"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever - not the fun you'd expect


It has been a very long time since I blogged and several people have sent me personal notes to make sure nothing is wrong.  I really appreciate that - so thoughtful.  As it turns out, we actually HAVE had some relatively serious health problems which is why I haven't posted.  Blessedly, things are getting better and full recoveries are expected.  And when I mention health problems, I mean Pearlie and me. 

Mr. Wonderful has been working and carting us, nearly daily, to various doctors, picking up prescriptions, making sure we're fed, making sure we get our medicine, and just generally pulling quadruple duty on just about everything.  He has been a complete saint. 

Primarily due to the prednisone, he is completely getting on my nerves.  He's bossy and I don't even like his eyebrows, these days. 

Life is not fair. 

Okay, so it all started in early October when we took the girls to a new veterinarian. Nice man and they really liked him.  We liked him.  He switched them from Frontline (flea and tick, topical) to a once a month pill that just kept them from getting fleas.  Okay.  So I worried a little bit about that but it is fall and the girls don't really get out in the woods in the football field that is our backyard. 

So about that same time, the drought FINALLY broke and we started getting the fall rains.  Thank you, GOD!  But because the grass was so sparse from no rain, we ended up with places in the yard that had mud.  No problem, there are old bales of hay in the pasture and Mr. Wonderful spread some along the trails to keep the girls from tracking mud into the house.  Pearlie was right there with him, looking up at his side, with a big grin on her face. 
 Pearlie is very helpful.

While they were fixing up the yard, I was doing some deep cleaning in the house.  I brushed down all the baseboards and shampooed the carpets. 

A few days later, on October 11, my face took on a rash and then both eyes ballooned shut like I'd been in a fight.  Horrible.  I've learned my lesson and promptly went to the doctor.  They gave me a steroid shot.  It wasn't poison ivy - didn't feel like that and it really didn't itch, either.  They didn't know what it was.  Still don't.

So the swelling goes down over the next few days and other than the emotional anguish at the loss of my youthful good looks (my eyes appeared to be swimming in the ocean of loose skin that had stretched out), I felt fine.

I took a picture but am not posting it.  You can thank me. 

So on the 25th, Pearl starts squinting.  First her left eye, then, in a day or so, her right.  By Friday afternoon (the 28th), the whites of her eyes went blood red and she was utterly miserable - poor darling would sit with her eyes pressed shut, clearly in pain. 
 Note the runny nose in the photo, above.
We took her straight to the doctor on Saturday morning.

The doctor looked at her but didn't do a thorough exam.  No staining the eye looking for ulcers.  He didn't even shine a light in her eyes.  He asked a few questions about what she has been doing, and said he thought she probably just got hay in her eyes and irritated them.  He told us to rinse them out. 

Okay. 

On Monday, she was still just miserable.  Clearly in pain.  I took her back and tried to make the doctor understand something was WRONG.  He didn't even examine her, closely.  He walked through the waiting room (where we were waiting), wandered back to the back and came out with some ointment to put in her eyes twice a day.  He speculated that perhaps when I was doing the heavy cleaning, I might have disturbed old mouse droppings that irritated both our eyes. 

EEwwwww. 

Two days later, Pearlie was REALLY sick.  We took her back (this was Wednesday).  At this point, he decided that she either got bit by a spider, or perhaps hit her head and got cellulitis.  By this time, Mr. Wonderful and I are looking at each other and not making eye contact with him while he prattled on.  He told us a war story about a horse that had a scratched cornea that, when they touched it, ruptured and dissolved right out the front of the eye.   Fascinating story but not really what we wanted to hear.   Still no thorough eye exam.  No lab work.  But he did prescribe some antibiotics and told us to increase the eye ointment to three times a day. 

She got worse.  We were beside ourselves by Friday morning and Mr. Wonderful called a second vet.   Surprisingly, she picked up the phone, herself.  She was on large animal rotation that day and out in the field so she couldn't see Pearlie in her office.  No problem, sez she.  Pearl needed to be seen and she promised to come by the house and do a house call when she finished her rounds that evening. 

We nearly dropped our teeth.

At about 6:30, after having already put in a nearly 12 hour day, the lady vet showed up at the house and checked out Pearlie.  She spent over two hours looking her over with poor miserable Pearlie standing on the kitchen counter.   We were so impressed. 
When she finished, she still didn't know what what was causing the problem but she knew she didn't have a cornea ulcer although her corneas were very swollen and horribly red.  We weren't in her office so she couldn't take a lab sample but she wanted us to see a veterinarian ophthalmologist on Monday, at the latest.  She gave us contact information to a specialist and left us with her number if Pearl got worse.  She said to take her to the hospital if she didn't get better over the weekend.  And she put her on prednisone, steroid eyedrops, a second eye ointment and told us to continue the antibiotics and ointment.  Pearlie was out of her mind with pain, especially with the nearly hourly need to put in drops or ointment.  She didn't understand we were trying to help her and it was heartbreaking to see her go from being completely trusting to slinking away when we called her. 

