As My Joints Turn

My Autoimmune Soap Opera

Many things have happened in the last few months.  In August of 2010, my sweet little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Georgia Grace was diagnosed with a Chiari malformation that causes syringomyelia.  Syringomyelia (SM) is a horrible, progressive and painful neurological disease.  Basically, she has a malformation of her skull that puts pressure on her brain where it meets with the spinal cord.  She is leaking spinal cord fluid and it is forming small pockets of air in the spine.  She often beats her head against steps, couch, or cement to stop the pain.  In November, I feared her disease was progressing b/c she was losing balance and her back legs were giving out.  Turned out that she has hip dysplasia (HP) in addition to her syringomyelia (SM).  Now this sweet little dog is on several meds that I have taken for my RA and Fibromyalgia.  She often sleeps for hours when she used to play and romp in the yard.  I deal with her flare ups more often than I have to deal with my own.  It’s been so frightening and depressing knowing that if this disease can’t be controlled that I will have to put her to sleep in a few years.  Right now, Georgia is 2 years old.  It’s just too much some days.

I think the veterinarian neurologist thinks I am a lunatic b/c I am quite knowledgeable about this disease and the medications.  I’ve told her that I am ultra sensitive to Georgia’s disease because I know, all too well, what it is like to live in pain.  I know my dog. I know pain.  I now need to learn how to control Georgia’s pain in a way that doesn’t make her a zombie who is too drugged up to enjoy life.  It’s so difficult b/c she can’t tell me where it hurts.  She just places her cute puppy face on my lap and expects me to make her feel better.  It’s heart breaking.

I fired many endocrinologists and rheumatologists before I found a team that I believed worked for me.  I have to do the same with Georgia’s medical team.  Unfortunately, her doggie insurance doesn’t cover SM.  If you know anyone who has a Cavalier, encourage them to get their dog checked for this disease.  Up to 90% of the breed had the Chiari malformation but about 70-80% present with signs of syringomyelia.

We have an appointment with a holistic veterinarian on Wednesday.  I’m looking at acupuncture to help manage Georgia’s pain with less medication (I hate having to drug her up).  The vet needed to wait a week to see us.  She wanted to research the disease some more and consult with a neurologist.  I thought it was a great idea that she was being so thorough.  Then she offered to do “distance bio-energy healing”.  What is that?  She would look at a picture of Georgia and send positive energy to her….and it only costs $25.00!!  I decided to not take that option and put her picture up on Facebook instead….I saved myself a few bucks and probably made people laugh.

2011 was one of the most heart breaking years of my life.  I lost my cousin Chris to leukemia/lymphoma at the age of 34.  A college friend died from complications of a stroke at 43 and a childhood friend died from cancer at 38.  Life can be so short.  I plan to make my moments count.  Now I have to make sure that Georgia’s quality of life is at a level she deserves.  The alternative is too sad to think about.

The stress of SM has caused a few flares of my Autoimmune arthritis.  The swollen joints, flu-like symptoms and fevers are getting better.  My rheumy actually told me she thinks I have Spondylarthritis  The treatment stays the same but having a diagnosis change pulled the rug right out from under me.  I have to talk with her about it more during my next appointment.  I’m not sure if it fits.  She did give me two shots of cortisone in my shoulders.  What a difference!!!  I had no idea I could have full range of motion in my shoulders!  It’s shocking how pain becomes such a part of my life that I don’t know when it is getting worse.  It’s funny how focused I am on Georgia that I’ve sort of forgotten about me.  Now I’m switching from Humira to Embrel.  A way less painful injection!  That is a plus.  My body has been cooperating lately.  I’m sure I’ll get a reality flare soon.  Until then, I’ll enjoy my mild pain and focus on getting Georgia what she needs.

I might be in over my head….but I do love to swim….

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