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Once Ballerina, Now Frankenstein – Lingering Neurological Symptoms Following Adverse Vaccine Reaction

Once upon a time, Lilly was a delicate, agile, sure-footed border collie with amazing balance and strength. She could jump greats heights, seemingly without trying. She could land with grace and nary a sound. These days, she moves more like a little, black-and-white Frankenstein.

best dog blog, champion of my heart, ballerina photoI hear it most when I’m in the basement. If Lilly is upstairs walking around, I can her her now-heavy footfalls clump-clopping around. Where once I heard perhaps a few toenail clicks, now my lithe girl tromps around like a vintage monster movie villain.

Yes, I’m grateful that Lilly can walk at all. Truly, I am, but it still breaks my heart to hear her move. It doesn’t look that bad, just seeing it, but when I can only hear her — either from the basement or in my office?

The shuffle-thump, shuffle-thump, makes me want to cry.

I’m still not convinced she can feel her feet completely, and they still do NOT feel “inhabited” to me. When I hold her feet, they feel empty … for lack of a better word.

Tom and I have decided that Lilly too is frustrated with her feet not working right. At least once a day, we catch her barking at her own feet. It’s both funny and sad, but she’ll just be hanging out on the couch, and all of a sudden, she’ll:

  • Make a funny face
  • Tilt her head
  • Stare at her feet
  • And, bark at them

I find myself thinking about what this transition in Lilly’s life means and how it feels. And, my best description of what I mourn when I hear Lilly struggling to walk is that what was once effortless now takes effort.

So, that’s our word for meditation today … effort. Good effort? Valiant effort? Are there other phrases about effort that are more encouraging? I can’t remember any right now.


Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Jana Rade - March 15, 2012

I know what you mean, I can hear when Jasmine’s favoring her leg for one reason or another. Don’t have to see it, can hear it.

I think time is the answer in this case. Either Lilly will be able to get the control she used to have or she’ll learn to work with what she’ll have. Dogs are really amazing in this way. They take what there is and work with it.
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Living Large - March 15, 2012

I second the idea for acupuncture, which can do wonders for humans. Have you ever thought about this?

Saoirse - March 14, 2012

Reading this makes me think of the days when I was a school psychologist listening to parents of children who had experienced a medical event in their lives whereby the child they knew and loved was no longer the same as before. It’s very difficult to walk the balance between the fierceness of “I love her no matter what” and the somewhat guilty angst of “I miss what she was.”

Your gift is in the articulation of it. She may get it all back, all the grace and litheness and lightness of being. And she may not. You love her no matter what. AND you both hope and worry about what the future may or may not bring … for both of you.

She is still a beautiful creature and most beloved. But it’s not the same for either of you. And now, this is the story of your champion. Your words are deft and they speak to me of a finely-tuned heart.

Thank you for your expression of the sadness and tears and challenge of this time. It makes me more brave for the challenges I face, albeit smaller and often self-rendered.

I think of you all everyday.

houndstooth4 - March 14, 2012

I think it’s natural to mourn something that you’ve lost. It’s part of what makes us human. And there could be a lot of reasons she’s barking at her feet. Some might even be positive. I remember when I had nerve repair surgery in my hand. The recovery was frustrating for me at times, too. My hand and thumb sometimes starting tingling for no reason, or felt wrong. Part of that was the nerves repairing themselves and growing new connections. It was a painful part of growth, but necessary to come through to the other side. I hope this doesn’t sound patronizing. I’m trying to be positive and offer maybe a point of view you hadn’t thought of. I know how hard it is to stay positive when you’re in the middle of something hard and unknown!
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Stella - March 14, 2012

How about combining some words, like

Valiant Effort and TIME

Walks together and TIME

I like the Rottie’s suggestion of Accupuncture and my thought of Water Walking (a water tread mill). These PT kinds of things might be great help to her but to me, Time will heal her and she will know just how patient you are during that time. So be extra patient with her.


Jo and Stella

Jen - March 14, 2012

Oh, Lilly 🙁

Sometime Elka seems affronted by her butt, but that isn’t really the same at all. Barking at her feet sounds sad and troubling.

So much has come back for her, though, I can only think that most, if not all, of her grace will as well.
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rottrover - March 14, 2012

What about acupuncture? Might help her energy begin to flow throughout her body. My rottie LOVES his acupuncture 🙂
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    Roxanne Hawn - March 15, 2012

    Yes, @Rottrover, I have considered getting some acupuncture for Lilly. Our neurologist OK’d it. I’ve been waiting for things to settle down a little, and I hoped to get her in for some needle work this spring. Unfortunately, I just got an email this week that the veterinarian at our family practice who is certified to do acupuncture is leaving to pursue a surgical residency. I’ll have to check. I think he was the only one doing it there.

Linda Martin - March 14, 2012

I really believe that eventually Lilly will eventually regain her former grace. Dogs are amazingly resilient beings.
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Ingrid King - March 14, 2012

My heart breaks for you and Lilly. Of course you’re grateful that she’s still alive, but that doesn’t change the fact that she, and you, have lost a great deal. You and Lily both share the same amazing spirit, and perhaps, the word of the day for both of you should be “exceptional.”
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Casey@Good. Food. Stories. - March 14, 2012

What about an A for Effort? I know Lilly is trying her best.
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