Friday, August 30, 2013

Stitches GONE!

Thursday night I spent a little time giving Mason a much needed haircut.  I didn't want to tire him out doing it in one setting so we finished up this morning.  He also had a nice bath in the kitchen sink. BOY...He looks and smells so much better!

Mason had his one week post-op appointment today.  He passed all of his neurological testing with flying colors and Dr. Brewer (He assisted Dr. Jarboe in surgery) said that he is so pleased with his progress thus far.  This was the first time I have had a chance to meet Dr. Brewer and he just couldn't get over how tiny Mason is.  He said that Mason has to be the smallest patient he has surgically treated with this condition and was so happy that he is doing so well.

The tech staff removed Mason's stitches, weighed him and assessed his vital signs.  They tried taking his temperature but Mason was just too squirmy, they couldn't get it this time.  You know, I probably would be too if I saw that stick getting prepped and ready for the "other end"!

Mason has begun tapering his Prednisone.  He will have five more doses of this medicine and will be finished.  After that, we'll stop the Gabapentin and he will be medicine free for the first time in a long time.

Dr. Brewer said that although Mason appears like a "normal" happy-go-lucky puppy, he is still healing and it is very important to continue his strict cage rest regime for 8-10 more weeks.  That is a small price to pay, I guess.  We will make another appointment in six weeks to have xrays taken.  These xrays will show how the healing has progressed and will help the doctors make sure the pins and screws have not migrated out of position.

I'll be posting live on Ustream this Sunday.  Please stop by to say HI!  Thanks for your continued prayers and support.  They have been such a comfort to me and a blessing for Mason!!!

Monday, August 26, 2013


Wow, it's so amazing that just one week ago my baby Mason went through the most difficult challenge of his little life.  I'm so happy he made it through the risky surgery so well and is once again, becoming more and more the puppy that many have grown to love so much.  I'm so blessed to call him my buddy- baby for life!

During one of his out of crate stretch breaks yesterday (he gets 3-5 breaks a day to stretch and potty), I took a few pictures.  He's hard to catch on camera now as he's just feeling so good, but I did pull out all the stops with his favorite treat: dried and smoked turkey breast. MMMMM crunch, crunch!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Hello World...Feeling GOOD!

I'm just popping on today to post a little picture I took of Mason today.   He was enjoying a few minutes out of his crate and I was able to take a few precious pictures.  This guy needs a bath and a trim soooo bad but he is cute nonetheless.  More cute photos will be on his blog to celebrate his one week post-op tomorrow.  It's a celebration for sure!!!

Remember, if you want to say hello to Mason live on camera, the camera will be streaming live today in 30 minute (or so) increments at 4 and 9.  You can access the cam on this site (scroll all the way down) or click on the Ustream link in the banner at the top.  See you there!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Happy Healing Saturday!

Hello there,

Mason has been doing so well these past few days after surgery.  I think he's feeling very little pain and sometimes forgets that he needs to be still to heal.  He can really overwork himself and tire out so I have to really watch out for him right now.  He wants out of his kennel more frequently and makes his adorable little dino whine that is practically irresistible.  I continue to remind myself that he can only have 3-5 breaks from his kennel confinement even if he he's doing so well.  It's hard, very hard.

During one of his breaks today, I took him into the bathroom so I could work a little on giving his eyebrows and beard a trim.  He hasn't been willing to allow me near his face in months and today he actually allowed me to use scissors to trim his eyebrows and beard.  I held him in my arms and he didn't mind at all.  SO different.  I can't wait for the day when the doctor says I can take him in the shower to wash his body.  He really needs a bath!

He's becoming more squirmy and feisty when I give him his medication too.  Even swaddling him in a towel doesn't seem to stop the squirming and the squeals.  I reread the medication directions from Dr. Jarboe and it says that I can discontinue his Gabapentin nerve pain medicine when he doesn't appear to be in pain any more.  I don't think he's quite ready for that, but perhaps he'll only need it for a few more days.  We'll see.  He will be continuing his Prednisolone 1x a day until he gets his stitches out next Friday.  At that time, the doctor may also adjust his kennel confinement schedule.

