Monday, January 9, 2017

Gael - Lab Results

Well. We got the lab results back for Gael. My poor vet is fighting a nasty cold and killer cough, so I didn't keep her for as many questions as I might have. But ... the diagnosis has somewhat changed. I can't quite say the labs made things more clear, but they did *dismiss* the idea that it was DIC, Which doesn't change the outcome or even how it started, but it does change how Gael got there. This is all way over my pay grade, so pardon if I'm not able to explain this clearly.

The labs mainly seemed to show what's NOT there. No DIC, no toxins, no sepsis. The liver biopsy divulged the most, and for my medically minded friends, it reads:
"There is mild to moderate tissue autolysis affecting the outer most portion of the specimen, with frequent bacterial rod overgrowth, which extends into the parenchyma. There are frequent clusters of bacterial rods, without any inflammatory reaction (postmortem overgrowth) within the parenchyma. The viable parenchyma features diffuse sinusoidal congestion."
"Interpretation: Mild to moderate widespread tissue autolysis with postmortem bacterial rod overgrowth and diffuse sinusoidal congestion."

The comments following suggested there could be an underlying cause such as an allergic hypersensitivity to food or inflammatory bowel disease ... but Gael never showed signs of any kind of upset until her fatal illness. My vet was a little puzzled, too.

This kind of brings us back to my vet's original Dx: Gael ate something - again, who knows what - that disagreed with her. But the vet says it now appears this morphed into a massive, aggressive bacterial infection. Gael's white blood count crashed and then her system had nothing left to fight with. What the vet originally thought could be DIC was her body shutting down, her organs bleeding out due to no white blood cells. So, I guess Gael died of toxic shock.

Which doesn't really change anything or alter the manner of her death. All it really does is underscore the inevitability of it. Gael ate something she shouldn't have and her body, for whatever reason, couldn't fight off the reaction. Oddly, the vet did mention Addison's disease, but she didn't seem sure entirely about that either because, again, Gael never showed clinical signs of any illness at all, until this.

So, I dunno. I guess it's time to let this go. I suppose I'm absolved of guilt by learning there was no hope, but I'll never feel absolved of responsibility. She was my good girl and now she's gone. Shit happens.

Meanwhile, I have 3 dogs who daily make me smile. Nick and Nell have trial fields to conquer and miles to run, and Ash is her own funny self. Life goes on. I owe a debt of gratitude to all of you out there who have offered your sympathy, condolences and kindnesses. I hope I can return a kindness to you, some day. In the meantime, hug your dogs for me!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Gael "La-Roo" Atwater ~ July 25, 2009 - December 30, 2016

Gael "La-Roo" Atwater ~ July 25, 2009 - December 30, 2016

Did you know that I loved you, my bright, wild girl? Did you know the sun rose in your "ain't this fun?" smile and the stars twinkled in your shining eyes? Did you know that I loved every hair on your silly, impulsive, reactive, joyful self and every molecule of your dear body? Did you know that when I saw you run, a lithe, athletic missile leaping across the fields and hills with the kind of joyful abandon most never know ... my heart soared with you?

Did you know that even when I felt sure you communed with faeries and danced with pixies who whispered you ridiculous things, I still loved you? Did you know that when you ran out on your huge, hill-encompassing outrun, racing the wind on the clever paws of a thousand generations of sheepdogs - and totally missed your sheep - I still loved you? Did you know how much you taught me, how much you had to show me about learning a sheepdog's ways? Did you know that no matter what you ever did, whether we succeeded on the trial field or walked off to try again another day, I still loved you?

Do you know, my precious girl, how very, very much you will be missed? Why, why did you have to go?

My beloved Gael enjoyed a fantastic hike with friends on Wednesday last. That night she seemed a little "off," but I attributed it to tiredness and maybe a bit of over-doing-it. Yesterday morning she seemed oddly stiff and sore, but she was still in good spirits. I left her home while I went working dogs, figuring she might have tweaked something amidst her fun and just needed rest and maybe a visit to the dog chiropractor later.

This morning she didn't even get out of bed. The look in her eyes was a decade older than she was. I took her to the vet first thing. Apparently she had some sort of GI tract infection, origins unknown. Her heart, lungs, kidneys and liver values were all good, but her white blood count was catastrophically low. She also had a fever which spiked at 107 and though they got it down some, her body could not cope. She died in my arms. The vet will do a postmortem, hoping for answers. But there is no reason why. There is only the fact that my silly, fey, beautiful little Gael is gone. I don't think the other dogs have realized that just yet.

My friends, remember to love your furry companions with all your heart. Hold them close, always. Forgive them their imperfections as they forgive yours, for dogs are the closest things we'll ever know to God walking on this earth.