31 December 2011

Appearances: Worsening to Get Better

As I said in my last post, there has been a lot of improvements lately. That said, sometimes to get improvement, you have to go through what others see as *worsening*. This whole concept is hard to explain to people- hard to make them see the big picture.

The best example of this is taking place with Thane's coat right now. A lot of Thane's coat had changed color. His normal auburn red had become more rustic red. Though it was pretty and some, but not all could have been caused by sun and a natural product used for flea treatment, to complete the healing process restoring his natural color, that hair has to come out.

In theory it would be nice if this occurred in a slow manner: lose some, gain some, lose some more, gain some more. That's not really what is happening however. Not much had fallen out recently until after his bath and grooming. He held onto his hair through his bath but then grooming him was another story. It was hard for me to take at first, until someone told me he looked a bit darker today. That to me was a good thing to hear, but then at the same time there was the comments about how thin his coat was.

This is a superficial thing I know, but after the roller coaster ride I was on with Met for so many years with his coat which at the time seemed to be due to excessive veterinary intervention with his hypothyroidism (but could easily have been Lyme as well) it's just a real emotional thing for me to handle.

Its rather laughable that something like his coat would have me in this downer mood today. I mean when I look at everything we have come through in regards to his Lyme symptoms why on earth does his thin coat give me so much pause and angst?

I know that losing coat means that more *fuzzy bruises* will be on the horizon for us. When his coat hair is just beginning as this dark auburn root, it seems like bruises to me, but what it really is, is further healing along our road back from Lyme.

We are living with, working with, and watching Lyme recede. It has not been a great six months in terms of the partnership I dreamed we would have this year, but we are still together and he is still alive and fighting back. I've had moments (too many) where I wondered about the longevity of our partnership; wondered if fighting to stay together like this was the right call. Thankfully, it looks like the answer for us may be many more years of a redhead at my side. Honestly, I don't know how I would have coped with the other side of the coin, but should Thane have needed retirement, I would have done it because I will ALWAYS put his needs and welfare first in this partnership.

I gotta say though, despite how down I have been feeling about some of this the last couple days, his guiding us home in the pouring rain yesterday solidified that we are destined to work together- at least a little longer.

Now, lets get that coat to grow back- auburn, thick, and beautiful- huh?

25 December 2011

Progress- the Greatest Gift of All

There's been so much going on that I often find it difficult to get to my blog to post. There's been some really pawsitive changes in our fight against Lyme disease lately.

Though it will be a while before we run labs and can see this in black and white, I see the results taking place. Thane's energy will be something we have to deal with- finding ways of extinguishing some of it before he gets into harness. It is still a very positive thing because it by itself was a signal that Lyme was receding.

These other things are not as visual to folks who are not partnered with Thane so when they hear about them, their first response is to retire him right here, right now LOL That said, I find them rewarding (though not while taking place) because they show me his true self- they show me the dog that slowly slipped away from me- and that is well- beautiful!

Thane's desire to pick the route we are going used to be one of the most infuriating things I had to deal with in working with my little *hard headed redhead*. I will admit, when it all, but disappeared as Lyme took over, I found myself really missing his determination to do things his way. I don't have to miss this part of him any more because it has come back with a vengeance! This is definitely something we are working on and probably will be working on for a while. It is though a sign that Thane has the cognition he once had. It also helps show me when I am not giving him the amount of variety that he needs in his working hours.

Another area where there has been drastic improvement is in our home life. thane has been wearing an e-collar a lot at home. Spirochete's love collagen  In an ideal situation, they would only take an amount that the animal or person can easily replenish. For the most part, especially prior to diagnosis, that has not always been the case when it came to Thane's skin health. Once I was able to understand what was taking place (after his diagnosis), it was so much easier to more properly address his skin needs.

Just understanding why he was being so self-destructive was part of the battle, but the other part required finding the right collagen supports for him. Through Stephen Buhner's research as well as my own further research coupled with my knowledge of homeopathy, I put together a protocol specific to Thane. Though some things did not pan out for his use, other things have worked really well. The result on this front is much more free time out of the e-collar

When people mention collagen, they usually think of one thing- joints. Collagen is so much more than joints though. It impacts joints, skin, hair (fur), and even the eyes. I began noticing visual changes with Thane's eyes about 1 1/2 years ago. No one but me seemed to notice what was going on. Of course the Veterinary Ophthalmologist locally is crap when it comes to thorough exams to diagnose an actual problem. Not only did she not thoroughly evaluate the retina's with dilating his eyes and all, but she turned around and put him on a supplement known to increase histamine response. You do not put a dog with known allergies on anything that increases a histamine response. Her reasoning for prescribing it was that it would fix his non-specific retinal issues. No, it did not. All it did was send his allergies into such overdrive. His issue was not non-specific at all. It was LYME.

Today though, things are looking brighter with his eyes. He has eye drops that I use as needed. They are difficult in the best of circumstances to do, but with my hands and vision- LOL I've found though that with all his improvements this month, his eyes are one of the best. When we have worked some of his energy down, his choices in his guide work are spot on. What I mean is that through the mini guide's vibrational cues to me, I agree with the choices Thane takes all the time once he has burned off some energy,

Where his work is concerned, we are doing a lot of backing up on some basic elements. It seems to lie in the fact that he is so full of excessive energy now, that he has to remember how to slow down and focus on his job better. There are also aspects (even full tasks) that he lost amidst the neuro Lyme symptom picture (which the symptom part is thankfully behind us) It's been over five months since Thane's last seizure and I strongly believe that they are a thing of the past. I've got a good solid history with canine seizures from my previous service dog. I am glad that for Thane, they won't be following him the rest of his life.

I don't know what tomorrow will hold for us, but if its anything like the present, these *guiding eyes* will be at my side for many years to come.

Something I am enjoying so much is watching Thane learning to play independently again. He can be so funny. Laughter really is one of the best medicines around!

15 December 2011

Facing Lyme Each Day

Thane and I continue to work the journey of Lyme Disease. It has not been an easy six months, but the reality is that he is so much more the dog I knew two to three years back.

Its required a lot of patience over the years- testing one disease after another before Lyme was diagnosed. It's taken even more patience the past six months from diagnosis through all of this treatment- bringing him back from chronic late stage disease.

One of the hardest areas for me to be patient with right now, is the return of coat fur, coat health, and coat color to what it was originally. The process is beginning, but anytime my mom comes for a visit, I am destined to go through a funk because she always has a knack for pointing out the negative. He's either too thin or his coat is sparse or something. This isn't just since he got Lyme either, but it makes it especially hard when I am trying to focus on the improvements which are many and she always has to point out where there is a problem. I guess I am *the glass is half full* type of person while my mom is *the glass is half empty* type. I'm trying not to focus on the things she had to say too much, but it is hurtful when she is rarely around any more and when she is, absent as she has been from our daily journey, she says negative crap.

I will admit we are struggling. Thane's energy has come back and most symptoms have resolved, if not completely, they are pretty diminished. There are however still some symptoms that I really need to be on my toes with as we work through them. This kind of thing definitely makes one feel like they are back working a green dog again.

There has been a lot of positives with the collagen supports I have implemented with hopefully more to come as die-off continues.

There have been some negative times too. As we work on the right additional protocol for Thane, some things have not been good choices. Recently a very small dose of a good Lyme protocol ingredient had some tough side effects come forward. Its too bad that it caused heightened senses and acted like a diuretic. I was taken by surprise by these symptoms after how thoroughly I researched it. The diuretic effect was discovered only after Thane stood inside the door releasing  his bladder all over the carpet while I was putting his turfs out for him to busy. Before anyone judges him or me, this isn't typical of Thane. I was shocked and pissed at the same time.

It had already been a very long day. Cleaning up his bladder dump and steam cleaning where the last thing I needed to be doing, but when you own a service dog, sometimes these are the kinds of things you have to deal with. While I was cleaning it up, I was thinking about how nice it would be to not have carpet.

Thane's journey is not over. The vets are getting impatient and my vet seems to have an attitude about my finances. If Thane is not negative when the med refills are gone this time, they are stopping his meds any way. That is scary stuff. Stopping meds when the disease is still there will just allow it to come back.

