29 July 2011

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 temporary) 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 footprints because a natural health blog says that screening is not warranted.

27 July 2011

What a Difference a Week Has Made

I feel like a new person this week. I feel like last week was truly just a nightmare. Life is good and Thane is happily playing his ball and other toys to his typical Border Collie obsessiveness. It is good! I never thought I would ever dream for, wish for, such obsession and yet there I was doing just that.

Thane's improvements are wonderful! I am not kidding myself though- I know we are far from through this marathon. We will however celebrate the good and work through the hard times as they come.

One thing that I have learned through this experience is just how much easier Thane makes my public access life. The kinds of things he must negotiate with ease that I have not even the slightest awareness we encountered are basically revealing themselves to me now as I make my attempts for access in solo fashion.

Store workers for the most part are helpful as long as I am really clear what I need and why. New Seasons still remains the best in all of this though- particularly in the produce department where I tend to need the most assistance.

Today I headed out to use the bus stop closest to home. With Thane we take a long walk to a stop that is much easier to get to. I am really limited in my approaches though without Thane being with me- in my ease of navigation, in my physical limitations in using a guide cane and in the weakness and pain that I endure as a result. These aspects also limit how far I can actually ask myself to travel. Today I headed to the bus stop which requires navigating the sidewalk route in front of Safeway and the other stores in that shopping strip. Why is it that everyone but Safeway gets that the sidewalk area is not an extension of the store! Safeway has put up a barbecue pit from what I was told after I collided with it. Guide canes with wheelchairs aren't always as effective as they are for the ambulatory blind either. Thankfully it was my shopping basket that made contact and not my body. That was just the last of many new obstacles they had left in the way as I navigated around like I was amidst weave poles to try and find a safe route to where I was headed. Believe me I was glad to get beyond Safeway as it was getting on the disorienting side. I thought to myself and I have not even made it to the bus or route for travel from the max yet!

When I got off the Max which was the newer train design (I still prefer the old ones as does much of the population that rides max), I could not believe how much easier Thane makes it to handle those ramps that are quite steep. Trimet was power washing the station as well- great just what I needed! To do this requires two hoses for some reason. One you can get over in a wheelchair and another which is near the truck some distance from the station itself you can not navigate no matter what method you try. Thane would just take another path and then head us back the way we need after he cleared us of the obstacle but with my guide cane, finding an alternative route just was not that easy. I really began wondering just how many more surprises were waiting for me today.

Thankfully the rest of my travel and shopping went smoothly, but I barely made the max on the way back because, you got it, no one was there to help in the hose negotiations on the way back. I managed to find an alternate route, but it was not quite as safe IMO. They need to keep someone at the truck if they are going to do this nonsense during peak travel hours or better yet place a double ramp over their hose so that people can actually function when employees are not there to help us. I still think that it is really stupid to power wash a shelter when people need its use- shaking my head

Everything else went very smoothly from the max ride, to bus, to getting back home. Thane was so happy to see me. He's still trying to figure out why I won't take him, but accepts my decisions about whether or not he gets to go.

His walks go well when I have the ability to do them- when time, pain, energy and weather cooperate that is. We'll be trying a small in town errand in the next couple days and from there I will make decisions about what else I can ask of him.

One thing I have learned is that despite not wanting to fall into that rut of not realizing just how much Thane does, I have done just that. This has been quite an eye opening experience. I am relieved that he can and will be back soon because I sure do miss my other half of me.

22 July 2011

Entering Better Tomorrows

We had a really hard spell here. I haven't wrote much more about how things were going with Thane and his Lyme treatment mostly because I was too busy trying to get help for him or working through the tough ordeal.

Thane reacted to the Doxycycline. As a result of his reaction, we wound up at a specialist to figure out where to go from there. Though I suspected the Doxy, there was the possibility that he was herxing (experiencing a reaction to spirochette die off)

Our area is not Lyme central for sure. Because of this, testing for Lyme is low and the understanding of the various ways to best treat an individual for it are not fully understood by one's regular general veterinary staff.  At first, when my vet referred us to a specialist, I have to admit I was furious about it. I felt how dare she give this to him and not understand how to help him when it went south. Thane was suffering and I could not imagine how we would ever make it to the specialist who was about an hours drive away.

We made it there and I am very grateful for the opportunity to have spoken with a vet who understands much more about Lyme and how it assaults the body- especially for an individual whose assault began over two years ago.

Not only did I learn that most of Thane's medical history has been a direct result of the tick bite he received, but that his diet (a source of much debate by some unfortunately) had absolutely nothing to do with his medical history. On one hand that is a relief, but on the other hand, try as I might, it is very difficult not to blame myself for what has transpired. Though I know this now, I also know he may never be the dog he was before that fateful tick bite.

