I'm sorry, baby, but I have some bad news for you. Toby is very, very sick and he might not be around as long as I've promised. Toby's heart is not working the way a normal, healthy heart should, and despite our best efforts, it will probably stop beating altogether within the next year.
Last weekend Toby started coughing and we thought he was trying to cough something up. As the days went on the coughing got worse, he began to act very lethargic, and he stopped eating. And you know someone's really sick in this house when they stop eating. Your Dad took him to the vet on Tuesday thinking that maybe they'd be able to give him some antibiotics for the cough and we'd be on our way.
However, the vet noticed that Toby had a very rapid heartbeat (an arrhythmia and tachycardia). They thought the irregular heartbeat and his other symptoms could have been caused by some sort of toxin that he'd eaten. However, further tests showed that he had excess fluid in his lungs (pleural effusion) and one side of his heart was larger than it should be (atrial enlargement). Our regular vet recommended we take Toby to the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital (somewhere we've been WAY too many times in the past few months) where they could perform more advanced testing.
After days of observation and testing, the veterinarians at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital diagnosed Toby with having atrial fibrillation as a complication of chronic heart valve disease and a severely dilated/enlarged left atrium.
- Atrial fibrillation: An abnormal heart rhythm where chaotic electrical activity in the upper two chambers of the heart result in the muscle quivering instead of achieving coordinated contraction
- Heart valve disease/mitral regurgitation: When the mitral valve does not close properly when the heart pumps out blood, so there is regurgitation of blood back into the left atrium
Toby now takes five different medications each day in the morning, afternoon and evening, and he's being monitored by the Veterinary Teaching Hospital with follow-up visits. His most recent visit was on Monday night, and they ran another test to make sure the medications are doing their job. They were satisfied for the most part, but asked us to increase the dosage of one of his medications. We're going to take him back to the vet again this weekend to have his blood levels checked. We hope that they will find his condition has stabilized, and we'll only have to take him back for checkups every two or three months.
|Daddy counting out Toby's pills|
Your Dad and I have talked about it, and we've decided to pursue all necessary medical procedures to ensure that Toby lives the best life possible. We're going to help his heart by giving him medications and we're going to have him checked by the vet to make sure the medications are doing their job. We're going to love him, and give him hugs, and let him sleep on the bed (ok, just sometimes) as long as we, and he, can.
|Toby in 2010|
We're doing our best to make sure Toby is as happy and healthy as possible, for as long as possible. Toby's going to want to meet you, Mia, and we're doing our best to make sure that happens.