There are other things I can do if it is not gone and the meds are stopped, but it's a really uncomfortable feeling with all the knowledge I have on how this disease works.

For now, I am thinking positive where it comes to Thane's status with Lyme. I am nervous about some symptoms that have not gone away and seem to volley back and forth, but I continue to tell myself that with patience they too can resolve.

26 November 2011

Rough Days

Thane has had some rougher days- about a week of them in fact. He just acts real off for at least a couple hours after his antibiotic dosage. In case you are not in the loop, this is not typical. It was not until I gave him his regular generic from the pharmacy and he did not react like he had been that I realized he must have been dealing with some filler sensitivity.

I'm no novice when it comes to filler sensitivity. I deal with it in respect to certain groups of medications, but my previous service dog had it about as bad as one can. He nearly died when a pharmacist chose to ignore my and the vets warnings about not changing his brand. They knew I was visually impaired at the time and did it anyway- no notice whatsoever.

I was at home thankfully. It was a Sunday and there was no way for me to get him care. It was a living nightmare going through seizure after seizure with him because some idiot changed his brand violating the written prescription to begin with.

Needless to say, I learned to take filler sensitivity very seriously.

With Thane though, the changes have been subtle things- stubbornness, high strung behavior, refusal to follow commands, startling easily, restlessness I'm sure there are some things I am forgetting, but as you can see they aren't as concrete as it was with Met who began seizing out of control after getting just 30mg of the medication.

As soon as Thane got a dose from the pharmacy though, all of this went away. He has been great today and it feels so good to have him feeling more himself again. Some could argue the stress of the past week could be at play here, but despite my venting through the keyboard, I kept our home atmosphere very fun and laid back- so nope its not the answer.

Its nice to have those rough days behind us. I look forward to more *normal* days ahead as I research where to go from here with his care.

24 November 2011

Looking for Answers

Following the results coming in, I did not hear back personally from the specialist. In its place, I got a fax from my vet that Dr Franklin wants Thane to be treated for three more months- then if his titer has not improved to stop treatment. Now anyone that has had Lyme or understands Lyme knows all too well what will happen if you stop the treatment before the bacterium has been eliminated- yup we will wind up right back where we were in June and July. This battle we have gone through will all be for naught without anything learned from the experience

With my finances frazzled at best, this is NOT the answer. Not to mention that Thane should not hve to suffer because even the specialist is being impatient/ expecting changes to happen overnight in an individual who was presented to him in end stage chronic Lyme. sigh

It was bad enough when it came time to getting his meds refilled this time with the specialist having turned his case back over to his regular vet. In most situations she is quite affordable, but her resistance to calling the meds into Bi-Mart was surprising to me. I've been paying eighteen bucks a month for his meds- affordable because I budget for them. The vet thought I was going to hand over the plastic and pay her seventy-five dollars a month- oh yeah and they had the gol to call that inexpensive! Of course I refused so in order to get his meds, I had to go out by myself in horrible weather conditions, as Thane can't work in that kind of weather yet nor would I have asked him to anyway, pay the vet ten dollars and sign some waiver nonsense, in order to get them to call the prescription in to Bi-Mart. This med is not anything unique. It is your typical GENERIC Amoxicillin! I'm still shaking my head at the stratosphere that dollar tag was in for just 60 doses.

But this all aside, I'm very uncomfortable with this treatment plan- ie the part where we will stop treatment if his titer has not gone down. I've finished the Healing Lyme book I was reading (other than the index which I don't need to read grin) so have been putting feelers out for more Lyme books to learn from. I stumbled across this one, which is right up my alley: The Homeopathic Treatment of Lyme Disease by Peter Alex. I'm not nieve enough to believe that homeopathy all by itself is the answer for Lyme Disease, but it's an avenue to research and add one more Lyme book to my collection and Bookshare's. This next book also sounds really good: Insights Into Lyme Disease Treatment  This last one also sounds quite good written by someone who suffered from Lyme for 8 years before getting a correct diagnosis The Lyme Disease Solution

Realistically of course, I can't buy all these books right now, nor could I scan them quickly with my chronic and often times excruciating nerve pain, but hopefully I can implement some protocols or individual aspects of protocols from Healing Lyme as well as choosing the best book to tackle next. My head is saying to choose the Homeopathy one since I have so much knowledge in that area.

Irregardless of what takes place when Thane's labs are run again in a little under three months, if his titer does not place him in the Lyme negative range, I will not stop the supplemental protocols which I have plans of implementing for him. I'm being a bit vague here because I want to research the items more thoroughly before I make my final decision on implementation.

I am nervous about it all, but not as nervous as I would be each and every day if his antibiotics are stopped before he is Lyme negative.

19 November 2011

Results are Here

I got Thane's results yesterday afternoon. The lab changed their format though so it took me a while to be able to read them. Where would I be without my good friend John!

The news is very good from my perspective. Though the journey is not over, there is indeed reason to celebrate. In just five months time, Thane's Lyme titer has been cut in half. When looking back at just how sick my special boy was, this is truly a magnificent thing.

I look at it this way (even though its probably not an accurate analogy): It took Thane two years to get as ill as he was. In the past five months the titer was cut in half- therefore we cut one year of spirochetal invasion from his system. Now theoretically that's probably not exactly how its interpreted, but it helps me- so who cares how its really analyzed smile

I knew realistically before the labs were drawn that we were not done with the treatment phase. There were still symptoms that had not subsided. The checklist is long though of those that have been resolved in this first phase of treatment.

We opted for a much more intensive tick borne disease panel this time around. I have learned just how common co-infections are when one has Lyme. His test this time included eleven co-infections and all of those were negative. This is really encouraging because from what I have heard through some canine TBD sources, not all TBD's can be cured through Amoxicillin. Lyme happens to be one that can though.

For now, we continue on as we have been. I was rather looking forward to having the ability to sleep in on cold mornings which his med dosing prohibits, but one day we will get that ability back. For now, we celebrate this huge step forward at conquering such a tenacious disease.

But really, why must my dogs all have *MEDICAL* lessons to teach me? LOL

17 November 2011

Phase One of Treatment Comes to a Close

On Monday, I sent a fax to Dr Franklin, Thane's Lyme specialist. He is about to finish his last refill of his antibiotic treatment. I thought (incorrectly, mind you) that he was supposed to finish the meds and then testing would be done. With just three day of meds left, I felt panicked when I learned I had misunderstood the process. Dr Franklin was awesome and so was Dr M at our regular vet practice. Not only did she see us first thing the next morning to draw labs and evaluate Thane, she gave me some substantial discounts (including a week of antibiotics free of charge)

Dr M was really happy with Thane. She said just his attitude and energy changes were remarkable from when she had last seen him five months earlier. She had not seen him since drawing labs that brought about the Lyme diagnosis- not after he collapsed completely, not after he reacted horribly to the Doxycycline- not since that fateful day when we were gearing up for the possibility that Thane could very likely have this tenacious spirochetal activity destroying his insides.

Thane was bouncing around like a silly man and excited to see her when she came in the door. Thane loves the vet, but last time he went off in the corner of the room and just laid there- let her examine him, but was not into the playful activity he normally participates in with her.

Tuesday was very different. He was back to his own bouncy self with her. I had been going through a funk with regards to where things stand symptomatically with Thane- especially regarding his coat. I really felt encouraged by getting Dr M's perspective. With all the new dark hair growth coming in- albeit slower than I'd like, things really are positive.

After my communications with Dr Franklin, I already knew that the med course is not over. The goal from his perspective is BOTH symptom free (which he is not just yet) and negative TBD test results (which we are waiting on results from).

I'd love to have him done with antibiotics and ready to take on the world Lyme free, but I also know I have to be patient a while longer. We have come through multiple system symptoms- leaving so much behind us, but we still have some skin, coat, and eye symptoms to make it through. There is definitely marked improvement in these symptoms as well and one day I will be writing that Thane is in remission from Lyme, but right now I have to keep being patient.

Gosh Patience is one of the hardest things to come by when you've been dealing with a journey that has taken months out of your normal partnership already. Yes, we are working well together most days, but we are not the team we were before Lyme took over just yet. I am for the most part optimistic about our future, but with the noticeable issues present on overcast days, I do at times wonder what the future holds for the two of us.

