Hazel’s probable disease.

And the last thing we wanted to hear.

Dear people, again I must say this:
CAUTION: The following is offered by way of information reaching out to other loving dog owners. Please do not assume I have any specialist veterinarian knowledge and please do not take the following as a replacement for seeing your own vet.

Back on the 4th May I posted the results of Hazel being scanned ultrasonically in a post Hazel’s Sonogram. Here’s a tiny extract:

Dr. Parker, who is a board-certified veterinarian doctor, came to the conclusion that the most likely cause of Hazel’s illness was the fungal lung infection, as Dr. Codd and the radiologist supposed.

But still Hazel showed too many signs that there was no improvement. Her eating was pitiful and the application of the Fluconazole (anti-fungal) medicine was not helping, bearing in mind that she was first seen by Dr. Codd over a month ago.

Dr. Codd’s advice was that we seek specialist help and yesterday morning Hazel was seen by Dr. Kimberly Winters, DVM, of Southern Oregon Veterinary Specialty Center (SOVSC) who, in addition, has a further qualification (Diplomate AVCIM) in Internal Medicine.

Based in Medford, about a 40-minute drive South from home.
Based in Medford, about a 40-minute drive South from home.

oooo

Waiting to be seen by Dr. Winters.
Waiting to be seen by Dr. Winters.

Jean and I were impressed by the way we were received and noted that the clinic, Southern Oregon Veterinary Specialty Center, offered a 24-hour emergency service. Here’s a piece from their home page:

At Southern Oregon Veterinary Specialty Center, we understand the special bond between a pet and their human family. Our team of highly trained doctors, certified technicians and support staff partner with your family veterinarian to provide specialized diagnostics, surgery and emergency care for your pet upon a referral or emergency basis. Our clinic is staffed 24 hours-a-day, 7 days a week, to receive emergency cases and to monitor our critical care patients. The clinic’s board-certified veterinary specialists and staff are committed to providing exceptional compassionate care utilizing state-of-the-art technology and treatments.

Then we were called in and first seen by one of the technicians to record all the details.

Pulse and body temperature normal.
Pulse and body temperature normal.

Then a short while later in came Dr. Winters.

Dr. Winters listening to Hazel's rather laboured breathing.
Dr. Winters listening to Hazel’s rather laboured breathing.

Dr. Winters recommended a further xray of Hazel’s lungs and some blood work.

An hour later we had her analysis.

Dr. Winters said that while the condition of Hazel’s lungs could be an indication of a fungal infection she had her doubts. Or, in the words of her subsequent report:

There are several things that are not consistent with fungal infection – no high globulin level, no elevation in white blood cell count, no fever, negative titers, progression despite fluconazole treatment.

But the most important indicator of it being something other than a fungal infection was that the xray showed Hazel’s lungs to be worse.

My photograph of the clinic's screen display.
My photograph of the clinic’s screen display.

This can be more readily seen if I publish the xray image of yesterday and the image taken on the 15th April; see below.

Xray image as of the morning of May 12th, 2016.
Xray image as of the morning of May 12th, 2016.
One of the radiographs taken of Hazel.
One of the radiographs taken of Hazel 15th April, 2016.

Despite not truly understanding these images both Jean and I quickly thought the top one, taken yesterday, showed a decline in Hazel’s lungs compared to the lower one, taken on the 15th April.

It was then time to seek Dr. Winters’ opinion.

Essentially, she said that she doubted the diagnosis of it being a fungal infection especially as lung fungal infections were very rare in Oregon. When I queried the fact that it might have been dormant for some time Dr. Winters thought that doubtful because the lungs, even a month ago, were displaying advanced disease.

Dr. Winters couldn’t be sure without a physical examination of the lung tissue but on the balance of probability she believed Hazel was at an advanced stage of cancer with the tumor somewhere in the body and that her lungs were showing that the cancer had metastasized!

A later discussion with Dr. Russ Codd and Jim Goodbrod confirmed this analysis with Russ thinking that the primary tumor might be in Hazel’s arteries. To a very great extent, it has become academic as Russ believes that Hazel will not have that much longer to go and that our main focus should be on keeping her quality of life as high as we can, for as long as we can.

Jean and I are devastated as you can imagine and later on when writing this post my thoughts were on some of the words added to the post Embracing Those Senior Years just last Wednesday. These words:

First from Barb of the blog Passionate about Pets:

Hariod, your comments to Paul about your GSD really touched me because I myself am in that same space now with my almost 17 year old shih-tzu. We have always had a special connection but in the last year, as her age has progressed with it’s usual complications, our relationship has moved to another level – becoming even deeper than anything I have ever experienced; so powerfully in tune with each other, it’s incredible.
As I write this, every day she is with us is a precious bonus.

Then followed by these words from Petspeopleandlife:

Our aging pets can be very troubling. I ‘ve been there and done that many times in about 60 years and even in my years before I left the farm to attend school. It doesn’t get easy and I always hate watching my pets age. It is devastating to lose them.

