the last things he said during our conversation was “I’ll finally be able to get Chico his surgery.”

This–and the fact that even more friends so generously supported and donated to Chico after Sean passed away–is why I never doubted for a minute that getting Chico his surgery was the right and only thing to do.

Poor sick pup

Chico, who loves to eat, refused dinner and breakfast

But this past Friday night, as Chico became sicker from his post-surgery complication, I regretted the surgery, doubting whether I had done the right thing after all. The morning of his surgery, Chico was his normal happy-dog self. He’s been a very different dog ever since.

Saturday morning, Chico was increasing listless. He hadn’t gotten better overnight, following the previous day’s treatment. So based on our vet’s referral, Mom and I took Chico to MedVet, an emergency animal hospital, for additional X-rays and an ultrasound. The internist, Dr. Alan Ralph, told us there was fluid in Chico’s belly and that the fluid contained white blood cells, which indicated inflammation or infection.

This was all such a bummer because it had become clear to us that Chico was indeed seeing out of his right eye. When I was packing up the car that morning, Chico was stretched out on the lawn, lying in the sun. Even though, he felt crappy, he still wanted to be outside. I noticed as I walked from house to car, loading his supplies (insulin, meds, food), his little head was slowly turning, following my movements. Then later, Dr. Ralph softly snapped his fingers in front of Chico’s left eye. There was no reaction, no blinking, as was the norm. But when he performed the same test in front of Chico’s right eye, Chico blinked several times. Yes, he was definitely seeing, but this good news was overshadowed by the complications we were facing.

Sick puppy on the way to the animal emergency hospital

Sick puppy on the way to the animal emergency hospital

After four hours at MedVet, during which Mom and I became increasingly distraught, waiting as Dr. Alan, the radiologist and the surgeon, Dr. Jennifer Lang, discussed Chico’s unusual case and the best approach, Chico was prepped for exploratory surgery. The surgery would determine what was blocking his small intestines and if there was a problem with his colon, which was showing up on the ultrasound as oddly positioned. Dr. Alan mentioned several scary possibilities of what could possibly be wrong with Chico (from a foreign-object blockage to a necrotic or twisted colon). Without the surgery to determine what was happening inside Chico’s digestive tract, the infection or inflammation would worsen, plus he’d never be able to defecate and that would be fatal.

When we finally left MedVet, Mom and I were emotionally and physically spent. We had spent more than $1100 between the vet visit yesterday and the emergency visit today. The intestinal surgery and post-op stay (3 to 5 days) would cost another $3000-$4000. All we could do was whip out the credit cards and hope we’d find a way to pay them off.

The doctors at MedVet moved quickly to take care of Chico once he was prepped for surgery. The surgery didn’t take long, and the doctors called frequently with updates.

Chico did very well in surgery. Dr. Lang found a blockage (no foreign objects, just lots of poop) in the small intestines. She easily removed the blockage without any additional cutting. His colon as it turns out is healthy and positioned right where it’s supposed to be. Dr. Lang took a biopsy of his small intestines to ensure there’s nothing else going on, but the root of the problem is that Chico’s small intestines just stopped moving. The small intestines normally move in a constant wavelike motion, called peristalsis, to digest food and move it through to the large intestines and colon.

All of Chico’s doctors are baffled as to why this happened, and Chico will need to take yet another medication to get his intestines moving again. But, still, Mom and I are relieved. We were afraid of something even more serious, and now at least we know Chico is no longer in pain. The little guy surely feels much better. And we can’t wait to visit him later today.

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Post-op Complication

Doing his downward-facing-dog pose, trying to relieve the pain is belly

Doing his downward-facing-dog pose, trying to relieve the pain is belly

Chico is suffering from his first—and hopefully, only—post-surgery complication. His colon stopped working. A side effect of the anesthesia and the pain medication he was taking is a “lazy colon,” meaning it doesn’t move the way it should. Chico’s vet, Dr. Gentinetta, says another factor—dehydration—could also have contributed to the condition. This I don’t understand, since Chico received IV fluids throughout his surgery. As with any diabetic dog, he normally drinks lots of water, and he drank a decent amount when he returned home on surgery day. So, I don’t know when exactly he began to dehydrate. At any rate, Chico spent today at the animal hospital and received IV fluids, an X-ray to determine the blockage (regular old poop) and two enemas (poor puppy).

This little unplanned vet visit cost $476—and that’s after the $200 discount Chico’s doctor gave us. I whipped out the credit card and tried not to hyperventilate. The worst part about it? All this money and Chico still hasn’t pooped. He seems to be in no better condition.

Poor Chico was miserable last night, so that makes two nights in a row he was in discomfort. I feel so guilty about that! His belly was hugely distended, and he kept trying to do his business, straining and doing his downward-facing-dog pose—I guess to stretch and try to get things moving—but with no results. We called Chico’s eye doctor yesterday evening for guidance, since Chico had spent the better part of the day with him for a post-op check, and he told us to get an over-the-counter product to help soften things up. But then around 2 a.m., Chico began vomiting.

Mom and I were alarmed, so we brought Chico to the animal hospital first thing this morn.

Chico’s resting now. Dr. Gentinetta gave him anti-nausea and pain meds today, so he’s still a bit sleepy. Dr. Gentinetta also told me, Chico should be able “to go” within 24 hours. That seems like a long time from now. I wish he could have immediate relief and not have a repeat of last night.

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