Last Thursday while I was at the LaCamas Valley Sheepdog Trial, Tess had a severe Vestibular Attack. We had gotten there late wed and set up camp. It was very hot and I had the cool fan on but the temp was around 96 degrees. That evening, around six or so, the dogs were wandering around the camp. Towards the back of the trailer, was a steep incline and the dogs were all cavorting around there. I was watching them have a good time and suddenly Tess just rolled down he hill. I thought she lost her balance and fell down so I rushed over to help her up. what I saw stunned me. She was thrashing about and crying in pain. I bolted down the hill and scooped her up. She was acting like she was having seizures or a severe stroke. Her legs were wildly thrashing, her body was shaking and her head was tilted. Her eyes had rolled back partway and what I could of them, they were going back and forth in super fast movement. She was frightened but didn't fight me as I carried her up the hill. She buried her head deep in my chest, shiver ran up and down her spine and I comforted her as she had comforted me for the many months of my heart recovery. It was my turn to hold and kiss her and tell her it was all going be alright and I was there for her. She relaxed and the shivers went away and her breathing became steady. My heart was still was beating about 900 beats a minute, or so it seemed. I am sure my pacemaker was working overtime at this point.
I put ehr on the ground and she laid on her side, shaking and i called out to Debbie who was next to me. She rushed over and we tried to settle her down and it did not stop. I saw Angie Untisz the vet and ran to her and she came over to see Tess. By this time, the severe shaking had stopped and she was still down. We got her up and her head was at a very severe tilt, her eyes were going right to left, left to right in rapid fashion and she couldn't stand. Angie calmed me down and told me she was not having a stroke or seizures but a Vestibular attack. Say what??......she slowly explained it to me and that it was not life threatening, occurs with no reason and the dog will recover. I felt like ten tons was lifted off my shoulders when I heard this. If she was going to die, how could I call Getty and tell him this......we do know she will pass to the rainbow bridge one day, but we hoped it would be at home. Furthermore, Getty was unreachable as he was camping. I texted him and we kept in touch over the weekend.
She checked Tess over and the severe attack began to subside. She was unable to stand and still had the Nystagmus (rapid eye movement). She would be nauseated and unbalanced so I would have to help her until she recovered. I would have to hand feed and hand water her and help her walk. Once she got a little stable, then she would have to learn to walk on her own. We took her off the heart meds as she might get dehydrated from lack of water. She got a thorough check over and I put her in a x-pen that Chery lent me. Cheryl had bought Kuro from me last year and was camped next to me. Tess slept on her towel and was wiped out.
Bob took me to the store and I got her some canned soupy dog food to help stimulate her appetite. We had steak that night so I added steak, chicken to her dog food and I fed her while Cheryl held her. She didn't eat very much as she was dizzy but did try. She also drank a little water so that was good as it was hot. I left her in the xpen overnight as it was cooler than my hot trailer. I got up twice during the night to check on her and she was sound asleep.
The next day, Cynthia Mills (another vet) came over to check on her. Tess still had the Nystagmus and very unsteady. We talked for a long time and I was starting to be less frantic about all of this. each day I would see some improvement in Tess. Tess wasn't scared anymore but willing to do as I asked of her. I had to walk her in five minute sessions so she could learn how to walk and regain her motor skills. As much as I wanted to cuddle and carry her, I made myself walk in front of her and call her. I would wince when I saw her fall or stagger but kept on encouraging her.
I would keep getting up each night at least twice to check on her and she seemed like it was no big deal and would fall asleep after I rubbed her side and spoke softly to her. Cheryl was a great help as it took two people to feed her, one to hold her and one to hand feed her. we would take her out for walks and she would stumble along but each day would improve slightly. I was getting weary due to lack of sleep and worry but was happy with her progress. It was the longest four days left in the trial until I pulled out for home on Sunday. Tess was eating more each day, drinking the gravy water and going for slow walks. he would go potty in the corner of her xpen and then crawl back to her bed.
Tess had a great attitude during all of this. She trusted me and our trust helped her in the healing process. She never questioned why I made her walk, although she didn't want to get up but she did. She really didn't want to eat but I told her, "eat up" and she would slowly eat then discovered she could eat and wolfed down the meat.
Friday late afternoon...notice the severe head tilt.
It has been five days and she is much improved. She still has the head tilt but can move her head. The Nystagmus has gone away and she can walk halfway decent. She still is wobbly and cant turn or stop quickly, She can eat unassisted. She can walk up the stairs and even trot. Tonight she wanted to help put the chickens away and I let her. She couldn't turn on a dime but still managed to put all the chickens away. She couldn't stop but would slowly come to a stop. She took my commands and even pulled a chicken that got stuck in a corner.
On Monday, she got acupuncture from Audrey and it helped a lot. She was much more energetic. She has been getting better and now her walk is much straighter now. Her head motor skills are still rough but she is trying to take the treat slowly from my hand. She can trot in a straight line but once in a while, will stagger to the side and fall down. She has no issues getting up and her bathroom functions are normal. Audrey and Diane, both vet, have been keeping a close eye on her since she has been back. Getty is taking care of her during the morning shift and I am on night shift. We are hoping she will be normal by the weekend. I will keep you all posted.
I am sure that I am leaving out some part of this journey but I am trying to forgot this horrible incident. All I want is my beloved Tess to be normal again. I know her time is limited but I want her time left to be of a quality, loving time, filled with good times and love. Thanks to all who helped me and gave me advice or a just a shoulder to cry on.
Here is some info on VESTIBULAR SYNDROME. This is a very good article and goes into detail.