Granulomatous Meningoencephalitis (GME)

Tinky-Yorkshire-TerrierTinky, Yorkshire Terrier

Tinky the Yorkie faces GME
Vet Bill: $6,685.93
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Date: Spring 2009
View Claim Refund

Background

On March, 5, 2009, Tinky's mom, Lori, noticed that she began using her right hind leg "funny" and occasionally collapsed on that limb. By the end of the month, her symptoms had progressed, and the vet at Alaska Veterinary Clinic in Anchorage noticed that when Tink was put on her side she had great difficulty getting back on to her feet. Tinky was referred to Alaska Veterinary Specialists.

By April, Tinky's symptoms had worsened; she was swaying as if she were drunk, she was falling, rolling, she had tremors, a spastic gait, broad based stance, and was knuckling her front paws. She was having difficulty even standing to urinate, and on at least one occasion she collapsed and urinated on herself. She also needed to be held up in order to pass stool because she would tip over if left on her own.

Soon, Tink could not walk at all. The tremors she was experiencing made it hard for her to eat and drink. Tinky's vet at Cornerstone saw her immediately. Based on her deteriorating health and the reports from the specialists, the vet told Lori that her beloved Tinky would die in the near future (days to weeks).

After some research, Lori found a published paper by a diligent, experienced, and compassionate veterinary neurologist at the Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston. When Lori contacted him, he agreed to consult on Tink's case and work with a local veterinarian at The Pet Stop in Anchorage for the next year to year and a half which is how long he estimated it would take to treat her condition and wean her off all medication.

Tink began prednisone therapy in April 2009, and she was able to walk within 24 hours of beginning treatment. Based on her symptoms, response to treatment, and by ruling out other possibilities, Tink was diagnosed with GME, a rare inflammatory disease of the central nervous system. Tink is on a slowly tapered prednisone schedule, along with several immune suppressors. This medication regimen has been designed with the intention and belief that the steroid therapy will eventually end and the other drugs will then be tapered and stopped, and Tink will be able to live the rest of her life without need of medication for this condition.

Tink's consultations and treatments have resulted in almost 40 claims and have cost Lori over $6,500.

Relapse

Tink relapsed on June 2, 2009, at which time all her GME symptoms returned and she experienced a seizure and an acute attack of severe vertigo. She recovered within 12 hours of receiving an increased dose of prednisone. As a result, her medications and medication schedules were adjusted. Since that time all her GME symptoms have disappeared. She can walk and run in a straight line, jump and shake her head without falling over, and can eat and drink and eliminate on her own. Her balance and coordination is 90%, or more, recovered. Best of all, it's been more than 7 months since Lori was told Tinky was dying.

Tinky's Policy

Tinky has an annual maximum coverage of $10,000. This has been very helpful to Lori given the large vet bills associated with treating GME. Also, Tinky's policy covers prescription drugs, so all necessary medications to treat her GME are covered.

Furthermore, before her ordeal with GME, Tink had periodontal disease. Because her Embrace policy covers dental illness, Tink had most of her teeth removed. If those teeth had not been removed, the infection from the periodontal disease would have been a huge complication for the immune supression that is required to treat GME. Having those teeth removed made it possible to treat the GME and save Tinky's life.

Tinky's Claim Refund


Sum of all Claims
Actual Vet Bills $6,685.93
Covered Charges
$6,564.14
Annual Deductible
Already Met
20% Co-pay -$1312.82
Embrace Reimbursement $5,251.32

Reflections

Lori says:

This was a difficult matter to obtain treatment for. I spoke to people in the veterinary field, as well as the lay public, who believed Tink's condition was not treatable. However, the caring people at Embrace have given me a feeling of support every day, from the very beginning.

Tink is my miracle baby, less than an ounce when she was born, who would have thought she would make it this long, and still counting! I always wanted to share her with the world, get her in the book of records, take her on Oprah ... who would have guessed that this terrible GME would be the ticket to let her little light shine. Plus it is very important to me to get the word out that GME is not a death sentence, like so many told me. I'm so proud to share the word about Embrace too! I would rather have Tink on your site than the book of records any day!