Friday, November 27, 2009

Progress

Wednesday marked 5 weeks since little bean's surgery. She continues to progress quite well. I still see a little limp, but that is to be expected. We are in a marathon here, not a sprint.

Over the past month, I have learned a lot more about her little personality - and I thought I knew her quite well! Her behavior over the past month has really taught me a lot about the pack mentality, particularly in the sense that dogs look for a leader. I have established a set of rules for her, she knows what they are and for the most part, she follows them. Sure, occasionally, she gets a little too excited and has jumped on furniture once or twice (which she was allowed to do before her surgery) But for the most part, she has been a great dog - a compliant dog, as I like to say. I cannot imagine doing this with a non compliant dog.

One other thing that has come out of this is that I do see she sometimes has it in her to be a little cuddly, at least. For the most part, I had just accepted that cuddling was not part of her little personality and that she was not the cuddly puppy she once was. But when laying on the floor, she is much more likely to be touching some part of me now. One thing that interests me greatly will be to see how she does when she does not have to be crated anymore. I haven't decided if I am going to take her crates down or not. At one point in her life, she abhorred them...but now, i think she almost likes them. Lucky for me, that is a decision I don't have to make any time soon. :)

I still miss our old life...a lot. I miss our agility friends, our agility competitions (esp because Scott ran RIP today in a trial near his house)and I especially miss our volunteering. I would be lying if I said I thought I was physically capable of keeping our old schedule at this exact moment, but that doesn't mean I don't miss it. Again, I wonder if this is divine intervention stepping in, forcing me to slow down...I could do without the torn ACL's and my own health issues, but hey we will go with that.

On a final note, continued prayers for the Rhodes family. Stephanie's husband started radiation and chemotherapy this week. Please keep them in your thoughts.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nice Gesture

Tonight, on my way to Mexican and margaritas, a call came in on my cell from a number I did not recognize. It was my dermatologist. I had called her last week to let her know that one of my blood counts was off, and she was out of town, so she was calling to get further details. We talked through what had transpired since I had seen her last, and she too was quite concerned about my elevated ANA count - I think she said "that is abnormally high".

I took the opportunity to thank her for her efforts - she very easily could have said that this was just a rash that comes and goes and stopped there, but she didn't. She recognized this was beyond what she could treat, that this was not normal for me and actively assisted me in getting the next appointments set up. Not only that, the doctors she set me up with were equally as wonderful as she was. All three have consistently been amazing - all three saw me at the drop of a hat on the same day, the allergist gave me his cell phone number and called back within 15 minutes of me calling him and the dermatologist made the effort to call me and see how I was doing. All three also have an excellent bedside manner - which goes a long way in building your trust when you are frustrated after seeing doctors for the upteenth time.

So while this has been a rough health year for me, I feel very lucky to have received outstanding medical care. The ENT I saw earlier this year was fabulous (in addition to being fabulously cute) he actually read my history and was able to piece together the sleep apnea issue - and true to his word, I am a better person because I sleep.

What I have also learned is that you are your best advocate. You know your body and you know when something isn't right. And you need to make sure the professionals who are treating you respect that and if they don't help you, find some that will. I can't imagine what it would have been like had I not found such compassionate, caring doctors the first time around.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Video of the Rockefeller Ice Rink.


video

Photos from the Weekend

Weekend with Scott was awesome. NYC Friday, football Saturday (A BUCKEYE VICTORY!!!)and the TransSiberian Orchestra on Saturday night in Philly. TSO was awesome, absolutely amazing light show and special effects on top of the great music. Ate real philly cheesesteak on Saturday night too - learned you are either a "Pat's" or "Geno's" person. These are the 2 signature cheesesteak restaurants in Philly. Scott is a Pat's fan (not sure what the difference is), so we ate Pat's. Really, all it is is steak cooked on a grill with cheese whiz on it - and people stand in line all day and all night for it, whether it is 40 or -4 outside. :)

Enjoy the photos!


























Saturday, November 21, 2009

Health News - Mom and Chel

First, about Chel - she began rehab on Friday morning at my vet! Medvet offers rehab primarily for dogs that are struggling, but thankfully, she does not need that. Grandma took her on Friday morning, as I am in PA visiting Scott. I have not yet talked to the rehab specialist, but our initial conversations seem to take us to the same page. Good news.

Per my last post, I saw the allergist on Wednesday, and got the steriod shot - to make the rash go away. I got to thinking and decided I was going to drop into the rheums office on Thursday to see if he had availability to see it. I walked in and they got me right in - he was very happy that I stopped in so he could see it. I was supposed to see him Monday, but I knew the rash would be gone by Monday.

