Thursday, July 31, 2008

Logical Next Steps

A friend and I went to pick up Carmella from the vet's today and to discuss where we go from here in her treatment. Dr. Norwood was still quite worried about using the Baytril despite the various points I made from the literature I'd faxed him yesterday. The thought of possible joint damage seemed burned into his brain and the topic of the difference in dose between what was done in studies and in this protocol did little to change his mental block about taking that plunge.

I have my doubts that Zithromax is going to do the trick, and didn't honestly think he'd just give me the Baytril to take home with the Penecillin G to do it myself. The Zithromax still had not come in and so will probably be delivered in a day or so to my house. Although it's a broad-spectrum antibiotic it has its limitations. We will probably be revisiting this issue in a few days.

We discussed getting ahold of the neuro vet and Dr. Norwood said he thought he'd hear something tomorrow, but as we were talking a nurse entered to tell him that Dr. Johnson was on the phone right then! He left the room to get the phone and my friend and I waited with baited breath to hear the outcome. In about 10-15 minutes Dr. Norwood returned. I looked to see if the expression on his face gave any clue as to the answer but it appeared neither disappointed nor hopeful.

He filled us in on the conversation and said that the guy was on the fence about it, and understood that there were logical reasons to believe it would work, yet the fact that there had never really been a journal article written except one in '72 that was out of print now was a possible sticking point. Dr. Norwood told him that although he was not a specialist himself and that publishing was not really as big a deal to him, that to the board certified neuro vet it could be quite important, and that he must admit this was a very interesting case. He reported what he'd seen of Carmella's recovery so far with his own two eyes, and he said that although he was cautiously optimistic, there was no denying that the dog was/is showing improvement, and had really perked up in the days following the injection of NDV.

Seeing as that pad deterioration is classic for Distemper and not any other disease, and that Distemper is thought to be incurable by conventional veterinary medicine, there really was no other explanation as to why her pads had gotten so much better over the past 7 days. The antibiotics wouldn't have done it, and there were really no other factors that could be responsible other than the NDV.

Just to give all of you readers an inside look at what we're talking about I'll post before and after pictures below so you can see for yourself. Descriptions of symptoms can sometimes be open to interpretation, but pictures never lie. The difference is nothing short of dramatic, and I would venture to say, nearly miraculous!

July 22, 2008-Before NDV July 31, 2008- 7 Days After NDV
Right Front Paw Pads

July 22, 2008-Before NDV July 31, 2008-7 Days After NDV
Right Rear Paw Pads

The first picture clearly looks scaley, irritated, and crusty with overall hardening, while the second picture (the one taken after NDV was given) in both back and front paws is almost completely healed! Not only do they look better, but they are nice and soft again to the touch.

Dr. Johnson told Dr. Norwood to send over her complete medical records and he'd think about it once he'd looked them over. He has not seen these pictures, by the way; only heard Dr. Norwood's observations over the phone of the improvements in her pads, and her improved liveliness, improved apetite, etc.

When the vet tech brought Carmella to me she was very elated and wiggled her skinny body, tail and all, raised up on her hind legs and licked my face. My friend was petting her and Carmella could not contain herself from licking her too. She was so happy to be going home. I gave her a big hug and smoothed back her ears and top of her head. She seemed to be drinking it all in as though suddenly her senses were alive once more, like she'd been asleep for most of her young life, and now was discovering the world of sight, touch, and sound for the very first time.

Once home, she settled into my lap, and then chewed one of her favorite rawhide bones with bacon inside, consuming it within about 15 ninutes.

There was a spring in her step that I had never seen before, and she was riveted on me, and on every new curiosity in the environment she encountered (such as the wheel cavity of my friend's car).

or the crabapples that lay strewn across the driveway, which she attempted to down immediately every chance she got.

She has even grown a little taller in the past week she's been away, and I can really see what looks like German Shepherd and red Doberman showing now, more so than ever before. She is beginning to lose that little dog look and get a little longer as well as taller. Carmella has only gained a half a pound, but she is definitely bigger in size now. You can still see what appears to be Whippet, Greyhound, and/or Basenji, but the other two breeds I believe are in there are now becoming more prominent than they were when I first got her; as though her genetics are staging a competition among the various breeds to see which will win out. Her toes on both front feet seem to have grown disproportionately long, adding to her rather unusual brand of cuteness.

The next several days will be very important in determining where we go from here. I am really crossing my fingers that Dr. Johnson agrees to do the Central Nervous System procedure, and that we can get control of the pneumonia once and for all.

Carmella is on the mend, but it is crucial that she get the procedure as soon as possible, as she still seems to be experiencing some balance problems intermittantly, and clumsiness going up and down steps. Dr. Norwood wondered whether that might just be weakness, but both my friend and I definitely saw her stumble and get off-balance a few times after she came home.

My 10% sale has one more day left. If you usually give to animal shelters keep in mind that these places have alot more resources than the owners of these sick puppies do, and your money may or may not go to pay for the healthcare of the dogs. In this case you are helping a dog in need directly, not paying salaries, or for brochures, and in return you get a great piece of jewelry! Please make this a success so that Carmella can get all the help she needs. She deserves the chance at a normal life.

The ad slots on my blog will continue to be for sale at $5.00 apiece. Be sure to get some PR by going to the bottom of the list that says "Are You In My Top Spots?" and clicking on the little heart so that you can sign up.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Baby Is Finally Coming Home!

Well, Carmella is coming home from the vet's tomorrow! I can hardly wait to give her a big hug! Although the issue of the one discontinued antibiotic has yet to be resolved, it may not be disasterous as long as Dr. Norwood sends some oral antibiotics home with her that are strong enough to get rid of all the pneumonia.

