July 8, 2012


i planned to immediately follow up part 1 of indoctrination of bc doctors with a part 2 - as there are a few more slides from that presentation that ought to be brought to the public's attention. i will get to that over the next little while, however the day after publishing that post an incredibly ironic event occurred.

the dog got a tick bite
the dog is now being treated for suspected lyme disease.


while our public health authorities continue to deny the prevalance of lyme in BC, my dog picked up a tick in our friend's backyard in coquitlam, BC.

Harrison's tick bite.
You can observe the puncture mark in the center.
The surrounding area was pink and very swollen. Also, the hair around the bite had fallen out.

as far as i'm concerned this surpassed the realm of 'ironic' - i'd say it is a bittersweet juxtaposition 

that same day a news story about lyme ran on global BC tv (watch: "scientists say BC is on BC is on the verge of a Lyme Disease explosion") BC's provincial health officer continues to tout the standard party line that lyme is not prevalent in BC. during the broadcast, he insists,

"Clearly we have significant increases in infected ticks in eastern and central Canada but we have not seen that change in BC." 

i used to get outrageously furious upon hearing these blatant denials. to a certain degree, i still find it upsetting and aggravating but for the most part, i sit back and wonder if he realizes how absurdly ridiculous he sounds. studies done by scientist and epidemiologists have confirmed that the tick populations are exploding across this nation (and the world at large), yet BC somehow has been spared? it is nonsensical. 

Only a truly cosmopolitan dog would have eyelashes like that.
i watched that news broadcast with my newly diagnosed, very cosmopolitan puppy curled up on my lap...Harrison is a truly citified urban dweller who has his own wardrobe and does his business on a small patch of grass. his big foray into the wilds of nature was the well-groomed backyard of an urban home and who, as precautionary measure, had received his monthly dose of flea and tick repellent the very week that some dumb tick decided his hind quarters looked like a nice place to dine on.

Oh Canada
yet, our BC medical authorities adamantly insist that our risk of coming in contact with a tick is relatively rare. and it is highly unlikely that that tick would infect you.

furthermore, based on the presentation i highlighted in my indoctrination post (and as seen in the below slide from presentation), our medical profession is teaching front line physicians that lyme is so rare in BC, that prophylactic treatment plays NO ROLE - meaning it is unnecessary. And in areas where lyme is considered epidemic only a single dose of abx is recommended.

what i was told by the vet is so utterly contradictory that one can only shake their head, throw their hands in the air and wonder that such a bittersweet juxtaposition exists.

there i sat in a vet's office listening to him passionately speak of the need to prophylactically treat my pooch in order to spare him the potential of a life altering chronic disease that would cause him great suffering. yet in that power point presentation, a highly esteemed ID doc from BC not only dehumanized those suffering with the disease but taught other BC doctors that prophylactic treatment is unnecessary.

what a bittersweet juxtaposition.

the humane display of compassion, concern and immediate action that i encountered in the vet's office is in stark contrast to what we've experienced countless times when the patient is a human one.

Harrison's bite mark 4 days into abx treatment.
Mark is rabidly fading, inflammation subsiding and hair re-growing. 

dogs receive humane treatment.
humans encounter inhumane (non)treatment.

i said nothing of my experience with lyme during the appointment. i wanted to see how a tick bite would be handled and what would be said when a vet does not know that the patient's owner is lyme literate.

this is what the vet told me;

"lyme is a serious illness and if it is not treated promptly it can become a chronic disease. dogs can get very sick, debilitated and suffer greatly. they can develop arthritis, depression, heart issues and neurological disorders. we don't want that to happen to harrison. i don't like to prescribe abx however, in the case of a tick bite, abx treatment is warranted. i would rather over treat or prophylactically treat than not." 

"what about testing, is there a test for lyme?" i inquired.

the vet replied, "there is a test but i don't know how accurate it would be this early. if you would like to have testing done i can check up on that for you HOWEVER, i strongly recommend that you start him on the abx immediately. i would really hate for you to bring harrison back in 4 weeks or 3 months from now when he is having trouble walking and is very sick. the late stages of this disease are very painful. besides, the actual cost of the antibiotic is cheap enough. if you don't treat right away, then not only does the dog suffer but then treatment becomes very costly. if we don't treat him now and later on he develops chronic lyme disease, that that is a terrible situation to be in."

truer words have never been spoken.
Harrison's abx script
"oh no, i don't need a test to confirm anything. of course, we'll treat him. unfortunately, i am well aware of the consequences associated with the disease because i have chronic lyme disease." i quietly replied and with gratitude accepted his abx prescription for harrison.

his jaw hit the floor upon hearing that. "oh, i'm so sorry to hear that. i guess you don't need me to tell you then that over the course of the next several weeks, you need to watch harrison carefully for symptoms of lyme. if he starts to limp, becomes depressed or lethargic bring him in immediately. for now, i'll prescribe him 2 weeks of amoxicillin. let's see how he makes out with that and we can re-evaluate him again after that is done."

he then asked if we were planning on vacationing in the east kootney/okanagan regions of BC - specifically naming kelowna, kamloops, shuswap and penticton areas as having a high incidence of pets contracting lyme disease. he advised extreme precautionary measures should be taken for both us and our dog if we visited those areas. 

that is the kind of advisory that our public health officer should be and has a duty to communicate to British Columbians. 

i drove home in a daze. shocked that i've just added another family member to a treatment regime for this so called "rare" disease. and shocked that getting him treated was so easy. 

indeed, it is a bittersweet juxtaposition.
Antibiotics for Harrison The Dog Goertzen

why is it that my dog with a SUSPECTED case of lyme is promptly started on abx to prevent the devastating impact of a chronic infection - yet my son, who has a serologically CONFIRMED case of lyme and has been profoundly disabled by the disease, was not only denied treatment in Canada but medical authorities condemned us for his USA prescribed treatment by threatening to remove him from our care?

indeed, it is a bittersweet juxtaposition.

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