I have put off writing this blog because I didn’t want to jinx anything, but after almost two months I think I am safe saying that Frank is 100% back to normal! In my post from May 7th I reported that he was on the mend but he really wasn’t back to doing all his normal Frank activities. After several weeks on Prednisone it was in mid-June I accepted that he still wasn’t himself and decided to move forward with an MRI to make sure there was nothing else going on.
We headed out to Animal Scan in Virginia and under the exceptional guidance of neurologist extraordinaire Dr. Lauren Talrico, Frank had his MRI. We found that he had some very mild changes in his spinal cord consistent with intervertebral disk disease (IVDD) and Wobbler’s syndrome. Dr. Talrico believes that both of these changes are causing him pain in addition to the meningitis that he was initially diagnosed with. Poor Frank!
|Frank helping Dr. Talrico read his MRI|
IVDD is a condition in which one or more of the cushions that exists between each vertebra comes into contact with the spinal cord causing an array of clinical signs. These can range from irritation that results in pain to compression that can lead to weakness and paralysis. Wobbler’s syndrome is a collection of abnormalities that occur in the cervical spine (neck) that affect how the vertebrae line up with one another. This is turn can also result in neck pain and spinal cord compression.
Thankfully Frank’s condition was not severe enough to require surgery so we started pain management with pregabalin (also know as Lyrica) and physical therapy. Unfortunately the underwater treadmill is not yet up and running at Friendship but our wonderful physical therapist Janay gave me several exercises to work on at home with Frank. One of these exercises was cavaletti work - you can see in the video below how much he enjoys it!
I am incredibly relieved and delighted that Frank appears to be pain free off all his medications and is now back to his usual antics. What has been the most surprising to me is how this situation crept up on us. For several weeks before we noticed he clearly wasn’t feeling well that he had stopped doing many of his usual adorable Frank activities. He had all but stopped picking toys up and asking us to play with him. He would no longer body check my husband to get out the back door so he could accompany him to take out the trash and run around outside. He used to wrestle with Poppy every day, often times so loud you couldn’t hear the television over their play growling. For the last few months that he has been back to normal all of these behaviors have returned and I can’t believe that I didn’t pick up that something was off earlier.
|Happy after a swim at the beach|
We will always have to keep an extra close eye on his behavior in case one of his three conditions flair up again. He will never receive another vaccine as this can cause his meningitis to come out of remission. He can’t roughhouse anymore and we need to continue his physical therapy long term to maintain his muscle conditioning. Once the underwater treadmill is installed he will be first in line for therapy sessions. Friendship will also be offering acupuncture soon and this is an excellent therapeutic option for Frank. I am incredibly thankful that Frank has responded so well to treatment and is back to being his normal, wonderful, lovable self!