New Digs! Part Deux

Hi all,

I’ve moved!

December 5, 2012: Vital Animal | The Natural Path

And moved again, this time to my new and improved website on the WordPress.org platform: www.VitalAnimal.com/blog. Here I share with you everything I know about how to raise a healthy animal in the natural way, and there’s a lot now, and it’ll continue to grow.

Please stop in and look around, and let me know what you need that might not be up there yet.

My url now, where all these posts are, along with any moving forward, is Vital Animal blog

That last link will forward you to VitalAnimal.com, so anyway you’d like to come over and visit, Please join me there!

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All My Patients Die

Callie died, with the help of the euthanasia solution she got from the conventional vet on Friday. She had rectal cancer, and I came on the scene back in November, with hopes that homeopathy could do for her what it did for Blueford, the Blue Tick Hound a couple years back: Made it Go Away. It’s.still.gone.

But Callie wasn’t Blueford. She was Callie, and everyone is different. That’s what makes veterinary homeopathy both interesting and difficult. It’s never One Size Fits All. Or The Remedy for This Disease Is ______.

It’s, rather, Find the Remedy for ______ (fill in patient’s name here).

Callie was a feral cat, found by my friend and client of several years, Linda, who has become known in her neighborhood as The Cat Lady. She’s learned them so well, she can answer questions about raising them, feeding them, she’ll post Lost Cat notices when a neighbor has lost one, she’ll help people find cat resources, she just Knows Cats. She should probably start her own blog, but that’s another story.

Being a feral, it took a long time to gain Callie’s trust and acceptance, and Linda gave her every chance to run for it, if ever Callie got a mind to book on out of her house. Slowly, slowly, ever so slowly, she got Callie eating wonderful raw food, took in her “teen bride” litter of three, then got her spayed, and gave her her space to be in the house or out and about. Once Callie really got it that Linda was no threat, she stuck pretty close to home.

Linda named them The Tribe, and cared for mom and her three offspring.

In September, Callie started acting clingy to Linda, a clear departure from what her usual distant, even somewhat bitchy nature had been. She’d want to sleep on Linda’s belly, she’d plaintively call out for her needs. Linda, ever observant, started seeing blood spots here and there, bright red ones, and it was determined that it was coming from Callie’s anal area.

Linda had been working with my wonderful homeopathic colleague and friend Dr. Pat Bradley, and they’d been helping her slowly come around to trust more, to get over wounds from fights, working with her asthma, giving this remedy and that, as the need arose.

Another part of the care givers team, Dr. Carolyn Love, had been there to do lab work, some acupuncture, vaccinations (uh oh), and the initial exam of Callie’s puffy, inflamed anus. And finally, I entered the scene, as Pat remembered that I’d taken some advanced training in cancer and veterinary homeopathy. So, Callie was brought to see me.

[I should note here that Linda explored the conventional options for treatment, and they were pretty limited. The tumor (we’re all pretty sure that’s what it was) was risky to even biopsy, let alone remove, due to it’s location, intimate to the lower rectum. Chemotherapy was not something she wanted to put Callie through, nor radiation. Linda weighed the potential benefits against the risks and the quality of life Callie would have, and chose homeopathy.]

Imagine being a feral cat, with all the fear that goes into living by your wits, scraping to get by, having babies before you were ready, defending yourself from attacks by other cats in the area, dealing with the vagaries of weather,  and finally, agreeing to get in a cat carrier and going in a car to a veterinary clinic.

Linda’s words:

I have to say, Will, that she and I have come a very, very long distance from the beginning when I had to coax her near enough to me over a two month period of time to get her near the case to take her for spaying.  She was malnourished, frightened and already beginning to separate from the kittens as she was in heat again.  I looked her in the eyes and promised her that I would take care of her forever and love and respect her if she would just go in the case.  I explained that she would have a difficult time for a little while but that her life would improve very much.  I committed to her.  She looked me in the eyes then walked into the case and I closed the door.

Callie went into that carrier a few times for various vet visits before she came to see me. I did as I normally do, I bid Linda and Frank to have a seat, and just leave her carrier door open while we talked about her. I like my patients to get used to my voice, the smells, the sights, the layout of the room, before I ever lay hands on them or expect anything of them.

And I learn from this time, as I’m talking to their caregivers, learning the details of what makes this patient unique from the rest. Some wander the room, smelling who’s been there before them, so go straight for the supplement shelf and smell the glandulars that live there, some can’t leave me alone (“Ooh, ooh, pet me, pet me, PET ME!”), some (cats) jump up on my desk in their curiosity, walk across my keyboard, lie on the desk, others (dogs, usually) do anything to avoid my line of sight, positioning themselves behind their owner’s chair, adjusting if I wheel my chair out to peer at them occasionally.

It’s all part of taking a homeopathic case. The finding out of What’s the Remedy for _________ (fill in patient’s name here).

Callie didn’t venture out of her carrier.

We talked about her history, her treatments, her fears, her new clinginess with Linda, her stools, her blood spots, her chilliness, in short, what makes Callie Callie. That’s what I needed to prescribe adequately for her. Not for her rectal cancer, but for Callie, the one who’s got the rectal cancer.

