This Groundhog's Day was not a routine day at all! And I'm thankful that I don't have to repeat it like Bill Murray did in that movie that time. It started on Friday night. Bentley ate his supper. We played with his penguin toy for a while and then he laid down for a snooze like he always does. About 8:oo PM, he got up with difficulty and just stood there. I asked him if he wanted to go out and he very slowly made his way to the door. The stairs seemed to present a problem and he seemed wobbly. Given his history of knee problems, I thought he'd maybe hurt one of them or something. He got up the stairs to bed but then lay down in a way that was atypical for him. Huh. Weird.
I got up several times in the night to check on him and he was sleeping but I could wake him so I thought whatever it was could wait until morning. At around 5:oo AM he needed to go out and it was evident at that point that something was very wrong. I sat with him and waited for the vet to open at 8:oo. My friend, Mel, back in Kittery, Maine was a G*d send, consulting with me over Facebook about his symptoms and what it could possibly be. That kept me from climbing the walls until I could call my local vet.
At 8:oo AM I got through to the vet. They weren't taking calls at 7:55, or 7:58. I tried. I was redialing like I was trying to win a radio call-in contest. The receptionist was very nice and said to bring him in at 9:30. I told her I didn't think he could wait that long and she said it was OK to bring him in right away. It was snowing a blizzard and the roads were a mess, but we made it there in about 15 minutes. At this point, I had to lift his 80# self into the car as he couldn't get in himself and it was evident that this abdomen was swelling rapidly.
When we got the the vet, the 8AM appt. had cancelled due to the weather and they took one look at the normally exuberant but now lethargic, Ben and got him in for an x-ray right away. His spleen was basically taking up his entire abdominal cavity. They sent me immediately to the Veterinary Emergency Services offices over in Middleton, who took one look at the x-rays and said that his spleen would have to come out. Now. Leaving him there to go home and wait for word was one of the harder things I've had to do in this lifetime. Especially after giving the instruction so not wake him up if they discovered that his belly was full of metastasized cancer.
They stabilized him in the morning so that he would be a better candidate for surgery and started the surgery process at about noon. At 5:30 PM I finally got a call that he was out of surgery and was awake, alert and upright. There had been a golf ball sized tumor in the spleen that had ruptured it. It had bled and then miraculously clotted and contained itself within the spleen, which had ballooned to the size of a volleyball. When the vet touched it, it basically dissolved and filled his abdomen. They needed to clamp everything off as soon as they could to keep him from bleeding out. He needed a transfusion due to the large amount of blood loss.
They told me afterward that if I had waited even an hour longer, Ben wouldn't be with me now. The spleen would have totally ruptured and he would have bled out. Someone was looking out for us that's for sure. First the blood clotting and 'holding steady' for just enough time the fact that he and I have the kind of bond that made me 'just know' something was 'very wrong' and insisted he be seen, Mel's support from 1500 miles away, and the amazing staff at VBS who quickly diagnosed the problem and skillfully fixed it; all of these things saved his life.
And now we wait. They sent the tumor away. It will take 4 days to learn if it's cancer, in which case he will have 4-6 months left, or not cancer, and will be just fine. The fact that they didn't find anything visibly metastasized in his abdomen gives me hope.
So even though Bentley's spleen came out on Groundhog's Day , it apparently didn't see it's shadow and go back in, so the good news in this whole mess is we only have 47 more days of winter! See, Old Ben is working for us all, even in the middle of a health crisis!
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