He left early today, but according to the vet tech she is much more energetic today than yesterday, barking like crazy at other dogs who pass by, and her breathing is better, although there is still occasional raspiness.

This journey has been tenuous and often precarious, not knowing where the next help is going to come from, if all the stars are alligned just right to have each step come out as planned, and not to fall through the cracks, and we are only halfway there. My dog and I are like marathon runners hoping to find a glass of water outstretched by a benevolent stranger on the side of the road at the right moment when we're about to run out of steam and "hit the wall", just hoping it will be enough to sustain us through the next leg of the race. In this case it is a race against time, a Rubick's grenade still threatening to explode in our hands if anything should fail.

As much as we appreciate the well wishes, there is still the bill looming menacingly like a wolf at the door, and more yet to come. If we could add even $5.00 for each well wish, at least that would be more in Paypal than we have now. There are only two full days left on the 10% off sale and so far I have had no luck yet; not one little purchase all week. Is my style missing the mark or is everyone's account empty? I know that can't be so because people are still buying something on Etsy, otherwise it would not continue to stay afloat.

There have been a few kind souls who have helped promote us and for that I am thankful.

Check out

and also

There is still the matter hanging over our heads as to when and by whom this CSF procedure will be done. We must remember that a cure for the body does not prevent the virus in the brain and spinal chord from continuing to grow and wreak its havoc. They cannot leave her half-treated and expect her to be OK, and we must not be lulled into the illusion that because she's more energetic and her pneumonia is much better that we can just leave it at that. We must see this thing through all the way. I just hope when she comes home that "out of sight" to the vet does not translate to "out of mind".

A friend who lived near the office where Dr. Johnson, the neuo vet has his practice, went over there earlier today to advocate for Carmella and me and get him to return Dr. Norwood's call as soon as possible. The receptionist seemed somewhat oblivious, eyes glazed over from all the emergencies she'd seen come in there (the place does alot of emergency medicine). They don't yet know how truly special Carmella is, but they will.

Items of jewelery continue to be added to my online store, so help Carmella get well and purchase something today! With love and action all things are possible.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Forward, Backward, Side Step, Side Step

Today was such a bixed bag of news and developments I'm not really sure how to interpret it.

As has been the case for the past several weeks, I spent most of the day working to actively affect a positive outcome for Carmella. Things seemed to be looking up, then down, and then what can only be described as lateral.

The first part of the day seemed to confirm that Carmella was a very special dog in that the scientific community may (if everything goes as planned) come to consider her an extremely rare example of a puppy whose recovery would meet the stringent requirements set forth for write-up in credible medical journals.

Although over 600 dogs have apparently been cured of Distemper, most of those would not reach the standard of evidence maintained by professionals in the field of mainstream veterinary medicine. A diamond nestled in amongst tons of quartz, it was certainly looking as though at least up until late this afternoon that Carmella might fit the criteria.

That was until the course of her treatment took an unexpected turn. Dr. Sears spoke with Dr. Norwood by phone this afternoon and he did seem encouraged at the improvement she showed, but both he and I were unaware that her Baytril (one of the antibiotics which was combined with Penecillin G) had been discontinued after only one day of treatmentfor the pneumonia that went hand in hand with the deadly disease.

According to the written material in Dr. Sears' protocol, both antibiotics are to be given together in a shot, IM, twice a day for a full 7 days. The lack of Baytril for 6 out of those days may account for why she still had raspy breathing after most of that time-frame and that although improved, the pneumonia was still not gone.

Apparently such dogs treated with the Baytril and Pencillin G combination have quite a remarkable improvement after the full course.

Her pads are much better as a result of the NDV to treat her body for Distemper, but Dr. Norwood told me that he was worried about the risk of joint problems developing from Baytril while she was growing. As of yet, I do not know what the impact of this deviation from the instructions might be, it may just slow down her progress; not stop it. Time will tell. Dr. Norwood is in the process of ordering Zithromax to use in it's place.

Dr. Sears go-between, Daveyo was flabberghasted and went into all-out emergency mode. Currently living for a few years in Thailand, he immediately suggested I give her the injections myself or get a nurse to do that. There it is much more common to do that kind of thing, as their whole system is different than ours and they can get most anything without prescription. Given the set of circumstances where I live, with no car, not many people who can give me rides places, and never having given a shot in my entire life, I'm not sure how feasible it is to do it myself or go looking in facilities where nurses are employed for such help.

People here are so terrified of "liability" even when it's unwarranted, so I just can't imagine such a thing happening in the US. If I walked up to a nurse and said to her "Excuse me, but would you mind injecting my dog for me?" I'd either be carted off to jail or to the loony bin. At the very least I suspect I'd be met with "Are you nuts! I'm not going to lose my license to inject your DOG!" I don't know, maybe I'm a chicken, but I'd rather leave the injecting to the vets. I don't even know how diabetics can inject themselves without stabbing some vital organ by accident. I remember some of the die-hards in the human autoimmune community subculture doing some pretty drastic and often downright gruesome things to make themselves well in the absence of adequate medical support, and that's just not me.

I realize this may result in a longer inpatient stay for her at the vet's, but maybe he'll take some off the bill if it turns out he discontinued the drug prematurely and decides to go back to Plan A.

Tonight I looked around to see the pros and cons of giving Baytril to a puppy and although many sources say it's not recommended, upon closer inspection of the variables in these studies the dosages they used in clinical trials are alot higher (we're talking only 0.5cc of Baytril used on our protocol).

