Monday, August 11, 2008

Not So Fast...

With all the false starts in this process I think I may get whiplash. I thought this new vet was about to give the green light to the CSF procedure, that everything was pretty much set to go, but I guess I shouldn't count my chicken vaccine until it's hatched. Just when that might be seems to be anybody's guess from one day to the next.

Saturday was one of those roller coaster rides I wished I could get off, sooner rather than later. First, the trip out there by taxi cost me $22.00 each way after I realized nobody I knew could take us to the consultation and going by cab was the only option. I wasn't about to keep the guy waiting if in fact he was ready to commit, and I worried that rescheduling would only derail whatever mojo had finally been set in motion to bring this thing to a happy conclusion.

The taxi driver got lost on the way over, seeing as the Google map instructions said to turn right where it should have said left. We arrived a little early though so it didn't throw us off schedule, and I took Carmella over to a grassy area on the side of the building so she could pee, which she promptly did, not having liked being cramped up in that small cage on the way there. She was a ball of nervous energet never having been anywhere but home and Dr. Norwood's office since being brought home from that jail cell of a shelter.

The clinic was set back off the main road through a gate that looked like the entrance to a ranch, and the several hundred feet of blacktop which acted as parking lot seemed to swallow up the place. At the back of the property sat a flat rather unassuming one-story building divided in the middle by a quaint little courtyard with a plot of grass framed in rought-iron decorative fencing and a few little sculptures in the center. To the right was the front entrance with glass door and windows slightly tinted. Carmella and I went into a long waitingroom with a tile floor and decorative New Orleans style benches. To the left just beyond was a bird cage with two cocatiels inside perched atop a wooden dowel swing, and on top of the cage a black cat curled in a comfy bed. As we passed it regarded Carmella with large watchful eyes, its head turning with her as she and I walked by the first receptionist desk where a 30-ish woman with slighly longer than shoulder-length brown hair sat typing, just getting off the phone. I approached the desk and said, "Hi, this is Carmella. We have an appointment to see Dr. Brantly."

"Oh yes, " she replied smiling, looking from me to the dog. She came out from behind the desk and reached down to pet Carmella as she jumped up to lick her hand. "Hello, Carmella!" She said enthusiastically reaching into a pocket to pull out a milk bone. Carmella ravenously chewed it into a thousand little pieces, then bolted it down.The receptionist picked up a clipboard and asked, "Have you had a chance to fill out the new patient information sheet?"

"No, not yet" I answered reaching to take it from her. Carmella seemed as if she'd had a shot of adrenalin, and I found it hard to hold the leash and fill out the form too. Several more people came in with their dogs and she could hardly stand being in the room with out bounding over to them. She began whining and barking to get to where they and their owners sat, like a hound intent on the hunt. Trying to get her to sit or lie down had no effect. She was riveted on the other animals. The receptionist asked if I had the form ready and I told her I had managed somehow to get most of it done but that Carmella was pulling so much it made it hard to write. She told me they had some rooms down the hall where I could take her away from the other dogs if I wanted. We followed her down past another receptionist desk and saw two such rooms each containing one of the same ornamental rought-iron and wooden slat benches, and a magazine rack. We entered one and closed the door.

"You can let her run around free in here if you want. I'll be back in to check on you in a little while." The receptionist turned and went out closing the door behind her, and I let Carmella run around but left her leash on just in case somebody came in and she made a beeline for the door. I finished filling out the form as she investigated around the room looking for something to play with. Finding no dog toys in there, Carmella set about trying to chew the tile, the edge of the bench, my foot, her leash, and just about anything she could get her teeth on.

She crawled on her belly under the bench at one end and I heard the sound of something tearing. I looked and saw her come up with a wad of kleenex in her mouth, which she proceeded to tear into little bits of confetti. I leaned down to see a box underneath the bench to my right. Finally I had to put it on top of my napsack in order to save it from being torn to shreds.

It was quite a job to prevent her from tearing the place apart while we waited for the doctor and I hoped he would be out soon because quite frankly I was getting exhausted trying to keep Carmella from doing irreperable damage to the furniture or knawing clean through her leash. It was past 11:00 and still the doctor had not come out, and soon after a vet tech came in to take some information. She sat on the floor against the wall that had photos of Westies hanging on it and wrote in the chart as I recounted the events of the past few weeks. After she'd entered it all she got up to leave, telling me the doctor would be in soon. I waited about 15-20 more minutes with Carmella bouncing off the walls when finally there was a slight knock at the door. I grabbed Carmella's leash, and in came a man who appeared to be in his 30s or early forties with thin red hair, dressed in scrubs. Carmella was sitting on my lap at this point and he reached out to pet her introducing himself as Dr. Brantly. Carmella took this opportunity to lick his hand and when he shook my hand it was full of slobber. Yuck! Christ, where's the Kleenex now, I thought.

