Miracle dog Gizmo gets clean bill of health after near-death experience
Cindy Sjerven says her Lhasa Apso Shih Tzu mix is a miracle.
How else can she explain that Gizmo is celebrating his third birthday this weekend on Mother’s Day.
Gizmo suffered a severe health crisis this past year – a crisis that began about a year ago when Sjerven noticed that Gizmo’s eyes were draining and he developed an open sore on his nose.
The discovery began a series of misdiagnoses by some out-of-town vet clinics and a life-saving revelation by Dr. Jane Jasan at the Mille Lacs Veterinary Clinic in Milaca that Cindy Sjerven credits as saving Gizmo’s life.
Gizmo was found to suffer from Blastomycosis, a fungal disease that is contracted by inhaling spores decaying vegetation such as leaves along riverbanks, Sjerven said. She believes Gizmo contracted blastomycosis during a walk along the river in Rec Park in the early spring of 2016.
“He was so sick,” Sjerven explained.
Cindy Sjerven and her husband Michael took Gizmo to an emergency room for animals. It was there that Gizmo was diagnosed with an abscess and conjunctivitis. The ER veterinarian prescribed an ointment and some medication. They were directed to take Gizmo to their vet a couple days later. As directed, the Sjervens took Gizmo to their vet. (The vet was not officed in Milaca or Princeton). Gizmo underwent a battery of tests. He was checked for heartworm and Lyme disease. Gizmo was placed on more medications after being diagnosed with an autoimmune deficiency.
Cindy Sjerven took Gizmo to the vet for about six weeks. Gizmo got worse, not better, she said. They were giving Gizmo Prednisone, which was killing him, not making him better, Sjerven said.
“Because he was misdiagnosed and given high doses of the wrong medicine, he should have been dead in three weeks,” Sjerven contends. She says Gizmo survived 2 1/2 months on wrong medication that was essentially killing him.
But Gizmo would have none of that. He proved that no matter how sick he was or how much pain incapacitated his daily activities, he wouldn’t give up.
Either would Cindy, who says she devoted a year providing around-the-clock care to Gizmo as he suffered from extreme pain as his paws were swelling and cracking. Gizmo was in so much pain that he couldn’t walk. Cindy Sjerven had to carry Gizmo everywhere.
Medical bills escalated along with Gizmo’s failing condition.
But it was a visit to Dr. Jane Jasan that is credited with Gizmo’s turnaround. Jasen had seen other cases of Blastomycosis and directed the Sjervens to BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Blaine. Gizmo was admitted to the veterinary hospital in critical condition and treated under the care of the center’s vets for three days. It was at Blue Pearl that it was confirmed that Gizmo suffered from Blastomycosis.
On March 1, nearly a year after Gizmo first got sick, he was given a clean bill of health.
Indianapolis, Indiana-based MiraVista Diagnostic Labs, an expert laboratory specializing in serious fungal infection, processed the latest set of lab tests conducted on Gizmo. The diagnostic lab issued a report that stated no signs of Blastomycosis was identified in Gizmo.
“It’s the most amazing news,” Cindy Sjerven said. “He’s over it. It’s done.”
Cindy Sjerven and Gizmo are once again enjoying their walks around Milaca. But Sjerven says those walks don’t include visits along the bank of the Rum River where the virus that incapacitated Gizmo could be found under decaying vegetation. She and Gizmo have become walking messengers of the evils of Blastomycosis .
“I share Gizmo’s story with people on my walks and tell everyone I meet,” Sjerven said.
She cautions others to keep their pets away from the water’s edge, as well. And because people can contract Blastomycosis, she suggests parents to keep their children away from wet leaves along the river, too.
Gizmo can’t talk, so I am his voice,” Sjerven said.
Her message: Stay away from the sides of rivers where it can be dark and damp. Blastomycosis can be contracted by anyone and its treatment is a long road that can be very expensive.
“It’s been a long year. A hard, long year,” Sjerven said as she wiped away tears.
It’s been a long year that she believes ended with a miracle.