I'm not giving up- just being a realist. grin

29 October 2011

From Baby Steps to Leaps and Bounds

The title says it all. For some time it felt like progress was so slow and that this journey may never end. Though when the end might be is still anyone's guess since new tick labs won't be done for at least a few more weeks. I am definitely seeing signs that point towards good things though. I am determined to believe that they are just the first signs of many to come.

A lot of the positive things are coming through Thane's work. With the benefit of the addition of Ester-C which supports collagen repair, a number of my concerns about the future of our partnership are just slipping away. This is a very positive thing that has given me back hope for our future.

Recently I thought Thane was bruising again amongst other changes that were not so good. I was dashed but remembered my readings in Healing Lyme about biofilm and cyst forms and tried to assure myself that this was just part of the process. When I pointed a bruise out to a sighted person however, it turned out to not be a bruise at all. but darker hair beginning its growth back in. This was on his hip but the same could be said for the other places of supposed new bruising! I was ecstatic.

That night as I groomed Thane, I spent some moments stroking the new hair growth. This may sound silly to some, but Thane has had skin color single coat hair on that hip for almost a year now. Some of it I believed was caused by a flea product I used for bathing while the rest I suspected to be from his staph infection. Of course at that point we had no idea he had this infection because he had Lyme. I had come to face reality that this hair on his hip may never be what it once was even after Lyme was behind us. Then here I was stroking the reality that healing may come in all forms for Thane. It may not be completed in lightening speed, but given time his coat may be just what it was before that tick devastated our lives.

Recently we went through a period of Thane being outright stubborn about where we were going. He wanted us to go the route he wanted us to go. Most teams would have looked at this as a huge headache and I am sure at the time it was occurring a part of me wished it was not happening. That all said, when it surfaced another part of me was thrilled by its appearance. Go ahead and laugh, but this is a side of Thane that has made me a better trainer and handler. It's also a side of him that I had not really seen since Lyme took over so I was reveling in its return because by it returning it felt like one more area had been released from the stronghold of the spirochetes. It's all about how one looks at things.

The last few days, I have seen a return to a lively bouncy Border Collie boy whether we are at home playing or out walking or working, there is an extra pizaz in his step and actions that had been lost. Now it's back and I am loving it!

Our work has shown just how much progress has been made in conquering Lyme. He is just really into whatever we are doing. We even went back to the nature trail for the first time since his Lyme diagnosis. We were finally home.

15 September 2011

The Hard Reality of Lyme Treatment

Lyme spirochetes are tenacious. As such, we have to fight back just as tenaciously (or at least try). For those with chronic Lyme that went undiagnosed for years, this can bring with it unwanted effects for sure.

By the time we end what I call phase one of treatment, Thane will have been on antibiotics for 4 1/2 months as well as a number of supplements being taken to combat the various complications from the disease, the treatment, the damage of the treatment and the like.

During the treatment, I think one of the most difficult things now that Thane wants to work and has the energy to do so is combating the yeast odor that excessive antibiotic use brings on. There's not a whole lot one can do to combat the odor other than more frequent bathing and vinegar rinses. It leaves me always concerned that someone someplace will ask me to leave because Thane smells. Under the ADA, they can in fact legally do this. I don't have a leg to stand on if such a request is made. I do my best with bathing, grooming, vinegar wipes but the reality is that this is going to be with us for a while.

But beyond the work side of things, I know that yeast odor emanating through the skin and coat points to systemic yeast. I also know that Lyme spirochetes love collagen and collagen repair is not going to take place proficiently with yeast taking over like this.  I don't feed grains for it to thrive off of instead feeding a raw prey model diet. I don't give treats that are anything but meat or organ and even those have been rare- used only when doing some training. One of the supplements in use is a very good probiotic. It seems I am doing everything right except the excessive use of the antibiotic to kill the spirochetes.

Right now I like to keep my mind set positive in that phase one will be all that is needed. I try and think of the follow-up testing showing that we got everything and that we can then begin rebuilding his immune system and hopefully putting an end to all of this yeast once the big culprit is withdrawn.

I know in my head that the important thing is to kill ALL of the spirochetes from all of his systems, but when I get violently ill like I did last night from his odor and none of the known quick fixes I used with Met to buy a day or two between bathing works, it's hard to keep my mind on the big picture.

12 September 2011

Life is Better

Its been a beautiful busy month here between the weather, errands, re-certification, and plain enjoying working with Thane again.

Some people have wondered and asked just how things differ now besides the obvious changes of improvement I noted in the physical changes, but more about where is our partnership and working ability now in relation to where it was before he crashed hard.

It Rocks! We are certainly not all the way back just yet, but as long as its not too hot we are loving and living life well again. No, I have not taken any long treks to the Portland or Clackamas areas, but we are making weekly if not more frequent treks to New Seasons for good organic produce and taking walks and running other errands at will. When its not too hot, Thane also is at my side for the afternoon mail pickup and garbage run.

Thane loves to help around the home again from retrieves, to carries, to opening and closing the fridge, to finding something I can't like the television remote.

There are things that are much improved, but there nonetheless are reminders that we have not come full circle yet- improved yet still working through symptoms. That all said, for two years Thane worked with the symptoms until he crashed.

Now I am more aware and watch his symptoms, but physically he is probably about the place he was for the past year prior to the crash. If we are headed for a big errand and I note he is less able than I thought or more distracted than is good, then it becomes a small errand instead. Lately though, his energy, enthusiasm, and work ability have not often impacted the decision of where we are headed to. That's a great feeling after how hard a journey we found ourselves in

01 September 2011


I pretty much feel like summer passed me by this year. Lyme can be that way- especially chronic Lyme. I keep reminding myself that it took Thane two years to get this sick so not to expect miracles overnight, but sometimes those reminders seem to go in one ear and out the other.

I thought right now I would focus on some of the changes I am noticing- some for the better thankfully, but others can be exasperating and are going to require a trip back to training I think to get through them.

Thane has a lot of energy, but not a lot of ability just now. I should explain that comment better probably before someone thinks he is still in real dire condition. grin If we do a big trip say one that takes an hour each direction between bus, max, and waits for each with a significant walk as well this means the next day I best be planning on just playing with him. Its been hard to live life that way. I've had to alter transportation source for some things to cut back walking distances. I've had to do without things I need for a day or two if I want to do it with Thane at my side.

Amidst these limitations Thane has a need to expend mental energy and if I can't fulfill that with work because of his limits or mine, the next time we head out he is full of days of unreleased energy. We play ball and other things on home days, but there's nothing like a really hard walk to release all that pent up energy!

The past week or two seems to have been a turning point for Thane's endurance related outings. I'm not saying that he is his old able self, but that he has more tolerance for longer outings like our weekly trips to New Seasons. Until this week, I had to alter the route we used to do this trip or he was dead tired when we got home. That is no longer the case. That is really good progress.

I see a lot of good progress amidst my frustrations though. For instance, I can't remember the last time Thane did not want to eat everything I gave him for his meal. His skin is also markedly improved as long as I catch him before he chews himself silly. Spirochets love collagen and I saw a marked increase in his skin discomfort about a week ago which may have been more positive than that seems. It may be a result of releasing the biofilm through the use of systemic enzymes. Before treatment even by using protective collars, his skin was still not very good. Now I am really happy for the most part when I check him over for ticks and other problems or brush him. For the most part he is also interested in being involved with me at home. That usually means trying to get me to throw his toy while I am busy doing other things, but whats a ball obsessed doggy to do?

On the negative, he has a lot of impulse control things surfacing in his work. A lot of that is indoor work that I can easily work with, but not all of it is this way. It means we need to get out there and practice, practice, practice to settle these aspects down. Its frustrating because I know its all about the lack of experiences that has this surfacing, but its also nothing either of us had control over.

Thane is a creature of habit meaning that if we regularly do something then he considers it part of our routine. When he got sick, a lot of his job was left up to me. When you add the hot pavement to the mix, it meant that Thane stayed inside while I did the garbage and mail run this past couple months. I was sure it was going to take a bit of work to get him back into that being part of his job. We got a couple very cold days for summer in the mid 60 temps. Thane was all rearing to go help with the garbage and mail. It was just one of those special blessings amidst what has been a very rocky and stressful time for both of us.

