Saturday, May 2, 2009

The $40 Bandage Turns into the $240 Bandage Stuck in Popeye's Stomach

We just came back from taking Popeye to the emergency hospital. Just after 10PM tonight, I saw Popeye swallow the remaining adhesive bandage that was on one of his stumps. I am kicking myself repeatedly for not having taken it away from him when I had the chance. But Popeye has never ever, not even once, eaten anything he shouldn't have. That of course changed today. In a very big way.

I saw him grab the bandage, and I didn't think anything of it (I was right beside him trying to put new bandages on). 2 seconds later I noticed he was chewing the bandage, as if it was food, which he never does. As I was thinking to myself, "He's chewing on that bandage--that's weird," I saw half the bandage disappear into his mouth. As the thought registered, "He's not actually trying to eat it, is he?", I started to reach for the bandage only to see it disappear completely into his mouth and then gulped down.

I was horrified. It was a big bandage, about 3 or 4 inches square, a few layers thick.

After running to the bedroom to tell Tyler, I called Popeye's orthopedic surgeon. I knew they had staff on call 24 hours and thought maybe they could tell me something ridiculously reassuring about the bandage, like not to worry, it'll dissolve in his stomach like kool-aid powder.

I got the answering service and was surprised when Dr Sams, the surgeon himself, called me back in a minute. He said I could try to induce vomiting by giving Popeye a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide. If that didn't work, I could take him in to the emergency hospital or wait to see if it passed through his system on his own. But if it didn't, we'd be dealing with intestinal blockage, which would require surgery. Another surgery.

Giving him the hydrogen peroxide was not an easy thing to do because he will bare his teeth and snap if I try to put something he really doesn't like near him. He did snap a couple of times. We ended up putting it in a needle-less syringe with the tip smothered in peanut butter. As Popeye opened his mouth to get the peanut butter, I managed to squeeze the liquid in his mouth.

A few minutes later he did vomit. But only peanut butter.

I knew we weren't going to have success, so we got ready to take him to the emergency clinic here in Antioch (luckily one opened up here just a couple of years ago). I tried to give him the HP again, but this time he wasn't falling for it. In fact, I think he will forever hate peanut butter from now on.

On the way to the clinic, in the back of my mind, I had a sinking feeling and thought, "They won't be able to get it out."

$202 later (which Tyler generously paid), I was proven right. They had injected him with apomorphine to induce vomiting, and while he vomited many times until there was only bile, he didn't vomit the bandage.

Our options:

1) Take him to Encina Vet in Walnut Creek immediately for xrays to see if the bandage was still in the stomach (and hadn't entered his intestines yet), and if so, have an endoscopy done. With an endoscopy, they sedate the dog and put a tube down his throat to see if they can grab onto the object and pull it out. There was a chance it wouldn't be successful though. The cost? Estimated $1500.

2) Wait and see if he passes it through.

This was the first time since having Popeye that I have allowed finances to prevent me from seeking any kind of medical attention. And it kills me. The guilt and the worry is almost overwhelming as I write this.

So now we wait. I don't know for how long. It could pass in a day, it could take a week, or it could get stuck and cause a blockage. Signs of blockage would be not defecating, not eating or drinking, and lethargy. A blockage would require surgery. I think, though, that the surgery would cost about the same as the endoscopy as long as it was done by a regular vet and not at an emergency clinic.

Wet food (which he gets anyway), canned pumpkin, and some metamucil was what was recommended. In small meals throughout the day. Tomorrow (or rather, later today), I will be calling his regular vet for advice--thank goodness they're open on weekends.

I remember years ago, one of my german shepherds, Jasper, ate a corn cob. I didn't think anything of it until several hours later. Then I did some reading online and read that that was a bad bad thing. By then it was night time of course, so I called the emergency vet. I think they're required to always recommend bringing your pet in, no matter what. So I did. Too much time had elapsed to induce vomiting, so they took an xray. It showed what might or might not have been the corn cob.

When the vet came out to speak with me, after explaining the xray, he said something like, "I'm not exactly sure why you brought him in." In my head, I thought, "Because that's what the lady who answered the phone told me to do." I wasn't happy about that. In the end though, Jassy did pass the cob.

I pray that the same happens with Popeye. If it doesn't, then the next thing I pray for is that we can catch the blockage during normal business hours. Because honestly (and this is something that kills me to have to admit to myself), I don't think I'd be able to afford surgery done at an emergency hospital.


Sugar said...

He.Ate.The.Bandage. Popeye? HOLY CRAP! I've seen little dude munch entire stuffed animals and not swallow a single piece of fluff. As he chewed, was he giving you the infamous Popeye, "screw you, it's mine" stare? Oh boy. Sugar & I will be sending vibes to Popeye, wishing for a speedy passage & no need for surgery.

btw, there's nothing wrong with "watching and waiting." Abby (the one before Sugar) ate my underwear, once. I decided to wait for it to pass. The elastic from the panties actually got stuck in her butt, as she was pooping 2 days later. I was able to pull it out of her (yes, REALLY gross), without injury (to both of us).

Nancy Bailey said...

The Scoundrel, ate without me knowing it, a six inch piece of fabric (something from the children's home). When he went to poop my daughter Gaby yelled, "Mom, HELP!" We were out for a walk. I went up to Sirius and took a leaf and just pulled it out the rest of the way. He was fine. Dooney is forever eating the little kids' socks and I find them in his poop. I never even know they ate what is coming out. Sirius and Dooney are infamous for eating whatever and no matter how I try to watch them it is impossible with 50+ kids and all their stuff. I would bet that Popeye will just poop that bandage right out. Poor foster mum to have to worry about this after the big surgery. You know there will be people out there to help if Popeye does need surgery. Keep the poop report coming....

fosterdogblog said...

To Crazy Lady: I know! It is so completely unlike Popeye to eat anything he shouldn't. I have never had to worry about him. With the bandage though, he had been trying to lick it while it was on (hence the e-collars). When I took it off as it was mostly fallen off anyway, Popeye put it in his mouth and started chewing on it as if he had been coveting it for weeks. No dirty looks or anything. It happened so fast, in just a few seconds.