Each January I have new resolutions and hopes for this year to be more fulfilled and even better than the last. I thought this was going to be a great year. I had recently changed jobs and I was so excited about my new opportunity. Everything changed that first week in January. I remember sitting that first week in class and reading "For the Love of Ollie" during a break because I knew something was not right with Ella. My excitement over my new possibilities was now filled with fear of what was going on with Ella. Soon after she was diagnosed with a severe case of Syringomyelia. The outlook was not good for her because she was not reacting well to medication and also due to her specific case. It seemed like her only hope to prolong her life was to have foramen magnum decompression surgery.
I have posted a bunch about how difficult the decision of whether to have surgery or to try to manage Syringomyelia (SM) with medication is. This post is about what I have learned from people and what I personally went through. Surgery is very expensive which money is not something I have. Ella is everything to me and I have told the story about how I got her when I was extremely depressed and she gave me a reason to live. I could not look at her and know there is something I could do to maybe make her life longer and stop progression. There are some dogs that manage fine with medication alone but that did not seem to be a choice for Ella. I did not know what I would do without her and since I was not approved for credit for the surgery, I had a family member sign for me. I had several people tell me that they did not understand why I would spend so much money for this. One person even said for the cost of the surgery, you could even get another Cavalier. Are you kidding me. They did not agree with me changing my lifestyle so that I could take care of Ella. Without Ella, then I don't know what kind of life I would have.
My life has changed. I lost friends because I spent my nights with Ella and her recovery. I did not have the luxury to go out with my friends to dinner or do the things I once enjoyed but that was okay because I had this beautiful blessing with me. I have friends that understand but I have learned that the things that once mattered are not important. Also spending my nights and times with Ella, I have developed relationships with people from all over the world. I know how hard it is to go through this and every time someone e-mails me telling me they learned their dog has SM, my heart goes out to them. I have developed new friendships and once someone has gone through this, there is a bond. It is so difficult and it is something that you don't wish on anyone.
Things did not stop with Ella's surgery. I started to join groups and heard stories from other owners and breeders. I developed a passion for the health of dogs and for spreading awareness of Syringomyelia and also the importance of dog's health. I especially feel for the Cavalier breeders that are trying to prevent passing this on to future generations. The responsible breeders are paying to have their dogs scanned to follow SM breeding protocol because they do not want to pass this on to future generations.
Rupert's Fund was established for SM. The following was from the website:
Ella was diagnosed with Syringomyelia and taught me more in her short life about how to live life to the fullest, love with all your heart, and learn from each other.