White Dog and the others saw Storm and Sachi to the door; they were off to see Dr. Julia. Storm was a final check on her lupus outbreak; Sachi for an annual wellness exam. "Better them than me," WD said. She hates the concept of a vet, even one as wonderful as ours. "Next week, Sweet One, is your turn for an annual." She swallowed hard.
Storm was stoic as Dr. Julia examined her nose and felt around. "She looks healed. Let's wean her off her medications except for the vitamin B3 and the E. If you see the nose start to look irritated again, let me know and we will adjust. She may never have another flare up." With that, Storm was done,
Sachi went to the lab for bloodwork. While he was gone, we talked about Taiko. Steve brought video and a few photos showing our boy's poor attempts to walk and his awkward legs square out (like airplane wings) position for lying.
"Nothing seems to be working," I said. "He is getting more lethargic, less able to even stand, and now is only eating if Steve and I syringe feed.. He is still drinking water." Dr. Julia watched the short films and sat for a moment. She asked Steve to replay one of them.
We have been struggling to find a balance for Taiko of pain management and had yet to find that spot. Things work for a short time then fail. And now we were especially concerned that our food loving boy had not the slightest interest in food. Steve wondered if it might be a drug interaction problem. It had been suggested that maybe Taiko was one of the rare few that suffered from the side effect of anorexia.
Dr. Julia took a minute to go to her office and double check whether there was ANY possibility of an interaction issue (there was not), to review again Tai's xrays, and to look at the gabapenten literature. She returned with a bold suggestion; one, oddly, that Steve in his frustration had suggested at home.
"What we are doing is clearly not helping," she said, "in fact, we seem to be losing ground. Let's take him off of all the medications except prednisone because he needs some kind of pain relief and niacinamide (Vitamin B3). It will take a week to clean him out and them we can try to find a balance of the right things. Meantime, bring him in next week and we will take snout to tail xrays and look especially at the neck area. I still think that there is a restriction somewhere along the spinal cord that is causing the backend and walking issues. If we can't see anything and there isn't a clear medication path, we might have to consider an MRI...but not yet. We also want to think about alternative approaches like K laser."
I was not prepared for what detox would look like. Poor Taiko is listless and unfocused. He does not seem to hurt but he is not entirely "here" either. He has not yet an appetite but passively accepts the eyedrops of blended slurry that contains dog food, his steroid, and kefir. He gratefully accepts water after but then closes his eyes and drifts off.
The rest of the White Dog Army gathers around to protect, watch over, and focus their healing energies. For awhile this afternoon Zsofia lay beside him with her paw protectively over his side. "We are an awesome team," I whisper to my Tender Heart. "This is hard but keep fighting. We are here with you and I promise it will get better."
I hope as the next few days pass and the residual traces of his meds are filtered out of his body, that Taiko will regain his smile when Steve walks into the room and his eyes will convey expression. "Don't ever under-estimate your momma's love," I tell him. "You and I are going to make this right. Trust me"