The results of Maisy's spinal tap came back today and... I don't know. It's not bad news, really, but it's not exactly good news, either.
Here's the deal: They tested the cerebral spinal fluid for tick borne diseases and ran a full infectious disease panel (that included things like fungal infections or protozoa). These were negative, meaning that we don't definitively know what caused the inflammation of the spinal cord.
But we do have a guess based on her current condition. Overall, Maisy is doing well. She's bright, perky, eating well, and wants to play. She's been friendly and outgoing with people, though a little reserved around other dogs. I think this is related to low-grade pain that she continues to have- or at least, that I think she has. She moves stiffly and sometimes just looks like she hurts. She has very little stamina; if we go more than four or five blocks, I have to carry her home from our walks. And if she does get this tired, her back end becomes weak and/or uncoordinated. She's tripping a lot more, especially when going up steps.
So, when we look at this picture, the vet believes that Maisy's illness is probably immune mediated. I only kind of understand what this means. I started to google it, but the wiki article talked about increased morbidity and mortality, so I backed the hell out of that window. I do know that the vet said arthritis can be an example of an immune mediated disease. It also means that Maisy's illness is likely going to be a long-term, chronic problem. I spoke with a friend of mine that's a vet, and she said that typically immune mediated diseases can go into remission, but aren't usually cured.
Tonight Maisy will start an increased dose of steroids, roughly tripled what she was on before. We will see how this goes over the next week and then will reassess the treatment plan. The goal is to taper off the drugs, but she may need to be on some dose of steroids for the rest of her life. The good news is that a little known (to me, anyway) side-effect of steroids is that it can actually improve behavior, and so far, Maisy seems to be one of these dogs. (Seriously, I had to drag her away from toddlers the other day.) Of course, they can also cause recurrent UTIs, an issue Maisy already struggles with.
I'm trying not to freak out about the future implications, like whether or not she'll be my hiking buddy again. For the most part, our day-to-day lives should be relatively unchanged (though perhaps with fewer, shorter walks), and I am grateful for that. Right now, I'm trying very hard to just take things one day at a time, and enjoy the present moment with her as much as possible. Since I tend to be a worrier, this is pretty difficult for me, but it's also probably very good for me.
I'll keep you all updated on how Maisy is doing on the steroids...