Things could be a lot worse than they are. The weather is improving some again and he is rearing to go. I think rather than looking at the big picture of at least two more months of meds and probably a year or more of systemic enzymes and regular use of Milk Thistle, I will focus on the here and now today- today he seems rearing to go so a good walk at the minimum is on the books for today. We have a busy weekend ahead so I am sure he will get his fill of work in it.

18 August 2011

Marvelous Results

Though Lyme treatment may be a marathon instead of the sprint we would like it to be, sometimes good results come more quickly than anticipated.

Yesterday I received Thane's lab results. I was overjoyed! His liver enzymes that had been horribly elevated are now back in the normal range- in fact low normal to mid normal. Some of his enzymes are even lower than pre-Doxy including one of the elevated ones. Its a very good feeling amidst the upheaval of Lyme disease that has dramatically changed our life and eliminated our summer adventures.

I know that I can not get complacent because of the good that has taken place though. The mere fact that a drug reaction could bring with it such an assault. He will continue to receive the Milk Thistle just as before to prevent any setbacks in the road through Lyme. Honestly I now look at that reaction to Doxycycline that he had, as devastating and hard to deal with as it was, as a good thing. If it had not been for that reaction, I would not have learned about his liver difficulties going on so quickly and the turn around might have taken a much longer path to resolve.

Today I am happy though for good reason.

Thane had a good day today so we did an errand in town. It was nice to get some walking in with him as well as to realize that sometimes his goofing off is more about boredom of the route than anything else. I let him choose a route to come home and he excelled so well. My back wasn't thrilled at the horrible sidewalk surface. It seems there will have to be a law before people take their sidewalk upkeep responsibilities seriously. In some places in our town, it'd be easier if it was just a dirt or gravel path than the sidewalks that are there. Up town where I live takes it more seriously for some reason, but not so much the case down town. Thane was enjoying himself and working exceptionally so I put up with it for a while. Now my back is yelling about that decision- but hey, sometimes a girls gotta give her guide some variety!

15 August 2011

Routine Care Changes with Lyme and its Aftermath

Today I needed to take Thane for follow-up testing and to see his regular vet. I called to be sure she was working today and she was, but I was warned they were under staff and it would be a longer wait. I debated about going tomorrow instead but since we got up to do this and Thane was fasted, I opted to go in anyway.

Just like the last few times- when he was started on Doxy, when he collapsed from Lyme before getting the meds, and had Doxy reaction she was too busy to see us- to deal with anything I needed to address. I am beginning to feel the drawback of this clinic approach of walk-in only. Is it walk-in or isn't it? Yes it did save me thirty bucks which right now is a good thing, but I am pretty certain that this is not the approach Dr Franklin is expecting when he gets the labs and update from her. It just feels like now that he has a chronic condition for which she has little to no experience with and needs to be seen more, that I am getting the brush off. I hope I am wrong here and that they treated others in like manner this morning, if they came in wanting to see the vet. I guess I should be grateful that they drew the blood and let me use Hemopet which was about half the price that the labs would have been otherwise. When I get the results back, I will let you all know if there has been a positive change.

A vet tech at the clinic told me Thane's teeth need a cleaning- yeah, like I am going to put him under anesthesia now with all his drug and health issues! I think not. Since I did not get to see the vet and ask her to tell me what they are like in comparison to previously evaluated for me, I have no idea if they are really that bad or what the deal is. I do know his teeth always get worse when on antibiotics so have been trying to do the Petz Life system for him, but maybe not enough. This link is for the manufacturers site, there are other cheaper resources, but this one gives the complete options. Of course its going into high gear now because if a vet tech thought they needed it, they just may.

I can't understand quite frankly why Thane has never got the improvements with his teeth that other prey model rawfed dogs exhibit. I don't know if its that his only bone source is turkey thighs now or if its just him as a result of genetics. He eats beef, turkey, and buffalo right now. He can't eat rabbit without severe constipation and before anyone offers the solution of kibble or hard treats don't waste your time. Thane has exhibited a lot of GI based food sensitivities since his giardia- though its unclear presently how much was the giardia and how much was actually the subsequent Lyme infection. Whatever the cause, playing games with his diet because of his teeth isn't going to fly. I never had to work so hard with Met's teeth until he was about 8 years old. I brushed them all the time, but never even purchased Petz Life for him until this age. Thane is only 4 years old. I can't imagine dealing with anesthesia just because of teeth. Before anyone mentions anesthesia free dentals, they leave a lot to be desired- including not being thorough enough. I do have to take this seriously though because dental disease can cause problems with other organs- particularly the liver. Since Thane already has experienced liver complications (most likely from Doxy), it is not something to play around with. This could all be over-exaggerated, but with his history of plaque issues with antibiotics, I rather doubt its the case. After a month and a half on antibiotics, yeah there is reason for concern with at least three more months of them to come.

For now I am stepping up the Petz Life and other plaque busting supports that will hopefully not cause too many complications. I'm going to try him with Bully bites now that his poops seem consistent, but know that this could backfire. I will be looking for some better toys that will help in this area as well (when finances allow for it) and for now, the toys we do have that are a type that could be a support for plaque removal (hard with nodules especially) will remain at his disposal at all times.

As if Lyme is not enough to deal with huh?

12 August 2011

Where Thane Stands Today

Today we headed out to New Seasons. Other than a short walk the other day, we had been home for four days and Thane was busting to get out of here. Last time we went there though Thane had a collapse afterwards. I needed to take precautions for him to assure that did not happen again.

There are three ways to get to New Seasons. LIFT paratransit, bus to max and then a long but nice walk, and two bus lines. We normally use the bus to max approach. Today I decided we would shortcut it to the bus stop across from our local Safeway and then connect with the other bus line that could drop us off with just a short walk to the store. A pitbull with its owner in front of Safeway, almost had a different plan for us. Ugghhhh

Thane remained so on task that if I had not heard some mostly unintelligible yelling or been asked by someone near the next Safeway entrance if we were OK, I never would have even known just how close we came to an instant replay of the attack on Met. I am so glad I trusted my dog when he directed me closer to the street edge of the sidewalk there!

The two bus approach to New Seasons has its drawbacks. The first is that the wait between one bus line to the next, can be as much as 30-40 minutes depending on time of day. This makes the trip take considerably more time and not an option on the return if refrigerated or frozen foods are bought. The second drawback is that this line uses lifts instead of ramps. Its doable but I have to remove Thane's handle, have him jump up the steps and then follow onto the lift with my guide cane. Boarding is much easier than de-boarding as to deboard (since we have little experience with this type of bus) I have to both hold the lead in a certain way behind me and safely wheel forward off the lift. To put it boldly, I have to trust the driver stopped in a safe place and no idiots are standing in the way wanting to board the bus yesterday, since I don't have a free hand for the guide cane. The third drawback is that a trip which usually takes close to an hour to make, takes about an hour and a half instead.

For Thane right now though, it is important to cut the distance he must walk down so that when we return home, he is not going lame. It could just be a matter of being out of shape or it could be Lyme itself that sent him to a crawl last time, but I am not willing to test which one it was just yet. I will give him time doing this approach. With it and using the short cut path and Safeway stops, he seemed to tolerate the walk to max for the ride home.

Where today stood, at least work function wise he did pretty well. He's still got concerning issues- least of all is his follow the line mentality, but by now I am getting pretty used to him taking me for a ride around the sharp spikes of weave poles LOL. He still has periodic issues with his skin which draws him to chew if I don't keep a watchful eye. He appears to have lost some hearing. He does better when its quieter, its certain tones, or if we are in the same room or vicinity. He is not deaf, but its noticeable and I stop myself from correcting when it requires a second *come* or a second *mommy needs* to get him to come and help or do something I want. His vision seems at least for today to be improving but his walking like he is on ice when he first goes from concrete or carpet to polished tile is more noticeable. That too is workable by letting him take a moment to get his footing better before moving forward. This kind of gait is often considered one where some vision disturbance is going on (according to the crappy ophthalmologist) so I guess I should not say there is no noticeable issue, but that he seems quite aware and functional in his guide work

Tomorrow's another day that may bring a good day or a low functioning day for either one or both of us. With that said, its time for us to hit the sack!

