View Full Version : Brooklyn off to the Neurologist tomorrow...

29th August 2011, 10:42 AM
First, can I say that it makes me sick to my tummy that I am even posting anything in the SM forum category? Sigh.

So Brooklyn is off to the neuro tomorrow...and my husband is in Hong Kong...and I am so new to this country that I don't have anyone to come with me...and well...I am scared. I have all my insurance forms filled out, symptoms all types up, videos edited. I am ready....but my heart is not. It is all open from here on out, and we will just take it as it comes, but I am just so nervous of what may be. All I want is Brooklyn to have the best life ever, we are two peas in a pod, bonded at the hip, inseparable little people, she know what I am thinking before I do. She jumps at my happiness, she licks up my tears. She is my rock, I am her cuddle partner. She has given me purpose in a new country, through her, I have met the people I now know. Through her I have made friends (was just at a baby show this weekend for a friend I met in puppy school!) I am indebted to her for giving me that, what a blessing. In a new country she alone has opened a whole world of people to me. Bless her heart.

Today, I was a bit sad...hubby gone, neuro tomorrow, sister about to give birth (in America! and she is my world) and just feeling all round yuck. All I wanted was sleep, but Brooklyn is not allowed in our bedroom, let alone bed! But I thought, heck with it! I have the best trained dog on the planet, this won't change anything...so I brought her blankie into my bed, then brought her in too. At first she gave me this look like "ahhh, mama? I don't think we should do this" ha, but I told her "get on your mat" and she didnt even run, sniff or do anything, she just got on her blanket like I asked and curled up. She rested her head on my tummy and we both slept til 5 pm! I felt so connected to her, like she just knew, this is what I needed, she just had to behave and be with me. What a sweet girl.

So now the countdown begins. Neuro at 10 am Sydney time. Wish us luck...xx

Kate H
29th August 2011, 11:29 AM
My parish priest once looked after Oliver for a day and took him for a walk round the parish. He commented when he gave him back 'Every parish priest should have a dog - I've spoken to so many parishioners I've never met before because they stopped to say hello to Oliver!'

Brooklyn will still be the same dog, whatever the outcome of your visit to the neuro. If the result is bad, she will need you even more, to fight on her side against this horrible disease and keep her comfortable and living as normal a life as possible for as long as possible. You know we'll all be thinking of you, and waiting to hear your news.


Kate, Oliver and Aled

29th August 2011, 12:21 PM
Thanks for the kind words Kate, I so appreciate it and love your parish priest story. They really are little spiritual creatures aren't they? They make you selfless and self aware :l*v:

Also, to everyone, is there anything or any key questions that you think I should know before I go? I mean, I have a list, I feel really prepared, but for those who have been trough this before, were there any key things to remember or stuff you wish you would have asked?

It is only 9:15 pm, but I think I am putting Brooky and I to bed now...we need our beauty rest for tomorrow. At least I know Brooklyn is the chillest dog at the vets, so she will do great seeing the neuro. She is a rock star like that.

And yes Kate, thank you for reminding me that no matter what happens tomorrow, Brooklyn will not change. She will not be different. I need people to remind me of that. As humans, when we get sick or get the "diagnosis", we do tend to change, our minds get filled with all the "what-if's" and over flow of information. But dogs, aren't like that. She will not be googling the internet filling her brain with fears, she will not be wondering what will be, she will not know that anything has changed. I need to remember to live like her...no matter what happens tomorrow, it's good to live that way for all situations!

29th August 2011, 02:29 PM
I know how close you and Brooklyn are and I will be thinking of you. Not sure of the time difference (I think you are getting ready to go to sleep so not sure when 10am is) but please know that I am thinking of you.

29th August 2011, 04:08 PM
Many thoughts going out to you and Brooklyn. Good news vibes going out to you too :xfngr::hug:


29th August 2011, 04:15 PM
Sending positive thoughts to you and Brooklyn. :l*v:

29th August 2011, 07:34 PM
And that most of us know what you are going through. I do hate that your hubby is gone and do not have a friend to take with you. I will add that my hubby actually did not make things better. He gets so antsy... I finally sent him off to do something else while I waited at the neuro office. We care about you and Brooklyn so much... I will keep watching for news when you can post it.

