It’s true that when horrible things happen, they all seem to come at once
Last night, just as we got back from our walk, I noticed that Honey was squinting in her left (bad) eye again, unable to open it, and drooping her head down – my heart sank. The signs were all too familiar. We rushed her to the emergency vet and yes, her glaucoma is back. The pressure in her left eye was 55 (normal is below 25). They kept her in overnight for monitoring and to try & control the pressure by increasing the drug dosage – but this morning, they reported that although the pressure is slightly lower, the medication is obviously not working anymore.
We had a long discussion with the opthalmologist – she said Honey has now lost all her vision in that eye. And that we basically had 3 options:
- 1) increase the dosage of the eye drops – but usually once the pressure starts increasing again, it will keep happening and she will need more and more drugs to control it, until the drugs won’t work anymore. So this isn’t really an option, other than prolonging the inevitable and possibly causing more suffering.
- 2) inject the eye with a toxin which will “kill” the eye ball – but this is a very unpredictable procedure as it’s very hard to get the exact dosage right: too little and the eyeball tissues won’t die enough so you’re back where you started, still with high pressure; too much and the eyeball shrivels up like a raisin in the socket and you end up with other problems like discharge, etc (although they are not major).
- 3) surgery to remove the eye, since it is blind anyway. This would stop the glaucoma problem and would also allow them to check for any tumours in the eye, which could also be contributing to the glaucoma. This would usually be the preferred option. However, with Honey’s recently diagnosed dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), this would be the highest risk option – there is a high chance that she could die under anaesthetic, as it will put a lot of stress on her heart.
So what do we do??
Paul leaned towards the injection; I didn’t like it since I felt like it has such a high rate of failure – what’s the point? We might still end up with high pressure. Or the thought of her eyeball shrivelling up in its socket is just horrible. But then I guess we don’t really have a choice. As Paul says, if we go straight for surgery and she dies on the operating table, we’d feel awful…whereas if we go for the injection, at least we feel like we have tried every other option first. And there IS a chance that it may work and have a good outcome, which is that they get the dose just right and it manages to kill the eyeball tissues enough to stop the glaucoma but not too much to shrivel it up horribly
So that is what we have decided to do – and we have given the opthalmologist the go-head to do the injection. Honey’s at the hospital now, having the procedure done – fingers crossed that it might just go right – and we will go see her this evening.
I will try my best to update when I can but please forgive me if I’m not able to respond to your comments & messages. Many of you have also sent me personal messages of concern in the last few days, following our previous post about “stuff” and I really appreciate them – but again, please forgive me if I haven’t responded or don’t really want to talk about things. It’s all a bit too much right now, so I hope you’ll understand. But please don’t think I don’t appreciate them.
This really couldn’t have come at a worse time. I was already feeling so overwhelmed and stressed yesterday that I was thinking about shutting down the blog for a while. I just felt like I couldn’t deal with everything anymore, what with what’s already been happening. Now this. I feel a bit like my head is going to explode.
What upsets us the most – which I know is stupid, human sentimentality – is the thought of Honey losing her beautiful eyes. OK, those that know me know what a “cold fish” I am but even I started tearing up when it really hit us that there was no choice and she had to lose her eye. We had been so happy that the eye drops seemed to be working (it’s been about 2 months since that first scare and at her last checkup over a week ago, her pressures were 8 & 10, so really good) and that she had even managed to keep a bit of vision in that eye, against all odds…but now this…
It’s stupid ‘coz she’s probably been mostly blind in that eye for ages now – but at least, on the outside, she looked like she had both her eyes and she was acting totally normal…you really wouldn’t know. Whereas the thought of her having this ugly, shrivelled socket on one side just breaks my heart. I know it’s stupid since it’s just a cosmetic thing and dogs don’t care anyway (she can’t see out that side now anyway) – I guess for us personally, we always thought that Honey’s eyes were her most beautiful feature and it seems so tragic to lose that.
And maybe in a way, it’s a representation of what we’re really losing: her health, her youth, her mortality. I don’t know – it seemed easier to ignore all that when she looked the same as always on the outside. I know it’s stupid, since it could be a lot worse – at least, this isn’t life-threatening - at her age, we could be facing a much more difficult decision regarding something more sinister, such as cancer or heart failure…so we should be grateful. Overall, she is well.
Anyway – there was something else I wanted to say: it was Honey’s 9th birthday earlier this week and I had been a bit reluctant to make a big deal of it…partly because of all the other “stuff” that’s been going on and partly because it seemed to me that every time someone made a big deal of their Dane’s 9th birthday on our FB Dane group, that Dane pretty much died soon after or had some terrible health thing happen. I called it the “9th birthday curse”! – OK, I’m not normally superstitious but this seemed to be really happening a lot!
But anyway, we did still have a little home celebration yesterday morning with a cake, to get some photos which I was planning to post later on the blog…
And I made a huge effort to get a family photo on self-timer. I was just doing it because I usually try to, on special occasions, otherwise you just never bother to take “family photos” with everyone. Of course, it’s always a huge hassle posing with 2 animals on self-timer…but I’m so glad I did it now.
It will be the last picture we have of Honey with her normal eyes. And she is looking right at the camera so beautifully. You wouldn’t believe that there wasn’t somebody at the other end, calling her! I’d never trained that specifically but Honey always seems to know when we’re doing self-timers and often looks directly at the camera herself, at just the right moment.
So what I really want to say is – please make the effort to take family photos together, even if they’re a hassle, even though people always say they “hate themselves in photos”…because you never know what is going to happen in a few hours, a day, a week – just around the corner. This photo was taken yesterday morning – and by evening, Honey was at the hospital.
That last photo you took together may become more precious than you realise.