Friday, May 6, 2011

Payton’s battle with PDE…diagnosis

If you missed the previous post in this series, check it out.

Christy here again. Today I’ll begin Payton’s story. Please know that this is just one dog’s tale and may not be the same for everyone. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments sections, or contact us privately via email. Although we are here to shed some light on this disease and answer any questions you may have about our experiences, please, please make sure to consult your own vet if you have fears that you or some dog you may know is ill.

Because there is suspicion that a pug’s immune system may play a role, I thought I should first share 2 incidents that may (or may not) have played a role or been a warning sign. During Payton’s first year of life she developed a skin rash/mite/mange condition that had to be treated with cow de-wormer (I still get the shivers every time I think of that stuff). Our local vet said that only dogs with compromised immune systems are vulnerable. Then only a month before the onset of PDE symptoms/diagnosis, she had a bad reaction to some normal vaccines and didn’t bounce back right away as she usually did…which leads us to the very beginning of August 2006.

Early in the week, Payton had some neck and upper back pain. I think she has only whined/yelped like twice in her life and does not typically show any signs of pain or discomfort until it is very bad. The vet thought it was due to Payton’s constant jumping on (and off) the furniture. She was put on a steroid, kept off the furniture, and seemed to be getting better. Then on Thursday, her left ear caught my attention. It was gently twitching. Like a mild muscle spasm. And that’s all we thought it was, but when we got up the next morning, it had progressed into her left eye. Needless to say, I stayed home from work and called the vet as soon as they opened. They said she was having a focal seizure and the steroid she was already on should help.

She still wasn’t herself Friday morning, so I decided to stay home again…and thank goodness I did. By Friday afternoon she worsened and I was introduced to the most horrible nightmare of my life. Payton went into a full seizure – legs kicking, body convulsing, foaming at the mouth, twitches all over her face. I felt helpless as I rushed her back to the local clinic. They stopped the seizure with diazepam (aka valium), but they kept coming back just as violently as the first. Quickly they realized that if we wanted to give Payton the best shot, we should drive up to the University of Illinois for more specialized care.

I’m not going to lie to you, the car ride was miserable. When we finally got there late at night, they rushed us back and the doctor on-call performed another neurologic exam. They scheduled an MRI and spinal tap in hopes of finding out what was going on. It was risky, but the only way to know how to proceed. We were so relieved that she made it out of the anesthesia after the procedures. They started Payton on anti-seizure drugs to include potassium bromide (which I’ll talk about in a later post). The next day we came to visit and get an update on the test results. We could tell they did not have good news.

And that’s when we were told about 3 little words that would change all of our lives. Payton has Pug Dog Encephalitis and there was no lasting treatment let alone a cure. I remember that the doctor said our goal should be to try and make her as comfortable as possible as she would likely only have days or weeks (maybe months) to live. After we asked/begged if there was anything else we could do, he told us about a doggie neurologist in Chicago that the university has partnered with in the past. It was a long shot, but if we wanted to get a second opinion, Dr. Michael Podell was the person to see. So, we made plans to extend our trip and drive up to Chicago.

This car ride was even worse than the last. She was seizing about every ten minutes. We arrived to the emergency and specialist clinic on Sunday which meant that Payton had to stay there until she could be seen by Dr. Podell on Monday. She was just in such a fragile state that we could not provide her with the care and 24 hour monitoring she needed. We took this opportunity to research this disease on the computer in the hotel lobby. After absorbing what little information was available and reading stories of pugs whose lives ended tragically early as described by those at U of I, we felt pretty hopeless and were wondering if this trip was a waste of time. And then we met Dr. Podell early Monday morning.

After reviewing the MRI and spinal tap from U of I, he confirmed the diagnosis of PDE (that the right side of the brain and its lining was inflamed and being attacked by her own immune system), but quickly snapped us out of our funk. He didn’t down play the seriousness of the situation, but said that he had successfully treated PDE before and he has no reason to think it couldn’t happen again. He warned us that we would likely have to test different combinations and dosages and there were no guarantees that the drug regimen would work for Payton. However, there was no reason to give up just yet; we should still have some hope. We stayed in Chicago the rest of the week while Dr. Podell developed the treatment, and each day we saw our little girl come back a little at a time. By the end of the week, he was confident she was stable enough to go home.

Ok, I feel like I’ve written a book already, so I’ll break here. Next up I’d like to talk about Payton’s current medication list and treatment. I hope everyone has a great weekend, full of fun adventures!

Christy (and Payton)


Minnie Moo said...

Oh Christy and Payton,

That all sounds so traumatic but obviously Payton and her parents are really really tough people. Payton is so lucky to have such good parents that will drive her to the very best.
Can't wait to hear more.


Minnie Moo

Gracie the Agility Pug said...

Thank you so much for writing this. A good friend of mine is a vet, and because she treats many of our Pug rescues, wants to learn everything there is to know about PDE. I will be sending her all your info.

Noodles said...

What a scary story but very uplifting at the same time! I am so glad Payton has the spirit of a warrior and her pawrents the faith to continue on!!!
Love Noodles

Sequoia & Petunia & Emma said...

Thank you for sharing this story so much.

Winston Wilbur said...

OMP this is wonderful that you are documenting this info. After we stumbled across your blog we did google searches to find out more about this disease as we had not been aware of it before. There was little out there but nothing as detailed as what you have listed here. Your posts will be a wonderful guide for someone else in the future trying to find more help and info regarding this disease. Our pug community is all about blogging fun stories but also offering advice and valuble info.

Yeah for Payton and for finding treatment that is helping! This is a wonderful sucess story.

Minnie and Mack said...

Oh my, seizures are so scary. As I've told you before our grandpug, Gus, had PDE. It's wonderful that you were able to find someone. We're looking forward to you future posts regarding PDE.

Drools and licks,
Minnie and Mack

Vito and Gina said...

I decided to go back and start at the beginning of your blog to read everything. This is fascinating and also SO encouraging for others dealing with PDE! I'm so happy that the treatments have worked for Payton. She is clearly a very special girl and you are very special parents.

Gina (Vito's mom!)

Jack the Pug said...

HI Payton's Parents :) I happened upon your blog from Pug Slope and began reading about Payton's PDE. That diagnosis trip sounded so so very tough. I'm glad there were good times after you all found out. And I'm so happy you were able to find a doctor who gave you hope and management of the PDE. I hope things are well with you.

owned by a 4 year old awn pug named Jack

Meiko's Mom said...

Thank you so much for posting this information. My beautiful baby girl Meiko, normally a healthy, vigorous 2 yo fawn pug, just started acting weird 2 days ago. Yesterday she began seizing. She is in the puppy ICU right now awaiting MRI. I came across this blog while researching PDE. It is a comfort to know that our ordeal is not unique, and that there is hope. Thank you for sharing your story. It is immensely comforting to those of us facing a similar battle.