Thanks to Jennifer for sharing this great story of her dog, Lilly Mae's recovery from a fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE). While recovery from FCE (and other neurological conditions, such as IVDD) is quite common, understandably most people prefer to put this difficult period behind them and we don't get to share these important stories.
Tell us about Lilly Mae's experience with FCE
Lilly had a Fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE) on January 10, 2018. She followed her dad into the bedroom, and just dropped at his feet, and could not get up. There were no warning signs, no yelps of pain, she wasn't playing before it happened, none of the typical things that are looked for in an FCE.
It was 7pm, so we rushed her to an emergency vet where she got so much blood work done, urine sample, and x-rays. They could find nothing wrong. The emergency vet suggested it could be an FCE, but could not confirm without an MRI.
She saw a neurologist the next day who confirmed with an MRI that is was an FCE. Initially Lilly was paralyzed in 3 legs, both hind, and 1 front. She regained use of the front leg the next day. As of today, 6 months later, she has use of all her legs, except her left hind is very weak.
She's not able to do a lot of the things she used to do. It takes a huge effort to get out into the yard, because there are 3 steps leading to it. She can't play with her brothers like she used to. When she does run, her back legs do a little bunny hop. She never really lost control of her urine etc, but if she does happen to fall, she will poop without noticing it.
Could you describe your daily routine?
We get up between 4:45am and 5:00am. I have to be at work by 6am, so we are on a tight schedule. If I'm lucky she will get up the first time I ask her, but she's super stubborn. Once she gets up, she will go outside to pee. Sometimes she can't hold herself up, so she has to be cleaned up.
She then eats her morning kibble. Her morning kibble has to be served to her in bed, she will not eat out of her regular bowl in the morning for some reason. This is a new thing that happened after her FCE. While she eats, I get ready for work.
Once done, she will go back outside to poop. She comes in and gets CBD oil (to help manage her arthritis), and settles down to go back to sleep. I work until 3:00pm, so my husband bought an in home camera to monitor her activities, and we are able to speak to her through it if needed.
I get home from work around 3:30pm. Lilly is usually waiting at the door. We go outside, she does her business, then we take a walk around the garden. Depending on the weather she may lounge around outside, or come in, and lay around. She eats a home-cooked dinner at around 5:30pm (she will not eat kibble for dinner). That also happened after her FCE.
After dinner she usually goes to relax with her dad, and watches TV. She goes out to use the bathroom around 9:30pm, then gets more CBD oil.
I am off on Tuesday, so that is pool day for her. She has a baby pool she likes to walk around in, and drink the water. It's like her giant water bowl.
Lilly enjoys sleeping in on weekends. She gets up whenever she feels like it. She pretty much likes to do her own thing, whether it be lounging outside, or running around. She gets tired very quickly, so any activity requires a nap afterwards!
We try to keep her on a schedule, so her activities are close to the same on weekends. In the summer, she enjoys going to the bay. One weekend a month is spent on getting ingredients, and cooking large batches of food for her dinners.
Would you recommend any products to managed FCE?
What physical therapy have you tried?
We did do PT for about 2 months. She got laser therapy, and hydro therapy.
I'm not sure that it did anything more than we could have done with the exercises she does. She hated it!
What advice would you offer to someone whose dog has FCE?
I would say that recovery from FCE can be frustrating, and extremely exhausting at first, but it does get better. Every little milestone is a reason to celebrate. Don't compare your dog's progress to others.
Join support groups, that helped so much with my questions.
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