Thursday, February 2, 2017

Day 2607

Poor Dash. He had a massive cluster of seizures last night that quickly became a medical emergency. By the time I was able to get him to the vet, he was unable to walk. We debated whether to drive him to an emergency vet while he was having a seizure last night, or try and keep him as calm as possible and take him to his regular vet when they opened the next morning. Since each seizure seemed a little less severe than the previous one, we decided to wait. Eventually, the seizures subsided. Dash went to sleep and started breathing calmly again. We didn't discover that he was unable to walk until the next morning.

I carried Dash into the veterinary clinic at 7 AM this morning, hoping that the doctors could quickly stabilize his condition. It wasn't meant to be. It quickly became obvious that he needed to see a specialist. It wasn't clear at all that he was having an epileptic seizure. He could have had a stroke, be suffering from a brain tumor, have vestibular disease, or even have encephalitis. It is not easy to diagnose any of these conditions. You have to go through a process of elimination, evaluating for the most likely condition first, and then go on to the next condition if the tests aren't conclusive. To figure out what was going on, Dash needed a brain scan. There was a chance that he would need a spinal tap as well. I could take him to the regional neurology center 35 miles north of us and get an MRI tomorrow morning, or take him to the cancer center and get a CAT scan today. The second option seemed better, even though an MRI provides a superior image of the brain. Dash is well known at the cancer center and he would be seeing doctors who are very familiar with his condition.

I think I made the right decision. The oncologists and internal medicine specialists at the cancer center are among the best in the country. Whenever I take one of my dogs to this place I see people in the lobby who have traveled with their dogs from Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and even further to see one of these doctors. We are very lucky to have some of the best specialty care for dogs in the entire country right here in Dallas.

So far, so good. The initial CAT scan showed that there were no lesions or tumors in his brain. It doesn't look like there is an inner ear infection either. Since Dash is not showing symptoms usually associated with Encephalitis, his doctors think it is likely that he has idiopathic vestibular disease. This condition is often called old dog vestibular syndrome, for obvious reasons. Young dogs rarely have these problems. Dash is spending the night at the cancer center's ICU, receiving steroids and anti-nausea medication in an IV drip to reduce the inflammation in his brain and help control the severe nausea that makes it difficult for him to stand. Hopefully, we will see some improvement in his condition when we check with his medical team in the morning.

Keep in mind that while all this is going on, Dot is still sitting at home, unable to do much of anything. I spent the day going back and forth, trying my best to monitor the condition of both dogs. It has been a very long day. Janet and I got virtually no sleep last night. Trying to arrange for emergency care and sophisticated imaging in a city full of sick dogs wasn't easy either. As bad as Dash's condition was, there were other dogs with even worse problems. While I was at Dash's regular vet this morning, a family came in carrying a dog that had just been run over by a car. They were all crying. The injured dog was their family pet. Even though the vets tried their best to save it, the dog died on the operating table. Later at the cancer center, I visited with people who had driven their dogs over 500 miles just to see the oncologist. One lady told me she made this long trip every single week.

We made it through the day. Dot is resting now. I hope Dash is resting too. Life is definitely full of surprises. I never dreamed that I would wake up one morning and find that Dot was the healthy dog. With all her incontinence problems and severe mobility issues, Dot is still in better shape than Dash right now. I don't know what will happen tomorrow, but I will go to bed tonight knowing that I did the best that I could today.

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