White Dog looked at my face when we walked through the door and let out a howl of joy. "It was all good news, wasn't it, momma?" she asked. The rest of the White Dog Army clustered around Puff who had just returned from her visit with the vet...the first real look our trusted Dr. Julia had at her since Puff's emergency trip and stay at the hospital last weekend.
Either she or Cindy, her insightful Number One, called for progress reports and to check in nearly every day but we wanted to give the cocktail of medications and oxygen treatment a chance to take effect before we attempted to analyze what was working and figure our next moves.
The Puff we brought to see her this afternoon was in full test mode...it was again blazingly hot, being at the vet was stressful AND she had not been on oxygen since the middle of last night!
(It was so hot to sleep that I worried the non temperature controlled oxygen kennel would cause her to overheat plus she was restless so we uncrated her about 2am and she slept peacefully through the night on the floor next to Quinn, Oso and Nuka.)
Dr. Julia had read the hospital report and asked us lots of questions about her diet, habits, activity level, and attitude since coming home. She wanted to know how much oxygen she was receiving and when (was there a pattern?). We reviewed the meds Still Another White Dog is taking.
Finally, Puff was subjected to a thorough exam and a listen to her lungs and airway. "She is sounding very good. Great job, Puffy!" was her response to what Dr. Julia heard and felt.
To us, "Let's start weaning her off the Prednisone, cut it in half to 5mg per day. The two antibiotics will take her through the middle of next week, let's do that and take another look then. Also, reduce her time in oxygen to an as-needed basis...if her tongue gets bluish...her eyes buggy...she is majorly stressed...she is gasping for air. Otherwise, let's try to get her back to normal--but don't let her get worked up or overheated and restrict her exercise to gentle activities at the coolest times of day. I think she is going to be fine."
Then she looked at me, "Puff is not going to die from this. A collapsing trachea is like when you suck all of the air out of a balloon and the sides stick together which is not good because air cannot get through BUT when you push more air back in, the balloon expands again and the sides do not touch. It is not like a concrete tunnel that collapses and can never recover. So the treatment is to get the airways open and air back in as soon as possible. You have the ability to do that with the oxygen kennel you made. Opening the airways is a matter of getting your girl to relax first and then to keep the inflammation down. When there is a crisis I want you to comfortably know you can increase her Prednisone up to the levels she is at now...be sure you always have some available. And I am going to write you a prescription for Valium to get filled and keep on hand."
"For Puff of Sue?" Steve interrupted. "After getting Puff calm with the Valium given orally if you can or rectally, then Sue can have a margarita" Dr. Julia laughed. "If I have to give the sedative rectally, you can bet it will be scotch not a fluffy drink!" I replied.
So we can go to the opera tomorrow without too much fear. We have an emergency plan and stores and have already talked to Gregg and Candace about casually checking in with Michael at some point in the evening. Michael has their number and knows he can always go next door and get Josh.
Puff is delighted to have regained her freedom and looks at me with pity for being so over-reactive. There ARE still meds to deal with but she is resisting less and less as she realizes that jerky follows yucky stuff. There is a festive mood tonight despite the heat and Steve being away late to teach. The pack is whole and healing well underway. Thank you for your strength, continuing good wishes, and encouragement to our girl...they make a huge difference in our on-going fight to keep our feisty old girl healthy.