One Saturday morning about three months ago, Beezus was diagnosed with heart failure and acute congestion of the lungs as a result. I had taken him in for a precautionary checkup because of a a very slight dry cough that occurred once a day at the most. I was shocked! The local Stanford vet — who had been seeing Beezus to prepare him for his Pet Passport — was very worried and got Bergview Vet Hospital in Hermanus to see him immediately for x-rays and a second opinion.
They confirmed the diagnosis, prescribed meds to strengthen the heart, another to reduce blood pressure and a diuretic to empty the lungs, and said they hoped I had a vet on 24 hour standby because they didn’t know if he would make it through the night! I didn’t have one, unless I drove back to Hermanus…
The local vet had said that she had a Sunday morning appointment and I should bring him in. The sedation for the x-rays had really knocked Beezus out and he slept through Saturday afternoon and night, but we were waiting at the vet at 9am on Sunday morning. His lungs were much better and it became a matter of keeping him quiet and waiting for all the meds to kick in. The prognosis was that he could live a long life but would be on meds for the rest of his life. (That’s about R500 a month.)
And Beezus slowly became a little of his old self, but tired more easily and needed to be carried after a while on long walks.
I was worried about his fitness to fly to Europe and was wondering if I should take him to see Dr John Thompson, my chiropractor of almost 40 years. The reason for that follows in a moment.
Then on Tuesday night, it became obvious that he wasn’t well at all. We were waiting at a Stellenbosch vet at 8am and he was wracked with coughing and gulping for air as we entered the vet’s waiting room. He was very, very unhappy. The diagnosis was the same (although the heart wasn’t too bad) and the vet wanted me to take him to Panorama Mediclinic to be placed in an oxygen tent so he could breathe properly and for further tests. The cost would be over R15,000. An appointment was made, but I decided “No, I’m taking him to my chiropractor.”
I need to take this story back to Easter weekend 2014. I was staying in Pringle Bay and a baboon had entered the house while we were inside. It ignored the fact that we were there as it went in search of food. Beezus wasn’t having this and chased the baboon out! Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but he sounds like a pack of wild wolves when he gets going. (I’ve since seen him chase baboons at Stanford and near Nature’s Valley, and a pack of adult Dobermans outside Clarens.)
He didn’t get hurt by the baboon but the next morning he was completely lame in his rear quarters. His legs just dragged behind him.
A Kleinmond vet was open on Easter Saturday and he said Beezus needed an operation on his spine which is done at Panorama Mediclinic — costing R22,000-R24,000. But seeing it’s Easter and it needs to be done quickly, that wouldn’t be possible. So I need to keep him in a cage for three weeks so he doesn’t move around. I took the meds and said thank you. A cage would be more traumatic than anything else so I layered towels on my bed and put Beezus on top. I brought my laptop and books, and spend the whole weekend on the bed beside him. He didn’t move, and on the Tuesday I started taking him for walks with a scarf under his tummy to hold his rear quarters up. Eventually, he started walking again, and I thought he was okay.
But, without any cause or reason, it re-occurred in August 2015 at Sandbaai. Another vet gave the same diagnosis, recommended the same expensive operation and more pills…
But this time the pills made him manic… unable to use his rear legs, he jumped up and down on his front paws, a very unhappy animal. I stopped the pills and phoned John Thompson. He had told me that he sometimes works on dogs, and I’ve known him as a magician when it comes to the human body.
John spent about five minutes with Beezus, his fingers probing while Beezus sat happily and unconcerned. “It was chemical, not mechanical,” John said. “He’ll start walking again in about four days.” And on the fourth day, Beezus did start walking again and has been fine ever since. No vet would ever dare give that forecast!
I could accuse the Kleinbaai and Sandbaai vets of incorrect diagnoses and treatment plans, but the fact is that all conventional healthcare professionals are inadequately trained. They rely on medicines or placebos, and interventions which replace the body from healing itself. And they pass the buck to others in a financially-voracious healthcare industry. In Beezus’ case, the operation would have achieved nothing, been a waste of money and a greater cause of trauma to the dog. The only beneficiaries are the so-called healthcare professionals and private hospital. If this was the USA and I had followed the vets’ advice, lawyers would be lining up to launch litigation suits.
Yes, the Stanford and Hermanus vets probably saved Beezus’ life three months ago when they addressed his heart and lung condition, but I had the nagging feeling — after the experience with Beezus’ spine — that John could achieve more.
When I called John after the Stellenbosch vet wanted me to take Beezus to Panorama Mediclinic, John knew exactly what the problem was — “the heartbeat and breathing is out of synch,” mentioning the name of a nerve that went right over my head.
When we got there, John used his strange, cone-shaped instrument that he moves over the body to identify problem areas. It made loud scratchy noises indicating problems! Crouching down on the floor, John prodded and poked gently and then held his fingers on Beezus’ forehead and below his head. B sat their contentedly. Another scan with the instrument showed Beezus was all clear.
After questions about Beezus’ diet and eating habits, breakfasts have been dropped as one of the two daily highlights — it was only introduced because other dogs we lived with had breakfast every day. No garnishing for the pellets, no tidbits — food must be as bland as possible. (I couldn’t help thinking, “Yes, Andreina, you were right.”)
John said his body is tolerating the medications so they can be continued. Contrary to what the vets said, he believes the enlarged heart will return to its normal size as fluid levels diminish. Managing the return to normality will be the challenge, and another x-ray will be likely in months to come.
Beezus has been far happier since seeing John. He slept solidly the first night, breathing normally. A day later, he was more alert, inquisitive and active than he’s been in the past three months… exploring the garden and responding to everyone around him. His appetite has increased and it’s so difficult not to share food when he gazes at me longingly!
Could it be that re-synching the heart and breathing rates was all that was needed? Given John’s track record, I won’t be surprised. I have no doubt that the vets in Stanford, Hermanus and Stellenbosch were as caring as one could wish them to be… but there’s an element of healing that escapes them.
Surely all our healthcare and its educational systems need a complete overhaul, not led by vested interests but by visionaries?