Update on Buster — May 23, 2006

Here’s a quick update on Buster, the dog that’s currently with us… As you may recall from this article, Buster is a 6-year old sweet Daschund who is currently paralyzed from the neck down.

On their first attempt last week, the folks at Wendy’s hospital weren’t able to get a read-able X-ray of Buster’s spine. However, Wendy got a good film yesterday and found that Buster has an overriding spinal compression of C6-C7. Below is a scan of a human spine (we’re looking into posting Buster’s scans) with a similar problem, from this page:

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Wendy isn’t able to do the type of spinal surgery that might help Buster, plus the location of his compression is in “no-man’s land” of the spinal cord — not easy to get to from the usual surgical entry spots. We’ve got him on a pretty good dose of steroids, muscle relaxers, and some Metronidozol (for his bowels, which seem to be upset by all this). He’s comfortable in his little bed and we take him outside to potty several times a day. His teeth, bad breath, and little pot belly are evidence that Buster enjoyed a diet of people food in his previous life, something that will change as he recovers. We provide him I/D, which is a bland food that should be easier for him to digest. He’s currently pretending not to be interested in dog food, but eagerly accepts the pieces of cheese we use to get him to take his meds.

Dr. Purvis, one of Wendy’s colleagues, is going to attempt spinal manipulation (chiropractic) on Buster today. This procedure isn’t without risks — first, he’s knocked out; secondly, because of the location of his injury, there is the possibility that messing with his spinal cord could cause his respiration to stop (Wendy and the other doctor assure me that this possibility is very remote) — but with the exception of the ‘stopping breathing’ piece, the proceedure shouldn’t make anything worse. Once I know anything about how that goes, I’ll post it here.

UPDATE: As I was finishing this article, I called Wendy at the hospital. Buster’s procedure was already done and she said that the doctor stretched Buster’s neck out so far that he “looked like a little giraffe” and that they got some movement from his spine, and that Buster was only knocked out for a few minutes. As he was recovering, one of Wendy’s nurses saw Buster eating some food (he had to scootch his way over to it, too), but when Buster saw her looking at him, the little stinker stopped eating! This dog knows all the tricks. At this point, it’s too soon to expect any visible changes in his behavior, but we hope that this spinal manipulation will speed his healing.

We’re still hopeful that Buster can be brought back to a fairly normal lifestyle. He’s already able to roll himself over from his side onto his belly and does a bit of ‘paddling’ with his front paws when excited.

On this day...

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