This post is a milestone for Sparky for two reasons: (1) It is the 40th Sparky Report, chronicling the first year in the life of a remarkable orphaned kitten whose will to survive enabled her to overcome all odds; and (2) This marks the first week of Sparky's sudden blindness from an unknown cause. I made the heartbwrenching discovery last Monday. She was fine on Sunday, and blind on Monday. As you can see in the above and below photos, Sparky's pupils are completely dilated, making her eyes look black. To say I'm devastated is an understatement.
At this point the blindness is almost total, but that could worsen. She has some vision, but only a very little. She can apparently see light and shadow, but not enough to recognize anything. She can see nothing directly in front of her.
Sick with dread, I rushed Sparky to her veterinarian, and after a battery of expensive lab work, all tests came back negative. More bloodwork comes back tomorrow (Monday). A physical examination revealed no tumors, no injuries, no anomalies. In a race against time to prevent further deterioration of Sparky's remaining vision, my vet arranged for Sparky to be examined by a prominent animal eye specialist in Seattle. He was booked solid, but squeezed us in anyway.
The next day I put Sparky in her carrier and drove 115 miles, and the specialist performed a very thorough examination. (He fell in love with Sparky, and during the examination he kissed her furry little head several times.) His final diagnosis was two-fold--chorioretinitis and optic neuritis. In lay terms, a fungal infection of the eyes and swollen optic nerves. Cause: unknown. Treatment: house confinement and a hideously expensive medication called Fluconazole. Prognosis: guarded.
Will Sparky go completely blind? Will she retain the little sight she has left? Will she regain full sight? The answer to all three questions is “possibly.” So there’s equal hope and despair. I shall cling to hope
In 3 weeks, Sparky goes back to the eye specialist for a recheck. In the meantime, while I've cried an ocean of tears, Sparky is learning to navigate a dark and shadowy world with the same fierce determination she displayed as an orphan.
Sparky is one remarkable cat. She's beaten the odds before, and I have no doubt she'll get through this, too. Case in point: I was absolutely dumbfounded when I happened to glance out the window yesterday afternoon and saw Sparky--who was supposed to be inside the house--making her cautious but determined way up the driveway! And when she heard me coming, the rascal evaded me easily for over ten minutes. So far, Sparky is handling her blindness much better than I am!