A live Ustream Stretch Break will begin tomorrow (Sunday, August 24).  I'll be going live two times in only thirty minute breaks as he must return to the kennel and rest.  Peanut will be monitored closely too as Mason wants so badly to climb her like a jungle gym!  You can find the schedule on the sidebar to the right or scroll all the way down the page to see the camera.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Waking up to a new day...

Mason slept well through the night.  Every move he made in his kennel on my bed made me wake up just to check on him.  I am thankful I have a flashlight app on my cell phone because his little kennel gets pretty dark at night.

Today, he's eating, drinking and doing his business regularly.  He has a voracious appetite so I have to slow him down a bit as he's wolfing down his softened dog food.  He does grunt a bit but according to Dr. Jarboe's visit today, that's more than likely because he is sensing the added weight on his neck.  She said he'll have to adjust to that and will build more muscle to help him during this adjustment.  His eyes are much brighter, more round and have that sparkly spark today, so I know he is really on the mend and getting back to his angelic little self.

Before leaving from the hospital with Mason yesterday, I wanted to give each and every team at Busch and the Life Center ER a little thank you card.  I hope this little token of gratitude (with personal notes) showed them how much I appreciate the gift they gave back to me.

Front Desk, Recovery, Surgical Support, Dr. Jarboe, Dr. B all received a card, and of course, Mighty Mason was the star!
I've got several more cards in the works for those who graciously gave me their address when donating to his surgery fund.  I will also be sending out email thank yous to every person who donated to his fund.  Thank you all for your continued love, support and prayers for Mason.  He's working on his recovery now, so please, continue to pray!!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Mason's Home!!! Dr. Jarboe was in surgery when I arrived so I had to wait a bit longer than expected.   When she was done (she was in surgery since 9:00 and finished up at 4:00), she followed Mason into the exam room. Yes, FOLLOWED.  Mason was prancing all the way in on his own four happy feet. When he saw me sitting there, he started wiggling his cute little bum. I scooped him up and he just kissed my face and made his little "dinosaur" squeal. 

He does not have a splint on his neck and Dr. Jarboe said his bones are very secure and stable. She showed me the post-op xrays and talked to me about his incision in his neck. He'll need to return in 10-14 days for a check-up and to get his sutures out and will also return 6 weeks after that for repeat xrays to make sure his pins have not migrated. We're returning home with the same medication regime for a few more weeks, and of course strict cage rest for for the next 8-12 weeks. A small price to pay for a happy, healthy and LONG life. 

Got home and immediately put the kennel on the floor so Peanut could say hi. She sniffed, gave a quick glance and off she went crawling across the floor...That's her happy move! Mason gave out a hello squeal too.
Here are the xray shots that were done immediately after surgery:

Mason's coming home!

Just got off the phone with the doctor. Said Mason is doing wonderful and they are so pleased with how he is doing. They said standing up and walking right after such a surgery yesterday showed them that he is truly an amazing little fellow. Said they are weaning him off his hospital medicines and the iv line and will be prepping him to come home later today. 

I told them I was concerned about that and they said with a puppy like him "he's a noisy guy-sounds like a little dinosaur" who would be more at ease home. He said they knew from those first steps after surgery that he was going to do just fine and they were sooo excited and happy with his progress.

I asked about giving medicine and said that he's really not into that and fights me when having to give it to him. He said continue what I have been doing, the head is NOT GOING TO MOVE and he will be just fine. He will need approx. 6 weeks to heal.

Soo...I will be heading to Leesburg to pick up Mason today. Doctor said they'll have him all ready to come home at 3:00. He's really doing well.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Surgery complete...

Photo taken night before surgery, 8-18-13.
Mason went into surgery today at 9:00 AM EST.  Dr. Jarboe was there to reassure me that she had practiced the surgery at least 20 times in her head since the day it was scheduled.  She told me it is one of the most difficult procedures Neuro Vets will ever do, but she was absolutely ready to go.  As she left to go fix Mighty Mason, she gave me a big hug.  I told her to take care of my baby and she said she would.  She would give me a call by 12:00 to give me an update.  