09 August 2011

Living and Working with Fluctuations of Lyme Disease and its Treatment

It has been a while since I did an update, so thought I would take a down day to do just that. Thane and I have had some good days this week. He has a real gusto about his job again- about wanting to Go, Go, Go smile Though there are some really great things taking place- more calmness in harness pull, ability to take in some distance, better focus with each passing day, and great attention to what I am needing at the moment- there are also the tough aspects of living with and working through Lyme. The aspects especially of how the disease has its good and bad times, much like living with MCS does.

There are the appetite issues, the constant reminder of the disease as you dose supplements and meds, the moments when you realize you were right all along about Denosyl causing problems, the bad decisions in terms of work that left your guide overdone and needing to take steps back.

I have to remind myself every once in a while that though I have baptized myself in knowledge about this disease; about how it works- I also have to give myself a break when I make a bad decision. In other words, I need to forgive myself for when I chose a course of action that was not the right one.

Today is a down day after two shopping days. The freezer and cupboards are full enough that anything we need can wait until we both bounce back.

I had tried Denosyl a second time. I did so because I could not be positive that either Tripett or the higher probiotics dose played some role in the GI symptoms. I also could not be positive that the chewing the first time was not done out of boredom or stress or even aspects of the Lyme spirochets. The change in his appetite, I was seriously attributing to the disease itself. The sudden increase in sound reactivity, I was uncertain of the cause initially when I first tried Denosyl as the disease could be at play there.

After some tweaking of supplements for a few days I tried again. After three doses it was pretty clear I had been right to blame the Denosyl.

-Thane's appetite had tapered off a lot, but usually I did manage to get him to consume most his food by days' end.
-Yesterday Thane was back to multiple bowel movements[ one where he was working in harness and before I knew it he was pooping. For those reading this who may not know, a guide is trained to go on command rather than to just choosing to go when they want. At least he pulled into some dirt before going smile
-His heightened sound reactivity made it picture clear that there was a big problem with Denosyl when my smoke detector decided it was time to warn of low battery. Oh so perfect timing NOT! I change them every year before my section 8 inspection, but those did not last a year! While we were out shopping, better batteries designed specifically for smoke detectors were installed, thanks to my Dad. There were other issues with sensitivity while we were out, but overall he worked pretty good as long as we took our time at things.
-Lastly I had noticed that Thane was squatting to pee more often. When he did not raise his leg on his potty station, a place he always raises his leg, I knew something was up. He laid under the desk either chewing at his knee or resting- not wanting to play much and when he did play he did not run for the ball, but walked. It was clear he was hurting- whether from the use of Denosyl, from the disease, or from over-doing I can't be sure, but since he is dramatically improved 24 hrs after pulling the Denosyl, I suspect it was at least partially responsible in this area as well.

The moral to all of this is despite what Nutramax says about Denosyl only having one rare side effect of vomiting, there can be many other side effects dependent on the dog. The only place one finds information on this is through the manufacturer. There are no alternative resources and they were the only ones involved in its testing and marketing. This is not to say that it's a bad supplement. After all for most dogs there may really be no side effects. If you have a sensitive dog though where synthetic drugs and supplements are an issue, there's reason to be cautious with this supplement and start with a lower dose and work up rather than starting with the recommended dosage.

I asked for Denosyl because I wanted to offer Thane the very best in liver healing after the damage that Doxycycline had done to his liver. I just wanted to help him the best I knew to. For now, I will continue with the two doses a day of his Milk Thistle Complex that includes  other liver friendly herbs and ingredients.

If I allow it to, this could be beyond overwhelming for me to have to constantly question whether Thane is up for working in any given situation. A high drive dog is going to act high drive often times when they are not up to the task. It will take great skill in evaluating what we can and can not do- a big learning curve for sure.

Denosyl a third time.

Hopefully when we wake up tomorrow, it will be a good day for both of us- a chance to get out again. If its not the case, we will roll with the punches.

04 August 2011

Let the Good Times Roll

Today was another really good day, for those keeping score. smile I was not sure after such a big day yesterday if we should head out today or not. Other than not eating much which isn't uncommon to have a couple days a week of that caliber these days, Thane was really lively this morning.

We took our long walk to the bus since the errand had very little walk requirements once we got off the bus. During the walk, some sound reactivity spiked with a roofing project, but other than wanting to put us into Indy 500 speed (just kidding), we managed to make it through that PHEW! He still has some sound reactivity issues from the Lyme itself so this is to be expected.

It was actually fun to be working. The weather was beautiful and he was much more focused than the previous week. Our trip was longer on the bus than off, but he is just glad to be working again. I am really feeling the pain from not using all these muscles as much as we had been before he got sick. This is not a good thing so I hope it like, gets used to it already pretty soon.

From the medical perspective of things, today Thane's bowels were back to normal in both consistency and how many times he needed to go. He also has chewed so little (if at all), that his coat is without the dried clumps that I was frequently brushing out. His skin is looking really good as well. It's hard to know if it's the antibiotics, the probiotics, the miniscule amount of Pet-Go I added in, or the dying off of some of the invaders- whatever the reason, it is good to see him relatively free of this demon no matter what brought forth the relief (temporary as it might be).

Each good day we have, makes me feel more optimistic about Thane's future and our partnership.

03 August 2011

Working Through Lyme Literally

Today was a beautiful day! The sun was shining, Thane ate well, and we headed out the door for our first real serious work day since Thane collapsed. Though the first leg of the journey from home to bus had its flaws, from the bus on was mostly really good.

There are some issues to contend with- one being how quickly I got out of shape from not working Thane in harness. Oh my am I ever sore! There are the issues we encounter anytime Thane takes meds to contend with, but overall I would rank this day as a very positive one- one that is giving me hope. Oh there are the aspects that make me feel more like I am working a *green* dog as opposed to a seasoned one, but even the quirky curbs, we worked on perfecting this past spring, were performed in great form today.

I was a bit nervous about taking Thane on such a long errand, but made the decision that if he was not alright that we would just come home and I would return to do it another day solo. Though we needed to take a little rest each direction on the walking leg of the journey and the temperature was warm for Thane, he did really well considering what he has been through. Interestingly, he also has not chewed since we came home either- though I made sure to really wash him down well as soon as I removed his harness. I put his swamp cooler on him right away as well to help him in the cooling down process.

There were some not so great things that took place: one being a second unexpected poop that was still loose right on the cement (whoops). This pretty much tells me the loose additional poops are not Denosyl. We picked up a good supply of ground meat today so I will be able to use it instead of Tripett to see if it plays any role in that side of things. Chances are it's just about the long term antibiotics and in that case it will just become a *slippery elm to the rescue* scenario.

To me, Thane is smelly. I noticed him being horribly smelly when he was on Doxy, but once it was pulled and a bath done it disappeared. It just started up again last week, but not nearly as potent as before. To me, this smell reminds me of yeast, but when he had staph he also smelled like this only much stronger. There's no indication of staph so I am leaning towards the former cause since it's so common in antibiotic use- especially long term use. It's also possible that my bionic nose is at play here again and others may barely smell it, if at all.

This brings us to quite a predicament. Service Dogs need to be clean and not smell. We are only in month one of a minimum four month run of antibiotics. We have no shower until the replacement handheld shower unit arrives, and we have errands to be doing when Thane is up to them. I am brushing him daily which definitely has helped dissipate this odor. The couple times I washed him up with a couple drops of shampoo, it helped initially, but did not last all day. It would help long enough to pull off our errands though, if brushing and wet towel wash downs are not enough.

I am thinking more though about the impact for him systemically. I know how bad systemic yeast can get. I experienced it go out of control with Met and that is the last thing Thane needs. He is taking probiotics daily already, but may up them to twice daily if need be. It's a balancing act for sure as extra probiotics can also lead to loose stools- see the pattern here? shaking my head

But overall, the drug induced issues, harder harness pull at times, and miscellaneous issues associated with Lyme's and/ or its treatment- they are things we can deal with. It's just good to be back in the saddle even if it requires a day by day analysis of well being before the decision is made to embark on a trek out.

