Yukon Territory

Prince George & Hwy 97 to
Canada West Vet Hospital in Vancouver

18 September 2010 - Saturday

After our midnight stop at the rest area, Steve decided to try and sleep in the fifth wheel.  We each had a walkie-talkie.  He thought if he lay down he might sleep better.  It was essential he get some sleep for when I bonked driving.

On the road in the darkness with only a quiet Tazz for company in the truck, the highway was quiet.  Very few vehicles.  Mostly semi-trucks. 

There were also numerous construction zones along Hwy 97 & my eyes were struggling to see the detours and routing through some of them.  The bright lights at some of the zones were hard on the eyes ... it took a while to adapt to the darkness again.

Then another fuel stop at Williams Lake at 2:40 a.m.  Steve decided to ride in the front of the truck now, and continue with his napping.  I was tired but my little Tazz in the back prompted me to keep putting in those miles.  We had to.

At 5:30 a.m. it was time to fill the truck at Cache Creek, at the junction of Hwy 97 & Hwy 1.  My eyes were sore; I had scratched my right eye in Valdez a few weeks before and it was very irritated now.  I didn't have any more miles in me. 

Steve took over the driving.  We felt we were nearing the home stretch now ... I promptly fell asleep as dawn met the Fraser Canyon.

Driving through Hope at 8 a.m., another fill-up at the Husky, an apple & a muffin, plus strong fresh coffee, and we were on our way again.  This was definitely the home stretch!

Traffic into Vancouver on Hwy 1 was heavy this Saturday morning.  Construction detours too.  Road closures due to flooding!  ARGH! 

We wanted everyone OFF the highway ... let us through!  It was so hard to sit in traffic with our sick dog.  She hadn't moved since midnight.

FINALLY, at 10:00 a.m. we were at the hospital.  Tazz was admitted as an emergency patient.  After the neurologist thoroughly checked Tazz, he agreed her symptoms were consistent with Cryptococcal Disease ... only there is no consistency with this fungal infection!  It seemed Tazz could no longer see either; this must have developed overnight.  Apparently the fungus grows in the eyes and destroys the optical nerve.  If Tazz recovered from this fungus, she would not gain her eyesight back.  She also might not be able to walk again.  No guarantees about anything.

After having the options & prognosis explained to us, we agreed to have Tazz admitted.  The cost would be about $1,100 a day.  A deposit for four days had to be paid before treatment would begin.  Fortunately, my credit card didn't have many charges on it from the trip so a $4,500 charge wasn't an issue.  Tazz was then taken to the neurology department to begin treatment. 

Then we realized we were absolutely exhausted.

What to do now? 
Where to go?
When could we visit Tazz?

We needed to sleep.  With a plan to see Tazz during afternoon visiting hours we headed to the Burnaby Cariboo RV Park, about 15 minutes away.   There was a site for us, even though we didn't know how long we'd be there.  After setting up and unhooking the truck, we settled into a deep sleep.

Later that evening we visited with Tazz.  She seemed a little better.  She wagged her tail when she heard our voices.  Tazz also lifted her head to take a treat.  We sat with her for a while, stroking her, talking with her, nuzzling her.  We also helped the staff take her outside for a pee. 

Then back to the fifth wheel for the night.  Still tired, we slept.  But not well. 

19 September 2010 - Sunday

Today we were numb.  We visited with Tazz in the morning and in the afternoon. 

The neurologist saw us during his afternoon rounds and asked us what we thought; had Tazz improved at all?  She was eating.  She still recognized us.  But physically, she wasn't improving.  I refused to believe that she was slipping away. 

20 September 2010 - Monday

This morning before visiting hours the neurologist phoned us.  He wished to meet with us.  She wasn't improving.  By now there should have been improvement. 

There was none. 

At the hospital, the head neurologist let us know that they were very concerned because Tazz was showing no improvement.  None.  They wondered if she had a more virulent form of the fungus ... Cryptococcal Gattii.  They also wondered if she was one of the few patients who didn't respond to these types of drugs.  To learn more, they needed to do a spinal tap and send the spinal fluid to California for testing.  However, the spinal tap could cause Tazz problems IF her spine was under pressure.  The doctors felt she may have meningitis with the crypto too.  It would take three days to get results back.  After much discussion, we asked to see Tazz.

As soon as we saw her, we knew she had slipped further.  She didn't hear our voices.  She smelled my hand though and lifted her head in greeting.  Then she put it back down and did not move more.  Her spirit was gone.  She was breathing, her vital signs were normal, but she was just a hollow shell. 

The neurologist came to see us as we sat with Tazz.  We let him know that we felt it was in her best interest to discontinue treatment and let her go.  From this, there was little chance of recovery. 

The neurologist acknowledged euthanasia was a reasonable choice.  He asked if they could do the spinal tap to withdraw fluid for testing.  They wished to learn more about this disease and maybe learn why Tazz did not respond to treatment.  We agreed that after she had died, the procedure could be done.

We sat with our Tazz for a while longer.  Then stayed with her while she was euthanized.  At our request, the hospital arranged to have Tazz cremated that evening. 

We were absolutely devastated.  Heartbroken.  It was an awful day for us.  Just awful. 

All we knew is we wanted to leave Vancouver as soon as possible; we dislike busy cities.  And at this moment, we really hated this one. After debating what to do & where to go, we decided the Kootenays was a restful spot.  The Nakusp Hot Springs would be a good destination; it is a favourite spot of ours.  The plan was to soak in the hot pool, mourn our girl, gather our thoughts, and sort out how to move past this ordeal.

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