To update everyone, Molly had the procedure at Mizzou and it went well. Again, I don’t know if she received the placebo or the treatment – or if I would even be able to tell regardless with such an experimental treatment in the early research phases. During the procedure they did some routine blood work and discovered Molly’s platelet count was low. They called and asked me if they could test some blood from her spleen because they thought they saw a mass. The test came back benign, thank goodness, but they weren’t sure what was causing her platelets to drop when they were normal a month before. Their best guess was some kind of infection, potentially from a tick bite. She’s on flea/tick prevention medicine so I’m not sure how that would have happened, but we started her on heavy antibiotics right away in addition to two different immunosuppressants needed to help support the treatment for the study. Needless to say, she was miserable. She was taking 10 pills a day, barely eating anything and what she did eat, she couldn’t keep down. It was a miserable week after the initial visit of basically trying countless recipes and foods to try and get her to eat and be able to tolerate all of the medicine, and it was a losing battle. She had no energy and her legs seemed worse than ever. After talking with my local vet and the researchers at Mizzou, we decided to pause all of her meds for a few days to let her get her appetite and strength back.
Thankfully after a few days, she was feeling MUCH better. She started eating again and we slowly started introducing the medicines at lower doses which so far, she’s done really well with. Her platelets had started to come back up, so we decided not to put her back on the antibiotics – the likely culprit of most of her stomach upset.
Once she was feeling back to normal, I actually thought her legs were starting to look better. She was doing great on walks and seemed to be a lot more stable than before. A glimmer of hope!
We went back to Mizzou about three weeks ago for her first 1 month check-up. They took some videos of her walking to compare to when she first came in, and assessed that she looked about the same. A win in my book since before the procedure I felt like she was getting noticeably worse each week. They put her under anesthesia to do a few more tests and drew her blood again. Her platelets had dropped, again.
A few theories from them included: bone marrow disease, spleen disease, and auto-immune disease. The next steps for testing any of these potential causes were pretty invasive and I was obviously feeling pretty deflated. We decided to try putting her back on antibiotics in case there was still some kind of infection that wasn’t all the way knocked out with the first short round of meds. I was really worried about putting her back on them because she felt so awful on them the first time, but she’s actually done really well so far. And the best news – her platelets are totally back to normal range now! Finally a break. Now back to focusing on her legs.
To be honest – I have no idea if the procedure has done anything. My assessment a few weeks ago would be to say that yes, it has. I never expected a full cure for her, but I do think that whatever they gave her has helped to slow down the progression of the disease. She was officially diagnosed with DM on June 11th, and was given 6-9 months before total paralysis. We are now heading into month five, and she is still fully mobile. She definitely slips & falls more often now, especially on slick surfaces. But we’ve been able to mitigate that as much as possible by laying yoga mats around the house and keeping her booties on if we know we will be somewhere with slippery floors. I finally got around to trying the painted on adhesive, which was pretty effective too, although a little messy and difficult to apply. It’s nice though to give her a break from the booties and let her paws breath a little better.
In general she still seems very happy and enjoys her walks and coming to work with me a few times a week. Although she tends to sleep on the job most of the time..
On a typical walk she is still pretty strong and can walk over a mile without seeming to tire out. She always gets more energetic when the weather starts to cool down so we are very excited for Fall!