Rosie and I had a follow up appointment with her doggie ophthalmologist a few days ago. It was mostly good news. On the upside, the pressure in Rosie’s remaining eye is well within normal range. Rosie will still be on 3 medications but we were able to reduce the frequency of some of her doses. I was encouraging; Rosie is such a trooper when it comes to taking her medications.
On the down side, our doctor reiterated that it will only be a matter of time until Rosie gets glaucoma in her left eye and she will go completely blind. I also learned that the medication that keeps the pressure in her eye down also gives her tunnel vision. The vet tech said the way Rosie views the world is like looking through a straw.
I didn’t realize Rosie’s vision was so limited, but that makes certain things make more sense. When my friend came over a few weeks ago, Rosie took longer than I expected to react to his presence. It wasn’t just that she had to see him with her good eye, she also had to get him within her limited field of vision.
Knowing that Rosie has limited vision and that she will eventually go blind makes me want to dedicate more energy towards making her life awesome. Staying within familiar places and making sure people and things are in front of her good eye probably gives her security but I also want to make sure she can experience all she can while she can. I hope I get the chance in the near-ish future to take her on a trip to the west coast so she can go to a dog beach.
I suspect if I knew I was going blind, that I would make it a priority to see and do certain things. I don’t know if Rosie knows she is going blind and she can’t tell me what’s on her â€œvisual bucket list,â€ so the only things I can do is love her, be mindful of her limitations, and do my best to guess at what a basset hound would enjoy.
For those of you who haven’t been following recent events, my basset hound Rosie was recently diagnosed with glaucoma in her right eye. Apparently it’s a common problem for this breed, particularly female bassets around age 6 or 7. (Rosie turned 7 in October.) When we couldn’t get the pressure in that eye to go down, we were forced to surgically remove it. She had already gone permanently blind in that eye so the surgery eliminated the pain caused by the glaucoma.
The surgery was a success and now I am the proud owner of a â€œPirate Pupâ€ as I like to call her. She’s been doing great since the stitches came out last week. Now that we’ve taken care of her right eye, our focus has shifted to making sure she maintains the vision in her left eye as long as possible.
Rosie is currently on 4 different eye drops. Two of them are available as a combination drug so we will be dropping down to 3 medications soon. Three of Rosie’s medications have to be administered every 8 hours. The other medication is a little more complicated â€“ she has to get it every 12 hours, the second dose of the day has to be given by 6pm (according to her doctor glaucoma attacks are most likely to hit between 6pm and 10pm), and it has to be stored in the refrigerator. She also has an emergency glycerin kit. If she ever goes completely blind, I have to mix 50mL of glycerin with milk and pour it down her throat.
Footnote for my fellow science geeks: Potassium permanganate (KMnO4) + Gylcerin = Spontaneous purple flames. Neat Stuff!
So now Rosie’s schedule is my schedule. It’s pretty easy to stick to her medication schedule on the day she comes to work with me but I have obligations where she can’t come with me so for now she has morning medications at 6am and 8am before I head off to work, and then she gets medications at 4pm, by 6pm, and before I go to bed. If I ever want to go to bed early, I’ll have to set an alarm to wake me up at midnight for her last doses.
Did I mention each eye drop has to be given at least five minutes apart? Otherwise each medication won’t be absorbed properly. Lucky for me, Rosie is much better about getting eye drops than taking pills.
From what I can tell, this is going to be our schedule for the rest of her life or until better medication comes out or she loses the vision in her left eye. It’s an adjustment but I’m ok with that. I think we’re all on board with the program of making sure she can see for as long as possible.
A few weeks ago Rosie’s droopy basset eyes were droopierÂ than usual â€“ so much that the skin above her eyes covered her eyes completely and she seemed to be in pain. We went to the vet and her first concern was that Rosie’s valley fever was back. She drew blood and sent us home with some pain meds. Two days later when Rosie’s eyes weren’t better, the vet called us back in and determined that Rosie didn’t have a recurrence of valley fever. She had glaucoma. Rosie was completely and permanently blind in her right eye and the pressure in that eye was 90. (20 and below is normal; anything above 40 is painful.)
The vet put her on heavy duty IV medication that started to bring her eye pressure down. She sent us home with five new medications – one for pain, two for her right eye pressure, and two to maintain her sight in her left eye. We went back for a follow-up two days later, and when they checked her right eye pressure, it was back up to 80. At that point, I accepted that Rosie’s right eye served no function and was only causing her pain, so I scheduled surgery to remove it.
Rosie’s surgery day was pretty uneventful as surgery days go. I dropped her off at the vet early in the morning and headed to my office where I had scheduled myself a full day of meetings to keep my mind occupied. The vet called at 3pm to say the surgery was a success and that I could pick her up in an hour when she was a little less groggy.
Rosie is so cute when she’s gorked. They had to shave the hair around her right eye and put her in a cone to keep her from scratching at her stitches or bumping things with her sealed eye while it was healing. The cone makes Rosie’s head about three times its usual size. It’s so big she couldn’t jump into a car so I had to lift her 65-pound body into the backseat. She has to wear the cone until the stitches come out.
Rosie is adjusting well to navigating the world in her cone. She learned the hard way the first night that when the cone bumps into something, stop walking. Poor thing yelped when she bumped her eye on a door frame. It took a few days for her to learn how to eat and drink with the cone â€“ to drop the front edge low enough that she can reach the bowl with her mouth â€“ and how to lift her head and cone when stepping up onto a curb. With her little legs, she often bumps the cone against the ground and she’s taken to using a scoop motion so she can smell the grass on our walks without getting stuck.
Thankfully she was allowed to come to work every day during the initial healing stage. She has medications that need to be administered every eight hours. It’s been interesting to watch the skin around her right eye turn dark purple-red with bruising.
Except for the stitches and the cone, Rosie has mostly returned to her old self. She wags her tail like mad when anyone gives her attention or when we go on our daily walks. She’s super alert and interested in the neighborhood dogs, though I have to keep them away from her face. It’s funny to watch her try to scratch her ear through the cone. (Yes, I scratch it for her.)
It’s been wonderful to see how concerned and loving everyone’s been during this time â€“ both in real life and online. I was very touched when Rosie and I woke up on Saturday morning and saw that are neighbors had left a get well card and a bag of dog treats on our door. They have an American bulldog/Shar Pei mix that adores Rosie.
What’s next? The glaucoma will likely take the vision in Rosie’s left eye someday, and she is on medication to delay that. Her stitches will come out and she’ll be out of the cone in the middle of the month and then she’ll be my happy One-eyed Pirate Pup.