I’ve been absent for awhile, which generally happens when life is good and I don’t have much to report. We had a nice, comfortable summer. Not too hot, which meant lots of walks and evenings spent on the porch together as a family. However the summer has officially faded into Fall, and winter is just around the corner.
I’m sorry to say that I do come here today with a bit of bad news… My lovely boy Jersey isn’t feeling too hot.
It all started yesterday, when he flinched & cowered as I reached out to pet him. I thought that was strange, but quickly dismissed it. A few hours later, my husband offered him a treat, and as Jersey reached up to eat it, he suddenly pulled back in pain and cried out. We immediately pulled out the ‘sick pen’, crated him, and gave him a dose of Metacam & Tramadol (I keep both on hand, always).
I then phoned the vet.
Funnily enough, Jersey had been at the vet earlier that same day for a nail trim… and the Vet mentioned herself that she thought he was acting a bit out of sorts. “Just not his usual happy self,” she explained. When I described his new symptoms and what was going on, she agreed that likely his neck was bothering him, and validated my quick thinking with the crate and medications.
I wish I could say that that was the worst of it.. But over the course of yesterday evening Jersey’s mild “neck pain” turned into full on neck muscle spasms, which left him crying out and yelping in pain. My boys are NOT vocal dogs, so when they cry out in pain, you know it’s bad. I was up all night long keeping a close eye on my boy, and jumping up to massage his neck when he moved the wrong way and sent himself into a spasm.
I was a wreck this morning. I phoned our vet’s emergency line and explained how the situation had progressed. She was concerned to hear about the progression, and made a few changes to his medications. He is now on Metacam (NSAID anti-inflammatory), Robaxin (muscle relaxant), and Gabapentin (for nerve pain). Since starting him on these 3, he seems to be resting MUCH more comfortably. Yesterday he was having 1 spasm a hour or so… Today, he’s only had about 5 total, with the majority being this morning. A huge improvement.
The good news in all of this is that he isn’t showing any “neuro-deficiencies”, which is fancy medical speak for weakness or lameness of the limbs and extremities. He plants his feet well when he is out for (quick) potty breaks, isn’t ‘knuckling’ at all, and so forth. That tells us that if is this a matter of a disc problem, it hasn’t affected the nerves in his spine. Which is very very very good news. Basically, he’s not (yet?) about to go paralyzed.
Without an MRI it’s impossible to know what *exactly* is going on. X-rays do not show disc material very well after all. This could be something as “small” as a badly pinched nerve… Or as serious as a slipped disc in his neck. An MRI is really the only diagnostic imaging that can show us definitively what we are dealing with. MRIs are expensive ($2000+) and also the closest vet that has an MRI machine is 3+ hours away. A long way to go, and a lot of stress to put Jersey under when we are still just trying to get his pain levels sorted.
At this point our plan is to “wait and see”. If we can keep his pain under control, and keep him quiet and sedate, then he has a good chance of recovering from whatever this is in time. Likely he will need pain med support for at least the next two weeks, with another 4-6 weeks of crate rest to give his spine/neck a chance to fully heal. We are not strangers to 6-8 weeks of crate rest, and while it doesn’t thrill me to do it, I can and will if we must!
We will be in Vancouver with our fella next week. Originally we were not planning on bringing Jersey on that trip, but with everything going on with him right now, we don’t feel right leaving him at home with the dog sitter. So, we’ll bring him and continue his crate rest there. Vancouver is home to Canada West, our Specialist clinic of choice… So if things go south with Jersey in the 7 days between now and then, we can always usher him off to Canada West once we get to Vancouver if need be.
Hopefully need won’t be.
Please keep sweet Jersey in your thoughts. This neck pain is like nothing he has ever felt before. It’s certainly tugging at my heart strings in a whole new, unbelievably awful way to see him suffer. As of this moment, and since about lunch time today, he is resting comfortably and is doing well. I hope we can keep this up.