I know it's not my fault that he got bit by a tick, but I think sometimes that with a friend who has suffered greatly from the disease, that I should have been more aware- more intune with what a tick felt like on the skin and at least of what the reaction on his skin afterwards was.

For the most part I stay out of those kinds of regrets. I can't fix yesterday. I can only hope that should we encounter another tick, that I will have learned something from this experience that will change how I will respond to future experiences.

The specialist was definitely the way to go for Thane. I learned that reactions to Doxycycline are not just experienced by the most sensitive but that the kind of reaction Thane was having is usually more pronounced in the herding breeds. On the plus side of the equation for us, is that because Thane was reacting to the Doxy, further tests were run which revealed that he needed to come off it (and its class of drug) irregardless of whether it was the reason for the changes in Thane.

After 24 hours off of Doxy, Thane was a changed dog. Though he was not completely back to what he was before Doxy or before he collapsed from the Lyme, he was definitely at least 80 percent there. He has been on a new medication now for three doses and so far it has not taken the direction of Doxy. I have to keep close tabs on how he responds for a while here, but things look very optimistic thus far.

This morning Thane played a lot with my folks and has been his silly self a lot today. He has eagerly returned to retrieves of his own choosing and came to my side when he saw I was getting ready to take the trash out. Though I chose to leave him inside, his desire to be there was just the gift I needed as I deal with pain from the guide cane, my progressive disabilities, and the awareness I have of just how much Thane was making these changes in me seem almost absent.

It has been a hard and scary time for me coupled with a time of enlightenment as well which really changed my outlook for him.

I don't know what the future holds, but for today, I am focusing on the fact that his ball is back in his mouth and his ears are dancing with the sounds he hears.

21 July 2011

A Decade of Difference

This post is for the Fourth Assistance Dog Blog Carnival. For more information on what the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival (ADBC) is see the post,  About the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival at the After Gadget blog.

When I first heard the topic for this carnival, The Difference, I could think of a lot of subjects to write on almost immediately. I wanted this posting however, to take on a different theme than my previous one did which focused on the medical heart-break in my life with my first service dog Chimette (Met). I also did not want to focus on comparing the differences between my two combo trained service dogs, Chimette and Thane. I had began a post sharing about the two different sides of me- the pre service dog me, and the post service dog me. It just never went anywhere though. I realized the reason- it is that I am meant to share the medical lessons my dogs teach me with the assistance dog community- so here goes...

My boys have both been exceptional service dogs. Each one has taught me things about myself, particularly in my ability to persevere through trials that no team should ever have to endure. In this entry, I hope to not focus so much on the actual medical *drama* side of the equation, but in the difference in which I have responded to/ handled it because of the opportunities that differ for me today, over a decade after Chimette's journey into the unknown began.

Thane was to be my new start; a healthy start. I had huge dreams of how different things would be- where we would go, things we would accomplish. Though many of my dreams have come to pass over the past three years we have been together, not everything has been as I anticipated it would be.

When Chimette began having seizures, I was a basket case. I was a babe in terms of internet access and certainly was not racing to google to find research or to yahoogroups or other forum sites to find lists for support, information, and stability in his condition. All of this came later. It came because Met was not an easy case to find answers for. It came because I was not ready to quit seeking answers when vets felt we had achieved about the best anyone could hope for- especially when having two of the most difficult breeds to control when it came to canine seizures, in one body.

Though I had the support of people walking the same or similar paths as me, had research to cling to, had answers to the causes of canine seizures, and even discovered that Met's problem was vaccinosis; our partnership changed the very moment I witnessed his first seizure. It became one where stress and concern for Met's stability left me always asking myself what impact doing various access outings would have on Met, rather than one where I just headed out to do my errand without a care in the world.

Recently, after chasing symptoms for over a year and a half, Thane was diagnosed with chronic Lyme Disease. It was a bombshell to put it mildly. Had it not been for my good friend Sharon at the After Gadget blog being so proactive about the presence of Lyme Disease *EVERYWHERE*, I might have never tested Thane. Though it was one of the hardest things I have had to face in a very long time, I found myself recently looking at how differently I reacted to not only Thane's official diagnosis, but his first seizure that told me something was very wrong.

When Thane had his first seizure, a partial one, I did not trust myself. What I mean is, it was so small that had I not had the decade of living with seizures before, I might never have realized what I was witnessing. With Met, I can still tell you the day and time of his very first seizure. I tried hard to pretend his seizure did not happen- that if I ignored what I witnessed, it would just be as though it was a sleeping nightmare and that would be the end of it. With Thane, I did not even write the date down, though I know it happened within a week of when I got online and placed an order for Taurine for him. Before placing that order, I also did a bit of research to determine which road of supplementation I should try with him. With Met, I never would have considered such a thing or trusted myself to make an informed decision.

