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.