We discussed the results of my xrays and bloodwork. My xrays showed a minor congential deformity in my lower spine - nothing major, but could explain a lot of the discomfort in my lower back. All of my bloodwok was normal except for one count, which was 5x normal level. This count does produce false positives, but my doctor does not think mine is a false positive because of the high count. It was a count that was indicative of a high concentration of a particular antibody (ANA). Further bloodwork is necessary for more specific testing.

What this means is 2 things - number one, we are on a path to getting some answers, because number 2, this high count lends itself toward some sort of autoimmune issue. Of course, I asked what my doctor thought, but he said he did not want to speculate. I of course have googled what this elevated count means and seem to have eliminated some things based on symptoms, but who knows. Anyway, most important - we have a specific path to go down now. Until now, it seems we know more what it isn't than what it is, so it seems like we are on the path of finding out what it is this time. Yay.

So although I am not exited about what they are testing for, I have to admit I am relieved to know I am not crazy. My gut told me this was not normal and I am very glad I stuck to my guns and had some medical professionals who listened. I see my rheum again in 2 weeks, so I will keep everyone posted. Thanks for the good thoughts!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Health Update

Two weeks ago, in my attempt to figure out why I have random rash, I saw an allergist. Of course, random rash made itself scarce on the day of my visit and we agreed I would come back when it showed itself again. I honestly believe the allergist did not think it would come back...but I knew better.

It re-appeared on my leg earlier this week, and I decided today it was irritated enough to call. Dr. McNeil gave me his cell phone number, told me to call him when it came back and that I would be seen by someone immediately. True to his word, I called him today, he called me back in 15 min and said come in at 6:30 tonight - he works late tonight (how much sense does that make???It was awesome) Even better, I didn't have to leave work early to do this.

We both agreed the rash was not normal - 3 for 3 with the medical establishment on concluding this is not normal! He asked if I had just been running because I had shorts on - I told him no, that I HATED to run. He too is baffled by random rash. I told him I was going to see Scott this weekend, and he exact words were "well, we will do something to make that go away tonight so you are not miserable this weekend" That something was a steroid shot - called Celestone (nasty little shot - I still feel it!). We will see what that does. I will also go in for patch testing - which is where they put three strips of tape on my back for 2 days and see if I have any contact allergies. He did say he did not think it was contact dermatitis from something I was coming in contact with because of the bizarre locations of the rash, so it sounds like he will do his part to make sure that I am not allergic to anything...thus, it all the pressure at this point is on Dr. Antonchak, the rheumatologist. :) Poor guy. At least he doesn't think I am crazy and suspects there is some underlying cause of this.

So it has been a process, but I think we are getting there. At this point, we are confirming what it is NOT, but I would like to confirm what it IS. I feel very greatful that I have received what I believe to be very competent medical care - the approach to treating this was reasonable and rational. It seemed it was slow at times, but we are at the mercy of whatever is causing this rash - and hopefully on the path to the answers.

Lastly, extra, extra prayers are needed, this time for the Rhodes family. I reconnected with my high school friend Stephanie on FB earlier this year. Friday, her husband was diagnosed with cancer, and yesterday, they learned it was very aggressive and had gone to his liver, bones and soft tissues. They have three children who are young, yet old enough to understand cancer. It does not sound good. Difficult decisions lay ahead, so please keep them in your thoughts and say a prayer of thanks for your health and the health of those around you.

And, given that it is Michigan week around here...GO BUCKS!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

FREE AT LAST!

Today marks the biggest milestone yet. The staples are out, cone of shame gone.

I am still going to have to watch the bottom of her incision. They took the scabbing off so that it wouldn't itch, I am sure, but it is a little red and I still fear she might go after. So mom and grandma will be watching that closely. When I took her in this morning, the rehab girl came out and after we talked, she said to Chelsie "Let's go find someone to help me take out those darn staples!" Music to my ears.

On the whole, her rehab appt went very well. She is progressing nicely, and does not need any additional therapy. They did recommend the underwater treadmill to help her build her stamina back, but we can do that at my vet, and we likely will. She sees Dr. Kennedy on 12/8, at which time she will have xrays and he will evaluate her progress. Until then, we need to keep her on the same protocol we are on now - crate rest and taking it easy when she is not in the crate. For the most part, she "gets it" - in that she knows that if she is out of her crate she needs to be laying at someone's feet. The other thing today brought was an increase in her walking time, which is just huge. She is a pooch that firmly believes in her walks. She will be thrilled to go three times a day. We will have to watch closely to make sure we do not overdo it. :)

Tonight, after being picked up at Medvet, she went to a Varsity O meeting with me. I usually don't take her, but tonight I did. She was a good girl and rested under the table like a nice puppy should. We found her 20 minute walk loop, took a spin and now she is resting. She will be so excited tomorrow when she is not forced into the cone of shame...

