It’s taken me a while to come to terms with the current health of my precious Yuki and Kaya. In 2013, I lost my beloved husband to cancer and immediately after that horrific loss, I was faced with the double diagnosis of heart disease in Yuki and Kaya.
Kaya, it seems, was born with a defective heart. Whether her previous owners knew, I’ll never know, but one thing is for certain, her heart has gotten progressively worse over time. It was not until she collapsed, and I rushed her to the vet only to be shown her chest x-ray where her tiny heart has tripled in size, that I discovered how much worse. Thankfully, the vet referred me to a vet cardiologist and it was at that appointment that I learned that both dogs suffer from the same disease. Kaya’s heart disease is concentrated on the right side of her heart, along with pulmonary hypertension.
I was already aware of Yuki’s heart murmur, a condition he also was born with, but diagnosed early in his life. At the same vet cardiologist appointment for Kaya, I asked to have Yuki’s heart checked as well. The diagnosis revealed that Yuki’s heart murmur has now turned into heart disease, concentrated on the left side of his heart. The doctor’s diagnosis was clear – if medication worked, both dogs could possibly live another four years, if not, then they’d live a year maybe two at the most. That was four years ago.
Since then, I’ve gotten a second opinion, all in an effort to make sure that both dogs are getting the correct medication in the correct dosage and to find out the progression of their disease. My goal in all of this is to make sure that I can give them the best quality of life, keep them comfortable and pain free until it’s time. Both dogs also have progressive arthritis, which has now caused Kaya to be unable to climb stairs. Her limbs will continue to weaken over time and muscle atrophy has set in so severely, you can feel every rib and every vertebrae. This year, on April 10, Kaya will turn 13 and both the doctor and I know that it’s just a matter of time.
Yuki, on the other hand, will turn 11 on March 13th of this year. Along with heart disease and arthritis, he is in danger of a collapsed trachea. At the moment, he suffers from a hacking cough, which isn’t a good sign when face with a collapsed trachea. The second opinion for him was to find out if there is anything that can be done to stop this cough. So far, the short term medication has been helping. I don’t know if Yuki being a mixed-breed Maltese is the reason heart disease hasn’t affected him as drastically as Kaya, but keeping him – both of them – happy, comfortable and pain free is my only concern.
Yuki and Kaya have been together for almost 8 years. They are so bonded to each other that I suspect one will indeed follow the other. In all this devastation, I’ve tried my best to keep from falling apart. Sure, there are days when I worry, and I dread the inevitable, but for now, keeping them happy, pain free and enjoying life is my only goal.