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

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