A few things stood out from this:

  1. She was very timid. Never came out of her carrier until I asked Linda to get her out, and first just hold her on her lap for an initial exam there. She panicked in thunderstorms, and lost all her feral sense, sometimes hunkering down, as if paralyzed, getting soaked, up against a wall.
  2. Callie had a history of asthma, worse in damp weather.
  3. She’d been vaccinated yearly, and had been dosed with topical flea pesticides. (Both a set up for cancer). And, I learned later, the place Callie and her young resided, before being taken in, was an old garage, full of pesticides from years of storage. Pesticide exposure increases greatly the chance of getting cancer.
  4. She’d had some very odorous urine, remarkably strong, that could be smelled across the small house at times.
  5. Callie loved heat. Even more so in the past brutal Summer here in Austin, when she was sunbathing to the point of panting.
  6. She had pale gums, likely due to some anemia.
  7. There was a firm swelling in her anal area, and it had earlier probably been ulcerated. It bled bright red spots. It was more on the right side.
  8. Her irises had some very visible blood vessels coursing through them.
  9. She’d had worms in the past, treated with drugs.
  10. She was more itchy than the others, with or without a flea present.

When I did my physical exam, Callie hunkered down and trembled, but was very tolerant. She didn’t hiss or lash out. She didn’t try to climb the walls. I could do what I needed, talking softly, stroking her, knowing she was afraid, but grateful that she wasn’t panicking.

Through the course of treatment I offered, Callie gained some ground. Early on, she became less fearful of storms, less tender about her anal area being examined, had less blood spotting. We were encouraged, Linda and I, and continued on dosing homeopathic nitric acid and thuja.

She vomited a small worm. Here’s the quality of observation I’d get from Linda:

Pictures like these would go into her digital record and become part of my growing understanding of who she was.

Linda could tell me the number of blood spots in a day, the color and nature of them (lots and lots of white towels were put around for Callie to use, along with her litter boxes), the consistency of her stools, when they came, how they looked when squished inside a baggie, whether they had normal odor or strong odor, etc. I often had to ask for “the forest” for all her “trees,” meaning I needed the trends, the contexts to put these many, many observations in, and she got good at that as well.

Gradually, Callie’s blood spotting increased, from several days without any, to a few daily to many a day, and Linda kept copious notes and we didn’t like the trend. Remedies were changed as Callie changed. Arsenicum didn’t do much, scirrhinum was used, phosphorus brought a hopeful decrease in bloody spots for some time, and the weeks went on. Through it all, Callie had a better time with her asthma compared to the prior year, let Linda do more with her, grew less fearful, more trusting, and the bond between them really grew stronger through this time together.

Then, in March, it began to be difficult for Callie to pass her stools. There was more blood, both in volume and frequency of spotting. Her anus appeared more inflamed, swollen, angry looking. Remedies were changed again.

Aloe, in the homeopathic form, was used with some good effect. Callie got a good bit of stool out, her anus looked more normal, and she went exploring next door, where she hadn’t ventured for several months. She was seen to be rolling and making happy squeaks, and took up a toy to play with of her own volition. Nice.

But, the blood spotting continued. And there were some sounds of discomfort while trying to pass stool.

We were now checking in daily, sometimes multiple times, some by email, some on the phone, and it was becoming apparent that Callie was having a rough time of it. It was as if she had urging to pass stool but nothing would come. It seemed as though the tumor was blocking the way, and remedies were not helping, change as we might, to match the symptom state she was in.

Dr. Love’s associate Dr. Davenport had a look and determined that there was a large stool that had stopped, quite some distance from the anus, as if there was no propulsive force to get it to drop down and get expelled. The thought was now that the tumor and its attendant inflammation, was interfering with spinal nerves in the area of the sacrum, nerves that innervated the lower bowel, and it was now paralyzed. Enemas were tried without success. It wasn’t looking good.

We spoke of euthanasia, the gift we can give the animals when we know it’s their time, when we can’t help them further, and we don’t want them to suffer. It was decided we’d give one more remedy a go, called plumbum, that was noteworthy for both paralysis and straining at the same time, which coined Callie’s state perfectly.

But it didn’t help, as much as it looked like it should, as much as we wanted it to. We switched back to arsenicum, as it was clear Callie had a tougher time at night, lots of restlessness, and a swollen, irritated anus, with ineffectual urging to stool.

We decided to give her one more night, Thursday. If she was no better by Friday morning, she’d be taken to Love Pet Hospital to be given her release from this body that was failing her. Sigh.