02 August 2011

Sometimes it's Baby Steps

Thane and I are taking each day as it comes. There are days when it really is hard for me to swallow the path we are on- and others where I take it no different than I take my own chronic health needs- that is, one day at a time. Some days are the top floor while others tanked out or somewhere in between. I'm learning to really listen to Thane- to what he wants, needs, and even to when he feels alright but would just rather veg much like days I get myself from time to time.

Today was a vegging day. It was beautiful out again. It hit 81 in Portland today- probably a few degrees warmer here. I'm learning to let my frustration of not being able to have our adventures roll off me in much the way we would let a bad decision roll off. I'm taking advantage of the down times to catch up on regular laundry, working gear laundry that we have limited quantities of, sewing tasks like new braces, and even some work on my housing re-cert paperwork. All of this happens amidst *other play* (stuffies), *throwee* (balls thrown from the ball launcher), encouraging Thane to perform his indoor tasks, and just plain and simply enjoyment of the down time rather than always focusing on why it is that we are not out discovering some new niche in the world that is fun to explore.

Tomorrow is a toss up. A lot will depend upon what both of us are feeling like. Its a day that I hope can be spent with Thane at my side on an errand, but at the same time I am not fooling myself into believing that he will be the same dog at my side who was there that fateful day when he probably saved our lives a couple months ago. All in due time, I tell myself.

The more I learn about Lyme, the more I wish it was taken more seriously by vets everywhere. I wish at the very least, that vets brought the topic up with their clients (and yes in non-endemic areas too). Maybe through Thane's journey, I can educate others in my area enough that they will take pause to become aware of the symptoms that can point to a Lyme's diagnosis as opposed to just stress or allergies.

Maybe this is my new call. Perhaps I was meant to have a cause for each successor I have. I certainly hope that does not become reality however- believe me two causes are plenty in a lifetime (three if you count educating people about MCS).

I find myself putting our days on a point scale- you know that typical scale of one to ten. For our purposes, I'm going to call one the worst and ten the best. Today I consider a six despite Thane wanting to stay home. My criterion are much lower however than they were upon diagnosis due to how bad things actually got while Thane was on Doxy.

Today he chewed just slight itches for a moment, he did not have loose poop, and by days end he had ate all his food I planned for this day. He played and even got down right silly clown with his frib in the evening time. He took a nap while I sewed my new brace, entertained himself while I did a bit of scanning and only seemed to nap a normal amount as opposed to the excess one gets used to seeing with Lymes.

Tomorrow is its own new day. I may get up and discover that everything has been blown to smithereens with regards to my plans and how Thane is doing. If that is the case, I will adapt/ adjust to whatever changes I must make- because after all what is most important right now is not the assistance he can provide me on my errands, but whether or not he is capable of assisting me or not.

This is not the 100M dash at the Olympics, it is in the class of the pentathalon, marathon, Tour de France. There will be a time for celebrating one day, but today it is all about those baby steps of accomplishment. I see progress today and frankly that really is all that counts.

31 July 2011

Resenting Lyme

Lyme is a roller coaster ride. If anyone tells you differently they are fooling themselves and you. It is a roller coaster ride of waxing and waning- not just in symptoms but in emotions as well. These yoyoing emotions also are not just for the one suffering from the disease, but for their caregivers too.

Though I know people who have had Lyme or who presently do, I was never right there in their daily life and struggles to experience any of this first hand. It's all especially hard if the individual with the disease also happens to be one that you rely upon- like a service animal.

I'm no stranger to chronic health difficulties- not for myself and not for my service dogs. That said, I have grown accustom to being able to rely upon Thane as a *healthier* service dog- to help me at home from retrieves, to door tugs, and  to nudging doors open or closed, to turning out the light, to helping me undress. I have become even more accustom to him in public though- his guide work impeccable, his boredom games something that has made me grow as a trainer and handler- but above all I never felt so resentful about anything, not even in Met's life. Don't get me wrong I  DO NOT resent Thane, it's the Lyme Borreliosis spirochetes that has my focus of resentment for all its taken from us.

I love Thane with all my heart. It hurts though deep in my soul that I can not snap my fingers and return him to health. Though Thane is doing better and needs his exercise and even outings, he is not the dependable perfection in guiding and decision-making I had come to expect. Now the mini guide has become a *must have* tool for not just street crossings where it has been invaluable, but to the entire trek we make from the time we leave our walkway to the time we enter our apartment on the return. This is sad to me. I feel almost lost in a maze by what the disease has done; has taken from us.

There are things that just impact our work. I want to have the memories in real life again and yet I have to wonder when, if ever, that will happen again.

When Thane is given drugs, Thane is different. I never noticed it when he was given antibiotics before so I did not expect it now. That said, his antibiotics are not the only new thing he is taking- he has been on milk thistle twice a day and had Denosyl added a couple of days ago.

Border Collies or at least my Border Collies have needed to keep to routine. If Met missed more than two or three days of walks or outings, it was as though I was working a green dog until he got settled into routine again. Thane has not been quite as bad as that, but still a week seems to be his top before I feel like I have a green dog at my side again. When you add drugs to the mix and up the ante from a week to nearly a month with a dog recovering from the implications of a severe drug reaction and a history of  weak blood brain barrier symptoms- my gosh!

Thane has always had a specific type of response to chemical drugs like Capstar. It's bizarre, but he is less clear headed and has this absolute necessity to follow the sidewalk or floor path edge. Its not just walking on the edge of the sidewalk or along a wall, but an actual weaving aong the sidewalk edge, trees, obstacles etc. I feel like I am doing weave poles when these reactions hit. When he needs Capstar, it's short lived and followed by two or three doses of milk thistle since weak blood brain barrier symptoms can merely be due to a slower drug clearance. The key here is that it is short lived because it is not needed every single day.

Right now I have no idea what the trigger really is for his reaction which appears magnified at least four times that of how he responds on Capstar. It could be the amoxicillin, it could be the milk thistle, it could be the Denosyl, or it could be non-med or supplement based and be tripett or liver clearance for everything due to his liver involvement that followed the use of Doxycycline, or an unrelated issue altogether that just becomes apparent when drugs or less tolerated supplements are in use, or a symptom of the disease itself  (hard to accept that latter possibility though).

It's understandable that I should be frustrated right now, but resentful- I can't get my head around this. That tick did not know it was sick It did not necessarily do this to us on purpose other than taking a blood meal is how it survives, but it happened nonetheless and I am left to work through what emotions I have from one day to the next.

Yesterday I was full of optimism, today I just want whoever left me with a faulty replica of Thane, to return the original- it's not funny any more!

30 July 2011

Finding Peace

Life has been tumultuous at best since that day back on June 25th when Thane's labs were faxed to me confirming that he indeed had Lyme Disease. I struggled with the diagnosis. With my good friend Sharon at After Gadget blog living with chronic Lyme Disease, I knew all too well how devastating a disease it can be. As a friend from a distance away, I could only imagine how much worse the struggle really was for her. Then Lyme became, not just Sharon's daily struggle, but mine as well.

I was grateful in a sense to finally have a diagnosis for Thane, but at the same time petrified for what may come about. When Thane collapsed pre-meds though is when the nightmare as I have come to call Lyme Disease, really began. You all know the rest of that story- from his collapse, to the meds, to the reaction, to the new drug that is finally helping him.

Over the last few days, I have experienced a *sort of* renewal in Thane. Don't worry, I am not deceiving myself. I know we have a long journey back. That said, I began to realize that this journey for Thane and I post diagnosis isn't that much different than it was pre-diagnosis. I mean sure, its entered a point in which daily treatment is essential. I have also come to think about how he is doing before deciding if we can do something. It is no different to me though than working with my previous service dog Chimette. Well, I take that back because in the early stages of Met's disease, I had very little opportunities to discover real bone fide answers. A lot has changed in the decade between my boys.

There is a change in me too- even a change from two weeks ago to now. I have in a sense taken the bull by the horns and chosen within myself to not let it win in the sense of the emotional and stress filled roller coaster I lived on with Met. Don't get me wrong here. There are the moments when you wonder why this happened AGAIN. Why you have not had the luxury so many have of living and working with a perfectly healthy service dog. Truth be told, I really wonder how healthy all those healthy dogs really are.

Knowledge is power though. I think for me, with my mind that just devours the biological information, understanding the disease has been a source of release for me. Of course its easier if I don't think about it all in terms of Thane, but rather thinking about it in the same way I did my anatomy and physiology, geology, or even chemistry (blah) texts as imparting myself with knowledge.

