The first step was a physical exam, which revealed maybe a bit of discomfort on abdominal palpation. Then we took x-rays of her abdomen, which revealed some arthritic changes that weren't there the last time she was x-rayed *insert guilty mummy feelings*, and showed that her stomach looked thickened. I was instantly panicked that she had gastric carcinoma, a form of stomach cancer, which Staffordshire Bull Terriers are predisposed to. I felt awful. I didn't want my Tiki to be dying.
Why did I instantly think Tiki had a terminal illness? Harriet Lerner, the psychologist, discusses connecting current anxiety to the underlying emotional field; being mindful that unconsciously we tend towards reactivity during stressful times, either due to a current stressor or when we have unresolved issues from a past experience. I thought about my history with Tiki. I had adopted her after graduating from university, a consolation prize for not getting into vet school on my first try. Here is what I wrote about her shortly after I adopted her:
|The first photo I saw of Tiki-Granger, taken at Guelph Humane Society|
Adopting her was the best decision I could have made. She has lifted my spirits and helped me resolve grief from the death of my last dog, over 5 years ago, grief that I didn't even know I was still holding on to. She has gotten me out of the funk that I've been in for the last few months after I didn't get into school.
I decided to adopt her just weeks after getting engaged, and a week before my fiance and I moved to a new province; a time of starting out in life, of hope for the future. Now, here we were, she had just turned ten and my divorce had just been finalized. How poetically cruel, I thought, that Tiki's life with me, which started in a new beginning, would be ending as I end that chapter of my life.
The next day Tiki had an ultrasound and a biopsy. While I waited for the results, I consoled myself by cooking and pureeing special food for her, which she happily gobbled down. Her ultrasound and biopsy came back just fine. I thought more about it, and remembered that I had taken all three dogs into the office with me the day before this started, and Tiki had found a dental chew that she quickly gobbled. Likely it had started the problem, but had passed by the time we started working her up.