Just when we thought things were beginning to look up, LadyBug is now suffering from another bout of idiopathic trigeminal neuritis. It seems that people are getting confused between trigeminal neuropathy and trigeminal neuritis. The former is quite painful. It does not seem like LadyBug is in pain right now. She IS confused and does not understand why she cannot control her mouth and jaw. She also loses feeling in her face and looks quite gaunt.
Idiopathic trigeminal neuropathy is characterized by acute onset of flaccid jaw paralysis. Affected animals cannot close the mouth and have difficulty eating and drinking. Horner syndrome, facial paresis, and decreased facial sensation are also possible. The cause is unknown. Histopathologically, there is bilateral nonsuppurative inflammation and demyelination in the motor branches of the trigeminal nerve. Affected animals usually recover spontaneously within 3–4 wk. Fluid and nutritional support may be necessary. (from Merck Manual)
I wrote about this last summer when LadyBug first demonstrated signs of this. I was in a panic at that point and rushed her to my vet. Dr. Fessler conferred with her colleagues and in many years of veterinarian practice, none of them had actually treated an animal with this disease. It does not appear to us that LadyBug is in pain...she is just confused...and she cannot control her jaw. Her mouth remains open unless we close it manually or she lays her head on a pillow to close it while she sleeps.
This thing just wipes her out. She sleeps and sleeps and sleeps...and cannot seem to get enough rest. I suppose maybe her body is trying to repair itself.
We are giving her manual support with eating...feeding her through either a syringe or carefully placing food in the back of her mouth so she can swallow it. Her drinking is quite messy. Last time she would place her entire head in her water bowl and try to get water...she seemed very thirsty. She got to the point where she would ask for her water syringe. She knew that it made her feel better and cured her thirst!
I am so very grateful that she is not in pain, yet it is difficult as she needs constant care to ensure that she is getting enough food and especially enough water so that she does not become dehydrated.
Please send positive thoughts and prayers that she will recover completely in due time. They had told us it would take about a month last time and it actually lasted two months.