Saturday, January 7, 2012

Roya's trip to the Witch Doctor

Our old house-dog, Roya, will be 12 this summer.  She is a Dutch Shepherd, mother of our "B" and "C" litters, and Queen Ruler of the house. For the record, and though she may deny it, she has also been responsible for eating multiple packages of HeartGuard Plus for 51-100 lb dogs like candy and should be pretty well to those worms for life.  Recently she has been experiencing some anxiety.  During the summer, it appeared connected to thunderstorms or barometric pressure.  My vet prescribed two different medications to try, to see if one or the other made a difference; they didn't.  The behavior seemed to subside, however. Until now.  We would wake to find her standing over us on the bed, panting.  She seemed restless and unwilling to lay down.  It usually occurred around 3 a.m. We would take her outside, and she might urinate a little but it was without urgency.  Or we might be awakened to the crashing of items from the nightstand as she attempted to squeeze between the wall and the headboard. 

She has also had several accidents in the house if we do not wake up, but as distasteful as that is, the stools were firm and she is not incontinent.  She has a good appetite, and she still likes to play. 

Last year, Roya had two tumors removed.  In January, it was a spindle cell tumor from her footpad.  Spindle cell cancer is slow growing and from what I read, usually reoccurs in around four years.  A few months later, a lump appeared on her muzzle.  This one we removed in the office but did not send in for biopsy, because there is nothing I would have done differently for treatment.  Roya was such a good girl, too!  Dr. Jay injected the numbing agent (technical term!) and used the punch to remove it and she just stood there like a champ.

With this in mind, and recalling my journey with Jinx, cancer is always in the back of my mind.  I hate to think of it. Two years later, I can't even mention Jinx without tears. But something just didn't seem right with Roya, so I made an appointment with Dr. Strickfaden at Country Care Animal Complex for a bicom treatment.  I asked for an appointment with the Witch Doctor. Seriously.  I can't explain how bicom works, or why, but it does.  And it involves a wand that is similar to water divining.  The treatments work on electromagnetic fields and I believe they not only helped to diagnose Jinx but also to treat her.  I thought this would be a good first step, without invasive tecniques.  I spoke to Tom by phone as I was on my way and he phrased it perfectly.  He said, "Roya will like that because she likes it petting; and it's like internal petting."   She did like it.  She layed down on the floor and fell into such a sound sleep during the treatment that she twitched in dreams!  Dr. Strickfaden said that the bicom showed fear and pain, but didn't know what it was from.  I felt good when she said, however, that it did not see cancer.  Still, she wanted to run a blood test... and then Xrays.  Since we were there, I agreed.  The blood tests were actually good for an older dog.  The Xrays were something else.

The spleen is squished up on the left side of the screen.  It is enlarged, and not supposed to be there.  The stomach drops down in between the spleen and the liver on this film.  Dr. Strickfaden thought that there appeared to be a mass on the spleen and also the liver.

Needless to say, I asked "but the magic wand said it wasn't cancer?"  To this she was not so certain.  I think I had more faith in it than she does, at least at that moment.  She said that we could schedule an ultrasound at roughly $600.  If something was identified as out of place, we would still have to open her up.  I left to consider my options and will confer with my regular vet at Countryside Vet Clinic next week.  They do not offer the holistic options, but I have an excellent working relationship with them for all other treatments and use them as my primary vet.  I know that Dr. Jay Peters will answer all my questions without being insulted and will understand and accept my decisions.  As I understand it, anything on the spleen is bad.  A cancerous tumor leaves the dog with literally days to survive.  Even a benign tumor can rupture, causing the dog to bleed to death, as the spleen is so vascular.  If something is found on the tumor it is generally removed entirely for biopsy.  A benign nodule on the liver can be removed and life goes on for the dog.  So, we could open Roya up, spay her while we were in there, and cut what needs to be cut.  The ultimate question becomes what to do if a mass is found on the spleen?  Maybe Jay will just tell me that her enlarged spleen is nothing more than normal for an old dog and not to worry.  Yep, I'm going to go with that one.  The most important thing is not to lose this moment, for fear of the next.

For now, my sleeping beauty is stretched out on the living room rug, waiting for me to go to bed.  She gets a flower essence 4 times a day, to see if that helps with the anxiety.  Will I really even know? Possibly not, since it doesn't occur every day.  So the fact that she is not exhibiting problems does not mean that there is a problem tonight.   Sweet dreams.