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elaine181000
13th July 2007, 11:58 AM
Hi everyone

** warning - long **

I haven't posted in this forum for a while but I thought our story might give a little bit of cheer :) It is by no means typical but it shows that surprising things do happen ... and even doggie cardiologists are amazed sometimes. :)

We have a Cavalier, Lucy. She was born on 16-12-97. She's a big cavalier, at perfect weight she weighs 13kg. She's taller, longer and leaner than a typical cavalier (I will post a pic when I get a chance). This may be a factor in what I'm about to tell you :)

Anyway when she was about 5-6 she seemed to be panting a lot. We took her straight to the vet and they diagnosed a mild heart murmur. We were taken aback ... we knew nothing of these things. Thankfully we'd had her insured since she was a pup - PHEW. I'll say that again ... PHEW. This has meant she has wanted for NOTHING in terms of veterinary care, it's given us the the freedom to say - go for it, whatever she needs, expensive meds, tests, everything. I can't put into words how glad I am we insured from day 1. It has literally saved her life.

They monitored her fairly closely and within about a year started her on Vetmedin (I'd love to meet the person who invented this stuff, it's like a miracle!). Things progressed fairly slowly really, but as the condition progressed, her meds were slowly increased to include: 2 x vetmedin, 1 x fortekor, 2 x ferusimide. Last July we took her to the cardiologist because we wanted to see exactly what was going on. She had a heart scan, blood tests and x rays.

The news was really awful. Her heart was enlarged and the murmur was now very loud. The cardiologist basically said he expected her to stay the same for a couple of months maybe, then she would get worse to the point where medication was no longer an option ... we were devastated. We cherished every second (even more) because we fully expected her to be gone by Christmas 06.

However, in January, she was still going strong so we took her for a review. Things had progressed slightly, but not significantly. Her meds were now: morning - 1 cod liver oil, 1 vetmedin, 1 ferusimide, 1 spironolactone; evening - 1 x vetmedin, 1 ferusimide, 1 spironolactone, 1 fortekor. At that appointment we were told - see you in six months :D I had been a nervous wreck waiting to hear the results but it was just fantastic to hear that she was only slightly worse when we had expected her to be in the final stages.

Fast forward to yesterday. We took her again yesterday for the full set of tests. She had a scan, xrays, bloods, examination, the lot. When we saw the cardiologist in the morning he was very surprised to see her looking so well. Her appetite is as fierce as ever, her weight remains bang on 13kg, she's still active, good quality of life, all signs good. At that time he said how pleased he was to see her looking "fit and healthy" .

She was there all day and we went back to pick her up at 5pm. Again, bag of nerves. When he opened the door to call us in he looked really happy. His first comment - with a huge grin on his face - was, "your little dog continues to amaze me." He showed us her xray. He said, "yes, her heart is enlarged but only a little bit more than last year. I would have expected it to be much larger after a year of CHF". He then showed us a scan he'd taken of a cav that day, and he told us that is what he expected to see on Lucy's test. This xray showed a huge heart taking up about half of the dog's chest at least. Lucy's takes up I'd guesstimate about 25-35%? (those figures may be way off, but you get the idea of proportions). Her airway is clear of obstruction, and her lungs show no signs of fluid or anything else. Her bloods are clear and the heart scan was very similar to January. Basically in a year, she's stayed almost static. The only cloud in an extremely blue sky was that her heart rate had gone up and her heartbeat is irregular, so he's added another med into the mix. But he was delighted overall. He said it is very unusual but he was thrilled she'd "made a liar of me!". He said it seems like we may have "arrested" the deterioration (at least for now) and she has a good quality of life, so the drugs are working and what we're doing is working - so we've just got to carry on the way we have been. He said to Lucy as we left "now, I don't want to see you before January, OK?" :)

I wanted to share this because when last year we felt our world was ending when we saw how ill she was. We knew it'd get worse and we thought that there was no chance things would be slow. It seemed very bleak and each time I looked at her or thought about her, I could hear a clock ticking ... I know you'll understand what I mean. I don't want to give false hope and that's not what I'm trying to do - I know just how incredibly lucky we've been and how atypical this is, but sometimes, amazing things do happen and this time, it happened to us. Having our dog was always like a lottery win, she's changed our lives for the better by about a million percent, I had no idea I could love a dog this much, really I didn't! Just seeing her makes me smile and she continues to be a remarkable little dog - everyone who knows her loves her, even the people she barks at (there is something incredibly endearing about a dog who barks their head off while wagging the tail off at the other end!!!!). People usually look at her - vets included - and say, "are you sure you're old and sick? You don't look it to me!!!" LOL. And no matter what the future holds, our baby girl has had a wonderful year with great quality of life, and the fat lady can wait a bit longer - she's not getting to sing just yet. Just incase you're wondering, the vet's parting shot was "Hopefully I'll get a Christmas card from her this year!"