I left the hospital with my nephew at the wheel and rode home thinking, praying and crying.  We headed over to wait for the news at my parent's house.  Waiting was torture and 12:00 came with no update...Mom said "No news is good news!"  Really?  

Ten minutes later, I got the call.  Mason was out of surgery and doing exceptionally well in recovery. All four legs were moving and he was active.  She said she did not do a CT scan because he was so tiny, but radiographs showed perfect alignment and stabilization of the C1-C2 vertebrae.  She was thrilled with the outcome and said it could not have gone any better.  

She did note that I would see her post-surgery report that upon trying to insert one of the pins, a tiny piece of his vertebrae fractured.  She said she didn't want that to be a concern for me because it is typical in such a tiny puppy.  She said the location of the fracture was in no way impacting the way it would heal or be treated.  She also said that she was able to locate a more dense piece of bone where she installed the pin.  It was cemented in place perfectly.  She is not concerned in the least with this fracture, just wanted to inform me of the details.  

She was impressed and pleased with his post-op recovery as well.  She says he is up and awake and moving all four legs easily.  She placed him on anti anxiety and gastro medications to help ease his tummy during recovery.  Of course, I suppose he is on pain/inflammation meds too.  Dr. Jarboe also stated that if things go as well as they are now, he will most likely be ready to go home tomorrow but she'll discuss that with me tomorrow when she calls at 10:00.  I will feel more comfortable if he stays at the hospital for a longer period of time as it is at least an hour away from home and I want him to be very stable before being discharged.  

Thank you all for your continued support and prayers.  Mason will have a long road to recovery but I will keep you updated every step of the way.  

He truly lives up to his name:  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Hello all.

We're back from the doctor.  Dr. Jarboe removed his head splint for the time being.  He will continue to be on medication and cage rest for the foreseeable future.  She noticed some of the strength and coordination back in Mason's legs and attributed that to the medication, head splint and cage rest.  She reiterated that surgery was the best approach for long-term treatment and correction and that even with conservative medication and 10 weeks cage rest, his condition would remain extremely fragile indefinitely.

We discussed long-term conservative treatment and she stated that with time, Mason could build up scar tissue that would help constrain his neck bones, but even with added scar tissue, the condition would remain and it would be necessary to continue medication and cage rest for the remainder of his life. Every yes/no movement, every unexpected hop could be the move that could possibly paralyze or cause immediate death.  If surgery is the route to be taken, it should be taken sooner than later because buildup of scar tissue makes this risky surgery even more challenging.  Surgery is his best chance at a full and happy life.

Mason's surgery is scheduled for Monday, August 19.  We'll be checking in at Bush Hospital at 8:00 AM EST and surgery will begin at approx. 11:00am. There will be two attending Neurosurgeons, both of whom are the most qualified and experienced in the field.  Dr. Jarboe will take the lead role in his surgery.  The surgery will take anywhere from 1-3 hours and he will remain in recovery/observation for up to three days.

Please continue to pray and send healing vibes.  Thank You!

In other news...Peanut managed to make me smile today:
 So I watched her for about an hour....So cozy...and sweet...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Playing in the safety zone

Mason gets about five sessions out of his kennel each day s he can stretch, go potty and move around a bit.  When the grass is too wet, we head into the bathroom.  Here, he can do all these things as well as stay away from crazy play with Peanut that could cause more trouble.

Here's a little video of some careful play in the bathroom.
We'll be back tomorrow with an update from the doctor.

Waiting for tomorrow...

Hello there,

Mason's making the most of being cooped up in his kennel for the majority of the day.  He's got his favorite toys (stuffed dog, mouse and manatee) as well as a bully stick that keeps him occupied.  He finally knows it's a good idea to take his Gabapentin (for nerve pain) without giving momma a fight. He gets a special treat of baby food -Turkey and Gravy/Chicken and Gravy after he's gotten the nasty squirt.  Today I added another cherry cough syrup (Prednosolone for inflamation) flavored squirt to the mix.  He doesn't care for that either, but at least he can get it down without much of a fight.

