Diary of Kayci

Kayci DOB 2-8-05, Long-Haired Mini Dachshund, Red – Adorable, Very Friendly, My Baby

little kcTuesday, December 30th, 2008, 1 pm: Tony calls me at work- it’s urgent.  He says he was kicking the pink bone down the hall like we always do and Kayci caught up to it,  it hit her in the right leg and  she turned in a funny way.   She yelped in pain and started to limp on one leg, the left, but oddly, this was not the leg hit.   I tell Tony it’s probably just a sprain or pulled muscle.  I’ll check it out when I get home.

7:45 pm:   I get home and Kayci doesn’t greet me at the door like normal.  In the living room, Kayci wags her little tail but doesn’t move.  I call her over and she struggles to get up, walks erratically on the 3 legs and whimpers alittle when she sits down.  She’s breathing very erratically.  I start to massage her legs and when I get close to her middle back she yelps really loud, so much so that it startles me and I back away.    Call Kayci’s vet, answering machine says in emergency situations, call the NYC Veterinarian Specialists, 9th & 55th.  Explained Kayci’s symptoms.   Vet says that doesn’t sound normal and you’d better bring her in.

I’m scared.  At this point, my brain still has not registered anything major.  I still think maybe she pulled a muscle or tendon or maybe even fractured something.

8:30 pm: Arrive that Vet ER, they take her right in and Dr. Sandy Park does the physical on Kayci.  Tony and I are both pretty emotional.  Tony blames himself and I try to reassure him that it couldn’t be his fault.  The doctor does a reflex test on Kayci – lifts her up and drags her back paws across the edges of the examination table to see if Kayci’s legs react…. no response.

See, a dog’s paws are meant to be in either straight or forward facing, i.e. when they are standing.  They can go backwards, but the dog’s reflexes should push the paw back to straight once released.  Kayci’s stays in this backward, awkward position.  Vet has her do a walking test.  Kayci’s back left leg walks as if it’s drunk and crosses over to the back right leg most of the time.  A dog’s legs should NEVER cross on their own.   Still I think nothing.  I don’t know if my eternal optimistic nature blocks out the obvious at this point as I did extensive research on doxie’s, but alas, I’m oblivious to what I’m about to hear.

The moment everything came crashing down.  Dr. Park says, "I think Kayci has a herniated disc.  It’s very common with doxies and they can just come all of a sudden, no trauma necessary.  That’s why one side of her body is not functioning.

I feel shock – There was a silence of I’m sure no more than 5 seconds, but enough for me to witness images of Kayci running through the park, chasing after squirrels, "sitting up pretty," doing the rabbit, playing with her toys on her back – 3 1/2 years of beautiful memories came flooding in with an undeniable chance that they may never happen again!

The dam has been broken, the tears are now in control.

I look over at Kayci and things I didn’t notice before become so clear.  He tongue is panting just slightly to the left.  Her tail is turned and curved to the left  side of her body.  Her left side is not responding.

I’m not a Doctor!!  But this is how I understood it.  Herniated Disc – Each vertebrae in your spine is separated be these soft discs that are almost like jelly donuts, filled with fluid.  These discs let the vertebrae move smoothly without crunching each other.  Each of your vertebrae have nerves near them and those nerves channel out  to different parts of your body and relay the signals from your brain.  i.e. the nerves in the lumbar region (lower back) tell your legs to walk.   Sometimes the discs become swollen and start to pressed on the nerves delivering intense pain! This is where Kayci is right now.  She has a disc pressing on the lumbar nerves, thus her brain’s saying walk, but her legs don’t get the message.

The doctor says that we have two options.  MRI and surgery for the ticket shock price of nearly $6,000 or start her on steroids and see if they’ll help reduced the swelling.  The only downside to not doing surgery now  is that the longer we wait, the lower the chances that surgery will be effective.  The longer the legs don’t get used, the less chance they have of working.

After consulting with the parentals, we decide to see how the steroids go first and if we don’t see progress soon, well, we’ll hit that avenue when we get there.

