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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

5 Weeks Pass

After 5 weeks, it was clear that this was going to be a long road.  Nathan still was not able to empty his own bladder.  He was still having indoor pooping accidents.  He couldn't walk or even wag his tail.   We had read quite a lot about water therapy on Dodger's List and we called our vet to ask if he knew someone good in our area.   He gave of the name of a vet who specializes in rehab, including water therapy.   We immediately made an appointment.   It would be this therapy that would turn the tide for us.   Nathan did water therapy - first swimming pool, then treadmill, for seven weeks.  His appointments were twice weekly.  By the 3rd week, he was ready for the treadmill.  By the 7th week, he was doing 20 minutes on the treadmill.  It was nothing short of a miracle.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rehab Begins

As soon as we brought Nathan hoped, we began laser therapy.  Our regular vet was a certified laser center and had seen great results.  Nathan had 5 laser sessions over the course of about 10 days.  It would be difficult to say if this had any impact as he was so paralyzed at this time.  At the same time, we began acupuncture treatments to attempt to bring back deep pain sensation.  After 6 sessions, it did in fact appear DPS was returning.  Of course, it was hard to say if it happened naturally or was a result of laser and acupuncture.  After these sessions were completed, we focused on doing home physical therapy.  We were about 3 weeks out from the surgery at this point.  Our final visit to the neurologist was a disappointing one.  He told us Nathan would likely never fully recover.  He would never be able to run or jump.  And, it would be months before he would even be able to walk.  Now, the real work began.

Tremors and Fever

We managed to survive the first night of Nathan being at home again.  As morning arrived, we realized that Nathan's condition was getting worse.  The tremors were worse and he seemed to have a fever.  He was crying and could not be consoled.  We scooped him up and drove to the hospital where the neurologist was on staff, instead of going back to where he had the surgery.   It was a LONG 40 minute drive.   Once at the hospital, he was examined and admitted into the ICU.   The neurologist would not see him until the next day, so we waited, painfully, until then.   The call from the neurologist confirmed our fears.   He could not be sure Nathan had any deep pain sensation.  He felt the tremors were from a reaction to the mylogram dye.   And, he gave Nathan only 50% chance of recovery.   Could it get any worse?  Time to start considering whether Nathan should be put down or not.  We couldn't do it as long as we had hope.  So, we waited out the 5 days in the ICU.   A variety of IV and oral meds, and time, finally cleared his system of the tremors and he began to stabilize.   By the 5th day, the neurologist cautiously stated Nathan appeared to be regaining some DPS and was ready to go home.  

Monday, August 29, 2011

The next few days...

Visiting Nathan at the hospital over the next 3 days was dreadful.   He could barely move at all.  To make matters worse, his bad reaction to the mylogram resulted in horrible tremors.  He looked like an advanced parkinson's patient with severe tremors.  The doctors did not know what was causing them or how to treat them.  His surgical scar ran down nearly his entire back.  All he could do was cry.   It was heartbreaking.   By day-4, they told us we could take him home since there wasn't anything they could do for him there that we couldn't do at home.  He had a half dozen different medications each day.   He had no potty control, so we had to manually empty his bladder.  And, poops, well, they came when they came.  At this point, he wasn't able to hold in urine, so he'd have to always be on a pee-pee pad to catch leaking.   Since he couldn't move, we'd have to turn him over every few hours to prevent bed sores.    We didn't think things could get any worse.  Our regular vet suggested we take Nathan to the neurologist as soon as possible.  We made an appointment for the upcoming Monday, but it turned out we could not wait that long....

Day 2 - A new term - Deep Pain Sensation

The surgeon called us around 8am.  Nathan would have to have surgery immediately.   The next few hours were endless.   The surgeon called around 11am.   Nathan came through the surgery OK.  There was a badly damaged disk which the surgeon repaired.   That was the only good news we'd get.  The mylogram, a dye test that shows the surgeon which disk is damaged, did not go well.   They could not get the needle in and had to keep poking him.   It also appeared that Nathan had no deep pain sensation.     This is a term we would become all to familiar with.   As a dog's disc deteriorates, first they lose the ability to walk normally, they begin dragging their back feet.  Then, they lose the ability to have potty control. Next, the ability to wag their tails.  Lastly, they lose deep pain sensation.   This is caused by severe damage to the spinal cord from the pressure of the exploded disc.   Dogs who lose DPS, are less likely to recover the ability to walk.   We would find out, as we researched this disease, that time is the enemy.  There is a 12-hr window between the injury/start of symptoms and time of surgery.   By waiting until morning to operate, we had crossed this window.   The surgeon was unsure of what Nathan's recovery would be, but it wasn't good...

Day 2 - 2am - the nightmare begins

Something woke me at 2am.  I checked on Nathan who was sleeping in our bed.  He couldn't move.  I scooped him up and went into the bathroom and turned on the light.  I put him on the floor and he fell over.   My stomach dropped.  What was wrong?  I woke my husband, threw on some clothes and we were out the door on our way to the animal hospital.  The 15 minutes drive seemed like hours.  When got there, it seemed quiet, so we were hopeful the wait would be short.  45 minutes later, they finally took us back to see the doctor.  She examined him and informed us it was a disc injury that would likely require surgery. She left to call the surgeon at home and we waited.  When she returned, she told us based on what she decribed to the surgeon, Nathan could wait till morning for the surgery.  This would turn out to be a tragic mistake...

Day One - Everything seemed OK

Our Vet examined Nathan, checked his back, checked his neck.  Nathan was already breathing normally again.  Just to be safe, Vet gave him an injection of an anti-inflammatory in his hind legs.  With that, we were off to the dog park.  Nathan played in his usual style.  After our designated hour at the park, we stopped by a street pet fair where the boys gathered up a fair amount of treats from the various vendors.  Nathan was his usual happy self.   By nightfall, he seemed a bit lethargic.   By 9:30pm, our last potty run, he was limping a bit, but we passed it off as a reaction to the shot earlier inthe day.   A few minutes later, we were all in bed, unaware of what the next 24 hours would bring.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Day One - The straw that broke the camel's back

March 26th started like any other Saturday morning.  My husband and I saddled up Nathan and Frankie for a morning at the dog park.  What we didn't know was Nathan had a disk in his back that was about to give out.  As we got the boys into the car, Nathan's harness was yanked back.  He began choking.   Out vet's office was only 5 minutes from our home so we jumped in the car and drove like maniacs.  By the time we arrived, he seems better.....