I was relaxing in my bedroom watching TV last night when I heard a dog vomiting. It is "Pal" and she is 'trying to vomit'. I race her outside and she continues to 'try to vomit' - she is also quite distended in the abdomen...BLOAT!*
Pal has always been a gassy girl and one of her favourite things is to burp or fart - this time however she was unable to relieve the pressure and was in obvious distress. My regular clinic was closed and emergencies services were available at the University of Saskatchewan - Small Animal Clinic.
Unfortunately, a freak snow storm had just passed and the highway was pure ice. I saw several vehicles in the ditch. I decided that travel on the highway was not prudent so resorted to getting into Saskatoon via the gravel grid roads. I managed to avoid hitting skunks and deer and made it to the clinic by 9:45 pm.
Xrays of Pal's abdomen revealed that her stomach was very odd in shape however not typical of what is usually seen in bloat/torsion cases, despite her exhibiting all the classic symptoms. They were able to deflate her stomach by piercing it with a small gauge needle, however, tubing was unsuccessful. The surgical team was brought in and she was prepped and put on the operating table at midnight.
I spent several agonizing hours in the waiting room alone with nothing but TV and my own thoughts to keep me occupied. Finally, at 2:30 am and doctor comes out to tell me that Pal is doing fine and they were closing her and the surgeon would be out shortly to speak to me. At 3:00 am the surgeon comes out to tell me that when she opened up Pal she found that her stomach had not torsioned (which is a good thing) but it was distended. She tacked the stomach - to prevent it from ever torsioning, removed her spleen as it has some spots on it that looked suspicious (it will be sent to pathology). She said Pal was doing well at this time.
I got into my van to make my trip back home. I am super stressed, tired and having a difficult time just keeping the van from weaving on the road. I am sure if a cop were to see me driving now I'd be pulled over for suspicion of being impaired. It took me a good 15 minutes to get my wits about me and drive.
It was really dark last night - no moon to light the way. I knew at some point I would have to get off the highway and onto the grids again due to the snow. There are sections of the road that are marked with hazard signs warning of deer and sure enough I see 3 deer on the road. I hit the brakes and manage to get by them without incident, drove another several hundred feet and from the corner of my eye could see another herd of deer off on the shoulder. I reduced my speed down to 80 k. When I started to see dustings of snow on the shoulders of the highway I knew it was time to turn onto the grids so that I would have better traction. I turned onto what I thought was Blutcher Road but it wasn't and as the road narrowed in front of me and the fog started to settle in I couldn't help but think I was suddenly plunged into Stephen King's "The Myst". I did manage to find the grid road that runs south of our house and crept along at 40 k. The fog was getting thicker and thicker but I finally found the road that runs by our house - turned onto it - it was so weird. I could hardly see and when I crested the hill south of our house I could not see any lights at all. Made me wonder if I was on the correct road.
Finally, after what seemed eternity, I was home.
The surgeon just called me with an update on Pal and she is doing very well. Her vitals are strong and she has been outside for potty duty. However, she will not eat for them - but this is typical of Pal - she has never taken food from strangers and simply doesn't eat if I am not around. I will go in later this afternoon and if I can get her to eat for me, I can take her home. So - I will have to find something super yummy in the cupboards.
*Bloat is quite common in large, deep-chested breeds. The stomach fills up with gas and bloats up like a balloon. Sometimes the stomach twists and this is called torsion. Bloat with torsion is an emergency situation and if the dog does not get medical treatment to untwist the stomach it will die. For more information on bloat and torsion just google.