Monday, April 18, 2011

A Note of Cautious Optimism

I'd like to share something nice that happened last Thursday when I went to the doctor for my annual shots and a checkup. Dr. Bryson first took a blood sample to test for heartworms, which have plagued me since before I came to live here. It was the third such test I've had in the past year. While they were processing it in a back room, the doc gave me all of my shots and then, with the aid of an assistant, trimmed my toenails, which M says were starting to look like Arby's curly fries. (Incidentally, none of this sticking, jabbing, and clipping was the "something nice that happened." I have to confess that for all of these unpleasant procedures they made me wear a big leather muzzle, which they refer to as "the happy hat"!)

Okay, here's the nice part: After all the corporal punishment was over, the doctor went to check the results of the heartworm test and came back into the examining room with a big grin on her face. "It's negative!" she announced. This was a pleasant surprise, since M and J were planning in the wake of the expected positive outcome to have me treated for heartworms next month. I hated the thought of that, as the word going around dogdom is that the treatment is way harsh. It consists of three injections of an arsenic-based drug into your lower-back muscle, followed by either a long, quiet recovery period or your funeral.

Now for the note of cautious optimism: This heartworm test actually checks only for adult female worms. They also do a test for baby heartworms, or microfilariae, which you shouldn't have if you take a monthly tablet called Heartguard--which I do, so I don't. I have no way of knowing if there are any adult male worms in my ticker. It could be that there were some, but they either died of old age or the Heartguard killed them. The same might also be said of adult females. One thing is likely, though: There were at least some females present last April and again last fall, but there appear to be none now.

Long story short, Dr. Bryson said I don't need the treatment now but that we should retest periodically. I guess the theory must be that whether there are any remaining adult males or not, there are no potential heartworm mamas and the Heartguard is killing any babies that I may get through infected mosquitoes. And sooner or later, any leftover males will die, either of natural causes or perhaps helped along by the Heartguard.

And this is a good thing!

Of course, as with most medical tests, there are such things as both false negatives and positives. Boo-yah!

To read more about my health problems from last year, click here.


Anonymous said...

You bet your sweet bippy that's a good thing, and I'm happy for you, Buddy! You've had to endure a lot of poking, prodding, pinching, and pricking to get your health back on track; and you've been fairly co-operative, I'm told. Now it's time to kick back, relax, and enjoy the "good" in your latest lab tests.

Congratulations, and keep on keeping on! Love, Grandma Grace

Anonymous said...

Way to go, Buddy! What great news! So glad that you followed the doctor's orders and have received a clean bill of health.
Love, Aunt Julia