There is another very big difference between my dealings of my two boys- for Met, I was always worried- always stressing over him. I know it placed an enormously unhealthy amount of pressure not just on my own health, but on Met's as well. In the first few months with Thane in my life, I made things pretty stressful too, but a read on the impact of stress in the book Shock to the System by Catherine O'Driscoll seemed to nip that in the bud. I won't say that I was not panicked when I got Thane's diagnosis. This would be an outright falsehood. This time would be different I told myself. I was not going to let long-term unnecessary and unhealthy stress impact our future.

I already had some very good resources which I gathered in my attempts to point another person with a Lyme positive dog in the right direction. All that was left was to begin to apply them to my own life- to Thane. I got a crash course from Sharon in Lyme Disease over that weekend following the positive test results. Over a decade ago, this kind of education would have been unthinkable. I don't think we realize just how lucky we are to live where we do, in the decade we live, until something like this happens.

Though I had a couple horrible days in my fight to help Thane recently, and though I learned some even harder news that pointed towards an impact on the liver after under two weeks on meds, I am more equipped with Thane to handle what may come our way without putting an undauntingly high amount of stress on either of our immune systems.

Today, I don't know what the future will hold for Thane and I. He may be treated effectively and work a long productive career. I know however, that realistically we may not have the duration I would love to have, that any team would love to have, simply because Lyme Disease causes immune dysfunction even in the best of cases where long term health complications could side-line this team permanently. With Met, such a prospect would have sent me into a *frozen* state of panic merely by considering crossing the street without my right-hand man. Today that would not be the case.Today I have the skill and resources I need to navigate in public solo, when the circumstances warrant it.

A decade ago, or even during the last few years of my partnership with Met, retirement would have been the biggest *unthinkable* possibility. Today I have high hopes for Thane and I, but at the same time, I have a bigger sense of realism. I know in all likelihood, one of the impacted systems in his body, will tell me/ us that despite how awesome Thane is at his job or even how hard it would be to ask him to step down, that it could very well happen, it could be the right call, the one that shows the love I have for him.

I choose to only think about the day before us. It's one day where, when we wake up in the morning, I will have or will be able to seek out the tools that give Thane the best options for a positive come back. I never felt this way with Met. I always looked to the future in the sense that, until the last month of his life, I never contemplated our partnership from what was the right call for Met, but instead from what was the right call for Karyn.

This time it's different. Thane is mostly side lined at the moment as we work with a specialist to find not only the right drug regimen to eradicate his Lyme Disease, but to work on healing his liver. One day in the not to distant future, I strongly believe that this living nightmare that we are walking through, will become a passing memory of which many lessons have been learned.

If you come away from this with nothing else, my hope is that you will not only realize that Lyme Disease is not only a North-East USA disease, but that it's a disease your service dog should be tested for annually- even if you live in the Pacific Northwest, in Hawaii, in Australia. If you come away believing that Lyme Disease is just as important to test for as Heartworm, then Thane and I will have made a difference in your lives.

15 July 2011

HI HO HI HO It's Off To Work We Go!

It was a fabulous day in the weather department today to me which means it was quite warm by Thane's standards. Thane ate all his meat at the 7AM Doxy time so it opened up a bit of opportunity for us today.  I was already working on his turf soak which had left a bit of a problem- Doxy means increased busy needs and it certainly would not wait until I was through! I had a small errand in town I wanted to run and figured we could handle two things with one stone- a busy at the street and the errand. I felt this would also be a great opportunity to test his endurance.

Right away I noticed Thane had a bit harder pull in harness, but figured it was just built up energy and blew it off. I barely uttered the words, do you need a busy and Thane was squatting except he missed the grass and it was a flood! Back home we went for some water to wash that down before heading on our errand.

We took the short walk to Bi-Mart to pick up the printer paper that I just realized I had to have and *like yesterday*. Usually I buy in advance for MCS detox needs, but I blew it here with just a few sheets left. Thane was pulling a bit firmer in harness than his recent work before the Lyme diagnosis and collapse, but he was working well so I let it slide. He worked awesome with Bi-Mart's dangerous parking lot and walked really well on their polished flooring today. He seemed pretty focused on what I was asking once more.

When we exited the store, he headed towards the pharmacy. It is safer to exit the parking lot that way usually as more of the cars park closer to the main exit and entry door. I had to use my *not now* command though as we approached the pharmacy window. As we worked on our exit from that side of the lot, this single truck kept blocking our path. That guy nearly creamed us once and after that he blocked the cross walk while he waited to get across the entire street so he could go the opposite direction- all the while making us wait because he was just *so not going to back up*. By that time, I don't think Thane trusted him any way; I know I didn't!

The walk home was firm pull for a while but we hit a snag where I could not get him out of a real hard pull. I'm unsure what the trigger was but it appeared from my perspective to be a sound reactivity thing. Sound reactivity is one of his neuro symptoms with his Lyme. I put his head halter (leader) on him to just make it easier for me as I am in a pain spell from over doing on the scanner this week.

