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Old 03-19-2008, 02:52 PM
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Kiska'smom Kiska'smom is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Posts: 109
Default Kiska's Story - Atypical Cushings and Diabetes

Hi Everyone,

I've been laughing to myself about your posts regarding my inability to get going here. It is completely operator error! I am no computer whiz, and "navagating the site" has been MY problem...not the site. I finally found the New Thread thingy, but Johanna had been kind enough to set things up for me already. Thank you, Johanna. Then I realized that Natalie had closed that thread, and told me how to set up my own. So here goes!

Here is a little bit (and this could get long!) about Kiska's story (she is an Alaskan Malamute). Back in November, 2007, I took Kiss to the vet because she was drinking lots of water, and her fur was thinning on her tail. The vet did a Chem. Panel, and I got a message a couple of days later saying that Kiska probably had Cushing's Disease, and that her prognosis wasn't good. When I finally got through to the vet, she told me that Kiss probably had a year left without treatment, and maybe two if we did. Needless-to-say, I was devastated! I found the site and began to pour my heart out. I have to say that they saved my sanity and have been absolutely wonderful with advice, support, and lots of love. They told me that Cushing's disease is not a death sentence, and when properly treated, dogs can live out their normal life spans. I got a different vet in the same clinic! He has been a bit of a split personality. Sometimes he is nice and very helpful...other times he is brusque and temperamental! I have taken to calling his two personas Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hide! I can pick em, can't I?

It took about two months to put Kiska through all of the recommended tests for Cushing's. She, of course, was not cooperative, and the tests kept coming back negative! She still had all of the symptoms of Cushing's, which mimics diabetes almost exactly except for the weight loss! So, we sent off a blood serum sample to The University of Tennessee Vet. College for analysis. Kiska was diagnosed with Atypical Cushing's, which is also an endocrine system disease. The difference between the two is that regular Cushing's is caused by elevated cortisol levels. Atypical is caused by the elevation of one or more of the intermediate sex hormones. In Kiska's case, her progesterone is the culprit. The treatment for the Atypical is less intense than the recommended treatment for regular Cushing's. Kiska now has a melatonin implant, and takes one capsule a day of Flax Essence for her Atypical Cushing's disease. If she does not respond to this treatment, Lysodren may have to be added in a maintenance dose. This is a chemotherapy type of drug, and is not something that I want to try without giving the other treatment plenty of time to work. It is extraordinarily expensive, and can be dangerous if not monitored very closely.

We got Kiska started on her Atypical treatment right away. She started to look and feel a little better, but then she took a sudden nosedive! She began drinking lots of water again. Her weight began to drop, even though her appetite seemed normal. She looked awful! Her face became skull-like, her hind legs weak, and her flanks were all sunken in. It was back to the vet for more tests! Another chem. panel, and I got a call saying that Kiska had diabetes. They wanted her to come in right away for one more blood test to verify the results, and we did that. Bingo! Diabetes! Her glucose had been completely normal in mid-November at 115. By early March, it was 426!

I began giving her insulin at 25 units twice a day March 3. It took me about a week to begin doing my own BG monitoring. (Big thanks to Natalie and Johanna for all of their support!) Kiska is not regulated, and the Cushing's disease can complicate things, because progesterone is an insulin antagonist. As of yesterday, Kiska's insulin has been increased to 30 Units, and she will be on that dose for about two weeks. After that, the vet wants to do another fructosamine test. (The first one came back at 528.)

Kiska's numbers have run consistently high. She has been anywhere from 330 to 450 in the mornings before breakfast. At night, she has been anywhere from 550 to 600+ before dinner. Before last night's spike to 600+, she had come down from the mid-550's to 456. I was elated that she was showing some positive sign to the insulin. Then the "catfood incident!" I'm not even sure that it was Kiska who ate it. Our husky, Sammie, is the usual suspect! Whatever caused it, she was back in the high numbers. This morning she was at 452. That number is high from her previous morning results in the mid 330's.

So, now you are pretty much up to speed with us! I did get a reply on from Natalie saying that I would probably know if I had lost insulin, because it has a distinctive odor. I didn't smell anything, so hopefully Kiska's wet fur was from my hands that I had just washed. That was a little good news. It still doesn't explain the higher morning readings, but Kiska doesn't look any worse than usual. She is very thin, and I hope that she is not continuing to lose weight. At her last visit to the vet, she had maintained 105 pounds. She looks like an older doggie, and she isn't even eight years old yet. If Natalie can help me, I will post some pictures of Kiska before all of this happened, and some of her since.

I am so happy to be here with all of you. I am so new at all of this that I will probably be on the receiving end of any helpful information! Soon, though, I hope that I will be able to share advice and pass along what I have been learning. Thank you for looking in on our thread! Your advice is priceless, and I am so grateful!

Jeanne and Kiska

Last edited by k9diabetes; 03-21-2008 at 12:56 PM. Reason: Add photos
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