The muggy weather has left the grass moist each morning and evening so that has been pretty challenging when needing to go "Potty".  Mason so wants to be a big boy and go outside so he holds it as long as he can to avoid going in the makeshift potty in the shower.  The doctor said he has to keep his head splint very dry as to avoid getting an infection.

I'll be taking a little video tonight of Mason hanging out in the bathroom.  This is pretty much the safest place he can wander and be a puppy during this scary time.  Mason has to keep away from Peanut for his own good, and since Peanut wants to follow me (and Mason) everywhere we go, locking her out of the bathroom for a few minutes is the best thing to do.  Every time Mason is around her on the floor he wants to climb her, chew on her ears, and pull her neck hairs...He loves her so much. He tried to climb into her puppy bed last night but I had to pick him back up and put him in his kennel.  Sooo sad for that puppy.  She's pretty much a bull in a China shop around him and seems oblivious to walking and moving carefully when he's nearby.

Thank you to my friends and family for sending sweet cards to us in the mail.  We appreciate it so much.  I'll post the video here so stop back and take a peek.  I'll also post an update tomorrow as we return from our visit with Dr. Jarboe.

Please continue to pray, and if you can, share share share the fundraiser link.  Thank you!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Being cooped up stinks!

Hello friends,

Mason is doing ok today.  I can see he's trying to manage his cumbersome head brace as best he can. When out of his kennel for stretches and potty breaks, he tries really hard to rub it off.  He's hearing a lot of NO-NO's as I'm afraid he's twisting his head a bit too much sometimes.  I try to give him extra rubs on his ears and forehead and even some sneaky rubs under his brace at the base of his back.  I believe it's becoming annoying and itchy, just as a cast would be.

Mason really hates his new medicine too.  He's now off the Meloxicam and exclusively on .6mg dose of Gabapentin.  This medicine is given to block nerve pain and is often given as an anti seizure medication.  He may be placed on Prednisone 1.0 mg next week if the doctor feels he would benefit from using it.  Gabapentin is given every 12 hours so at least that one good thing about having to take something you really dislike!

Mason will return to Dr. Jarobe on Wednesday.  Her office called just the other day to explain that they received the additional report from the doctor they asked to take a second look at the MRI.  They will discuss his findings when I'm there.  They stated it did not impact the diagnosis or treatment plan. Mason will also have neuro evaluation again and the doctor will determine whether to remove the splint or replace it.

So for now, Mason is good.  He isn't in pain, he's bored and really wants to play with Peanut.  I believe the kennel rest (it'll be 2 weeks on Sunday), meds and love has made his leg strength and coordination much better, but from what I hear, that is not atypical and is not a sign of miraculous recovery...but I'll take it for now.  I hate hearing and seeing him in pain.

PS...I'm also attaching the xray that was taken 7-30.  I do have the disk of his MRI but the special formatting is not allowing me to download them (over 120 slides).

Monday, August 5, 2013



Mighty Mason needs your prayers as we received scary medical reports this past week.  Mason has been exhibiting pain symptoms sporadically after waking from sleep for about two months now, but did not show any symptoms when taken into the vet for evaluations.  Perhaps it was his adrenaline kicking in or just the timing was always off.  In any case, Dr. Vernon never saw what I had been seeing and thought that perhaps it was just me overreacting to typical puppy behaviors and whines.  However,  In July, Dr. Vernon finally noticed some tenderness when palpating and manipulating his neck.  He prescribed medicine that seemed to solve the painful episodes for the time being.  

This past Saturday he had a painful night.  He woke several times in crying out in pain and then throughout the day on Sunday.  His pain episodes were long lasting (unlike those in the past that were approx 1-2 minute episodes) and all I could do was try to comfort him in my arms.  Since Dr. Vernon wasn't open on Sunday, I had the longest and most excruciatingly heart wrenching wait with my little guy.  Right away Monday morning I took him in to be evaluated by Dr. Vernon. During this visit, Mason displayed signs and symptoms that I had been trying to convince him of and finally, I felt Dr. Vernon believed me that it was not just "typical puppy crying" or manipulation behaviors.  He watched him walk on the floor and noticed his weakness on the right side and his tipsy walking.  He conducted a few neurological assessments and suggested he may have some abnormalities in his neck/vertebra that would need further assessment.  He recommended a few Neuro's and I decided to make an appointment the next day with the one closest to home.

