I spent a lot of time debating just how many wonderful things I could say about my girl Bea… how beautiful she is, how gentle she is, great with poultry, great with elderly and children… and the list just kept growing! I realized that was not the most important thing I wanted to tell you about my adopted fur baby. What I want to share with everyone is the importance of never giving up and being willing to think outside the box when it comes to caring for your animals.
About a year after Bea came to live with us we noticed a growth on her leg. It was not large but seemed to annoy her off and on. We had some testing done and decided to have it removed since none of the tests were conclusive as to what this tumor/cyst exactly was. I am fortunate enough to have just enough background in veterinary care to be allowed to attend the surgery. I ended up taking photos as the mass was very odd in shape and wrapped around several nerves. Thankfully everything seemed to go well and we were looking forward to getting her back on her feet. Healing took place and all seemed to go as planned but sadly, almost a year to the day, we were back in surgery removing another mass in the same exact area. This time took a bit longer as even more nerves and feeder blood veins were involved. Pathology stated it was benign but could not give a positive definition as to what it really was. We went home again to begin the healing process and that is where our trouble really began.
Bea's leg before Hyperbaric treatment
For whatever reason we could not get the leg to completely heal. We used every option our vet knew, every option his peers knew and we just could never get it to fully close. There was always a quarter size spot that we could just never heal completely. Thousands of dollars in medications and consultations were getting us nowhere. We even went to a highly revered school of veterinary medicine in our state and they had nothing but… keep her from licking it and you won’t have a problem. If you can’t do that you might as well remove the leg. Amputation was now the kick word for everyone that saw her and for us that was never going to be an option. Her leg was not lame, unusable, painful… it was just UGLY and required a bandage every day!
Thankfully, Elisabeth Jensen had met Bea, saw her leg and knew the struggle I had been dealing with for almost 2 years trying to get someone to really listen and help come up with an alternative resolution. She told me about Hyperbaric treatments for horses with open wounds and other injuries and knew someone that might be able to at least look at Bea’s history and see if they had any ideas. (For those of you who may not know, Hyperbaric treatment infuses oxygen into the body in such a way that it drastically increases blood plasma and tissue oxygen levels, which in turn promotes healing.) She hooked me up with Kirsten Johnson from KESMARC in Lexington, KY. I was able to send her the entire history, pictures and medical records for review. In less than an hour I received a call from her and for the first time in years I had hope!! She had vast experience with not only horses but also a few dogs that had similar issues with healing after surgery and injury.
Bea the Kangal
Kirsten and her staff welcomed Bea with open arms. They brought in Dr. Robert Holland to help with Bea’s care. He immediately did cultures and determined there was a staph infection also at play. Why no one else was able to grow anything from their cultures I will never know, but really at this point it did not matter. I had people who were determined to give us a very different outcome and a very new and innovative way to promote healing in her body. Bea stayed on site at their facility for several weeks getting 2-3 treatments a day at about 45 minutes per treatment. It was a huge chamber large enough for horses to walk into. Bea spent her time snoring and relaxing.
The changes in the surrounding tissue and the healing that began to take place was evident within the first week. Skin that had been knotted and twisted from surgery started to flex properly for the first time! The staph infection healed completely and there was no swelling or ulceration. By the time Bea came home we had hair growth and a closed incision site. Even though there is some neuropathy that will never go away, we have a happy, healthy 4-legged Kangal who stole the hearts of everyone who helped her.
I just cannot say enough about Kirsten, Dr. Holland and the entire KESMARC staff. Although their clientele is not typically Canine, they were not afraid to put their extensive knowledge into action. They made a tremendous difference in Bea’s quality of life and provided us with a new understanding of alternative forms of medicine.