Thursday, June 30, 2016

Week 4: Stella's Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever story or Is it Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?

I am writing this for other dog owners, so that they can see how Stella's Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) played out.  I have read a few blogs that have been very helpful to me about RMSF, and I am hoping this will do the same for others. If you would like to read about the first two weeks of this horrible disease, please check out this blog post or this blog post to catch up.  I can't believe it has been almost a month since this nightmare started.  We have made progress, but it seems ever so slow.

June 23rd: Woke up surprisingly well.  Mornings seem to be hard lately, since she is only getting one pred a day.  When we got home from work, she seemed sore, especially on the front and back leg that has been bothering her.  Other than that, no other problems.

June 24th:  Super sore.  Could barley walk and yelped whenever anyone bumped her.  Melly Mel, my running partner came in and gave her extra lovings.  Silly girl still wanted to play ball, even though she can barely move.  Her spirit is still there, even if her body isn't cooperating.  I met with my new alternative health vet.  She is a normal vet, but she also does acupuncture, chiropractics, and chinese herbs.  My hope was that she could provide alternative therapies to compliment what we were already doing.  She did one of the most thorough exams I have ever witnessed, and took copious notes on EVERYTHING.  She looked over blood work, tick titers, and symptoms.  She at this time does not feel this is rocky mountain spotted fever and that the titer is left over from a previous infection.  She is leaning more towards cancer based on blood work values, and the fact that she has lost so much muscle mass/weight.  We have to repeat the blood work first, and then go from there.  I am honest when I say I am very freaked out by the prospect, but at the same time I just don't feel like this is cancer.  I hope my gut feeling is right.  She did give us a non steroidal pain medicine called Gabapentin, and an herb called body sore.  I immediately after the appointment gave her the first dose of both.  In coming home later that day, stella met me at the door and jumped up to greet me, which is typical stella.  She even continued to be active, and even did some naughty acts like steal some food off of my plate, and steal andrew's pasta when he got up to the go to the bathroom.  That is my typical stella.  Even though I should be mad at her, it make me super happy that she is feeling well enough to be that naughty.
June 25th:  WOW!  I am amazed at the progress with just the addition of the gaba and the herbs.  She has been super active all day.  Is a little loose on her stool, but other than that, she has been all over all day.  I got up at 4 am to run, so gave her a gaba then, so technically she could have had three today, but honestly, I didn't feel like she needed it.  She even jumped on the bed when I was trying to get andrew to sleep today.  It took her a few tries to get everything together, but she didn't want assistance.  She did this three or four times.  She has been traveling at her normal speed, which is 150 mph and is back to being my shadow.  Naughty stella also made an appearance this morning when I went to the library by getting up on the counter and getting not one, but two loaves of bread down and eating them, as well as  a package of hamburger buns.  I am sure she wasn't the only culprit eating, but I am sure she would be the one to get them down to share.  
She even got her frisbee when we were out in the yard picking up yard bombs and brought it to me.  I did a couple of short throws, and other than her not being able to do her normal acrobatics and being a tad bit slower than normal, she was after each and every one.  She didn't seem too uncoordinated or wobbly.  I am super shocked at how well she is doing now.  I hope this continues.  

June 26th:  Woke us up at 1 am getting on the stove to clean a cast iron skillet.  Slept in the bed most of the night, post her midnight snack.  We re did the blood draw and sent off for new blood work, and a new tick titer.  Dr. Kristen was impressed at how much better she felt, so much so that the blood draw became a fun affair.  I didn't think I could hold, since she is my baby, but tony was having lots of trouble holding her, so I had to step in.  We needed a ton of  blood, so it took a bit longer than normal, but once I stepped in, we were able to get what we needed.  I just need to put my big girl panties on and be brave when it comes to my kiddos.  Her poop is a little runny now, but still not diarrhea, more just cow pie.  We made the decision to go ahead with an ultrasound for any masses in the abdomen.  Dr. Kristen is not convinced this is rocky mountain spotted fever, due the liver enzymes being off the charts, the platelets being normal, and her WBC counts being elevated.  If the abdomen is clear, we can just assume this is the oddest case of RMSF ever.  
June 27th:  Last day on pred till we switch to one every other day.  Little girl had a good night, sleeping in bed with me most of the night.  She was the first one downstairs and ate with gusto.  She also wanted to play frisbee when we got back from our run, and so we did.  She also helped me make coffee, something she hasn't done in a while.  
June 28th:  First day without Pred.  Also trip to Topeka to get ultrasound done to rule out cancer.  In true Stella fashion, nothing was to be routine. When we got to Topeka, she started running a fever, coughing, and her heart rate plummeted to 48 beats per minute. She was quickly hooked up to an EKG, which showed abnormalities, and then whisked away for a chest x ray. Heart and lungs came back clear, with one artery looking enlarged, but nothing to worry about. We started to work through symptoms, and kept coming back to a very odd disease called dysautomia (sp?), BUT when we gave her the drug that speeds up her heart to test if it would even speed up (a symptom of this odd disease the heart doesn't respond to meds), her heart did speed up. So this may or may not make sense. Her thyroid is also slightly low on blood work, and she still has that slightly positive rocky mountain spotted fever titer. She couldn't sedate her to do the ultrasound, but they decided to go ahead and try without her sedated. They shaved her belly, and did the ultrasound and she was a good girlie. No masses on liver or spleen. BUT when she tried to go over her kidneys, she went bonkers. SO at this point, we are treating symptoms not disease. She is getting more doxy. She is weaning off the pred completely. She is getting baytril on top of the doxy. She is getting thyroid meds. We redid the blood work to check all values (should get results tomorrow), and we are re doing the tick panel as well. If she doesn't respond by friday, we head to KSU to talk to the dysautonomia expert there. Keep her in your thoughts and prayers, because I feel like we are headed in the right direction even if we don't know exactly what this is.
She was pretty tired and sore the rest of the night, but still brought her frisbee to me a couple of times.  I was pretty worried, she seemed to have back slid so much, but she seems to do this every time we wean down the pred.  Her heart seemed back up to around 87 beats per minute, which seems a little more normal.  We did lots of cuddles last night, but she wanted to sleep by herself in the bathroom.  It is cooler in there, so I was hoping she was just cooling her body.  

June 29th:  She had a good night, only heard her up once walking around.  She was pretty stiff/sore especially in her hind end, but ate with gusto and took all of her new pills.  I was glad that I wrote up a list, because at 4 am, my brain is not functioning at full capacity, and that is a ton of pills.  Post my run (that took about an hour) she seemed better, but she got a dose of pred today.  She was still pretty stiff, but that glint was back in her eyes.  As long as I see that will to fight, I will do anything for my baby.  

PM she was still good, but the blood values came back that her body was not good.  I had emailed the dysautonomia expert at KSU and he had suggested that we bring her in immediately.  By the time I called, they weren't making appointments and had switched to emergency only.  Her tick titer also came back lower than previously so not a good indication that this even is RMSF.  Sigh.  To KSU we go in the morning.

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