Sunday, December 13, 2015

Scout's health

Scout on Sunday morning, December 13, 2015
Scout has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. An ultrasound last Tuesday revealed the cause of his recent hypoglycemia and back-leg lameness: a ping pong ball-sized tumor in his pancreas. The tumor is causing Scout's pancreas to produce excessive insulin, which is driving down his blood sugar and causing the symptoms we at first suspected were related to his spine or hip joints.

His shaved belly from the procedure is the only visible sign in the photo I took this morning that anything is different with Scout. He still has the same wonderful personality he has always had, and his appetite is undiminished. We have been feeding him smaller meals more frequently to keep his blood sugar steady and augmenting his regular diet with high-protein foods like scrambled eggs and cooked chicken to give him longer lasting energy between meals.

Scout with Nan at Tybee Island on Saturday, December 12, 2015
We are still trying to accept that this cancer is terminal and that Scout will eventually die from it, just as Charlie died from terminal bone cancer almost eight years ago. As we did with Charlie, we are opting not to put Scout through surgery to remove the tumor. It would be invasive and traumatic, and it would merely slow down the cancer, not eradicate it, even with chemotherapy or other postoperative therapies. He might gain a few months but at the expense of a long recovery and a lower quality of life. We would be selfishly putting our desire to keep him in our lives for as long as possible ahead of his natural right to die with dignity in his own time.

Scout walking with John on Tybee Island - December 12, 2015
The best we can hope for at this time is to treat Scout's symptoms, particularly the lameness which has required me to carry eighty-pound Scout up and down the stairs and lift him in and out of the car. In addition to the feeding changes, we have him on Prednisone to help stabilize his blood sugar, and we want to look into an insulin-lowering drug called Sandostatin when we meet with a veterinary oncologist on Tuesday. Our thinking is that if we can lower Scout's insulin levels, which in turn would allow his blood sugar levels to return to normal, then he would be able to move around as before, resume the long walks he loves so much, and live out the time he has left as well as possible.

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