First of all, THANK YOU all for your support and encouragement after my last post. I received several orders and am working diligently to get your cartoons to you. Today is the last day of the sale, so if you’ve been planning to order and haven’t yet, get that order in!
Since we last talked, I’ve gotten more answers on Avery and what he’s going through. It’s good and bad news…good news because having answers is such a relief. Bad news because…this is something that we’re going to be dealing with for the rest of his life.
I took Avery to see a specialist at a referral clinic about an hour from me. The clinic was incredible – clean, welcoming, and everyone I spoke with seemed nice and professional.
The neurologist we saw was the most informative, helpful person I’ve been able to talk to during this entire experience. He started the appointment by asking me tons of questions about Avery, his history, our years together, and everything that’s been going on for the last few months. He then performed a comprehensive neuro exam, testing Avery’s reflexes, his balance, and palpated for any pain.
His conclusion was that he was not finding any significant pain anywhere, except for in Avery’s left hind leg, where he had torn his cruciate ligament this summer. Fortunately, he said the ligament felt solid now, but the leg had a lot of arthritis, causing some pain. Other than that, he wasn’t concerned about anything in particular as far as pain goes.
When it comes to Avery’s other neurologic symptoms, the specialist believes that it could either be a herniated disc bothering him, or a disease called Degenerative Myelopathy – very common in corgis. The only way to tell for sure would be to spend $2000 on an MRI to eliminate all possible options. With an MRI, he could tell if there were any number of problems, but DM cannot be definitively diagnosed without a necropsy.
Unfortunately, and MRI is out of my price range. But there are a few other options! Because DM is genetic, I can get a cheek swab DNA test for Avery to determine if he even has the genes that would predispose him to this condition. If he doesn’t, he can’t have DM and will never have it. I can also do a round of steroids to see if his movement improves. If it does, he most likely does not have DM, because DM isn’t painful and doesn’t respond to steroids.
The neurologist we saw has extensive experience, has followed DM research closely for years, and has seen hundreds of dogs with this condition. The disease comes on slowly, progressing over time – whereas a herniated disc would come on suddenly, causing pain, and would probably cause Avery to yelp if I picked him up wrong or if he tweaked his back further. Unfortunately, DM fits all of Avery’s symptoms the most closely.
There is no treatment or cure for DM, although it can be managed. Avery has an advantage in that he has been very fit as long as I’ve had him. It’s important for him to stay as strong as possible, because DM attacks the spinal cord and will eventually cause paralysis. It starts with the hind legs and will slowly work its way to the front legs. Most large breed dogs have to be euthanized when their hind legs stop working due to their size, but smaller dogs can have a better chance because they can be picked up and helped much easier. Plus…they can get doggy wheelchairs.
Avery’s attitude is the same as ever – he’s cheerful and he’s absolutely THRILLED that he is allowed more exercise now that his cruciate ligament is healed. I’ve just ordered a DNA kit for him, and after I get the results, I’ll decide if I want to do a round of steroids still.
…This is our new reality. I’m glad that he’s not in pain. Knowing a little something about corgis, DM has been in the back of my mind since he first started limping, so in a way, I’ve been prepared. That helps. I think he’ll handle it pretty well overall, since he’s such a brave, happy, active little dog in the first place. I’m hoping to get him a wheelchair in the spring so I have it when he eventually needs it…and I’ll be sure to share pics. 🙂
In the meantime, I’m still going to be coming up with as many creative ideas a possible to help support my little guy. Keep a close eye on the shop – I’ve got some fun products in the works, and I will be planning another sale of some kind. Currently, I’ve added some ready-to-wear t-shirts that are pretty cute if you’re into cute things. 😉
If you have any experience with DM, I’d love to hear from you! I’ve already joined a few FB groups for corgis with DM that have been really awesome. And if you have any ideas for products you’d like to see, please reach out to me and let me know. (Anybody interested in 3″x3″ or 4″x4″ stickers??)
Thanks again, everyone. Avery sends puppy kisses!