First of all, thanks everyone for your concerns, well wishes and helpful tips on Bryson's health.
After agonizing days watching him slowly deteriorate, accompanied with constant visits to the vet, testing, waiting, more testing, and more waiting, we finally got the phone call we half-dreaded from the vet this afternoon...
"Yes, I'm afraid as we suspected, the last test confirmed that Bryson does have Addison's Disease..."
Addison's Disease. Not exactly what we want to hear, since it's incurable and potentially life-threatening, but it's with much relief that we finally learned what's been ailing him, and also that it's something we can manage with close observation and life-long medications.
What it is (as I learned from pharmacy school eons ago) is basically a condition where your adrenal glands which normally secretes all kinds of steroids that keep you alive stop working for some unknown reason. As a result, your electrolytes are all off-kilter (which can cause the tremors we saw in him and even lethal arrhythmia when you're in what's called an "Addisoninan crisis"), and you can't cope with any kind of stress coz you have no cortisol (which can show up as skin sores, infections, general frailness, etc).
It's not terribly common in people (but JFK did have it all his life which he tried desperately to hide- a little bit of trivia for ya), and even rarer in dogs. In fact, I never knew dogs can have it until the vet suggested that might be the culprit a few days ago (kudos to the team of super-diligent vets that took care of him!)
But when we look at the list of symptoms: anorexia, weight loss (Bryson lost 5 lbs this past month), tremors, listlessness, depression, weakness in hind quarters... that's exactlywhat he's been having these past few weeks. And come to think of it, all his previous vague episodes of general illness and fear of new people/dogs could probably be related to it (sorry, Bryson, that we always just assumed that you're a prissy, sensitive soul!)
And yet, because the symptoms are so non-specific, many dogs end up being misdiagnosed and mistreated for months or years before they're finally diagnosed during an Addisonian crisis and on the verge of death...
So, in a way, we may actually have to thank Pixar!
Coz, think about it... if not for the stress that the constant pile-driving caused him, he would not have gone into this current episode, which brought on the "hot spot", which prompted us to bring him into the vet, which warranted him a trial course of steroid, which then eventually led to this seemingly-unrelated and elusive diagnosis.
Can you imagine if we didn't find out now and have him put on the appropriate treatment, only for him to lapse into one of these episodes when we bring our new crying and fussing baby (aka mother-of-all-stressors) home in a few weeks??
Anyway, we began treatment right away this afternoon, starting with an injection of Percorten-V(coincidentally made by the company I work for), which will be given to him monthly for the rest of his life, as well as a dose of oral prednisolone, also to be given lifelong at various doses (depending on his stress levels).
It'll take a few days for us to see any significant improvement, but he did finish his dinner tonight (something he hasn't done for days...). I can say that things are starting to look up :)
So, with that, we hope to be able to say, "Adios, Addisonian Bryson!":
And "Hello, Happy Bryson!" in due course :)