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Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Not So Good Start to 2015




To say the least this is not a post I ever wanted to write, but sadly it was always inevitable.  The people who follow me on facebook and instagram likely already know that we got some not good news on the second day of the new year.    For about three weeks our dear Norbert


 




has had some pinkish discharge coming from his right nostril.   When I first saw it I wasn't too concerned because first of all it was only a tiny bit, and I was more focused on Norbert's arthritis.  At the time he was badly limping and the supplements and acupuncture we had been getting for him where not helping.   We put him on Rimadyl, something I've always been against due to side effects, and quickly he began acting like he had taken a time machine back a few years.




Obligatory nerd Dr. Who reference, it must be done when mentioning time travel

Norbert in 2012


He seemed better then he had been in months: running, playing, eating well, climbing stairs, and best of all not wetting in his sleep.   It seemed silly to worry about a tiny bit of nose discharge.



Then on New Year's eve he had a gagging sneezing attack and I noticed a new longer pink booger and I consulted Dr. Google...... not good, not good at all.  Everything I read pointed to the same dire conclusion, nasal cancer.   I spent most of New Years Eve crying and worrying and New Years day as well.   I read everything I could find on the internet and came to the conclusion that Norbert most likely had cancer and that there was little, if anything, that we could do to help him.  Apologies to any non-trekkers out there for this reference, but I took a deep breath and channeled the Vulcan part of my mind




 and determined that the best, and most logical thing, my husband and I could do was to make Norbert as comfortable as possible for the time he has left. 




We made a vet appointment for January 2nd and sadly our vet confirmed our fears.   She examined Norbert and said that while he was bright and alert and in no apparent pain, bloody nasal discharge from one nostril in a dog his age with excellent teeth due to years of diligent brushing, was indeed almost definitely indicative of nasal cancer.  Further more,  she confirmed what we had read online about nasal cancer.  Namely that while it rarely metastises it is locally very aggressive.  It invades deep into the bone and eyes and mouth and sometimes the brain of the afflicted dog before symptoms are apparent.  Since the tumors are deep in the sinus and nasal cavity they are not surgically resectable and the only effective treatment is radiation.  Unfortunately radiation requires anesthesia for each treatment, and in particular when focused on the face has many severe side effects, including the potential for blindness.   If Norbert where to receive radiation he would have to spend days away from us in the hospital, which we know he would not enjoy.  While radiation might buy him extra time it would not be a cure.  Our vet who has recently graduated from vet school told us in no uncertain terms that the dogs she had seen in university hospitals going through treatment for nasal tumors had many unpleasant side effects.  She told us point blank that she would not put a dog of her own through it, particularly a dog of Norbert's age.  Furthermore, according to our vet, in order to definitevely diagnose nasal cancer a CT scan and a nose scope in order to get a sample of the tumor would be needed.  These procedures would require anesthesia and cost thousands of dollars.  Since we are not going to pursue radiation our vet felt that the tests would be an unnecessary risk for Norbert and unnecessary expense for us, and we agree.   Since we don't know what type of tumor Norbert has, if he does have one, our vet couldn't give us a definite prognosis she said anywhere from 2 months to a year (though the longer time frame is unlikely), depending on  how aggressive the tumor is and when, and if, it severely obstructs normal breathing.


 Right now we are treating Norbert with antibiotics in the unlikely event that this is just an infection.  If the symptoms don't lessen, which so far they haven't, we may consider trying steroids in an attempt to reduce inflammation from the  tumor, while this wouldn't extend life quantity it could improve quality,   which of course is our primary objective.  The problem with steroids is in order to go on them Norbert would have to come of the Rimadyl which is the only thing that has helped his arthritis.


There is some positive news though.  Norbert does not appear to be in pain and so far his bloodwork is good.  We have ordered apocaps at a whopping 60 dollars for a ten day supply, these are supplement for dogs with cancer and I figure they can't hurt and may help.  We have switched Norbert back to grain free kibble, he was on honest kitchen due to his peeing issues, but he prefers kibble and we know grains are bad for cancer.  Norbert's dad and I also went on a shopping trip on Saturday with Dr. Dressller's Dog Cancer Diet book as a guide we purchased ground turkey, broccoli, shitake mushrooms, chicken livers, oatmeal, blueberries, and cottage cheese.  We plan to cook the mixture up accoding to Dr. Dressler's recipe and add it to Norbert's kibble.  At the very least he should enjoy the recipe.



The most important thing we plan to due is to enjoy Norbert and spoil him as much as possible.   I feel guilty for admitting this but it is a good example of our new extra spoiling program.  Norbert, like most dogs, loves chews.  However, we have rarely given him any.  The reason is that Norbert's pug siblings and bulldog brother can't have chews because they always, and I mean always, choke on them.  I only gave Norbert, who handles chews like a pro, chewies on very special occasions.   However, with this new diagnosis he will be enjoying a chewy every day, for however many days he has with us.




