The reminder card from Milford (Ohio) Animal Hospital said it was time for heartworm checks and yearly exams for our dogs. So off we went, Magic first, in early March. Dr. George Wright did the exam, and he found a swelling in her abdomen. X-rays showed a grossly enlarged spleen, usually a sign of hermangiosarcoma, an untreatable cancer.
We discussed the options with Dr. Wright and Dr. Gary Clemons: more tests, surgery to see the extent of the disease, or nothing. An enlarged spleen can rupture, causing fatal bleeding; we decided on surgery, which was set for the next morning.
The day started with more x-rays to see if Magic's lungs were clear (they were — a good sign) and preparation for surgery. Dr. Kathleen Duggan would assist Dr. Clemons in the operation to remove her spleen and assess the extent of her problem.
The surgery would take about an hour barring complications; Tom and I went across the street to McDonald's to wait. At 11:15 a.m., we returned to the clinic; the news was good — no tumor, no apparent cancer. A sample of the spleen was sent to the laboratory for biopsy, and Magic could come home later in the day.
The biopsy came back in a week; the diagnosis was amyloidosis, a rare disorder that affects kidneys or liver more often than spleen and is fatal in those organs. Little is known about the disease, so we don't know if it will recur in one of the other organs.
Although she seemed to recover quickly from the surgery, Magic had a setback caused by a mysterious infection. She had a course of antibiotics and now seems fine. Through it all, the doctors and staff at Milford Animal Hospital were terrific: they didn't mince words with the diagnosis, they answered all of our worried-owner questions and allayed our concerns; and they tended Magic as if she were their own. So this note is to say thanks . . . thanks for taking such good care of Magic and for answering our questions and being honest when the situation initially looked bleak.
This note is also a reminder to all pet owners: even if your pet seems fine, a thorough annual checkup is a good idea. Those low-cost shot clinics may save time and money, but they cannot take the place of a complete examination.
A veterinarian and his staff should be valued partners for a pet owner, carefully selected and much appreciated for their knowledge, skill, efficiency, and kindness. If your veterinarian or his staff has helped you over some rough spots, gone an extra mile to help you and your pet, patiently answered your questions, or listened to you cry after a loss, let them know how much you appreciate their care and concern.
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