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Rudy's Emergency Surgery
$120 Raised
2 contributors
0 days left
Ended Dec 7, 2013
Rudy needed emergency surgery to save his life! He continues to fight, and his family could use your help to continue giving him the best possible treatment options. More ...

On Thursday (10/17/13) night, Rudy had some pain on his left side, particularly in his shoulder region. I'd initially thought he had over-stressed or stretched a muscle, as per his usual habit of tearing around at the speed of light, but still kept an eye on him.


On Friday (10/18/13) morning, Rudy seemed his usual bright and happy self, pitter-pattering around (ah, the sound of happy little feet!) and excited to eat, and go outside. When I returned home from work on Friday afternoon, he did not greet me at the door (spring-loaded happiness attack) as he usually does. My father, who works from home, said he had been very quiet all day. I noticed near-full food and water bowls (not like him!) and called Rudy to me. Normally, he is more than happy to oblige, but this time, he simply looked over sadly. When offered food and drink, he turned away. His nose was dry and gums were sticky, and seeing this as dehydration, I tried to give him about ¼ tsp of water by dropper. He then began retching up awful-smelling bile. I scooped him up and immediately took him to the nearest open vet office.


At the local veterinary office, it was indicated he had left-side and back pain, he also came up positive for exposure to Lyme on Idexx. He also had some elevated levels on his other blood tests, but these could be attributed to Lyme as well. He was given an injection of Doxasene, as well as something for pain and nausea. The vet told us he should improve quickly, and satisfied with this, we took him back home.


I spent most of Friday night into Saturday (10/19/13) morning staying up with Rudy, but he did not improve. In fact, he was getting worse. What water he drank, he quickly turned into mucous-laden diarrhea, and he seemed disoriented. Chalking up the wackiness to pain meds, and the indigestion to the antibiotics, I tried to replace the fluids he was losing (with water mixed with a small amount of agave nectar and salt for electrolytes). Around 6AM Saturday morning, my dad took over watching him and I finally went to bed. Around 9AM, I woke back up and checked on him. He had declined sharply. His body temperature was lower than usual to the touch, he made noises of distress with every breath, his muscles seemed stiff and he was completely mentally out-of-it. He tried to get up to go outside with me, and shuffled as he walked, muscular twitches running all along his back. Once outside, he did not even attempt to do his morning business, but instead half-collapsed onto the front walk in utter exhaustion. I called the local vet to tell her we were coming back in: My boyfriend, my father, and my self then left immediately.


Rudy had reached state of sheer depression. He was limp, cold despite being in a warmed blanket, and could barely lift his head. When we arrived at the local vet, she had x-rays performed and started him on IV fluids. The x-rays of his chest showed something horrific – His heart had been pushed off-center, and while his right lung showed up as a black space, full of air as it should be, the left showed only a white mass. The realization came that somehow, his abdominal organs had meandered into his thoracic cavity, crushing his lung and heart to the side and cramping their valuable life-sustaining operating space. He finished his fluids, and she recommended us to an emergency animal hospital 20 miles away, where he would be able to get the urgent care and surgery he needed.


We drove 20 miles to the urgent care hospital, where we then waded through five hours of spotty updates, frightening test results, and perpetual worry. I was an emotional trainwreck in this place; the staff must've thought I was nuts. Rudy's labs were getting worse – His blood sugar was almost non-existent despite many a bolus to correct, his liver and kidney enzymes were getting to dangerous levels. After being there for 4.5 hours, he was mostly stable as far as liquids, and seemed to perk up; the staff chose to then inform us that no surgeons actually came in on the weekend, nor could they handle a situation this critical. At first, I thought perhaps it was a simple miscommunication, but the fact that they had received the previous x-rays and blood panels before we were referred made me sure this was a shakedown – they had just decided to take a chance with my dearest's life, wasting precious time, and cash in anyways. His levels of liver and kidney dysfunction in repeated testing continued to worsen; my emotional trainwreck-ness turned to pure rage and focus. Realizing that they were not working to a particular end, except money, I began a frantic search for a hospital with real specialists and surgeons present, not just money-hungry charlatans. Around the same time as I found one, nearly 50 miles away, the staff of said “emergency animal hospital” produced an $1,080 bill and began to unapologetically discharge him.


