I'm back from the wilds of Sacramento, and basically, Nick is okay! Dr. Richardson subjected Nick to perhaps the most thorough physical exam the poor guy's ever endured - including the cold, gelled-finger-in-the-rectum trick - but Nick bore it like a trouper. And the news is pretty good!
Dr. Richardson found absolutely nothing wrong with Nick neurologically or anywhere else. All his responses and reflexes are wholly normal. There were no pain or discomfort responses to anything, including the little rubber mallet to the knees. (I didn't know they used those on dogs!) No sign of any bulging or herniated disks, either. Just ... nothing. In fact, at one point Dr. Richardson looked up at me, from listing off non-symptoms to his technician, and said, "I guess you can tell that I'm not finding anything wrong with your dog."
Unfortunately, however, ... Nick's idiot
mother forgot to bring his x-rays!
(Where's that head-banging icon when I need it?)
So, a pretty danged important component of the exam was missing, and I have to either mail the plate to them or hand-deliver it if I'm over that way in the next while. I suspect I'll just mail it, since I don't think I'll be in Sacto within the next couple weeks.
This does leave us with one possibility, which we lacked the means to rule out, today. Dr. Richardson noted, as did my primary vet, that Nick's rump has a bit of a drop at the croup, which apparently neither vet entirely likes. And sometimes Nick lets his tail hang straight down, no curl to the tip, just wholly lax and straight down. Which again, Dr. Richardson didn't entirely like.
He said that these things, and the recurring ouchiness, could - could
- be indicators of a condition called "transitional vertebral segments." A lot of you may already know what that is, (and it's apparently fairly common in GSDs) but in a nutshell, it's when the sacrum, that sort of pivot-point bone between the end of the backbone and the beginning of the tail, develops a defect. Instead of being a single, solid piece of bone that acts as a sort of shock-absorber at the end of the backbone, it sort of divides itself into a couple little mini-vertebra. This then can flex which cause the L7 vertebra, the last one, to impinge on the nerves inside the spine.IF
this is what's going on, then eventually Nick would need surgery to enlarge the tiny space through which the nerves pass. The injury Nick experienced, though unrelated, could have simply caused the disk and whatnot to inflame and thus get pinched, whereas the un-injured nerves had been able to avoid getting pinched. So far.
But you know ... I'm hoping - reeeeeeeeeeeally hoping - that the X-ray will dispel that worry. Dr. Richardson had a great time showing me all the fancy animated widgetry on their big-screen computer, and also example x-rays of dogs who DID have TVS. It was very interesting stuff.
However, to my very, extremely untrained eyes ... I don't think Nick's x-ray looks like the affected dogs'. I don't see the little mini-vertebra thing going on with his sacrum. But I'll send the x-ray to Dr. Richardson and see if he agrees, or if he thinks that when Nick gets older, there may be a problem, after all.
Meanwhile, I am very hopeful and I'm just doing to look forward to a positive outcome. For Nick, for now, it's just rest and more rest, and then back to work. Richardson actually didn't seem to think extreme rest was necessary, but dang it, I hurt my back last summer and I know
how long it takes a back to heal.
If all that's wrong with Nick is that he got in a collision, got an owie, and I didn't give him long enough to heal, then this time, I'm giving him time enough to heal.
So, Nick is off duty until at least mid-February. If God grants it, he'll be ready to trial at Sonoma and Zamora, so whatever I do with him in the meantime will be with the goal of getting him sound, and keeping him sound. This dog carries my every hope, and it's on me to step and do the best for him.
And .... that's that, for now! Thank you, everyone, for all your well wishes, advice, shared experiences, good vibes and prayers. All of it has meant ever so much.
Thank you, Border Collie Forum! Y'all rock!
Gloria and Nick
You ask of my companions. Hills, sir, and the sundown, and a dog as large as myself that my father bought me. They are better than human beings, because they know but do not tell. ~ Emily Dickinson
To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace. ~ Milan Kundera