We had a completely normal weekend. I taught on Saturday, and then hung out with Maisy while I did some last-minute studying for my CPDT exam (which was yesterday, I think it went okay). Sunday we went to my friend Elizabeth’s house, where Maisy followed her toddler around the house. (Apparently pushing treats on a dog is genetic, as we had to reward things like eating and taking a bath with the opportunity to give Maisy a treat. So. Cute.) We came home, ate supper, went to bed.
I woke up alone. This is unusual, but not unprecedented. I figured that she was a little stressed from All The Good on Sunday, what with not biting a kid and all. But when I got up, she just didn’t look right. She was stiff and panting and then she refused breakfast. She never refuses food. Never.
I called our vet. An hour later, we were in their office. Maisy sat hunched over with a miserable expression on her face. She had a slight fever of 102.9 (normal is 101-102.5), but nothing noteworthy. She yelped when the doctor touched her neck. We agreed to do some blood work and x-rays. Neither showed us much of anything, although she did have a faint positive for anaplasmosis, a tick-borne disease. But since the blood work didn’t support that, we figured it was just that she had been exposed to it before- completely plausible here in Minnesota.
She came home with antibiotics, a pain med, and instructions to monitor her temperature. When we left the vet clinic it was 103.3. An hour later it was 104; I called the vet back and they gave me some directions on how to cool her down. Despite this- cool washcloths in armpits and on paw pads, misting her with water, putting her in front of a fan, and having her eat a popsicle (she refused)- her fever actually went up, so I took her to the closest 24 hour clinic, which happens to be the U of MN. She was having a lot of pain in her neck and hips and her fever was 104.5, and we didn’t know why.
They admitted her to ICU, put her on IV fluids, started IV pain meds (fentanyl), and did a CBC and chem panel. Those results were inconclusive, but her fever did go down to 102.6. Spinal x-rays showed mild narrowing of the discs in her mid-back, but we don’t think that’s causing the current issues. A neuro consult ruled out disc herniation. The vet suggested discharging to home and either doing a wait-and-see or further diagnostics tomorrow. I said I needed a few minutes to think about it and then called a friend who is a vet. She told me what questions to ask so I’d know how to go forward.
When I called back, her fever was back at 104.4, despite the IV fluids, so going home was no longer an option. A urinalysis this afternoon showed some bacteria and white blood cells; a urine culture has been ordered. Surgery consulted and agreed that there is no joint swelling. Tomorrow they will do a spinal tap and a joint tap. Those tests will tell us if she has a bacterial infection of the spinal cord, meningitis, a tick-borne disease, and/or some kind of immune mediated disease like arthritis.
Her fever is down again this evening at 102.9. Still not normal, but much better. Still- we have no idea what is wrong, and I am so worried.
I also am quickly running out of money. Before I got divorced, I was solidly upper-middle class, and vet bills like this wouldn’t be a problem. But now, single and a social worker, it is. I spent just over $500 at my regular vet yesterday, and the current estimate for hospitalization and diagnostics at the U is around $2700. Plus cost of treatment. And it will obviously be more if she needs to stay another night. I’ve used up my emergency savings on this (and my cat’s ER visit last week), and am getting close to my credit card max.
I need help. I feel really weird doing this, but can you help us? I’ve set up a YouCaring site (the new ChipIn) here. I posted this link on our facebook page earlier, and I am so grateful to everyone who has donated already. And a little overwhelmed; we've gone from "how am I going to afford this?" to "well, I can still pay my rent." Thank you.
If you can’t spare a few dollars, that's fine. Your prayers, good vibes, positive thoughts, and white light (and whatever else you might do) means a lot to me.
Finally, I wanted to address a very common question: we do not think she has that deadly virus that started in Ohio. Her symptoms really don't match up (those dogs have had vomiting and diarrhea- Maisy doesn't.)
Regular and frequent updates are available over on our facebook page.