Earle's blood test results came back today. It's kinda mixed news. It's never good when the vet interupts an appointment to talk to you. He never, ever does that just to say everything's normal and your dog is fat and lazy! Nope, he only does that when something is wonky!
As expected, Earle's thyroid hormone level is low. Low enough to need medication. Okey dokey, no big deal. Already have the meds and dish them out twice a day to Preacher. I can handle that. Then Dr. Kim says " I need to call the pathologist before we do anything!" HOLD THE PHONE BUDDY! (insert freaking out Tamara here) Pathologist = cancer in my little brain. After reassuring me that pathologists check out other things besides tumors, Kim tells me that some of Earle's test results don't add up. In a hypothyroid dog, the T-4 hormone should be low and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) should be way high. In Earle's case they are both low. This could mean any number of things, from plain ol' hypothyroidism to Addison's or Cushings disease to brain cancer! Hoodoo died from a brain tumor. Earle is Hoodoo's littermate. Kim was Hoodoo's vet too so he remembers all this and does his very best to keep me calm. He also pointed out that Hoodoo had the same test two weeks before he died and everything was perfectly normal.
It helps to freak out a little on your vet and also to pay his mortgage and fund his new clinic. ( I want my own wing someday). These things mean that he will call you back asap! So a couple hours later, Kim calls me back. The pathologist says that Earle's pituitary gland has shut down. It's likely that his thyroid is functioning, but without the pituitary gland to tell it what to do, Earle's body has no idea how to use the thyroid hormone. This in turn leads to all the symptoms of hypothyroidism that Earle has been showing like weight gain, lethargic, cranky mood ect.
There are any number of reasons that Earle's pituitary gland has quit on him. It could be a tumor, could be cancer, could be some kind of autoimmune disease, could be, could be, could be....According to Kim, it's almost impossible to figure out exactly what is going on in that gland. An MRI might be helpful, but I'm not sending Earle to Toronto for that! No, No NO!! (see, Mom, I do have limits!) So what is Earle's diagnosis? Idopathic pituitary disfunction...vet-speak for "we don't have a clue why this happened".
The pathologist has recommended that he be treated with thyroid meds and see if that helps. Kim expects that it will and Earle will be a different dog within a few weeks. He has to go back in to get weighed and checked out in a month. If he doesn't respond to the thyroid medication, then he'll get more testing. For now, I am choosing to believe that he will respond and he'll be just fine. Yup, just fine!
crossing paws, fingers, toes, tails.....