Gizmo, my male Pomeranian has been part of my life since February 2005 when I brought him home as a wee little puppy so full of love and life. To some people a dog is just a dog; to me he has always been my baby. A few years ago I went through a dark period in my life and felt as though it was spiraling out of control both mentally and financially with no hope in sight. There were several days where I felt like giving up and each time the tears would fall and there way my baby boy, right next to me, tail still wagging licking my tears away. I began to realize that I couldn’t give up, no one could care for him and love him like I do. To this day I know my dog’s love and friendship saved my life.
Recently on May 4th, 2013 when we were at home where we thought was safe, Gizmo who I call Gizzy went to get up from his late night nap on the couch and slipped on the blanket causing him to fall. As he over corrected himself he landing on his head and neck. Instantly he yelped and started seizing or having a full body spasm with his mouth wide open and then stopped breathing. We gave him CPR, I couldn’t lose him, he has always been a healthy dog, so full of love and lots of puppy kisses. I knew he saved me so I owed it to him to do whatever it takes to save him too!
My first thought was to call 911 however I soon realized how helpless I was at that moment, he might be my baby but to some he’s just a dog and 911 wouldn’t have helped us. We scooped him up and ran to the car all the while my newly adopted Pomeranian, Bear was in a panic knowing something was horribly wrong. Gizmo lay on my lap as we rushed him to the after-hours animal hospital about 15 minutes from my home which felt like a life time. He would breath and then stop breathing so I would place my mouth over his muzzle and give him a breath until he could take a breath then I placed my hand in his open mouth until he would bite down on my finger. It seemed hi m biting kept him awake and kept him breathing on his own.
We arrived at the hospital at when felt like a lifetime and they immediately took him back and put him on oxygen to stabilize him. I called my sister and brother in law to meet us and my brother in law went back to my house to check on Bear who we ran out on so quickly leaving him scared and not knowing what was happening. We soon received some news from the emergency vet telling us that they were able to stabilize him however he could not stand on his own and she believed he may have suffered a spinal cord injury, something she was not equipped to assist with and referred us to either another animal hospital in Syracuse or the Cornell University Animal hospital over an hour way. We felt that it would be best to take him to Syracuse which was about 20 minutes from where we were with him to prevent moving him any more than we needed to and to get him seen right away.
The hospital in Syracuse didn’t seem as concerned as we were as when we got there we were waiting two hours in the waiting room. Finally we were seen by the vet on call who mentioned that she suspects that he had a brain tumor and that’s what caused him to fall off the couch even though I had explained several times that he didn’t have any type of episode, wasn’t acting abnormal and had just been lying too close to the edge and either got tangled in the blanket when he tried to get up to jump off or slipped on the blanket. My concerns of a spinal cord injury and the first vet he saw at the first hospital were put to the side. She advised she couldn’t call the surgeon unless they tried other treatment first. However I knew by Gizmo staying there overnight they were better equipped than I was to care for him and hopefully I could speak with a different vet in the morning.
I didn’t sleep and the next morning I called and was advised that he had not made any progress and that I needed to consider putting him down if he is left paralyze. This however was not an option for me! She discussed surgery and the cost involved and quoted $4000 to $8000 and needed a deposit paid before she would call the surgeon on his day off. I gave the consent for the surgery if needed after they performed the necessary tests to find out if it was in fact a spinal cord injury and where in the spine the injury was located. The surgeon came in to review the X-rays that they had taken and didn’t feel comfortable doing the spinal test as where he would inject the dye showed a mass and he feared injecting into it would cause immediate death and that we needed to take him to Cornell as they had a guided MRI machine that could complete the test without putting him at such an awful risk.
On Sunday, May 5th we headed down to Cornell, again with Gizzy on my lap with his IV and catheter in however he still had his wonderful personality with the kisses and his tail wagging but I had to keep him as still as possible. Upon arriving at Cornell, the student doctor met us at the car and carried Gizzy in taking him right back to emergency to begin his examination. The wait was torture! She came out to get more information on what had happened and then again left with us sitting in the waiting room. Not long after the doctor came out with the student and brought us into the exam room. We talked about Gizmo and what his thoughts on what could be happening and the direction he wanted to take. He reviewed the X-ray that was taken at the previous hospital and advised that it was too hard to tell what was really going on inside as all he could see was the mass in his neck. He speculated that it could be a fracture, swelling or a million other things and went through the surgery route with us on the cost and what will need to be done if they do need to into surgery. First they had to speak with the surgeon to see if they wanted a CT Scan done which is a quick test or if they wanted an MRI which takes a bit longer and Gizzy would have to be under anesthesia for the procedure. He did advise if they went with the MRI they would move right into surgery if needed so he needed a signed consent form. Again I advised whatever it takes!
