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Major Adverse Rabies Vaccine Reaction Relapse – Lilly Hospitalized

Starting on Monday, August 6, 2012, Lilly began declining. Monday was bad. Tuesday was MUCH worse. Wednesday (today) was beyond terrible. I called our veterinary neurologist’s cell number early, and Lilly and I made a mad dash for the hospital this morning. She is now hospitalized. Details below.

I wish I felt up to writing more and with more polish (pardon typos, etc), but here are the details that matter most right now:

  • Lilly has a high fever (104 degrees).
  • Lilly has a low heart rate (80 beats per minute).
  • Lilly cannot move much at all.
  • Lilly’s eyes are twitching side to side in the socket (for similar reasons that her head rocked like she was on a boat last time).
  • Lilly’s mental acuity is beyond dull. Her eyes are open, but she doesn’t smile or wag or kiss at all.

It’s bad, kids. I’m not at all convinced Lilly will survive this relapse. Heart break doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel.

From my perspective she is as worse than when she was first hospitalized in January 2012 after receiving her rabies vaccine. What makes this harder is that I know what’s ahead — even if she recovers at all, so while scary, this major, major, major relapse is more devastating for me.

So far (fingers crossed), she has NOT had any seizures.

However, she is showing clinical signs (based on full neurological examination) that different parts of her brain are also affected this time … in addition to the ones we know about from her initial onset of vaccine-induced meningoencephalomyelitis.

The goal right now is to get a bunch of meds on board fast (2 antibiotics, steroids, etc.). An another brain MRI is planned, along with another spinal tap, but those require anesthesia, and our veterinary neurologist does NOT want to put her under until she is stable / strong enough.

That may be tomorrow (Thursday 8/9).

That may be Friday (8/10).

A bunch of x-ray views are also planned.

We’re waiting on full blood test results to check organ function and her complete blood count, including her white cell count which (along with the kinds of white cells they find in her spinal fluid) will give us a good idea of what’s going on.

There is a chance she’ll need another 36-hour course of the chemotherapy drug cytosine, but that decision will come after we get the diagnostics and know better what has gone wrong again in her brain.

We’re likely looking at another $5,000 in spending this week, alone. *sigh*

You’ll understand … I did not take any photos or video today because we were in such an emergency state. Suffice it to say she looked like a black-and-white ragdoll.

Oh, and obviously, we’ve cancelled her acupuncture appointment for Saturday.


Those new to our story can use this link to all posts about Lilly’s vaccine-induced meningoencephalomyelitis (inflammation of the brain, lining of the brain, and spinal cord). Or the adverse rabies vaccine reaction FAQ posts are all linked here.


I had already planned a big blog post for Thursday about a terrible rabies case in North Carolina, so that will go live as planned in the morning.

Beyond that, I don’t know when I’ll be able to return to blogging in earnest. I will try, though, to post some updates. You can always look on our Champion of My Heart Facebook Fan Page for news as well. Sometimes that’s faster and easier to update when we’re on the go or at the hospital.




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.

conroy - August 11, 2012

my heart is going out for you and Lilly , my thoughts and prayer are with you guys, just have faith in god

Jana Rade - August 9, 2012

Roxanne, I am soo sorry! What is the prognosis if they gave you any?

You know, I know it’s a terrible thing to say, but I feel that it might be time to let the poor girl go …? Depending on what prognosis they can give you, of course.

My thoughts are with you. (((hugs)))

    Roxanne Hawn - August 9, 2012

    We won’t have a new prognosis until we can get her strong enough for the MRI / spinal tap and see what treatment is planned and how she responds. We are NOT anywhere close to letting her go. I specifically asked our neuro team today, and they were like, “No way!” So, we’re hanging in there, supporting our girl medically until we can figure out what’s what and start some real treatment.

Teri and the cats of Curlz and Swirlz - August 9, 2012

My heart is aching for you both and hope that you can be brave…Lilly knows you love her, even if she can’t respond and you will be able to comfort her with your visits…

Stephanie - August 9, 2012

Thinking of you and Lilly; hoping she is comfortable. Love and hugs to you as we admire your strength through out this whole debacle from afar.

Janice in GA - August 9, 2012

I’m so sorry. 🙁 Much love to you both…

Connie of TFKblog - August 9, 2012

My thoughts are with you and yours. May you find some peace during this difficult time.

Sam - August 9, 2012

We are saying prayers and sending love. Please keep us updated.


HoundDogMom (Sherri) - August 9, 2012

We are sorry to hear about Lilly’s relapse. We be sending her drool and power of the paw for her to recover. {HUGS} to you as well. Sniffs, The HoundDogs

Pup Fan - August 9, 2012

You’re in my thoughts. ((hugs))

LeeAnne McAdam - August 9, 2012

This is so sad. So sorry you and Lilly are going through this. Many prayers and hugs.

Kate - August 9, 2012

Hang in there, Rox and Lilly. Sending you all the comfort and support I can.

Kris @ Attainable Sustainable - August 9, 2012

Thinking of you, Rox.

Greg - August 9, 2012

I am so sorry to hear this. So sorry. We love them like family and this is terrible. Thoughts are with you.

Merr - August 8, 2012

Oh, my friend, I am holding Lilly so gently in my heart, and you as well.

Cybele - August 8, 2012

Looking at Lily’s photos. Every little hair on her muzzle is alive with the possibilities and anticipation her sunny day is offering her and her eyes are looking ahead. She smiles a lot. She loves the life you give her and doesn’t take a minute for granted. She’s a brave girl and a teacher for us two leggeds who have stopped here to listen to her.

Lucy Sanders - August 8, 2012


I am so very sorry and just wanted you to know that you all will be in my thoughts and prayers. I know how hard this is on you especially as this has gone on for some time.
Take care,

Saoirse - August 8, 2012

I am so very sorry … thinking of you, sending love, sending energy. My heart feels heavy for you.

Jen - August 8, 2012

Oh no….I’d just commented on your other post about the acupuncture, and now I see this.

Praying for Lilly. I’m so very sorry.

Allie - August 8, 2012

Roxanne, what a scary and heartbreaking situation. I am so, so sorry. Hoping for a miracle.

Linda Martin - August 8, 2012

Roxanne: So sorry to hear about Lilly’s relapse. Do you still have a place for folks to send money to?

    Roxanne Hawn - August 9, 2012

    The earlier Chip-in expired in June because I didn’t think we’d need it anymore. Let me see how this week’s numbers truly stack up, and I might have to create a new one. Thanks for asking.

Comments are closed