I thought no more about the trigger as we continued on home. After one attempt by Thane to remove the leader, the rest of the walk was uneventful and actually had some really great work. His ice packs don't keep him very cool with his new harness design, so he was quite warm for a while after we got home even after his customary wipe down for his allergies. At one point, I was a bit concerned, but he finally seemed OK again so I thought nothing more of it.

I put my frozen smoothie ingredients into the blender to defrost and did more work with his turf. It was not until I was getting ready to make my smoothie that my big blunder became clear. When Thane ate all his breakfast this morning, I neglected to go back and give him his supplements that he gets after the Doxy is into his system. One of those is his Taurine. It can be taken with the Doxy, but since the Nupro can not, I do them together. Taurine really is beneficial for Thane in many ways, one of which is his pull in harness. It is also very helpful for the type of seizure his Lyme caused. As you can see, it was not a teeny blunder seeing as though by this time it was already after 2PM. Before Doxy, he would get that by 9AM at the latest unless we overslept.

The good news for the day though was that he had a real clear head when it counted and had the energy to walk the long way home. He wanted to walk the long way there, but I had him take the short route instead. I was all set to take him to New Seasons tomorrow but use a different stop so that the walk is shorter. I was also planning to use a second bus line to come home should it be warranted, however; the weather forecast was GREATLY changed on us from a day of maybe a small shower in the early morning to it being a rainy day GRRRRR

I would so love to bust this town tomorrow, but I am not chancing my power chair for even the shortest walk. The line we could use should thane not have the endurance for the max stop distance does not have a covered stop over by New Seasons so it looks like its Sunday with no backup approach to the route other than using the alternate max stop if its necessary.

Its hard to believe that a week and a day ago Thane collapsed and here, today he is re-bounding into my energizer bunny. He still takes more naps than normal, but I think some is out of boredom more than necessity. Any time I know each day may be different for him and to watch how he is really doing before we commit to something big, but all in all, he is headed in the right direction.

14 July 2011

Priorities and Entitlements

I will start this off by saying that I just need to vent here. smile

I am on a number of service dog lists and I find it really hard to get my head around something that I have begun to notice of late. It does not appear to be a cross disability thing but an issue that arises through individuals who receive guide dogs from programs. Before I get a lot of replies saying that I am stereotyping one group of people, let me be clear that not everyone who receives a dog from a program is this way.

I followed the rules so to speak with Met. I got him vaxed the way the vet wanted despite my desires to spread out the process and I fed him kibble for most of his life (otherwise known as krapple by those in the rawfood community) I, and especially Met, paid for these mistakes. I spent hundreds of dollars between processed food, supplements, and meds every month to keep him as healthy as possible for years. It was not easy. I had to do without a lot of things- there were rarely luxuries. I accepted my responsibility to him seriously though. I did not have a program to fall back on. Other than a couple of grants I received from the IAADP Veterinary Care Program (VCP) and a donation from a fund-raiser for another service dog team that allowed Met to get Gold Bead Implants (of which I paid a little under half of his bill myself that day), all the expenses Met needed, I somehow managed to provide until the day when I knew it was time to let go.

With Thane, he took the decision-making out of my hands. He could not tolerate processed foods after a bout with Giardia.After much research and realizing that krapple is nowhere near species appropriate for dog, I went to a Prey Model raw diet. I spend anywhere between a hundred twenty-five and two hundred dollars monthly in food for Thane, though others use a variety of techniques whereby they can acquire a lot of the food they need for free or minimal expense. When I am lucky, I think to budget for holiday sales and save substantially so that in the long run the expense balances out to be less per month.

There is a saying in the raw community, pay it now (meaning in food expense) or pay it later (to the veterinarian and to grief after a shortened life) I have no doubt by paying it now, I kept Thane healthier than he would have been. In the past I have spent no more than three hundred bucks a year on veterinary bills with most of that being in preventative screenings- something many teams do not address. Since veterinary care is paid by most guide dog programs rather than the recipients, this additional savings makes this even more baffling to me.

Now I don't expect anyone to go to the lengths I did for Met or even what I have done for Thane (or at least not the majority of service dog handlers any way), but when I read complaints from some of the program guide dog handlers for what they have to spend on a good quality kibble food, it just makes me shake my head. There is literally thousands of dollars put into these dogs trainings so that they can keep their handlers safe. They would give up their lives for us literally and some actually have or have been retired due to injuries caused in the line of duty. It boggles my mind that the people who can actually qualify for a stipend for guide dog expenses and/ or submit the receipts towards their medical expenses for foodstamp determination and Housing section 8 as I do, would feel they need to reduce their dogs care expenses to such a miniscule amount. If it were a child, the attitude would be so different.

