Poor Doggie

It has been busy/crazy around here the past few days. It started Friday night when we ran a couple errands after work, which we rarely do because of the baby’s bed time. But there were a couple things we had to do. While we were out we made a poor choice in restaurants, so it took forever… and the baby had a minor meltdown from being sleepy, but luckily it was so noisy no one was bothered. Once we finally got home and got her to bed for the night, we were so exhausted we didn’t even get up with her during the night. We both vaguely remember her crying a couple times, but she settled herself back down because we were too zonked.

Saturday we had some things to do around the house in the morning, then headed to Washington (NC) for my cousin’s 4th birthday party. That is about a two hour drive. Anna did pretty good on the way down, we were nearly in Greenville before she got cranky about being trapped in her car seat so long. So, we stopped at a gas station in Greenville to change a diaper and let her get out of the car for a few minutes. After that she was fine for the last thirty minutes of our drive, aside from a couple short moments of irritation.

Anna did great at the party too, and didn’t mind being passed around the entire time. Audrey (the birthday girl) was so sweet and gave her hugs and held her for a little while. She was also very impressed that Anna is crawling now, and asking to see her crawl was nearly the first thing she said to us when we walked in the door. We had been there probably about three hours when Anna hit her cranky (screaming) over-tired point, but there was too much going on to get her to settle down and sleep. So we exited hastily. I think we were in the car about two minutes before she fell asleep, and she stayed asleep until we hit Raleigh. We were somewhere on 540 when she woke up crying, but she settled down again after a few minutes. In all, she did pretty good for being on the go all day and stuck in a car for so long.

When we got home though, we noticed Eddie’s right eye was shut. I thought maybe the cat had finally scratched him, but when I pried his eye open (the little he would let me) I didn’t see any scratches or blood or other apparent injury. I did think it might look a little off, but I couldn’t figure out in what way with just the little bit I could see. I would later realize that it looked cloudy.

At that point it was pretty late, so we decided to just go to bed and check his eye in the morning. Well, the next morning (Sunday) it was still shut, and he barely left his bed all morning. I knew that eye things in dogs were typically bad, but I was still thinking it was just a scratch and wasn’t too concerned. Regardless, I thought I should call the emergency vet number just to see if it was okay to wait for office hours on Monday to bring him in.

I got the vet’s voice mail, which said she was in church and would return the call later. Since we had a busy day planned, we went ahead and left the house when she still hadn’t called at noon. Of course she called not long after, and said we should bring him in right away. Still thinking it wasn’t going to be anything major, I delayed a little so we could finish a couple errands and grab a bite to eat. It was around 2pm when Sean took him in to meet the on-call veterinarian.

It turned out that Eddie had acute glaucoma. Sean had him at the vet for over two hours while they tried to bring the pressure in his eye down. The pressure reading is normally around 25, Eddie’s was 65. By the time he got home with him, they had only gotten the pressure down 10 points. So, it was back to the vet with him Monday morning.

At the follow up his pressure was back to normal, but he was still in pain. Our vet referred us to an ophthalmologist. Yes… a doggie ophthalmologist. They had an appointment available at 5:30, which worked out well since we had Anna’s 6 month check up at 2:30. Full day!

Anna’s check up went well… 16 pounds, 5 ounces… Then it was a quick snack at home for us and for the baby.

The doggie eye doctor appointment was kind of like a the next level of vet. The office was nice, the service was fast and friendly. The same lady that checked us in was actually the nurse (not just a tech, but actually called a nurse) and she was friendly and knowledgeable. She did an exam, explained some things with an eye model, and then explained that we would see two doctors. The first doctor came in right away (they called her a resident) and did a more thorough exam, and explained her findings. Then we had to wait a bit for the main doctor, but it wasn’t too long before he came in and confirmed her findings and went through the prognosis and treatment options.

Apparently this is a very common genetic ailment in rat terriers. The fibers that hold the lens in place break down, and eventually the lens breaks free and becomes displaced. The lens then pushes forward and blocks the drainage ducts at the front of the eye, causing pressure to build. The pressure causes the glaucoma and if it isn’t caught right away the dog will go blind within a couple days. The lens in Eddie’s right eye was displaced, and the fibers in his left eye were about 50% eroded.

The only options for treatment were to a) let the dog go blind and then remove the eye to stop the pain or b) remove the lens to release the pressure from the optic nerve in order to save the sight.

Option B is very similar to cataract surgery, and leaves the eye very farsighted. At the moment he is very near sighted in the right eye due to the clouding of the lens, so it will be a big change for him. Once the eye stabilizes in a few months, they would be able to go back and replace the lens to help restore his vision. The doctor said most people opt to replace the lens when they go back to operate on the second eye.

For his “good” eye, the doctor said he would be blind by July without medication to slow the progression. With medication he has maybe a year. Then we will be in the same place with left eye as we are now with the right eye.

So, Eddie has an appointment for surgery in the morning. We will have the lens removed in order to give him the best shot we can at saving his vision. We also have drops for his other eye that we will be using to try to slow the progression of the disease. I need to ask the doctor if we opt to have the other eye’s lens removed before it is an emergency (as it is with the right eye), if we could have the lens replaced without the need for a second surgery later down the road. I know that with cataract surgery they replace the lens at the same time. While it is tough to stomach the vet bills, I feel like we have to do this if it will save him from going blind. I don’t know if we could really afford to pay for two more surgeries, but if they could do the other eye and replace both lenses at the same time… it would be great to have Eddie’s vision fully restored. I know some people would just let him go blind since he is just a dog, but I would feel awful knowing I could have saved him from that and didn’t. I want my little buddy to live a happy, healthy life. And I can tell he is in pain right now, and there is no way I could carry on knowing he was in such pain and do nothing for him.

UPDATE: Eddie’s surgery went well; his follow up appointment is next Friday morning. The vet said that he has a 10% chance of going blind in the eye from retinal detachment, as that is a risk with all interocular surgeries. It will take a little time for him to get use to his new limited vision. Sean had to help the poor guy find his food bowl last night. Although he certainly didn’t seem to have any issues finding the treats I offered him, nor the ones that hit the floor. So, for now, we wait through his follow up appointments and keep monitoring the left eye. Hopefully the meds will keep that eye good for a long time, but it could be anywhere from months to maybe a year before his left eye goes as well. We are still struggling with the thought of spending $2000 to have his other eye fixed and both lenses replaced. If I can take a 100% certainty of blindness down to a 10% chance for the little guy, I really want to… but that is a lot of money.