Plus, there has been some significant news in my life of late, and not of the good sort. Last month, my dog Kiska developed what at first seemed to be just a UTI. But the antibiotics the vet prescribed didn't get rid of it, so they did an ultrasound to make sure she didn't have a bladder stone or kidney problems or something, and a urine culture to try and see exactly what sort of bacteria we were dealing with... Only to find that there was no bacteria any more. The UTI was gone, but the symptoms were still continuing, albeit at a lesser level. And she didn't have a bladder stone. Or kidney problems. Long story short, two more ultrasounds, an x-ray and a biopsy later, she was diagnosed with transitional cell carcinoma, which is basically cancer of the lining of the urinary tract.
It's not operable. Radiation doesn't work well for it. There are basically two medications that can help with it, where by "help" they mean "make her more comfortable and extend her life to maybe 6-12 months" instead of "she could die any day of a urinary blockage". I've already started her on the more affordable of the two, which is generally the basic one everyone starts with - there's a second one that can be added that might increase her remaining time by 50% or thereabouts, and I'm trying to work out if I can afford that.
Right now her quality of life is still good - she doesn't seem sick at all, her appetite and energy are good, really the only thing you'd notice is that she has to pee a bit more often and licks her crotch afterwards like it's sore. And even that she's doing less of than when she had the UTI. So it's kind of surreal - she doesn't seem sick, but she has something inside her that barring a miracle, is going to kill her sometime within the coming year. With both Amber and Desdemona (my two departed cats), they gradually got sicker over a long period of time, in a visible way, but still with an uncertain outcome, so that when the time came that they were suffering enough that I chose to put them to sleep, there had been a long process of decline, and with Amber at least, up until the last few weeks of her life I had still be hoping she would get better (Desdemona was nearly 20, with slowly failing kidneys, so the writing was kind of on the wall in her case - Amber was 15 and had what the vet first thought was pancreatitis, which usually does get better on its own, but it didn't, so he eventually concluded it was more likely pancreatic cancer).
But in this case - I don't really know exactly how it will go, but it seems possible she may keep on seeming relatively healthy up until the tumour gets just a little too big and blocks her urethra, in which case her urine will back up and her kidneys will fail. Although that's not the only way it could go - sometimes it metastasizes to other organs, or even into bones. I really don't know how things will happen, I just know that survival times for dogs with TCC, even with chemotherapy, are typically in the 200-300 day range - although complete remissions are apparently possible, they're rare.
So this is what I'm trying to wrap my brain - and my heart - around now. And also deal with the financial repercussions of. I ended up setting up a GoFundMe page for any friends, family or others who might want to donate to her care, because otherwise the Lynxcub and his little brother would not be getting much of a Christmas/Yule and I wouldn't even be able to buy groceries for the rest of the month, because vet bills have cleaned me out pretty much completely, even with my partner helping with some of the cost. I know this is a financially difficult time of year for pretty much everyone, and I certainly don't intend to pressure anyone, but if anyone does happen to feel willing and able to help, or even just wants to boost the signal, here you go:
There's also more detailed information on her prognosis and the treatment options there.