Friday, May 3, 2013

I Need Sympathy Too.....

All this time Lily has been ill with her claws and immune disorder, I have been growing a mass around the thymus area. Well I had never heard of the Thymus either, but it is a gland that is part of the immune system. I have been very run down for a couple of months, hacking intermittent cough, blood in my wee and gasping for breath and loping along very slowly.I couldn't swallow my food or hard biscuits and started losing weight and looking a bit cancerous. Mummy and Daddy thought I was off my food due to antibiotics, so they changed it, about 4 or 5 times at least, and then thought I was being fussy and demanding human food. I also had gooey stuff in the back of my throat, I was in pain and a couple of times I actually forgot myself and snapped at Mummy as I thought it was whoever happened to be sitting next to me causing the pain. I kept lying there, staring into space and panting hard even when resting and could not get that comfortable a lot of the time.

I finally was well enough after weeks of antibiotics to have a small sedative and x-ray with a needle biopsy on Monday. The news was not that good, it was very cloudy and the heart and lungs were pushed right back in the chest cavity, and the trachea pushed up and wonder I could not breathe properly. That trachea is right up by the spine and displaced. 

Anyway, the cells in the needle biopsy did not give a 100% definitive answer. There were cells dividing, rapidly into 2 and 3 and that indicates a fast developing malignancy, but still cannot be 100% certain without a full tissue biopsy and as I am a little bit more perky on antibiotics, the feeling is to continue antibiotics to see if perhaps all of that mass was just a huge enlargement of the thymus, or could be swollen due to abscess or infection.  Look at how the position of my windpipe drops in the neck ever so slightly on my 2nd x-ray...nearer normal than before...but the end of it is still pushed up with lungs and heart pushed back and out the way...

So for the next 18 days I am on antibiotics and painkillers, then will have another x-ray to see if that is making a difference. If it is not, then I can start chemo to try and shrink the chemo, or if critical open up the chest and take a decent sample for analysis. But I am a senior boy now, so all surgery is risky and its not a nice job. I am too well and bright today to consider that option.

We are going forward as if this is 100% malignancy,but carry a tiny hope that this could be swelling due to infection. All the tell-tale signs of a serious illness are there, but we have to be positive and work towards the tiny window of chance.

Symptoms of Thymus Gland Problems

I had a persistant cough. Hacking and bronchial sounding, with a sort of intermittent sneeze as if trying to move an obstruction or huffing up mucus, but no mucus present.
I had some sticky substance in the throat, either that was fluid from the tumour/mass draining off, or I was producing lots of saliva to make it easier to swallow. It was white (not green), odourless, and stringy and gel like but fairly wet. I was very run down, reluctant to run, gasping for breath with a sort of grimace and lips pulled back at the sides (think of Popeye's mouth) as I was gasping for more oxygen. When I walked, trotted or tried to run, my head was leaning to one side as if stiff. I had blood in my wee, high bilirubin and proteins and on one test high sugar. I was very thirsty all the time but would often choke. I could not eat solid food but could manage soft food.

My Diagnosis

Please note I am not a vet, I am just a greyhound with thymoma related problems and this is what happened to me. Always get advice from your own doctor and get your owner to find out as much as possible about all the possible diseases and causes that give those symptoms.

Thymoma cancer is very rare in dogs, and problems with the gland are not that common. Initially an x-ray will show abnormal placement of lungs and heart and can show a mass in front of the heart and around trachea and neck and there may be a lot of cloudiness in the chest obscuring a clear view. If this is shown then a vet will take a needle biopsy while the dog is sedated and might try to draw off as much fluid as possible. About 3 days later, it is possible in the lab to see which cells are dividing and mutating, and are abnormal and the rate at which they are doing this. A needle biopsy is quite often not enough of a sample to give a 100% definitive answer, but gives an indication of whether it is likely or not to be malignant and may advise on the probability of that type of malignancy. The vet may proceed with a presumptive diagnosis, which is to assume it is the most severe of the possible outcomes and proceed with the treatment as if it is. if the dog is extremely unwell and in distress at the time of the results, then he may go ahead and open up the chest anyway and malignant tissue can be diagnosed and removed. However opening up the chest to do this is quite a serious thing to do, so if the dog appears to be well and responding to antibiotic treatment and painkillers, he may proceed with that to see if the mass reduces when not infected.

My Treatment

Initial treatment is antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drugs until the mass is clearly seen and diagnosed. If a presumptive diagnosis of lymphoma or thymoma is given, some chemotherapy can be given via weekly or fortnightly injections to try and shrink the mass. Even if it is benign, or low malignancy, the mass can obstruct airways and make it difficult to eat and cause pressure and pain as it takes up the chest and neck cavity. As the Thymus gland is necessary for the immune system, anything wrong there can cause a break down in immunity and give illnesses and a run down condition like me. For example, I have had chronic bladder infection and flu like symptoms. It was as if I had suddenly aged overnight and lost all my zest. has been all drama lately in our household, two people unemployed, one off sick, one redundancy recently, one person with two broken metacarpals/broken hand. One person with numbness down left side and completely numb, one dog losing all her claws, one dog with an immune disorder and bleeding paws.

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