As we drove (read: flew) to the hospital, I tried to keep Rudy in a position that merited easier breathing according to the x-rays I had seen, and held him close, wrapped up in his blanket with the car heater blasting, but his breathing became more shallow, and his body temperature continued to drop. He was responsive when I spoke, but only briefly – I tried my best to keep him awake. In the last few minutes of the trip, he stopped responding to my voice and only made noises as we clattered over potholes. It was an icy grip of fear all around us then, watching him slip away minute by minute.


Luckily, we had made excellent time to the hospital, and staff met me just inside the door to take him to the ICU as soon as I got inside. They began stabilizing Rudy for surgery immediately. We gave the necessary information at the front desk, and then escorted to a room where the options and complications of surgery were discussed. I was able to see him, stable, after a matter of minutes, getting an ultrasound (to better understand what they might come across once they started). I was introduced to the surgeon, and began to cry uncontrollably again with the sheer stress of this entire series of events... I kissed my dog on the head many times and was seen back out to the waiting area.


Shortly after this came the estimate of a minimum of $5,000, and a maximum of $8,000 for the life-saving surgery he so desperately needed. I was slightly floored when I saw these numbers actually on paper, but I had come too far with him to willingly let anything else happen to him. These are the facts: My dog is not just a dog. He is my companion, my best friend, has stuck by me through thick and thin, and basically qualifies as my effing child. He is hurt. He is in pain. He has been poked, and prodded, and through Hell for the last 24 hours at least and I have the power now to make it stop. I had no idea how I would get the money, but in the split second I saw the estimate, I knew I would sell everything I own for my dog to be healthy and happy again. He has saved me in more ways than I can ever count, let alone repay him for, but this, is a good start.


I began by trying to apply for the hospital's program of CareCredit, for which I was denied. My boyfriend, who was with me, also tried, and was denied. We needed to come up with 60% of the maximum estimate in order to move forward, we had been told. He, my father, and I drove ourselves nuts for the next two hours, trying to find a way. We had scraped together some, but not all of the required money and were going about paying it, when the surgeon appeared before us and told us Rudy's surgery had been successful.


He had made a good-faith effort, and saved my dog's life, even when we were unsure how we would pay. It really restored my faith in humanity after the scumbags we had dealt with just before. He explained to us what he had found in the procedure: Rudy had a trauma, very early in life, that had herniated his diaphragm and made a hole. As he grew bigger, and became more active, it seemed organs had begun to shift and pass though said hole into his chest cavity. One bad slip - likely a jump, or a fall, had led to the condition of his squished heart and lungs becoming unmanageable as well as constriction of the organs that had passed through. As a result of this, there was some necrotic tissue that had to be removed. The surgery in general, as well as this removal, had caused a lot of inflammation. With IV hydration and the inflammation, there was a dilution of proteins which keep the fluid inside of cells, where it should be. He needed a transfusion of human albumin to restore the protein balance and to prevent an edematous state. I gave permission, deciding it is best to keep treating aggressively, even if costly. I cannot bear the thought of giving up on him, or not giving him the best possible chance.


My birthday is October 19, 1987. I am 26 today. I last saw Rudy after his surgery about 9PM tonight (10/19/13). He was still heavily sedated but began to stir and wake up when he heard my voice. I am so grateful he is in good hands, and on the mend. It is the greatest gift I could ever have asked for, to have more time with him: He is such an amazing creature, a survivor, a wonderful friend, it fills my heart with joy to see him coming back to life, to have made hard decisions but the right decisions at the right times to have him remain in my life, but there is still a shadow on today.


I guess that's why I'm writing this, that shadow is keeping me from sleeping tonight. “What if...?”, “what if...?”, plagues my thoughts. He is not out of the woods yet, and I fear more complications and greater costs. At some point, I will reach a threshold where neither I, nor the people who stand behind me and Rudy will be able to put more in, because we have all put everything in that we possibly can.

Together, my family and I have already paid a little more than a third of the cost. I have a good job, and I work hard, but what if that is not enough? How will I pay back some of the big contributions already made? What if I can't sell my stuff because nobody will buy it fast enough to pay? What I am getting to is that, even if I can't afford it, (and I already can't), I cannot turn away help for someone so precious to me as my Italian Greyhound boy... He's family... He's Rudy... 


I could really use a little bit of help, and if anyone can give anything, please consider helping us.


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