As I am sure other pet owners who have been in this situation will understand I am feeling very conflicted about this,  in some ways I'm handling it all much better then I expected I would.  I know that Norbert is an old dog and that are lucky to have had 12 and a half wonderful years with him.   Many loving dog owners don't get that long.    However, I can't help but lie awake at night and listen to  the new whistle in his breathing and worry about what the future holds for my dear boy and for our family.    I know we are making the right decision, but I am still haunted by the guilt that we should be doing more.   In an effort to move forward we are going to continue to enjoy every day and I plan to continue the blog as it always has been, with its mix of dogs and vintage.   I love blogging and it brings me happiness, which I certainly need now more then ever.  However, I may not be able to visit our friends blogs as often as usual and for that I apologize.    We love you all and appreciate your support and friendship and we wish you all a happy and healthy 2015.




18 comments:

  1. We are terribly sorry to hear about Norbert. Since our old girl is in a (similar) holding pattern, and I know how we feel, I have an idea how hard it is for you. I was reflecting today that Bella, who remains strong in spirit, even if her body is letting her down, is lucky, in a sense, because she is just living her life day-by-day, and not worrying about what will happen tomorrow.

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    1. thank you Fay you are right I have long dreamed of Norbert making it to his teens and as I listen to his whistling breath I know that's not likely but I now he isn't thinking about that he is thinking about this moment and I am so envious of him for that

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  2. Such sad news. Our Daisy had the same prognosis and rather subject her to invasive surgery and chemo, we decided to enjoy the time left and fill it with love and fun. Just love that boy and let him enjoy his chews.

    Hugs from all of us.

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  3. I'm terribly sorry to hear about Norbert. I am sure you are doing everything you can to help him, and I've no doubts you've given him the very best care through his whole life. This isn't your fault, and please don't feel that way! Enjoy Norbert while you have him. He's a good boy.

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  4. Oh, I'm so sorry you are having to go through this. Sadly, we've been there too. When our beagle was 12 and had hemangiosarcoma, we only did one small procedure - we didn't do the radiation or other things that *might* have helped. There was just no way we were going to put her through all that. And I felt the same way you do - knew we were doing the right thing, but still there's the guilt and the worrying. It's not easy - but all any of us can do is live every day to our best, and that's what you're doing now with him. Hang in there. Please give him a big hug and kiss from Rita and me! (I enjoy a Vulcan reference every now and then.) :)

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  5. You love him too much to let him suffer. Don't feel guilty. The treatment sounds worse than the cancer. And all the money in the world wouldn't help him. You focus on him, and everything else will fall into place.
    Sending you peace, wisdom and comfort.

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  6. Dear Kate, we are so sorry to read this this evening. We know this is hard but I think we would be doing the same. Love your boy and let him enjoy is time with you as comfortably as he can
    hugs and love
    Linda, Bailey & Hazel

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  7. You are doing the right thing,,, you are doing what Norbert would want you to do.
    Make each day count,,, and love him,,, just as you are.
    We are so sorry,, and sorry your heart is hurting..
    love
    tweedles

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  8. I'm so sorry. Spoil him like crazy and remember we are all thinking about you.

    Monty and Harlow

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  9. I am so very sorry to hear about Norbert...you are absolutely doing all the right things...we are all here thinking of you and sending along prayers.

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  10. I am so sorry to hear about your sweet Norbert. I wouldn't pursue radiation treatment, either, knowing it would cause side effects and discomfort with no cure. Loving him, spoiling him and making him as comfortable as possible is the best thing to do. You are doing the very best for him. It's really hard but I hope you fully enjoy every moment spent with him. Sending hugs and love.

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  11. We don't know your sweet Norbert. We are so sorry to hear of this diagnosis. We know your hearts must be aching terribly. We were sent here by one of your other followers who suggested we add Norbert to our POTP page. We have added him with a photo from this post (of course we will remove it if that is not OK with you). We pray that the dogturs can give him treatment that will keep him happy and pain free and that you will find peace with all the decisions you may make in the future.

    If you don't follow the Blogville POTP blog you can find us here: http://blogvillepotp.blogspot.com/

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  12. So sorry to read this very sad news about Norbert. Poor fellow. Of course I am not an expert in cancer treatment, but it seems to me that you are doing the best and kindest thing, trying to keep him as cody and happy as possible and avoiding aggressive treatment.
    Wishing you all the very best at this difficult time.
    Hugs,
    Gail (and Bertie).

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  13. I'm so sorry to hear about your boy Katherine. Thank you for sharing your story with me on my blog. I know how you feel about wishing you could do more. If it's any consolation, it does sound like you really are making the best decision as the problems with radiation really do sound terrible :( I hope you will have more time rather than less with Norbert. We are doing the same with Murkurie, keeping her comfortable and happy and making sure she knows how loved she is for as long as she has. I've been boiling chicken for her and giving her her extra special treat everyday. It is so hard losing our loves. :(

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  14. That's terrible news. We're so sorry, Norbert, but as we can read, your parents give you the best of the best and we put Extra Healing Pawkisses to it to have a lot of quality time :) <3 <3 <3

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  15. I am so sorry to read this. Sending love and hugs to you all xxxx

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  16. This is not the kind of news anyone wants to hear. We think you are making a wise choice, doing what you can to make Norbert comfortable and happy. We hope you have many good days left to spoil him. Purrs and tail wags.

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  17. i'm so sorry to hear this. we had a cancer scare with priscilla in the summer and it is hard to make those decisions. we had made the same one you are, that we would just make her comfortable and enjoy the rest of her time with us because of her age and where we thought the tumor way (in her head behind her jaw and nose). i know you will keep norbert comfortable and dang will he love that special diet!

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