First, the great news on Cammie: We got the latest blood tests back and the results were nothing short of astonishing: Her lead levels had dropped from above 120 ug/dL all the way down to 28 ug/dL. The test for lead toxicity only goes as high as 120, so she was above the measurable range back in January, with 60 ug/dL being the threshold for lead poisoning. That level of 28 indicates some exposure to lead but not necessarily lead poisoning, unless we were seeing other current clinical signs like seizures … which we’re not. It’s a long way from the 60 ug/dL threshold, and an incredible drop from the >120 we started with.
These results were far better than we expected this soon, and I think they were better than our internist was expecting, too. We don’t know how much of the drop is due to the surgery that removed 236 shotgun pellets and the bullet, and how much to the lead chelation therapy, but both no doubt played critical roles.
Our internist, Dr. Bryan Harnett, decided to keep Cammie on her phenobarbital and the chelation therapy until we did another round of tests, just to make sure we didn’t rock the boat. I’m taking her back to BEVS next week for that new blood work, and it will be a week after that before we get the results. Dr. Harnett will decide then what changes to make to her medications. It will be fascinating to see if Cammie’s lead levels continued to drop, and if so, by how much.
To be clear, as the diagnostic report from the lab said, “There is no established safe level for lead in blood or tissues of domestic animals.” The report said you would expect to see a level below 10 ug/dL in clinically normal dogs not exposed to lead. Given the amount of lead pellets still scattered throughout her body, I doubt we would ever see that kind of result, but if we could get her into the 10-25 ug/dL range, that would be a terrific success. (Surgery to remove those remaining pellets is not an option because they are spread everywhere, and trying to get them out would cause far too much tissue trauma.)
Alayne took these photos on Sunday night to document Cammie’s favorite evening routine … climbing onto my lap as soon as I sit down in my chair to start reading. When Cammie hears me get into the chair, she gets off the dog bed in the living room and makes her way over to me. She then nudges my knee with her nose, as if to say, “Look out, here I come!” and then she starts trying to climb into my lab. I say “trying” because she can’t quite manage to get all the way up on her own, so I have to do an awkward sit up/bend over/reach down and pull her hindquarters the rest of the way up.
Once firmly established on my lap, she often wants to shower me with kisses, like this:
And then she likes to roll over upside down, like this:
She actually will go to sleep in this position. I will be rubbing her tummy, and pretty soon, I can hear her snoring away.
I let Sleeping Beauty stay like this for about 15 minutes before rousing Cammie from her slumber. Getting her down from the chair is as awkward as getting her into it. I need to roll her back onto her side, sit up with her in my lap with my arms wrapped around her, and finally stand up holding onto her. (She’s no longer the skinny 40-pound dog who arrived here but is now a buff 50+ pound girl, so this maneuver is a good work out.) Then I carry her over to one of the dog beds and lay her down.
She’s had her 15 minutes of snuggling and I can get back to reading!