- Posted June 2, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
Cletus the Bloodhound
Everything was going great for the first 8 months, and then on Halloween night in 2010, Cletus had a Grand Mal seizure in the middle of the night. We awoke out of sleep to banging coming from the dining room as Cletus was knocking against a china cabinet. This was the first of 30 known seizures suffered by Cletus. The vet at the emergency hospital diagnosed Cletus with epilepsy but as the weeks went on, I started to doubt this diagnosis. The seizures began to increase in intensity and the time between seizures was getting shorter and shorter. Cletus even started having cluster seizures.
I brought Cletus back to the ER and told them that they need to do an MRI to rule out a brain tumor or brain cancer. If Cletus was 6 or 7 years old, they would run tests to rule these things out. They told me they would watch him for the night and "they would bet their house in Vegas that Cletus just has an inner ear infection in combination to epilepsy". Needless to say, they lost their house. That night, things began to go downhill fast for Cletus. He began to sidestep to the left... his head began to tilt to the left... and he began to cross his paws when standing or laying down... all signs of neurological issues. The doctors rushed him into Neurology the next morning and ran tests. The MRI showed an immense amount of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) in his cranium going all the way from the front to the back. They also saw that most of the top half of Cletus' brain was completely missing except for one little sliver. The doctors rediagnosed Cletus with Congenital Hydrocephalus which seemed like a good diagnosis and fit for most of his symptoms.
A few days later the head of Neurology called me after meeting with the heads of departments from all over the hospital to tell me they were once again rediagnosing Cletus, this time with open lipped schizencephaly - the first case ever reported in a canine. I brought Cletus back into the hospital for the doctors to run a CT scan which confirmed their diagnosis. Cletus had an opening in his skull where CSF was leaking in causing pressure to build up and seizures to occur.
It is believed that Cletus had a stroke in utero from possibly being crushed from another puppy which caused the OLS. Shunting was not an option for Cletus as the procedure, which only has a 50% success rate in dogs, could potentially have caused the CSF to rush out too fast and result in a deadly stroke for Cletus. Craneoplasty, a procedure where doctors would place a graft over the opening in Cletus’ skull, was also not an option for Cletus for the same reason I was told.
Cletus was taking over 40 pills daily, several seizure control medications, CSF control medications, herbal medications, probiotics, natural supplements, went to physical therapy and saw an acupuncturist who was doing him wonders. We went through many ups and downs and months of playing with his medications to get Cletus to the point where his condition was under control. We had to deal with doctors who said to just put Cletus down but my feeling was that as long as Cletus was living pain free and his quality of life was good, why shouldn't he have the best life that I could provide him?
Every moment, I didn't know what the next moment would bring. To look at him you would not have known anything was wrong with him. He looked like a normal, active, happy, healthy, 2 year old puppy. He loved when I threw his ball into the air so he could catch it. As far as half his brain missing, I have to say that Cletus was one of the smartest dogs I have ever had. The doctors told me that dogs do not use the portion of the brain that Cletus was missing. Cletus knew the names of all his toys, he knew the names of each of his "treats" which are the different medications he had to take and he went right to where I kept each specific one by me mentioning that one. Cletus was AMAZING!!
Although I did not choose Cletus, I am so grateful that Magnum did. Cletus and Magnum were attached at the hip… best friends… brothers.
Our local ABC station did two stories on Cletus and his blog, www.cletusthebloodhound.blogspot.com has received over 11,000 hits from around the world.
Cletus can't be the only one with this condition. Other animals must be getting misdiagnosed, mistreated, and must be dying due to vets not understanding what they are dealing with. We have to get the word out about Cletus to help save other animals.
For the whole afternoon of December 18, 2012 I sat on the floor with Cletus which made Cletus and I the exact same height - eye to eye. Cletus kept walking over to me and pressing his forehead into mine. He would then slide his head over for it to land on my shoulder and he would give me a hug. It was a beautiful afternoon.
... but Cletus looked more and more tired as the afternoon dragged on... he was getting slower and slower.
I called my partner home from work and Cletus' primary doctor came over and the three of us talked. Even if a miracle happened and Cletus recovered a little, he still needed to take a multitude of medications multiple times a day which is going to keep hurting his liver. After his liver, his kidneys will begin to feel the effect.
...Cletus fought a long and strong fight but we did not want his last days to be days of suffering.
We made the difficult decision to let Cletus go... Cletus passed away at 6:20pm EST on December 18, 2012
We decided to donate Cletus' remains to the University for them to do further studies into open lipped schizencephaly being that Cletus had the only known reported case in an animal. We felt some comfort with the possibility of by studying Cletus, we may be able to save untold numbers of other animals and humans with this condition. After study, the University cremated Cletus and returned his ashes to us.
His autopsy came back as a possible diagnosis of porencephaly, grey matter vs. white matter lining the opening, but the congenital hydrocephalus calls that into question.
We will never forget you Cletus.