I hope you’ve all had an excellent Christmas. I want to thank everyone who have helped us over the past two weeks and sent best wishes to Bert. As many people have been asking after him I thought I would give you all a pupdate. We’ve had an eventful Christmas that has changed Bert’s diagnosis of epilepsy to a serious autoimmune disease.
It all started on Christmas Eve when Bert had another seizure. It was only 30-40 seconds long and he came round pretty fast. We were concerned but happy it was only the one unlike his last episode.
He was quiet and not his self on Christmas Day morning. Our nephew has febrile convulsions so we understand how draining seizures are. It wasn’t until lunch time that we started to worry. He stopped listening to us and when I ushered him onto his bed he growled at me. This is not in his nature at all and it unnerved me. As the hours past his behaviour continued to change. He became hypersensitive and started letting out little yelps. His pacing increased and would take longer to settle.
By Boxing Day Gary’s family decided it would be best for them to head back home as Bert was clearly unsettled. We contemplated calling the emergency vets but weren’t sure if it was considered an emergency so continued to monitor him. By mid morning his tail had stopped wagging and it was a struggle to get him up for a walk. Around lunch time he had started staring into thin air and walking in circles anti-clockwise. At that point we knew it was time to call the emergency vets.
The emergency vets asked to see him straight away. After an initial assessment they said he was a poorly dog and had us referred to Pride Veterinary Centre within the hour.
Trying to hold back the tears we dashed over to Pride Veterinary Centre who saw him straight away. They said they were now unsure of the epilepsy diagnosis. His strange behaviour could be a prolonged recovery from the seizure, however the yelping didn’t fit as epilepsy isn’t painful. He then went on to talk about possible stroke, meningitis or brain tumour. Our heads were spinning with possibilities as the vet recommended immediate investigation. Bert would be under anaesthetic for the MRI scan and lumbar puncture so we had to sign consent forms. There were awful questions we didn’t want to think about such as, ‘would you like your dog resuscitating in the event of cardiac arrest?’ We obviously did, but only if he would have a good quality of life. We also spoke to the vet about not waking Bert from the anaesthesia if they discovered a brain tumour. By this point we were extremely exhausted and highly emotional, saying bye to him was heartbreaking.
The good thing about the investigation is that we didn’t have long to wait for the results. The call came about four hours later with a diagnosis we weren’t expecting, meningitis. Stunned by the call we thought of all the questions after we had hung up. We weren’t sure of the exact condition but they had already started treatment so we assume is was curable. An online search stated that like in humans, dogs can make a full recovery if it’s caught in time and they respond to treatment.
The next day we received further updates stating he seemed to be responding well to the medication and would be ready to come home on Thursday.
We went to pick Bert up feeling excited but nervous. When we saw the vet he explained that Bert had MUA and was responding well to the medication. He went on to explain that Bert would have to have further treatment in the form of injections. They would be in three-week cycles for six sessions and he’d continue taking the tablet medication. My head was overloaded from all the information and it sounded far more serious than what we were expecting.
I asked how poorly Bert was and when we can expect him to recover. The vet explained that it is an autoimmune disease that’s treated with steroids and Chemotherapy and has a varied prognosis. The Chemotherapy is required to subdue Bert’s immune system. If that works we can then try to reduce the steroids gradually over time. A relapse is highly probable and we may get to a point where the treatment no longer provides a comfortable life for him. The vet said that we should take it step by step and not think about the future.
We hated thinking about money vs Bert’s recovery, but knowing we would have to cover the £3500-£4000 Chemotherapy for an uncertain future meant we had to talk about it. It’s surprising how fast we reached the insurance limit on the out of hours emergency care and specialist investigation. With some money left in the home refurbishment pot we decided to stop work on the house and give Bert the best chance possible.
We’re hoping to start his Chemo early in the New Year and he will have to be hospitalised for two nights each time.
When we got home we started looking into MUA and there were a few studies on the matter. It appeared that the cause is unknown and the recovery is down to how the dog reacts to treatment. With Bert going from a shell of a dog back to 90% in a matter of days on steroids, I could see why the vet believed Bert would respond well to Chemotherapy.
The various online studies echoed what the vet said about living day to day and enjoy the time we have. Dogs with MUA have been known to die just days after diagnosis or during Chemotherapy. With some going on to live months to years. With that in mind we started to think about the past year, we have been concentrating on the house so much that we hadn’t stopped to enjoy the boys since moving into our new home earlier in the year. We hadn’t been on our favourite walks around Chatsworth House all summer or been away for the weekend to a Forest Holiday resort, which the boys (and ourselves) love.
Non-morbid Bucket List
A day after the diagnosis everything has started to sink in. Seeing Bert grow stronger and get back to his cheeky self has helped us stay positive. We want to think about things we can do with the boys to repay them for the happiness they have brought us and enjoy whatever time we have together, a non-morbid bucket list to celebrate Bert’s life. I’d like all of your help to build a list of things to do. I want to hear about your favourite walks, dog friendly Holidays, dog spas, dog friendly pubs, anything you think Bert and obviously Ralph would like.
I’d also like to hear from you if you have experienced this with your own dog. I want to fully understand what is ahead of us and what Bert will go through.
Please help by sharing this post to build a list of fun things to do with the boys.
Thank you Vets Now at Alfreton and Pride Veterinary Centre in Derby for your swift diagnosis. You have been fantastic and Bert stands a better chance because of you.
Happy New Year and best wishes for 2018 x