image of our dogs swimming in a lake

Harvey and Holly Swimming

When a serious illness strikes it’s obviously a bad experience for the stricken party, those around the patient have only to await the outcome of tests before treatement, if possible, can begin.

Yesterday was our waiting game in the fight to cure our English Springer Spaniel’s Ataxia. Harvey’s MRI scan indicated a problem with his vertebrae, so we were told late on Sunday night after Harvey had his MRI scan. The vet said he would telephone the next day to let us know what the problem was, once they had analysed the scan.

I fully understand where sick animals or people are concerned that those treating them can be hard pushed to get the time to talk to relatives. But that understanding doesn’t make it any easier to grin and bear it while we wait for news. Yesterday was a grin and bear it day. Yesterday we played the waiting game.

I know, we English are renowned for our stiff upper lips but even that reputation can wear a little thin when an entire day goes by with no news. Even we English crack under the strain and in the end I had to telephone before lunch to find out what I could.

“The vet will call you back,” I was told. So we waited some more. Is it cancer? Does Harvey have some sort of tumour? Is it that complicated it’s taking a long time to work out a plan? Is there no hope and they’re not sure how to break the news? All these thoughts go through your head and there is no answer except that which the experts can impart to us. We waited some more. Finally I telephoned the vet again at four in the afternoon.

“Can you come down and see the vet?”

“Is there a problem?”

“No, he just wants to show you the results.”

So we drove the 25 minutes to the vet’s practice and we had another dozen questions buzzing through our brains.

By five in the afternoon we had the answers we sought and were so thankful that Harvey’s affliction was severe but treatable. The poor boy’s spine is being compressed in three parts, but only one is so serious he has lost the use of his hind legs.

But now came the decision time. Do the vets operate or would we prefer just medication. Medication means he may get better or may not. Surgery means he will get better, but of course there are risks. For a brief few seconds it was like a scene from a medical soap opera as we viewed the MRI scan. But honestly, there was only one decision we could come to. They had to operate.

Harvey’s life is pretty good. Yes he’s old, but so am I. I have my aches and pains, but I don’t expect to be put to sleep just yet! He gets around, has plenty of exercise and a good diet. He sniffs around his estate, chases the odd lizard, albeit slowly, and in general has a pretty good quality of life. He’s not ready for the scrapyard yet and the cost of the scan and his operation isn’t going to stop us doing what’s right for the boy.

But now we start the new waiting game. Harvey’s operation will either be today (Wednesday) or tomorrow. Then he has to have a few days recovery period and will probably need some physio. So we don’t expect to have Harvey home any time soon. All we can do now is sit tight, with our stiff upper lips, and play the waiting game.

Copyright © Tom Kane 2018


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