We drove down the day before, a sunny, golden Sunday. I decided to take the scenic route, along Highway 12 through Idaho. Cali and I stopped a few times along the way — for a walk in our favorite photo spot, for a picnic — and we arrived in late afternoon.
Our appointment was at 10 am. We got to campus early and enjoyed a walk among the fall leaves.
Finally, it was time to go inside. The small-animal clinic is huge, with a vast waiting area, which was filled with dogs of a ll sizes, one or two cats, and assorted pet owners. Cali marched in confidently and popped up to put her paws on the desk and greet the receptionists.
A neurology resident soon came out and sat with us for about a half-hour, taking Cali’s history and explaining the process. Cali had skipped breakfast in case the team wanted to do X-rays and needed to sedate her. She was not thrilled about this and kept nudging me and the resident, asking for cookies.
They finally went off to the exam area, and I had a couple of hours before I would get an initial report. I went back to our hotel to do a little work before check-out.
When I returned for the consultation, the news was good: The neurology team did not think there was anything major (= a tumor) wrong. They thought she might have a mild disc herniation. They asked if I would consent to a blood test to rule out Degenerative Myelopathy, “a non-painful chronic degenerative disease.” I agreed, and I should have those results soon.
They recommended having the orthopedics team examine her as well, and I agreed to that — and to X-rays if that seemed necessary. Off they went.
A few hours passed slowly … I could not get online, but I had some work I could do offline. I watched other dogs and humans come and go.
Finally, the neurology resident returned with more good news. The orthopedics team did a thorough exam and found that Cali has full range of motion and no joint issues; no X-rays were needed. They did find “multiple myofascial trigger points in all limbs — muscle pain likely secondary to compensation for abnormal gait.” Basically, knotty, tense, painful muscles (and she doesn’t even sit at a computer all day!).
The recommended treatments include massage, acupuncture, physical therapy, and a newer NSAID, Galliprant. Cali’s local vet has already talked with me about a local acupuncturist and a physical therapy place in Missoula that offers water therapy. I’ll be scheduling her first appointments very soon, and we’ll both get to swim regularly this winter!
I know that the news could have been much worse. In addition, I fully expected the team to strongly recommend an MRI (very expensive). Though they said we could tell more about what was going on with an MRI, they said it would not change their treatment plan.
I gave Cali some food and, at a little after 4 pm (5 pm in Montana …) we set off for home. We drove the slightly faster I-90 route; even so, it was well after 9 pm when we finally pulled into the driveway.