29th August 2011, 09:50 PM
Oh Kelsey, I am sorry you feel alone. Truly, if I lived anywhere near you I would go with you. So much going on for you!

I do like what Kate said about Brooklyn not changing. She is the same, and will be the same beautiful sweet, loving, funny, and cute dog she has always been. BTW, I love that you took her to bed with you......I think you both needed that.

We are here, waiting and praying for you both. Just know that, okay? Know that people all around the world are thinking of and praying for you. And we will be here through it all, with you, holding your hand, even though it's virtual.

Sydneys Mom
29th August 2011, 10:12 PM
My heart is aching for you. Please don't feel like you are all alone, you have the entire CavalierTalk forum going with you tomorrow. Brooklyn is in the best possible hand, yours. She will still be your sweet cavalier no matter what the diagnosis is. Whatever happens, you will be able to handle. Love you and Brooklyn and will keep you in my prayers.

Sending you hugs from me and sloppy wet kisses from Sydney!:hug:

29th August 2011, 10:17 PM
We are thinking of you - it's so hard when you enjoy that special relationship, but anything like this actually brings you closer - as I said to Sabby, you find the strength within you to cope, because you love your companion so much.

Times - it's just gone 7.17am in Sydney TOMORROW morning, so just under three hours until appt time - I think!!

29th August 2011, 10:18 PM
you can check here - especially if your brain is slightly more functional than mine at this time of night :)

29th August 2011, 10:19 PM
you can check here - especially if your brain is slightly more functional than mine at this time of night <img src="images/smilies/smile.png" alt="" title="Smile" smilieid="1" class="inlineimg" border="0">


29th August 2011, 10:33 PM
I am thinking of you and Brooklyn and I am so sorry your hubby isnít with you and you have to do it all alone. And yes Brooklyn is still going to be the same. I just remembered this about Harley when we went away this weekend and he had a fantastic time.

When I get up in the morning first thing I do is come and have a look on CT to see how you got on and I am probably not alone in watching this post.

So just remember we will be with you in spirit.

29th August 2011, 10:55 PM
Keeping our fingers and paws crossed here for the best outcome regarding Brooklyn's neuro visit, I am sorry you have to go through the appointment alone but like many others here, I will be thinking of you and little Brooklyn :hug:

Margaret C
29th August 2011, 11:04 PM
We are all thinking of you & Brooklyn.

Love my Cavaliers
29th August 2011, 11:25 PM
Thinking of you and Brooklyn and hoping for the best. I too went through Riley's neuro appt by myself. Not a fun thing, but you do what you have to do and you get through it. At least you can come here and either unload or give us good news.

30th August 2011, 04:59 AM
We are back.

One tip for anyone else who goes through this...don't drink a double shot coffee before hand! I already tremble when I get nervous and coffee made me a mess! I think the vet was more concerned about me than Brooklyn. Ha.

Okay, so first off, Dr. Georgina Child is amazing. As I have posted before, she is the only specialist small animal neurologist in Australia, so we are lucky she was so close. The hospital was beautiful too and everyone was so kind. She is a specialist in SM, and has done a lot of work with the Griffon breeding program. She had nothing but time for us, she stayed talked to me for an hour when I knew her other appointment was waiting out front.

Onto the appointment. She did a lot of physical examinations and tests on Brooky and she said that "from the physical tests, she responded great neurologically...though, that still doesn't mean she won't have SM in an MRI". But she was pleased with Brooklyn's appearance and responses. I showed her a video montage I made up to give her a better idea since it is hard in an office when all they want to do is cuddle to make a person understand the "discomfort" I see in her. She agrees that what we are seeing is SM symptoms, no doubt. But she is also concerned that we have not ruled out food allergies as well. (Brooklyn was given steroids and anti-histamines at one point, which had no affect, so my vet isnt leaning towards allergies, though food is a mystery still). She said she saw a breeding cavalier last month that the breeder brought in because her signs were so classic SM, they MRI'ed her and she didn't have it, only later they found her sever allergies to beef and some other things.
Anyway, Dr. Child does want an MRI though to know for sure and that will be our next step, but she isn't rushing into it right this second. What she is doing first is that she is putting her on Gabapentin (100 mg 2x per day) for a month to see if this eases her symptoms at all so we can get a better picture of moving forward. Also, in order to get the MRI covered by insurance, the insurance has to first agree to cover this neurology appointment, and if they do, they will then cover all further investigations into SM (MRI and anything that follows). This will take about 2-4 weeks to process, so that is why we are also not rushing into an MRI, but still trying something in the meantime and not leaving it hanging. Also, Brooklyn's parents have been MRI cleared, which does not mean that she doesn't have SM, but Dr. Child's says it does play into her equation on how fast to move and how likely (i.e. if she came from a pet store, Dr. Child's said she would have assumed right away with these symptoms and pushed an MRI sooner).

