Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Archie's Vet Visit Last Week

Quick Synopsis

Archie has permanent vision loss in his left eye. And he has secondary glaucoma in that eye. Eventually the pressure will start hurting him. Archie may lose his eye.

Preparing for the Trip

The tricky part was separating the two dogs. I was able to put Dixie in the backyard with some juggling. If one went out, then both would. And if I got Archie back in, then Dixie would dart back into the house. I finally isolated Archie from Dixie but it took some work. After that, getting Archie in my car was easy. All I had to do was call his name, open the door and point to my car. He jumped into the back of the hatchback easily.

But before I could leave the house, my mom insisted that I bring some tooties (dog treats) to calm Archie in case he gets riled up during the trip, she said. I rolled my eyes. However, I wasn't able to leave without my mom shoving the tooties in my hand. I put them in my pocket and left.

For the first time, Dixie went around to the gate by the driveway and watched us get in the car. She cried and whined. She loves Archie so much. She pawed at the gate and nudged it with her nose in an attempt to get to us. My mom said when she let Dixie in a few minutes later, Dixie ran from one end of the house to the other, whining and looking for us.

The Drive Over

Archie slept sometimes, looked at me during others. But around 10 miles into the trip right as we hit Cary, Archie stood up and started barking at me. Distracted, I let off the gas and slowed down, enough to the point where a nursing home's mini-bus outdragged me on the Beltline.

Archie stopped barking only when he stood on the console between the driver's seat and passenger's seat. I thought he was going to get in the passenger side up front. I was half-right. He tried to get on my lap. He had his front paws on me when I noticed him dipping his nose towards my right pocket.

I had put the tooties in my right pocket. Archie went to the back after I told him to do so. I asked him if he wanted a tootie. He perked up (that meant "yes"). I pulled the tooties out and gave them to him one by one. Archie settled down after that.

The tooties were the very reason Archie got riled up in the first place.


After I took Archie in a short walk on the clinic's grounds, I took him inside. There were feeble old dogs there with arthritis, clouded eyes and gray faces. I always get a little sad when I enter that clinic.

I walked to the counter and gave them my dog's name and mine. They got a little snippy with me because I went to the wrong "line" despite no other customers being at the counter. I walked to the "VSH" part of the counter and not to the part of the counter for the Animal Eye Care Associates. I stepped 3ft over to the right line. Although I had brought animals in a couple of times before for eye problems, I don't remember having to go through that rigmarole at the desk.

The Animal Eye Care receptionist gave me a form to fill out, a clipboard and a pen. I went to a bench off to the left and started filling in the info. During this time, Archie stood up on his hind legs, let out a little cry and tried to hug me. He was scared.

Before I got half way through the form, a vet-tech called us back. Archie walked back with trepidation, his head lowered and steps slow and measured.

The exam room was small and crowded with equipment. There was a bench attached to the wall directly across the room from the door. Archie jumped on the bench and stayed there until the vet instructed the vet tech to bring him down.

The Examination

The vet entered the exam room soon after we did. I recognized him because he had treated Andy for his eye problems a few years ago. He was a nice guy and seemed to like his job.

He put on something around his head to take a close look at Archie's eye. Then he pulled out an instrument the size of an electronic thermometer. He measured Archie's eye pressure. I leaned over and saw the reading from the injured eye: 35. I asked the vet if dogs are supposed to have similar eye pressure as humans normally do (around 20). "Yes" the vet said.

I knew it was glaucoma before the vet said another word.

What the vet said next deflated me. He could probably see a sullen look on my face.

The Cause of the Injury

A grown dog had bitten Archie causing immediate and permanent vision loss. Archie will never be able to see out of that eye again. The trauma that poor boy went through. He seems so vulnerable. And I want to just hold and squeeze him.

I asked the vet if Archie had been dropped. "No," he said.

I asked if Archie's mom had bitten him. "No" again he said.

The vet said an adult dog had bitten into Archie's eye causing damage to the retina, cornea and other parts of the eye. Nerve damage resulted causing a permanent "sneer" on that side of the face. Also, the bite broke one of Archie's facial bones. What a horrible day that was for poor Archie.

Last, Archie has secondary glaucoma.


The vet said that the glaucoma does not hurt Archie right now. His eye is elastic because of his youth and can accommodate the increasing pressure.  However, in a few months, the pressure will cause his eye ball to swell to the point where his eye will not be able to swell anymore. That is when the glaucoma will irritate and hurt him. When that time comes, Archie will be sad, mopey and will not want to do anything.

The vet said Archie needed surgery to address the glaucoma.

Surgery Choices

1) Remove his eye.
This method would be a 100% way to get rid of the glaucoma. Archie's eyelid would be permanently shut. But this method would be least painful with the fewest chances of complications.

2) Prosthetic eye.
This method would need "moderate medical therapy." I don't know what that means so I need to call the vet to find out more about this. But at least Archie would look somewhat "normal." 

Archie would keep the "outside part" of his eye but the middle part would be removed and replaced with a silicone material. There is a chance of rejection.

3) Intravitreal injections
Using gentocin, eye injections would kill the fluid-producing cells to halt the build of of liquids causing the pressure build-up.

The chance of success is ~85%. I don't know how much this will hurt. I need to find out more about this, too.

Time of Reassurance

The vet could tell I was sad. Not only had I lost all hope of Archie regaining sight in that eye, but he may lose that eye completely. Archie lost sight in that eye when he was 4 weeks old. The vet said that Archie has adjusted to his eye-loss and considers have vision in only one eye to  be normal. Archie won't be "losing" anything that he already didn't have. He was going to be OK, the vet reassured me. 

I found it funny that he called Archie a "goofball" and "handsome." At home, we have used the words "goofy" and "handsome" to describe Archie. Archie is so sweet and loving. Even when he is being naughty, he still maintains an innocence about him. Dixie, by contrast, seems conniving and devious when she misbehaves.

 My mind wasn't so sharp after I left the examination room. I remember paying the bill before we left, but I do not know how much I paid. I forgot. Normally, I'm pretty good with numbers.

I need to call the vet tomorrow to find out more details about the surgical procedures described above.