we don't need no stinking spleens

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indi, at 13, is our elder stateslady and even though she’s riddled with arthritis she is been awesome, unstoppable and bulletproof. she had been doing the do for years with little variation, just steady as a rock, until about 5 or 6 weeks ago when she got up in the morning, went outside (like every day before) and then collapsed and was unable to get up.

dave rushed her to the vet where bloodwork and a chest x-ray were perfect but a quick ultrasound showed a large tumor in her spleen that was big enough to start pushing important stuff out of the way. our vet did a bunch of supportive care and dave brought her home. i’m pretty sure we were all under the assumption it was the tumor causing her issues and that we were bringing her home to allow us time to process that we were going to need to let her go. indi was apparently not on board with those assumptions and by the next day she was up and walking around and eating a bit better and within probably 5 or 6 days she was mostly back to her normal self.

the only explanation we had for her collapse was she had a senior moment but i like to believe she was alerting us to the undetectable spleen issue before it was detectable and too late. at that point we were taking her for laser treatments for her arthritis twice a week and i continued to perseverate on that damn spleen – i just wanted it out. about halfway through october i agreed with our vet that we would give indi until the end of the month to gain a little weight, stabilize a bit more and continue observing her and then we would address the spleen.

she spent the last part of the month eating better than ever and gaining weight and the laser treatments were amazing for her arthritis…it was finally time to address the spleen. on monday she had a formal ultrasound to get a better look at what was going on to hopefully make the correct path a bit clearer. the ultrasound showed a very large splenic tumor (that seemed solid so hopefully not hemangiosarcoma) that was pushing on the stomach but showed no visible signs of metastases. we went back and forth with the vet and saw very little choice but to push ahead with a splenectomy. she’s 13 and has significant arthritis and surgery was risky but the spleen was definitely already pushing against the stomach, which at the very least had to be uncomfortable (at least for a lesser dog than indi). since we had no baseline we had no idea how fast the tumor was growing so we were likely looking at either the spleen rupturing and us emergently letting her go, the tumor growing and eventually becoming so painful we’d have to let her go or doing the hail mary surgery which from our perspective at least gave her a chance at long-term (hopefully) survival .

on thursday she had her splenectomy and was back home with us that same night. she’s been doing really well…so well that other than a shaved belly and some extra medications there is no sign from indi that anything happened. she’s eating, she’s walking, she’s doing her do. we’ll know more once we get the biopsy results back but at this point we’re hoping for a full recovery and a few more years with her (at least).

this is our 4th go-around with shoddy spleens (see here, here and here)…apparently the colella family is decidedly not powered by spleens – in fact we don’t need no stinking spleens.

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