I know many who use guide dogs look at it as a tool just like the ADA does. They may bond with the dog for the sake of the work, but not to the level that I or many of my friends do. It is a tool, not a member of the family to them. There are also those who consider it the programs responsibility to pay every medical expense the dog might incur other than the actual food and grooming requirements of non-shedding breeds.  They go into the acquisition as an entitlement rather than as a priviledge. Guide Dog programs, if they charge anything, it is miniscule amounts compared to the hundreds and thousands expected of those applying for mobility service dogs. Perhaps its this *provision* that has made some folks feel they are entitled to have the dog but not to pay for anything beyond thirty bucks a month. Then there's the added grooming expense- hey, you ask for a non-shedding breed, guess what? you best be prepared to pay for a groomer or to take a crash course in grooming yourself.

Often times these very same people who complain about the cost to maintain their guide dog are ones who go out to lunch or dinner at least once a week, go to movies, buy pizza or other takeouts, buy frozen prepared foods at a pricetag that might be able to buy three days of meals if they prepared it themselves, have desert and meat with every meal (neither of which is really healthy btw) go to conventions at a hefty price tag and yet they don't seem to prioritize things so that their dogs diet needs come before all the frills.

In all honesty for those who are on their first dog, I can see the sticker shock to some aspects of canine health especially if they are dealing with SSI income in states where there is no state supplement to the federal allotment, but these dogs are not pets. They are highly trained, put on working dog foods so they can perform their jobs effectively.

I won't get into the amount of pet food poisonings and recalls that continue on a regular basis as that is for another time, but my head just feels lately like it can't stop spinning from entitlement attitudes and poor priorities.

13 July 2011

Learning To Tick-Check

Due to Thane's Lyme Disease, I am trying to take the entire process of prevention more seriously. As a deafblind incomplete quad with a dog who is normally not even still in his sleep- well I think you get the picture LOL

I am slowly though beginning this process because frankly I never want us to have another round of this disease. Besides its debilitating effects, lets face it, it hampers my independence significantly when Thane is down.

I began the process by thinning out his pantaloons and tail- not so much that he does not look like a Border Collie, but enough that I can more easily feel to the skin. He looks fine and honestly I'd give up on aesthetics for preventing another tick from causing us harm in this manner again.

One thing I have noticed is that this is very energy draining for me. Its not as simple as a superficial massage. At the end of the day, the best time to be doing it, before he joins me in my bed, I am already drained. Right now I am more so this way with Thane being down. Its not just work in public that has been lost but tasks around home as well. So- frankly my arms are ready to just stop moving at the end of the day.

I am finding that I am discovering little imperfections in Thane's skin- be it scaley allergen spots, places he has chewed and hair has matted down, little bumps that I had not known were there, or even yes, a flea. Knowing where these things are and what they feel like will help me in an enormous way should another tick invade my dog. I will know that the bump is not normal- not a part of what I have come accustomed to feeling.

On the dog side of things- Met loved all the intimate rubbing and feeling he could get out of me, but Thane- he is another story. Thane would rather be playing ball. He accepts this new fondling I give him in limited quantities before he must bounce up and get a ball thrown. I realize this won't all come together overnight for us. We are starting with the places ticks often go first, but its still a learning process; a building up tolerance not just for me, but for Thane.

The other day I got his two hind legs before he was up and throwing a ball at me again. Yesterday I got three legs and his tail- perhaps by next week, I will get all his legs, tail, and head.

I've begun to check him a bit as we are waking up as well- this is a time when he is much more malleable and helpful in the learning process. I really don't want to be sleeping with ticks though so just because it appears to be easier in the morning does not necessarily mean, that is the time I should be doing it.

Personally I find myself feeling his skin in some location any time he stops by me and is still long enough for me to handle him- I guess that comes with knowing what these critters can do to one's insides.

I hope in the weeks and months ahead that this will get easier as I become more accustomed to the practice of it. I just don't know what I will do though if I really find a tick on him. I don't know if I can physically work the tool and remove it. That concerns me of course. In the worst case scenario I pay for the vet clinic to remove it when I find it- of course they are not open at night, but I think its still important to do what I can

12 July 2011

Thane Works

Thane was going nuts with boredom today. When Thane gets bored he licks. Its not an easy thing to stop once he gets into the obsessive compulsive action of it. For the most part, the target of his licking is him. For him to be doing this instead of sleeping meant that he was feeling better. Don't get me wrong we have a long ways to go until he is well. A sure sign of that is in the medication department. The meds upset his tummy this morning and he has antibiotic poop, but other than that- his energy is returning which is awesome.

I needed a couple of things up at our local Bi-Mart. After I changed into better clothes for the outing, I said you wanna go with me? Thane perked up with ears standinging as tall as they could. There was a bounce in his step as we headed to the door to harness up. I had made the decision that if he was not focused enough to trust his decision making, we would just walk down the street and back. I had my mini guide which gives me tactile feedback of obstacles as a support for the process.