Big Day

Today is the day, yes it is, yes it is! The staples are finally coming out! All the staples they put back in 2 weeks ago are still there! While the bottom of the incision is still a little scabby and is not nearly as aesthically pleasing as the top, it is still healed and I am confident she will be freed from the metal in her leg today!!! YAY. What this really means is LONGER WALKS AND BEING FREED OF THE CONE OF SHAME...more fresh air, getting out of the house - even if it is that time of the year where it is getting cold. I will still be watching the bottom part of the incision like a hawk until that scab goes away - call me paranoid, but I will go with that.

We will also learn today what her rehab will look like. It is very likely she will participate in the TPLO rehab protocol onsite at Medvet. I believe this gives her the best opportunity for recovery at this point, and I would do it even if I were not going to compete in agility again. I want her to be able to go back to her little life to the fullest extent possible, which means lots of walks, swimming, playing with her toys and most importantly, being able to safely chase her beloved red kong ball. She will likely truck up to Medvet twice a week for the next 4-5 weeks. I am excited for the underwater treadmill - I expect that will wear her out, which is what she needs to feel like herself again.

She is over on the other side of the bed in her crate, complaining at me for being up too early, and I totally agree. Yesterday, my calendar spiraled out of control for the week, so I was up late last night and early this morning to get things done. I knocked out something big, so it was worth it...but my little girl let me know that she was NOT happy about the lights coming on and the keyboard clicking away at 5AM this morning! Neither was I for that matter, but as grandma says, someone needs to pay for rehab and dog biscuits...

I will let everyone know what happens today...off to the races.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I see her spirit

Over the past few days, I can tell Chelsie is feeling better...her little spirit is rejuveniated. I told her to get a toy today, and she ran over to her toy box and got her lobster. She chewed on her bone this morning for an hour...sniffed in the grass during her walk and did doggie somersaults all over me. She also enjoyed a visit from her aunt Sharon, who came by to pick up some stuff. I got to meet Sharon's new dog Forsythe...he is a good boy. He is about as tall as Chelsie, but has a more blocky head than Chelsie does. Forsythe waited outside with Larry while Aunt Sharon came in and saw Chelsie. A field trip to Dayton might be in her future tomorrow to see her agility friends....from the view in her crate of course.

Here are a few picture. I really started to see her coming back the other night on the bed (I picked her up and put her on the bed of course...and carried her down the stairs with me tonight) You can see a slight curl in her back and all her paws are intertwined...a happy, content, tired pooch. First time I have seen that since her injury...



Friday, November 13, 2009

Quick Update

This morning, my parents ran Chelsie up to Medvet so they could look at her incision. I had been watching her incision closely since re-suture last week,it was a little rough looking to the right of the incision. For lack of a better description, her skin appeared to be tearing. The wound was closed, but to the right of her incision, she appeared to have a scab that looked like it had started to heal and then came open with movement. The look of it made me call into question whether or not she had actually been licking at it....which would have been on my watch at night. I do not make her wear any ecollar at night, so if she was getting to it, it was at night. But based on the appearance of the rest of her incision, I was pretty confident that was not the case. Being as today was Thursday and we are getting the staples out Tueday, I finally decided I was going to call about. It had that "if this gets nasty it will take months to heal properly" look about it.

Turns out I was NOT crazy about this. A couple of her staples had twisted, which was causing the tearing. They took the afflicted staples out, and off she went to Marysville. She actually saw Dr. Kennedy, who said she was doing great. Weight consistent at 60.5 lbs. We will know a lot more about longer term rehab on Tuesday when she has her rehab consultation.

Tonight on my trip to the grocery store, I bought a box of brownies to bake for the staff at Medvet. They probably think I am nuts...and Chelsie probably says, yep, thats my old lady. A bona fide crazy....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Little Things

Tonight, I took my car in for a 75k service. (which caused my father to ask me where it was I drove, and tell me that I drove more miles in one year than the average person does - uh, yeah, I play soccer every which way all over Cbus!) Anyway, the Honda dealer I take the car to is great. They take you home after dropping your car off and then pick you up to come get - super convenient. Most of the time, when I go in for an oil change, I take Chelsie and wait there. It is a good opportunity for her to practice her manners. We wait in the service bay, and all the guys there love her.

So tonight I get there, and the service guys are like "No puppy?" No, puppy had to stay home, she has a booboo on her knee. The guy that picked me up - "No puppy?" No, she is inside the house, crouched down in her crate looking pathetic because she has to wear her ecollar. :) They all felt very bad. I told them they would see her the next time I came in, in 5k miles.