Linda’s words, early Friday morning:

 We are on our way to Love Pet early; Cal’s straining episodes increased through the night but were manageable with repeated arsenicum, Bach flower, stroking and love.  Took longer and longer for the episodes to subside but as we got to 5 am it was clear we could make it to now and skip the possible wait at the emergency clinic in favor or the open arms and hearts that await us all–most especially Callie–at Love.  I suppose that last night makes it clearer that this is the right thing to do.  And that we had the right emergency responses in the remedies.  And that, bless her heart, we cannot do more to make her comfortable.  Will, I had been thinking that it had been a number of days that she had not slept with me but she did come and lay next to me for some time.  We fell back to sleep together after we addressed her straining attack.  How I am going to miss her.  Thank you for all of these months–exceptionally good months–that others thought we would not have.  We know better.  There is magic in these months–we made magic for Cal and for Cal and me.  Linda

Death is the final chapter in all that lives. Or so it seems. All my patients die, as do all my clients, my plants, my friends, my relatives. It’s what we all face, living in physical bodies.

While I believe it’s a temporary change, that we move on to the next body rather quickly, it’s still hard. We miss those who leave us. We long for those who were near and dear and now are gone.

And we keep on living. Doing the best we can. To live well, honestly, lovingly, and respectfully on the planet.

Peace.

Smiling Dogs and Vaccine Illness

I saw my canine patient Caleb again this week, a few weeks after I’d given him one dose of a homeopathic remedy for vaccinosis. His story is typical, so very worth sharing. (If you missed his great smiling face, just back up a post).

Caleb had come to me then because he was exhibiting tumor growth on his body, most notably a small-orange-sized lump right on the center of his sternum. He’d had several past ones removed and checked, but luckily none were malignant.

He had also been on Rimadyl since he was hit by a car at 2 years old, and Caleb is now 11 years old, and a pretty big guy, a mix of probably Pit Bull and Queensland Healer, running about 68 pounds. His owner, Catherine, recognizing the risks associated with this drug, had taken him off it about a week before I saw him. Interestingly, his liver checked out fine in blood tests done prior to my seeing him. (Deaths due to liver failure have been caused by this drug. Search it out.)

So, after a lengthy questioning of his owner and a physical exam, here’s my list of what struck me about Caleb, things I asked Catherine to follow as we headed into homeopathy to help him heal himself:

  1. Large fatty tumor at the front of his chest, lemon sized.
  2. A bald spot on his tail that had been bare for many years, maybe since Caleb was two years old and hit by the car.
  3. Stiffness getting up and, even worse, on lying down, with difficulty getting into the car on the way here.
  4. Spookiness with certain things, like a laundry basket, or something he’s seeing that’s new to him. A broom leaning on a wall could do it, or a shadow.
  5. Slow to get up in the morning, and when he does, he has 3 big sneezes daily.
  6. He’s chilly, even to the point of liking the Austin sun in the Summer (!)
  7. He humps a pillow (and he’s a neutered male!) about once a week.

So, in comes Caleb on Wednesday, looking like a happy camper, and Catherine tells me the great news:

  1. The tumor has shrunk to the size of a small walnut!
  2. He’s got peach fuzz hair growing on his bald spot of 9 years!
  3. He doesn’t seem to be so stiff.
  4. He’s less spooky.
  5. His morning sneezes stopped. None.
  6. He’s humping the pillow even more!
  7. And, coolest of all, he’s initiating play now, not just waiting for his owner to do this. Like not since he’s been a puppy!! (did I mention Caleb is 11? Oh, good).

So, we’ve still got some work to do, but my goodness, what a neat turn around for an old guy, right?

What did he get treated for? Vaccinosis (click here for more info). The illness of being vaccinated, and he got plenty of vaccinations, as do most pets and horses today. When the postcards came saying he was “due for his shots,” his owner dutifully complied. Yearly, until she stopped in the past year, thinking (rightly so!) he’d had enough.

So, think along with me:

  1. Caleb came in with a laundry list of complaints.
  2. Caleb got a vaccinosis remedy, known to help illness that came from being vaccinated.
  3. Caleb got wayyyyy better.
  4. What caused a whole lot of his illness? Vaccinations, you bet!

We’re going for a more constitutional remedy now, to see if we can take him further, which I’m confident we can. But Caleb’s story is worth spreading around, I think. So here’s Caleb, smiling at the world, and telling it like it is.

Thanks for joining me in this adventure called veterinary homeopathy.

p.s. For the budding homeopaths in the readership, the remedy given was thuja 10M, one dose.

Now, for those looking for short cuts, I’ll mention that there are lots of remedies for vaccinosis, and they won’t work the same in every individual, so this kind of prescribing, for chronic disease, is best not done at home. Seek out a professional homeopathic vet, trained, and ideally, certified in homeopathy. Lists of them are on the AVH site, which is referenced on my Resources page.

Looking for the right venue

Well, plenty to write about from the trenches of homeopathic veterinary practice, and, after a stab at Facebook Pages, I just feel like I need more options to have eye pleasing copy. It’s one thing to write useful material, another to have it nicely presented. So, a blog on WordPress it is!

I’m happy to report from the brisk and interesting practice that is mine, which is a rich source of demonstrating the possibilities of homeopathic prescribing (on species that know not what a placebo is!). And, sigh, filled with the usual examples of how conventional medicine doesn’t really cure chronic disease.

More as we go. For now, my feet just barely wet at the toes in blogging, I’ll explore setting up something nice and see if i can get some content posted over the weekend.

That time when a hush falls on the natural world