Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Lightning Strike

A few weeks ago, on a leisurely evening stroll around our neighborhood, Cadence suddenly began walking funny on his right rear leg.  It didn't go away.

For a few weeks, we chased a series of red herrings, trying to figure out what was causing his gait abnormality.  Chiropractors, radiology specialists, rehab vets all weighed in, and were all rather perplexed. Finally we found ourselves at a veterinary neurology clinic last Friday having an MRI performed.

He has been diagnosed with a "very mild" fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE).  Similar to a stroke, some spinal fluid has found its way into a blood vessel and blocked it, causing some rear limb dysfunction.  Most dogs with this condition experience some degree of paralysis.  For Cadence, his symptoms are at least only a gait abnormality when he walks, and some lack of coordination in the rear.  The neurologist thought that your average pet dog owner would not even notice it.  It seems more significant than that to me.

We're told this is about as predictable as being hit by lightning.  It isn't genetic.  It wasn't caused by trauma.  Having x-rayed and imaged just about every bone in his body now, we have confirmed that structually he is fit and sound.  Oddly enough, FCE tends to happen in younger dogs, often aged 3 to 6, who are active, healthy, and athletic.  Like Cadence.

The good news is that he is not in pain, and he will not get worse.  What remains to be seen though is how much functioning he will regain.

He had his first of what will be ongoing weekly visits to a veterinary rehab facility yesterday.  We have an assortment of exercises to work on daily to improve his body awareness and coordination.  We are going to do everything we can to get him in as good shape as possible.  We aren't giving up.

So this isn't what we expected, but this is our journey now.

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