Then my words:

There are no favorites in our ten dogs but there are some that are more open in expressing and returning affection. It seems those dogs in particular tear us apart when they die.

For Hazel is one of those dogs.

28 thoughts on “Hazel’s probable disease.

  1. I’m so sorry. As you might know I started writing because I couldn’t cope with the thought of losing Ardbeg to cancer, so I really understand how devastating it is to go through it all. Cherish every day with Hazel, we all die at some point so it’s important to have lived and have no regrets before the inevitable comes. All my love xxx

  2. At least we can offer our beloved pets the mercy of euthanasia – most countries in the world don’t offer it and most animals on the planet die in some distress. Having been through it earlier this year with my 18 year old Cairn terrier, the important thing is to get the timing right, especially not being too late. In some ways it is worse for the owners – despite her discomfort and illness, she will not suffer a sense of loss of a loved one like you both will, nor will she experience the kind of existential depression and fear of death that humans experience.
    Despite your sadness and grief, you have no cause for any regrets as Hazel has had the best life a dog could have since she has been with you.
    I will hold all 3 of you close in my thoughts.

    1. Oh Marg, dear Marg, thank you. You are so right! Thank goodness for Jim Goodbrod. For Jim has promised us that when it comes to the end for any of our dogs or cats he will come to the house. Knowing that at that point for Hazel she can slip away being held by Jean and me is as good as it can ever be.

      1. Despite your sadness and grief, you have no cause for any regrets as Hazel has had the best life a dog could have since she has been with you.

        I’d like to second that.

  3. Needless to say how much I understand what you are going through, but you must think positive whatever the prognosis. After all we may never know our ‘expiry date’. Only thing we can do is appreciate each and every day. Meantime check good foods for her and nutritional weapons which can fight cancer [vitamin c, omega-3 fatty acids, green tea, etc]. I won’t tell you about the greatest weapon which is to keep her happy, because I know you are already using that one!

    1. Marina, I devoted a chapter in my book about what we learn from our dogs about death. These beautiful animals teach us so much. Hazel will be cared for to the end. Thank you for your kind words.

    1. And yet, John, these are the times when the words that we write are some of the most valuable words that we ever write. No better exemplified than by the feelings that pour out of that last sentence of yours: “Hard to even write this.” Thank you very much.

      1. I’d be lying if I said tears didn’t well up. I dread the day we have to say goodbye, but like you, our vet has assured us she’ll come here, in comfortable surroundings, a peaceful space.

      2. Having so many animals here is both a bonus and a burden. The burden is obvious but so too is the bonus – I have been weeping into Brandy’s coat several times recently. You understand that, I know.

  4. I was so sorry to hear about Hazel’s prognosis–but I also know that those last weeks and days can be a powerful experience in the bond between human and dog. And some dogs are just special as you note– the lessons they have to teach us in how to live and die are deeply, lovingly and painfully touching. I too am grateful to have known a few of those, like you. We will be thinking of you all-

  5. Paul, healing thoughts starting now for you, Jean, and your family of dogs! They know too about Hazel’s grave illness! Such sadness reading your words! 💛Elizabeth

      1. Paul, thank you for changing the name. I was into my memory of our dog Brandy who we left with a family in Greece when we moved to Japan (long quarantine). Hugs and tears into her furry neck! She lived a good life with that family, however so sad leaving her behind! 💛 E

  6. Paul, I am so sad to hear about Hazel’s prognosis and my heart aches for you and Jean. Be comforted somewhat, knowing that you gave Hazel a good life full of much love and happiness – all that a dog wants from us, but they give us back so much more in return. Keep her close my friend…….
    Sending prayers and healing thoughts to all of you.

  7. Oh my goodness. I am so sorry. Thatis the absolute pits.

    I too, am going lose a dog but I want to make sure what kind if cancer he has. If it’s lymphoma that is treatable with chemo meds but will cost around $2,500. It might extend his life for a year. I will have to make a decision on that based on money and quality of life. I made approximately 40 calls today trying to get someone to drive my chocolate lab Muddy to a specialty hospital in Austin. We just could not swing it and the vets at both Round Rock and south Austin clinics were having a rough day- they were swamped and I could have gotten him seen if I had had a driver. (I don’t do I-35 anymore).I settled on a highly recommended vet in Belton Texas for Monday for an ultrasound. By the time I had decided to use the vet in Belton, it was too late in the day to get him there. Had labs done on Wednesday and then Muddy stopped eating today. My daughter told me to give him at least 3 mils of hemp oil and he finally ate 2 small cans of wet cat food tonight. His calcium is 16+ indicating he probably has cancer. I am having his chest and stomach x-rayed in the am at my vet’s clinic here in my town to see if there is visible tumor or what looks abnormal. My daughter berated me for not having that done in the first place. I had read the lab results to my daughter. She told me 3 days ago that he most likely has lymphoma.

    Like you and Jean feel about Hazel, Muddy is special to me. He is the sweetest and most gentle lab I’ve ever seen or known. He is only 8 years old and it is killing me to think about losing him. I rescued him as a puppy from the VA hospital parking lot on a cold January night.

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