||VKH Forum - Stories
by Jamie Haight, Bea Pitts, Bev Lewis, Dr. Sophia Kaluzniacki, Les Ray
Following is and excerpt from an upcoming article in Akita Visions. Kisaki died away some years ago, but the tragedy still burns in the heart of the owners.
We were told that since we had discovered the problem early enough that there was a good chance for maintaining our first Akita, Kisaki, on low dosages of steroids, i.e., prednisone.
As it turned out, the vets at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Veterinary Teaching Hospital were overly optimistic in our case.
The disease, for those that haven't encountered it, can be described as up and down. You can have initial failures with steroid treatment and still have hope for success [i.e. hope is given and then taken away and then given back again].
The problem is you must watch your Akita and see how it reacts to the treatment. If it responds, then everything is fine. If the retinas detach again, you hope that the next attachment will work. The retinas do not go back on the same way they came off and some sight is lost to the Akita with each detachment.
You are then on an emotional roller coaster. Our roller coaster crashed and burned. Kisaki had to be put down. My hope is that none of you have to experience this disease. I know, however, that this will not be the case. If you do have this misfortune, I hope your roller coaster ride is much smoother than ours.
VKH - Michelle's story
As with any disease, VKH comes with its baggage of guilt and pain for the owners too. Following is anothre excerpt from an upcoming Akita visions of the intimate feelings of the owner who is fighting the battle with her Nikki's VKH. Nikki is doing quite well and holding her own. She is one of the lucky ones.
Nikki & I have had quite a long haul. At first, when she started going blind (it seemed like it happened overnight), she would confine herself to my bedroom 24/7 because that was where she started out as a puppy & she felt secure there.
I thought, God, is this how she's going to spend the rest of her life? I was so depressed & I'm very ashamed & surprised at myself to say that I questioned her quality of life. She was definitely not happy & neither was I. She wouldn't even drink from her water dish because it frightened her for some reason. We were giving her ice cubes just to keep her from dehydrating ...
Right now we have her on aziathioprine every other day & pred 5 mg every other day. We just started weaning her off the pred because we're taking her to see a dermatologist in March for the scabs she has on her belly. She's always had a rash, just on her underside & armpits, for as long as I can remember. We give her antibiotics & it goes away for awhile but always comes back again ...
I guess I have alot to be thankful for. We keep fighting for her & trying natural alternatives. She's getting an eyedrop of a mixture of Eyebright & Goldenseal, & we're also giving her Milk Thistle to soothe her liver. She goes in for bloodwork & vaccines next week. I'm hoping her thyroid has gone lower & that's why her skin has gotten worse. We started her on Soloxine a few months ago, & it seemed to get better, but the dosage made her hyperthyroid, so we cut it back. Now it's probably too low. You never know if you're doing the right thing!!.
VKH - Sweetie's Story
In a past Akita Visions we shared the story of Sweetie. She had gone blind very early from VKH but her eyes still caused her pain. The owner stuggled with the decision as to whether to remove the eyes. The disease would still be there but for Sweetie the pain would be gone.
Finally they had the surgery and for the first time in many years they watched with tear filled eyes as Sweetie played and yodelled to herself one day. She was alone and happy and secure. Her pain was gone and she was once again able to be a dog.
Sweetie has had some set backs and the steroid treatment, as in all VKH cases has to be adjusted regularly. But the owners felt that for her, this was the answer.
VKH - Bev's story
For me, this is the hardest VKH story to share. I still crumble when I see my boy's pictures or when I think of the horror of his last days. It has been five years May 2nd, yet it is as vivid as if it happened last week. Five years ago today, we stayed up night after night with our sick dog. We knew in our hearts that it was hopeless but we had to give him every chance.
He was one of the ones who was hit suddenly at just 8 months. One day the whites of his eyes were pink. Just two days later it was there. That milky blue surface with a slight bulge. VKH was to take our sweet, funny tweenie away from us.
The treatment was invasive, expensive and killed him. He died in our arms finally free of the agony that the steroids and the disease had inflicted on his defenseless body.
It was a mere 8 weeks from the day of diagnosis to his death. We adjusted the meds every 3 days. That is how often we had to make that 3 hour round trip to the specialist at a staggering cost of $95 per trip. He was also put on immune suppressants which made us fear that he should never leave our property for fear of his being exposed to an infection or bacteria.
He remained in critical care for the first 5 days and when we brought him home, it was a different dog that walked through the door. Gone was the happy-go-lucky puppy who only a week previous, would gladly stand for endless kisses and hugs. He wouldn't look at us because he couldn't see very well and his personality was gone completely. But he never grumbled at us even when the pain was agonizing for him.
He paced constantly and ate and drank quantities that were enormous. He stole food at any opportunity. Yet with all this extra food (sometimes 6 meals per day), he lost 20 pounds the first month. His ribs and backbone poked through his now thin coat.
Then he began to bleed. Both ends - profusely. We couldn't touch him and those eyes began to bulge even more. The decisions was made as it was clear he could not continue this torture for a disease that could not be cured. It was cruel to keep him alive. We knew that to continue would not be for him anymore, but for us.
I still remember the smell of that boy, the feel of his muscular body when he was healthy, and the way he looked into one's soul. He had the most stunning eyes of any dog I've ever met and they looked right into the back of your head.
There will never be another Taiyo and for me he is the poster boy for VKH, so in essence he will never really die. He was a brave little man but he lost his battle. We lost him and the battle.
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