11:30 pm: We get home. Kayci gets her medicine.  Prednisone (steroid), Tramdol, a type of painkiller, and Pepcid AC as the steroid can make her nauseous.  I get on the computer to do research on the situation, doxies, herniated disc, options for recovery.

1:00 am: Kayci sleeps in her donut bed with me in my bed.  Tony insists he’ll sleep on the couch.  Kayci needs her mommy he says.  ;)   Breathing is still labored, especially during movement.  I cry.  Kayci leans over and licks at my tears.  I cry harder, she’s lays her head down on my arm and stares at me.  We sleep.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008, New Year’s Eve 7:30 am: I wake up for work.  Half day.  Tony stays with Kayci in the morning.  She stays mostly in one place in the living room.  Sometimes she tries to drag her back legs over to Tony or I, but doesn’t get too far.

Throughout the day, Kayci drinks ALOT of water which is normal with steroids and has a pretty good appetite.  We have to hold her up in the litter pan to try to get her to go potty.  She never goes.  She doesn’t go the entire day.  She’s losing more and more ability to move or even shift her weight from one side to another.

11:00pm NYE: Tony and I block Kayci into the kitchen and head to Amsterdam Billiards for a short NYE celebration.  We aren’t as into as we’d like to be.  We can’t think of much but Kayci.  We leave be 1:30 and head back home.  Kayci is ok.  Breaths heavily.  Still won’t go to the bathroom.  Again she sleeps in bed with me.

New Years Day (NYD), 6:30 am: Kayci is restless in her bed next to me.  Maybe she wants to go potty.  It’s been well over 24 hrs and she’s drank at least a 1/2 gallon of water.

Go to the living to find it full of smoke with Tony sleeping in it!!  Holy Shit!!  Turn the light on and the radiator is spewing steam.  It’s not smoke, it’s steam!  Go to turn the radiator off, the knob breaks off and now I have a freight train whistle at 6:30 am New Years Day – Tony awakes, goes WTF? and then the smoke alarms goes off!  Freight Train whistle, Smoke Alarm, 6:30 am New Years Day – GOOD MORNING 2009!!  We proceed to open the windows and start blowing the steam out with fans!

God, you up there?? – hey buddy … could use a break here please.

I realize now Kayci was stirring to warn me, "mom, something’s not right!!"  I’m not surprised, just more certain I need her in my life.

Meanwhile, Kayci still won’t go potty and now can’t even stand on either leg.  We call the hospital.  Vet says the steroids aren’t working, she’s getting worse and fast.  You need to get her in her now!  We leave.

8:45 am, NYD: Dr. Steiner comes in, a fantastic doctor.  Very knowledgeable, informative, helpful and kind.  Says Kayci is not well and will need the surgery.  She needs to take Kayci downstairs and do a deep pain test to see if Kayci can feel anything in her back paws.  It’s when they use a instrument to squeeze the paws of a dog harder than fingers would.  It may sound cruel, but it’s the only way to tell if there’s any feeling left.  If she can’t feel anything, the prognosis is very bad for her ever walking again!  Doc says, "if we hear her yelp in pain, just know we have to do it to see if the nerve endings are dead and be happy they aren’t!"

I never believed I would ever want to hear Kayci in pain but now, Tony and I prayed with everything inside ourselves to please let us hear our little girl cry out!

The silence was unbearable.  Every time a technician climbed the stairs, I feared it our vet saying she was completely numb, it’s hopeless and Kayci is gonna die.  Milliseconds felt like years. My scarf was soaked with tears.  Finally a technician returned, not our vet.   He said she still has feeling in both paws!

I guess she’s a subdued crier!!  🙂

It’s amazing how you can start a tear with sadness, grow it bigger with fear, and somehow it leaves a tear of joy!

