April 27th 2005 6:43 pm
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First, Maggie and her family send a big 'thank you!' and warm hug to everyone who inquired as to Maggie's welfare and sent their healing thoughts to her.
Second, our apologies for delaying the suspense. The last week and a half have been so draining, due to several long days of extreme worry followed by ecstatic joy; we're only just now getting back into our normal routines.
Maggie's last (and first) journal entry was last Wednesday, April 20th. So a full week has commenced and much has happened to our sweet Maggie during this past week.
Wednesday, April 20th:
Maggie was due to go BACK to the vet hospital that evening, due to her condition worsening from the day before. (The day before, the vet had diagnosed her with "age-related arthritis" and proceeded to prescribe a life-long program of Deramaxx.) If you read the previous journal entry, we steadfastly declined this protocol and, instead, started Maggie on enteric coated aspirin to ease her "arthritis" pain.
Maggie was seen by this vet on the previous Tuesday night and, during this visit, she also had blood drawn. The next morning, she was not only having great difficulty using her hind quarters, but now her FRONT left leg was also severely lame. After making the new vet appointment on Wednesday, we started thinking about her previous night's vet visit and the blood draw. The vet tech who did the draw was, in our minds, rather inexperienced, as evidenced by her inability to 'hit' the vein in Maggie's neck -- she kept plunging the hypodermic needle in and out, in and out, in and out...until she finally found the vein. Unfortunately for Maggie, the tech wasn't able to get enough blood for the blood test, so she had to take a second draw ... and, again, she couldn't hit the vein, but kept plunging the needle in and out, over and over again. Poor Maggie. She was such a stoic, uncomplaining patient -- in spite of this big needle jabbing her over and over again...
Jump to the next morning and Maggie can barely use her left front leg. Well, it just happened that it was on the left side of Maggie's neck where the horrific blood draws were taken. When Maggie was still hurting so badly by early that afternoon, I called the vet hospital to make another appointment. After I got off the phone, I looked out the window and saw Maggie walking about in the back yard, looking much improved. So I called the vet back and cancelled the appointment, thinking maybe we just needed to give Maggie a little more time. If her front leg lameness was, in fact, due to the brutal blood draw, then it would likely improve within the next 24 hours, and so decided if Maggie wasn't improved in 24 hours, THEN we'd take her back to the vet.
Later that evening, we were disheartened to see Maggie, yet again, down on her bed, unwilling to get up. Again, we had to hand feed her whilst she lay on her bed. And again, all that night, Maggie didn't get up from her bed. It was clear she was still in a great deal of pain.
Thursday, April 21st:
Awoke that morning to find Maggie much the same: On her bed, not wanting to get up, looking very uncomfortable. Hand fed her her breakfast and walked her a little bit before leaving for work. Maggie seemed to improve some the more she walked. But as soon as she got back home, all she wanted to do was curl up on her bed. Gave her her morning dose of Aspirin, now 3 pills instead of two.
Worried about Maggie ALL day long. Her other mom checked on her at lunchtime and found there was no change. She took her for another small walk and, again, Maggie seemed improved during the walk, but went into decline as soon as she got back home to her bed.
While at work, I began thinking about our first suspicion, that which we related to the vet but he dismissed in favor of the arthritis diagnosis. As Maggie was relatively new to our household, we were still trying to determine her optimal diet. She'd been on a strict diet of dry kibble for the past four months while at the shelter, then suddenly she's in a new home getting all sorts of new food. Though we tried to transition her slowly from her kibble to a kibble/Merrick's canned food/cooked meat diet, we wondered if her tummy was so sensitive that the recent diet changes might have caused gastritis or blockage of the bowel. When the vet had dismissed this, we too forgot about it. Yet, the diagnosis of "old age" and "age-related arthritis" just didn't seem to fit the rapidity with which her symptoms presented. When I got home from work that night, I again found Maggie curled up on her bed not wanting to move or be bothered. Her eyes were becoming somewhat vacant, which scared me...
"The hell with the vet!" I thought, and resolved to follow my initial suspicion. Got on the Internet and googled for "constipation" + "dog" + "treatment". I was surprised to find several excellent web pages, some from lay persons, several from veterinarians, all which recommended feeding canned pumpkin, of all things, for curing constipation. (The pumpkin is high in water content and fiber, making it an excellent but gentle laxative.) I rushed to the store and bought some Libby's pure pumpkin. We started hand feeding Maggie the recommended amount of pumpkin that very night. Figured I give Maggie 48 hours on the pumpkin therapy and if there was no improvement by Saturday morning, she was going in for an abdominal ultrasound. By the way, Maggie LOVED the pumpkin...slurped it right up!
