A Claritin here, a Zyrtec there, Benadryl everywhere and all will be fine in a couple of weeks, so I thought.
Then the sneeze.
A quarter-size red bubble on the white tile floor.
Off to the doctor we went.
Not my doctor.
All you need to know about a dog having blood come from its nose is this: It is never good.
“It doesn’t fit the profile for his breed or age, but it could be a nasal tumor,” said our third vet in three weeks of attempting to solve this mystery.
She obviously didn't know Murphy, our 5-year-old Labrador retriever with a heart of gold and a body made for amazing the local veterinarian world.
First dog our regular vet had seen with giardia in decade.
Only dog the animal dermatologist had seen with sterile nodular pyogranuloma syndrome, a rare autoimmune disease of the skin, since vet school.
They came and went. Some negative, some inconclusive. Probably not cancer. Probably.
Possibly a fungal infection. Murphy’s immune system, suppressed from his last bout with the medically unordinary, may have let common everyday spores found on grass and plants take root. Possibly.
Bring on the antibiotics. And the waiting.
Nothing is worse than the helplessness accompanying uncertainty. I know it all too well. I am a caretaker by nature whether it’s my child or my furriest friend. At least a diagnosis, even a bad one, let’s you plan and prepare and steady yourself for the inevitable.
When you don’t know, every minute is worry. Worry paralyzes me, physically and mentally. This I know is true.The mucus just keep coming. Thick, sloggy oozes down his muzzle, pooling on the floor, his kennel, my office couch, his legs and paws.
Then came the blood. Lots of blood.
The worse started Christmas Eve. It kept going until the hours of the early morning. Ice packs, pressure, the drone of NPR radio hosts in the background to keep the calm, in him and me. No child should wake Christmas morning to find their dog lifeless in a crimson pool. That was my only goal for the night.
Until blood started running out Murphy’s right eye.
I think that earned me the right to a legitimate pain in my chest.
I took Murphy on several emergency room trips to our local vet and the specialty hospital 40 minutes away over the next several weeks. I had at least two nights attempting to sleep on the couch next to Murphy’s kennel, me stirring at any sound and shining a light into the cage to see if the bleeding had worsened. On more than one occasion I considered popping one or two of the tranquilizers the vet had prescribed for Murphy because I needed them more.
So I didn’t sleep much for the most of January being knee-deep in snot, blood and fur. Fur because the stress caused Murphy to blow his winter’s coat prematurely. Mine didn’t fare too well, either.
Diagnosis: Fungal infection. A bad one. Meds, Chinese herbs and two treatments of fungicide, including one in which they drilled into his skull and shot the poison straight into his sinus cavity. “You know what bread looks like when it gets moldy, all fuzzy and such,” Vet No. 3 said to me. “That’s what his sinuses looked like.”
Murphy’s doing much better today. The blood ended a few weeks ago. The mucus disappeared briefly but in the past week an occasional string of the stuff comes wandering out of one nostril, something that might continue because of damage done. Better snot than blood, any day.
Murphy, last week, almost as normal as he gets.