My name is Billy Kittrell, and I am a 20 year-old college student that attends Lyon College in Batesville, AR. I will be entering my junior year on August 21st. The school I attend awarded me half scholarship. I do receive financial aid because my mother, Lisa Kittrell, is a single parent. She has been the most wonderful mother I could have ever imagined, let alone asked for. I am extremely blessed to have her in my life. She is a strong support and a huge motivation for me to be as successful as possible. I attend Lyon College as a Biology Pre-Med and Business Management double major. I hope to become either a pediatric oncologist or a pediatric general practitioner. I love kids in general, and I really want to work with kids in the medical field. I currently have a 3.93 GPA and am the Student Government Association’s Treasurer, Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity’s Treasurer, and a member of the Lyon College Baseball Team, and many other organizations as well.
Lyon College, a small liberal arts college, has been such a great opportunity for me. The school’s community is very close-knit, and the professors are very willing to work one-on-one with students. I want to continue my education at Lyon because the curriculum there is very challenging, and the acceptance rate of Lyon graduates into medical school is 90%.
I have been very blessed to receive half scholarship from the school. However, I have to take the maximum amount of yearly loans out that I am eligible for to fund part of my costs which is normal but even with financial aid I still am left with a considerable balance with the school at the beginning of each semester. My current balance to my school’s business office for this upcoming 2014 Fall Semester is $3,237.00. During the summer and winter breaks I work as a closing server 4-5 nights a week at Steak N Shake in Mobile, AL to save money to front this cost. My mother allows me to stay at home during these breaks which I am very thankful for. I am normally able to pay off these semester expenses which are required to be paid in full before I am able to attend classes with the money I make during these breaks. Unfortunately, an unexpected emergency has presented itself that has threatened my ability to attend school this year.
Recently, my 4 ½ year-old brown short haired dachshund Murphy started to behave very strange. He just was not acting himself. He would walk very slowly and sit down very slowly. He seemed to be very sensitive around his lower back and butt, and he would whine severely if he was touched too hard on his lower back and butt. This really disturbed me because Murphy loves his back and butt scratched. So, I took him to Duke Animal Hospital, my local vet in Mobile, AL, my hometown. My local vet examined him and concluded that he had a slight arch to his back when he stood and showed abdominal stiffness. She suggested it may be a back injury because dachshunds are genetically predisposed to common back injuries. She placed him on Tramadol, a pain medication, and Rimadyl, an anti-inflammatory. Murphy was on strict cage rest for 10 days. He could only go outside to urinate and defecate. I couldn’t even let him outside to play with my other dogs Chloe, a 13 year-old miniature dachshund, and Cody, a 2 ½ year-old terrier/spaniel I rescued while I was at school my Freshman year.
This past Sunday, his final day of cage rest, Murphy’s behavior suddenly worsened and he would not come out of his cage. This surprised me because the previous two days he had progressed positively. He just lay in his cage and whined. He came out one time to come lay in my lap right in front of his cage. I hated the sight of this because I knew he was uncomfortable. It was so hard to see my dog, whom I raised from 4 weeks, feel this way. I decided to take him back to my local vet. When we arrived Murphy was having trouble walking on his back legs and his sensitivity had worsened. He was walking over his feet and stumbling after a few steps. My local vet examined him and suggested an x-ray. They had to sedate him in order to relieve his pain and keep him still for his x-ray. My local vet found that two of his lumbar discs seemed to be compressed. This compression she said was protruding upward toward his spinal column and possibly lying on a nerve. She suggested that this was the reason why Murphy was having trouble using his back legs properly and the reason he was losing neurological sense and feeling of everything that was below the point of compression. After hearing this she explained to me the two options I had. I could keep him on extended crate rest and increase his medication, or I could take him 4 hours north to the Auburn University Veterinary Teaching Hospital (AUVTH) in Auburn, AL to have him examined by a neurologist and potentially have surgery. I struggled talking to her about this, and my tears were on the edge the whole time. It was really hard for me to control myself because all I was thinking about was there was a 50/50 chance whether or not my little guy would ever walk again. I tried to keep professional and ask her important questions on what I should do and what to expect, but it was so hard to keep my composure… It hurt me so much to hear what I did not want to hear. I believe that is something everyone struggles with. However, I knew I needed to keep my composure and act quickly in order for him to have the best possible chance of walking again.
Immediately after the visit to my local vet I rushed home and literally packed everything for school into my truck in two hours and loaded up Murph dog. I drove 4 hours straight to the veterinary hospital in Auburn and went through emergency check-in. They examined him, viewed the previous x-ray from my local vet, and did an x-ray and CT scan as well. Dr. Amanda Taylor, one of AUVTH’s vets, concluded that he had a herniated disc and mineralized cartilage between this disc. This disc pushed the mineralized cartilage up into the spinal column and against the spinal cord. The compression was causing the neurological loss and the mineralized cartilage was causing the pain. The good news was that they knew exactly what was wrong with him. The better news was that based on his examination and tests that he was in a relatively good condition for the type of injury he has. Dr. Taylor assured me that because of this news that his surgery would be normal and that the chance of him walking again and full recovery were very high, about 80-90%. This news excited me so much, and it felt as if a huge emotional weight had been lifted. After going through all the risks and benefits of this type of surgery the vet and I agreed that surgery was the right decision. As I write this explanation to everyone I am sitting in the lounge area waiting on Murphy to get out of surgery. If all goes well he will be on strict crate rest for 4-6 weeks. During this time he will only be allowed out of his cage, on a leash, to urinate and defecate. After, it will take daily physical therapy and slow return to activity for about 3 months before he will fully recover.
As I sit here I cannot help but to remember how I could hold him in my palm at one point or how much we used to play and run around in the yard until we could barely breathe, then run inside and crash on the couch together. He loves giving kisses so he always licks all over my face and neck when he gets close to me. I let him do it because that is his way of showing love. I saw him right before they put him on anesthesia for the CT scan and surgery. One of the student doctors brought him in and explained he had been very good overnight and did not whine but when he saw me he started whining and peed all over his towel on the examination table! He was so happy to see me, but I was just as happy to see him! I hate sitting here and being away from him. Every owner knows exactly what I mean. It is like when you are at work and you come home from a long day and you just are bombarded with the love and affection from your puppies. It is such a wonderful feeling!
Murphy’s medical low end estimate is $4,225.06 and his high end estimate is $5,492.60. This covers all the tests, supplies, hospitalization charges, medications, sedations, anesthesia, and surgery. I was required to pay $2,750.00 up front as a deposit. I withdrew this from savings that I had earned to put toward school for this upcoming year. When the surgery is finished I will be required to pay the rest. I will have no choice but to deplete the rest of my school savings account that I intended on using for my entire junior year of school. I have never been the one to ask for money from others, but I have no other choice but to turn to fundraising. If I fail to raise the money for Murphy’s cost, which I estimate will actually be around $5,000, then I will have no other way to pay for this year of school and will face the possibility of sitting out a semester if not two semesters.
I would like to extend my greatest appreciation to everyone for taking the time out of your day to read this letter. I am so thankful for all the opportunities and blessings I have in my life, and I owe it all to God and my family. I am also so thankful for the entire staff at AUVTH and their excellent work.
Dr. Taylor just made me aware that Murphy’s surgery went very well without any problems and that he should make a full recovery!!! They are going to keep him in Auburn for the next few days to monitor him. I will be staying here until they release him, but I will keep everyone who is following this up to date.
Thank you greatly again!
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