Sometimes doing what's counterintuitive on the face of it is really the right choice, and I seem to be blessed with good critical thinking skills, so maybe to state "it is often not recommened in young dogs" was an overgeneralization on the part of those doing the studies. One must take into account not only what you read in clinical trials, but also what is left unstated or de-emphasized.

If more than 600 dogs have been quietly given this treatment along with the NDV behind the scenes over the duration of Dr. Sears' carreer don't you think we would have seen horror stories rather than success stories? At around age 71 and retired, Dr. Sears still gets so many inquiries he has to guard his phone number so that he can live his life, much like a celebrity ducking out of sight in order to keep ahead of the papparazzi. I had almost given up on his responding to our communications until I heard that he'd spoken with my vet on the phone today.

I found a chart regarding cartilage toxicity in young dogs and at 2.5mg/kg, at 2-15 weeks of age, Labradors suffered no ill effects even when given the drug for 30 days! Carmella would be about 14 weeks old right now.

Another interesting finding (but you have to read the chart carefully to get the significance of it) is that mixed breed dogs tended to be more resistent to joint damage overall. It did not appear that 7 days of Baytril had any deleterious effects whatsoever.

We are still waiting to hear from the neuro vet, Dr. Johnson as to whether he is willing to administer the CSF Newcastle injection/tap procedure. Dr. Norwood has placed a call to him but he was tied up with patients and the receptionist took his name and number, saying she'd have him return the call.

It's beginning to feel like Chinese water-torture as this drags out. I look forward to being able to take Carmella home and have all these horrors behind us.

Daveyo told me that I must be very careful not to get her wet or give her a bath for 1 month after the shot/tap into the CSF; the final leg of the treatment, because her pneumonia could flare back up and kill her rather rapidly. Meanwhile I can use a very mildly damp cloth on her to spot-clean her and put baby powder on her to keep her from getting too stinky, then make sure to dry her completely.

My 10% sale is still going on, so help Carmella get well and buy jewelry!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fallen Limbs On The Road-Who Will Remove Them?

Today I tried calling Dr. Sears' old practice to get a message to him, and the receptonist was very snotty and flat out refused, saying "We have another vet now and he has nothing to do with Dr. Sears or his treatment for Distemper".

I verified that in fact they still use Dr. Sears' name on their clinic and I said to her that in otherwords what she was saying is that they have no problem "ethically" profitting off his reputation, yet when it comes down to it they are saying they don't want to endorse or help him in any way, and are essentially undercutting him and his efforts.

In fact, they are willing to go so far not to help him or those whose dogs could benifit from his discovery that they're willing to purposely block attempts to connect with him, thus letting dogs get worse and eventually, if left only half-treated, die!

She ended up just about hanging up on me only after saying if it would "make you feel better I'll take your number but I won't call and give him the message". She asked me rhetorically if there were anything else she could "help" me with, to which I said, "Yes, you could be a part of the solution rather than part of the problem".

Then after telling me she had "other calls" she said snottily, "Have a nice day" and proceeded to hang up. I reminded her that I was paying for this call, and saved her the trouble. With the little money I have I should not have to deal with wasting it on the recipients' willful disobedience and such mean-spiritedness. What audacity!

I believe that karma is real and those who help will be blessed. Those vets and others who go out of the way to make this hard...well, we'll see how they fare when it's their turn. For better or for worse, the world they help create is the one they'll have to live in tomorrow.

Daveyo is working with the Mayo clinic right now on a major breakthrough; a link to and possible cure for human Multiple Sclerosis, so if those boobs who bought out Dr. Sears' former practice want to start creating obstacles...well, ahem...Just sayin! Things have a way of becoming a number one priority really fast when it's your own loved-one affected. Unfortunately when you wait until you need it yourself it could be too little too late.

We humans really owe a debt of gratitude to all the dogs that have contributed through research (and sometimes given their lives) to further human research to cure human diseases. So before anyone trivializes the life of a "mere" dog, keep that in mind. Often dogs are chosen to be the subject of clinical trials because their bodies are most like ours, especially organs like the heart (more so even than Chimpanzees who are thought to be our closest relatives). I learned this after having worked on a human research team for 2 years. This is not to say that experiments that sacrifice or cause suffering in dogs are OK or right (they are not), but we really owe them for the sacrifices they've made for our health.

When I spoke with the vet tech today on the phone he said Carmella's pads were continuing to improve and that she is not coughing or throwing up as much, and that she is barking when she sees other dogs go past her. Those are all good signs.

They're thinking she'll need to be on an inpatient basis until around the 30th of this month; until Thursday or Friday. I miss her and really wish I could be there to watch her improvement and take more pictures, but will do so again as soon as she comes home. I wish I could pick her up and hold her right now.

Dr. Norwood was in surgery most of the day, so I was not able to find out anything about arrangements for the NDV CSF shot or the neuro vet at the practice he was checking. I don't have any information yet on whether we're any closer to a committment by another vet to do this thing than we were on Friday. When I called back closer to 6:00 pm tonight they had put the voicemail on and there was no way to leave a message. I'll have to try again tomorrow.

Last night I signed up for a service called Scratchback so that now I can sell advertising on my blog. This will help raise money for Carmella in addition to my 10% off sale in my Etsy store.

If you are interested, please click on the little heart on the bottom right-hand side of my blog below where you see the words "Are You In My Top Spots". That will take you to a web form and it only costs $5.00 per ad via Paypal. This is one great way you can help Carmella if you'd like to help but can't afford to buy my jewelry. I'm going to assume the best; that people out there reading really do care and want to do something more than just wish her well. Besides, it's a way to get some low-cost advertising for your business.

