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adventure, dogs, life

Journey around her brain – teaser :)

I was damn right about it’s not the time to cry. Just a few weeks after we found the inoperable thingy in Kami’s brain, I got some great news: there IS a doctor who just operated that brain region in a dog, first time ever in Central and Eastern Europe (there is one place in whole Europe where they do surgeries like this, in Wester Europe, the University of Utrecht, Nedherlands, pretty far, extremely expensive, not a realistic option for us. But now…). And in all Central and Eastern Europe the only doctor who ever did this operation – a few days ago – is based in my city. And the surgery of the dog went well.
I had to make Kami the second ever dog who gets operated.

Spoiler: she got operated, they removed her hypophysis and she is recovering superfast.

When I’ll receive all the pictures, videos, MRi and CT images I’ll write a longer post (or posts) about this whole thing. It’s a wonderful story with wonderful characters, genius doctors, a superstrong pup, lovely vet techs, and incredibly many people rooting for Kami.

Wink
I beat the odds 😉
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dogs, life

There is a time to cry, but it’s not that time

As you might have noticed, I completely dissapeared.

I had an incredibly hard time, I had to write my thesis, I had to do my final exam to get my degree, and Kami is sick. Very sick.

Kami’s illness, as you might know, started about a year ago (bit more). It started with her getting blind slowly. She is not completely blind, but technically she is. It’s not a big deal for a dog, they don’t use their eyes like we do, it’s not that important for them (of course it is not like “nothing happened”, but they can live a full life without their eyesight).

Then her body started to act crazy. The regular blood tests always had different results. No one had an idea what is happening with her (and by “no one” I mean a bunch of highly educated, experienced veterinary professionals)

About half a year ago, we started to suspect it’s in her nervous system. But there are three major parts of the nervous system, and we didn’t know, where to start to search. Her peripheral nervous system? As she had trembles in her back leg muscles. Or her enteral nevous system? As she had serious bellyaches. Or her central nervous system? And if so, her brain or her spine? You can’t just shoot around with MRi and CT and hope you’ll find the cause. It’s one thing that the examination itself is incredibly expensive, but it also needs anaesthesia, which is very stressful for the body of a sick dog.

From time to time, we could minimize the syptoms with some steroids, but we didn’t know, what are we treating, will it get better on the long run, or is it just treatment, but not cure.
Then the determinant symptom came. To be honest, I – even as a biologist, an animal caretaker and a vet assistant – don’t feel like I know much about neurological illnesses. I only knew that my dog is sick. But I always suspected this. And when she started to have a side preference (turning more to the right) when she feels bad, it became clear: it is her brain.

Lost in her own head
She got lost in the apartment, found herself on the top of my laundry, didn’t know how to get off.

But what is it in her brain that makes her body act crazy? There is always hope that it is “just” epilepsy. But the MRi crashed our hopes. A non-resectable lump in her brain. Is it cancer? Is it just a cyst? The modern imaging diagnostics can’t tell, and it is in a place we can’t reach.

When I got the results back, I was waiting for my tears start to fall. But they never came. I know this for 1.5 months now, but I never cried. Why?

My dog, the one who dragged me through the darkest hours of depression, the one who changed my life, my education, my career path, everything, is possibly terminally ill. And yet, I never shed a tear.

Because I have a lot to do. I have to grant her the highest possible quality of life for the time we still have. It is a bit scary that it can be months, a year, or even all the years we planned with, and I don’t have a chance to know. I have to change our routines, basically we can’t even have any routines, because her condition can change within a day.

All this happened while I had much more to do than ever. I never had time to stop and think “what’s next”. I know that after this period is over, fatigue will set in, and I will cry incontrollably.
But right now, Kami is sleeping peacefully, surrounded by her beloved stuffed toy army, and I have to focus on keeping all our lives together, celebrate every little thing we achieve (and the big ones, like a degree in biology), take care of Kami and be grateful for every happy moment we have.

dogs, science

Dog health stuff (first part whining, second part medical stuff)

I work with dogs for years now, I was a caretaker at a shelter, I’ve met a lot of dogs with different health conditions, now I work at an animal hospital, I meet sick pups and their owners every day. I’m kind of comfortable with all the pet health stuff and know a lot of things about the possible problems and how not to freak out.

I’m there to comfort owners, I’m the one, who tells them to keep calm, the doctor will take care of their little four-legged friend, don’t panic, the pet needs to feel that you are calm to feel safe.