On Tuesday, Mason met with Dr. Knoeckel at SouthPaws.  Dr. Knoeckel evaluated him and took one x-ray so as to not manipulate his painful neck and not cause further damage.  After reviewing the radiographs, his diagnosis was: Absence of a dens= C1-2 instability.  He discussed two common treatment options: splinting and cage rest for 6-8 weeks, or surgery.   After some discussion that seemed totally hopeless, I was in shock and terribly devastated. I left with little hope in either treatment.   Upon returning home and through tear filled eyes, I scoured the internet for information about his condition searching for something...anything that could help save my little man.   I needed a second opinion and a glimmer of least.  I found a Dr. in Miami and some success stories online.  I researched other neurologists in the area and finally found Bush Veterinary Neurology Service.  

Dr.  Jarboe met Mighty Mason for the first time today.  I have to say the staff there helped ease my heartache and sadness and Dr. Jarboe helped bring hope to a very dark and scary diagnosis. She shared her expert opinion about the x-ray view and additional things she noticed in the x-ray. She also spent time talking with me about other conditions that could be contributing to his pain. She recommended doing an MRI to find out more and to determine a treatment plan.  Her compassion and understanding helped me breathe...and gave me some hope he could be saved.

I left Mason in the care of Dr. Jarboe and her staff so they could conduct the MRI.  It was the longest three hours of my life.  Thank God, my sister, a director of nursing in Richmond, VA was there to support me.  Her expertise and understanding of all this medical mumbo-jumbo was so much appreciated.  While we were away, she was able to explain the terminology to me in a simplified way-and helped my nerves.

When I returned at 1:30, I could hear Mason's pitiful squeals in the other room...These squeals I knew all too well...not those of a painful pup...those were the squeals of please hold me, don't leave me in this cage...Poor Pitiful Mason...Quite different from the howls, barks and moans of other dogs waiting there too, and most definitely different than his painful cries that break my heart each time they come.  The post-procedure team came out throughout his recovery to reassure me that those were not yelps or cries of pain...they didn't have to.  I knew what those cries were...all too well...and they did give me hope and a little smile through all this sadness.

Dr. Jarboe and her staff returned with Mason all wrapped in a head/neck sling and so excited to see me. What a handsome fellow ready to bust outta there!   Looking somewhat like a turtle in that headdress and a poodle with his new haircut on his legs.  Of course he wasn't whining or yelping or squealing as he was safe and sound tucked in my arms.  She got to work showing me the MRI slides and explaining her observations in detail.  She gave her diagnoses and left me with hope...albeit risky...but hopeful.  

So here's the scary diagnoses:  
1.  Atlanto axial subluxation with aplastic dens and dorsolateral ligamentous hypertrophy
2.  Caudal occipital malformaiton syndrome (COMS)
3.  Atlanto occipital (AO) overlap
4.  Low vlume quadrigeminal diverticulum
5.  Mild dilation of the lateral (LT>RT), third, mesencephalic aqueduct
6.  Bilateral cryptochidism

Prognosis:  50% chance of stabilization with conservative care (splint/cage rest) and risk of permanent paralysis or death.  80% chance for stabilization with surgical stabilization.  20% he would not improve and risk acute death or permanent paralysis.  Likely probability that he may require a second surgery to address his COMS and AO overlap at a later time.  

Soooo....That's scary!  

We'll return to see Dr. Jarboe next Wednesday for a recheck, possible medication adjustments and to change his splint.  At this time we will also discuss further plans for treatment.  

Please...Pray....Give your babies extra hugs tonight!

I'll leave you with a few pictures of Mason that were taken just about a week and a half ago...when my days were so much brighter...
 (Mason ready to go outside!)
(Mason's favorite to me with his noisy mousie!)