I keep finding reasons not to do this post simply because it’s a very difficult one.
Sasha literally woke up blind on April 7, 2016; no indication her vision was “failing” prior to that day. No stumbles, no difficulty finding a tossed ball ~ nothing. The only difference in her life was
- Sasha had increased knuckling which is why I took her to the neurosurgeon for an evaluation on March 7
- During her next visit with the neurosurgeon on March 16 he drastically changed the dose of prednisone she had been on for 3 years as part of her successful Perianal Fistula Disease.
- Since her prednisone was so dramatically changed her quality of life went down the tubes (clumsy when walking, fecal incontinence while walking ~ just a mess.
I remember April 7 as if it was yesterday. I was busy running around the house doing chores and in between I was doing research on what I thought Sasha had ~ a disc compressing her spine . She was scheduled for neurosurgery on April 11 and I wanted to know as much as possible about the procedure. My daughter told me mid morning on April 7 that she tought Sasha was having a hard time seeing but I dismissed it at the time. Her entire physiology had been altered so markedly since the prednisone change that I initially thought she was having a “loopy” morning. However it was evident to me within the next hour or two that Sasha really wasn’t able to focus. I can still feel the chill that ran through me when I slowly pointed my fingertip towards her eye yet she didn’t blink, a normal instinctive response. I was terrified…
I’ve written in previous posts about the protocol Sasha started for her blindness, diagnosed as SARDS (Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration) and the promising results she’s had to date. However I’ve never written about that first week; the fear I felt and more important, the obvious depression Sasha had fallen into. She just lay around, not interacting with her human or dog family. Sasha has always been a tad aloof which is often a trait of the German Shepherd however this was clearly a severely withdrawn and depressed dog. I had no idea what the hell to do! I wrote about reaching out to the veterinary ophthalmologist and her response. Part of me blames myself for “accepting” that response because as a nurse I simply couldn’t rationalize how a disc compressing a dog’s lower spine (leg involvement) could also have an impact on her upper cervical spine (eyes). Sasha had to be prompted and encouraged to eat and other than being walked outside on a leash (for safety) to go potty, she stayed away from the family by laying on the floor or sleeping in another room. I remember thinking at the time how similar the behaviors of a depressed dog and depressed human were.
Sasha was extremely fearful to walk down the 2 steps leading to the back even with a leash and one of us right by her side. On the third day of her blindness my husband made a temporary ramp which seemed to help a bit.
My the afternoon of April 10, Sasha’s seemed a bit less depressed. She was scheduled for neurosurgery the next day and I kept clinging to the hope that this nightmare would go away as quickly as it started. Sadly, if you’ve followed her journey so far you know that the MRI’s revealed no disc compression anywhere along her spine nor did an MRI on her head show any organic changes. I scheduled her for stem cell therapy and the neurosurgeon had me taper her prednisone back to the original dose. It was almost magical how quickly Sasha’s body reacted; less clumsiness, no further fecal incontinence while walking, and most of all her spirits seemed a bit better. For the time being, Sasha was adapting. Now however her humans needed to get with the program. I laid carpet squares in trails throughout the house to give Sasha a “trail” to follow. I figured out a plan for her nighttime restlessness. ut there were things I didn’t take into consideration and the biggest one could have killed Sasha. My basement is finished and my washer and dryer are located downstairs One day I went down the 12 basement steps with a basket of clothes and began sorting. All of a sudden I heard a rattling type noise and as I looked at the stairs, I watched in horror as Sasha slid down all 12! I almost became hysterical because I knew I had left the upstairs door leading to the basement open and that she either got off track or followed my scent. The only blessing was that she slid down in the style of someone who was snow tobogganing. She was on her stomach, head held upright both front and back legs tucked slightly under. She never struck her head or even got a scratch but it took me the rest of the day to calm down. I remember it was a Sunday and my husband went to the hardware store as soon as they opened the next morning and bought 2 sets of hook and eye closures so that we coud have one on each side of the basement door. It’s a pain sometimes but I refuse to take any chances ~ end of story.
I’m trying to forget that first terrible month but every once in a while a memory pops into my head. For example, I was taking videos of Sasha every few days beginning right after her initial consult with the neurosurgeon on March 7. I recently looked at one I had taken outside on April 30, which was Day#4 following her stem cell therapy. I hadn’t uploaded it after I took it as I usually do with her videos ~ because it upset me. However I finally uploaded it on September 19 because I felt that in order for her medical journey to help any other dogs, I needed to show all the highs and lows.
I’m not a savvy blogger so unsure of menus, icons etc. Please click to see Sasha’s You Tube channel which chronicles her journey from onset until present day. If you like it, please subscribe to her channel.
💜Next up ~ continued progress💜
Wow! Almost 2 weeks just to get out 1055 words!