If the insurance approves the MRI, she does want to do the MRI right away though, to just rule in or out SM. If it is not approved, she said she would be more comfortable ruling out the food allergies first just to make sure before we spent $2k (though to be honest, if Brooklyn is suffering, I want to know so I can help her despite the cost. It's a tough one). She has seen a LOT of SM, and she said that she is not one to wait if she feels the need for an MRI to be done asap, but she felt okay with where Brooklyn is right now to wait a month, try some meds and go from there. So I guess that is good news?? I have no idea. Should I have pushed harder for an MRI right away? Or just go with what we are doing? It is so hard.

We will most likely move forward with the MRI in a month, so I don't know if I feel a bit good because while she is concerned enough to move forward with investigations...she is not concerned enough to get Brooky into an MRI asap, or if I feel bad because I am just stuck waiting again and wondering.

I the mean time as well, we are moving Brooklyn to a venison and kangaroo only diet. Dehydrated raw and raw. It is not a typical "elimination diet", but she said to go ahead and do that because she has never eaten these proteins and it might give us an idea as well. We will seek a dermatologist only after the MRI gets confirmed or not confirmed. One thing at a time she said.

Whew. I am exhausted and don't know how to feel or what to think. I feel better than expected and still worried at the same time. A month will move by quickly though and maybe medication and/or food will help in the meantime. The MRI is still looming though, but I need to put my trust in Dr. Child now as she has seen more than me (which is really hard for me, I want to know I am doing the right thing). As long as our insurance prevails, we will have and MRI in a month. Brooklyn was a rock star and captured the hearts of everyone...of course!

Time for a nap! Thank you all for you well wishes, they got me through today...you have no idea how much they meant to me and how much support and strength I got for them. You all are amazing.

30th August 2011, 05:17 AM
I've been waiting for news. I'm glad you are seeing a good specialist and so let's hope things improve

Sent from my Droid using Tapatalk

Brian M
30th August 2011, 08:28 AM

The specialist sounds brilliant ,venison and kangaroo sounds nice and healthy ,the girls have had
venison and it disappeaed very quick .

Well done to you and stay as positive as you are .

30th August 2011, 09:03 AM
This is alot to process. At least she is now on meds that could help her if she happens to have CM and/or SM. Gracie sure has done better on a limited raw diet herself for protein allergies. She has not had colitis now in ages!! Hope your insurance will cover the MRI. I am so grateful for Petplan covering this and not giving us any hassles at all. I like your neuro already....good action plan.

Kate H
30th August 2011, 09:37 AM
Glad you and Brooklyn got through the day OK! The dose of gabapentin she's on is the basic starting dose recommended by Clare Rusbridge. If her problem is neurological, the gabapentin should make some difference to her pain level/episodes quite quickly, even if that small dose doesn't deal with it entirely - as has often been said on this forum, finding the right meds and the right dose is often a case of trial and error for a few weeks. Great that your neurologist is so clued up about SM, and especially that she's working with the Griffon people, some of whom are getting good results by sticking to the breeding protocol. I know a month seems a long time to wait, but if it gives you time to sort out insurance, you'll be able to take Brooklyn for her MRI with some major worries dealt with.

When you've caught up on sleep, take Brooklyn for your favourite walk and just enjoy her!

Kate, Oliver and Aled

murphy's mum
30th August 2011, 01:27 PM
She sounds very knowledgeable indeed, which must be a huge comfort to you.