I will receive an e-mail notifying me you're interested and then I can go in and manually approve you. Anything that is not "objectionable" by most people's standards is welcome. Then, once I approve you, your ad should show up in one of those slots. Who will be the first? I have signed up for the auto-bump option which means that your ad will stay on the list until after the number of ads reaches 21 and then it will bump each down one until the one at the bottom falls off.

Still keeping the faith...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The First Signs Of Improvement!

You are not going to want to miss this update! Carmella showed her first noticeable signs of improvement in only two days after the administration of the Newcastle's Virus Vaccine protocol!

I spoke with the vet tech this morning and he informed me that the deteriorating pads of her feet were markedly better! The office is only open half a day on Saturday but I was dying to find out how she was doing, and this news really lets me know that I'm on the right track.

If anyone assumes Distemper is hopeless then you might just have to revise your thinking because this works!

Now all we have to do is find a neuro vet to deliver the Newcastle's Disease Vaccine to the Central Nervous System to get rid of any remaining virus in that area, and finish up the twice a day antibiotic injections for her pneumonia.

Dr. Sears is due back from his trip to California tomorrow, and I hope, will make phone contact with Dr. Norwood on Monday.

Dr. Norwood is going to try to get a committment from a vet at a practice he knows about on the other side of town and I hope the way will be paved for us to finish the neuro part of this as early in the week as possible.

The longer these consults take to agree to do the procedure the more she runs the risk of neurologicasl disease-progression, as the serum given by IV does not cross the blood-brain barrier.

Think of the brain and spinal chord as a sealed chamber. Distemper accessed that space via the lungs, but it appears it doesn't work the other way around when treating the body.

It is neurological disease-progression that eventually kills the dog in late stage distemper. That's why it is so vitally important that this second part of the protocol be done as soon as we can get it scheduled. The vet doing it must be skilled in doing spinal taps because the delivery of the substance is done through an LP needle at the base of the skull in an area dangerously close to the spinal chord. If that spinal chord is nicked it can result in paralysis or worse.

Carmella will be placed under general anesthesia, and some spinal fluid will be withdrawn to be analyzed for the level of virus found in it, then the Newcastle Vaccine substance is injected via the same route. This should rid her of any remaining virus threatening her Central Nervous System. She could have seizures or temporary paralysis afterwards, not as a reaction to the procedure, but a delayed reaction to whatever the virus has already done. She will need to be watched closely during the following days and given supportive care until she is stable. Once she is over that crucial period the danger will have passed and she can focus on regaining any function, strength, and weight she lost over the course of the disease while it was active.

The literature says she may have a few quirky things over a 30 day period after this procedure and then any fluctuations should settle down, then at around 50 days she will start to make gains. Her rehabilitation could take up to a year to become complete.

Be sure to check out the handcrafted jewelry in my online shop. For a full week receive 10% off on your purchases. Doing so will help pay down the bills that are piling up for Carmella's medical care. Instead of sending your money to a shelter why not help a dog directly and get a piece of wearable art in return that you will treasure for years to come.

Tears of Joy
(from the Carmella Collection)

Too often it is the owner who ends up cleaning up the mess the shelter created when it failed to give adequate booster vaccinations to young puppies like Carmella. I can almost guarantee you that no shelter is going to go to these lengths once the damage has been done. You can be a part of the solution while you buy quality art jewelry you can be proud of.

Cascading Pea Sprouts
(From the Carmella Collection)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Today's Search for a Neuro Vet

So far we have not had any luck finding a neurological vet or someone with experience doing spinal taps to do this procedure. A friend of mine had given me several names and I started with her own vet first.

It turned out he and Dr. Norwood new each other, but instead of being excited at learning of a possible new cure this guy was wary right off the bat. He immediately said he was afraid of liability (from whom I wonder when Carmella would die for sure if she does not have it). If he's worried about liability he should be more worried about his failure to act killing her than the treatment. It really burns me up when people think it's better to allow some living thing to die needlessly than to lift a finger and give it much better odds of living and even being completely fixed up. This guy just doesn't get the risk/benefit concept at all.

He said he'd have to "read up on it" yet he barely listened to take down the researcher's e-mail address and some of the sites that went into greater detail about what this entails. Instead, he promptly told me he was going to call my vet and talk to him, and it appeared that he went fear-mongering to try to dissuade him from helping. It didn't work though and I got a call from Dr. Norwood telling me that he would still work with us and that we'd persue other doctors. That was a relief.

Then no more than 5 or 10 minutes later this other guy called back and in a very edgy tone informed me that this was "experimental", the dog's prognosis because of her diagnosis is "poor", and that he couldn't do it. I told him that it was precisely the fact that her prognosis is poor that made this a good move because this is the only shot we have to save the dog, otherwise it is a 100% certainty that she WILL DIE sooner or later if the virus in the Central Nervous System is left untreated. I guess that was OK with him but it wasn't OK with me. I mean come on! Isn't any doctor's duty to preserve life? Letting a dog die when there is something you can do about it is downright cruel, especially the kind of horrible death a dog with Distemper has.

This other vet (I will call him Dr. T because I don't want to print his name here) seemed personally angry and offended that Dr. Norwood was not going to be deterred from this and he said nastily, "Dr. Norwood is going way out on a limb to do as much as he has so far, so I sure hope you appreciate it!"

