(missed Part 1? Read it here...)
The words “systemic lupus” and “fatal” hit me like a ton of bricks. In the past year I had been through an emotional ringer that was so big the only comfort I found daily was the constant affection of my 4 legged family. Miah and Ivan had become my entire world, and in a moment’s notice I was losing yet another soul to whom I had clung with desperation.
Through the fog that had become my mental state at that moment in time, I discerned from the vet that what she had was not curable, but treatable for the time being. Miah’s condition was the most severe of the possibilities, and I was informed that fewer than 20% of diagnosed dogs make it through their first year after diagnosis. The vet prescribed a heavy amount of Prednisone to ease her pain and discomfort, but warned me of the side effects of prolonged use at such a heavy dosage. If the Lupus didn’t kill my dog, the Prednisone would in time.
If there is anything that has said been said about me and is true, it would be my stubborn streak a mile long. This prognosis killed me, and as I watched my dog waste away day after day, unwilling to walk without help and run like she used to, I decided that there had to be more I could do for my best friend than settle for prescription drugs that would shut down her system and end her life.
Growing up in rural WNY on a horse farm, we had access to numerous vets whose practices extended beyond western medicine. When one of our mares ended up with a complicated lameness in her leg, we started acupuncture treatments that I can recall made the horse who limped into the stall run out after treatments – completely sound.
I did my research and found the vet, now very much south of Buffalo, and drove Miah the three plus hours for a consultation. I committed whatever financial expenses were needed and decided that if anyone could help her, Cindy could.
At this point in time Miah had grown more and more lethargic by the day, and the Prednisone left her parched and unable to be left alone for more than a few hours at a time without risking accidents everywhere. Her depression worsened by the minute, and my once energetic and dynamic dog had aged years in a matter of weeks and her love of life disappeared from her eyes.
Over the summer, Cindy treated Miah every 2 weeks with acupuncture and herbal/holistic remedies for systemic lupus, which I discovered was most likely lying dormant until the swelling as a result of her fall has awakened it. However, we saw little progress and Cindy was not convinced that it was systemic lupus, but had in the back of her mind a different disease -Lyme.
In August, several months after her fall and about 2 months into her alternative treatment, Miah gave up. What little energy she had, she let go of and I found myself one afternoon holding my seemingly lifeless animal in my arms, urging her to try for just a little bit longer. I took my soul mates on what I thought was their last walk together, and I called Cindy in a frenzied panic to ask her to see Miah immediately, even if it was to help her go in peace.
I have tears streaming down my face right now at the memory of Miah on that dark afternoon in August, her eyes begging me to help ease her pain.
We walked, the three of us, a few steps on the Erie Canal before Miah stopped. I remember putting her on the closest bench and sitting with her, taking the last pictures of my family. She looked so sick, so sad – so gone. She would perk her ears when I told her I loved her, and those few pictures I snapped with her ears perked were the only reminder of what she once was.
I told Ivan to kiss her and loaded her into the car, talking to her in muffled sobs the entire hour it took to get there. I carried Miah from the car and into Cindy’s office, knowing our time together was running out. When Cindy saw her, she scolded me for not just showing up at her house in the middle of the night, as Miah’s condition couldn’t be any worse. She looked at me and said that she didn’t think Miah was ready to go, and wanted to try one last treatment. This time, she would treat the symptoms for Lyme Disease, and forget the lupus diagnosis I had been given months back. Miah loves Cindy, and I swear she knew that Cindy was doing her best to help heal her. Miah laid on the floor while Cindy worked her needles, and every so often would catch the side of her face with tongue – Miah’s only way of thanking.
I left with Miah, not knowing if I would be returning the following day to say goodbye for real. But within hours, the cloudy expression in her eyes vanished and by the evening she was hungry and ready for dinner. She perked her ears when I talked, and Ivan’s presence seemed to soothe her as we spent the evening together on the couch. By the next morning, Miah stood on her own and took the first careful steps she had in days, and her spirit was brighter. Each day passed with progress I never expected, and within a few weeks Miah wasn’t showing any signs of her illness and was the happy, healthy dog she had been before her fall.
That day in August, Cindy saved my dog. And not because of a diagnosis she had been given, but because she knew something else was lingering and trusted her instinct and listened to what my dog needed.
Miah spent that year completely off prescription medication, walking and running and playing as she had all her life.
Until last summer…
To be cont’d…