Max, our nearly-six-years-old Coton de Tulear was diagnosed with GME last month. I’ve written about his progress extensively, here and here and here. This is the original post where I detailed the trail to diagnoses and recovery.
Mr. Max, Hubby and I returned to Cornell last week so Max could have a follow-up visit with the neurologist at Cornell, as well as another chemo treatment. During this visit, he is hooked up to a drip for a 24 cytosar treatment. This is his chemotherapy agent. His hair is thinning – a lot – but the spots where he was shaved in anticipation of back surgery (that never happened) have begun to grow in. His back legs look like someone chewed on them. They are missing a lot of hair as they were shaved a few times for iv insertion.
Note: Max does have hair (just like you and me), not fur.
Dr. Slanina, his neurologist at Cornell, was very pleased with his progress. She initially indicated that she wanted to decrease his prednisolone, but when she saw the results of his blood tests, his white blood cell count were high, so she abandoned that idea (for now). Eventually she hopes the white blood cell count stabilizes and then prednisolone will be reduced.
He’s on a bazillion meds (or 6) at this point. When we went in to pick Max up at discharge, we have a consult with the 4th year student (who is there to observe) and Dr. Slanina. When his current 4th year told us about the increase in pills, and we groaned, she started to laugh (involuntarily). We asked her if she pilled him, and she admitted she had – with help! She stated he was “not an easy one to pill”.
As I have stated before: Max is a horrible pill taker. At home we can now hide the pills in food and treats (the steroids make him hungry, so instead of being non-food-motivated, he’s now motivated to eat treats!), but the liquids have to be shot into his mouth with a syringe. Good times! I hold Max while Hubby tried to shoot into his open mouth. Fortunately, Max screams bloody-murder when you try and shoot that liquid into his mouth. I say fortunately, because even though he’s a moving target, he has to open his mouth to scream. That’s when Hubby hits the plunger to shoot the meds into his mouth.
Max is not allow to have NSAIDs. He’s on steroids and you can’t mix non-steroid meds (like RIMADYL) with a steroid. That means his world of pain relievers is quite small. Because he still has back problems, and the neurologist felt he was in significant pain, his pain med was switched from Gabapentin to Pregabalin, and his dosage increased. He now takes the Pregabalin twice a day, and WOW do we notice a difference! For one, he sleeps through the night. As in we wake up first!! This is awesome and a long way from when he first came home in July and got up every two hours. He sleeps on his side with his four paws outstretched. This indicates he is very relaxed and pain-free.
He is still in rehab, and it was suggested we start acupuncture for him again. I discussed this with Max’s rehab vet and she felt he would benefit from acupuncture too. We shall see where that goes.
We return to Cornell in four weeks time for another round of chemo for the pooch, and the round after that is also scheduled for four weeks after that next four-week-out-session. After those next two rounds, Dr. Slanina hopes to push him to five weeks, then six weeks. I am not sure what the spacing is from there. She has already given us the name of a vet neurological practice in Florida (which is about 30 minutes from our condo!!), and we have made the decision that our return home in March or April will include a stop at Cornell for Max.
So, lots of updates, a few changes, the end result being that Max is doing very well. He has regained 99% of the weight he lost. He’s sleeping, more “Max-like” and also more “dog-like”. Some of the personality changes may be here to stay: food motivated, he’s lost his fear of heights (poop), he is sleeping better, his bark is deeper, and his coordination is better. We continue rehab, may add in acupuncture, and continue to medicate him several times per day.
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