Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Carmella Cone-head Fights Unseen Enemy
Just as my own health seemed to give me some reprieve and I thought that Carmella was on the way to total health something tiny but deadly attacked her feet with a vengeance. Getting one's butt kicked by something microscopic is not a pleasant way to start a new week and Carmella found herself compelled to lick the bottom of her paws between the pads, only making a raging infection worse.

Nothing I had on hand was any match for this miniscule, aggressive creature. It seemed her paws just got redder and redder and increasingly blistered and her face around the whiskers looked as though it had been burned in a fire.

Now I know why they refer to these things as "opportunistic" infections. The little bastards seemed to take full advantage of the fact that Carmella was licking and thus adding moisture to her sore paws. The more she licked the more it itched, and the more it itched, the more she licked. Then one of her back feet started bleeding again last night. Giving her a bath with aloe shampoo only seemed to provide temporary relief and then this morning she was back to licking between her toes every 5 seconds.

I took her to the vet this afternoon and asked him whether she might have a fungal infection since we already had her on an ointment that was a mix between an anti-bacterial and steroid and the flea drops that also are supposed to treat the mange, both of which failed to prevent this current flair-up.

Dr. Norwood thought about it a minute and then said that is a possibility, and/or it might be some sort of antibiotic-resistant bacteria she picked up from the ground outside. Oh, God, no! That's all we need.

I asked if he could culture it and he told me that there is a very good test available (although there is some costliness involved) that will identify the type of microbes she has and actually test what grows with certain antibiotics and other drugs so that we can be absolutely sure what will and will not work against these bugs. If it is bacterial, or fungal we should know what it is and how to treat it in about 10 days.

Although I was not looking forward to adding to my already towering vet bill on Care Credit, I figured this looked like a "pay kind of big now or pay HUGE later" situation, so choosing the lesser of two evils I bit the bullet and forged ahead.

Knowing that there are lots and lots of antibiotics and at least as many microbes, we could spend the next 5 years guessing and that could REALLY run into some money. Like they say, "A stitch in time saves nine".

The female vet tech was working today and remarked that Carmella looked really good (other than her feet and around the mouth). She weighed her and commented that she was down about two pounds (43) on this visit, but that it probably wasn't anything to worry about as changes in exercise could account for some small bit of weight-loss. I have been taking her for walks lately in addition to her usual running around in the back yard. I hope she hasn't picked up anything nasty from the street.

Dr. Norwood took the culture, which Carmella wasn't thrilled about, as she pulled her raw back left foot away reflexively and whined slightly as he obtained some material on a Q-tip and dropped it into a small test tube to be sent to the lab.

Then he recommended she have one of these plastic collars to keep her from licking her feet, and prescribed some more Entederm ointment, some other liquid called Conofite (an anti-fungal medication), and said to continue the Pro-Meris flea drops on an every- 2-week schedule for awhile more. He covered all bases and said that at least while we're waiting for the results of the culture she should not get any worse with all three of these medications and the collar to keep her from licking her wounds.

I walked out of there with almost another $200 tacked onto my Care Credit. Gwen had put it in for 3 months same as cash but upon reflection thought maybe she could have done it as 6 months. I told her that I sure hope this works because I can't get reimbursed anymore for mange by Carmella's insurance, and the new year doesn't renew her yearly limit until July. If this turns out to be something new then it might be covered then if it is still going on, but I really hope it will be all over with by July. It seems like just when I think Carmella will have no more health problems something else happens.

She will have to go around for awhile with what looks like a satellite dish on her head, but maybe that will give the area a chance to dry out so that it doesn't continue to fuel whatever these vicious beasts are feeding off her flesh.



Samantha said...

Awww, poor puppy! She looks so sad. I hope she gets better soon and it doesn't end up costing too much.

art4milkbones said...

Feel better Carmella!!

Did you take out the kitchen floor in that 1 pic?

Andrea said...

That dog couldn't look more sad if he tried! And some people think animals don't have emotions...

PamperingBeki said...

Poor little sweetie!!

snippetgirl said...

OH me, i am so sorry for you and your baby! i know how stressful things like this can be. I sure hope Carmella will be ok.
Thanks for visiting my blog! I see you live in GA...i moved to KY from Atlanta last July.
Many purrs and woofs to you,

jeannie wray said...

Oh God bless her!
She is a sweetheart!

Bri said...

Oh man, she looks so sad!! I would too if I had some terrible infection. I hope it gets better!


Thanks for stopping by and saying hi to my puppies!

Giftbearer said...

Thanks for all the nice comments! Day 2 with the cone is quite trying. She has already figured out a way to move it further down on her neck to be able to reach her feet, and if she points the cone at a certain angle she can actually reach her back feet inside the cone to reach her mouth. I have to keep pulling it so her head is further inside it. I'm not sure what I'm going to do now!