Lilly’s Neurological Relapse

We’re still reeling and consumed by mourning and mourning-related tasks, but I wanted to post a quick update for those who haven’t been following the news on our Champion of My Heart Facebook Fan Page.

Starting Friday, May 11, Lilly suffered another relapse. The following symptoms got worse and worse over the weekend:

  • Increased wobbly walking, both front and back
  • Lethargy
  • Trouble getting on / off furniture
  • Trouble holding herself up to potty
  • Trouble standing up from a sit or a down position
  • Tripping or falling up or down stairs
  • Falling down if she turned too quickly
  • Swaying in the rear as if her feet get stuck / twisted when she stands
  • Locking her knees when she stands
  • Symptoms seemed worse left than right (For example, while going down stairs, Lilly would panic, then turns her body so that her right side was facing down. Luckily, I caught her several times, or she would have taken a major tumble.)
  • Left vision seemed impaired (Her menace response seemed really slow, and she walked right into the fridge door several times.)
  • Restless, would not lie down – almost like she was in pain
  • Sometimes cried out from pain if we picked her up, as if her chest / belly hurt
  • Often tipped her head way back and closes her eyes with a “tight face” for no apparent reason

Rather than make yet another emergency room run Saturday night, Tom and I decided to give Lilly an “extra” steroid dose. Even though Saturday was already a steroid-on day (on her every-other-day schedule), we gave her second dose Saturday night.

I called Lilly’s veterinary neurology team Sunday morning and was instructed to return Lilly to an everyday steroid schedule and to get her in this week for a fit-her-in-somehow appointment.

We already have a real, scheduled, recheck appointment for May 25, but our neurologist wanted to see her sooner than that. SO, Monday morning, we made one of those show-up, recheck appointments for Tuesday morning.

We arrived around 10:15 am, and the veterinary neurologist was able to squeeze in an exam between surgeries and MRIs and such around 12:15 pm. Lilly got to see him. I did not. He called me later in the afternoon to answer my questions.

Lilly waited in the car, which was in the shade with windows open, for a couple of hours, then she hung out in the little, glassed-in “office” in the veterinary referral hospital lobby before and after her exam … when we ran out of shade.

By Tuesday morning, Lilly had improved, but I still wanted the neurologist to look at her. He also decided to draw blood to check her:

  • Potassium bromide levels (anti-seizure med)
  • Cyclosporine levels (immune-mediator med)

The neurologist wants to keep Lilly on steroids every day, until we get these test results back. The potassium bromide might come back this week. The cyclosporine test is done at Auburn University, so they sent her blood overnight to them, and we don’t really expect to hear anything on that until early next week.

I specifically wanted to ask him a few things, and I got these answers. I’ll try to get more answers next week as well.

Why a relapse?

No clue. Something caused the inflammation to increase, but we don’t know what.

I asked about seasonal pollen, and he said, “No.” I asked about me potentially screwing up and handing Ginko Lilly’s medicine the other night. I wasn’t sure, but I think in my grief I made a mistake. I didn’t want to give her two doses, just in case I’d done it right. He said there is no way missing a single dose of cyclosporine would cause a relapse.

Is Lilly still in danger? And, I mean … could she still tank and die on me?

He said that he didn’t think so.

In fact, he said, “We’re still OK,” which is what he says when he thinks I’m being too pessimistic.

SO FOR NOW … we’ll keep her hopped up on steroids daily until we are told otherwise.

We had tried going to steroids every third day, and she relapsed in April. At that point, we went back to every other day, but she still relapsed in May.

So, we might try cutting back on the dose, but giving it every day for a while … before we try skipping days.

I took this picture Monday, when Lilly was resting somewhat comfortably.

best dog blog, champion of my heart, sleeping border collie

We literally came home from Friday’s private burial to TWO phone calls about my mom not doing well medically and to a very sick Lilly. It was simply too, too much.

At first, I thought my mom and Lilly — who are both neurologically compromised — were just having a tough time because of a drastic weather change … 85 degrees Thursday, cold / snowy Friday.

But, Lilly got worse over the weekend, and I got worried. I try not to freak out if she has a single bad day, but when there is a trend over several days, then it does cause concern … and I call for help.

We spent another $462 this week on Lilly, but I’m glad to say she really does seem to be feeling better because of the steroids. As long as they continue to work (even if the long-term consequences of these and other drugs she needs … perhaps for life … are scary), I can hang in there for my sweetie girl.


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.

