Wednesday, June 20, 2007

More Information

One of the tests they did at the vet school showed that one of the chambers in Reyna’s heart is enlarged and one of her valves is a bit leaky. The vet said he couldn’t hear a murmur, so he doesn’t think its going to be a problem for her for a long time, if ever. He did say its something to be checked at each yearly, and if she gets to a point where the vet can hear a murmur, it should be looked at again. Or if her activity level suddenly drops drastically, her heart would be the best place to start testing.

Oh, and the shaving wasn’t for the MRI, but for the spinal tap. Which makes more sense, really.

Reyna’s getting 90 mg of Pb, twice a day. That’s a pill and a half each time, which sucks, because the pills aren’t scored, and they’re stinking hard to cut exactly in half. When I get her refill in a month, I’m going to ask for 30 mg or 90 mg pills, so that I don’t have to stress over whether or not I’m over or under-dosing her.

The only reaction I’m seeing to the Pb is that she is extremely clumsy. I’m guessing that any normal-energy dog would be snoozing, but when has she ever been “normal” anything? She’s slipping, sliding, and tripping a lot, but it doesn’t seem to bother her nearly as much as it bothers me... I keep reminding myself that it’ll be a few more days before she gets used to the meds. Until then, I’m giving her the full dose of pain meds, because sooner or later, she’s going to realize that her hips really hurt. Mine hurt just from watching hers slide out from under her. I actually feel bad about having the wood floors. Poor girl. She can’t even catch her ball, because she keeps tripping over her own feet.

Duncan is officially the graceful dog of the house now. Not only can he run without falling (usually), he can also catch the red bouncy ball in mid-air. He’s even been jumping for it, and catching it while all four feet are off the ground. Its really cute, watching him drop the ball so that it bounces and he can catch it again. He doesn’t understand why I’m not letting him play rough with Reyna, though. Part of it is because she doesn’t have the fur on the back of her neck to protect her from his teeth, and part of it is that every time he bumps her, she falls over, and that’s just not a good thing.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Good To Have Her Back

Reyna got to come home this afternoon. Duncan spent some time looking at her like he wasn't sure who she was, but after about 20 minutes, he decided he was thrilled she was home.

I’ll get more into specifics later (if I feel like it), but the main thing is that all her tests came back negative for seizure-causing issues. The vet feels 99% confident that she has epilepsy. There’s a slim chance that it might be some type of movement disorder, but only time will tell. Basically, if she doesn’t respond to the Phenobarbital (Pb), she has a movement disorder. If she does, she has epilepsy. The vet said her liver enzymes look great, so he’s not worried about the combination of Pb and Rimadyl on her liver. He said that he wants her to stay on the Pb for at least a year, and if she hasn’t had any seizures in that year, we can consider stepping down the dose or switching to a more mild anti-convulsant.

Poor Reyna’s a bit clumsy tonight, although the vet was surprised at how non-sedated she was when I picked her up. I wasn’t...I’ve never seen a sedative actually make her sedate. Reyna has a shaved leg, where they put in the IV, and the back of her head is also shaved, for the MRI. I’ll post a picture of that in a day or so. The Pb will possibly have a sedating effect on her, but she should be completely normal within a week. If she isn’t, I’m supposed to take her back to the vet. We also go back in two weeks for blood work, just to make sure her liver is still okay. The Pb might have a few other side effects, but they’re all pretty mild, as long as I keep an eye on her. And the meds are fairly strict...they need to be as close to 12 hours apart as possible. Once they’re totally in her system, messing with the timing or amount could actually spark a seizure. I’ve got a call in to the Dermatology department at the vet school for an appointment with them, to try and narrow down the allergy/auto immune issue.

Okay...time to go. Reyna just plowed into the wall... Spinning while on drugs is clearly not a safe activity...

