Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Freefalling Without a Net!

I knew something didn't feel right this morning. Last night I was up until around 5:00 AM knowing I'd have to work overtime to see that Carmella gets the help she needs. I couldn't sleep, knowing that that "thing" was eating away at her white matter each day she goes without the shot of NDV into the spinal canal. Not hearing from Dr. Norwood Friday and not hearing back yesterday had me fearing the worst.

It seemed as though the receptionists weren't rushing to have him call me back and were just nonchallantly telling me they'd "give him the message". I had the surreal feeling that I was the only one in the world who understood how urgent this was becoming. The vet's office seemed to be operating as if it were just another routine day, and something about that seemed very odd and left me with an uneasy feeling.

I told Gwen, the office manager that the e-mail address they'd given me the other day was coming back undeliverable, and read it to her off the card, and she told me that someone had put a dot where there shouldn't have been one. I changed it, and told her to please have Dr. Norwood call me because Carmella needed to get in to UGA as soon as possible now that she was worse. She reiterated that she'd "give him the message", and it felt more like a brush-off than a promise. I was not holding my breath.

Wondering if I was crazy (but for only about 30 seconds) her seeming lack of concern was incongruent with the current circumstance. No, of course I'm not crazy, I thought, snapping back to reality! This is like a nightmare... only it's real. All too real, and there's no waking up and saying, "Phew, I'm glad this isn't really happening and Carmella's here safe and sound, just a bad dream". I've read the biochemistry, seen the symptoms worsening with my own eyes, and so has Dr. Norwood. It would be all too convenient to write this off as my being an hysterical dog owner worried about nothing. That was last week's tactic, but it didn't fly then and it doesn't now in the face of even more obvious disease-progression. No, that would be the chicken's way out for the Dr. Do-Nothings of the world. Something was up surely as fish rots and leaves a tell-tale stench.

After returning from the Post Office and buying a few things at the grocery store, I just wanted to go home. I passed up most of my shopping list because I just didn't feel much like eating...ever again. Carmella's restlessness seemed to rub off on me and I just couldn't feel OK no matter what I did, like having a bee stuck inside your pants leg, unable to get it out. I think I would have enjoyed the trip out more if a friend had been there with me, but the solitude only intensified my sense of being alone with what seemed like an insurmountable problem.

The paratransit van came late to pick me up and I made a mental note that I was right to have forgone the ice cream, as a woman with blotched arms with a metal folding cart approached the driver as I boarded the vehicle and asked if she would please let her ride with her because her ice cream was melting. Her liftvan was late too, and the driver muttered something under her breath about not helping her if she was going to curse her out, not meant for her to hear. The other passenger was not cursing her out or even raising her voice, just merely saying that they needed to take it into consideration when people go to the grocery store and have no other transportation that they need to pick them up on time so food won't go to waste. It sounded like a legitimate gripe to me. The driver apologized to her and told her she couldn't, that she had to take me home and then pick up someone else right after. The woman with the folding cart was not happy when told it would be 15-20 more minutes she'd have to wait for her scheduled vehicle to get to her. I am very aware of these problems, as I belong to an organization that is trying to improve Atlanta's transit system for people with disabilities (but that story will have to wait for another day).

I returned home and let Carmella out into the back yard. She was enjoying the sun and chewing on sticks and pine cones as usual. It got pretty hot out there and as she ran around she started panting with a long tongue in proportion to her rather short snout. She looked rather comical, so I decided to go get the camera and take some more pictures. Here she is viciously attacking a weed.

As I wasn't fully satisfied with the pictures I'd taken of my last three pairs of new earrings, I took more of those too, perching them on branches and leaves, and on the pinestraw, making use of the bright sunlight.

Carmella was ready to come inside in about an hour, starting to jerk even standing on her feet, and so I took some more pictures of her in the livingroom and bedroom while she rested and got some really great perspectives. Then as I was editing a really good one, the phone rang. It was the male vet tech, Arudis, from Dr. Norwood's office. I hoped he was calling to tell me that UGA wanted Carmella to come in, but from the sound of his voice I could tell the news was not good.

"Dr. Norwood wanted me to call and tell you that UGA said they won't do it."

I felt like an hourglass with sand leaking out of a hole in the bottom. I tried my best to plug it up and keep the sand from escaping, but it seemed inevitable. "Oh no! What did they say? Why?"

"I don't know. Dr. Norwood didn't tell me. He just said they told him no. He left early but asked me to call you. He can tell you the details when he gets back tomorrow. You can call him and talk further."

"Will he be in all day?"


"I've been really worried about Carmella over the weekend because her jerking is still getting worse. Now what are we going to do?"

"I don't know. You'll have to talk to him about that."

I had fleeting images in my head of a dead dog in the road with cars driving by. His demeanor, like Gwen's, was a little too nonchallant. He seemed disconnected as though he felt nothing at all about the news.

