Cena Luna was a 3 year old active yorkie who loved to play with toys, run around the house and follow me wherever I went, so I suspected there was a problem when she would no longer come down the stairs. I thought it was something simple, so I brought her to my regular vet and was discouraged and confused when they gave me a referral to go and see a neurologist. I thought about getting a second opinion but in the meantime I noticed Luna slanting to the side, and having trouble standing, so I called Dogs and Cats Veterinary Referral and Emergency.
From that first initial phone call at 9:30 at night I was greeted with a very pleasant and helpful person who set me up with an appointment with Dr. Neravanda for the next day. This was the first of the many kind and helpful people I would speak to on our numerous trips to Dogs and Cats. At Luna’s initial neurology appointment, Dr. Neravanda was very thorough in his examination and gently explained to us some of the possibilities we were facing. He suggested that she get an MRI and a spinal tap to rule out or diagnose a condition.
So the journey began.
We took Luna to get an MRI and Dr. Neravanda called as soon as the test was over to talk with me and explain that he felt a spinal tap would be too dangerous for Luna and he didn’t feel comfortable with the risk it would entail even though a spinal tap would give a definitive answer. Everyone at Dog and Cats always has the animal’s best interest in mind, one of the many reasons why I came to trust them completely and feel so relieved when Luna is in their care. From the MRI center, we returned to the hospital and spent hours there where Dr. Neravanda went into great detail, calmly and clearly explaining Luna’s test results in a way that we could understand. Initially, it was thought that she had a stroke. He collaborated with other doctors in the hospital who in turn came and examined her kidneys and full body to try and determine what may have caused a stroke. Each doctor who came in to examine her was so loving, thorough, and knowledgeable and I felt they had Luna’s best interest in mind. Although further tests were suggested, I never felt pressured and all of my options were laid out for me, open and honest. In the end Luna proved to be a tough, complex case.
When Luna did not improve and started to turn her head to the side and roll on the ground, not able to stand, we quickly brought her back. Dr. Neravanda again was down on the floor with Luna examining her, recording her movements and listened carefully to the timeline of how Luna changed over the next few days. From these final observations he diagnosed her with encephalitis – in my opinion, the scariest of all the possibilities. It was decided that Luna would stay there overnight for observation and to begin with her first round of chemotherapy, a very critical period of time to see if she would respond or not. We were given a quick tour of where Luna would be staying and the wonderful staff who would be taking care of her. Although we were really upset, scared and nervous for Luna I felt reassured that she was in the best possible place with the right doctors to give her the best shot at recovery.
I was told to call with any questions I may have or check in on her whenever I felt I needed too. Each time I called, the staff was so kind and helpful. Although I was worried I would be driving them crazy by calling too much, they never made me feel that way and were so friendly and helpful on the phone. Luna responded well to the first round of chemotherapy and even started to straighten her head and walk better right away. She was placed on high dosages of medicines along with the chemo that had the potential for many side effects. Over the next couple of months, I felt like I was in contact with the hospital on a daily basis and always had questions or concerns that were quickly answered and addressed, leaving me feeling better each time.
When things became a little more normal and routine for Luna, she would have “sleepovers” at the hospital for 2 days to receive her chemotherapy, and then come back a week later to have her blood checked. I loved taking her each month because Dr. Neravanda and his wonderful neurology technician, Jessica, were just fantastic to Luna. She was always very thoroughly checked and given first class care by them. When I picked her up in the evening, a tech would sit down with me and explain all of the findings and updates and explain to me her medicine. In the past, when I would take Luna to the vet she resisted going in, but at Dogs and Cats she would practically jump into Jessica’s arms, ready to go and have a good time with them. It was also not unusual for me to receive a phone call from Dr. Neravanda or Jessica to explain to me how things were going and answer any questions or concerns I may have.
For the most part, Luna stayed right on track with the treatment plan and now we are finished with the chemotherapy trips, yay! (although we really miss regularly seeing the wonderful staff each month) Luna is still on her medicine for another 6 months, but it’s shocking to look at her now. It doesn’t even seem possible that just a year ago that she was a dog moments away from dying, whose head was severely turned and couldn’t stand up.
I am so very, very, grateful to Dr. Neravanda and Jessica for all that they have done for Cena Luna. I know I would not have my little yorkie back with me today if it wasn’t for their phenomenal care, attention, treatment and love. I have the upmost respect and trust for this fantastic neurology team.
– Mary Hay