Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Stella's Story: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: A time line (the first two weeks)

I am writing this for other dog owners so that they can see how Stella's RMSF played out.  I have read many blogs that have been very helpful to me about RMSF, and I am hoping this will do the same for others.

*****Please note.  There are several blogs in this series devoted to stella.  Her diagnosis was changed to IMPA much later into the process so read all the blog posts to find out what happened and why!*******

June 2nd:  As stella was playing frisbee, I noticed she wasn't going after it with much gusto.  She would half heartedly go get the frisbee, and decided to quit rather quickly.  It was a bit hotter than normal, but she can typically handle the heat really well.  I finally got her to come to me, and I started putting my hands on her and found a HUGE lump on her side.  It was behind her rib and in front of her hip.  I immediately thought of mast cell tumor.  I had a dog years ago go through this cancer, and while we beat it, it was super scary to go through.  Stella is only 5 years old.  She is in better shape than me and eats better than I ever do.  I was not ready to lose her to some stupid cancer, so I immediately sent a text to my vet's cell phone to set me up for the first appointment available the next day.  She had run a 6 mile run earlier that day just for reference.

June 3rd:  We had a full exam and a needle aspirate done on not one, but two lumps.  She had another very small lump on the other side near her last rib.  She was still active, but off.  Eating normally.

June 5th:  Results came back on the aspirate.  No cancer cells detected, just lots of inflammatory cells.  Plan to put her on clavamox to treat the "infections".

June 6th:  Started on clavamox, high dose.  At this point stella seemed to be in pain.  Couldn't tell if it was the antibiotic hurting her tummy, or what.  Started giving pepto and that seemed to help.  She would hunch up like her tummy was hurting, and seemed to have trouble eating or drinking water, but would do so despite what I thought was pain.  I interpreted it as tummy issues.

June 7th:  Came home to stella having nasal discharge and eye discharge.  Alerted my vet.  He suspected that she had some sort of reaction to the clavamox, even though it didn't really follow those lines.  He wanted her to go a day without, to see if she had any improvement, and then try another antibiotic.  I suggested she go on Doxy, since it is the popular antibiotic for tick borne disease.  We honestly did not think it was tick borne at this point.  I was leaning more towards Blasto.  Blood work taken.  Fever of 105 at this point.

June 9th:  Left for my vacation to CO and left stella in the hands of my mom.   Did lots of research on Blasto the whole drive down.  Convinced vet, mom, and tony that she needed a chest x-ray to rule out blasto.  Fever came down slightly to 104, so vet was thinking more antibiotic reaction.

June 10th:  X-rays performed.  Found what looks to be a metal bottle cap in stella's tummy.  Possible Zinc toxicity.  Lungs clear, so Blasto partially ruled out.  My vet, being the awesome vet that he is, took the x rays and blood work to KSU for a consult.  Blood work had normal WBC and normal pretty much everything else, yet her platelet counts were odd.  KSU wanted to do endoscope or have her try and puke up the cap, but did not think it was an issue we needed to address till we got the Tick panel back and the infection under control.  Upped the dose of doxy.

June 12th:  Arrived home to find stella in bad shape.  Horrible nasal discharge and all joints swollen.  Tick panel came back positive for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  Included prednisone at double the dose.  Saw a pretty quick improvement in attitude and mobility.  Swelling still there, but not as painful.  Actually did some playing and some raiding of the recycling bin.  Still eating.  Noticed some blood coming from either her lips, which seemed to be chapped, or her nose.  Cleaned nose and eyes and even use a q tip to dig boogers out of nose.
June 13th:  Had some trouble breathing the night of the 12th/morning of the 13th.  Woke up to her stress panting and her having had a couple of pee accidents.  No biggie.  Got her back to sleep.   Ate her breakfast with gusto and actually attempted running up the stairs.  Barked and growled at someone.  Starting to see some of my baby stella back.  Still not 100%, not even really 50%, but better than where we were at.  Fever was down to 103.2.

Took temp again post getting home.  Down to 101.2.  YIPEE!  Except she acted like she felt horrible.  Super stiff and sore, not wanting to lift her head.  She ate a full bowl of food and pooped normally, but she just acted like she felt horrible.  This makes no sense to me.  She has now been on doxy for 5 days.  Sent many texts to my poor vet.  He thinks we are seeing slight progress and should keep the course.  He let me know that the doxy came from a compounding pharmacy, due to a shortage from his normal supplier, but that may or may not be affecting anything.  When the Pred finally kicked in, she wanted to play ball.  We did three or four short tosses, where she trotted over and brought the ball back.  We all went to bed resting easier and slept the entire night.

June 14th:  Woke up  this morning with her trying to get in the bed.  She had had another accident during the night, but it is just carpet, we can rip it up.  She ate her food and took her pills no problem.  Her stool was a little loose, but not too runny, more like a cow pie.  She even tried to jump up on her hind legs and help me fix coffee like she normally does:).

By the time i got home, everything had changed.  She was super sore, couldn't walk, and was stress panting.  She couldn't breath out of her nose, and her third eye lid kept coming up.  She had had her double dose of pred when tony got home, so exactly 24 hours since her last dose.  When we give it, it takes 4 hours or more to start working.  As I type this, she is finally resting and not stress panting.  I am incredibly worried.  We are taking her back for observation tomorrow, and they will be redoing the x-rays to check for the position of the bottle cap again.  It may be a long night.  Have had many breakdowns tonight.  It is killing me to see her in this much pain.  I can't lose her and I won't even if it means me taking out a loan.


  1. Oh Michelle! My heart hurts! Hug that baby close!

    1. Thanks! I sure do love her and this has been hard but I think we are finally turning a corner!

  2. Just the living worst! I'm so sorry. I love fallowing your potes Michelle. Years ago my Aussie Bindi and I joined your agility class and just fell in love with you and your dog Duce(who to this day I maintain is the prettiest dog I've ever seen.) The way you lead the class and your love of the Aussie breed profoundly touched me. You made me want to be a better Aussie owner. I just want to thank you for that and to say I'm so sorry you and Stella have to go through this. I encourage you not to loose hope. In my thoughts and prayers.

    1. Thanks Lauren! I really appreciate your kind words!!!!

  3. I am so sorry to read this about Stella... keeping you and her in my thoughts!

    1. Thanks so much! She seems to be turning a corner now!