Thane impressed me though. I did not have to tell him *slow* at all on the route there. He alerted me to the winding plant obstacles at the corner which I think someone should just take a chain saw to one of these days! The curb cut itself being an after thought with all those plant obstacles is an accident waiting to happen. Thane managed however to choose the safest approach to this nonsense. One thing about using the shortcut dirt path- we get to avoid all of that, but today we would have looked like we had just been in a mud-wrestling match.

Thane did precision work up the sidewalk-less street weaving in and out along all the parked cars before entering the curbcut on the main road. *Thane, Forward*  I said. I knew there was a stopped car but they have a stop and I have a crosswalk and they were obviously trying to go all the way across the main road. In other words, it was safe for us to go. Off Thane went like the only thing on his mind was to safely get us across the street. Midway however he alerted me and was prancing funny but not coming very far into my path. This is typically his response when we can't back up fast enough, but a driver is moving without looking. I did the only thing I could and yelled as loud as I could hoping they could hear me through the mask. This is the last thing either of us needed right now.

We continued to Bi-Mart but had someone in their lot think we needed to be part of the pavement too- what is it with drivers here in town today! I was feeling like maybe we should have stayed home!

We had more success shopping. Thane was responding to every command I uttered with a precision I had not seen in a while. He had minimal issues with the polished floors that he walks like he is on ice with unless I remind him to *stay on his feet*.

The trip home had no cars acting  like bumper cars and safe sidewalk to road transitions despite all that dangerous creeping plantlife.

Though Thane has been sleeping a lot since we got home, this venture out was good for both of us. I doubt bigger outings are a possibility this week, but just to have him at my side today and see that he could actually make it there and back gave me that security and belief that he will be back in better form than before when treatment concludes.

09 July 2011

Good Signs Perhaps in Our Lyme Journey

Today is a brand new day. A good nights sleep. A new perspective. A visit from Grandpa for Thane and housekeeping on my computer that needed a sighted techie.

Thane has exhibited some good energy today. He has slept much less and has spent a lot of time playing. There were times when I saw his normal ball obsessive self emerging just a bit. I was afraid at first to read anything into this as he has seemed to have more energy for a couple hours after his meds. When the energy remained much the same through out the day, I felt a little twinge inside myself- you know that one where you realize the down days are numbered and the work days will possibly be resuming soon within moderation of course.

There also have not been any lameness incidents today- though those seemed to be fewer as the neuro symptoms began to set in so this in itself was not something that I was using as a guide to ascertain how he was really doing.

There's still some very obvious factors that are not my Thane. Thane has had a number of occasions over the past couple weeks where he went off his food. He would eat some- mostly the Nupro and organ parts, but it was like a child playing with their food when it came to the main course. Two of these incidents have happened yesterday and today. I'm trying not to make a big deal out of them. I just grab the food, wrap it back up, and set it in the freezer for another day. Today, I decided to just set it in the fridge and offer it when I had my dinner. Yeah! He ate and was really eager when he saw what I had.

I am suspecting that the meds may be affecting his appetite. He has not puked or had diarrhea so its hard to ascertain if there are tummy issues happening without that. I've been trying to med him and then feed two hours later because he won't consume his Nupro later than meal time and he can not have his probiotics with Doxy either. By doing it this way, I've been less likely to forget something crucial like his probiotics which he must have for gut and skin health due to previous history. I suspect I may need to go to giving him food at the time of the dose and if I thought my life was made complicated by these meds now, it certainly will be later.

As a person with MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity), I need to do my outings early in the morning so that I am out when crowds are not as intense. On days when I don't have to head out, I could care less what hour Thane gets done eating. On days when I need to go out however, even with dosing him at 7AM, it still pretty much means that I can't get a bus until at the earliest 9:45. By the time I get anywhere this way it is downright crowded and the toxicity effects for me are substantially raised. It'd be one thing if this was just a one week antibiotics run, but as my good friend Sharon at After Gadget blog said to me recently, this is a marathon not a sprint. I will figure this system out- we will make it work. If it means Thane prefers to eat mid day or when I eat dinner because he just feels better then, then I will figure a way to make that happen.

This is the time of year for adventures. My idea of adventures is trapsing to parts unknown to explore. I guess in a rather twisted, distorted way of looking at things, Lyme Disease could be considered an adventure. After all, it does have us trapsing into the unknown!

My Dad was telling me a recent story about my mom. She does a lot of work in her yard and a critter she did not know got onto her while she was working in the yard. She quickly put it in a container and rushed off to the vet with it to find out if it was a tick. I am sure that she shared about Thane in the process- but hey, if Thane getting Lyme makes her more aware of the *unknown species* of critters in her yard, then to me it is worth the journey. I did not know what a real tick looked like. Oh Thane has some cute stuffed ticks that he absolutely loves, but I had no idea what a tick was like. If I can make even one person more aware then this journey of ours is beneficial.

