Peace of Mind

Risa's not exactly thrilled with the new routine but it's what she needs to get better.

Risa’s not exactly thrilled with the new routine but it’s what she needs to get better.

I need answers. I wasn’t happy with what I was seeing with Risa. Despite being on various pain meds and having seen an orthopedic specialist, she still seemed to be getting worse. While I finally knew it was a back issue (not knees or hips), I still wasn’t sure what was going on. I did online research and everything I read made me think this was a herniated disc. I know I’m not a veterinarian and I certainly value their input when it comes to my pets’ health. But something wasn’t sitting right with me. I was noticing neurological changes in Risa that had me very worried. Even though our regular doctor didn’t seem to think there was anything to worry about.

Granted, I’m a worrier by nature (it’s no wonder Risa and I get along so well) and I’ve certainly worked myself into an anxious flurry over nothing before. But I’ve also disagreed with vets before, sought diagnosis elsewhere, and finally pinned down the problem.

Perhaps influenced by my anxiety, I like to learn about what I’m dealing with. When Ris was having gastrointestinal issues, I did all the research I could on them and consulted with friends who’d experienced similar issues. I went to that appointment with the new vet armed with information and a plan of action. That was 9 years ago and nothing has changed; I’m the exact same way now. I research and become informed so I can have a one-to-one conversation with my vet about what we think is best for my dog. I want to have a discussion about what’s going on. Pros and cons of treatment options, etc. And I don’t appreciate getting the brush off.

I had an appointment scheduled with our regular vet on Tuesday to discuss the changes I was seeing and possibly just pretending she did have a herniated disc and treating her as if that’s what was going on. I had no intention of a surgical fix so an MRI confirming what was going on was not on my list of diagnostics. I had planned to do crate rest and meds and hope that it was enough to allow her body to heal. In fact, I came home from work on Friday and immediately put her on crate rest to avoid further injury. (Since no one had specifically told me “No stairs at all” or “No long walks” I hadn’t stopped her from doing those things.)

My anxiety and worry won, however. After several friends suggested seeing a neurologist or taking Risa to the local veterinary college, I decided I didn’t want to wait until Tuesday and have to argue my case with our regular vet. I already knew the college was booked out until mid-March on neuro consults so we’d have to be admitted as an emergency. Going on the weekend, I wouldn’t have to miss any more time at work. I called and discussed what was going on and they agreed she should be seen.

Risa about went crazy when I put her in the car she was so excited. She even fell off the seat which I didn’t want to see! The staff at the hospital was great and they were very good with Risa (and me, for what it’s worth!). They took a thorough history in addition to what I’d covered over the phone. The student did a physical on Risa and a couple quick neurological tests. Then she took Risa into the back for a more extensive battery of neurological exams to help pinpoint the problem. Without even seeing Risa’s x-rays (I showed them to both of them later), she knew where the problem was originating. She said there were three possible causes. The first was unlikely since Risa is neither a young dog nor a long and low dog. The second would be a tumor though neither the orthopedic vet nor the clinician we saw today saw any evidence of that on her x-rays. The third cause is intervertebral disc disease. The likely culprit. She recommended several additional medications and 6 weeks of crate rest. Exactly what I had anticipated.

Sure it was a bit out of my way and definitely more pricey than keeping our regular appointment on Tuesday. But neurologic issues shouldn’t wait. And, despite being on NSAIDs and a muscle relaxer, Risa was still in pain. I’m glad I took her. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of me. I have answers. I have a plan. I should be able to stop the worry train in its tracks for now. 🙂

She’s not out of the woods yet. I still have to monitor her for adverse reactions to the meds or for paralysis. But I think she’ll be okay. She’s done with lure coursing for sure, though. I know how taxing that is on her back and I know she is incapable of controlling herself in the presence of those plastic bag bunnies. It’s just not worth the risk.

About Jamie

I'm just a traditionally-trained artist with interests in dog training. I currently teach classes at the local obedience training club (tricks, freestyle, and Rally-FrEe) and I also teach classes professionally for an organization who helps veterans train their own service dogs.
This entry was posted in Back Problems, IVDD, Lure Coursing, Veterinarian. Bookmark the permalink.

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