Sunday, November 28, 2010

Crossing Our Fingers!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Ours was pretty great but I have to say that I am glad to be back home. I had been holding back on doing any more updates on Lexy because I was afraid to jinx anything. However, I thought it was finally time. Guys, Lexy is so much better! She is on 4 different medications right now; three of them are to protect her stomach and the fourth is a strong dose of steroids. Since going on the steroids, she has improved really quickly. She no longer twitches or shakes, she has a lot more energy and her coordination has improved. She isn't completely back to her normal self but she is really close.

We were really hesitant to bring her with us to visit Josh's family on Christmas because we weren't sure if she was ready. She did absolutely wonderful. She had so much energy and seemed to have a great time around all the family. Josh thought we might have started babying her a little too much and that on the trip we let go a little. I agree completely. I have stopped staring at her 24/7 to see how she is doing. I have stopped freaking out if her breathing gets erratic because I know the steroid causes that. I am not paranoid that she will never wake up. We have been doing everything we can and that's all we can do.

I want to thank everyone for your comments and for forwarding the YouTube video. We have had so many wonderful suggestions that we are planning to take with us when we go for a follow up at UT. I can't even tell you how many times I have cried over a stranger emailing us to say they cared about Lexy. Some days I get really down on the human race but not lately. I am just completely amazing and so blessed. Thank you all so much! I can't even express how much I love you all.

The next steps for Lexy are to stay on the steroid for another few weeks. Then, we will go to UT for a check up and if everything is OK we will start to wean her off of the steroid. I am praying that the symptoms do not return at that point. We want to get her off the steroids as soon as possible because it causes a lot of side effects and other problems.

In the meantime, we are enjoying every minute with our little girl and we feel so blessed to have these moments.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Help Lexy!

Josh and I made this video so we could reach out to other dog owners who may help us out. If any of you guys know anyone that could help, please pass it on. Thank you so much!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lexy Progress Report

We finally got word on the final results for the tests the animal hospital was running. Everything was negative. Since we have pretty much eliminated everything else, UT believes that Lexy either has an autoimmune disorder (where basically her immune system is attacking her body) or distemper. They are recommending that we try to put her on a high dose of steroids for a while to see if that helps. If it does, she probably has an autoimmune disorder and she will stay on steroids for a month or two and then will hopefully wean off the medication.

If it doesn't help, she probably has distemper. The steroids may help distemper or may make it worse. We have decided if we see no improvement with the steroids in a week or so, we will discontinue it and start looking for distemper treatments. Distemper is classified as a non-curable disease but there are a few methods that show success. My grandparents had a dog with severe distemper that after giving her gamma globulin shots every day for a while she made a full recovery.

Lexy has moments where she seems back to her normal self. We have been cooking her hamburger meat because she isn't interested in her dog food and she gets really excited about that. However, she still has many moments where she seems completely out of it and confused. Josh seems convinced that she is dizzy and that's why she keeps tripping and stumbling.

Right now we are just taking it one day at a time. I am hopeful but still trying to be realistic. I have not gotten much sleep this week and my stress level has been out of control. Basically that means I have spent all week nauseous because my stomach likes to freak out whenever I am stressed.

Another thing I am worried about is Thanksgiving. We were planning on meeting Josh's family in Arkansas to stay in a little cabin in the woods for Thanksgiving. We were supposed to leave on Wednesday. However, there is no way we can bring Lexy with us at this point. The trip would stress her out way to much. Right now, she needs all the rest and relaxation she can get and we try to make sure someone is with her at all times. The only solution we can come up with is that I stay home with her and Josh goes to see his family. I would hate for him to miss out on meeting up with his family since he has not gotten to see them much this year. So unless Lexy has some miraculous improvement in the next few days, I may be spending Thanksgiving alone with a sick dog. It is a tough decision but I am putting Lexy first.

In talking with all of my friends and coworkers it's amazing how some people understand what I am going through and others look at me like I am crazy. I know not everyone would spend close to three grand on a dog. Many people would not devote so much time and energy trying to save a pet. I guess I don't look at Lexy like a pet. She is a family member and I love her like one. I have never once considered giving up and paying for all the tests wasn't an option for me. I love her and I am not giving up.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Not Doing So Good

Lexy came home last night and I immediately noticed something was wrong. She kept stumbling and when she was standing still, would rock a little. She has always been extremely agile so I knew that wasn't good. We tried to feed her and she would take a couple of bites and then just stand there staring at the wall. She seems confused and disoriented. She also wheezes a little when she is laying down and seems to have trouble getting her breath. I also question whether she can see out of her right eye. She wants to lay in her bed but she won't sleep. She just lays there staring at the wall or one of us.

Josh is home with her right now because if she does pass away, we are not going to let her do it alone. We are watching her closely and if it seems like she is in any pain, we are going to have her put down. If it comes to that, I am going to find someone that can come to the house so that her last moments are at her home.

I don't know what to think right now. I am devastated and just keep crying. If any dog deserves a long, happy life, it's her. How am I going to get through this?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lexy Update!

Wow, this has been one long and crazy day! All day we were receiving updates from University of Tennessee. Can I just say how amazing they are? They are so caring and wonderful. If anyone ever needs extensive work done on their dogs, I would absolutely recommend them.

Lexy made it through all the tests today and is resting. Her MRI and electromagnetic test (test on her muscles) came back normal. Her spinal fluid showed minor inflammation so they are still thinking it has something to do with her nervous system. They were very concerned about distemper and ran tests to see if she had it. I was praying so hard that she did not have distemper. There is no cure for it and the majority of dogs die.