Between Sharon's awesome support and information, including the recommendation for the book Healing Lyme, I have been able to impart the knowledge I craved, to find a sort of peace within myself, for this new *Adventure* if you will. Its not the kind of adventure I would choose for us on this beautiful sunny summer day, but it certainly has imparted to me a new perspective about the red and white boy I share my life with now.

I am obviously having one of those optimistic mindset days. Though I know times like today can be fleeting moments in the course of this marathon, I felt it good for you to see all the process we take along our journey *home* .

I guess though the point I am trying to make is that I don't have to let Lyme do to me what vaccinosis did. When I think of what Met and I had before things turned upside down, I sometimes wonder what hampered us from having that through vaccinosis and my MCS. The difference was me, my mindset, and my inability to find peace with the disease. For Thane, I want different. I am setting the goal to find and keep peace with this disease. I know it won't be easy, but I also know that for me the knowledge I have gained in understanding how Lyme Borreliosis spirochetes work is one gigantic step towards some level of peace for me.

Thane has shown me very loud and clearly that he needs his job so nothing will stop us from being the team we have been up until now. Its been a team of Thane guiding the way amongst toppled carts, garbage, uneven sidewalk pathways, unimaginable obstacles, and especially the reckless bicyclists or motorists. Afterall, Thane has had this disease for two years and I did not think then about the big *R* word during any of that time. It'd take a lot for me to have the mindset that only a dog in perfect health can do this job. If I were not more sedentary than most, I might have to consider other options, but I don't- isn't that great!

29 July 2011

A New Day- Another Day Closer

This morning I wanted to try another errand with Thane. We had woke up early (or I should say I had) I convinced Thane to get up, which usually takes a while. While he is waking I begin my second tick check as he lays their limp trying to steal more Z's. I do the best overall checking when I am grooming him and can superficially brush hair one way or another (no skin contact) so I can reach to the skin with my hands to feel for anything odd, but I seem to have learned to take advantage of times when he is much more limp and thus easier to check over. Once I am satisfied that at least primary areas have been checked, I say OK Time to get out of bed. Over he rolls and off the bed he goes in a flash. This morning took a little more convincing to get that *flash*

Convincing myself and him that there was a reason to be up early, we got up and around, medified, fed, even laundry done- harnessed Thane up with cool packs and spares in the cooler just in case. We headed out the door with a package for Auntie Sharon at After Gadget blog. She is going to be my tester to let me know just how well the Tick Key works in comparison to the tool she uses, but I've digressed a bit here.

Yesterday our outing was not quite as successful as I had hoped for. That was my own fault for accidentally feeding Thane something that happened to have a known trigger for his reactivity. Today was a new day and I was hopeful of a better experience. Between the added supplements, the meds, the changes in his diet to accommodate one of the nasty tasting supplements, with a dog with a history of drug, supplement, and food triggers- all bets are pretty much off as to what kind of day we might wind up experiencing.

Today was going to be better. Today we walked to the post office with minimal issues. Thane had remembered the lack of curb cuts at the end of a side street near the college. I forgot of course and overrode his decision one block earlier to take a cross street down to the main road. We managed alright with me telling myself, Listen to Your Dog- he may have Lyme, he may not be his normal self yet, but he knows your town! LOL

There were very few instances until we got to the entrance to the college where Thane was pulling harder into harness. This is often triggered by meds and supplements but can be triggered by how calm I am and by his level of sound reactivity. I decided I would rather work with the instances than put his leader (head halter) on him. As we came up the hill we normally use to reach the exit pathway, Thane did a firm traffic check. I could not for the life of me figure why at first. I reached down and discovered that our winter storms had really played havoc with that side walk. There must have been at least a two inch difference in the two sections of side walk (maybe more). Rather than attempt that and feel the hard impact on my back, we found another way around it.

After that accomplishment, Thane began showing cautiousness. I worked with him the best I could but it was clear he had a discomfort with what had presented itself. There was a huge gathering of a team of bicyclists and when I say team there must have been thirty or more. I'm sure we have encountered them before in town over the months and years we have lived here, but today Thane made it clear he was not too gung-ho about the situation. It was short-lived though and once across the street, I took a few extra moments for composure before heading across one more street and down to the post office.

I got a chance to better evaluate the automatic door buttons for future training, dropped off the package, and came outside for some shade and water. Overall Thane was a far cry from what he was like a week and a half ago where had it not been for the carabiner leash attachment, I could have lost him when he went into such panic and intense reactivity. What he had done, though it needs some fine tuning work, was superb as far as I was concerned at that moment.

I had every intention of taking the bus home with him. That was my goal. It was hot and the distance probably a bit long for a dog who has had musculoskeletal Lyme involvement. When we got to the main street though, Thane got pretty  reactive to some construction going on. I figured we would go down a block and then try and catch the bus from there so we did not have to sit right by the construction waiting to cross the street. Besides some off and on harder pull though, Thane acted like he wanted to walk it so we did. I did not think about the musculoskeletal side of things until after we were home. He has not exhibited any symptoms of that nature since coming home though.

After his routine wet towel wipe down for allergens, a brief check over for ticks (gosh I was tired- I've gotten out of shape these last few weeks), a short rest, and he was nudging his ball at me.

It was so overwhelming to me to come home to our gift from Nutramax. Its not a gift in the sense that I knew it was coming soon, but it is a gift in the sense that they provide these products for IAADP members. The Denosyl alone is close to three hundred dollars of gifted supplementation for Thane's treatment, not to mention the Cosequin they also sent. Some may look at these types of things as automatic benefits owed if they have membership in IAADP. I, on the other hand, look at them for just what they are- a gift that they don't have to give, but for which I am most grateful for.

I am different since Lyme Disease entered our lives. It seems everywhere we go, where there is overgrown plant life, I find myself thinking, I wonder if there are ticks in there, or there, or there. I don't obsess with it, but its something I really never thought about until that day when his labs were faxed to me with a positive titer for Lyme Disease.

Today though was a sign, despite some of the harder pull in harness spikes (some triggered by construction or unexpected occurrences), that life will be back to normal soon. We will probably take it easier tomorrow- maybe a short walk up to our problem tree behind a convenience store that needs some clipper action or something else simple.

One good thing I have noticed today which confirms my suspicions, Thane has not been licking. He has been bored without his walks and job. He has needed more than I could give him while he could not work. Life will be OK again, but I have to be careful to not forget that he does have some limitations right now. I don't want a decision I make to amplify his troubles. I know I have to live with the fact that he has this disease and that I was not proactive enough- but I don't want to live with regrets because I pushed him too far and made things worse.

So far, today, it looks like what we did was OK. Now Auntie Sharon can see if the tick keys I carry everywhere, are worth while or not. smile

Appalling Misinformation on Screening

I follow some blogs on the net that have topics that appeal to me. Most are friends blogs from the service dog community, but I also follow the Dogs Naturally Magazine blog. Usually they have really great incites from the contributors there. Posts from folks such as Catherine O'Driscoll author of What Vets Don't Tell You About Vaccines and Shock to the System.

Imagine my frustration when I read Their piece on Canine Ehrlichiosis which basically says that testing the asymptomatic dog for TBD's is not warranted.

Perhaps if testing was more universally thought of as important in all areas not just endemic ones, we would not have stories like Thane's to write about. Since so many people share the link for this blog in forums where individuals want good hard truths and alternative options, it makes me sick to know that in areas where it truly is warranted to hit a disease hard and fast and hopefully before its hitting multiple systems, people will be listening to more of the propaganda about Lyme that adds to why it so difficult to conquer and as a result is being one of our nations biggest medical hurdles.

In Healing Lyme by Stephen Harrod Buhmer, there is one portion when he talks about its difficulties in the diagnosis and treatment where he compares it to the early years of the AIDS epidemic. I could definitely relate to what he was saying, having had a boyfriend with AIDS from tainted factor VIII during those earlier years, it was as maddening as what I have learned about Lyme- both through vets, this book, and my dear friend Sharon at After Gadget blog who is another example of just how bad Lyme can get if we DON'T SCREEN EVERYONE!

