Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Everything Is All Right...

...but for the last 24 hours we've been really worried.

Mo'i is our agility champion field spaniel – just over 8 years old and in his prime. A few days ago Debbie noticed that he seemed to be reluctant to jump up on us (something he loves to do when he greets us), and he wouldn't do the “dog food dance” when she fed him. She figured he'd pulled a muscle or something, and was watching him closely.

Last night she noticed the symptoms suddenly got worse. Now he was favoring his right rear foot, and showing some evidence of pain. Debbie got on the phone with our wonderful vet (Dr. Christine Wilson), and then ran him right down for an exam. Shortly after that I got a call: Dr. Wilson suspected a slipped disc, or something like that, and wanted us to get Mo'i to a specialist immediately.

So I met Debbie at Dr. Wilson's place, and we headed to the Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Sorrento Valley (almost an hour from home). They examined him, and recommended an MRI to determine what was wrong. We left poor Mo'i there, in pain, and went home very worried.

This morning we got a call from the neurology vet, with some very hopeful news: after an evening on pain meds and muscle relaxants, Mo'i was looking much better. The vet even talked with us about the possibility of the injury being relatively minor, and of treating it with (basically) bed rest and quiet. But after some careful discussion with her, we decided to go ahead with the MRI to see what it would find. We want to know what's going on, and that we're giving him the best treatment – not just guess at it.

This afternoon they did the MRI, and the vet called us with the results. She's about 99% sure that there is a fragment of a disc that's pinching a nerve and causing the symptoms. She recommended surgery – but it's relatively straightforward surgery, going in through the top of the spine (bone, not muscle). Success isn't guaranteed, but it's very likely. Recovery should be fairly fast, about 5 to 7 weeks to a full recovery. And the surgery will remove all ambiguity about the cause of his problem – if it is a tumor, bony growth, or whatever, when they're done with the surgery, they'll know for sure.

This evening we went down to visit with Mo'i. Lordy, he was happy to see us! We spent some quality time with him, then remanded him to the care of the techs at the hospital. Tomorrow around midday he goes under the knife. We'll visit him again tomorrow night, and then on Friday, barring any complications, we can take him home.

We're thinking that all of this is good news. We're pretty sure now that we know what the problem is, and it's completely treatable with low-risk surgery. We went home feeling much better.

And then tonight there was one final happy event. On one of the agility newgroups (on Yahoo!), a woman that Debbie knows through agility wrote of her surprise when she discovered that Mo'i was checked into the hosptital where she works. What a coincidence! She wrote on the newsgroup of how she checked up on Mo'i several times during the day today, and will continue to do so. It is no small comfort to us to know that a friend of the family is there keeping an eye on Mo'i. And it put a smile on our face to read her reports of Mo'i's cheerful demeanor and constantly wagging tail...

We'll be a little distracted for the next few days, folks...