Dad went on to tell me about when he was a kid. They had a bunch of ticks I guess where he grew up in Missouri. They just would find an adult with a heat source that they would hold close to the tick and they would back right out. I just thought they were crazy personally. He followed that up with a *don't do this at home on your dog and especially not when you are blind* LOL

If you are reading this blog and want more information on ticks, please see the postings on Ticks, Lyme and Related Information at After Gadget blog as well as her awesome blog on How to Tick Check Your Dog. If you are looking for a basic site that has some information but some of which is pretty superficial IMO see Ticks, Dogs, and Disease. Now if you are looking for good information that can help you understand what you are up against, as well as a support forum, take a look at the Tick-L links and forum. Though I am not a part of the forum, I found a lot of clarification on things that were so confusing to me through the articles here as well as Sharon's awesome support and further mentoring of me as I learn first hand about a disease we both wish we never had experience with (I am sure)

07 July 2011

Reality Stings

We all hear how horrible Lyme Disease can be. My good friend Sharon at After Gadget blog has been living with it for years and I have watched, listened and wished I could take her suffering away. She was a mentor for me years ago when I was first hit with severe Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and she has become a mentor once more for me- walking me through the process of learning all I can to help Thane be all he can be.

When Thane was diagnosed, I remained pretty optimistic about it all. I had the attitude of *finally we know what's wrong* more than the attitude of how damaging a disease this can be. When the vet said he could still work as long as I listened to him, I assumed in error that as long as we took days off to live life at home, that Thane and I would continue to do at least the errands we loved to do as a team.

Today I got hit right between the eyes with how wrong I was. Reality quite frankly stinks. It rarely measures up with expectations. In this case I just felt empty. I had Thane in a situation where the only solution was to walk short distances and stop for breaks- breaks that Thane determined the length of time we took down time along the route back to the max stop. I did everything I could to minimize his walking distance- took a stop I loathe so that we just had to go up to the end of the transit center stop to connect with our bus and then took the stop in town that we could follow a shortcut path straight home.

I was glad to be home and above all sorry from the depths of my being that I had so badly misjudged Thane's abilities right now. All I thought about is that we had been home for several days rest which IMO meant we were good to go.

Now with reality setting in, I feel this sadness coming over me. Don't get me wrong, I still aim to be optimistic here- but reality just has a way of jerking you back from this fantasy of what it will be to what it truly is. Lyme Disease is not for the faint of heart. It ravages ones insides- affecting everything and anything in its tenacious journey.

I knew that we did not catch Thane's early. This bug has had over two years to bounce around inside of him causing one roller coaster ride after another along the way. He'll still jump up after a really long nap to play some ball, but there is less drive- less forceful obsession in the way he goes about it. One of the biggest things I noticed this week was how much he slept. Every time I turned around to do something, he was curled up again taking another nap. I'm trying to tell myself that this is good that he is listening to his own needs, but a part of me feels wounded by it as well. From the simplest of issues to fluctuating lameness to neuro involvement, Thane has been trying to tell us for over a year that something was wrong.

Some people seemed to feel that I was looking for medical diagnoses from the normal behaviors of my dog. It hurt to hear comments like that, but I was the one who had to assure that Thane was given what he needed. To those very people who felt that way, my feelings are this- had I stopped looking Thane's career and very life would have been shortened dramatically. I don't know what the future holds for Thane and I- whether or not there will be irreversible issues, weaknesses for life in certain realms or not. All I know is that right now, I just feel like I have been punched in the gut.

04 July 2011

Bah Humbug on Celebrations

Call me unpatriotic if you wish, but I think fireworks were the worst creation mankind ever came up with. This neighborhood used to be relatively peaceful. A few firecrackers would go off after dark on the 4th of July and New Years Eve but nothing extravagant. Then we got new neighbors across the way this spring and all hell has broken loose! Not only has it become fireworks haven even before it turns dark, but its like a block party over there.

Yesterday on our way home from Winco we barely could get to our crossing point to come into our complex for all the vehicles parked on the side of our narrow road. I knew we were in trouble when that was happening, but sorta wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt at the moment. I mean afterall yesterday was not the 4th of July- YET.

Last night was no picnic. Starting around 11PM about every fifteen to twenty minutes fireworks went off. This went on until after 2AM. If I knew who was doing it believe me I would have called the cops. Being deafblind though has huge disadvantages when it comes to reporting illegal activity or disturbing the peace situations. We slept in this morning to make up for the disturbed sleep, but I knew the worst was yet to come. I guess after all my experiences with this guy and his burning and his teenage behavior in his go-cart running up and down the street this spring and summer, I pretty much know what he is like now.