The standard of care we've had from our vets and cardiologist has been just incredible from the very first visit nearly ten years ago. They know her so well and have taken such good care of her, I can't say enough about them. Our heroes.

Anyway, if anyone has any questions I'd be happy to try and answer them. :)

Karlin
13th July 2007, 12:17 PM
Thank you so much for sharing your and Lucy's story. That will be helpful to many people I know and it is lovely to hear she is doing so well! :)

Sue.k
13th July 2007, 01:46 PM
Oh my that, that has just filled me up, thank you so much for sharing your story with us :)

Cathy T
13th July 2007, 03:39 PM
I just loved reading your story. Filled me with hope for the future.

WoodHaven
13th July 2007, 03:47 PM
Vetmedin is aka pimobendan--Great news!!

elaine181000
15th July 2007, 09:29 PM
Thanks so much for your kind replies and for letting me share, I wanted to share with people I knew would understand - I tell other people and while they are pleased for us, they don't really appreciate the complexities of the whole CHF/MVD thing, so they don't always "get" what the results mean :)

Oh while I'm here, here's a pic of the Lucy Dog:

http://i15.photobucket.com/albums/a351/elaine181000/TGM/Pets/P2150005.jpg

Cathryn
15th July 2007, 09:49 PM
That is truly a wonderful story and Thank You so very much for sharing it with us! good for you Lucy for making a liar out of the cardiologist, and it won't be any surprise to hear that he is delighted with your wonderful resiliance to this awful condition!! Lets hope that this carries on for quite some time yet!! :lotsaluv:

Mary
15th July 2007, 09:54 PM
What a wonderful story! So glad Lucy is doing so well. You just really hear good story after good story of dogs on pimobendan!

Cathy T
16th July 2007, 03:59 AM
Awwww...look at that beautiful girl! And you're right...isn't it nice to share with people who "get it"? When we say "that's great" we really mean "THAT'S GREAT!!!!"

lb0024
16th July 2007, 07:29 PM
Oh my that, that has just filled me up, thank you so much for sharing your story with us :)

Gosh, I read this comment and thought, yes! I don't actually know what "filled me up" means in Ireland, but whether it's filled my eyes with tears or my heart with joy, "filled me up" describes perfectly how I felt after reading Elaine and Lucy's story. It's a wonderful, heart-warming story.


Elaine, do you mind if I ask what brand and type of insurance coverage you have? I signed my Molly up for coverage, but I'm not sure if it's enough. (Category limit is $3k.)

Thanks,
-laura

elaine181000
17th July 2007, 08:17 AM
Hi Laura,

We're with Direct Line and bought the advanced policy. For each condition we have £6000 of cover = $12,000 USD. I called yesterday to see where we're at and we've already claimed just under £3000 and have a further claim for about £500 on the way to them. With meds and tests it soon mounts up - her meds are about £250 each quarter so about £1000 a year, plus tests twice a year at about £400 so about £1800 a year this past couple of years. When Lucy went on vetmedin we were told there were cheaper drugs available but that it was the best one so if we were insured, we should go for it.

If your dog is young, and changing would mean no loss of cover (ie pre existing conditions etc) then I would try and get as comprehensive cover as you can afford - it makes life much less stressful later on. With the genetic things that cavs can have - like MVD, SM etc, it really can add up! Obviously I don't know how much drugs and tests cost in the US - these are the UK prices.

Our premium started at about £14 a month. As the claims have added up, each year it has increased. Currently about £25 a month. So we pay out about £300 a year in insurance ... but get back 5-6 times that in claims.

Ideally the best kind of insurance IMO is the one where cover renews each year - whereas we have the lifetime limit. But it depends on your budget and needs. It's worth looking around to see what you can get for your money - you'd be surprised how much policies differ!

Here's a link to our policy type - pdf file - http://www.directline.com/pet/pet_advanced_policy.pdf

Hope this helps :)