When Vet Becomes a Client
Anyone who knows me knows that there is a special Labrador in my life, Mason. My Mase-boy. Don’t get me wrong, I have two other dogs that I love very much, but there’s something about the one who has been with you through it all. Through thick and thin. College. Breakups. Vet school. The works. That’s Mase. He gets me. He knows when I’m sad and will get up to rest his head on my lap. He doesn’t like to give kisses but if he knows that I’m upset, he throws what he likes out the window and does anything to make mommy better. I’ve been getting a lot of Masey kisses lately.
Let me start by saying that I can be a bit neurotic sometimes when it comes to my boy. You can’t blame me. He’s been through a lot. Starting with Blastomycoses, then it was autoimmune polyarthritis and finally kidney insufficiency. I thought we were done with this, with illness. I had meticulously poked and prodded each lump that arose; done blood work every 6 months like clockwork. He had an abdominal ultrasound 6 months ago. Nothing would go wrong….
Then, I saw the lump.
The minute I saw it I knew. I knew that my Lab wasn’t as healthy as he seemed. I took him to work for more blood work and a fine needle aspirate and then immediately called for back up because when your patient is your dog, you are no longer the vet. You are the client. Objectiveness goes out the window. Tears replace knowledge.
Lucky for me, living in Atlanta means I have specialists right around the corner. They are excellent and I’m so thankful to have them in times like this. The oncologist took one look at my slides that I couldn’t bear to look at and gave me the news I couldn’t bear to tell myself.
It’s a Sarcoma. We need to Amputate.
It’s hard to think of your lively, incredible, tennis ball obsessed dog not as he is right this minute. It took time, support of family and friends, prayers, and Mason himself to make me feel better. He came through surgery with flying colors and came home the next day. Labs are amazing. So the waiting game began. Waiting on pathology results. Waiting to hear our plan. Trying not to think about it.
Trying to focus on the good. Mason is home. He’s walking. He’s happy.
This is where the It’s a Lab Thing (ITL) family helped me. It was so great to see all the support. SO THANK YOU! Thank you for thinking of us. Thank you for the suggestions, the compliments on my handsome boy, and the prayers. I will tell you that your suggestions led me to find another way to pass the waiting time: shopping! 😉 Mason obviously needs a life jacket! Oh and a new HUGE bed so he doesn’t have to adjust as much. (His sister, Joey, likes it too!) The list goes on. All worth it.
The Fight is Not Over
But now the other shoe has dropped. Mason was diagnosed today with hamangiosarcoma. This aggressive tumor will spread if not curbed by chemotherapy, which we start next week. We have also spoken to the awesome nutritionist/ alternative medicine vet about integrating some alternative medicine as well. We’ll do whatever we can. So for now, I’m focusing on the positive. I’m so thankful for all the support and I’m so thankful for great vets willing to help a colleague in need. I’ll tell you what: they all get it.
So, you probably already knew this but, you should never feel bad about crying in front of your vet or being “crazy” about your Labrador because when the vet becomes the client, if it was her dog, she’d be a wreck too.
Dr. Erin Hernandez Horner, DVM graduated from the University of Georgia in 2004 and then went on to obtain her DVM in 2008. She is currently an associate veterinarian at Brookhaven Animal Hospital