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.

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The moment I first held Ella, my world changed. She has touched so many people giving love as a therapy dog but now it is time to give back. No matter how hard she tries to give, her eyes show sadness and pain.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Is it Allergies

Let me start by saying I think Elton is having allergy problems but it has me wonder at what point would you say see a neurologist? Everyone knows Ella's story of me calling crying to the vet to get referral to neurologist because I knew it wasn't allergies causing her problems. I now have a cavalier, Elton, that I really do think he has allergy problems. Part of me feels that vets don't know enough about SM and we need to raise awareness. Then the other part thinks sometimes people who are aware of SM can jump to the conclusion that scratching = sm when it could be other things.
I felt like I was starting over. Elton had already had an MRI and was diagnosed with mild CM and he had some hydrocyphelous but the way he was scratching at his ears made me go back to the vet. Let’s not forget that one of the first things to do is to rule out other things with your vet. You can go here and it gives you a step by step of what to rule out and to do. http://sm.cavaliertalk.com/diagnosing/diagnosing/isthissm.html So here I was ruling out the ear infections and mites. Now we tried some allergy medicine and I am seeing a difference. I have been writing about SM for so long but Elton was diagnosed with mild CM. Do I think that he is symptomatic from this? Do I think some of his tail chasing and obsessive scratching is OCD or behavioral? It really is hard to not jump to other conclusions. I think he does have a little OCD but also allergies. I don’t think that his CM is symptomatic now. Here is what I would suggest to people. Get a journal or they even have apps on phones. Notice the frequency of symptoms and make a note of it. When did this happen, how long, what time was the last medication. I noticed that Elton was not scratching as much. He did start to scratch but it was getting close to time for his medication. I noticed that he was scratching when he got on my bed. Is he allergic to something in my comforter? All of these things are important. I am doing this for his allergies but I think those with CM or CM/SM dogs should do the same for those symptoms. I know it is hard to do but it having a dog that is not suffering is worth it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ella’s 1 Year Anniversary and CM/SM Awareness Event

I am so blessed to have loving friends on Facebook who put together a CM/SM Awareness Event on the anniversary of Ella’s death. It has been a very hard year but somehow knowing that her death brings awareness to this condition is somewhat of a comfort. Ella’s blog will be shared with a cavalier group on Facebook. What can I say to those that did not know Ella or do not know about CM or SM? I think the first thing is that Ella was brought to me during a time when I needed strength. We were inseparable. We came as a package and it was known that if Ella could not come then neither would I. That bond only got stronger when she got sick. I would do anything for her. I could not believe that even when she was in pain, her tail would not stop wagging. She would still want to comfort me even on that last day. I knew it was her time and her body was falling apart but she had a little bit of energy to come out in the grass with the sun shining on her, tail wagging. Now what about Syringomyelia? What is it that I learned the most? Chiari Like Malformation (CM or CLM but I say CM also called COMS but that is outdated) and Syringomyelia (SM) are extremely complex. No two dogs are alike and the more I learn the more questions I have. Syringomyelia is not just a Cavalier issue. I have shared the story of Winston the pug. There are several toy breeds that can get Syringomyelia. : http://cavalierhealth.com/syringomyelia.htm#SM_in_Other_Breeds “Other breeds known to be affected by Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia include the Affenpinscher, Bichon Frisé, Boston terrier, Brussels Griffon (Griffon Bruxellois), bull terrier, Chihuahua, French bulldog, Havanese, King Charles spaniel (the English toy spaniel), Maltese terrier, miniature dachshunds, miniature and toy poodles, Papillon, Pomeranian, Pugs, Shih Tzu, Staffordshire bull terrier, and the Yorkshire terrier.” Then again this is a cavalier issue! Yes we know a lot more because of research but it still is a problem in this breed so it must be talked about. An MRI is the only way to diagnose CM or SM. There is a lot of focus on SM but CM can also cause pain. Some cavaliers with CM only are symptomatic while others with both CM and SM are not? That is why it’s important to understand when your dog is in pain http://fightforella.blogspot.com/2011/07/dogs-in-pain-its-in-pain-know-whats.html How did I know Ella had SM. http://fightforella.blogspot.com/2010/02/news.html There are many symptoms but looking back on it Ella didn’t scratch much which is what most people think of when they think of SM. What I saw was the pain in her eyes. She also did a lot of head shaking and had some quirky behaviors. What one thinks is funny or a quirk is really a sign of something else going on. There is no cure for Syringomyelia but I do know of Cavaliers that have lived long lives with their symptoms being controlled with surgery and or medication. http://fightforella.blogspot.com/2010/04/there-is-no-cure-for-syringomyelia.html I can’t really sum up my blog in one post for this awareness event but I can say that I am glad I wrote this blog and hope that in some way it has helped at least one person who is or will be going through this also.