Norbert saw another vet yesterday at 5, the main vet who owns are practice He spoke to me at length on the phone and then spent along time looking at Norbert and talking to me and my husband. The news wasn't great but considering what we know it was terrible, and it was what we expected. Like the first vet, he is sure (99% he said) that Norbert has nasal cancer. He says these cancers are aggressive and spread all through the sinuses. Since Norbert's nose is not distorted he thinks the tumor is high back and likely has gotten very large which is why we know suddenly see snorting and bleeding. He thinks the marked snorting increase probably means its aggressive. The vet explained the nose is a very difficult area to treat in a dog. Surgery would not remove Norbert's tumor and at a teaching or large hospital they could offer radiation but it would not be a cure and there would be side effects. Like me and my husband and the first vet he felt that doing the diagnostics: ct scan, MRI, and biopsy under anesthesia where not a good idea since we wont be doing radiation.
We had come to the vet so quickly because I noticed labored breathing in Norbert last night and what I thought was open mouth breathing and that had me very worried. The vet said Norbert looked well oxygenated though and was just congested. He feels he sounds worse at night because the discharge is dripping down his throat. We have decided to start Norbert on steroids in an effort to shrink the tumor and make him more comfortable, this probably wont extend life quantity but it can improve quality. The vet is unsure if it will work as we don't know what kind of tumor we are dealing with but he thinks we should try. We are also trying a Chinese herb for bleeding recommended by the acupuncturist vet. The vet Norbert saw Friday felt that Norbert could have months, this vet feels it is more weeks we are looking at. That is very depressing and I'm heart broken but considering how he looked last night a few good weeks is better then nothing.
I have been feeling guilty for not seeing signs sooner but the vet assured me that this is because there were no signs. He reminded us that at 12 and a half Norbert has already outlived his life expectancy for a dog his size. That made me feel better. We talked about signs that would let us know when the time was coming. I explained to the vet that my biggest fear is that I will come home from work and find Norbert has collapsed. The vet said this was a possibility and explained that the worst case scenario is that Norbert will suddenly bleed out, which while not uncomfortable for the dog is of course horrific for the owner. This really scares me because I don't drive, years of living in Manhattan, and Norbert is 90 lbs and I can't necessarily get him to the vet without my husband's help. The vet agreed that this would be a bad end. We established a plan to watch Norbert very closely when we see things taking a big turn for the worse we will put an end to his suffering. As the vet said this situation does not have a good end, so we have to make the best end we can.
We are heart broken but we are greatful for our blogville friends who understand what we are going through in a way that people in the "real" world do not. We hope we have weeks or months with him but if we do not we will move forward and enjoy him and spoil him for as long as we have him. Sadly, my chew plan didn't pan out as Norbert rejected his second days chew, but he is enjoying a diet of grilled chicken. He doesn't walk to far any more, do to the arthritis, but he loves car rides and he loves to cuddle. I'm going to start regular blogging tomorrow with my usual mix of dog and vintage posts because Norbert will enjoy sitting with me on the couch while I write. I apologize if I can't visit your sites as often as I used too.