The wait again was horrible as I got to see him very quickly then had to head home without him. I knew he was in the very best place he could be however my emotions were still taking over as I just didn’t know what was going to happen. Monday morning the hospital called and advised that the surgeon wanted to do the MRI and leave him under the anesthesia and call to let me know if he will need to go into surgery before they sent him. More waiting began and finally after several hours I had to call to see where we stood. The doctor was at the time still doing more tests on Gizmo so would have the student call as soon as they were done. Soon after the phone call ended the student called back. She advised that the MRI was all done and there were no fractures, not slipped disks and nothing that needed to be operated on. I wanted to scream I was so happy that my baby wouldn’t need to go through a serious surgery with all the risks involved. She did go on to say that based on the spinal tap they were able to narrow down his condition, it was one of two things, it was either and inflammation disease, known as GME which can often times appear in dogs quite suddenly which may have contributed to the reason why he fell and perhaps I hadn’t noticed the signs before he fell off the couch or it was all based on trauma from the fall where his vertebrate slammed into his spinal cord causing a small fleshing piece of his vertebrate to go through the spinal cord which could be the reason the for mass, perhaps it was blood or bruising and not a disease at all. The actual doctor called a few hours later to explain in further detail that the spinal cord is very similar to the brain as to when it swells there is no place for the swelling to go and because the symptoms of trauma to the cord and the inflammation disease are so similar they can’t narrow it down and only time will tell. If he starts to improve then it’s more than likely related to the injury, if his conditions get worse then they will begin treating him for the disease.
Finally on Tuesday we were able to go see him at the hospital. He still wasn’t standing or walking and we knew in order to them to determine if the inability to walk was the disease of from the injury. The visit lasted about 15 minute and it was so great to get kisses from my baby. A few hours after our visit, while I was on my way home, the phone rang. My heart always races as I thought we were just there, what’s wrong??? Angie, the student doctor was calling to let me know that Gizmo stood up on his own in his cage and shifted himself around. I was overcome with joy, I wanted to scream and it was reassuring to know that Angie was just as excited as I was. The hospital was wonderful always calling both morning and night to keep us updated with his condition as it isn’t a normal hospital where you could visit any time you wanted. Wednesday came with the calls that he was doing fantastic, Thursday morning came, same call. Then Thursday night she called to say that Gizmo took a few steps while he was outside. He saw another dog out there and did his best to take steps over to the other dog. My boy was improving!!! She did warn me not to get too excited as he’s still very weak and didn’t want me to think when I brought him home that he’s running laps and I appreciated her honesty. She advised that since he has continue to improve, they ruled out the inflammation disease and there wasn’t anything more medically they could do for him other than to just give it time to let him heal and that we could bring him home and do his therapy there. I was terrified; I felt that I couldn’t give him the best care that he had been receiving but Angie assured me she would make sure to go over everything.
One Friday, May 10th, after almost a full week in the hospital, I was able to pick up my boy. He was so excited to see me and walked around though did fall quite a bit. Angie advised that there will be some face planting and that I should let him try walking when he wants to. She advised that even if he seems like he can, no stairs, no jumping, and just small short spouts of walking each day. I got home and he walked, the sight of it however brought me to tears as my baby boy who never had any issues, always ran and played no longer could at that moment and I felt my heart continue to break. I took Bear and brought him around Gizzy so he could see that Gizzy was home, now keep in mind Bear is a very new member of my life and Gizzy's as I just recently adopted him on April 13th this year so the two of them, though not enemies, weren’t friends just yet. Bear went over to Gizzy and started to lick his face. I was an emotional mess as it really touched my heart that Bear knew something was wrong with Gizzy and he probably missed him too!
Only time will tell on how well Gizmo will improve. He is so determined that I have faith that he’ll be running and jumping and back to his active self in no time. He’s not in any pain and they have him on medication just to make sure, his tail wags, his eyes are bright and expressive, and he’s still the little kisser that he always has been. He seems so happy to be home and cuddle up and I’m doing my best to encourage him to walk even though I’m terrified at the same time and lose my breath each time he falls. I have noticed a lot of improvement since he came home on Friday and I spent the weekend with him. He seems like he’s strong and more determined than he was on Friday.
Now also comes the concern of Gizmo’s medical bills. I was lucky enough to be able to borrow the money as a lot of people, I didn’t have thousands of dollars but couldn’t lose my baby boy. So far between two of the hospitals, his bills are over $4100.00 for treatment. Some people might think I was crazy for putting myself in the financial position of owing such a large amount of money for a dog however I don’t view it that way. I look at it as that there is no amount of money that is more important than the love I get and give my Gizmo! He was worth the stress, the tears, the financial obligations, he was worth saving, and doing whatever it takes! Please do not feel obligated to donate money, please however donate some of your time to keep Gizzy in your thoughts and prayers, I would be forever grateful.
Also if you have pets, now is a good time to consider Pet insurance. I have always thought about it and then when I looked at the monthly cost I never thought I truly needed it as Gizmo was always healthy. After all of this, it really makes you look at things in a whole different light, realizing that accidents can happen at any time, and happen anywhere even when you think you are safe and sound at home. If I had purchased insurance sooner I would have some help financially to help pay back the cost of his bills.