June 21, 2013
Steve and I woke simultaneously to the sound of choking and gasping. It was Puff. Instantly Steve was at her side checking her throat and squeezing her sides. The White Dog Army surrounded her in groggy concern.
She wasn't choking but was having difficulty breathing. After a few minutes of unsuccessful percussive tapping to loosen gunk in her lungs, we were dressed in 2 minutes and headed out the door to the ER. It was 2 am, but all of the WDA wanted to come along; even Quinn had been roused from his peaceful slumber. Puff was still gasping. "No, dear loves, you cannot go but you CAN send the power of the Army to your sister."
At that hour traffic, blessedly, was nonexistent but the ride still seemed to last hours as Steve speed across town and I held the wheezing shaking Puff in my arms massaging her lungs and throat. She gacked up foamy mucus-y phlegm but it did not help her breathing.
We squealed into the all-night Emergency Hospital and said a quick prayer of thanks...the parking lot was deserted. We had to wait to be let in and immediately the tech took our girl back to triage.
A short while later, the ER vet came out to fill in the details of what had happened.
Puff is our Heartworm+ Stage 3 survivor who carries forever pulmonary damage, bronchial scarring, and a collapsing trachea. We almost lost her last year during an episode very similar to tonight triggered by bacterial pneumonia so we are always very aware of her breathing and energy level. Early in the week we noticed the she was dragging a bit more than the heat justified and we increased her maintenance dose of prednisone to be safe.
Early today I sensed she was having occasional short moments of breathlessness, especially after jumping onto the chair or playing with White Dog. I called Dr. Julia's office and we agreed that we should be alert but that it was nothing alarming. Just to be safe, "because you know these always get out of control on the weekend" Dr. Julia prescribed an antibiotic and cough suppressant. The antibiotic to start now and the suppressant "if it was needed."
At the ER, the vet reassured us that Puff's lungs sounded clear and her heart good. The wheezing and gasping was upper respiratory. She was not running a fever and her oxygen saturation was low but not dangerously so. They put our baby girl in the oxygen kennel and began antibiotics.
The plan was to keep her overnight in oxygen and to have the internist look her over and possibly do more diagnostics in the morning. We are pretty certain that this is an infection that aggressively bloomed before our antibiotics had a chance and that once get her airways clear enough to take in enough air, she will recover and fight the infection.
There is no worse feeling in the world than leaving your sick baby behind in a cage...except walking in the door at home and trying to explain to five anxious faces why their sister is not with us. From the victory dance over Quinn's progress to this...the reason this momma has grey hairs aplenty.