One Year Later
One year ago today, on October 22nd, 2009, Stella was diagnosed with Blastomycosis. For most dogs this would be a death sentence, since the treatment is expensive and often the diagnosis is missed for months and months. But Stella (and I) got lucky. She was symptomatic for only 7 days when she started treatment, thanks to some great veterinary care.
Blastomycosis is a systemic fungal infection. It is contracted by breathing in spores, at which point the spores bloom in the host’s lungs. Given time, the infection spreads throughout the body, attacking such things as the connective tissue between the joints and the fluid in the eyes and brain. It’s not good. And people can get it, too. The worst part is that treatment is not very specific. The only option is high doses of an anti-fungal drug which has serious side effects in its own right, such as liver failure.
Needless to say, this time last year Stella was in rough shape. So was I. She was refusing all food, even bowls full of cheese and whipping cream, and lost about 16 lbs before she started to improve. That’s about 20% of her total body weight. She looked like the labour-camp version of a dog. And while the drugs did start to make a difference, I was terrified that they would kill her. She was only 14 months old!
Well, today she is doing great! She just had another round of radiographs, and there are only a few small lesions remaining on her lungs. She’ll have to stay on the drugs for the time being, but things are looking good. I can’t begin to express how grateful I am that this seems to be behind us. There is still the risk of relapse once she comes off the drugs, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. My parents’ two dogs, Samson and Daisy, were also infected, and they’re also doing really well. The mortality rate with this disease is quite high, and I believe the only reason that they’re all still with us is because of the excellent vets who have been looking after them.
So today is my own personal Thanksgiving…Stella had a roast turkey on her dinner. A little spoiling never hurt anyone. :)