We finally have answers albeit not necessarily ones we would have wanted to hear. At 11.5 years old, Heather has been diagnosed with Cushing's disease. Her ACTH stimulation test results showed her post-cortisol level was 27 (a result of 19 or less would have ruled Cushing's out). This means her body is making too much steroids and definitely explains the hair loss down her back - her thinning hair barely covers her skin now. It also explains why she's constantly thirsty and hungry.
At first, hearing the words Cushing's disease was frightening but it seems there have been improvements in treating this condition over the years and I've heard from many Scottie Moms and Dads that they had years with their fur babies after they were diagnosed. This gives me hope. We started Heather on trilostane yesterday. She will take two pills each morning and in two weeks, we will visit the V-E-T again to redo the ACTH stimulation test. If results look good, Heather will continue taking two pills per day. If test results show there's still room for improvement, we will up the dosage and retest again in another two weeks.
Only two days into our new routine and I'm feeling optimistic. It was a little daunting to hear you have to wear protective gloves when handling the medication and need to wash your hands immediately afterwards but I'm committed to doing whatever makes Heather feel more comfortable. So far, she hasn't had any kind of reaction to the medication whatsoever. The V-E-T mentioned she could feel weak or even get diarrhea but we've been fortunate thus far. My hope is that, in time, she'll be feeling good again and we'll enjoy many more nights with sweet Heather.
Assuming Heather can maintain the current dosage, the cost of her medication per month will be approximately $175. That number will increase, of course, if her next test results show that she needs higher dosages of trilostane. And with every adjustment we make to the medication, we'll need another ACTH stimulation test, which costs roughly $165. My point? Save now, Scottie Moms and Dads, you never know when you might need that "rainy day" fund!
We will, of course, be chronicling Heather's journey with Cushing's disease here on the blog but I urge those of you who have gone through this to lend your support by sharing your stories in the comments section below so that all those reading this can learn from your experience. We greatly appreciate your individual emails to us but feel strongly that any knowledge on this subject should be shared. And so, I ask: what treatment did you select for your Scottie? Any side effects or words of caution? What signs and symptoms did your Scottie display before he or she was diagnosed? For more information on Cushing's disease, check out our friends at ScottishTerrierHealth.com.