Stephanie - June 1, 2012

My yorki who had this same disease had all these exact symptoms. She barely had any life to her and was miserable as well as in pain. We were reluctant about it but we had to put her to sleep. We tried everything. The doctor said it was the right thing to do. 2 weeks later we are still mourning. Waiting on my baby’s ashes. I have to keep in mind that while she was here she brung us immense joy and love and we gave it right back with also a privileged 4 year life . Still struggling to pay for thousands of dollars of vet bills. Mines was way smaller than yours so Lilly is stronger . I also mentioned that my Mimi inherited the disease. Her parents were from puppy mills even though the store we bought it from says otherwise. Much luck and love to you and Lilly. I can strongly say I feel where you’re coming from

    Roxanne Hawn - June 4, 2012

    I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. Indeed, I think Lilly’s size is helping us in this situation.

Jane Boursaw - June 1, 2012

You’ve had so much to deal with, Rox. Thinking good thoughts to get you through this and a speedy — and FULL — recovery for Lilly.

Donna Kruft - May 29, 2012

Oh, Roxanne, so sorry to hear this news. Haven’t keep up lately because my computer has been down so long. Last time I read, she was on the upward swing somewhat. How devasting this is for you + Lily. Poor girl, just reading this makes me very teary eyed and so very sad. So hope the next time I read your blog, she will have improved. Take care of yourself and that beautiful sweet girl. God Bless.

kb - May 29, 2012

Hang in there Roxanne. I’m so sorry that nothing seems to be going easily for you right now. My thoughts are with you and my fingers are crossed that Lilly is feeling good.

We’ve been MIA because we made a spur of the moment decision to take a long camping trip. We took K to many of the places where she has a long history starting from puppyhood. It was surely her last time in those places but I was glad that we could all visit together one more time.

Take care.

Jana Rade - May 28, 2012

So sorry about the relapse. One would think that things should have settled down by now … (((hugs)))

Hawk aka BrownDog - May 25, 2012

Playing catch up with reading was heartbreaking when we reached your post. Life does seem to “pile on” sometimes.

Our prayers go out to your mother.

I’ll have to check your FB page to see how y’all are doing. Hope that everything is getting easier for y’all this weekend.

We’ll keep y’all in our prayers,
BrownDog’s Human

Chucky - May 25, 2012

Delilah had some ‘spells’ (not vaccine related) but we rushed her to the vet on three separate occasions, on the last one we were lucky enough to find Dr. Landau. Thanks for sharing.

Sheryl - May 25, 2012

I am so sorry to hear of all of this – I’m keeping you in my thoughts and sending hugs.

Kris @ Attainable Sustainable - May 23, 2012

Hugs, Roxanne. 2013 is bound to be the most amazing, stress free year for you.

Heidi19 - May 23, 2012

I’ll pray for Lily’s speedy recovery and i really admire you for taking good care of Lily’s!

The Zoo - May 23, 2012

We sure do hope Lilly gets better quickly. Prayers to you all.

Born27 - May 22, 2012

I am so sorry to hear that Roxanne. I just hope that Lily would totally recovered from illness.. And same with your mom. My prayers are with them. Keep your faith.

Annie - May 22, 2012

We will all pray for Lily and I hope she will get better soon.. All our prayers are for you and for her..

Eileen - May 19, 2012

Poor Lily . Sending love to you both.
Eileen and Annie xx

Christina - May 18, 2012

Love and Prayers. Peace and Power. Let us know how we can help. -!woof @nica_knows

Carol - May 18, 2012

My heart broke when I read this post. I’m sorry honey, both of you and Lilly are in my prayers.

Maggie - May 18, 2012

I’m so sorry, Roxanne. I can imagine how stressful this must be, but know that you have lots of people sending good thoughts and healing wishes your way.

Saoirse - May 17, 2012

Light and love to all.

Ingrid King - May 17, 2012

Oh Roxanne, I’m so sorry. You and Lilly are in my thoughts and prayers.

Janice in GA - May 17, 2012

Oh honey, I’m so sorry. 🙁 I hate it when the bad things come in packs.

Thinking good thoughts for you and Lilly.

Living Large - May 17, 2012

Oh, I wish she could do well for you and not relapse. I keep hoping for a full recovery.

Jodi - May 17, 2012

I’ve been trying to keep up with Lilly’s story and my heart breaks that you are going through this.

My question to you, have you ever considered a holistic non-traditional vet. Delilah had some ‘spells’ (not vaccine related) but we rushed her to the vet on three separate occasions, on the last one we were lucky enough to find Dr. Landau. After his treatment of her, she has been remarkable.

Sam - May 17, 2012

Saying prayers for both you and Lilly… And sending you lots of hugs!


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