Breaking (Bad) News: New, Dangerous Symptoms a Year After Adverse Rabies Vaccine Reaction

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.

All week long, Lilly has been a major tinkle monster. Huge deluges of pee would come rushing out, often making noises like a burst water balloon. Some of her incontinence days are worse than others, so we weren’t too concerned.

This morning, however, when I took her outside to pee first thing after waking up, Lilly stumbled a few steps — like 3 stooges / drunken sailor. She slipped and fell in the snow. I’d done the same thing Monday, bruising the heck out of my hip and tweaking my wrist and shoulder.

I spun around to tell her she was a silly girl and to help her up, but she couldn’t get up, and when I tried to help her, she went completely limp and didn’t budge.

Since I’d just woken up, it honestly seemed to me like she had dropped dead.

She tipped her head a bit back. Her feet twitched a little. Her eyes stayed open, but she was unresponsive.

I let Ginko back inside, and I SCREAMED for Tom.

By the time he got outside, Lilly was starting to come around. We brought her in, and she cuddled with Tom on the sofa under a blanket.

I didn’t want to feed her until I knew another seizure wasn’t coming. In the past, the seizures she had at the hospital came in clusters. I never saw any of those, so this was the first seizure I’d witnessed myself, and I was shaken.

After about 30 minutes, she seemed tired but OK, so I went ahead and fed her. I also called our neurologist’s team to alert them to the seizure and to seek guidance … since Lilly is supposed to have “chemo” injections again this weekend.

When I took her out to pee a while later, I realized that her urine was completely RED, and it made the weird air-whooshing sound again coming out.

I called the neurology team again to share the bloody urine news.

I also called our regular veterinarian to let her know what was going on. She wanted to see Lilly PRONTO, so Tom ran Lilly down to the hospital … because I had one work deadline this morning that I could NOT miss.

X-rays showed right away the air in her bladder.

We were also supposed to go to Lilly’s first acupuncture / physical therapy consult today at noon, but we had to cancel that, after getting the news of AIR in Lilly’s bladder wall.


X-rays show a number of strange things about Lilly’s bladder, including air inside the bladder and inside the bladder wall. Our veterinarian doesn’t want to draw out any urine for testing until that extraction can be aided by the use of ultrasound.

Thankfully, the ultrasound specialist is scheduled to be there this afternoon (between 2-4 pm our time), so we’ll get some better diagnostic images and other tests done at that point.

Then, our main veterinarian and our neurologist will consult and call me.

I’m trying very hard NOT to freak out, but here is what we know or suspect:

  • Lilly had her first seizure in about a year. It was mild.
  • Lilly has blood in her urine.
  • Lilly has air in her bladder and bladder wall.
  • That air is probably caused by an infection or fungus that’s producing gas inside her bladder / bladder wall. I’ve read a couple of case studies, and it’s considered potentially life-threatening.
  • Her bladder troubles are likely a result of the ongoing “chemo” / cytarabine injections, which are VERY hard on the lining of the bladder.
  • We will likely not only cancel chemo for the weekend, but discontinue it altogether.
  • How that will affect Lilly’s prognosis going forward is unknown.

I’m sad and scared. For now, I’m cleaning house to keep myself busy while waiting for news. It’s a fallback coping strategy.

Even when the world feels out of control, you can control how clean your floors are and such.

Please keep us in your hearts. I fear that our timeline just got much shorter.

44 thoughts on “Breaking (Bad) News: New, Dangerous Symptoms a Year After Adverse Rabies Vaccine Reaction

    January 31, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Roxanne, I am so worried about Lilly. It has been 3 days since you posted she had a seizure. Please know that Lexi and I are thinking of all of you.

    1. February 1, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      Oh, Alison. I’m sorry. I posted a bit more the next day, but nothing sense. Everything is “ok” for now. Not great, but OK. I’m working on an update here soon.

  2. Lynn
    January 29, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Sending positive thoughts for good news. Hang in there.