I said "Yes, I sure do! He's great!" That only seemed to make him more pissed. Needless to say we did not stay on the phone much longer and he told me again that he couldn't do it, and I said OK and that was the end of that. I wondered why Dr. T felt compelled to try to sabotage this effort rather than just say no and walk away if he personally didn't want to help. Was he in bed with some drug company that manufactured maintenence meds for dogs dying of Distemper, or did he feel some sort of twisted sense of indignation that anyone would spend so much time and money on saving a dog when he felt he'd been neglected in his lifetime and didn't have people come through for him. Whatever it was it was a very strange reaction and no help, to say the least.

I am running on fumes right now, chronically sleep-deprived, unable to really rest until I know this has been completed and that Carmella is on the mend. My sleep at night is fitful and I wake up feeling as if I may as well have just stayed up and never gone to bed.

Today I decided to go ahead and start a week-long sale in my Etsy store giving any buyer who purchases between today; Saturday, July 26th, and Friday, August 1st a 10% discount. I don't normally believe in sales, but in this circumstance if it will bring in some badly needed income I'm willing to do it. Carmella's life is worth it. In case you don't already have it the URL is

As of yet we have still not heard from Dr. Sears. He is thought to be filling in for a vet in California but we aren't sure where. Daveyo has tried to send an urgent message to him but he seems to be out of computer contact wherever he is.

I am going to try to locate him by calling his old practice in Lancaster. Maybe somebody there still keeps in touch with him.

With all the legwork I've been doing there must be someone who will come through for us soon and step up to the plate. This last part is relatively simple if the right players cooperate to set things up. As I've always said; "With love and action all things are possible." Good luck comes when everyone pulls together toward a common goal to be part of the solution.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Half The Battle Won!

This morning we waited expectantly for the serum to be delivered to the vet and when it came in he administered it by I.V. Carmella came through that part with flying colors!

Dr. Norwood called me around 2:00 pm to give me an update on her condition and said she was eating and drinking and was showing no ill effects. Yay!

When I asked if he was about to do the other shot into the Central Nervous System he told me at that moment that he had never done a spinal tap of any kind, only observed one and that he didn't feel qualified to do that part. My jaw dropped. Until that point I thought he was ready to do the whole thing and I said, "Well if she's got the virus there too then how are we going to get rid of it all if the serum given in the body can't cross the blood-brain barrier?" He admitted that posed a problem but seemed terrified at the thought that he might kill her in the process if there was one wrong move with that needle.

As nice as he is, nevertheless, I wondered why he waited until then to tell me this. We could have called around a week ago to find a vet who had done spinal taps before when we realized this would probably need to be done in order to achieve a full cure and prevent neurological disease-progression in brain and spinal canal.

Last night I kept waking up startled, then going back to sleep, just to jolt awake again. This is a tricky procedure and a vet does really have to know his stuff to pull it off. One lady on a Distemper forum told me that her vet in Indonesia had no choice but to do it herself because the closest vet who was really qualified was 18 hours away by land and then about 12 more hours by plane. The statistics say that the chances of ending up with a dead dog are 99% on a vet's first try, and this woman was lucky that her vet fell into that 1% of successes, having no experience.

I was somewhat exhasperated when my vet balked at the last minute like that but felt that if he was really that unsure of himself it would be best for another vet to do that part. I just wish he'd told me this in the beginning so we could have had one arranged to give the CNS shot within 48 hours of the shot for her body.

After checking to see whether this would be disasterous I finally got word from one of my contacts that the time-frame between the two parts may not be near as crucial as the time-frame for giving the first shot. The figure I got was that the spinal tap injection should be done 48-72 hours later. I guess if I can't arrange for it to be done until Monday it won't ruin anything. I just don't have an answer yet as to what the maximum time would be safe to wait.

First I called UGA College of Veterinary Medicine and they weren't too helpful, telling me to have my vet call the Referral Coordinator and then they would make an appointment (no idea how soon that would be or whether they'd do the procedure if I miraculously found a ride down there). "No way" I thought. "We don't have that kind of time to be messing around with a bunch of beaurocracy at a time like this, then to possibly have to convince a vet on the spur of the moment I knew nothing about that she needs this and that it will save her life if he didn't know it already". I knew that if I found somebody to drive me and a sick dog all the way to Athens, Georgia and I got some arrogant clinic doctor who only wanted to believe Distemper is fatal 100% of the time and scoffed at this treatment, I was going to be hopping mad! Who even knows if they have the serum there anyhow or whether they'd have it in hand when I got there? I took down the number of the Coordinator, but turned my attention to any other options I could think of that did not involve going on what could be a wild goose chase.

Then an old friend popped into my mind from over 2 years ago who used to work as a manager for a mobil vaccination clinic that set up shop each weekend in pet supply stores. She was always calling vets to cover the various weekends and I remember she had about 9 of them who rotated. Most of them seemed like liberal types who really believed in making the health of the animal top priority, so I thought if anyone would do it she would likely have some names from there she could give me.

I e-mailed her and waited for a response. My heart sank when I received none. It began to grow dark and I thought she must be home by then, so I called, still finding her number inside my address book, and got an answering machine. I left as much information as I could hoping she was just in the bathroom or drying her hands before she could get to the phone and finally hung up, seeing as she didn't seem to be there. Then I went to my computer and started writing Daveyo to see if there was any word from Dr. Sears but nothing there either.

