So you might be wondering why we disappeared since relaunching our new website in November?!! Sadly everything came to a juddering halt for the worst possible reason; at the end of November, our dear Millie was struck down with IVDD (Intervertebral Disc Disorder). The result meant she had to have emergency spinal surgery. Let me tell you what’s happened over the past 8 weeks and why we’ve been so quiet…
On Monday 27th November, I noticed Millie wasn’t her usual self. I instantly recognised what I thought were early signs of IVDD (you can find out more about the signs of IVDD in an upcoming blog post). Being a typical neurotic dog mum, I hoped I was wrong, but unfortunately I was correct (the one time in life I wish I were wrong). We received confirmation from a vet later that day. The recommendation was to keep her quiet, give Metacam and review on Thursday/Friday.
Sadly Millie deteriorated rapidly in less than 24 hours. From showing mild symptoms on Monday to literally screaming in pain on Tuesday. It was nothing short of traumatic. Thankfully advice from Zena from Huxley Hound helped make a simply horrendous situation a lot easier (you can find out how, HERE).
EMERGENCY MRI SCAN
On Tuesday 28th November, Millie was rushed as an emergency to Fitzpatrick Referrals and underwent an MRI scan. Those two hours waiting for the outcome with my Mum in Godalming felt like forever. We hoped Millie would require pain relief and strict crate rest but then came the call…
In Millie’s case, the MRI indicated there was evidence of intervertebral disc degeneration at multiple sites throughout her spine and spinal cord, particularly T11-T12 and T12-T13. This wasn’t from wear and tear (which can lead to a form of IVDD) but was due to Millie’s genes. This is despite us doing thorough research when buying her and buying through a Kennel Club Assured Breeder.
It goes to show, even when you think you’re doing everything correctly, things go wrong. It also highlights more needs to be done in the breeding of dachshunds to help reduce this horrendous disease from multiplying and prevent even more dogs suffering (again, I plan to blog more about this over the coming weeks and months as it’s something I strongly believe needs to change as I think more can be done to tackle this problem).
Given the full diagnosis and weighing up all the options, it was recommended Millie should have surgery to give her the best possible chance of recovery. The drive home to Oxford that night without Millie was the longest…
So on Wednesday 29th November, Millie underwent spinal surgery (it still gives me chills just thinking about it). Thankfully we knew she was in the best possible hands (Dr Clare Rusbridge; Chief of Neurology at Fitzpatrick Referrals). Millie underwent a hemilaminectomy which focused on the T11-T12 area, where a large amount of disc material was removed from her spinal cord. Millie also had further work on T12-13 and T13-L1 regions.
Despite the surgery, we’re aware there is still a risk of a repeat episode. This obviously fills me with dread but we need to keep positive and acknowledge the fact that sadly, anything bad can happen to any of our dogs at any time. In Millie’s case, the odds are slightly higher.
AN EMPTY HOME FOR 8 DAYS
Millie remained at Fitzpatricks for 8 days (it felt like forever but it was the best place for her while she recovered from the initial surgery). She was treated like a princess! Apparently Millie even received cuddles from Noel himself – the things Millie will do to receive a cuddle from him! Actually, I don’t blame her! We received daily updates from the team, so we felt fully up to speed with Millie’s progress. Those were the best calls to receive as it brought her closer to us again. You can read more about our experience and what you can expect should you ever find yourself in that position in an upcoming blog post.
REUNITED (& IT FELT SO GOOD!)
Finally the day arrived when Millie was strong enough to come home! We couldn’t get there fast enough! Seeing her little face again (shaved ear & 6 inch scar across her back included!) was overwhelming to say the least (as you can see from my dodgy filming below!) I think it’s fair to say she was happy to be reunited with mum and me! Clare was able to remove the staples before we left (made my legs go funny!) which meant our next visit would be for her rehabilitation (physiotherapy & hydrotherapy) and 6 week post-op check.
THE LONGEST 8 WEEKS
Bringing Millie home was simply incredible (Ted was so relieved to be reunited with his girl). I must admit though, once Millie was home, relief turned to panic. Was she comfortable? Were we looking after her properly? All focus was on Millie (the way it should be!) I found myself just staring at her. When she was awake. When she was asleep (which was quite a lot of the time initially due to the medication). Mum and I were like this weird tag team and Millie always had one (if not both) of us by her side at ALL times (this is not an exaggeration!)
I seemed to physically feel her pain. It was overwhelming in all honesty. The subsequent weeks had an effect on me which I wasn’t quite prepared for (hence our disappeance from social media / the blog and why there are limited photos of our experience and Millie’s recovery!) I think it’s important you’re aware of this too so it doesn’t take you by surprise, should you ever been in a similar situation (which I truly hope you never are). You can find out more in an upcoming blog post.
Before Christmas, Millie had her first physiotherapy session with the wonderful Fiona Doubleday at Fitzpatrick Referrals. Fiona taught me how to conduct exercises which would help Millie’s recovery. I was determined to help Millie’s recovery, so all exercises were completed multiple times a day, every day. Yes IVDD, don’t mess with us!!
As well as this, January has seen us do the 5 hour round trip to Fitzpatricks for physiotherapy and hydrotherapy appointments every week so far and we have another 4 weeks to go. It’s completely worth it though. I’ll share all about Millie’s rehabilitation in an upcoming blog post over the coming weeks and how such rehabilitation can really aid recovery in a variety of ways. Watch this space!
Millie isn’t quite there just yet as she still has a way to go with her recovery but the signs so far are extremely promising. As Millie is able to have a little bit more freedom now, so I can I! So Twilight Bark UK will be back with more regular posts over the coming weeks and months. We can’t wait to get back to it and be with you all again.
Finally, a huge THANK YOU from me, Ted and Millie for all the incredible and supportive messages. On those darkest initial days, they truly helped me through. I will be forever grateful. Find out more in my blog post HERE with more thank you’s and how important it is to talk amongst the dog community.
Has your dog experienced IVDD or suffered with a serious illness? I’d welcome hearing your experiences if you’d be happy to share. Pop a comment below…we’re all in this together!
Sarah, Ted & Millie xxx