I thought he was going to have us go with him into another room but instead sat cross-legged on the floor. Carmella jumped off my lap and went to check him out, wagging her tail. She normally didn't take to men, especially strange men, but she seemed to know that he was no threat and immediately jumped up on him. He inconspicuously looked her over, listened to her heart and checked to see if she had any trouble with her sight by flicking his fingers in front of her eyes, talking to her as if she were just visiting somebody. I'm not sure she was even aware she was seeing a vet and that this was an examination. He certainly was not like any vet I've ever taken any of my dogs to before. He gave her a few more of those milk bones (it seemed as though that was a built in part of the place's approach), and when Carmella decided to chew on his stethoscope he just jokingly told her he couldn't afford another one of those and deftly removed it from sight, called her a "pretty little girl", petted her on the head, and began moving her by the shoulders from side to side to check her balance. She seemed to accommodate well and did not fall, but never stopped moving. I was afraid she might pee on the floor in all the excitement of the new environment but she didn't.

I asked him about the jerking she had when asleep or at rest and he said that it could be from something else other than the Distemper because it was intermittant, and of course she was not showing it then because she wasn't staying still enough.

The eventual and predictable topic came up about not having any journal articles written about thec NDV, and I told him that be that as if may, it was clear to me that this worked because she was at death's door and within two days of the IV being given her pads were already improving, and that I didn't need a bunch of research papers to tell me that my dog was dramatically better, that I'd even gotten pictures to prove it. I pointed out that all she had been given that week other than NDV were antibiotics and we all know antibiotics don't cure Distemper. I told him how ill she had been and how much her energy had come back, how well she was eating, and that she had even grown; a dog who was given a 50/50 chance of making it through the weekend when I'd first taken her to Dr. Norwood.

Dr. Brantly was not able to find several things he was looking for in the chart including Dr. Sears' number, some of the test results, and the concentration of Zithromax in the oral suspension Carmella was currently on.

He said that as he could see no clear-cut neuro symptoms at the time he wasn't in a big hurry to do the procedure, and was worried that it being so long since the NDV was given in the body may have allowed antibodies to form and that if those entered the CSF through blood when he stuck her it might cause an adverse reaction. I urged him to speak with Dr. Sears and ask him if that was likely to happen, and I also said that if that was not likely then I would like to be absolutely sure that the virus was not lurking in there to attack her later when we'd all turned our backs, and he admitted that could happen.

He said if she had been showing overt neuro symptoms in front of him he'd have gone ahead and moved on it expeditiously, but seeing as she looked pretty good he was not so sure he wanted to set it up right now.

He gave me his e-mail address and asked me to have Dr. Sears call him. I told him I would, then Carmella and I went out into the waitingroom where the receptionists were admiring her big ears and regal, arched neck, saying they were almost certain she had Pharoah Hound in her.

One receptionist called the cab I had taken on the way over and was told they could not pick up in that county.

"What do you mean you can't pick up in Gwinnet" she told the driver. "You gave her your card to come back and get her, didn't you? I've never heard anything so ridiculous. So what do you suggest she do? You can't just leave her stranded here!"

The man on the other end seemed unmoved. Finally he gave her the name of another cab company and she called to have one sent over.

I waited for quite some time and finally a large van pulled up and stopped out in the middle of the parking lot. A Jamaaiican man sat in the driver's seat idling the engine, not making a move to get out and help, as I struggled with Carmella's cage in one hand, and my napsack in the other. As I approached I asked if he could open the door. He didn't budge and I asked again.

"Excuse me, could you please open the door for me, I've got a heavy dog and both hands are full". He responded that I should just open the door. I told him I couldn't and tried to hold both up where he could see. Rather than getting out of his seat he told me just to put my bag in the front seat. I really didn't want to do that because he looked kind of questionable and unkempt, fearing he might take off with my wallet, but seeing as there was not much else I could do I took the risk, then opened the door and hauled Carmella's carrier and myself up into the back seat, then quickly grabbed my napsack and put it safely at my feet. I was nervous the whole way home thinking it looked as though he was under the influence of some illegal drug (something more than just weed). The van was in disrepair and the door handles looked as though they might come off in my hand.

I was thinking all the way home, "All this and still no appointment for the procedure! JFC!"

We made it home in one piece and I was glad to be home, as was Carmella. I let her out of her carrier, took her out on the leash, then after she'd had a chance to go to the bathroom, brought her back in. I checked my e-mail and there was a message from Dr. Sears saying he'd been in touch with Dr. Norwood, and that he was happy with the treatment and that Carmella was doing well, that he'd left a message for Dr. Brantly, and ending the e-mail saying he is very interested in following the case.

I wrote back asking a number of questions including some of the things Dr. Brantly had brought up. I also asked him how we'll know when she's cured for sure.

I took some new pictures of Carmella and added some of them to my Indie Public account to a photo album.

When I logged onto Etsy I found that I had made a sale! This was none too soon, as I am going to be getting that bill any day now (including a $75.00 charge for the consultation on Saturday).

Check out my Etsy shop at all proceeds going towards Carmella's vet bill.


::::Lula Boutique:::: said...

What a day you had!!!! Carmella is beautiful! :)

Giftbearer said...

Yes, it sure was! Dr. Brantly is now in contact withe the specialist who pioneered the treatment, so my fingers are crossed that he will be able to convince him to go through with it. Thanks for the compliment about Carmella! She is my pride and joy!

Kylie B said...

Wow what a day, such a cute dog!

Giftbearer said...

Thanks! Please check out my Etsy shop at