Last Friday our precious Miss Pickles began having violent muscle spasms, mostly across her neck. They almost mimicked seizures. They were severe enough that she screamed in pain. We raced her to VCA Veterinary Specialists in Loveland, Colorado, where she received top notch medical care by Dr. Wight and the VCA staff. On Monday, Miss Pickles received a comprehensive exam by neurology specialist, Dr. Amy Komitor, which was followed by an MRI. The findings were much worse than we anticipated.
Miss Pickles has “Chiari-like malformation” which is a condition characterized by the mismatch of size between the brain and the skull. The skull is too small causing part of the brain to descend out of the skull through the opening at its base, crowding the spinal cord. Because of this, she has has developed Syringomyelia, a disease of the spinal cord which is caused by the obstruction of spinal fluid in the nervous system. High pressure in the spinal cord compared to low pressure outside, leads to fluid accumulation, which eventually forms cavities.
Besides the disease mentioned above, Miss Pickles also has “Multifocal intervertebral disc disease”, and in her case, 2 cervical discs have ruptured.
Miss Pickles, a little history:
Tiny 4-pound Miss Pickles was found as a stray in a field in Santa Barbara, California and then taken to a shelter where she was saved from being euthanized by Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco. That was early in November 2016. A short time later, on December 6th, Muttville volunteer Daryl Weeden, flew Miss Pickles to us in Colorado. We fell in love with her instantly.
She had such a rotten mouth and a severe mouth/nasal infection that she immediately had to undergo surgery to remove remaining teeth and suture fistulas (openings between the roof of the mouth and the nasal cavity). Biopsies were also taken and it was determined that Miss Pickles had a benign tumor in the mandible area, which had already destroyed a portion of her bone. She had obviously suffered from infection for a long time and because of that, her sinuses has been ravaged. A culture revealed she had MRSA, a staff infection that is resistant to most antibiotics. Miss Pickles was prescribed a very specific antibiotic called Chloramphenicol. Three times a day we put on rubber gloves and gave the oral solution to Miss Pickles for the next 30 days.
Miss Pickles began to thrive. She was pain-free, she gained weight, she was happy – so happy in fact, she began playing with her sisters. And then 7 weeks later … the spinal issues arose.
The situation now:
To manage the Chiari-like malformation, surgery would entail creating an opening in the skull to relieve the pressure and then closing it with a mesh screen – that is not an option, we don’t believe it would be right to put Miss Pickles through that. There is also an option of putting a shunt into the spinal canal to make the spinal fluid flow much easier, though she might be too small for that. To surgically repair the ruptured discs might cause instability of her neck, … but there is the option of creating tiny 6mm openings to remove disc material, if the pain continues. Yet the question remains: Exactly which of the 2 issues is causing her pain?
Dr. Komitor’s initial plan is to manage the pain aggressively. Miss Pickles is on 3 different pain medications, plus she is being given a drug which is known to reduce the amount of spinal fluid, thus lessening the pressure. She is on strict “bed rest” with no activity.
We’re already seeing positive results, but we’re taking things one day at a time. Please continue to keep little Miss Pickles in your thoughts and prayers. She suffered so much neglect in the past and she deserves to have a future filled with nothing but comfort, kindness and love. Her quality of life is of utmost importance – she must be happy and pain-free.
For those of you who are asking, donations to help with Miss Pickles’ medical expenses are very much appreciated and can be made directly to VCA Veterinary Specialists of Northern Colorado by calling them at 970-278-0668 (please mention that your donation should be applied to the account of Miss Pickles Taylor)
Or a check can be mailed to: VCA. 201 West 67th Court, Loveland, CO 80538 (be sure to note that your donation is to be applied to the account of Miss Pickles Taylor)
With tremendous gratitude, Dan and Rudi