Ding, Ding, Ding! We May Have A Yes!
I don't want to jump the gun, but I believe I've found a vet to complete Carmella's treatment!
While looking over that recent list I decided to start with clinics I had been to before even if it was many years ago and I called Briarcliff Animal Hospital. This was a place I used to take my dog to when I was a teenager, a dog named Hector who was half German Shepherd and half Collie. I had her from the time I was about 8 years old until I was 17 or 18. You may be wondering why a female dog was named Hector. Well, my mother brought her home one day after having been told by the owner of the mother with a litter of puppies that she was a male. She was so covered with hair you really couldn't tell by turning her over, and it wasn't until she was 6 months old when she went into heat that we really knew she was a female. When all the male dogs in the neighborhood started lining up in the front yard and we found drops of blood on the kitchen floor that answered that!
I remember first when my family moved to Atlanta from Baltimore we took her to Dr. Tyree who then worked at Briarcliff Animal Hospital. At the time it was a tiny building not much bigger than the one Dr. Norwood works in now. Dr. Tyree was great and the place was within walking distance from my house. When me and my friend Charlotte who lived down the street found injured animals in the woods; stray dogs, baby birds, etc. we'd walk over there and take them to her. Usually there was no charge for these wild animal consultations, and when an animal died she never charged anything for the emergency care to try to save it.
At 15 I started volunteering for a local dog breeder on weekends and after school a few nights a week to help with her obedience classes and show training classes. This breeder took all 25 Irish Setters to Dr. Tyree also.
At some point Dr. Tyree moved on and then in her place came Dr. Hedge. I had forgotten about Dr. Hedge until the male receptionist mentioned her. I think I may not have taken my dog to her for near as long, and as I remember she was not quite as open to treating these wild animals for free, and since the dog breeder already had a paid assistant and couldn't afford to pay two I had very little moneyt for vet bills so I didn't go in there as much when she came on the scene.
Monday morning when I called the receptionist listened to Carmella's story and he said that Dr. Hedge was still there and that there was one other vet, Dr. Muller. I told him all about Dr. Sears' treatment for Distemper and how well Carmella had responded to the injection of NDV in the body, and how I was having trouble finding any vet who would do this second part. He told me he'd ask the two vets there and get back to me.
I actually thought it would be Dr. Hedge if anyone from there, but in an hour or so I got a phone call and it was the same male receptionist on the line. He said he'd spoken with Dr. Muller and that he wanted to know whether I'd tried Loving Touch since they did holistic veterinary medicine, and I told him that the guy there was almost going to do it but then got cold feet and backed out.
What the receptionist didn't tell me right away is that Dr. Muller had said he'd do the procedure if there looked like there were no others who would! He said it almost in passing and I had to do a double-take.
"Really? He said that?!!!" I could hardly keep myself from jumping up and screaming. Not wanting to jinx anything I tried my best to remain calm. "Well I've been going through this long list, and I've checked 5 board certified neuro vets, 2 of them at UGA and one at GVS. I've asked at least 20 vets in the past month since she's been sick and was making my way through this current list..."
"UGA and GVS already turned her down? Well that's good enough for me" said the receptionist. "I'll go back and let him know all this."
"Do I need to set up an appointment for him to see her?"
"Well let me see what he says and I'll have him call you himself."
I was floored. "Thank you! Thank you! This is such a relief! I didn't know what we were going to do."
"You're welcome" he said, after a brief hesitation, a bit self-conscious by my show of emotion. It seemed as though he was smiling on the other end of the line.
I didn't hear anything later that day, and nothing by around 1:00 pm yesterday, so I called back to see if Dr. Muller was in and if he had indeed gotten the receptionists' message. I had to leave a message on his voicemail. Then around 5:00 pm the call came in.
"Hello, Ms. Charlington?"
"Ms. Carlington; yes this is she."
"This is Dr. Muller from Briarcliff Animal Hospital."
"Oh yes! Great!"
"I understand you want to have a spinal injection done on your dog who has Distemper?"
"Yes. Did the receptionist tell you all about it?"
"Yes, I think it was David"
"The other receptionist told me she thought it was Dwight"
"Well it could have been him. He said you moved here from California?"
"Oh, no not me. It was Dr. Sears who moved from California. I live here. Dr. Sears who developed the treatment is retired and he moved from California to Utah."
"So it's Newcastle Disease Virus Vaccine that's injected into the spinal canal?"
"Yes, into the Foramen Magnum; the same way they do a spinal tap."
"That's interesting. Some vets are now starting to give epidurals for surgery these days, so that isn't so far off from the way that is done."
"And Dr. Sears can give you exact instructions for this. He told me he'd work with any vet I work with on this."
"And he has never had any problems with the dogs he's treated?"
"Well there was one he had problems with, but it was too far gone by the time he tried to save it, in the full paralysis stage. The others were successful. I'm hoping that this will be done on Carmella soon before it's too late for her. She could still be saved, but she's been getting worse neurologically."
"Oh, she's already got neurological symptoms?"
"Yes, myoclonic jerking in the right front leg".
"Oh, seizures", he said as though making a mental note to himself.
"She's a beautiful dog and otherwise healthy. The first injection cured every other symptom in the body. Her paw pads started healing within two days afterwards, and two weeks later they were completely healed."
"Oh really! Cool!"
"Yes, since Newcastle Disease is related to Distemper but in birds Dr. Sears just theorized that it would work, stumbled upon it and decided to try it, and it worked. The manufactured stuff is made by Merial, but Dr. Sears also came up with a formula for a dog-based serum."
"Is that antibodies?"
"I'm not sure, but it could be."
"Yes, I bet it's antibodies, spinned down. This is quite interesting. Did you check with Loving Touch?"
"Yes, there was one guy there who was going to but then got freaked out because it was "experimental" and talked himself out of it."
"How come your regular vet wasn't able to do it?"
"He's never done a spinal tap in his life and there'd be too much risk that he'd hit the spinal cord."
"Don't you pretty much have to do it by feel to knw what you're doing."
"Yes, true. They don't always teach that at least in any depth in all vet schools."
"I know. He has never done one and I can imagine if you don't know how far to push the needle it's not something you can just do from a book. You had to have had some actual practice to really know how."
"Yes, I see. Well I've done it, not tons of times, but I'm capable of doing them. I just wish a neuro vet could do it. They do that kind of thing all the time. I'm not afraid to do it myself, but I just want to make sure I don't make her worse neurologically than she already is."
"Well, that's the thing that really kills me. The most qualified board certified neuro vets won't seem to touch this and they're willing to let her die rather than do something new to save her. If somebody doesn't she's going to eventually die. They know that and still they won't do it. She has had no side-effects from the first injection, only positive results. Her coat is shiny, she got rid of the pneumonia, her pads are healed, she doesn't have crud in her eyes, and she's eating, drinking, and very active, just like a normal puppy. If you didn't see her jerking you might not even know there was anything wrong with her. She looks good, but the ironic thing is the virus is still in the Central Nervous System and the neuro symptoms are getting worse. Do you want me to bring her in for a preliminary appointment?"
"Yes, that would be a good idea, but let me call Dr. Sears and find out all about this, and I'll call you afterwards. I'll call him around 10:00 or 11:00 am tomorrow morning and then get back to you."
We got off the phone and I felt stunned. It had all happened rather quickly, but I was glad because that probably meant this guy will take action. I think he gets it that we don't have all the time in the world and that each day she goes on without the treatment the virus damages more of her brain. There's only one solution and that's to kill the virus. Then she can look forward to a normal life, this will all be behind her, and the black cloud will be gone. Things can only get better from there.