Then the phone rang again and it was someone from the shelter calling from my phone message yesterday when I had tried to reach them and couldn't. I told the woman that Carmella had distemper and she remembered her well (apparently she was a favorite of the staff) and was horrified when I told her the news. "I am so sorry", she said, "I guess sorry doesn't even cover it". I told her how my vet noticed in the records that she'd only had one Distemper vaccine while there and no boosters, and that he said a puppy as young as she was when they picked her up should have had them every 2-3 weeks to fully protect them, and how each vet check showed no weight documented and just said "normal", and how I was not told anything was wrong with her other than a slight scratched eye until after I'd signed all the papers and paid the adoption fee. Then I told her about the treatment she had to have to save her life and that now we were out on a limb until we could locate a vet to do the rest of it. She said she hoped I found one and said she would give the information to the shelter director. I gave her the links to the formula Dr. Sears had written on how to make the serum or get it pre-made, and to the forum on Distemper that was connected with Dr. Sears and Daveyo. She thanked me and I asked her whether she had another number where I could reach her if I needed to and she said they didn't have extensions. I told her that half the time they don't answer the phone or put it on hold or on a recording so that was not good. She did give me her e-mail address and she told me she'd look into getting treatment for her other dogs and that she would stay in touch.

I convoed a few people on Etsy while I waited to hear from any of the other people I'd contacted and then after I'd almost given up hope of hearing any news for the night the phone rang. It was Beverly on the other end (the one who worked for the mobil shot service). She sounded happy to hear from me and said she had just gotten home, that she was no longer working there, but that she did keep a husband and wife team of vets who used to work for the service as her personal vet for her dog. She told me that one of her two Pomeranians had died of congestive heart failure and so did her son's dog, Zephyr, but that she had both of her other dogs, although one was getting old and starting to develop dementia and was mostly blind.

Beverly came up with two other vets as well. I plan to go down the list tomorrow and see if any will or can do the rest of the job. I've gotten this puppy this far, so we might as well go the whole nine yards and get rid of every last remnant of this horrible and disfiguring disease.

Once this is all over the real recovery can begin. They tell me it could take a full year for everything to return to normal, but that at around 50 days improvement should be noticeable. As for the secondary pneumonia, that is being taken care of as we speak; two shots a day of a combination antibiotic, given intramuscularly. I know Carmella will feel alot better once she can really breathe again without all that junk in her lungs.

Well, tomorrow it's back to calling around. I hope we have that part resolved by the end of the day and can look toward the final leg of this endurance test and beyond. Carmella's life has really just begun.

All proceeds from my jewelry sales will be going to pay off Carmella's vet bills.
You can help Carmella in her recovery by purchasing from

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Carmella's Big Day!

Well the moment of truth has finally arrived. The vet called me this afternoon after I'd brought Carmella over there this morning, and told me he was finally able to find a vet supply company that had Newcastle Disease Vaccine, LaSota Strain. I had no idea that there would be any difficulty finding or buying it, but he encountered alot of barriers along the way. Some companies would only sell it in mass quantities that he could never use up in his own practice, and many other suppliers were actually out of stock.

After much searching he was able to locate one good source and they are going to overnight ship it to him to arrive tomorrow morning. It is arriving none too soon, as the rate of her decline is making this an emergency situation very fast.

Carmella didn't eat very well this morning, leaving half a can of dogfood sitting in her bowl, and still would only drink yogurt juice. Before taking a taxi to the vet's I gave her as much yogurt juice as I could, and took her outside to go to the bathroom. The cab company now charges $5.00 if you don't have your dog in a cage and $1.00 additional if it is caged. I put one of her pillows in there so that she would be comfortable, and she crawled right into it on her own.

Once at the vet's this morning I spoke with a man in the waiting room who was there to have his grey and white Schitzu groomed and we talked for awhile as we waited for the receptionist. He mentioned to me that his wife had once bought a dog from a pet shop that was sick and he insisted she take it back and get her money back although she was attached to it. She finally relented although she really didn't want to, and they did return her money. I told him that the shelter I got Carmella from had you sign a disclaimer, but that even if they hadn't I could never return her as if she was a defective product from a store. I picked her out from a long list of dogs I'd seen both online and at various shelters after several months of being extremely picky. When I found her, that was the dog I wanted, there was no doubt about it, and it would take a thousand armies to tear us apart. I found myself wanting to ask him if he would trade in his wife or his child for a new model the first time they got really sick. His story left me feeling very uneasy, as I knew it was a sign of the times. I looked at Carmella in her carrier and thought "No way would I ever do that to you". She looked back at me and I could tell she knew it too. This dog would follow me to hell and back and I am prepared to return the favor. If that made me a relic, I thought, then so be it. We are all going to be old and get sick one day, and I would hope that when that time comes all of us will have somebody by our side willing to do whatever is necessary, and I am a strong believer that we help create the world we will one day have to live in, so we'd best make it a compassionate one.

After about 15 minutes a nurse came out and called me to bring Carmella into a room. She asked me how she was doing and I filled her in on the sudden hardening of her pads last night and her reduction in apetite this morning. She had been the first one in that office I'd spoken with on the phone before the first visit and remembered my saying that Carmella looked like a Dingo, and she commented on that again, saying how extremely cute she was. I told her I hoped that Dr. Norwood had the serum and was ready to treat her because I was really worried with the developments of the night before that she would suffer neurological damage. Time was ticking away on my beautiful puppy's life, each minute lost, like a leaf of lettuce being peeled away, leaving a bare and vulnerable center which was her life force. The nurse looked at me from behind black-rimmed glasses and I thought I saw a slight tearing of her eyes, fleeting, but nevertheless very real and very human. I knew that she would take extra special care of my best buddy, as she saw in her what I do; that majestic spirit, that awe-inspiring presence like a tamed wild animal which made it impossible to resist her.

