Lessons From a Dog

We have three dogs in our house. With the progression of time, all three are getting to be seniors. Makara, one of our two Rhodesian Ridgebacks, is our oldest.  She will be turning 10 this year.

Back in early November, we noticed an open wound on her back leg knee joint, when she came in from playing outside. We immediately took her to the emergency vet hospital. They cleaned it and did x rays. Little did we know that day would start a long journey of conflicting medical information, and a long road to recovery that is still going on almost 4 months later.

The flesh in the wound on her leg started to grow outwards, and became a large mass that kept growing, preventing the skin around the would from healing. We were referred to a specialist who did a biopsy that came back inconclusive. They didn’t know what was happening, but assuming the worst, and that it would never heal, they recommended amputating her leg. She did not seem to be in pain, walked without issue, and was even laying on the leg without concern – but they wanted to cut it off.

We went for a second opinion from a veterinary oncologist. They did more tests, but found no clear evidence of cancer or tumorous tissue.  The oncologist was conflicted, and got additional opinions from his colleagues, but in the end they also recommended amputation. From their perspective, with their traditional training and experience, it was the only sure action that would make the wound go away.

My gut was telling me this was not the right thing to do. Why should we jump straight to such a drastic action and remove a working leg? I did more research and found a vet who specialized in holistic medicine, as well as traditional veterinary medicine. She examined her, reviewed all the previous tests, and came to the conclusion it was not a tumor and could possibly be just a foreign body embedded deep in her leg, causing a tissue reaction. She recommended surgery to remove the mass, and some alternate therapies to promote healing. She saw no reason to amputate her leg.

Makara had her surgery. It has been a long healing process. Unfortunately her wound is right on the leg joint, and with constant movement, the stitches would not hold. We have been wrapping it very thickly, like a cast, to limit the movement. I have been using manuka honey and adding turmeric and medicinal mushroom supplements to her food. We are finally seeing the healing begin! We probably still have a few more weeks to go but for the first time in several months we see progress. mick2

Why am I telling this story? I have had a similar experience with medical doctors and I am sure you have too. They spend 5 minutes with you, ask a limited number of questions, and do most of the talking. In the end, rather than trying to figure out the cause of your symptoms, they prescribe a pill to mask them, or a drastic surgery. Several years ago I had several chronic symptoms and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I was given various medications that either didn’t help or made me sicker with the side effects. My quality of life was terrible.

I finally decided as a last resort to seek out a holistic practitioner. He got to the cause of the symptoms. The horrible pain and exhaustion I was experiencing were all related to stress and my diet. With a few lifestyle changes, I was back to normal relatively quickly. I am not telling you not to see a doctor, but you need to be your own advocate. It is ok to ask questions, demand answers, or get a second or third opinion. I recommend seeking out a doctor that practices functional or integrative medicine. They are focused on figuring out the root cause of your illness not just giving you a pill and send you on your way. A functional doctor will actually spend time talking to you to learn more about your lifestyle, diet, career, things that could help give them clues to help find what may be the underlying cause of your illness. They also might suggest meeting with a health coach like myself to help you make the lifestyle changes you need to make to facilitate your healing process. A health coach will spend an hour with you a few times a month asking you the right questions, and really listening to what you have to say to develop a personalized plan to get you on the road to health. The benefit of hiring a health coach is becoming more widely accepted by the medical community. Insurance companies and large corporations are also seeing the benefit of this service. Below is a video explaining Functional Medicine in more detail.

If you are interested in learning more about what I do, or how I could help you reach your health goals, send me a message. We can set up a free 50 minute initial consultation.



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