December 12, 2011

Of skinny tees, iridology, and e-collars

My grandma wasn't lying when she said, "It's hell to get old."  Not that I've experienced it myself yet.  But I've watched it, first in nursing homes when I was a gerontology student in college.  Then as my beloved grandparents aged, both of them eventually developing heart disease and lung cancer.  We lost my grandpa to cancer in 2008.  My grandma is now bedridden with it.  Please say a prayer for her.

I haven't written much about Meemaw lately because my mom is now her caregiver.  She's the one who's there for the day to day stuff.  And we've been busier than usual.  Since October, our days have been wrapped up in the slave market known as community theater.  For several weeks, Nature Boy had play practice four times a week, followed by a week of daily practice, followed by a total of SEVEN shows.  We're theatered out.

Also during this time, our 10 year old lab mix, Raven (who was sick this summer with a mystery liver ailment) got sick again.  She developed a giant hot spot, a fever, and joint pain.  Like last summer, the tests revealed exactly nothing.  This is her second hot spot in 3 months--after a lifetime of being hot spot-free.

Hot spots are no joke, people.  But they do necessitate interesting apparel.

$1500 in veterinary bills later, we still didn't know why our always-healthy dog was suddenly getting sick.  Conventional medicine wasn't giving us answers.  So we went to a Native American healer.


Phyllis sees both pets and people--for free--on a first come, first served basis.  She practices iridology, an alternative medicine technique.  Her family has been doing it for generations.  We entered the herb store and took our place among the other freeloaders.  We waited about an hour before it was our turn.  Phyllis looked into Raven's eyes and asked me if we'd sprayed our yard with chemicals over the summer, as she suspected Raven had been chemically poisoned, thereby inflaming her liver.  We had.  But Tree Guy assured me he'd used a safe spray.  Our next door neighbor, however, had used all kinds of crap--toxic stuff.

She told me the hot spots were due to a wheat allergy.  And that Raven's immune system was weakened after being sick all summer, so when her skin got itchy and she created infected sores by licking, the infection became systemic.  That was the cause of her fever and joint pain.

And really, it makes perfect sense.   

Phyllis "prescribed" a multi-vitamin and a probiotic, along with a few other herbs.  She recommended a switch in dog food as well.

She also "read" Nature Boy and me.  She asked about my right lung.  (I had a biopsy in my right lung in 2006 because of Bird Fancier's Lung, and I still have some fibrosis there.)  She was concerned about my blood sugar and mentioned digestion issues.  (I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Crohn's disease.)  She noted Nature Boy's allergies and told him to avoid wheat, corn, sugar, and cow's milk.  We knew about the cow's milk.  He pretended not the hear the part about sugar.

Nature Boy and I were given a list of supplements to take and foods to eat for better health.  (Good cabbage recipes, anyone?)

And to think, before our dog got sick, the closest we'd gotten to alternative medicine was the chiropractor.


  1. Saying a prayer for Meemaw and your family.

    Hot spots..those dirty @#$%s!
    I am floored how fast hot spots pop up..a vet told me it can happen in hours. Horrible.

    While I would love to point and giggle about alternative healing, our vet practices modern and holistic medicine. We've gone the liver supplement/flower essence drops/emotional support route.
    Have they done the full panel for tick-borne illness?

    More love and healing to your family, D...

  2. Thanks, Samantha. About the hot spots, I KNOW! Raven's was created in one afternoon. Have your dogs had them?

    We did all the tick-borne illness testing this summer, and again last month. Both times all results were negative. But because her symptoms (aside from the hot spots) sound like those you would expect with a tick-borne illness, the vet treated her as if that was the diagnosis each time. 20 days of antibiotics, in other words.

    It's possible our move out to the country last January exposed our suburbanite dog to stuff she hadn't been exposed to before. And the vet says it's possible to have a tick-borne illness with negative test results, because the tests only check for the most common tick-borne illnesses--not all known ones. Bah!

    The not having answers thing reminds me of my own collection of conflicting autoimmune symptoms. Plllugghhhh!

  3. Thank you Raven for getting them to believe!!! lol