Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Trying to Find the Silver Lining

I'm slowly beginning to move on although there are still those moments when I feel that deep, deep sadness knowing Coltrane is gone forever.

Like last night when I sat on the couch watching TV and realized I was never going to see that big guy drag his bed from the bedroom into the family room and beg for his kong to be filled with a treat as a reward for his job well done. Or tonight when I dropped a piece of bread on the floor and had to pick it up instead of having him there at my feet picking up my scraps. It's a sorrow unlike anything I've ever known.

There's also the anger. It sounds illogical but the more we learn about how and why Coltrane died, the more angry and at peace we are with his passing.

We now know that Coltrane passed away from MRSA - that nasty antibiotic resistant 'superbug' staph infection. At one point during the past year of treatment, he tested positive for it and, while we thought we'd treated it, it was still in his system (we've since learned that MRSA never really goes away - it's always in your system). Once his immune system was suppressed by the prednisone, the MRSA flared up.

While we know that, medically, UGA did the best they could with the information they had, it's the things they didn't do that bother us. They didn't have us follow-up with our local vet regularly which, given the dose of prednisone he was on and Coltrane's history, would have been prudent. They knew we had a newborn at home (he was with us during those last visits) yet, it was only after my husband called to get the test results (note: they didn't call us - we had to call them) that we learned of MRSA. The vet then added that that it was probably a good idea if we get tested. (I wonder when they would have mentioned that if my husband hadn't called to get the test results.) This week we received an itemized bill in the mail with a credit card slip stapled to it; they simply charged the final bill to the credit card we used for the deposit - no call to tell us the final total or ask us how we wanted to pay. And, what bugs us the most is that the orthopedic doctor who was handling Coltrane's case - until that last visit when we realized the severity of the infection and it was turned over to the internal medicine vets - still hasn't called. A short, 'I'm sorry to hear about Coltrane' would have gone a long way toward making us feel better about the situation.

The odd thing about this is that we have a friend who, for the past year, has had MRSA issues mirroring Coltrane's. Even odder: Coltrane injured his knee at our friend's house during the same weekend when our friend's MRSA issues began.

On each visit to UGA we mentioned our concerns about the MRSA - about how strange it was that the cases followed a parallel path, that we were worried it was still in his system and that we had concerns about the prednisone. We wish the doctors had paid closer attention to our concerns about MRSA instead of looking at us like we had horns when we told them about the similarities between Coltrane's prognosis and our friend's condition.

But, ultimately, MRSA is such a new and nasty thing that doctors barely know what to do with it in humans. Our friend has been battling it for over a year and they still don't have a grasp on how to handle it. The test that allowed them to finally find the source of the issues in our friend (an infection in his bone) is rarely done in animals. The closest facility that has the capability is at the University of Tennessee and diagnosis alone would have cost approximately $10,000; who knows what treatment would have cost - assuming it was even available.

I hope that UGA uses this as a learning experience - that they learn how to treat cases like this, that they don't make these mistakes in the future, and that Coltrane's death will help some other animal who comes in with the same symptoms. It's the only bit of peace I can find in this situation.


Kim Bates said...

I'm so sorry for you loss- especially all the circumstances surrounding your dog's illness! He was so special in your lives and will be missed greatly but will also live forever in your memories- he was lucky to have you!
May each day hurt a little less.

Melissa said...

until just recently when i got laid off i had worked at a doctors office for over 3 years.. one of the doctors that i worked for was an "infectious disease" doctor (hiv, aids, hepatitis, etc.). one thing that we had ALOT of cases of was MRSA. it was crazy HOW MANY people came in with it. some people had no idea how they got it.. and some cases were spread thru kids playing together...all kinds of crazy stuff. it really made us (the staff) really aware of our surroundings and such. but.. i had NO IDEA that animals could get it. i guess it makes since.. i just never really thought about it. its scary to think about... i'm soooo sorry for your loss. i've lost dogs before and it is definately like losing a family member. my husband and i have two dogs now and they are our kids. i couldn't imagine losing them... :o(

Lauren said...

I am SO very sorry to hear about your dog. We recently went through losing our dog of 15 years, and it is horribly devastating to come home and not have them there to greet you to clean up your messes or help "rinse" the dishes. I'm sorry that it could have possibly been prevented. That makes it so much worse. It's been a few months now since I lost my buddy, and I still miss him all the time, (especially at night) but it's getting easier. Hang in there. I really like your blog. I'm not much of a commenter, but I really relate on this one. :(
Keep your head up!