What to do?  The money played out like this.  About $3,000 for the actual surgery with the hospital stay and meds and everything. Another $3,000 for the MRI including having a radiologist examine the MRI.  I was so angry about the money when this whole thing with Kayci got started. How can someone tell me that this sweet, innocent dog’s life rests on $6000!!  But after hearing that Kayci had a fighting chance, I called my family.   I love Kayci with all my heart, but my head is still a reasonable, responsible accountant.  In these economic times, letting $6,000 go out the door is tough action so I needed to consult with my family for some reasonable, responsible advice or maybe just to hear them say, yes it’s ok to do this…

It’s funny how you can know what you are gonna do already, but when someone you trust confirms it’s the right thing, it’s as if the other option, well really wasn’t an option at all.  Dad and Grandma both said  I could not live without Kayci and if I didn’t do everything I could to save her, I’d regret it.  They were words my heart knew, but my head just needed to hear them.

1:30: NYD: Dr. Levitin calls, the neurosurgeon.  First time I’ve spoken with him before so I’m hesitant.  But after 30 seconds, I’m quite satisfied that this man is very smart, very sincere and is my best chance of saving Kayci.  After doing his own physical exam of Kayci, he agrees with Dr. Steiner that it’s probably a herniated disc (95% sure to be exact) and that surgery will be required.  However, given Kayci’s age, how healthy she was before this, and the acute onset of the symptoms, he feels a CT Scan will tell them what they need to see.  MRI is used more for older dogs as it would show tumors and/or if it were cancer or a blockage.  Given the commonality of doxies having herniated discs and Kayci’s health prior to the accident, he’d rather do the CT Scan for two reasons.  One, they have to put Kayci under to do the exam and Dr. Levitin can view the CT Scan and determine where the surgery is required and go right in and perform while Kayci is still under.  The MRI would take longer as it needs to be evaluated by a radiologist and Kayci would be put under twice in 1 day.  Not as safe.  Oh, and 2, it’s cheaper.  (I must tell you, I’m impressed at this point that the doc is trying to save me money.)  I tell him to proceed with the CT Scan.

2:00 pm NYD: CT Scan shows Kayci has 2 herniated discs and they are touching her spine.  That’s why she is paralyzed from the waist down.  Dr. Levitin;  I can not begin to express my gratitude and support for him.  A wonderful and kind man.  A great doctor.  He calls and says there is a good chance that once the excess discs tissue is removed, Kayci could have a normal life; run, jump, play and be the beautiful puppy she is!!  About an 85-90% chance of that!

My heart is so warm I am beside myself.

2:30 pm, NYD: Kayci goes into surgery.  Out by 4:30 – she’s doing good.  She’s "dopey" as the doctor says but doing good.  We aren’t allowed to visit her today.  She needs her sleep.  We’ll be in first thing tomorrow morning.

kc hurt 2 January 2nd, 2009, 10:30 am: Tony and I visit Kayci for the 1st time since the surgery.  Dr. Levitin says things look really good.  The incision is healing beautifully.  6 inch incision along her back.  Prettiest battle wound I’ve ever seen.  Kayci never looked better.  She’s definitely in lala land.  Guarantee she saw 10 Tonys and 10 Gails.  Would close her eyes standing up.  Pants alot, but doc says it’s normal with the pain meds.  She wouldn’t eat with the doctors, but blessed little girl take a few brave bites of treats from her mommy’s palm.  She always did like if I’d hand feed her.  Princess.  She wasn’t peeing so she also has a catheter in.   Relunctantly we leave to return later.

kc hurt 1 7:00 pm: Second visit.  Kayci is pretty much the same.  Will only eat from me.

January 3rd, 2009, 12:00 pm: I visit Kayci and she is definitely more responsive.  Dr. Levitin says they took her out of the cage and she was able to stand on all 4 legs.  <insert big, proud mom smile!> she wouldn’t walk, but the doc says that’s very normal.  Kayci’s appetite is slowly returning.  Yesterday she only ate 2 treats from me all day.  Today, she eats 5 in the first visit.  They have started to lower the amount of pain meds she’s given which accounts for her increasing hunger.  The pain meds tend to make pups not want to eat.  The vets take her out of the cage and I sit on the floor with her in my arms.  Kayci likes to sleep where she can feel/hear my heartbeat.  She sleeps and I feel so peaceful.  An hour later I head home.  Will return later tonight.