The nurse told me that Carmella was the first dog with Distemper they'd ever had in their practice and that she'd heard about it but had never seen if first-hand until now. She told me that some time ago several shelters had been shut down after an outbreak was reported on the news, but they seemed to be different ones than the one Carmella came from. Even so, it just goes to show that this disease clearly has not been eradicated in this country.

I wonder whether dogs are getting it from wild animals displaced by the destruction of the forest. I remember recently reading about a breed not yet recognized by the American Kennel Club called the Carolina Dog which is thought to be related to the Dingo and wonder now if maybe some Dingoes were released or got loose after having been brought over from Australia. If they'd mixed with domestic dogs then there is an off chance that Carmella could actually be mixed with Dingo, although how recently that would have been in the bloodline is a mystery to me. For that matter I guess someone with a taste for exotic pets could have brought one over recently (I hear you can order just about anything over the internet these days if you can get it cleared through customs), a dog like that could have bred with a domesticated dog. If one became a stray and was not current on their vaccines the puppies may not have inherited any immunity from the mother and contracted the disease or got it from the mother (already infected). Who knows? In any case it sounds plausible to me given the current state of our environment. If bears and wolves show up in suburbia why not Dingos or half-breed Dingos? One has to wonder where these diseases re-emerge from after they were assumed to be almost non-existant in the US nowadays.

After returning home I immediately got online and checked to see whether Dr. Sears had received the message and my vet's phone number to call him. but found out later from Dr. Norwood that he had still not called.

Upon speaking with my vet by phone we decided that Carmella should stay for 7 days in which time all the intensive treatment could be completed, she could be observed closely for any adverse effects, and have medical intervention close at hand just in case it should be needed. This made good sense since I don't have a car and there is only one person I know who could take me over there in the evenings after work, but nobody in the morning, as she will need 2 antibiotic shots a day to fully clear up the pneumonia after receiving the Newcastle's Disease Virus Vaccine I.V. and spinal tap procedure injecting the second dose into the Central nervous system to be sure all traces of Distemper virus are eradicated from brain and spinal chord.

The doctor advised me that because the serum he was using was bird-based rather than dog-based there could be some risks associated with that, but admitted he had really no way fast enough to find a donor dog in the time-frame Carmella would need, so we would have to proceed with the pre-made serum. At this point we have nothing to lose because left untreated she would surely die. I had hoped Dr. Sears would have been able to contact Dr. Norwood in time to send him the dog-based stuff, but with Carmella's recent disease-progression that one or two days might be too long to wait.

After our conversation on the phone, Dr. Norwood faxed me copies of Carmella's test results in case Dr. Sears got in contact with the guy working with him (Daveyo) before he called him.

Then I checked back with Daveyo on the two Distemper messageboards and found that he'd gotten back to me with some more instructions and information about what to expect in the days following the treatment, based on Carmella's current condition.

He said that it is very possible that after both initial shots Carmella might start having seizures or become paralyzed. The first 48 hours after the treatment the immune system goes through a storm, killing the Distemper virus. Soon after, a delayed reaction of the damage that was ensuing becomes fully apparent. This could take about 50 days to start resolving. He assured me that if she does suffer the paralysis it was easier to heal than if she had seizures and not to panic. This sounds very similar to what I was told about my own autoimmune disease protocol (the worstening before it gets better due to a Herxheimer reaction; temporary exascerbation of symptoms while the bacteria is flushed through the tissues and out of the body).

In this case we are dealing with a virus rather than bacteria, but I suspect the same thing is happening when shedding the virus as it's killed. It could be that the toxins released on Distemper's way out of the dog result in increased inflammation of the tissues and organs, and that accounts for the increase in symptoms indicative of which areas had been affected before eradication.

Since my vet has not done this before he told me he'd do his best and do everything in his power but that he couldn't guarantee anything.

I cannot say that I'm not worried, but Carmella's silent strength is part of what endeared me to her in the first place and it is that strength that will give her the ability to beat this virus. She knows that I'm not going to give up on her and that she's home and I'm not going anywhere.

If I have to work with her every day for the next year to get her functioning back to normal, I'm prepared to do that, but she may surprise us all and bounce back alot sooner.

There is something about her that doesn't quit, determined to live to see the day that she can jump into my arms (until she's too big), run, and play, and chew on her toys, chase a ball and bring it back, eat voraciously, and enjoy a long drink of water, to breathe in the warm summer air without coughing or congestion, to learn tricks, and go for long walks, basking in the sun, her reddish-brown fur healthy and glistening.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Carmella-The Night Before

Carmella goes back to the vet tomorrow. Today she seemed to be battling back and forth with her illness, a few hours looking better but then another few, worse.

She ate all her food but still does not feel like drinking water. She will drink yogurt juice more enthusiastically, and I tried to scoop as much of that out for her as I could. She needs all the nutrition she can get right now.

It is pretty well confirmed now that she does have Distemper, but she is fighting this thing with everything she's got.

There was a period around 3:00 pm today when it looked like she felt alot better, but then when I checked on her this evening around 6:00 I noticed that her paws are starting to get crusty on the pads. This is not a good sign and it means disease-progression. If you have never seen a dog with this symptom before here is what it looks like.

I was flabberghasted that this appeared in only a few hours, and I knew right then that I had to document it. Maybe this will help other dogs get early diagnosis and treatment. Just this morning her pads looked fine. This is terrifying.

I faxed over detailed instructions developed by the specialist on the procedure and then spoke to the vet on the phone around 3:00 pm and told him I think we need to move on this ASAP. He agreed. Tomorrow I'm bringing her in between 8:00 and 9:00 AM and she'll be with them all day so that they can take the bladder smear and hopefully by then the doctor will have the life-saving serum to give her. It took some searching to find a vet supply company that carried it, but I found one in Georgia after some researching online. I hope it can be shipped fast. There is no time to waste.

