Prognoses are only as good as the paper they are printed on – Lou’s story
Every two weeks I receive a visit from a special visitor. Lou bounds into by office as soon as the door is open enough for him to squeeze through, and comes dancing over to me and the treat jar. However, as much as Lou loves his treats, he likes his acupuncture even better. As soon as he sees the needles come out he immediately sits down, positioning himself so I can easily put the needles in.
If possible his position will be between his human mom Susan and me so that he can easily get rubs and pets from us both while his needles work. And he’s good at telling us if we aren’t touching him enough, usually with a look or a gentle paw to the arm, “more of that please.”
I treat many wonderful special animals every week. I often say that I have the best animals in the world as patients, and I believe it to be true. So why is Lou special?
I could say that it’s the way that his eyes dance with joy as he comes into the room, or his love of the world and every moment, but there is more to it then that. That is all true, but one of the amazing things about Lou is that he was diagnosed with a pretty severe case of cancer almost a year ago. At the time of his diagnosis his cancer, which originated in a tumor in his liver, had already spread to his lungs and his prognosis was not good, maybe three months at most if we were lucky.
Lou was dying, however no one gave Lou that message. And I’m not sure Lou would have believed them even if they had.
Over the last ten months I have treated Lou, I have seen him get younger, not older. While he may have cancer, he is living with it, not dying from it. He has a back condition which seems to bother him less these days and his energy is excellent. He really, really enjoys life.
The thing is that dogs don’t read textbooks. Lou’s already outlived every prediction in the textbooks anyway. I no longer can tell you what Lou’s prognosis is, and there is no point guessing. He is thirteen years old at this point and I’m not sure he got the message about being thirteen either. He seems to be living his life backwards, getting more healthy and enjoying every moment more the longer he lives.
Sometimes I feel like I learn the most from the animals I treat with cancer. They are the ones that seem to inspire me, and all the people they touch, to enjoy life and just live. Lou has definitely taught me that prognoses are only as good as the paper they are printed on. We can’t live off of paper but we do live off of the joy we put into each day of our lives.
Update 7/1/11 Lou went into his primary veterinarian for his yearly check up about a month ago. He was amazed that Lou has continued to do so well and said, “since we don’t know how long he may be here, we may want to start worrying about getting him a dental.” It has now been over a year since his diagnosis and Lou continues to do well and is scheduled for a non-anesthetic dental later in the summer.
4/25/12 Sadly Lou passed away a couple weeks ago at the age of 14. We will all miss him. In the end it was a heart condition that became greater than his body could deal with.