I will test Thane every year when we beat this demon and I will also test any future dog every year. My mind is made up. It is not worth the heart break, the immune dysfunction, the loss of a partner (even temporarily) to a guide dog team. While I get that antibodies could mean a dog has beat the disease and had an effective response, there are other more sophisticated tests like the IDEXX C6 that can be more conclusive about disease versus immune response.

If I had it to do all over again, I'd have listened better to Sharon's insights and tested Thane long before I did. When I think about how many health hurdles we could have avoided by this one simple test it makes it hard to swallow. I will have to take this as a lesson learned from my inaction. Don't let your dog walk in Thane's pawprints because a natural health blog says that screening is not warranted.

28 July 2011

A Small Opportunity to Work Amidst a Diet Blunder

Today was going to be a special day. Our first errand since Thane's drug reaction. Though it was to be something simple in our town, it was still a big deal to me. It also had the added benefit of being a beautiful day with temps actually approaching closer to normal than they have been lately.

I planned this outing carefully or so I thought. I wanted him to get a nice walk but there were hiccups along the way. Most of the hiccups had to do with idiot utility companies and their vehicles blocking access- some so bad that I know it was against the law. I knew I did not have what I needed today to fight with them about moving though so I simply found us another route rather than letting one of us get hit in the process- good thing don't ya think smile

This walk was not going as smoothly as previous walks have gone. I started running off a checklist in my head to see if anything had been amiss in supplements and diet but nothing seemed off to me. After a time, I just put on the leader so I was not in this constant battle with Thane. He seemed to settle down enough when I did that so I made the decision to carry on with my plan. It worked out, but it was tougher than I anticipated as the store chose this time to re-arrange EVERYTHING!

Thane did fairly well, but he is really doing this *follow the edge* routine like he does after Capstar (without having been given Capstar).It's something I can work with using our *straight* command every few minutes but I best get used to it since he will be on these meds for months to come. I will admit after working so much without him lately, I felt very much like I was in training with him- forgetting to use commands and other important details.

Coming home, he was getting into this *race you to the door, mom* mentality and lets just say it wasn't gonna happen. smile I gave him a chance to change his way and then took the scenic route home instead of the short cut. Boy was he pissed though he settled down and walked nice the rest of the way. Perhaps the message was received- ya think?

We had been home for about a half hour when it dawned on me just why things were not as smooth as I had anticipated today. I had forgot that the Duck Tripett has fish in it. Whoops! I made a huge mistake, but thankfully I was giving him half and half of that and the beef formula so it could have been worse. When I recalled my blunder I decided to call this a pretty decent outing all things considered.

I'm still waiting on the Denosyl for Thane's liver. We are eating through the Milk Thistle supply more quickly due to this fact. I'm wishing that the vet could have just given it to us from her supply instead of this long wait. I guess its not really that long, but with his re-test just two weeks away, I really wanted to have that in his sytem and working for a time before the testing. Maybe it'll come tomorrow.

Thane has licked a lot less today. This is really good. It makes me think that his licking is more about boredom than anything else. His chewing has come down immensely since the antibiotics and increased dose of probiotics. This is really nice to see. After reading more in the book Healing Lyme (as I scan it), I am finding more and more things out in regards to symptoms he ahs had over the last almost two years. So much just makes sense now.

Depending on how Thane is doing tomorrow, we may take a nice walk before it gets too hot. Walks are good places to see how he is doing when I have made diet blunders- plus its just nice to get out when its nice and appreciate his improvements.

Tomorrow is another day and another step closer in our marathon towards better times.

27 July 2011

The Meaning Behind, Guiding Through Lyme

I meant to write this first and forgot. I wanted to share why I chose the name I did for this blog- what it means to me.

Guiding Through Lyme has a dual meaning to me. One of course will be the path that Thane's particular course with Lyme takes us in. We've already seen that his course is not going to be a typical one after he reacted to Doxycycline. This is a disease though that will have ups and downs and Thane himself will guide what path we must take.

The second meaning of the blog has to do with our working partnership. It has to do with working as a team while living with chronic Lyme Disease. I've got experience working with a service dog who had chronic health needs already so that won't be new to me. This disease is different and as such I know it is going to govern just how much and what Thane can do for a while, but it will be good for me (and you) for this blog to not be just about the bad days, but that you see the days when Lyme does not feel like it owns us.

I know how bleak it can be, but I also know of those who have triumphed and won so its important to share the wins along the way too. Don't you think? smile

26 July 2011


There are times when we get answers that resolutions can be swift as a result. When I set my mind on testing Thane for Lyme disease, I thought I was doing it as a *preventative* measure for not leaving stones unturned that could cause problems in the health and longevity of a team, but I certainly was not of the belief that he had it.

At that point, I was being a good owner and handler providing my dog with the very best in prevention and health maintenance. It was not until later that I would remember the strange dark bump on Thane's abdomen that was later replaced with the hive like reaction common in most after a tick has detached.

I pursued testing because of the proactive stand my friend Sharon at the After Gadget blog has held. Through her fight with Lyme and other co-infections as well as Gadget's experience with Lyme, she has done an awesome job in showing us that Lyme is not just a North East/ East coast  thing, but that it can be wherever you live.

It was hard for me to digest when my vet said that Thane's newer symptoms were leading her to believe that TBD (tick borne disease) might actually be his problem, but she continued by saying that our ticks are not generally diseased.

Thane blew that out of the water when his tests came back with a diagnosis of Lyme disease. By the time the drugs were here (needed a compounder) Thane had begun to enter a collapse. I was unaware how bad off he was and as a result we barely made it back home. It was heart-breaking and scarey, but having a friend who knew what I was going through truly made all the difference in how I handled the next week with Thane.

One of the hardest things was to put Thane in his crate and head out with my guide cane and mini-guide to do my shopping errands alone. To say I got a real lesson in just how much Thane does would be a huge understatement. It was not easy, but someone had to get food in our house if we wanted to eat. grin

It's been hard for me to deal with other things too though- summers are when Thane and I head off for adventuring. Its a time of just really trying new things that make me trust in him completely. Its a time when our bond and teamwork are magnified because of the experiences we have together in parts unknown. This year however, between the ridiculous nature of the weather and Thane's health, the furthest we have gone is New Seasons and in doing that trip, we barely made it home.

Summers are my lifeline to surviving the nine to ten months of rain and mud and trials of trying to ride public transit amidst that kind of weather. I rely on the pick-me-up I get from our sun filled days of adventure to carry me through until the next summer surfaces. Now, this year, I'm supplementing with Vitamin D because as much sun as I get when taking Thane busy or for walks when he is able just aint going to cut my needs.

Despite all of this, I felt like I was doing OK. That is until Thane crashed again. Though its turned out alright now, the experience of him reacting to Doxycycline (and me suspecting the drug, but being told to continue its use) will haunt me for a while. Thankfully we saw a specialist the very next day who suspected the same, pulled the drug, and placed him on Amoxicillin instead. I am cautiously optimistic with the path of the past week on this drug.

During the crash Thane experienced, I received some hurtful emails amidst some really supportive ones. You know who you are- the people who carried me through. I can't thank you enough for helping me take a step back from those whose views were essentially that of blame instead of support. You carried me through some of the most tumultuous days I have experienced since the passing of Met. For that I am most grateful.

I know there will be ups and downs along the road back for Thane and I. I also know that Thane is not going to get better in a week or a month- afterall the spirochets have had two years to wreak havoc without being stopped. I am trying not to live with regrets. I can't go back and change that fateful day in June 2009 when I felt a weird bump on Thane and told myself to keep an eye on it. I'd personally never seen what an attached tick looked like on a body part even when I was sighted (though the vet found one on Met when I had him only two weeks, he removed it without me seeing it on him) so blaming myself for this isn't going to help me and it certainly won't help Thane.

On the positive side, I kept looking for answers to his ever changing symptoms from skin and coat, to symptoms that appeared hormonal, to musculoskeletal, to neurological. I am glad that I stuck with it and did not come to a place where I just blew it off because nothing ever panned out. Some people think my search for answers to be a desire to find something wrong. That could not be the furthest thing from the truth. By sticking with it, I found that Thane had his own journey to walk- a journey to teach me and others that Lyme is in fact here in the Pacific NorthWest.