I was not to be mistaken. This evening's fireworks and commotion are bad. During one of the incidents, Thane had his mutt muffs on and they did absolutely no good. We were being silly and playing while he wore them or shook them off his ears to around his neck- nope they don't work well on all head shapes. That was a waste of money and a years detox process.

Though Thane settled down after the first few stopped, I believe I have possibly lost him to the bedroom or bathroom for the night now. I hate what this is doing to him this year. They've always bothered him a little, but not like this. Before anyone tells me to try desensitization with him or train my way through it, that ain't gonna cut it. You see one of Thane's Lyme symptoms is heightened sound reactivity. It mostly effects that unexpected occurence- you know like we're playing ball or doing a task of other nature and then out of the blue pop, pop, pop or boom or whatever other sounds they make. Since I don't hear them, only his reaction tells me they are going off  unless they are like a couple of them that I actually felt go off.

The only thing I can do at this point is ignore him and let him do what he must to get through this night as unscathed as possible. I already cranked the air purifier, closed the front blind, and pulled out Met's white noise box. Its cleaned up and running on high. I never thought I would need that for Thane. Something tells me I better go find some movies to tide us over tonight as this could be one long night.

Next year I want to go to California for the holiday!

01 July 2011

Our Crazy Saga of a Day

Our day of rest yesterday turned into me doing our post winter potty station cleanup in preparation for power washing of patios yesterday afternoon. I tried not to think about the consequences of it all while doing it, but boy I felt it last night and today! I was glad that was behind me, but like I said it was supposed to be a rest day.

Today we had to get to the bank and then back to the vet to sort out treatment for Thane's Lyme disease. I was grateful I woke up early enough that we could get out the door before the heat really hit for Thane. I knew doing both these errands could spell trouble for Thane's allergies and fatigue issues so other than his first morning walk routine to the bus, I wanted to keep extra walking to a minimum. Intentions were good- reality was not so much that way.

We boarded the bus to a driver who knows us well. I told her where I wanted her to be sure to let me off. Last week she missed our stop after assuring me she would get us there. Due to the one way street layout, inaccessible walk signal buttons, and non-ADA compliant bus stops in conjunction with ramp designed buses, we had to go to the max stop to get a safe enough place to de-board. It was nice and we have done that walk back to Winco before, but it was not essential- if you know what I mean.

Today I happened to get the same driver. I told her where we needed off and she assured me she would get us there. What do you know? She passed our stop again and then accused me of falling asleep! I wanted to bite her head off because today of all days we did not need this. Not only did she pass our stop, but there was no sidewalk for us to travel back on the roadway. She said it was wide and called the ramp a little steep. Her idea of a little steep leaves much to be desired! It was so steep that Thane had to grip the ramp tread to keep himself slow enough to safely guide me down. Once we got down, I was relieved to be in one piece. The next part got even hairier though. Her idea of wide shoulder and mine while working with a guide dog greatly differ. Thane did great but there was this problem- the cars turning right from the street we were headed for. These cars turn right into the path we were on. Thane must have done four or five traffic checks before some driver had the courtesy to wait for us to get up on the curb to cross the street. The next crossing we had to make the walk signal was completely unreachable so we had to go with the cars without a walk signal. Boy was I glad when we got to the bank in one piece!

Heading home, I had a different driver. He was really great though I don't recall him from any past bus rides. I judged the time well and reminded him about five minutes before we got to our stop, but he had remembered it any way. Sometimes one can judge the time like this, but when its busy and the bus loses time, its impossible for a  DB person to know how close you might be because the GPS street announcer (if you can even hear it at all) is so distorted, there is no way you can tell what it is saying.

The vet was swamped today. They had been all week evidently. She had tried to fax me something today and it failed because I was not expecting it, nor was I even home to get it. In the end, we used one of the other workers as a bit of a go between (between the vet and myself) to get things sorted out to start Thane's treatment process for Lyme.

One thing that was so funny was that I was sitting kind of in a corner today because there was not room for our typical setup when we got there. The gal who was helping us, thought I left Thane home. She was trying to find out when I was going to bring him and I did not understand what she was saying as some of those dogs were so noisy! It seemed like Thane was the only dog with training at all. Anyway things quieted down when she came back the next time to talk with me at which point when she asked that question again, I pointed down beside me saying, he's right here. She looked over the counter and was shocked at his quietude. We got the fresh weight they needed on him just to be precise for his prescription, then we got to head home.

We were going to shortcut it home, but irregardless of what route we took, we had to use the crosswalk with no walk signal. It has flashing lights for the cars to stop. This crosswalk is usually uneventful, but not so today! Boy, Thane must have gotten tired of traffic checking me today!

After washing Thane down for his allergies, he took a nice long nap while I dealt with setting up my fax and the subsequent issues in providing payment information to the compounding pharmacy.We played a bit afterwards and in short intervals here and there throughout the afternoon, but honestly I see how zapped he gets now and hope that his meds get here sooner than I anticipate them to.