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.


jill Q said...

Special prayers for you & Carmella, Pippit.

Giftbearer said...

Thanks! We're still putting one foot in front of the other.