Hopefully the insurance will pay up and you can scan her. At least the Neuro is not jumping straight in and saying it's definatley SM and wants to investigate the food allergies too. I hope everything works out:xfngr:

30th August 2011, 01:28 PM
On my way out the door, but will jump on later. Just wanted to say I am glad you have someone who cares so deeply about you and Brooklyn.

I'll jump on later.

Margaret C
30th August 2011, 01:52 PM
It seems to me that you have been extremely lucky to find such a sensible, knowledgeable, and thoughtful neurologist.

It certainly sounds as if you and Brooklyn are in good hands.

Sydneys Mom
30th August 2011, 02:24 PM
Now you can breathe a sigh of relief that this first step is over. Your neuro sounds like a good fit for you. I like that she isn't jumping in head first with treatment and just taking things slowly. You and Brooklys seem to be in good hands.

30th August 2011, 02:38 PM
Comforting news indeed that you have someone who is actually being helpful and whom you can trust. Thinking of you both and hoping for the best.

30th August 2011, 03:10 PM
I think it sounds like you have a really good neurologist, who was taking a sensible approach. I think it's a good idea to try some things and see how they go, while waiting to do an MRI. It is important to eliminate any other possibilities, and although your vet did try the usual approach with allergies, it might be that she needs an elimination diet. Trying gabapentin will probably give you some idea of what might be going on, because if allergies are causing her symptoms, the gabapentin is not going to help. This condition, with symptoms that match many other common problems, can be so difficult to diagnose as so many vets will insist that SM is unlikely, because either they are unaware of how prominent it is in the breed, or just willfully obtuse (and there are plenty of vets that are, that think that incidence is “overestimated” simply because they fail to have the skills to recognize likely symptoms, and no doubt because dogs will initially respond to many of the medications given for other problems, such as allergies. This type of vet really drives me crazy).

I find it very significant that this neurologist -- who has worked extensively with the Griffon club in Australia (which has done a lot of MRI screening, thanks to the efforts of one of the clubs leading breeders, Lee Pieterse) and some of the Australian CKCS breeders who are scanning-- said this to you:

Also, Brooklyn's parents have been MRI cleared, which does not mean that she doesn't have SM, but Dr. Child's says it does play into her equation on how fast to move and how likely (i.e. if she came from a pet store, Dr. Child's said she would have assumed right away with these symptoms and pushed an MRI sooner).

This is a very strong validation that the neurologists who actually do the scans for and work closely with breeders see a significant improvement in scans of offspring from parents that have good scans. :) in other words–it is yet another quite strong validation for following the SM breeding guidelines and a confirmation of ongoing research, and uses results from a completely different geography than the already existing very strong evidence coming back from the Dutch breeders and UK breeders who are using the guidelines (pathetically, many of the UK club breeders who huff and puff publicly about how the UK CKCS Club and 'most' breeders are all doing so much for research -- are precisely the people who are doing nothing of the kind, and know those who do are a small minority of UK breeders, to whom they show little support, in public or private).

Given how many cases of SM Dr Childs has seen, and how many breeders she has worked with, I hope that message is being heard with open ears by breeders of all affected breeds in Australia and elsewhere. I am sure she is familiar with the results back from Lee Pieterse in which she demonstrates from personal experience and an actual sequence of lItters, how quickly a breeder can move to producing A litters from a D ancestor! :D

Karen and Ruby
30th August 2011, 08:59 PM

Just catching up on whats been happening around here. You are very lucky to have such a knowledgable Neuro so close to you.

She is obviously doing what she thinks is best and yes you are going in with the best odds being that Brooklyn is from Scanned parents.

Am I right in thinkig that Brooklyn is still just a baby??? I had Charlie scanned at a very young age (1 years) and although he was clear of SM at the time and had CM 'only' Dr Rusbridge was very quick to mention that I would need to scan him at around 2-3 years again as it could still progress on. He still has symptoms and is treated for that but just saving upp some moneys at the Mo to get him back in for another MRI.

Hopefully the Gabapentin will bring some releif to the symptoms she has shown!

30th August 2011, 10:40 PM
Just wondering how you are feeling now that you've had a chance to digest everything, and 'sleep on it'?

