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.