Friday, April 22nd:
I hand fed Maggie more pumpkin early Friday morning. Not long afterwards, I noticed she was passing some gas and looking around to her tummy and rear end every now and then. It appeared the pumpkin was having some effect and that something was going on inside her. Whether that "something" was good or bad was the critical question. After feeding Maggie, I took her for another walk and she was decidedly perkier, though there was no sign of her wanting to poo. After the walk, she again retreated to her bed, leaving us utterly unsure if we were pursuing the right treatment path. I checked the backyard as soon as it was daylight and could see no sign of fresh poos. As we have another dog, and because we work during the day, it was difficult to tell if the few poos that were in the yard were from Lucy, our other dog, or Maggie, or both. Still, it appeared that there were far too few poos for both dogs, and neither of us had actually seen Maggie take a poo for at least four days.
At lunchtime, Maggie's other mom again checked on her. She mixed up several heaping tablespoons of the pumpkin and mixed them with some water and gravy from the Merrick's canned food. She fed Maggie the glop and, alas, still no poo!
When Maggie's other mom called me at work to tell me she'd given Maggie an extra large heaping of pumpkin for lunch, I almost gasped. Well, I thought, I'm going to go home and find one of two things:
One, poo all over the house because Maggie had a massive diarrhea attack from all that pumpkin ...
Or, two, Maggie in dire agony from an intestinal blockage of some sort. Rushed home that night...
No sign of Maggie on her bed in the bedroom (her usual spot). Ran to the office...not there...not in the living room either. Panic setting in...ran out back and...
There was Maggie, trotting around, sniffing the flowers, smiling like a Chesire cat. I began a slow reconnaissance of the back yard, looking for fresh "land mines" in the grass. And there it was...
HUGE!!! And very firm. As Lucy was crashed out on the couch inside the house, I just knew this was Maggie's work of art. The fact that this poo was still so firm, in spite of all that pumpkin she'd had, was an indicator of just how awfully constipated she was. No wonder she was hurting, not wanting to walk, and feeling like, well, sh*t!
It was as if a miracle had befallen our Maggie! She was instantly back to her old self...prancing around, curious, affectionate, smiling!
"Age-related arthritis" ?? Not a chance! Simple constipation, that's all. And to think that vet (whom we won't be using ever again) wanted to put Maggie on Deramaxx for the rest of her life?!! Deramaxx, the NSAID that has a 21% death/euthanasia rate due to adverse reactions! I am so glad we stood our ground and didn't let that #!@@##$ vet bully us into willfully poisoning our Maggie for an ailment she doesn't even have. Lesson learned...again (remembering G'Kar). Sigh. Time yet again to find another vet...
Wednesday, April 28th:
Glad to report Maggie just keeps getting better and better. No sign of "arthritis" or a recurrence of the constipation. We're continuing to give her the pumpkin, but much less: For her two daily meals, we're watering down her canned food, mashing the meat so it is more easily digestible, and adding a tablespoon of the pumpkin for maintenance. And it seems to be working for her. She's back to poo'ing like a champ...in fact it's that time of day again -- time to scoop the poop. We never thought we 'd be so happy, so thankful, and so relieved to have more poop to scoop.
So a toast! Way to go, Maggie May! In honor of your heroic accomplishment, we who scoop salute you, and hereby knight you...
"Maggie the Poo, Duchess of Doo" !!!
April 20th 2005 12:07 pm
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Maggie, Maggie, Maggie...
Just 17 days ago, we rescued you from a shelter where you'd been caged up for over 4 months. Your first days here were so exciting--so much for you to process and explore, this strange new home with two strange new mommies, a strange new doggie and kitty, too. You had so much curiosity, energy and pep. What happened?
Monday morning you awoke with just the slightest limp, a limp that worked itself out after just a few minutes of your getting up from your doggie bed. We watched you throughout the day, but saw no more sign of lameness. We even had a great walk that same night and you were just a little ball of energy--so puppy-like in spite of your 10 years.
Next morning, Tuesday, you were a different dog. Like someone had snuck in during the night and snatched our healthy, happy fur-baby from her sleep and replaced her with another -- one who, upon my waking, was sure to break my heart.
This imposter was not you, Maggie May. You did not leap up to your feet and begin your morning dance all around me as I made my way across the bedroom floor toward the kitchen. Instead, this "Maggie" just lay there, staring up at me with an oddly helpless look, a helplessness I didn't understand until you tried to stand...but couldn't.
After much struggle, you finally raised yourself to a sitting position. Thinking you were perhaps just a little stiff from your walk the night before, I called and coaxed you until you finally, and so bravely, tried to walk to me. As soon as you took that first unsteady step, I could see it was something far more serious than a little morning stiffness. You could barely use your hind quarters and, every couple steps, your hips would collapse back down. This "Maggie" whimpered with pain with every strained effort to walk.
Stunned at the acute transformation, all I could numbly think was, "Who are you and what have you done with our Maggie?"
I watched you like a hawk, followed your every painful step, throughout the morning, expecting the "stiffness" to dissipate as your old body warmed up with movement. But, unlike the morning before, there was no rapid recovery. And by a few hours later that same morning, when I arrived home early from work, I found you curled up on the floor of the back office, unable to get up and greet me with your usual enthusiasm. Called the vet. Appointment for 6:30 that same night.