And now here I am, with MY sick pup, completely freaked out, asking my vet for a lot of completely unneccessary examinations, writing freaked out e-mails to my cousin who also happens to be a vet…

Kami’s problems started half a year ago. She bumped into stuff, fell into holes, I thought something is not okay with her eyes. But nothing serious. I took her to the vet, and it turned out to be her kidneys. Yepp, the kidneys are behind the deteriorating eyesight.
I bought every medicine, I bought food which is good for her kidneys, everything.

blind_dog

Half a year passed, and now she is completely blind, insecure, doesn’t eat, sometimes shakes, sometimes forgets where she wanted to go, freezes down in the middle of her action. Of course I am freaked out! Who wouldn’t be? I take her for check up every two weaks, we do control blood lab every three months, I give her tons of meds. I trust our vet. He knows Kami since I got her. He is smart and kind. He explains everything, so I can understand what’s happening with my dog. But I still keep asking other vets I know too, if anyone has any other idea what to do. Of course they tell the same as my vet.

They all tell me, that this is not the end, sometimes dogs get old, change, but after that, they can happily live for years, I just have to take care of her, and accept the fact that our life has changed. And I already know this. I tell this to the owners at the animal hospital.
But now it’s me, and now it’s my dog. The same situation from a different perspective.

you really want me to eat this?

So, what is exactly happening to Kami? (disclaimer: I’m not a veterinarian, I’m just a biologist, who works with dogs and vets)

The function of the kidneys is to filter the blood from everything you don’t need in there,  and then send the “waste” to your urinary bladder, so you can pee it out. The functional units of the kidney are the nephrons. Blood flows through them and it does a double filtration. Filter some stuff out (some of it is “waste”, some of it is needed in the blood), then the vessels suck some of it back (the things it needs, plus some of the “waste”), then filter the rest of the “bad stuff” out (useful stuff stays in your blood). There are many many nephrons in a kidney.

As the dog gets older, some of these nephrons “die”, stop functioning. If you are lucky, that’s all. But in some cases, too many nephrons die. Booom, chronic kidney disease. The worst part is that in most cases, you can’t just go and investigate the causes. First, because it’s impossible to find out, second, because you weren’t ahead even if you knew. The only thing you can do is helping out the still functioning part of the kidney.

So you give food to the dog that’s not not too stressful for the kidneys. You have less nephrons to clean the same amount of blood. If you overwhelm them, they won’t be able to do the work.
You give meds that support the kidney, and meds for every consequences of kidney problems: for gastrointestinal protection, immune system protection, blood protection, sometimes you also need liver protection. Vitamine B for the loss of appetite. If the case is serious, even some steroids (Kami needs them unfortunatelly)

These stuff usually don’t have serious side effects, only the steroids can be a bit dangerous, so you have to check on the dogs liver function as well. But it is advised to check on haematology and blood chemistry regularly (CBC)

I don’t want to go in more details, because I think it wouldn’t be helpful for anybody, and it would be harder to understand, so nobody would win anything on it 🙂

If any vets reading this and think I’m incorrect in something, feel free to correct me (physiology is not my major at the university, but I studied it for two semesters) 🙂

 

Check out my other doggy posts 🙂

adventure, traveling

First day of our vacation, caves in Slovenia part 1

So we packed our stuff in Paddy (the car), ready to go. Lot of stuff for four people (my brother, his girlfriend, my boyfriend and I), to be honest 🙂 Unfortunatelly, we couldn’t take Kami with us, because caves are dangerous for a blind dog.

And headed our way to Slovenia, to see some beautiful caves. Did you know that Slovenia is a really small country (only around 20000 km2), but it has around 11000 natural caves? Some of them are still not fully discovered. Slovenia is full of holes like a good old cheese 🙂

The moment we crossed the border, it started to rain. It’s just our luck…

Our first stop on our first day was Jama Pekel, which means Hell Cave. It’s a smaller cave (still very big), which got it’s name from the shape of the entrance: The Devil Frozen in the Rock.
hellcave_devil
devil.jpg

In most of these caves, it’s forbidden to take pictures, because the flash would disturb the creatures living in the cave’s darkness, but luckily, Hell Cave was not one of those.
Our tour guide was a complete psycho (in the good manner – if there’s one 😀 ), spoke very bad English, but compensated it with lots of enthusiasm. Shouting and gesticulating all the way 🙂 Telling stories about how the devil got caught in the rock, but his English was so bad, we didn’t really understand. I’m sure there were some washerwomen in the story (???)

After our little tour in the cave, we continued our way to the camping of Pivka Jama. A camping that has it’s own cave. (or the cave that has it’s own camping?) Two caves to be precise: Pivka Jama and Black Cave, connected with a tunnel.
My brother and his girlfriend booked a bungalow, but me and my boyfriend wanted to sleep in our supercool inflatable tent 🙂

The camping was gorgeous!


We travelled on a pretty tight budget, we brought a lot of canned food with us, so we won’t spend a lot of money in restaurants and buffets – and the super expensive “camping supermarkets”. They just know you are in the middle of nowhere, so you won’t find a real store to buy stuff…

So we tried out our camping cooker (he will appear in our story later…) on the first evening, cooked our canned foods – they all have different names, but taste somewhat the same, but it’s okay 🙂
first_dinner

So good night, next day we’re going to see Pivka Jama and the Black Cave. Dress up, because the temperature in the caves can be below 10 °C!