I took this picture last night.
Layla posed this way by herself, perhaps as a
foreshadowing of today's expenses ($805!!!)..
Today was our big appointment at Garden State Veterinary Specialists with an Internal Medicine vet.
Thankfully, the process was a bit less painful than I had anticipated. The hospital was empty when we arrived, so I didn't have to see any sick animals or distraught owners like I did last time. I waited in the car until about 5 minutes before our appointment time, then whisked Layla inside. We were only in the waiting room for about an additional 5 minutes.
The vet was very nice.. coincidentally, he was the vet who treated Layla the last time we took her out there, in 2006. He seemed to have some recollection of her case (and I don't know if he was making it up, but he said he remembered my mom).
The consultation and testing probably took less than 45 minutes altogether. They did an ultrasound and bloodwork. The ultrasound came back clear; he said that all of her abdominal organs look good, but her colon was filled with tons of stool and gas.
He agreed with me that Layla has some sort of malabsorption problem. He repeatedly said it could be due to a pancreatic deficiency. The bloodwork will determine whether that is the case or not. It would not be hard to manage, according to him.
If the bloodwork shows that her pancreas is fine, we're going to have to take the next step and think about endoscopy/biopsy of her intestine. This is kind of scary, as I said that I really didn't want to put Layla under anesthesia. He said that there was very little risk.. the only thing he would recommend before anesthesia is a chest X-Ray, because she does have what he called a "loud" heart murmur. (I knew she had a heart murmur, but did/do not know the severity of it.) I guess we'll cross that bridge if/when we get there.
Biopsy of the intestine would search for possible inflammatory bowel disease or intestinal lymphoma. He said that both of these can be managed well.. that this type of lymphoma in cats is not "terrible" the way it is in people.
So, we don't have an answer right now, because everything is contingent upon the results of the bloodwork, which we will have within the week. Over all, I think the news is pretty good, because he doesn't seem to think that she has anything that can't be treated or managed. I'm glad that the ultrasound was good.. it's comforting to know she's not riddled with masses or anything like that. It's frustrating to still not have a diagnosis, though, especially when it's obvious that Layla is not getting the nutrients that she needs.
Thank you so much for your continued thoughts for my little girl. She sure is happy to be home (and not so happy to be sporting a new bald spot on her belly!).