Geesh, was this all just yesterday? It seems like a month of Sundays have passed since just yesterday morning. Last night we loaded you into the car (we had to pick you up, as you were unable to make that little hop up into the backseat.) Thirty minutes later, we're at the vet, and you are already looking and acting better. Hmmm...what will the vet think? That your two mommies are just nervous new parents, over-reacting to a little stiffness?
The vet ruled out anything "abdominal" and proceeded with a thorough orthopedic exam, prodding and pulling every bone, vertebrae, and joint...OUCH!!! Boy, you sure winced when he rotated your left hip. "Eureka!" says the vet, "she's got ARTHRITIS!" and proceeded to recommend a lifelong regimen of--what else? -- Deramaxx (COX-2 inhibitor, same class as Pfizer's proven dog-killer, Rimadyl, except that Deramaxx has NEVER BEEN APPROVED by the FDA for ARTHRITIS TREATMENT, only for post-operative pain.) Sad, isn't it, when the patient (or, in this case, the patient's guardians) know more about the risks and intended uses of the drug being prescribed than does the vet who's doing the prescribing. All too familiar story, 'eh Maggie? If only we'd known about the deadly consequences of Rimadyl (and Deramaxx, Metacam, EtoGesic, and all the other NSAIDs whose human-counterparts--Celebrex, Vioxx, etc.--are currently under investigation by the FDA), if only we'd known then, before obediently dosing our beloved G'Kar, what we know now...
G'Kar died from complications caused by Rimadyl poisoning. As the vet matter-of-factly began his diatribe on the miracles of NSAIDs, I stopped him. Told him that Rimadyl killed our first dog. Told him how we will never make that same mistake again, yet he insensitively continued to banter on, extolling the virtues of Deramaxx and the rest and how he's been giving COX-2 inhibitors to his dogs for years and how more dogs should be given them rather than left to suffer needless arthritic pain because of ignorant pet owners. We kindly thanked him for his time and left...
We started Maggie last night on a low dose of enteric coated aspirin--Ecotrin--two 81 mg. tablets, or 162 mgs. (Current studies have shown Ecotrin to be far less damaging to gastric linings than either buffered aspirin or aspirin-antacid combinations; hence, our decision to go with Ecotrin.) We watched Maggie for a good two hours post-dosing for any sign of allergic reaction. By 11 p.m., when we saw no adverse reaction, we finally went to bed...
4:30 a.m. this morning: Maggie sleeps peacefully in her doggie bed in the living room...a huge concern. The last few nights, she'd been in the habit of coming into our room during the night. Not finding her this morning curled up at the foot of our bed was a sure sign something was amiss.
Maggie made no effort to get up from her bed. She hadn't moved from the bed since 9 p.m. the night before. Not good, not good at all. I had to hand feed her whilst she lay, fixed, in her bed. Gave her a higher dose of the Ecotrin--3 tablets, or 243 mgs.--with her food, which she finished, even licked her bowl clean. At least her appetitie is good.
It was time to get Maggie up and moving. The only way I could achieve this was by putting on her leash and saying, "Go for a walk?" Maggie responded, but ever so slowly and oh so painfully. I took her out front and we walked up and down the sidewalk a few halting steps at a time. And what I observed made my heart sink...
Monday morning she had but a slight and temporary limp upon waking. Tuesday morning, she had trouble standing, but the weakness was confined only to her hind quarters. This morning, Wednesday, her hind quarters were still equally weak but now, she was also holding up her left front paw, not wanting to put any weight on her left leg. Whatever it is, the damnable thing is spreading throughout her body! She's even worse today than yesterday. In spite of the vet's diagnosis, I'm dubious. Age-related arthritis?
Arthritis my ass. To go from a nearly imperceptible limp to an acutely debilitating condition in 48 hours is something else entirely.
It's now eleven a.m. and I've been getting Maggie up every hour or so to get her moving around a little. She isn't drinking water, either. I've been giving her water with a baster, which she swallows reluctantly. Nor has she had a bowel movement yet today -- another red flag.
It's now noon, and Maggie, for the first time in over 24 hours, took herself outside. She managed to make it just outside the back door where she collapsed onto the paved walkway. She loves lying in the sun, soaking up its warmth. Perhaps the heat of the sun will prove therapeutic...
The vet hospital just called with the blood test results from yesterday's appointment. A young female with a chipper tone delivered the news: "Maggie's CBC and chemistry all came back normal; Maggie's just fine!"
Except that...she's NOT. Told the cheery girl that Maggie's doing even worse today, that she's only got one good leg left to stand on. There was a brief silence on the other end of the line. Finally, she spoke, her tone conveying genuine concern. "Bring her back in. This doesn't sound like every-day arthritis."
You're telling me.
To be continued...