So that is just a little example of how much this has really put a dent in our routine. I would have tossed her in the car to come, but leaving her home was the better option. Suffice to say, she was still in the same position she was when I left, and had drooled all over herself. Gramma was at the house about 45 minutes after I left, and she did not spend much time in her house...she just hates the lampshade. We are enjoying some bonding time on the floor right now...I was thinking of carrying her downstairs to work in my office, but I am thinking I might just enjoy some bed time instead...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Long Week Over




A few photos from our trip to Medvet earlier this week. One is of Chelsie pouting on the floor because I told her to lay down, the other is of her deciding her old lady is OK because she had some cookies in her pcoket and shared them.

What a long week it has been...actually a long few weeks. I am somewhat surprised I am still awake at this point, but the old classic "Legends of the Fall" has sucked me in and therefore, I am still awake.

After our little adventure earlier this week, Chelsie's incision appears to be healing nicely. I was looking at her leg tonight, and noticed the staples (the newly inserted ones) were much closer together. Before the staples were put in, sutures were also put in subcutaneously. Between the cone of shame, the antibiotics and a lot of love from her mom, gramma and grampa, her incision seems to be healing nicely.

I am absolutely wiped out tonight...again, I would be remiss in not thanking my parents again for all they have done for us. My mom has been here by 9AM every day to get her out of the cone that causes her such misery. In the morning, she climbs all the way in the back of the crate and refuses to come out - which means I literally have to climb in the crate to get that thing on her - yeah, I know, picture that. She looks at me with such sad eyes when I put it on her, like she doesn't understand why she has to wear it.

As I pointed out in a previous post, my schedule has changed dramatically - down to soccer one night a week. Truthfully, I couldn't imagine doing anything more than that. Prior to Chelsie's injury, I had really been burning the candle at both ends...over the past few weeks, I have started to wonder if Chelsie's injury was God's way of telling me I needed to slow down. If so, I feel terrible that she has had to suffer so, but we have really bonded. She seems to know why she has to be in her crate, why she has to wear her gentle leader and that it is important to let mom stretch her leg and ice her incision. I will bring her up on the bed tonight for a little special bonding time.

Thanks to my parents hard work here all week, I will be able to enjoy a relatively chore free weekend - I am very greatful for that. I hope to enjoy a weekend that has a lot of "rest periods" in it....and I hope you do the same....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

But mom, I just wanted to "help"...

Well, my little Chelsie Belle, you did...it was so thoughtful of you to try and "help" take your staples out. For your efforts, you won:

- An afternoon at Medvet to get your incision flushed and re-sutured
- Ice pack and range of motion exercises for 2 more weeks
- Only 5-10 minute walks instead of 10-20 minute walks three times a day

AND, FOR THE GRAND FINALE....

- The lampshade ecollar when no one is here with you....


This morning, sometime between the time I left for work and my parents getting here, Chelsie was able to get around the inflatable ecollar and get at her incision. My parents found her eating away at her incision - which had gotten a little messy. In a panic, they called me, and I called up to Medvet to let them know what we were bringing - a bad labbie with an open wound. Fortunately, grammie and the GRAND Paw showed up soon enough to prevent her from doing anything other than making a mess of it - it was only superficial and subcutaneous (below the skin) sutures and staples on top were needed.

So thankfully, this is only a minor setback...the only real hard part will be leaving her in the lampshade - it causes her obvious duress. But I know it is only for a short period of time and that it is absolutely the best thing for her. I am just happy to have her home and resting in her crate next to me....

Monday, November 2, 2009

Answers

So, as many of you know, I have been dealing with an annoying skin rash on and off since the beginning of July. At first, I thought it was from wakeboarding in the river or stress, but that has long since passed and my visitor still makes an appearance quite frequently - only on my arms and legs, and never below my knees.

I first saw my dermatologist on 8/14 - since then, I have had a skin biopsy (arm and leg) been on three different steriod creams and have swallowed a lot of Zyrtec. The biopsy was essentially inconclusive - it was lableled as "contact dermatitis of unknown origin", but it appears there is a possibility it could be a reaction to some sort of virus. The rash is unpredicatble, itchy and gross. We had been waiting for the right opportunity to biopsy - in order for the biopsy to be effective, I had to leave some areas untreated, which basically meant I was very itchy for a few weeks. About a month ago, I had a nasty flare up on my arms, called and got in that day. My derm took one look at it, and said "That is not normal" At least we agreed on that. Two minutes later, she was looking for spots to sample.

The results have left my derm stumped - but thankfully, she is not ready to call it quits just yet. Next week, I will see an allergist and a rheumatologist. The only unfortunate thing about the allergist is that I will not be able to take any Zyrtec until next Wedensday, which helps with the "hive" symptoms that this rash tends to show. I am also somewhat apprehensive about the rheumatologist - for some reason, I associate these doctors with really, really sick people...

So hopefully, we are on the road to some answers. I certainly hope we are successful - this stuff is nasty, gross and uncomfortable. I will keep you posted.