Sunday, August 22, 2010


Of all the things my gorgeous eleven-year-old golden retriever Bramble (aka Bram; aka Bob; aka my little man; aka my boy; aka my shadow and constant companion) has had to deal with in the last nine months (thyroid problems, Cushing’s and then Addison’s disease with no middle ground ever found, weakness in the hind legs, and the most recent being a urinary tract infection), that he could possibly have cancer didn't even occur to me. Until this past Wednesday, that is. And that’s exactly what might take him in the next twenty-four hours.

Why would I blog at a time like this?--you ask. Because I need to do something besides lose my marbles… at least until 4:30 am when they’ll redo the lactate test, the first having come back as 8.8 where normal is 2 or under. If the redo comes back lower than that first, then that means it’s dropping and the prognosis will go up. Conversely, if the lactate test comes back the same or higher, the prognosis will of course be hopeless.


Going back a little. Bram was referred to Calgary’s state-of-the-art C.A.R.E. Center (CARE meaning Calgary Animal Referral and Emergency) by our vet who, because of Bram’s longish list of woes and little improvement, wanted to rule out neurological problems. So off we went on Wednesday and again on Thursday, as the tests were so numerous. And that was when they found a mass


on his lung, along with a few other things - the urinary tract infection and quibbles about his current medication dosages. With that, a CT Scan was tentatively scheduled for this coming Tuesday.

Then, today, Bram crashed.

It started out innocently enough, so much so that we truly believed it was due to the dosage changes of his medications (add a thyroid pill; lower the Prednisone by one; give antibiotics for the urinary tract infection). First, he lost interest in food shortly after 1 pm. Later, he started breathing slightly harder than normal and wanted out and in without doing anything. At 8:30 pm came the vomiting and discomfort and looking at his stomach. At that, I immediately called CARE and then my own vet, and it was on both their recommendation that I gave Bram one Gravol, then one teaspoon of Pepto-Bismol, then a Prednisone tab. After an hour (okay, so it was less) of no discernible improvement, I called and transported him to Animal Emergency. For my sanity’s sake and as a written record to keep it straight in my mind, here’s the rundown:

Chest X-Ray - confirmed the mass, no fluid in lungs, etc.
BP - normal (Addison’s crisis would show as low)
Heart Rate - on the higher end (Addison’s crisis would show as low)
Temperature - increasing (could be from the infection)
Blood work - electrolytes good
- white blood cell count slightly above normal (could be from the infection)
I-Stat Test - slightly lower but not critical
Lactate - 8.8 (normal is 2 or less) **Potential cause for high number could be cancer or, according to what I read, systemic sepsis**
Bram is currently on nasal oxygen fed via a small tube (which he’s pulling out as quickly as they’re putting it in) and IV fluids.
It’s also possible that the mass is causing systemic effects.

The time is now 4:32 am. That’s how long it’s taken me to write this, now badly my mind is working, how numb I am.

4:32 am… and the call just came. His lactate test is now 6.7. Not that it means he’s out of the woods. Not even close. But at least it dropped.

So, was this crash due to cancer, systemic sepsis, both, or something else entirely? That’s unknown at this point. The only certainties are they’ll keep redoing the test every few hours and I’ll keep doing the only thing I can: hope.

Update: With the white bloodcell count good the vet said it isn't to do with the UTI. It also hasn't to do with his Addison's. That only leaves one thing, and if taken off IV he'll only crash again.

He's too sweet, too special, too kind natured and has too much of a wonderful spirit—the perfect guy; family—to put him through any pain just so I won't have to say goodbye. So I guess the decision is made.

Ah my little man, my sweetie, my heart, my love, my beautiful boy—the best boy in town. No one who ever met you had so much as one bad word to say. I was truly, sincerely blessed to have had you in my life. Meet me at the bridge.

Bramble (Bram)
Sept 29/1998 - Aug 22/2010

Not a mean bone in his body; not one bad memory left behind.
That says so much.
We'll meet again, my beautiful, beautiful boy.


JM said...

*HUGS* I didn't know you'd opened comments on your blog again or I would have commented much sooner. I am so sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

*HUGS back* Thank you, JM.


JM said...

Email me sometime, lady. I miss you.

Layla said...

Hi there. I just found your blog by accident while search for images (of all things) of gophers. I was so moved by reading about your dog Bram, & wanted to ask how you are doing now?

We just lost our 13 1/2 year old lab 13 days ago (yep, I am counting). He was my baby & it's been very rough. I guess I'm hoping to hear there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I can tell just by looking at the pictures of your dog that he is very special. Just seeing his big smile totally lit up my morning. Thank you for sharing.

Don said...

I lost my golden to cancer last year. She was only 2 1/2. My last post about her is here.

"Meet me at the bridge."

It's a wonderful thought, that on the other end of that bridge, they'll all be there, smiling and wagging: Bailee, and Stormy, and Max ...

Hawke said...

Layla: I'm so very sorry for your loss.

Unless I think about Bram (which I do, every day) or see a picture of Bram (which I do every day because he's included on my family wall), I do okay.

Honestly, it does get better. And I'll even recommend getting another dog when you're ready. I know that might sound unthinkable right now, but honestly, it helped me. Not that Bram could ever be replaced, and of course not. But a new one finds their own place in a heart and at the same time helps fill the emptiness and ease the terrible loneliness.

The new guy's name is Jed. He's another Golden Retriever (though doesn't look like Bram). I guess you could say getting Jed is a testament to both Bram and the breed.

Thank you so much for your kind words.

Hawke said...

Don: I'm so very sorry for your loss.

Cancer -- such a horrible, hideous disease.

Yes, meet us at the bridge, dear ones. I hope so with all of my heart.

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