Still not feeling well at all, I’m off this week, but, a person still has to get up and take a little walk. And since the weather was unusually warm today in New York City, near 67 F, and since my time with Giorgio (my Maltese, pictured above) is limited now, I got into my jeans and took Giorgio downstairs for a little walk around the block.
Giorgio was recently diagnosed with left valvular heart disease, CHF (left-sided chronic heart failure). He’s on a mild course of medication right now (Enacard once a day) as well as a nutritional supplement aimed at strengthening (this article explains about L-Carnetine and Taurine and Vitamin E) his heart and heartbeat (we use Vetri-Science Cardio Strength along with vitamin E capsules twice daily) and I’m careful about how much exercise he gets. Just small walks, no climbing stairs, no jumping up onto the bed. If the weather is freezing, he can’t go out. If the temperature is soaring or there’s high humidity, he can’t go out.
Giorgio used to go everywhere with me. There were days when he walked a good ten miles by my side, accompanying me on daily rounds and he never even acted tired at any time. He was a lot like the Energizer Bunny except he’s not pink.
But my little guy is not an Energizer Bunny and his batteries are running down.
I’m worried about him and I don’t like the way he looks. His breathing seems to be getting more labored. We’re scheduled to have his follow-up echo-cardiogram this week and I’m truly nervous about the outcome, about the stress of the test, and, what the future holds.
For today, however, with mild weather, the two sick ones took a nice little walk together and forgot about our troubles. It’s a lot better than sitting here watching his chest to see how he’s breathing (which I confess I’m doing lately).
I almost forgot! On our walk we ran into Marie walking her little old Chihuahua, Rosemary. Rosemary is approximately fifteen years old. Her age is an appoximate because she was adopted from the ASPCA and even that notable organization doesn’t always know (or share) the exact age of an animal up for adoption, something I know all too well because my cat, Copper, adopted from them, turns out to be far older than the four years he was supposed to have been. But, that’s another story.
We got to talking about our pets and heart disease. I remembered well when Marie lost one of her dear cats to cardiomyopathy (just like my dear Gilbert).
Little Rosemary has the same valvular disease my Giorgio has and she has been undergoing treatment and on medication since 2005. I think that’s pretty amazing and a testament to how much effort (and money) Marie puts into the care of her pets. Rosemary sees a cardiologist regularly and has been hospitalized twice in emergency heart failure. She is also on the full range of cardio medications including VetMedin, Enacard, and Lasix.
I left feeling a little blue because I know I won’t be able to afford similar care for my little Giorgio. Emergency care for pets in New York city is truly only for the gainfully employed, and even then, only those who have enough disposable income. When Giorgio goes into heart failure, I’m not going to be able to ask for heroic measures even though dogs can be brought out of crisis and go on to live, as Rosemary has, for years.
That is a real heartache. I think it is also something few of us consider when we acquire a pet. Even if we are practical enough to budget for routine health care, the extraordinary cost of emergency health care is a truly rude awakening. But what’s the alternative? To never have a pet?