I think your neurologist sounds like a keeper. Hugs to sweet Brooklyn from me.

30th August 2011, 11:35 PM
Hey all,
Thank you so much for your responses! I was up and down all day yesterday, not knowing if we are doing the right thing, following the right path...but it really helps to hear all of your feedback. I do actually feel really lucky about having Dr. Child's so close and able to be on this journey with Brooklyn and I. At first I was nervous, because Australia does not really have all of the options that the UK and the US do in terms of small animal neurologists and this subject in general, and considering she was the only small animal specialist neuro in Australia, I was either worried that I had no choice if the appointment went bad, or happy because she is only 30 minutes from me. Well, I am please to say that I got the happy end of it, thank goodness. I don't know where I would turn otherwise. And yes, her work with the Griffon breed is really what makes me so happy and comfortable in just trusting her on where we go from here. She said the Griffons have made remarkable strides, and she hopes more than anything that she can do that for the cavalier. Like you said Karlin, it was the way she said things and her acknowledgement and endless research of this disease that made me the most at ease.

She let me ask a lot of general SM questions and she said that they have now started discounted breeder days for the MRI scans, but that it is still hard to get the cavalier breeders to come in (costs are still high and most breeders don't live in Sydney proper, they are rural or out of the city/state entirely). She does see a lot of cavaliers, but not enough to trust the breeding pool is changing in an organized way (and she loves cavaliers so much, she said that is the most heartbreaking part of it all, the nature of these dogs could be lost forever if we don't fix it). She said breeders here will usually only MRI a male because he will produce the most offspring, and she just laughed that somehow they forget that 50% of an equation does not equal totality.
She also stated when I asked her "if we could get all breeders to scan, would this really help our breed? Is there really hope?" she said absolutely. Scanning would change this breed and turn its life around, but it is getting the breeders to do so. She also acknowledged how expensive it was to scan, even on discount day, here in Australia, and that is what puts them all off. She said they are trying to figure out how to make it cheaper still (this specialist hospital is only 3 years old...and I think it will lead the pack in Australia).

Anyway, so I feel in good hands, but it is always hard not to wonder. To give control to someone else. I am feeling good, anxious and then good again :) It will be a road to travel on for us I think vs. a quick diagnosis, but I think I am beginning to be okay with that and happy to follow it for now, knowing that if she thought Brooklyn was in serious condition she would move forward a lot faster (she also told me if I see things change in Brooklyn in anyway in the next month, we are doing an MRI asap). I am one to usually wants answers fast, but I do appreciate her taking one thing at a time. Again...I've just got to put my trust in her and move forward! Brooklyn took to her like a new best friend (she even let out a whimper when she left to fill out her prescription! ha), and Brooklyn is an amazing judge of character, I have seen her react to my old first vet and it never made me comfortable...now the way she reacts with my new vet and with this neuro just assures me she is okay with all of this, and so am I.

So the road continues! Watching how she goes on Gabapentin will tell a lot. Thank you all for your thoughts and support! I don't know what I would ever do without you all. xx

P.S. Kate, I took your advice and took Brooky for an evening drive to go on our favorite beach walk :) The air was fresh and it revived us both:
http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6073/6098275168_1a8e741434.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/32200327@N02/6098275168/)
IMG_1347 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/32200327@N02/6098275168/) by kelseykakes5 (http://www.flickr.com/people/32200327@N02/), on Flickr

Kate H
31st August 2011, 10:04 AM
No better antidote for worries than walking with a Cavalier running to and fro, tail waving, really enjoying themselves. Works every time!

Kate, Oliver and Aled

31st August 2011, 04:53 PM
Just catching up to this thread, seems like you have found a wonderful neurologist, and that Brook came from good breeders! I had no idea she had been displaying symptoms, but hey to Cav owners everything is a symptom... glad that you will soon know what is really going on. Keep your chin up!

31st August 2011, 10:10 PM
Glad after your stressful day you got to go to the beach. There is nothing like being able to stick your toes in the sand (dogs too) that relieves stress and just makes one feel better. Hmmmm, I think I've talked myself into seeking our a sandy beach!

Anyway, I am praying that you don't see any change......that is my hope. Hugs!