Thursday, June 2, 2011

The world according to Katie

There was a little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead.  And when she was good, she was very, very good. And when she was bad, she was horrid!  … NOT!

Katie was born in January 2007. A year later, we found her in a rescue with a tag that said she could not be house broken.

It turns out that she had a congenital birth defect known as an external hepatic shunt. Before birth, most mammals blood bypasses their liver and kidneys and is processed through the umbilical cord. After birth, these "shunts" graduall close of just like the naval does and the blood circulates through the liver and kidneys to be cleansed and processed and returned to circulation.

Once in a while, a shunt does not close so the blood gradually builds up toxins and residues in it. How fast depends on how open the shunts remain.  in Katie's case, it was bigger than my index finger!  The result was that ammonia levels would rise quite high in her blood and cause seizures.  During a seizure, it was likely she would uncontrollably evacuate her bladder and even her bowels. 

Though they were never predictable we gradually learned the cues that she was ripe for a seizure but it took nearly a year before it was recogized that what was happening was actually a seizure.  It took another 6 months before her treatment for it was complete. The experts all said that once a seizure dog, always a seizure dog even after the initial problem has been corrected and so it has been.

But.... with some diet management to reduce proteins and finally, finding a medication that works for her (Zonisimide) her seizures now only occur from 30 to 90 days apart. Prior to the Zonisamide they often came every 7-10 days, at best and would last up to 4 hours each time.

Had we known before we adopted her that it would take 3 years and over $8,000 to get her stable, we might have deferred her adoption to someone better off financially, but we didn't. The expenses came in bursts and lumps, the biggest of which was the shunt reduction surgery which ran a little over $3000 before it was over.  The rest was largely spent in diagnostics and treatments that did not really do much and none of the other typical seizure meds helped at all, though some actually seemed to make them worse.

Today, We cannot imagine life without Katie.  We wanted a companion that would be unconditionally there for us, could travel well, not shed, not smell like a dog and have a relatively calm temperament.  Katie is all of those things and more.

For me, Katie has inserted a certain amount of required structure in my life which I clearly needed to carry me from day to day  in retirement until Mer retired.  Katie saved my sanity, kept me warm and fuzzy in spite of my traditional "loner" attitude and always was there to comfort me if I felt down or grumpy.  Trust me, you cannot stay grumpy with Katie in your face and heart... it is just not possible.