  3. January 29, 2013 at 1:41 am

    Oh no!! So sorry. Thinking of you. (((hugs)))
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  4. Melanie Kowalski
    January 27, 2013 at 7:24 am

    Roxanne, you are in my prayers. I wrote you earlier about my Boston, Poco, who had the same diagnosis, meningoencephalitis. After her 3rd MRI, the neurologist gave her cytosar injections, similar to what Lilly was on. Like you, I did and tried everything.

    Two months ago, I lost Poco’s brother, Chipper, another Boston to a cancerous brain tumor. No matter how many pups you have in your life, there’s always the one who sings to your heart. Chip was my Lilly.

    So while I keep you in my thoughts and prayers, my only counsel to you is treasure every moment going forward. It’s okay to cry, Lilly understands. As you stay close to Lilly, hold her, kiss her, love her, keep her in your sights, as you always have, she will let you know when it’s time, as Chip did for me.

  5. January 27, 2013 at 1:24 am

    Thinking of you and Lilly, hope you soon find out more.
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  6. Sharon Rousseau
    January 26, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    We are deeply saddened at Lilly’s setback. Cannot imagine your shock & fear. I know you have both invested heart and soul in Lilly’s recovery & this must be crushing. Please know our hearts & prayers are with you every minute now. Love from Atlanta.

  7. Cybele
    January 26, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    I’ve been checking in during the day (knowing full well you have no time for posts). Just want to say I hope you get some comfort and strength from the people who know you and from your readers worldwide who are surrounding you, Tom, and Lilly in a circle of concern and support.

  8. Patricia Gonzalez
    January 26, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    We do have you and Lilly in our prayers for a speedy recovery. Take care of yourself.

  9. von
    January 26, 2013 at 9:21 am

    you guys in my thoughts

  10. January 26, 2013 at 8:52 am

    Roxanne, we are so sorry to hear Lilly is faced with these serious complications. Lots of positive thoughts heading your way for a good outcome.
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  11. Jen
    January 26, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Oh I’m so sorry 🙁

    I hope that the ultrasound and extraction shed some good light on the subject, and that things are not as bad as they seem like they might be. We’re rooting for you.
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  12. January 26, 2013 at 7:57 am

    Dear Roxanne, just finished catching up on Lily’s progress and things seemed bad but not as bad. I am so so sorry you are going through this.Read this with pain in my heart and tears running down my face. You guys will be in my thoughts and prayers.written for awhile cause my computer is still broke,so when I get on my roomates, I have limited time. Been reading your blog almost since the beginning.You are truly a wonderful and remarkable ” mommy”!! I hope you are taking care of yourself to the best of your ability right now.She is such a beautiful girl, I would love to reach out and give you both a great big hug!! Know the blood in her pee must have scared the crap out of you!! My baby girl was hit by a truck bout 3yrs.ago. Her tail was disconnected from her spine and her bladder was pretty messed up. Didn’t think she was going to make it.A day after I brought her home, woke up the next morn to find puddles of blood everywhere.Had to rush her back to vets right away. Thought I wouldn’t make it!! But happy to say she is still with me. I am awfully long winded, so in closing, Roxanne and family stay as strong as you can and pray as much as you can! So hope to hear better news next time.Godspeed. Donna K.

  13. Rachel Hopple
    January 26, 2013 at 7:29 am

    I am soooo praying for you. 🙁 Hugs from Ohio.

  14. Bonnie
    January 26, 2013 at 7:12 am

    Sending healing, supportive thoughts and prayers.

  15. Alexo
    January 26, 2013 at 4:30 am

    I’m keeping you in my thoughts and sending hugs and good vibes to you and Lilly.