On Saturday, Pearl's eyes popped open and she went bug eyed.  She was in a lot of pain:

On Sunday, we could tell she couldn't see.   Our champion peanut catcher couldn't even find them on the floor.  And she was still in a lot of pain.  We called the specialist.  She and her husband met us at her clinic after church. 
We were scared to death. 

Evelyn, by the way, was not particularly concerned:
By that time, Pearlie had just had all she could take on being fussed with.  We were both impressed at how patient the specialist was with her.  She is a very low key individual who oozed professionalism and kindness.   She had to use all her equipment and the light had to be just killing Pearl's sore eyes. Pearl was like a worm in hot ashes.  We felt like we were torturing her. 

Once she finished the examination, the specialist stood up (from sitting on the floor with Pearl) and set aside the tools she's been using.   Okay, she sez - Optic Neuritis - inflamed optic nerves.  She believed Pearl had a systemic problem or it wouldn't have gotten back there - the optic nerves weren't going to be inflamed by hay (she was much more tactful than that).  She put her on a different antibiotic, tossed out some of the drops and one of the ointments, and arranged for her to come back in the morning for a follow-up and to do the bloodwork.  We were worried she'd end up blind (or dead) but she said, firmly, "No, she will make a full recovery." 

What a relief.  I know people with blind dogs and I know they do much better than people do, but no one wants that.  And for people who have followed this blog for a few years, we lost Jezebel nearly three years ago to the day but the grief is still there.  We got Pearlie after losing Jezebel.  Just a little bit too close to the bone. 

So we brought her back the next morning (Monday, November 14th) for labwork and a follow-up.  She  was doing a little better.  We made arrangements to come back the following Monday for a second follow-up.

I woke up the next morning with the headache from hell.  I felt like my eyes were going to explode out of my head.  I get migraines but this didn't feel like one.  It was directly behind my eyes.  After a couple of hours, it went away and I chalked it up to a sinus headache although it didn't act like one.

The next day, I got a bad aura over my right eye.  I thought I was getting a migraine even though I haven't gotten an aura in years and never get one in that location.  To my surprise, it went away after about thirty minutes and didn't leave a headache or any of the other side effects that go with a migraine.

On Thursday morning, November 17th, that right eye went to hell.  Just like that.  Light was intensely painful, everything swirled and a dark shadow covered the eye so I couldn't see.  Scared me spitless. 
Mr. Wonderful, who was in the middle of an important project that had people waiting for his input, dropped everything and got me right to the eye specialist.  The doctor diagnosed it as Anterior Uveitis (inflammation of the uvea - the front part of the eye).  The retina and optic nerve weren't involved beyond just being part of the eye.  That made me less freaked.   He put me on steroid drops and we set up a follow-up for the next week.  Of course with Pearlie having eye problems, we all wondered if there was a connection.  They drew 13 vials of blood to check me for everything from HIV to TB to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, auto immune diseases, you name it. 

By that evening, I couldn't see much of anything.  Everything was like a dense fog. I later learned (from the vet) that this was from all the dead cells floating in my eye catching the light like headlights in fog.  I literally couldn't see more than about four inches in front of me - like having my head wrapped in mist.   Horrible. 

On Saturday, my other eye did the same thing as the right.  It was excruciating and the fog just got worse, if that is possible.  MY specialist met us in his office on Saturday (after his racket ball game)and was unhappy that not only had the first eye gotten worse, the second was also bad.  He put me on prednisone and increased the steroid drops.

For about a week, I couldn't see anything.  I don't mean I just had blurry vision - I mean I was just this side of blind.  All I could see were vague shapes.  Between that and the prednisone and my eyes hurting like you wouldn't believe, I have been a joy to be around. 

Pearlie went back to her specialist on Monday the 14th.  She was starting to feel much better and the prednisone was making her ravenous.  I was afraid Evelyn might start looking like beefsteak to her.  Moreover, she was drinking several gallons of water a day and started having accidents.  It really upset her because she just doesn't have accidents.  Since I couldn't see, Mr. Wonderful was the one pressed into service (with prednisone laced Penny insisting that he missed a spot.  I was sure of it).  

The lab hadn't run the test for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever for Pearl so we re-sent a sample.  Everything else had come back negative.  Pearl's vision was coming back and we set up another follow-up for December 5th.

