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View Full Version : Two years post-SM surgery



Love my Cavaliers
23rd June 2010, 07:43 PM
I know Karlin posted a new thread linking to SM blogs. I did not write a blog when Riley underwent decompression surgery, but just thought I'd let everyone on the board know about her progress. I'm doing this because I thought it might be helpful for others who are contemplating surgery for their SM dog. Riley had decomression surgery with a titanium mesh implant exactly two years ago when she was 6 years old for advanced and severe SM, complicated by a large cerebellar cyst. Surgery was difficult for her immediately as she has problems with anesthesia related to her vestibular problems. However, she recovered well and after about 6 months of dosage and medication changes, she is like a new dog. She will never be normal as her vestibular system was too damaged by the SM. However, she runs, she chases animals in the yard, she loves walks, and is a happy girl. She loves to snuggle with our other dogs (particularly her half-sister Madison), but doesn't play with them anymore. She is a poor jumper, but uses doggie stairs really well. There are times when she appears uncomfortable, but for the most part, she seems to love life. While we were trying to figure out the right combination and dosage of mediciations, I questioned whether surgery had been the right choice to make for her. However, once she started on prednisone (5 mg/day), the change in her was apparent immediately. I had my sweet Riley back!! We had tried her on prednisone before surgery, in addition to gabapentin, but they had no effect on her symptoms. Because the prednisone now works, I know that surgery was the right option for her.

I understand that even if surgery is recommended, it may not be an option for many people for so many different reasons. And no one can tell you what is the right decision for you and your dog. That is very personal and is related to many factors. However, if surgery has been recommended for your dog and you are on the fence, I wanted to share Riley's success story with her surgery. I know that some dogs who undergo surgery are not as fortunate as Riley. We are one of the lucky ones and I am thankful every day for that.

Karlin
23rd June 2010, 08:56 PM
Thanks for that, Bev -- I know many people including many who are not registered but who come to the board for information on SM and treatment options will really value your post and personal insight. One of the biggest questions anyone thinking about surgery is, what have other people's experiences been? And is it worth it? So this I know will help people weigh up their options.

Cathy T
24th June 2010, 04:23 AM
I was just smiling reading that!! I'm so glad to hear Riley has done so well. Sounds like it was a real struggle at the beginning but once the bugs were ironed out, sounds like really good results.

Lani
24th June 2010, 01:52 PM
That is so nice to hear she is doing so well!! :lotsaluv:

anniemac
19th July 2010, 11:11 PM
Thank you for that and I am glad that Riley is doing well. Sounds a lot like Ella. It gives me a little hope because I know when I was searching for answers I saw a lot of people who posted things at first and then nothing. Blogs were stopped and I wondered what happened. It is so tough because each dog is different and you said it so well about surgery. Some dogs can manage without it and you thinking you did the right decision is all that matters. Ella uses the doggie stairs too:) Yesterday I had her off leash and she saw a bunny rabbit and she never moved so fast. It has been six months since her surgery and I hope Ella will continue to manage on medication also. I really appreciate you sharing that story with me because as Karlin said, there are so many people who look for these things.

shell1805
19th July 2010, 11:50 PM
:)im so happy that riley and ella are doing so well xx

Tania
20th July 2010, 12:04 PM
Thank you for sharing this information. I have been asked to consider surgery for Dougall so it is good to read some positive stories. Glad both Riley and Ella are doing well.

kind regards

Love my Cavaliers
20th July 2010, 04:06 PM
I'm so glad that Riley's story has been helpful. One thing I didn't really add was how my watchfulness over her has changed since her surgery. For about the first six months to a year, I was so sure that she was going to die early from the SM since she was so severely affected. I watched her every move and was hypervigilant about every imbalance or pain/discomfort issue. I felt like I was close to tears every time I thought about her and how I was going to lose her soon. However, once she was stabilized on the steroids I started to relax and really just enjoy her again. Just the other day, I realized that I haven't really worried about her dying for quite some time. She will always have issues that may indeed cause her to die young (she is 8 years old already), but I have stopped obsessing about it now. When she does have an SM related incident, I do still look at her with a momentary pity,but she comes out of all her episodes so quickly and just picks up where she left off. Clearly, if she is enjoying her life, then I should too. And who knows, she could be the longest lived of my four!

Sandrac
22nd July 2010, 12:46 PM
[QUOTE=When she does have an SM related incident, I do still look at her with a momentary pity,but she comes out of all her episodes so quickly and just picks up where she left off. Clearly, if she is enjoying her life, then I should too. And who knows, she could be the longest lived of my four![/QUOTE]

I know exactly what you mean , Minnie had an episode on Saturday after having a great game of ball chasing, but when I get worried about doing any activity with her I can hear Clare's voice saying to me "just let her be a dog and do whatever she wants to do". It would certainly be a dull life for them if they were wrapped in cotton wool.

anniemac
22nd July 2010, 05:17 PM
I'm so glad that Riley's story has been helpful. One thing I didn't really add was how my watchfulness over her has changed since her surgery. For about the first six months to a year, I was so sure that she was going to die early from the SM since she was so severely affected. I watched her every move and was hypervigilant about every imbalance or pain/discomfort issue. I felt like I was close to tears every time I thought about her and how I was going to lose her soon. However, once she was stabilized on the steroids I started to relax and really just enjoy her again. Just the other day, I realized that I haven't really worried about her dying for quite some time. She will always have issues that may indeed cause her to die young (she is 8 years old already), but I have stopped obsessing about it now. When she does have an SM related incident, I do still look at her with a momentary pity,but she comes out of all her episodes so quickly and just picks up where she left off. Clearly, if she is enjoying her life, then I should too. And who knows, she could be the longest lived of my four!

You just said exactly how I've been feeling for the last 6 months! I just read this and that was after I wrote something about how I was feeling this same way:) Wow. Do you know how much this meant to me and how it could mean to others. Ella had her surgery in February and there was a time in April that I thought she had a relapse due to too much activity. I had kept her on a tight leash and finally her neurologist told me it was time for her and you to start living your life. It's about her quality of life and she needs to have fun. These past couple of days have been tough because I see her head shake but then she goes and runs after animals. I don't know if I am looking at every little thing and waiting for the worst but I can't help what is to come. The other day she saw a bunny and I have never saw her run so fast!!! She loved it so why would I hold her back from that. I can not thank you enough for sharing this with someone who could really use the encouragement that there is hope.

anniemac
22nd July 2010, 05:28 PM
Tania,

I think Bev said that each dog is different but you are very familiar with SM and Dougall. It is such a tough thing to go through the decision and I know Karlin said that so many people go on sites like yours and here to see Surgery vs. Non Surgery. You know what's you feel is best and trust yourself. I just want to thank Bev because I really see so many websites and blogs that do not show that surgery or even dogs with severe SM just on medicine that has lived long lifes. I know people talk about it, but I think people need that hope. I wish dogs never got sick and they lived as long as we do.

linderbelle
12th August 2010, 11:45 AM
Abbey before surgery was not doing well on prenisone either. She is back on it and doing well but we are risking Cushing's disease. We have managed to decrease her dosage 33% so hopefully that will help. We will be doing another liver test in a couple months so will post again.

Hey Bev glad to see you'e stil around. Bev was my rock a year and a half ago and helped me soooooooooooo much.

Linda