Another day. Another run to the veterinary ER. As one of three veterinary emergency and critical care specialists on Team Lilly likes to say, “Lilly doesn’t read textbooks.” The news we got yesterday (Tuesday, October 29) wasn’t good, but it also wasn’t the worst thing they could have told us. It all started Monday night, when Lilly somewhat suddenly lost the use of her right rear leg.
We threw together a quick 90-second video, showing how Lilly is doing 2 weeks since her most recent setback and 5 days since the ER run to find out why she was feeling so lethargic. Not bad for a puppy-girl who could barely walk 2 weeks ago and who refused to get out of bed last weekend.
Thanks to some medicine heroics in response to Lilly’s neurological setback Saturday, October 12, 2013, Lilly did seem to stabilize and improve slightly. Starting Thursday, October 17, however, she seemed exhausted and as if she felt like crud — often hunkering down on her bed, not moving, even if cajoled. Tom decided that she looked like a barnacle on the hull of a ship.
You knew it was coming. As much as I try really hard not to be a purveyor of gloom, there are some really awful parts to taking care of a very sick dog for so very long. Here’s what I won’t miss … at all!
In a last-ditch effort to prevent Lilly from eating her diaper pads — and risking an intestinal blockage — we resorted to a muzzle. Tom calls this Lilly’s “Silence of the Lambs” look.
It has been a ridiculous week in Lilly Town. Here is a quick recap of our efforts to help Lilly recover from a terrible bladder infection. It stems from her symptoms and treatment for rabies vaccine-induced brain and spinal cord inflammation. We are now 13 months into this saga.
From sheer exhaustion and worry, I’m a weepy mess right now. I probably shouldn’t even try to write, but I know many of you are worried about Lilly. She is OK. Not great, but OK. Here is the latest news.
We’ve been busy with “hospitalized at home” protocols for Lilly since she came home Friday evening. Much to do, much to worry about, but here is a quick update from Sunday morning (1-27-13).
Friday morning (1/25/13) around 6:45 am, Lilly had her first seizure in about a year. Then, we found an absurd amount of blood in her urine, and our veterinary team found AIR inside the walls of Lilly’s bladder. That’s. NOT. Good. Potentially life-threatening, even.
If you’d asked me in January 2012 when Lilly first suffered an adverse rabies vaccine reaction if she would survive, I would have said, “Probably.” If you’d asked me the same question in August 2012, when Lilly’s brain inflammation returned so severely, I would have said, “Probably not.” Now? The answer is that I simply don’t know, but I am hopeful.
After Lilly’s massive vaccine-induced brain inflammation relapse in August 2012, we began again to rebuild her strength and her life. This time, we added a chemo drug called cytarabine … in addition to all the other immune-suppressant and seizure drugs. Lilly gets 4 injections over 2 days every three weeks. She will have her 8th cycle of chemo this coming weekend. At this point, we suspect she may need these injections for the rest of her life — however long that is.
Over three days in early August 2012, Lilly went from a good, steady recovery to near death. Tired one day. Wobbly the next. Bordering on coma the next. Her adverse rabies vaccine reaction (massive brain inflammation) had returned with a vengeance. It had been 6 weeks since our 4th attempt to wean Lilly’s steroids. She had a few smaller setbacks when we lowered her steroid dose in the spring, but nothing compared to this total collapse.
In part 2 of our year in review, you can see how well and how quickly Lilly’s first recovery went. Remember, at this point we assume Lilly will get better steadily and fully recover. Check out these pictures and video, and you’ll see why we were lulled into a sense of security.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013, marks the one year anniversary of the rabies vaccine that nearly killed Lilly, our canine heroine. This whole week, we will review the year in pictures (and video). It’s a great opportunity to see how far we’ve come. It’s a great chance for those new to our story to catch up. Today, photos from the first hospitalization.
I suffer certain doubts about how Lilly’s vaccine-induced illness is going and how it might end. I experience real dread at key points in the hills and valleys of our journey — as it stretches now into its second year. At times, I fear that I’m making bad decisions about Lilly’s ongoing treatment. I still cry … a lot. Perhaps that goes without saying. Continue reading
We’re back. After 12 glorious days “off,” Lilly and I find ourselves nearly ready to begin a new year. We spent 7 of those 12 days home all day in a binge of Silly Lilly Whatever Days. We slept. We walked. We hung out. We were grateful. We’ve seen a few blips since our last regular reports, but all in all … Lilly is steady and doing well 21 weeks since her massive vaccine-induced brain inflammation relapse.
In a year when many times it looked like Lilly might not survive to celebrate, I officially declare the start to the HOLIDAY at our house. 12 glorious days of togetherness begins in 3 … 2 … 1
P.S. This photo was taken last year, about a month before Lilly suffered a rare / severe adverse rabies vaccine reaction.
I’m too tired after a month sprinting to finish work so that I could enjoy the holiday, but Lilly is mostly OK. She has been more tired than normal these last 10 days or so, and she has been a little wobbly the last couple of days, but she had chemo injections again last weekend. Typically, we start seeing a real boost from that any minute now.
We hope to resume a more normal blog post schedule in the new year, but for now … we’re just a couple of grateful girls on a mountain in Colorado.
You have our eternal thanks for your love and support this MOST DIFFICULT year.
Roxanne and Lilly Hawn
This week marks 14 weeks since Lilly’s massive brain inflammation relapse in August. This recovery streak eclipses her previous record of 9 weeks without a setback from earlier in the year. I went into today’s neurology exam expecting we’d continue to wean Lilly’s steroid dose. I was wrong. Here is an update on what we’re keeping, what we’re dropping, and what we’re adding to her treatment plan.
Today, let’s talk a little bit about some of the extra or complementary treatments we’ve decided to use on Lilly. My rules are pretty simple.
Last weekend, Lilly got her 3rd cycle of cytarabine injections (4 sub-q injections over 2 days). She handles it like a champ. Honestly, other than the fact that everything about her reeks of medications, you’d never know she was getting pretty aggressive treatment for rabies vaccine-induced meningoencephalomyelitis (brain inflammation). This week, we saw some improvements.
Yes, Lilly is doing well right now. With all the illness / death / destruction in my life in the last 4 years, however, it’s hard not to wither from anticipatory grief — not just for Lilly but others in my life (like my mom, who is terminally ill with a progressive brain disorder). Autumn fills with angst for me anyway. Not my favorite time of year. So, today, some sunrise photos.
Miss Lilly and I hauled our silly selves across town for her veterinary neurology recheck appointment this morning, in advance of this weekend’s third round of cytarabine injections. It has been 6 weeks since her last neuro exam and 9 weeks since her major adverse vaccine reaction relapse. Here is today’s news.
Monday dawned with a full-blown anxiety attack hovering. Seeking just an hour of quiet, an hour or solace, an hour of something other than work or worry, I headed out to the greenhouse. Big mistake. An unsupervised and steroid-fueled Lilly helped herself to a non-food snack. There went my day.