Whiskey River Baker
A couple of months ago, Whiskey was diagnosed with Masticatory Myositis, an autoimmune disorder affecting the muscle fibers in the jaw. We first noticed swelling in one of his eyelids, so much so that he could barely keep his eye open. After a day, we noticed he would also randomly yelp throughout the day, but was still otherwise normal. The vet thought he had been bit, stung, etc so we started him on some anti-inflammatories and antibiotics. The swelling instantly went down, but the yelping continued. Luckily, Matt is a diligent internet researcher and we self-diagnosed Whiskey with Masticatory Myositis. The vet agreed and wanted to start him on steroids right away. Problem is you can't have him on the steroids until the other anti-inflammatories are out of the system, 3-4 days. UGH. We stopped the meds, and his eye swelling came back instantly. I thought for sure he was going to go blind.
The steroids were started and we began the weaning process, very important with steroids to wean slowly. The vet had given us a 3 week taper dose to start. With thorough researching, we felt like he needed months of steroids, not weeks. As we tapered down, we noticed some more eye swelling, this time the inner eyelid. Matt and I brought him in right away to a different vet we had been to before and really trusted with his care. They were extremely thorough and spent a lot of time with him. The vet even called an opthamologist to make sure we were doing everything we could for him. After all, he's only 4. We increased his steroids again and added an adjunct immunosuppressant to really get it under control. His eye and jaw got better within a couple of days. But then after about 3 weeks of slowly tapering the steroid down, he looked worse. He had difficulty moving and breathing and just seemed really sad.
They x-rayed his chest and abdomen and did some lab work and diagnosed steroid-induced hepatopathy. (Of course he would get a terrible adverse effect from the steroids that I hate so much!) His liver is huge and his joints still hurt a lot. He has very little muscle tone left and has difficulty getting up to stand or lay down. Our biggest fear is that we will wean the prednisone down and he will get his initial myosotis back. I never thought he could be so sick beyond the myositis. My mind never went there
His breathing was rapid, he refused to come inside, and had severe fevers with a high WBC count, signifying some infection. He is now on antibiotics as well that are supposed to be liver-protective, and tramadol for pain control. We couldn't identify any specific infection. Our vet told us to be super diligent in watching him and prepared us with emergency vet info just in case (she was just as worried).
After a couple days though, he looked better, more relaxed and he even started to wag his tail again. We began to think he was really getting better. All of his lab work suggested his liver was liking the lower dose of prednisone (steroid) and his WBC count had improved. Matt and I continued to be paranoid about him though. He would occasionally have labored breathing and still preferred to be outside. Monday evening Matt carried him upstairs (still can't walk up stairs), and whiskey quickly laid on his little bed but looked more miserable than he had been. He kept shifting around and breathing way too fast. His temp was 103. We decided to bring him to Seattle Vet Specialists in Kirkland. This is where our vet told us to take him in an emergency. They were instantly concerned about his breathing as well and once inside, his temp was 104.7-a major increase from just an hour before. They decided to keep him overnight and do a liver ultrasound in the morning to check for any unseen cancers that we may have missed. Overnight I received a call saying he started coughing and looking worse. His oxygen saturation was 82% on room air (terrible) so they had to put little tubes into his nose to deliver oxygen. He still only has 91% saturation on 4L (not good). They also started IV fluids and stronger IV antibiotics.
Two days later, he still looks awful. He has his oxygen tubing stapled to his head (they have to in dogs bc it would just come off otherwise), an IV in his leg, and a soft cone around his neck. His breathing is still rapid (think constant panting). He hates laying in the bed they provided because he prefers the cold tile floor, which they luckily moved him to last night. He was so uncomfortable that he wouldn't lie down, so he was constantly sitting up and shifting around.
According to the nurse and doctor this morning on the phone, his oxygen sats are a little worse, and he refused to eat. His respiratory rate and effort were a little better and they felt like he was a little more comfortable. Per our recommendations, they moved him to a playpen spot on the floor. Just some fencing around him with a couple of blankets that he still refuses to sleep on. At home when he had a fever he preferred the cold floor and being outside all the time. They also did a lymph node biopsy because some of his nodes felt "prominent". No results yet for that.
We visited him just now and he is very clearly more comfortable on the floor with a little more space (he's so spoiled sometimes-ha!). Fluids and oxygen and antibiotics are all still the same. He tried desperately to escape when we got there, trying to push Matt out of the way. No luck buddy. Matt fed him small pieces of chicken and he ate every last piece of it laying on his side. He loves having us feed him. He's done this at home a couple of times since he's been sick. We've literally spooned food into his mouth and he's happy. Strange. And spoiled rotten. But he matters to us. He even wagged his tail at us when we came in which was very encouraging. He has found out that he can more easily scratch at his nose beyond the soft cone collar if he lies down and smooshes it on the floor. Stinker. Luckily, the oxygen tubing hasn't been scratched out yet.
As of this morning, I was worried sick and so afraid. He is very sick. I've taken some time off of work just in case I get the call...but today is some slight encouragement. Still very, very sick.
Please keep our little family in your prayers. I am too weak right now for more heartbreak. People without animals don't understand fully, but he is my child. Matt and I love him more than anything.