Abbye Update

Abbye’s treatment for Cushing’s Disease has gone well, I’m pleased to report. She was taking lysodren daily up until last week, when a blood test revealed that the adrenal suppression was working and a lower dosage was called for.

Um, perhaps I should back up a bit. As you may or may not recall, Cushing’s is a malady where the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol, which has all kinds of unpleasant physical effects. Cushing’s is most often caused by tumors on either the adrenal or pituitary glands.

In Abbye’s case, an MRI ruled out any tumors, which was mostly good news except it left us not knowing the cause. But it also made it easy to decide to address the primary symptom: the overactive adrenal glands. The most common treatement for this is a drug called lysodren, which is used primarily in human chemotherapy. It’s an adrenal suppressant, very powerful with some scary side effects. Too little and it’s ineffective; too much and it can destroy the adrenal glands and kill the patient.

Our vet made the right call with the initial dosage, however. After a week on lysodren, Abbye’s cortisol levels had come back near the normal range. We’ve reduced the dosage to twice weekly, and are awaiting the results of another blood test which we hope will show a completely normal reading. The icing on the cake is that she — the one who has historically managed to exhibit every known bad side effect of every known medication — experienced none of the problems generally associated with lysodren. That was a miracle in and of itself.

She’s obviously feeling better. Her limp — which I’m not sure I ever wrote about — is gone and we’re back on our regular walk schedule. She’s still a bit slower paced than usual, especially in the afternoon…but, then, aren’t we all? I sometimes forget that she’s going on twelve years old, and some slowdown is natural.

She’s still not eating at pre-diagnosis levels, and has lost a couple of pounds, although I might be so ungentlemanly as to suggest that she probably can afford them. But she doesn’t turn up her nose at regular offerings of scrambled eggs and lunch meat, so we’re not too worried.

The biggest annoyance is that she’s still drinking a lot more water than normal, which wouldn’t be a problem except that what goes in must come out and she’s getting up 2-3 times every night to go outside. That also wouldn’t be a problem except that we don’t have a doggie-door and one of us has to act as a doorman. Or, doorwoman as it happens to work out (I’m apparently a very sound sleeper…I’ve yet to be awakened by a piercing canine stare, something my wife in her infinitely greater sensitivity cannot claim).

So, there you have it…a complete update on our dog’s recent medical history. Did I mention the almost $1,000 we’ve spent to get to this point? Of course I haven’t; that, too, would be unchivalrous.


  1. That’s wonderful news, Eric!!
    No tumors… I was worried about that as a potential source. Of course they haven’t found the actual cause yet, but at least Abbye’s responding well to therapy!
    If she’s going for her “walkies”, then it’s definitely a good sign!

  2. Glad to hear that Abbye is faring so well on the medication, contrary to her history. I sleep through most sounds as well, but piercing canine eyes? That’s enough to wake me (or is it the hot canine breath that goes with it?)!

  3. I’m new here, and am glad to hear the good news. I had to mention that parts of the post were a little odd at first, until I figured out that Abbye was neither your wife nor daughter 😉

  4. Thanks, folks. We got even better news today, by the way, when the last blood test shows that her cortisol level is well within the normal range now. We’re cutting the lysodren back to once a week.
    Codepoke, thanks for dropping in. If you come back regularly, you’ll quickly see that most people are here for the photos of Abbye (sidebar at right)…it’s surely not for the writing! 😉

  5. codepoke:
    One more thing about the Abbye photos – they’re randomly displayed. So if you keep reloading, not only do you get to see more photos, but you get to make Eric wonder what’s going on with his site stats.
    Which is fun to think about, sometimes.

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