I brought Zephyr home on Wednesday. His progress continued and on Tuesday he could walk and support his weight, his vision improved, and he could eat and drink on his own. On Weds. he was even better and he came home. The drive from Phoenix was easy, he just slept the whole time. When we got home I went in the house to put Astro outside and came back out to find Zephyr in the front seat. :-) I think he was happier to see Astro than me, he wanted to play with him and I let them do some mouthing. He was still wobbly and had some of the neurological symptoms. I had to lift him up the stairs to the door. Luckily I got a Help-Em-Up harness, it has really helped. His walking steadily improved and he's able to carefully do the stairs now. He still gets a little off balance and the tile is slippery for him. I am with him when ever he's walking though and he hardly needs help from the harness now. I've put rugs all over the tile and have an xpen to keep him on the area rug in the living room. He isn't turning toward the right as much, but he does still tend to bump into things. It's like his depth perception is off, he has a hard time judging how close things are maybe. It's been a week since he's had any seizures, which is great, he is still taking phenobarbital though. He has been really tired and sleeping a lot, he doesn't like to be up for more than 30 minutes or so, but when he has been awake he has good energy and even wants to play and chase ravens. He has been very hungry, he lost about 8 pounds. I've been trying to let him eat a lot while keeping the diet bland because he has been having soft stools. He's taking lots of medicines, three antibiotics, etc., so that is probably contributing to his soft stools. So, overall he has made really good progress, and I am so happy to have him home.
Now, after all of the great progress, today has been hard for Zephyr. Last Friday he started the chemotherapy drug Lomustine, CCNU. This was because it looks like it's an autoimmune response that caused the encephalitis and the CCNU will suppress the immune system and reduce the inflammation. About a week later, now, is when the effect of the CCNU is at it's peak and his white blood cell count is lowest. They monitor how low the white blood cell count drops and I took him for blood work yesterday. Yesterday I noticed that his energy level wasn't as high and today he has a fever (103 -104), no energy, won't eat, and has a small cough. This morning I called the neurologist to let her know what was going on and then the vet who did the blood draw yesterday called to say his level was very low, WBC is 0.9 (usually 5) and neutrophils? 72 (usually 2,000) . When it's so low infection will just develop even if they aren't exposed to anything, although it might not be an infection that's causing the fever. After the two Dr.s talked I took him in for a change in antibiotics and to add another one. I have fluids to give him subcutaneously to help him get past the fever, etc., and because one of the new antibiotics can damage the kidney if he doesn't drink enough water. We also wanted to make sure he had energy so I made a food puree to squirt on his tongue and I was able to give him almost three cups. The neurologist talked to the oncologist to confirm all this. They say that with this type of treatment it will often pass after about 24 hours. If it doesn't get better he might have to go in to the hospital for IV antibiotic and fluids. I'm hoping that with everything I'm doing at home that will not happen.
I didn't hesitate to call this morning though because I didn't want to risk anything. I have to say our neurologist, Dr. Kim Knowles at the Veterinary Neurology Center, is great. She's stayed late, come in on weekends, looked up things about greyhounds, gave me her personal number, talked with the oncologist, etc. I try to stay calm and not worry too much, which is a challenge. He was doing so well, I hope and think he will continue to recover.
14 hours ago