8:00 pm: 4th visit post surgery.  Kayci pretty much the same as this morning though kinda seems like she wants out of the cage.  I personally think she wants to go to the bathroom (the smelly kind) and the technicians say she’ll just do it in the cage.  I don’t know about that.  Kayci is a private puppy when it comes to that stuff and isn’t it in their nature to not go where they sleep???  Will call Dr. Levitin in the morning and ask about that.  Still has the catheter and she’s being weened off the pain meds.  Hunger was ok.  Ate about 2 treats but I think she’s just gotta poop.  Course, I’m no doctor.

January 4th, 10am: Called the doc as I’m worried about Kayci and her not going to the bathroom.  They said it’s ok and normal, but we’ll see if she go when I get here.  They took Kayci out of the cage today and stood her up again.  She stood up but still would not walk to them.  They want to try it again when I get there to see if she’ll walk for me!

I pray, I pray, I pray!  Please.

12:30: Tony and I visit and Kayci is happy to see us.  Pain meds are still being weened off and it shows.  Kayci ferociously eats 5 treats.  Dr. Smith wants to pull Kayci out and see if she’ll walk on some carpet over to me.  Kayci is happy to leave the cage.  Out on the carpet, she stands, and stands, and stands.  we call her over, but walking she will not do.  Doc says it’s still early but she definitely saw movement in the legs.  Good sign.  I’m thankful for the standing, but still skeptical that she hasn’t walked yet.  Tony is the positivity I need and reassures me it will happen.  We go outside to see if Kayci will poop.  We see the muscles contracting, but no actual death smellies emerge.  It’s tough with the catheter the doc says.  Back in the cage, Kayci seems more willing to try and stand on her own.  I see my little girl trying to show off for mom and dad.  I can just hear her saying, "see mom, I can do it.  I can.  Look mom, look."  We kiss and leave.

3pm: Kayci poops. :)  <insert big mommy kool-aid smile>

9:00pm: Tony and I visit.  Kayci wants out.  No docs there so we can’t do anything about it.  Feed her about 3 treats and head home.  We gotta keep the visit short this time as technicians need to do the rounds.

January 5th, 2008, 8:30am: Not visiting hours technically so we must keep it short.  Kayci is pretty much the same and really wants out of the cage.  Eats a number of treats from me and does something new today.  See normally if you pet Kayci and stop, she’ll nudge the now stagnant-once petting hand with her head as if to say, "hey, don’t stop, that felt good!"  As I’m petting her this morning, I stopped to talk to a vet and Tony, and she nudged my hand.  :)  Dr. Levitin should hopefully call me later this morning.

11:30: Dr. Levitin calls.  Kayci walked alittle!!!!!!!  She stood up on all paws and when really coaxed, she walked with all 4 legs!!  I so wish I could have seen it.  I know she wishes I could have seen it too!  My heart is so big now.  I cry at work and I don’t care who sees it.  :)  Catheter is out now.  If she goes peepee on her own today, we get to take her home!  :)  Dr. Levitin says she is progressing very fast and he is quite happy with the progress.  Says she’s her friendly waggy-tailed self when he shows up and just wants love.  That’s Kayc for sure! Going to her today at 5pm hopefully and Dr. Levitin will show me how to do physical therapy on her.  Said the toughest part now is confining her as Kayci will want to move a lot more than she should as she continues to improve.

I am a blessed girl.  Thank you God for listening.

5:30 pm: We are taking Kayci home!  woohoo!  Vet said she is progressing beautifully.  Standing strong, back leg muscles are strong, all looks really good.  Dr. Smith shows us how to do physical therapy on Kayci.  We stand her up and rotate her legs around in a circular motion like she’s riding a bike.  Stretch them up, down, left & right.  Kayci actually loves it.  She wags her tail whenever she’s standing up.  I can tell she likes the movement.  She’s still on Prednisone (steroids) to help reduce any inflammation and prednisone also has a small bit of painkiller in it too.  Pepcid AC also given for the upset tummy.  Vet showed me the CT Scan as I requested so I could understand what had happened to Kayci’s discs.  Is mailing me a copy so when I get it, I’ll upload it to this diary.  Amazing how ruptured the discs were.  My little girl was definitely in trouble.

