Saturday, February 14, 2015

Day 1887 - Valentines Day

After viewing Dot's MRI scans with the neurologist this morning, it became painfully clear why she is having problems. Several spinal discs were visibly deformed, but one in particular was pressing directly against the normally round spinal cord, squeezing it into a squashed oval shape. There was a tiny shard or fragment from this damaged disk that looked like it was poking into the spinal cord itself. I was going to show you the image this evening so you could see for yourself, but unfortunately the DVD the hospital burned for me was another damaged disc. When I got home, my computer said the DVD was blank.

I typed up a list of questions this morning before we drove up to the hospital to pick up Dot. The neurologist was very patient, answering every question and much more. The only thing that she wasn't able to do was promise me that Dot's problems could be resolved. Could the little shard that had broken off from the disc be successfully removed without damaging the spinal cord? It is very likely that it could. Could something go wrong during surgery, making her condition even worse? Yes that could happen too. Could steroids alone reduce the inflammation around the spinal cord enough to allow Dot to resume a reasonably normal life. Possibly. This appears to be one of those things that you just don't know until you try. One of the keys to non-surgical treatment is 100% bed rest for up to eight weeks. Nerves are very fragile, are easily damaged, and can take a very long time to regenerate.

I felt a little better about the possibility of surgery after talking to the neurologist today. I felt a little worse about the whole recovery process after I read a website that described in great detail the many ways that dogs can screw up their own recovery by just being dogs. Dogs don't understand the concept of 100% bed rest and will do everything they can to resume their old activities. You have to watch them like a hawk at all times to ensure that they don't injure themselves.

As bad as it is, there are small signs of hope. When we took Dot to the specialty hospital her rear legs were completely lifeless. This morning, I could see small signs that she was attempting to move them. As I used the Help 'Em Up Harness throughout the day to get her outside to pee, I would often notice that her legs were attempting to move. Dot is a long, long way from being to support her own weight without assistance, but the fact that there is still a little feedback between the nerves in her legs and her spinal cord was encouraging.

I had to be the legs for my first Dalmatian during the last year of his life and it just about killed me. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if this is where all my current shoulder problems originated. Spot had a different problem than Dot has now, however. With Spot, a combination of hip dysplasia and a late in life cruciate ligament tear caused most of of the weakness in his rear legs. Spot was very weak but was never completely paralyzed. It was still possible to take him on walks using a supportive harness. Dot's condition is more serious.

Helping Dot recover will test the limits of my housebound lifestyle. Even I need to get out sometime. Janet and I will figure out a way to keep Dot under supervision at all times. It's not going to be easy though. Dot has already tried to get off her dog bed unassisted three times today. She is not a good candidate for being crated though, so I will always keep her nearby and be her legs when it looks like she needs to move. So far there have been no accidents. She is pretty good about letting me know when she needs to pee. She's even better about letting me know when she's hungry, which is almost all the time.

Tonight should be interesting. Dot has always slept in the bed, but the neurologist says that she absolutely must sleep on the floor and not get in the bed with us. There is just too much danger if she inadvertently tried to hop off the bed while we were asleep. I'm such a light sleeper that I almost always wake up whenever either dog moves during the night. I don't want to risk anything though, so maybe I'll sleep on the floor with her. Dot is today's Dalmatian of the day. I took this picture on Valentines Day several years ago when she was feeling much better.

Dot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day