No sooner had I gotten off the phone and gone back to editing the current picture of Carmella, I burst into tears. Her face seemed to stare back at me, pleading for help. I couldn't bear to look at it anymore, so I turned off Photoshop for the time being.
This horrible verdict had been handed down just as casually as if I'd been told that fries at McDonalds were a dollar forty-nine. I wondered why Dr. Norwood couldn't have called me himself.

I wrote Dr. Sears to tell him, and then decided to write Dr. Brantly. I remembered that he had said that if she'd been worse he would have done it. Well, now she is. In my e-mail I begged him to do the procedure, explained that there was only one more vet I knew of to ask and he hadn't responded. I asked what it would take for him to do this, and asked if he could arrange to get the dog-based serum from the vet he knew was using it in the body of dogs in Alabama. I told him I didn't know who else to turn to. Everyone I'd asked had said no and was just standing there while my dog got worse and worse. Carmella was in the kitchen in her bed having tremors and jerking, and again I worried that she might have a full-blown seizure.

My head was starting to hurt so I couldn't stay on the computer much longer. I must have cried for about 3 hours straight and so I took something for the headache and went to lie down hoping I'd either fall asleep or find something on TV to distract myself from the agony that had descended upon me like a heavy blanket.

I called my best friend and told her what had happened. She agreed that Dr. Brantly was worth a try since he had almost agreed to it in the beginning, and she and I brainstormed some ideas about what to do next. Tomorrow I'll call his office and see if I can get him to listen and re-evaluate the situation given Carmella's worsened condition.

Later, I took Carmella out of the kitchen to spend some time with her. I sat on the floor of the computer room to pet her and she started chewing on me again. The more I observed her behavior the more it appeared as if her reaction to being near me was an issue of overstimulation because when I tried to hold her mouth closed to keep her from poking holes in my skin and tried to hold her still, the more she struggled. Some puppies would have eventually stopped and just curled up in my lap, but she seemed to struggle almost as if her life was in danger. She really went berserk! This makes me wonder if her nerve endings are oversensitized due to demyelination. If my hand is anywhere near her, especially her face she seems to have a compulsion to gnaw on it, not aggressively, but defensively. I can hardly ever pet her anymore without her doing this. She also gets more riled up when I say, "No!" to get her to stop biting on me. She has sort of a startle reaction, not fear, but as if she can't stand the intensity of the voice or touch when I hold her away from me to keep her from chomping down or even trying to hold her on my lap. Ignoring her doesn't work so well either, or putting my hands behind my back. She'll try to pinch some flesh on my upper arm if she can't get my hands, feet, or pants leg. Bribing her with a dog treat to sit and lie down only works the first 2 times if at all when she's like this and then she takes a run at me again. I used to train dogs when I worked for a dog breeder, so most of these tactics I've mentioned work on other dogs, but so far the only thing that works (only sometimes) is to pretend to be another dog and put her on her back and pin her down by the neck briefly. This doesn't hurt the dog, but is often a last resort when nothing else will work. Sometimes I have to do this 3 times to get her to stop. Sometimes she stops completely and other times just pauses, then tries again. Wolves pin others in the pack down by the neck to establish dominance with other wolves and dogs do it during play with other dogs. The fact that this last method doesn't always keep her stopped makes me think that she might have problems with her short-term memory and possibly also impulse-control.

Sometimes the only thing I can do is put her by herself to get her to calm down. If she takes a nap she wakes up in a calmer state of mind and will come over and lick me under the chin (which is a submissive gesture), or she'll sit in my lap and allow me to snuggle her.

Earlier today she chewed two good-sized holes in my blue blanket. Luckily that one was not expensive, but I really have to watch her if I let her lie on my bed so she doesn't try to chew the thick comforter underneath.

Last night a very helpful Etsy seller suggested putting a donation widget on my blog, so I got that set up. If you can't buy jewelry but would still like to do something to help with Carmella's medical expenses there is now a way to do that on this blog through my paypal account! Go to the box to your right in the sidebar that says "Please Donate to Carmella" and click the little box where it says "Make" below. The little Paypal logo is not showing up but it should still work. I got the bill today from Care Credit and boy is it a whopper! The sooner I get that paid off the better. Your help is much appreciated. Carmella and I thank you!


LoveEtsyFeedback TagsAndButtons said...

Wow I useually dont read intired long blog posts I useusally skim and only read full certain parts because I never have very long, but I sat and read this whole thing. Have you thought of contacting any news people, even online news stuff like Yahoo and AOl and things. Trying to submit a story, sometimes people will pick these up, and you never know who is reading. I really hope the other dr will the the thing needed and im sorry that the first one said no =(

Giftbearer said...

Hi Tags and buttons,

Yes, I'm about to start contacting news media now. I hadn't thought of the online media but will do that if I can find out where to submit stories.

Keep reading. These posts are long but they're always interesting.

Do you know how to get this donation Paypal button to show up? I copied the code and pasted it per the instructions of the site that made it but it just has a red X at the bottom for people to click on. I don't know code at all so don't know how to fix it. So far nobody has tested out whether it works, but as far as I know it does. It just doesn't look as nice with that X instead of the Paypal logo.