As for me, I went to the doctor later that day and all my test results were negative (including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever).  My eyes weren't much better.  He said they were, slightly, but you couldn't tell it by me.  I was starting to get a little depressed about it. 

He had me come back on Wednesday, November 16th, and although he felt things were better, I was still all but blind.  I could see about two feet in front of me but it was blurry and foggy.  

That same day we found out what was going on with Pearl - sure enough, she had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Although my tests for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever came back negative, they often have false negatives in the early stages.  But we don't know and I never had a fever.

On Monday, November 21 (yesterday) I went back to the doctor and both of us agreed that my eyes were better.  We started cutting back on the prednisone (Mr. Wonderful may end up surviving after all) as well as the dilating drops and steroid drops.  That has helped, tremendously, in clearing up my vision and I believe if I had to, I could actually drive.  It would hurt (I am still very sensitive to the sun) and it is still foggy, but I could do it in an emergency.

By now, Pearl is so good at getting her ointment that she will present herself, sweetly, to have stuff put in her eyes without fighting.  Then she gets a cookie...  I honestly think she has gained about 7 pounds in two weeks and she was only 63 pounds when it started out.  We are both so relieved that she has stopped fighting us and is now acting as though she is a member of the team instead of being waterboarded.  About the time she is due a "treatment," she comes to get Mr. Wonderful.  So it is all coming around to where we want it to be. 

Oh!  And I meant to say my latest passion (besides the darkest sunglasses I can find) are my new trail cams.  Before my eyesight went hinky, I was checking them everyday and having a blast doing it.  They have ultra red flashes and I set one up out on our property and the first two days we got deer, bobcat, raccoons, possums, rabbits and coyotes.








The cams also have a video feature which I've been running out in the pasture in the back.  I've gotten quite a few coyotes and a fox.  One of the coyotes has only three feet.  Three Foot and His Friend

Next up, I plan to set it up behind the barn because I saw Bob White Quail out there this afternoon.

But right now, even as I am typing, Grandson Charlie is on his first plane ride and he is bringing his mama, my son and one of my daughters to spend Thanksgiving with Grandma!  And my other daughter and her sweet husband will be here in the morning. 

So all is well - or getting there. I have much to be thankful for and hope you all have a lovely holiday.

Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl

10 comments:

Stephanie D. said...

Holy Cow, Penny, if it weren't for bad luck, you'd have no luck at all! I was so sorry to read this about you and Pearl. God bless Mr. Wonderful and may his guardian angel protect him from human and canine steroid rages! lol

Um, when you can see a little better, do you think you could reposition the trail cams so we don't see so many animal butts? Thank you. !

Glad you're both getting better!

ranette said...

Oh my goodness Penny!!! I'd seen something on Facebook about Pearl being sick, but somehow missed that you were as well.

I am so glad that both of you are feeling better. I know that the arrival of your family will help you feel even more like your old self.
Enjoy your visit!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

So glad to hear from you again. I was beginning to wonder if you all were OK.

Have a great thanksgiving with your family, and extra hugs for Charlie!!

Elaine

BilboWaggins said...

Good grief - you don't do things by halves, my dear, do you?

Thank Dog you are both on the mend, and the moral of this story is one that Management and I learned many years ago:

When you take a dog to the vet and he says "nah, nothing really wrong", but you KNOW your dog better than he does, and you KNOW there is something up, and deep down inside you KNOW the vet is wrong . . . it's time to go straight for a second opinion. Doing so many years ago extended Ollie's life from 3 or 4 years to over 14.

Take huge care of yourselves, and get well soon.

katiemedarlin said...

Good heavens, Penny, you and poor Pearl have been through the wringer. So glad things are getting a little better for both of you - and by default, Mr. Wonderful!

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and get lots a sweet baby kisses from Charlie!

Nancy said...

Penny, Glad to hear you and Pearl are feeling better. Hope you've decided to drop the disinterested vet. Your dh is a saint, but then, he loves you both and Evelyn too. Happy Thanksgiving! You have much to be thankful for.

Nancy

Florida Farm Girl said...

Glad to hear you are both on the mend. And hugs to Mr. Wonderful for his efforts above and beyond the call of duty.

Linda said...

So happy to hear both you and Pearl are doing better. What a horrendous journey. And thank goodness for Mr. Wonderful! So happy to see you back on line.
Lurking Linda

Anonymous said...

Holy shmoly Penny - what a time you've had. So glad things are getting better!
Glad to read your post.
-Sara

Sheri said...

So sorry to hear about your troubles! I wondered what happened to you. I enjoy reading your blog so much and your dogs make me smile. Glad to hear you and Pearl are doing better.