I was combing out the boy dog after his bath on Sunday when I noticed a big pink bump on his front paw.
Because he’s 11 years old, the chances of this being something benign are small. So I took him to the vet this morning for an exam with Reggie along for moral support.
The doctor immediately frowned at this bump, saying “I don’t like the look of that.” A tech swept Rudy away to the back for a needle aspiration, while I held Reggie on my lap in the exam room and listened to Rudy squeal and cry while they did it. As we waited for the doctor to read the microscope slide and tell us what kind of tumor it is, I felt like a ski jumper who has just left the end of the jump, arcing through the air in free fall with no way to know where I would land. Could be nothing, could be a mast cell tumor, could be … well, it’s a good thing I always carry a tissue in my pocket.
After 12 long minutes, the doctor came back and said it’s not a mast cell tumor, but it is a fast-growing mass (i.e., not an infection or a bug bite or anything temporary like that) and needs to come off as soon as possible. The only question is how aggressively he should go after it. The options are essentially surface removal or amputation of the toe because there’s so little tissue margin around the mass. If he does a surface removal and doesn’t get it all, Rudy would have to have a second surgery to remove the toe. If he takes the toe off and cytology shows little risk from the mass, Rudy will have had an unnecessary major surgery.
Tomorrow the doctor will get Rudy’s blood work results from today and have a chance to consult with his colleagues on the best course of action, and then we will schedule the surgery. The bill for today’s diagnosis, blood draw and exam: $200. The estimate for the surgery made me weak in the knees.
I practically ran out the clinic’s door and sat on the curb in the parking lot with the dogs for several minutes before I could pull myself together long enough to dry my eyes, go back inside and sign the form authorizing the procedure. I apologized to the tech at the desk for my hasty departure, telling her “I had to go get my big girl panties on.” She was very understanding.
My only care is my dog’s good health. We will do what we have to do, as we always have. This is what emergency funds are for, after all.