Every time I try to (optimistically) think that things can't get any worse... I am proven wrong.

Tonight, both of my dogs seemed fine when I let them back inside. Fifteen minutes later, I heard Devil moving clumsily through the hallway, and when I looked, I saw that one of her back legs appeared to be paralyzed and useless.

This is absolutely the last thing I needed... both financially and emotionally... and I don't know how I'm going to get her seen or to recover from this whole month of not having any money.

Someone please tell me that I've hit the bottom...

Seven Replies to FML!!!

Lori Lancaster | June 2, 2010
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Steve West | June 2, 2010
Poor Devil. Hang in there sweetheart. Amy, you’re my favorite person on this site. Witty, strongly opinionated and full of brusque charm - you have so many qualities that I admire and covet and it hurts me when you are hurting. This will not last forever.

Amy Austin | June 2, 2010
Thanks... and also to the private reply -- yes... it does mean something to have friends, and I do very much appreciate your concern.

Because I did the last thing that I ever wanted to do (rather eat broken glass) and called Ed (who is remarried with a 6 1/2-mo baby, for those of you who do not know), Devil was able to be seen by my vet today for what I would normally consider a nominal amount of money. However... the diagnosis is upsetting and the prognosis not too good -- and I know that he will not likely be willing to help me beyond the $100 he paid today.

Because it was a sudden event, there was a possibility of a torn cranial cruciate ligament (ACL). However, I was concerned about something neurological, due to the complete manner in which her leg seemed paralyzed, with foot knuckled over and not seeming to feel any pain. Besides that, she isn't overweight or predisposed to this sort of injury... although, as with athletes, something out of the ordinary (like a weird fall/landing) could have been possible. But with no signs of trauma and no "drawer movement" (what the vet looks for with such an injury) and the confirmed lesser sensation of pain... this is actually presenting as intervertebral disc disease (aka degenerative disc disease), which is really quite surprising to me, because there has been absolutely no indication or warning signs. Unfortunately, this is just a genetic misfortune... and without an MRI, there is no way of knowing if the disc is completely ruptured or just bulging and impinging on her spinal cord.

The "upside" to this -- if there is one -- is that an effort could be cheaply made to try the use of corticosteroids... some dogs have recovered in this manner. This is what the other $50, after the exam fee today, was used for. If she is going to respond, I will know in the morning... at which point I will have to get some more oral steroid meds that I'm pretty sure Ed will fund.

The downside is that if she does not respond to this treatment, then my only options are much more limited and difficult (i.e., surgery or euthanasia). This will, of course, be costly -- even without MRIs, if the operating vets concur and just do plates/myelograms and start operating... which will have to be done right away if it is to be done. This sort of surgery has best prognosis if done within the first 24 hours. Even if I had any resources to try to accrue from, this doesn't really leave me any time to do so.

Even as I hope (against the odds) that the steroids will do the trick, my heart is so broken and I cannot stop crying over the possibility of losing my beloved puppy. She is only 5 1/2, with nothing else wrong with her, and I can't bear the thought of having to put her to sleep because my pockets aren't deep enough. But there it is... that's the update.

Thanks again for your comments and concern. In the worst case scenario, I am going to be inconsolable for a while.

Denise Sawicki | June 2, 2010
That's so sad to hear. I hope your pup will respond to the steroids.

Jackie Mason | June 3, 2010
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Lori Lancaster | June 3, 2010
[hidden by author request]

Amy Austin | June 4, 2010
Thanks again, everyone... your kind words are always appreciated.

Well, I'm sorry to report that there was no response to the steroid injection... so, no follow-up meds on that front. And, if it is indeed a ruptured disc, then the prognosis for recovery -- even with surgery -- becomes lessened with every passing day, nearing less than 5%. The vet is "encouraging" me to consider euthanasia.

However... someone else (not a vet, but someone in knowledgeable circles) gave me a ray of hope with another possible diagnosis (and no diagnosis can be confirmed without the very costly MRI or myelography, at least): FCE (fibrocartilagenous embolism) -- where disc material, either spontaneously or trauma-induced, breaks off and enters the blood stream... thus causing a vascular blockage around the spinal cord and starving it of nutrients. The bad thing is that this can be necrotic (killing the cord) and, therefore, permanent. The good thing is that there can be a fairly spontaneous recovery within 3-5 days... or even a gradual one after several weeks or months -- it does happen. Even better still... it happens without the benefit of treatment, as there is no known treatment (or cause or prevention) for it.

Devil's profile and symptoms fit the diagnosis, but... I don't want to be so hopeful as to be unrealistic, either. The folks who offered this information (without the name, which wasn't remembered, but I'm guessing to be right based on deductive reasoning from another friend's Googling) said that it was pretty extreme to be considering euthanasia at this time, and I agreed. Not just because I am very emotionally attached to her (and it's no secret that I am!), but because 1) there does exist another possibility, 2) she is not in any pain and is otherwise her usual loving self, and 3) through some intensive research, I've found the courage to embrace having to care for a handicapped pet, be it short term or for the long haul.

Helping her out to do her business is a rather tiring task at the moment, since I have to loop a towel under her belly and lift her rear end. In order for her lame foot not to drag on its knuckles, I have to lift her up pretty high off the ground (taking her whole weight, basically), and this is a challenge. Aside from not liking to see her foot drag, there are the clumsy moments in trying to synch with her movements (nigh impossible), and I have stepped on that poor foot... which makes me feel horrible, even if she can't feel it!

At first, I thought that a harness designed for this would be sufficient, but... after some further thought, I am eager to get her into a "wheelchair" as soon as possible. At best, she can do her business at a bit more leisurely pace, I'm not so tired, and one day she recovers and no longer needs it. At worst, it becomes a long-term tool (it also has harnesses that I can use to lift her when needed -- upper body workouts for me!) that gives her greater mobility and increased exercise and, I hope, fun.

I have watched a few clips of other animals in their "walkin wheels", and their ability to run, play and even swim has made me very optimistic that Devil can also enjoy a sufficient quality of life with the help of one -- these animals look quite active and happy and act as though they don't even care that the device is needed... very inspiring indeed. Even in her towel, Devil was ready to engage her sister in some wrassling -- I think she will take to it quite readily... which is surprisingly common, actually.

Of course, I completely lack the funding for this -- but I am also happy to report that, after considerable communication with Ed about it, he seems willing to assist in this endeavor... for which I am very grateful. In the meantime, I have written to a number of organizations in search of assistance (it would be nice to be able to get a more certain diagnosis). We are working on making it happen, and it is my intention to care for Devil for as long as she is willing and able. This is what one does for family... and she is my family.

Nocturnal e-Musings

Amy Austin counts down the days until... something... Read more »


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