A Sick Boy and the Search For Answers

Magnus says 4 vets in two days is 4 too many. I agree wholeheartedly.

We have been on a whirlwind of vet visits and still don’t have answers. I have started this post about ten times and I still don’t even know how to get it all down.

Friday night Magnus fell off the back porch, with his history of mysterious pain I knew I’d need to keep a close eye on him. It was a pretty bad fall, not far, but a hard, awkward landing. Saturday I saw no signs of pain in him and we took a wonderful walk. With Maizey in the stroller and Mehusbandy with us we were able to walk over a mile. It was the longest walk Maizey’s been able to take.

On Sunday afternoon I noticed he seemed really sore. We have a 4legged friend that’s getting rehab for a muscle strain. Since she’s from out of town the physical therapist comes to our house to work with her. After she was done with our friends treatment she noticed how sore Magnus looked. By that point he was sitting really hunched over, all round with his tail tucked way under, he was really hurting. She’s a certified canine therapist and can only work under a vet’s referral so she just gave him a bit of massage and we talked about what had happened. She, of course, didn’t make any diagnosis, but she did think he might need to be seen.

When he wasn’t better Monday we made an appointment to take him to the vet she works with on Tuesday. Having such knowledgeable people around me is what has gotten me through the last two days and I’m thrilled to know both the rehab therapist and this new vet.

So Tuesday morning found us at the vets office and it was none too soon as I had one sick little boy puppy on my hands. Not only sick, but sick with some very new and very disturbing symptoms. We weren’t far into the hour long appointment when Dr. Blum confirmed her fears were those two letters no Cavalier mom wants to here: SM (Syringomyelia)

The longer she spent with Magnus I could see her fears growing and of course so did mine. He was in pain. Everywhere. I loved how she listened to him. Each time he got too painful she graciously told him she saw it was hurting and several times told him. “Okay, let’s take break.” I LOVE a vet who cares more about listening to my what my dog’s telling her than her time schedule. She was so gentle and patient and he was in a lot of pain so I was very grateful.

The strangest symptom, and perhaps the most disturbing, was brand-new. That morning I remember thinking his eyes were extremely red and by the time we got to the vet they were totally blood shot. On top of that the third eyelid was closing over most of the iris and his right eye was not tracking right. Both eyes looked like they were pointing towards the outside of his head. It was really scary looking. After she examined him he just went and laid in the corner. My heart was just breaking for him.

Although we knew the eye symptoms were not typical of SM, but she was concerned enough to send us straight to the specialty clinic for an MRI. So what started as me taking my boy in for a muscle strain turned into a marathon day of worry and scary diagnosis. I can’t get into how awful the vet who did the MRI was. Suffice it say he was the rudest, most unprofessional, egotistical vet I’ve ever dealt with. I’m thankful I won’t have to deal with him again.

He basically made up his mind this was SM before he ever did the MRI, he was unkind to me and negligent with Magnus. I hated leaving him there, but there are only two places to get a canine MRI here and this is supposed to be the best, my options were just so limited. So they did the MRI and I got to pick him up a few hours later.

The MRI had to be sent to a radiologist and it was late last night before we got the results. After getting my boy home and as comfy as he could be I spent the rest of the night networking. Again, it was the wonderful people I have supporting me that got me through the night. By the time I got the results back I already had images from the scans and a better explanation of what they were telling us than I’ve got yet from a vet. Mary Beth really came through for me and she and my friend Marie spent hours chatting with me so I could understand what I was seeing.

I’m going to do post with the complete explanation of the scans, but the short version is the radiologist came back with a positive for CM and mild SM diagnosis. The debate about how to read MRI’s for Cavaliers can be fierce and I’m not getting into it now, I’ll just say based on the scans and his symptoms I don’t think he has SM and the CM diagnosis is not a surprise at all.

So last night found us tired, a substantial amount poorer, still sick and knowing nothing more than we started the day knowing. This morning he seemed much less sore, which could be due to the day of sleep and Rymadyl he had. The eyes on the other hand were worse. So by 11:00am we were at the eye care clinic seeing yet another vet. I love our Ophthalmologist. She is kind, knowledgeably and practical. After a thorough examination revealed he has low pressure in his eyes (Uveitis) and Dry eye something I would never have considered came up.

Lyme disease. Lyme is not something we see here in Utah, like ever. For her to connect the dots like she did was really a shot in the dark and actually makes more sense than the common SM diagnosis. Magnus was rescued from a puppy mill in St. Louis, Missouri. In that part of the country they have ticks. A lot of them. The lady that rescued him gave him a tick bath the night before I picked him up. Still that day he was covered in ticks. As we sat in the airport waiting to fly home I picked so many of the little buggers off him I lost count of how many there were.

It’s still a shot in the dark and as I can’t for the life of me remember what kind of ticks they were it’s hard to say if they could even be the Lyme carrying type of tick. We’ll see our vet tomorrow and decide whether that’s a logical thing to test for. If she doesn’t think it is we’ll proceed with x-rays for the back and pain therapy. The treatment for the eyes doesn’t change so we’ll continue that.

So at this point I really don’t have answers. Magnus is hanging in there. They way his eyes look make him very sad and pathetic looking. I debated about even posting the pics I took for the vets, but in the end decided they’re part of the story. I really hate it when my dogs are sick. I want them fixed NOW not poked and prodded, but I understand it’s a journey to figure out such strange symptoms.

I’ll try to post the technical details of all these symptoms and treatments in the next couple of days. For now we’re keeping him comfy as we can and getting lots of snuggles in. Keep us in your thoughts and I’ll keep you updated.