It doesn’t seem appropriate to immediately jump on social media after getting home, but frankly I don’t know what else to do with myself while we’re waiting. Maybe one of you will have the right energy, the right prayer, some superpower to fix this.
Emmi has a mass at the back of her brain, constricting flow from her spinal chord. It is too solid to definitively say it’s an infection, but too vague to definitively say it’s a tumor. Whatever it is, it’s been there for a long time. When she saw the mass, the neurologist believed the anesthesia necessary for the MRI would kill Emmi if not then, then within a very short time.
Emmi didn’t die right then. In fact, she woke up faster than seemed possible given she was, as the neurologist said “Circling the drain”.
You guys haven’t been here to see what it’s been like for Emmi since Sunday night when this all started. 2 ER visits, an appointment with the wrong type of specialist, then today’s visit with the neurologist. It’s been hell on Emmi. We promised and continue to promise our dogs that we will never let them suffer. We’ve crossed the line with Emmi this week. For that reason, I told the neurologist that we had to let her go.
The neurologist asked for 24 hours. That Emmi survived the anesthesia, and that she woke up so fast says we should give Emmi that much. So this is where we’re at:
Part of the diagnostic to identify a tumor is a spinal tap. The location of the mass makes the procedure impossible for Emmi.
If it’s a tumor, it’s inoperable and all we can do is try to shrink it with chemo. Ruling out everything else, chemo treatments should be at least attempted.
If it’s an infection, treatment and prognosis depends on the infectious agent. We are waiting for the results of a battery of tests and cultures as we speak. Most should be ready later tonight.
It could also be related to an autoimmune problem. I would have thought her myriad of blood tests would have shown us something before now. Her pre-anesthesia blood work today showed a healthy dog – yet physically she should not have survived the anesthesia, but she did. An autoimmune problem could be masked. Prednisone and lots of it, would be the treatment.
Emmi had Valley Fever. Apparently, just because a dog doesn’t show a titer doesn’t mean she doesn’t have it. Also, just because a previously positive dog tests negative, it doesn’t mean the disease isn’t still progressing. If everything else comes back negative, we assume Valley Fever (or tumor) and hit her hard with an IV antifungal, and fluconazole for life, skip the titer tests because they are irrelevant. There would be no guarantees. The preferred treatment would be a brain shunt- but the $11,000 price tag would make this impossible for us.
As you know, Emmi was very sick when she came to us. This could be a relic from that time and we never are able to connect it with any particular issue.
As of right now, Emmi has been given steroids to help lessen the swelling in her brain while we wait for test results.
Emmi was alert, and her eyes more focused than they have been when I left her. But we have been warned that despite this ‘improvement’ caused by the steroids, she could still die in the night. Her brain is in no condition to handle the anesthesia, the stress, all of it. But if it does prove to be an infectious agent that can be treated….
Leaving her there – even though I couldn’t be with Emmi, I should have stayed in the parking lot. I would have been there for a phone call if she takes a turn for the worse so she doesn’t have to die alone. I would think the night staff would give us that mercy. But now she’s over an hour away, in a strange place, with no lap to lay her head on. All we can do is wait for morning to see her again and hope she doesn’t die in the night, thinking I abandoned her.
Please, someone out there, have the power to fix this somehow.
Update: Fri pm: The neurologist just called. Other than her hematocrit, all of Emmi’s other blood values, including tests for infectious agents which have come back so far, are all normal. This in itself is not normal given Emmi’s condition.
Assumption at this point tumor or Valley Fever . They don’t have the IV Valley Fever medication nor the chemo drugs. Will start her on Fluconozole, IV antibiotics, continue IV steroids and fluids through the night. If Emmi makes it through the night, she will come home tomorrow afternoon with I’m not clear how many drugs. Monday contact an Internal Specialist for the IV Valley Fever medication and an oncologist for the chemo drugs.
Update: Sat am: Emmi made it through the night, continuing to surprise. She is alert, eating and drinking. Though she is still wobbly, she is not falling “as much”.
We’ll be picking her up at 2:30. An appointment has already been made for Tuesday to get the ball rolling with the chemo and the IV Valley Fever meds. (Neuro Vet said they wouldn’t be the ones to do this part anyway). The only earlier opportunity would be to drop her off Monday morning and pick her up later in the day. Emmi is stressed enough – leaving her in a cage for the day is not an option. A shorter in and out early Tuesday morning will work better.
Keep sending Emmi your healing vibes.