Carmella has been peeing alot and seems to need to go alot more often than most puppies at this age. Tonight the diarrhea came back after she ate her dinner, probably within 5 minutes after she'd eaten. I took her out on the leash right away and no sooner had she found a suitable spot, she went.

The stuff she coughed up tonight was slightly greyish-brownish white (like the color of gravy made with flour), not greenish as it had been before.

So far I have not had any jewelry sales yet since this all began. If you have not done so I hope you'll take a look at my Etsy store at and make a purchase. I now have three pairs of earrings in my Carmella Collection, but if you can't afford those I also have more modest-priced pieces available as well, and I will be adding more jewelry of various types.

 I hope to God my money holds out through this process. It looks as though she may have to take many more trips to the vet. Since I am not able to drive because of my own medical condition and friends cannot always take us, we must sometimes take taxis. The short distance can still be rather expensive; much more so than the cost of gas itself! Eeek!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Carmella's Test Results

I just spoke with the vet, Dr. Norwood, on the phone and the word is that Carmella's two smears from conjunctiva and vagina showed no inclusion bodies of Distemper. Even so, that still does not difinitively rule it out, because her antibodies for it have actually increased. This is a paradox in that although she was vaccinated in May and that could account for the appearance of antibodies, the vet said that it is less likely because usually all antibodies associated with vaccination would probably have cleared by now. The question that continues to nag at my mind is "How could she even get Distemper if she was in fact vaccinated?"

Carmella resting on my knee

Based on the general dishonesty of the shelter she came from, their witholding of important information, and failure to document certain things, I find myself wondering if they "didn't and said they did". I certainly hope that is not the case.

I am supposed to bring her in on Wednesday in the morning so that the vet can do a culture of cells from the bladder which requires that she be sedated, so it may take a few hours, and then I'll pick her up in the evening. That test will take 3 days to get results back, but it is the most definitive test currently known to rule in or out Distemper.

Carmella doesn't seem to be getting worse at this point but she also seems to have reached a plateau. She continues to cough and have fluid in the lungs although she coughs less frequently.

She has spurts of energy, yet probably is not as energetic as she would be if she was completely free of disease. She is not near as responsive as she was the first day I saw her and although she will come when called, she often seems a little slow to respond and kind of spacey.

My vet e-mailed the expert, Dr. Sears in California, and is waiting for his response as to what to do next and when or if he should go ahead and treat her. The new treatment poses certain problems in that he found out he might need some additional equipment to mix up the Castleman's vaccine in the office. I am praying that there is a way for it to be done in the time-frame we need, if that is necessary. Waiting too long could result in irreversible neurological damage and at that point it would be too late.

This new development about the increased antibodies worries me, as it could mean the beginning of another stage in the disease, and this period of relative calm, just a short pause before a more menacing onslaught.

Meanwhile I am getting as much nutrition into her as possible, and I continue giving her all her medication on schedule, giving her lots of love, and rest.

I feel as if an ominous cloud is hanging over us, not willing to relinquish its stranglehold.

This vet is hanging in there with us, and I'm thankful for that. He seems to have taken this on as a personal battle, and maybe that will be our saving grace; all the difference between life and death.

I need to work on another pair of earrings today in the Carmella Collection. Putting one foot in front of the other. I continue to check my shop in hopes that the financial part of this will start to resolve.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Update on Carmella

Carmella pawing at an ant in my driveway

Carmella is doing better after adding a second antibiotic twice a day. She's beginning to spend less time sleeping, starting to look around her surroundings, and is more interested in playing.

You can see in the picture above where they shaved the hair off her front legs to give her the IV last weekend. She has a beautiful coat and it is getting even more lustrous by the day the more she is nursed back to health.

Her energy is coming back and she is beginning to act more like other puppies her age, yet she seems to have an "old soul" perhaps because of what she has been through at this tender age. Although I wouldn't wish hardship on anybody, it has a way of imparting wisdom beyond one's years.

Once barely eating a handful of dog food, she now downs a can of the prescription food the vet sent her home with twice a day and her apetite seems to be increasing. Soon she will probably put the weight on that she should have for her age. She may have gained a little already but I cannot see or feel a big increase yet. It may take some time to undo the malnutrition she suffered for several months at the shelter and possibly before that, on the street.

The vet wants to see her again in about 8 more days, and we're still waiting to hear the results of a few more tests, but things seem to be looking up.

The past few days I've been working on this new Carmella Collection of wedding appropriate jewelry and taking lots of pictures of Carmella. She is truly something special!

The pieces in my Carmella Collection are really worth more than I'm pricing them, but I am pricing them this way in hopes that those who see them will consider it worth their while to go ahead and purchase them now rather than wait, help with Carmella's medical expenses, and get something really nice in return. I'm not asking for a hand-out, just a hand up so that I can extend that help to this precious creature who definitely deserves the best!

I know that times are tough throughout the US right now and many are faced with harrowing decisions and daunting life circumstances; lay-offs, cuts in benefits, difficulty finding work, foreclosures, and slow sales in business, but if you can find it in your heart and your wallet your purchase would be greatly appreciated at this time.

There are many more out there, who like Carmella, must rely on the kindness of strangers to give them a chance at life and health, and although one person can't help all of them, this is a very direct way you can help if you love animals and believe in their preservation. More people will step up to the plate and adopt these animals if they know the community is behind them and they won't have to go it alone.

How can you resist this face?