The moment we walk out of the hospital, Kayci is calm.  She rests in Tony’s arms and she’s peaceful.  I can tell she likes the fresh air and she’s happy to be heading home.  As we enter my building, Kayci wags her tail at the doorman.

In the apartment, Kayci is happy to be home.  Poops and pees on her own in the litter pan with minimal problems.  Wants to be close to Tony or I and if one leaves the room, she stares in the direction of our escape until we return.  Kayci sleeps in a small corner of my bedroom with room only for her bed, food & water.

She’s home and the apartment feels whole again.

January 6th, 2009, 4:30 am: I wake as Kayci is moving her food bowl around.  She’s not eating, though.  It’s almost as if she’s banging it on the nightstand and then, bam!  She’s completely flipped over the bowl.  hmmm, I guess she wants something.  I get up and take her to the litter pan.  She poops.  She almost smiles at me when she’s done as if to say, "aren’t you proud?!?!"

I am.

We sleep.

8:30 am: Before work Kayci is doing great.  Pretty energetic.  I do 2 rounds of PT on her.  She wags her tail the whole time.  She likes the exercise.  I leave.  Tony calls as I’m out of the subway to say that after I left, Kayci crawled out of the bed, and walked, yes walked, about 6 feet toward the front door where I’d just walked out of.  She fell twice on the way over, but picked herself up and kept going.  He says it reminds him of when Jonathan first learned to walk.

He nearly cried.

January 9th, 2009:

Kayci is still doing great.  We continue the physical therapy on her and those legs become less and less tight as the days go by.  Kayci clearly becomes impatient about not moving around.  She’ll stand on her own legs walk half drunk and half crawl but there seems to be more walking each day.  We continue to hope and pray for her.

January 14th, 2009:

Kayci gets better and better eat day.  Still not walking fully but each day it looks just a little better.  Got the stitches out yesterday and the incision is healing great!!  Once her hair grows back, I don’t think you’ll even be able to see it.  Doctor called and she’s got a UTI so we have to give her this really strong medicine that is actually dangerous to humans!  Have to wear gloves and wash our hands after she gets it.  Now is it me, or does the whole, "it’s really dangerous to human, but your dog that weight 10% of what you weight, it’s ok," kinda sound crazy?!?  So it goes.  We take her outside for short 20 feet walks and she looooves it.  Wants to play desperately but doc says she on strict confinement orders.  Final bill total after all was said and done…$7250.00.

But as Kayci lay next to me in bed, warming the side of my stomach with her head burrowed under my pillow’s corner, I care not for the dimes or cents of it all.

January 27th, 2009:

Kayci had her final visit at the vet hospital.  Doctors are VERY happy with her progress and I am touched by the genuine happiness and pride I see in their eyes as Kayci walks over to them when called.  Just four weeks ago, she wasn’t able to even drag herself to them!  UTI is still clearing up.  But Kayci is looking great!  She’s now allowed to take short walks with me and her physical therapy is simply more walking now.

She’s still not walking perfectly and docs say she may get to be 100%, maybe 95%, maybe this is all we get, only time will tell.  But looking at my little one, I think she’s just perfect!  I’m grateful she’s self-sufficient again!

Unfortunately for Kayci’s never-satisfied tummy, docs say she MUST get to 12 lbs.  She’s currently at 14!   Figured it’d be a good opprtunity to put the whole house on a diet what with Tony and I going to Vegas and Puerto Rico in a couple of months.

I have to say a bunch of thanks to soo many people out there who called, wrote, messaged, texted, you name it, asking about Kayci and her well-being.  I have some truly amazing friends with incredibly large hearts and I just can’t thank everyone enough for shooting me the many words of encouragement and hope I heard.   MUAH to you all and thanks for being so caring and thoughtful!


~ by g2 on January 1, 2009.

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