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Reyna is still at the vet school emergency clinic, and will be there until at least Monday afternoon. The vet said she’s being very friendly and loving with everyone, as long as they don’t try to take her temperature. He also said that her blood work came back clean, and that they were planning to run a few more tests today. The main reason he kept her there, though, is because they started her on the Phenobarbital, and he wanted to be able to monitor her response to it. Tomorrow, he’s going to have a vet from Dermatology come in and discuss the different possibilities and tests for her allergies and auto immune issues, and they’re going to run some more tests and do an MRI and possibly a spinal tap in the afternoon. Fingers crossed that those will all come back clean, and she can come on home. If none of the tests show anything, and she responds well to the Phenobarb, then they’ll call it epilepsy, and she’ll most likely be on anti-convulsants for the rest of her life.

Baby Birds

So, here's a pic of the babies taken on Saturday, the 16th. They're starting to show a bit more fluff (not to mention some actual physical features).

And here's one of Mom (or Dad, I can't tell) delivering a snack.

And this one was taken Sunday morning. The babies are definitly growing up. And apparently upset that they aren't getting fed while I'm standing there taking pictures....

Another Year

Happy birthday, Loki! Hope to have many more!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Not A Good Day

Reyna is spending the night at the vet school emergency hospital. Shortly after 2:00pm today, she had five seizures in a row, barely managing to come completely out of one before the next started. She had another seizure at 5:10, and the seventh at 5:15. The last one was different from the rest, in that she was laying completely on her side, but her head was twisted around so that her chin was on the floor. It even woke up Duncan. In fact, that’s how I knew she was having one. I was in the kitchen, and I heard Duncan move really quick. When I turned to look at him, he was staring at Reyna with a “What the crap are you doing?!?” look on his face. I called the vet school emergency clinic, told them what was happening, and they told me to bring her in. So I did.

The vet said that her seizures are definitely facial focal (partial) seizures. He also said that seven in three hours is very bad, and the fact the she was contorting somewhat on the last one is even worse. They ran a bunch of blood work tonight, and called me about 9:45 tonight to tell me that those tests came back okay, and that the neurologist has started her on Phenobarbital, and will give her another dose in the morning. I’d mentioned my regular vet’s concern about combining the Pheno and her hip meds, and the response was that most dogs do fine on both, but if she has trouble, the Pheno is more important, and they’ll find her a new pain killer. The neurologist will officially be assigned her case tomorrow morning, and is supposed to call me between 8:00 and 10:00 to tell me what’s happening. Depending on the tests they decide to run tomorrow, she may be able to come home and then go back in Monday morning, or she might have to stay there until sometime Monday. It just depends on what they find. The vet who saw her tonight said he’s pretty sure its epilepsy, but they have to rule out the other possibilities before they can say that with any real certainty. So now we wait and see.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


They've hatched! The baby birds are alive and (I assume) well. I'm so excited! I'm an aunt! Or a god-mother! Or something along those lines, anyway. This morning, I got to see the parent birds bringing in food for the babies. One adult would fly in with food, the other would take it and disappear into the nest. I'm really looking forward to tracking their progress, so get used to seeing updates!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Even The Best Option Isn’t A Good One

I spoke with the vet Monday, and was able to email him the clip of Reyna’s seizure (which is here, if you’re interested in seeing it). He said that it looks like a pretty classic partial seizure, which is definitely better than a grand mal seizure. The vet seems to think its most likely canine epilepsy, although he did say that the second most likely option is a brain tumor. He told me about a few other potential causes, but said that, based on her breed, history, and most recent blood work, he feels comfortable ruling out those other options. The bad part is that there is no test for epilepsy – instead, it becomes the default diagnosis after everything else has been ruled out. And all those other tests could run about $3,000. Since he’s saying there are really only two possibilities, I’m leaning towards having a test done just to rule out the brain tumor. And then I’ll feel better about calling it epilepsy.

For now, the vet wants to treat her with benign neglect. In other words, he wants me to watch her for a few more days, and let him know on Monday how many more seizures she’s had. I really wish there were some way for her to tell me if she’s having any while I’m at work. She had three on Saturday, and that makes me worry about what might be happening when I’m not home. If we get really lucky, this will turn out to be a phase that she’ll cycle through, like she did last fall. No way to know when they might start back again, of course. And that’s probably what bothers me the most...I really want to know what’s triggering these. Since I haven’t been out of town in a month, I think its pretty safe to say its not stress over me traveling.

