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animal talk

A Wise Old Veterinarian Once Told Me Do Not Always Assume That The Body Is Failing . . . It May Very Well Be Succeeding / By Kristina Dow

I

t happened in the dark of night. My husband did not realize that Xena, our elderly kitty, was sprawled out sound asleep on the floor beside the bed. As he arose from the bed, he stepped down on her . . . hard. She cried out in apparent pain, but seemed alright within a few minutes, albeit very annoyed. The next morning, we both breathed a sigh of relief when all still appeared normal. Xena ate a hearty breakfast, washed her face, and settled in for a nap. All that drama in the darkness must have been more insult than injury. It was a few days later that Xena stopped eating. We took her to the vet, and described the trauma of some days earlier. The vet examined Xena, drew some blood, and took some x-rays. The vet’s diagnosis was not what we wanted to hear: a mass on the spleen, no doubt a tumor that would require further evaluation to determine malignancy. An elevated white blood cell count, no doubt due to a very severe infection, from which, at her age, she was unlikely to recover. And a high blood urea nitrogen level, no doubt indicative of kidney failure. The prognosis was grim. Enter the Wise Old Veterinarian . . . Out for a drive in the country, he stopped by to chat, and I queried him with regard to Xena’s recent diagnosis. After describing her condition, I asked for his advice regarding what I might do to help keep the old girl comfortable in her final days. Instantly, he burst into complaint, “Why is it that we always assume that the body is failing rather than succeeding? Why is it that we are capable of seeing only pathology? We search ardently for clues to something gone horribly wrong, all the while failing to recognize that the body may be functioning absolutely normally. “Everything about this case is entirely consistent with absolutely normal physiology, not disparate pathologies. There’s no need for a malignancy, no need for an infection, and no need for failing kidneys to explain what could be going on. It can all be explained as an absolutely normal series of responses to trauma. The trauma yields a bruised mass (hematoma) on the spleen. The white blood cell count elevates with the injury and inflammation, and as well to clean up the hematoma. The blood urea nitrogen level rises with the loss of appetite and accompanying dehydration, and as well with the release of urea as the hematoma dissolves. The body is performing exactly as it should. With a bit of supportive care, she should be fine.” And fine she was. And fine she remained for several more years – well into her 20th year – but with a night light always kept on in the bedroom.

Gratias tibi ago, requiescas in pace, Brian. www.OurBerkshireTimes.com | Celebrate Summer 2019

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Our BerkshireTimes Magazine, Celebrate Summer 2019  

Our BerkshireTimes Magazine is your resource for local events, community news, and vibrant living in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts....

Our BerkshireTimes Magazine, Celebrate Summer 2019  

Our BerkshireTimes Magazine is your resource for local events, community news, and vibrant living in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts....

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