  16. January 26, 2013 at 12:56 am

    I do hope there is a good outcome for Lilly.
    Thinking of you both.
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  17. January 25, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Positive energy and healing prayers to you.
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  18. January 25, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    Hugs, Rox. When my girlfriend was taking her young son through the process of chemo/radiation treatment for a brain tumor, her house was immaculate. In part because she was concerned about germs in his weakened state, but also in part – as she freely admitted – that it was the ONLY thing she could control in her life at that moment. Hoping for good news for you and your girl.
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  19. January 25, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Prayers, love, healing…—!woof

  20. Kim
    January 25, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Sending you all good wishes for good news. You’ve all jumped so many big hurdles that I hope this will be but a small one.

  21. Dana
    January 25, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Wishing you both strength and wisdom.

  22. Hilda
    January 25, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Thinking of you and Lilly, as always. Sending you strength and healing.

  23. stacey
    January 25, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    Just some information for you. We have two border follies whom each have seizures. They are both tired afterwards. After intense research we found that vanilla hagan daz ice cream helps to restore some of their energy. Hope that may help to relieve some of her discomforts

  24. January 25, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Oh, Rox, just read this. How scary to go through. I hope by now you’ve heard some positive news. Luna and I are sending positive and healthy vibes to your family and especially to Lilly girl.

  25. Janice in Ga
    January 25, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Oh poor babies, both of you. Al my love to you both, in hopes of a good outcome.

  26. Barbara Tripoli
    January 25, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    So sorry for your family. You and tom should continue to “follow your heart” for Lilly’s sake. I am holding a vigil with my three borders (Maddie, Mollie and Moxie.) Trooper is also with us is spirit. Just continue to hold her close and love, love, love your girl. You and Tom have given her the best life she could have ever hoped for in the event that she wants peace and has become too tired. If not, soldier on as usual :).

  27. January 25, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Oh no…I am so very sorry to hear this sad turn of events. I will be thinking of you and your family and sweet Lilly, and hoping for a positive outcome.
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  28. Stella
    January 25, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    So sorry for the most recent complication you experienced this morning with Lilly. It brought tears to my eyes and I can only hope that she is able to come through this. The one thing I know is that she is very fortunate to have you. It also brings a feeling of comfort to know she understands she is well loved and that you are there for her. You are to be admired for your love and dedication..she knows, as do all of us.

  29. January 25, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Please let there be good news for Lilly and you two!

  30. Betsy
    January 25, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Such a struggle and so many hurdles! I wish I had a magic pill for it all. Hugs!

  31. Vicki (Max's mom)
    January 25, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Holding you all up in prayer for strength to get thru this, and comfort in the precious time you share with your Lilly. Hang in there! PAWSitive thoughts!

  32. Sam
    January 25, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Oh no. Sending hugs and love and wishing I could do more.

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  33. January 25, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Sending healing thoughts and prayers.
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  34. saoirse
    January 25, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    I’ll join those who are crying at the news. I will light candles and pray and send love.

  35. January 25, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Crying for all of you. Sending hugs and prayers.
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  36. Sam
    January 25, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    You are both in my thoughts x
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  37. Melinda
    January 25, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    I am crying. Ya’ll are in my heart and thoughts.

  38. January 25, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    I hope the prognosis is better than it could be. I hope Lily comes out of this episode ok. And if it’s not as ok, that you at least get some more time with her.

    christie from
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  39. Heather
    January 25, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Many prayers for you all and Lilly.

  40. January 25, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    I can’t help but tear up just reading this, so I can only imagine how you feel, Roxanne. I don’t have any words of comfort to offer because I know words just won’t do. But I want you to know that you and Lilly are in my heart and in my thoughts.
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  41. January 25, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    So sorry that this is happening…One thing Lilly knows and we all know is how loved she is….Prayers continue for a speedy recovery for such a special girl!
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  42. January 25, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Reading this brings tears to my eyes – it is taking me back to when I was struggling with aging and ailing pets and not know what to do!! All you can do is stay strong and carry on and pray the vet team can help her! I’m praying you can stop the chemo, get her through this latest medical issue and she can come home stronger than ever.
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