For those of you who follow this blog, you may remember our dog, Maud. Maud is our 10-year-old blue tick hound and beloved family member. I haven’t written a formal update post on her health and progress in a while as there hasn’t been much to report. Since Maud’s initial onset of an autoimmune disorder affecting her platelets and red blood cells last July and her very critical health status (she almost didn’t make it), she has been taking heavy doses of steroids and fighting infections for the last eight months–infections that are due to a suppressed immune system secondary to taking prednisone. Maud has the sweetest nature and the gentlest soul. She has made friends with everyone at the veterinarian’s hospital, especially since she’s there every other week for blood work and a checkup. During this time, she has had some difficult days as well as many good days. We always know a good day as indicated by Maud’s howling frequency: lots of loud howling equals a very good day; however, even when she’s not feeling well, she always manages a tail wag or two. She’s such a little trooper!
Over the last seven months, Maud has steadily improved. The high doses of steroids stopped Maud’s immune system from attacking her platelets and red blood cells, and we intermittently administered antibiotics to fight whatever new infection that came along. Several months ago, our veterinarian instructed us to begin tapering Maud off her high doses of steroids. At first, Maud seemed fine. But, then she wasn’t. Whenever we got to a particularly low dose of steroids, Maud behaved differently. She seemed confused, disoriented, and blind. So, feeling extremely worried, we took Maud back to our vet.
Our vet suggested that we increase Maud’s prednisone. We’ve done this several times, and she appears better. Then, when we try to decrease it again, she regresses. It’s extremely difficult seeing her like this, especially since she’s come so far. We wondered if Maud’s adrenal glands had atrophied because of the high doses of steroids, thus causing a lack of cortisol; however, our vet thinks there may be some other underlying issue–maybe something neurological. So, right now, we’re just waiting to see how she behaves on her current dose of steroids. If she maintains, our vet will most likely test her to see if the adrenal glands are still working. If she declines, demonstrating unusual behaviors as she did earlier: walking in circles, standing in a corner, appearing blind, then our vet’s diagnosis of an underlying issue may be our reality.
Unfortunately, we haven’t heard Maud’s lovely howling as often lately. Maud’s illness has been heartbreaking, but we are grateful to have had her these past eight months. We have definitely experienced a lot of stress and anxiety regarding Maud’s well being. It’s always upsetting when someone you love isn’t well. And, I have to say, Farmguy and I feel somewhat defeated as we’ve worked so very hard to save Maud’s life. In times like this, all you can do is your best, and no matter how hard you’ve tried, sometimes acceptance is all that’s left. I know that we’ve done all we can do, and we may be running out of time with our dear Maud. But, my heart is still full of hope, and my ears are eagerly awaiting one of her joyful howls.