One of my favorite pics of my favorite fella
Last Saturday, Barley went to the vet. It’s not his favorite place to go, though the entry rug is apparently very smelly and interesting. Or, perhaps he was just trying to pull me closer to the door. At any rate, we came with a vial of home-collected pee, steeling ourselves for a diabetes diagnosis that never came.
The pee and blood tests came back great. No sugar. No infection. Just good ol’ yellow, stinky pee and (hopefully) less stinky doggy blood. That was the good news. The vet suspected my boy might have Cushing’s Disease, which occurs when a tumor grows on the pituitary gland (sometimes the adrenal gland, but that’s more rare) causing the body to churn out stress hormone (cortisol) at a dangerous rate. He asked that Barley come back Wednesday for a full day of testing for Cushing’s.
When Wednesday came, Barley was pissed at not getting his breakfast, then more pissed when I drove him back to the vet. The stinky rug didn’t hold the same allure. A nice lady took him away and I went to work. Barley began his day with a blood test for his base cortisol level followed by an injection of a chemical which, in a healthy dog, will trigger the pituitary gland to stop producing cortisol. His cortisol level was tested four hours later and again eight hours later. In a healthy dog, the cortisol level would have fallen to less than one. Barley’s level, which started out at 9.9 dropped to 6.8 and 5.6. Positive for Cushing’s.
Every day for five to 10 days, Barley will take a cancer medication that will partially kill his pituitary gland. Once his cortisol level drops to normal, he’ll cut back on the medicine to twice per week. He’ll have regular blood tests to make sure his levels stay regular. If they drop too low, he will suffer terrible symptoms, including vomiting, blood clots, and diarrhea. The vet has prescribed us emergency steroids in case that happens. But, the vet was blunt in saying animals usually don’t recover. Those first five to 10 days will be the most dangerous.
Because of this potential, I will try to take some time off work to spend with Barley for those first critical days on the medicine. I will adopt Barley Watch 2012 as my ’round the clock mission. If I can get my little scapper past the danger point, I know he’ll do great. He’s a tough one.
Thanks to everyone who’s been rooting for him. I’ll keep you all posted on how he’s doing, particularly in those first few days. I’ll surely have plenty of time to chronicle his every move.