Around 5:00 today we received the news that her distemper results were negative! I can't even explain to you how relieved I was to get those results. She still has a chance that she has distemper (sometimes dogs go into a sort of remission where distemper cells are not shed) but it is less likely.

The next steps are to test for a few infectious diseases. Most of the diseases they are testing for are treatable with the exception of one or two. If those come back negative we will start a drug trial. One of the drugs we will try is for seizures since she could be having localized seizures. The other one is a drug used to treat cardiovascular problems that has had success in dogs with distemper.

If none of that works, the last resort is to do a muscle and nerve biopsy.

Basically, we don't know anything for sure yet. We know her MRI is normal and that her spinal fluid is showing minor inflammation. We have many more tests to do and hopefully we will figure something out soon. Thank you all for your comments and tweets. I don't know how I would get through this without you all. I love you guys!

Also, I realized today that your comments are not showing up under the posts. I am working on trying to figure this out, but please know I have received all your comments by email. If I haven't responded to you by tomorrow, please email me at bsig84 at gmail dot com.

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Little Lexy

I wanted to give you all a quick update on what's going on right now. Some of you may have an idea from twitter but I haven't told the entire story.

Thursday night, I noticed Lexy was squinting her left eye. She did it a few times and stopped so I decided to just watch her to make sure she didn't do it anymore.

Friday, we didn't notice any problems until that night when she started squinting her left eye again. Since it was late and our vet wasn't open we decided to just watch her and make her an appointment on Saturday if she was still having problems. On a side note, I am so grateful to have a vet that opens on Saturdays!

Saturday morning, she was still squinting. When I knelt down to pet her, I noticed her left front leg was also twitching a little bit. I told Josh and he said we should call the vet. We went to see the vet and they did some blood tests. Everything came back normal with the exception of her potassium level which was low. They gave us some supplements and sent us home. In the back of my mind I knew it wasn't a potassium issue but I thought we would give the supplements a shot.
By Sunday morning, Lexy got worse. As the day went on, the shaking and twitching became more pronounced and was constant instead of every now and then. I called the vet and made an appointment for first thing on Monday morning.

At this point I knew it had to be something neurological. The fact that it was localized to one side of her body and was out of her control were huge signs for me. Sunday was a rough day. I spent a lot of the day crying. Lexy would look up at me with her twitching eye and I would just burst into tears. At one point I saw her looking at her shaking leg with a confused look and then she tried to lick it a couple of times. I could tell she was confused and it killed me. I was extremely grateful that she did not seem to be in any pain though. I don't know how I would have handled it if she was.

Monday morning we brought her back to the vet and they told us they wanted to refer us to the University of Tennessee animal hospital. They were concerned with how fast it was progressing and when the vet called the hospital to make an appointment, after hearing her symptoms the hospital told us to come that day.

So at 9:30 this morning I set out on a 4 hour drive to Knoxville, Tennessee. Luckily, since Josh was not able to go with me, my grandfather offered to drive me. I was able to hold Lexy in my lap the entire way.

Once we got to the hospital, they took her back to examine her while we waited in the waiting room. About half and hour later we were called back. Basically, they aren't really sure what's going on but they are suspecting a nervous system issue. They think it could be an autoimmune system disorder which is like a human getting lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Basically, her immune system could be attacking her brain. If that is the case, medication (either short term or lifelong) could help her live a normal life.

They decided to do an MRI and spinal tap to see if it is in fact a nervous system problem. If it is not, they may have to do a muscle biopsy and other tests until they figure out what is going on. They had to keep her overnight tonight since they can't put her under because she ate this morning. I should be getting updates tomorrow and if the tests go well, I may be able to pick her up tomorrow night.

Josh and I are praying for good news. I would hate for her to have to be on medication for the rest of her life but I will definitely take that over something like a brain tumor. I love my little Lexy Loo like a member of my family and I can't imagine my life without her!

PS. I apologize if there are a million grammar and spelling mistakes in this post. I am so tired and just don't have the energy to proof read tonight! :O)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Facing Obstacles

Last Friday I interviewed for an amazing internship opportunity. A local photographer who I am completely obsessed with held a group interview for people interested in the internship. To say I really wanted this job would be a HUGE understatement. I was extremely nervous to even go to the interview because I am usually much better in one-on-one situations and since this was a group interview, I was worried I wouldn't stand out.

The interview went well and I felt like all my answers were honest and from my heart. I did the best I could and hoped for the best. Over the last few days I have been obsessively checking my email for word on whether I got the internship. I couldn’t stop thinking about how badly I wanted this opportunity.

Last night I received word that I didn’t get the internship. I was devastated and spent the night feeling sorry for myself and shedding a few (ok maybe more than a few) tears.(It needs to be said that I am not upset with the photographers for their decision at all and I hope to keep in contact with them in case they need help in the future.) One thing that struck me this morning was that not once last night did I question my passion in photography. I never thought for even a second that I wanted to quit. This is a big deal for me.

Growing up I quit everything I started. I tried ballet, volleyball, basketball, track and field, dance team, marching band, gymnastics and softball. Most of these things I tried for a season or so and then quit. Sometimes it was because I was bored and other times it was because I came across an obstacle and just gave up. So the fact that it never even occurred to me to quit photography is a big step for me and I am really proud of that. My passion for photography is not fading and I don’t think it ever will. Even though I am still a little sad today, I am also proud of myself for going to the interview, facing an obstacle and hoping right over to continue on my way.