If she doesn’t stop having the seizures fairly soon, the vet said there’s a couple of medicine options. The best is Phenobarbital, but she can’t have that. It processes through the liver, and the pain meds she’s on for her hips also process through the liver. Adding the Phenolbarb would basically destroy her liver, which really isn’t a good thing. And the pain meds are doing a good job, so we don’t want to change those out for something new unless we really have to. The second option is potassium bromide, but that takes 30 to 45 days to get in her system. So, if we start her on that now, and the seizures stop, we’ll never really know if they stopped because it was a phase or if the meds did their job. And we really don’t want to keep popping her on and off of meds, especially when they take so long to get in and out of her system.

I just keep thinking that her allergies, her auto immune issues, her OCD, and now these seizures, are all in some way connected. Because I know she just doesn’t wake up in the morning and decide to eat her tail. Something sparks it, but I don’t know what. The vet does a great job of treating the symptoms, but we haven’t found the root cause of her problems. I asked the vet about it, and he said that modern medicine would say no, these aren’t connected, but that Chinese medicine would say yes, of course they are. Anyone know a good vet trained in Chinese medicine?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

My Poor Girl

I was finally able to tape one of Reyna's seizures tonight. She had three today, and the most recent one lasted long enough for me to get the camera up and running. I left a message this morning for the vet to call me on Monday, and with luck, he'll have some time early this week for me to show him the video clip. If he doesn't have any ideas, I'm going to try for an appointment at the vet school. When Reyna was having these last fall, she was having three or four a week - that I saw, anyway. But I've seen six so far this week, including the three today, and that really worries me about how many she might be having when I'm not home. Fingers crossed that the video helps the vet diagnose the problem.

Just as a side note, the idiot who called Reyna "dangerous" two weeks ago suggested today that maybe Reyna had a seizure during class and thats why she "attacked" the sheltie. And then she suggested I might want to think about putting Reyna down before her illness causes her to start attacking people. She's lucky I didn't show her how dangerous Reyna's mom can be.....

Friday, June 08, 2007

They're Baaaaaaaack

Poor Reyna. The seizures she had last fall, that went away in October? Well, they've come back. She had one Tuesday, and two last night. The frequency makes me worry about what might be going on when I'm not home. Now, if I can just catch one on video, I can take it to the vet for him to assess. Not that I want her to have any more, but if she is, I'd appreciate it if she'd have one that lasted long enough for me to film. I've started carrying my digital camera around with me, just in case...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Fireflies and Baby Birds

Last night was the first night that the fireflies were really showing off, and Duncan was completely fascinated. He wasn’t even interested in playing with Reyna or his jolly ball. Instead, he would follow a firefly around until he was distracted by another one lighting up nearby. Then he’d follow that one til he was distracted by yet another one. He also kept opening his mouth, almost like he was going to snap at one and try to eat it, but it was all in slow motion, more of a curious action than anything else. And he never got close enough to one to actually get it in his mouth, even if that had been his intention. I caught a couple and showed them to him, and he just stared at them until they flew away. It was really cute, watching him walk around with that rapt expression on his face.

In totally unrelated news, a bird has nested in my hanging geranium, and there are five eggs in the nest. Thankfully, no one has successfully nested in my dryer vent this year. The mama bird and I have come to an agreement. She leaves the nest when I need to water the plant, and I don’t try and take pictures of her while she’s in the nest. She seems to be somewhat camera shy...

Monday, June 04, 2007

A New Surprise Every Day

A couple of weeks ago, I came home to find the remnants of a stuffed dog toy scattered around the deck and yard. As the days – and the toy – passed, I found even more pieces. Enough to be surprised at how much stuffing is sown into those things. I hadn’t given the toy to the dogs, so I figured Duncan had stashed it in his hidey-hole under the deck a couple of months ago. Turns out, I was wrong.

This morning, Reyna decided she was tired of waiting on me to throw her ball, so she walked onto the deck and proceeded to open the “secure” toy chest I keep there. After rooting around for a minute, her head popped out of the chest with a toy in her mouth, and the chest closed as she pulled her head away from it. She and Duncan then had a grand time playing tug with the toy, while I stood and watched, surprised yet again at the extremely nonchalant manner in which Reyna continues to display her amazing intelligence.