So I Give Up….

So I Give Up….

*I’m writing this post because I cannot figure out how to put a widget on here ~ pretty sad. Or funny depending on my mood at the time.*

I won’t write how long I sat at my laptop today trying to figure out HOW to put a widget for my German Shepherd’s blog on this one. It would be the ultimate embarrassment if I did. I definitely need those “dummy books” more than I thought. It’s just one of those simple things that one encounters in life that totally confuses you and when you see how it’s done you say, “Oh duhhhh@me”.

I’ve written a few times about my dogs, specifically Sasha and her rather unique medical problems. She had stem cell therapy in April 2016 ~ and a whole bunch of other things. I’ve  decided in my next life I need to marry a veterinarian. Ironically, I found a picture of her today when she was having an MRI of her spine in April. Wow was I shocked!

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When I first began researching treatments for Sasha, I primarily went to vet school websites and avoided “Mary Sue’s Dog Blog” because I wanted the most accurate information I could find. I’ve come to learn that vets are sometimes not as open as they could be. Having said that, I did rely on both FB pages, blogs and You Tube videos of dogs that had stem cell therapy (SCT) because it gave me the opportunity to see real dogs in their home environment. Often the veterinarian sites show dogs in a clinical setting. Looking back I’m surprised my family didn’t hold an intervention because I had so many YT videos on the television ~ sometimes for hours. Many of them were done  by people in other countries; there were Spanish, Italian and Russian. It didn’t make a difference that I didn’t know what they were saying because both their body language and the dog’s behavior gave me the answers I was looking for.

I originally had a Facebook page for her where she had over 200 followers but Facebook is not the venue for me and subsequently I deactivated it. I’ve been transitioning Sasha’s story over to her blog, starting it in March when her medical journey began.

I belong to both Sasha and her litter sister Inga whose parents were imported from Germany. I call them “The Germs” ~ because I think I’m rather funny at times. The Germs actually have a variety of names. Inga Patrice is Annika Von Den Westlichen Bergen and Sasha Clarice is Angel Von Den Westlichen Bergen. To me however they’re just Ring Ding and Sash. Even though my late dog Callie was truly my soul mate, aware of my every emotion, The Germs also keep me going ~ just in a different way. Their soulful brown eyes and head on my lap have enabled me to weather many a PTSD trigger. PTSD is in a way my cross to bear but these dogs by my side have eased that burden. perhaps that doesn’t make sense to everyone but those who have a special relationship with a dog will understand.

Up until a Fibrocartilaginous Embolism (FCE), also known as a spinal stroke, hit Sasha in 2011, both dogs and I were actively involved in Schutzhund training and completion. Going to the club was our weekend getaways. Sasha was just shy of earning Sch3 (which is the top-level) when she was paralyzed by the FCE.

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She made an 85-90% recovery after fast intervention by a veterinary neurosurgeon followed by months of physical therapy. While no longer able to compete, she nonetheless remained active all year-long. She was still an excellent tracker, hiked with me in spring and fall, swam like a fish every summer, and tagged along when I snowshoe in winter. Even now, with all the medical issues that have just piled on her one after another, she remains so resilient that I just want to cry at times.

So I’m posting this because I know a few of you are dog people and would like to invite you to check her out her blog, Sasha’s Journey. She also has a You Tube channel which is also called Sasha’s Journey. If  interested, please subscribe. I really do give a lot of information and use hyperlinks frequently. Maybe when WP Live Chat resumes on September 26 I can get one of the tech kiddos to walk me through the widget thing ~ if I have any marbles left by then.

Thanks!

❤️❤️My Germs❤️❤️

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*Warning* Profanity Laden Dog Post

*Warning* Profanity Laden Dog Post

Has everybody in the world gone freaking nuts or is it just me??? I am dealing with a pompous asshole vet from CA who developed the protocol that has successfully reversed SARDS Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome) for over 200 dogs. He is an unmitigated prick ~ plain and simple. I sent him a short albeit pleasant email about Sasha’s medications earlier this evening. His response? “Whatever floats your boat”. The other day I also emailed him because Sasha had such severe distress over the weekend because her medication was increased from 8mg to 10mg. He had the balls to write and tell me that “Sasha wants to get better but you are too close to the situation. She will get well if you leave her alone”. I’m too close? Should I hand her over to a stranger and ask them to monitor all her meds and lab tests? ” Oh yes then he called me on the phone a few minutes later. Because I was crying over Sasha’s sad state, I didn’t look at Caller ID ~ just answered. He immediately became annoyed that I was crying, cursed then told me to “Cool it”. Tells me to cool it???  What the fuck is this? Happy Days and he’s Fonzie?????

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What kind of asshole tells that to a pet owner? Or a human patient?? He is so lucky he lives on the opposite coast because he and I would be having words face to face. Nobody but nobody is allowed to be dismissive and cavalier when it comes to my dogs health and well-being. Call me “The Crazy Dog Lady” but every dog I’ve been blessed to have in my life has given me unconditional love which is a hell of a lot more than most people have given me.  I was forwarned about his cantankerous and abrasive personality but when dealing with MY dog’s health, you answer my questions in a responsible and professional manner. You don’t fucking say “Whatever floats your boat”. What a freaking piece of work!

Ok I’m done ranting.

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Then God said, “Let there be light”

Then God said, “Let there be light”

I wrote most of the following entry on June 27, 2016 on our way home from a progress exam with Sasha’s internist. Decided I would leave it as  is. I posted part of it on Sasha’s FB page but omitted personal details…

     ~

We are almost home (Sasha’s internist is a 5 hr RT). The AC in our Honda Ridgeline simply stopped working, we’re hitting construction everywhere, and I’m starving. However none of it’s annoying me for I’m still ecstatic because Sasha’s pupils are beginning to react to light (PRL). Being realistic, today’s discovery is a baby step but nonetheless it’s progress.Sasha woke up blind on April 7. Since she was in the process of preparing for stem cell therapy, I initially had the veterinary neurosurgeon perform diagnostics to uncover the cause.  I did the gamut; MRI imaging of her head to rule out an organic disturbance, a spinal tap to rule out neurological infection, a plethora of lab tests especially the ones that would indicate a tick borne illness however everything was normal. My next step was having Sasha evaluated  by a veterinarian ophthalmologist which included more tests and an ERG ( electroretinogram) which is a test to evaluate retinal function. Think of it as an EKG monitor that we see hooked to a hospitalized patient on a medical drama. When the patient’s heart stops, the EKG makes a noise and the camera zooms in on the flat line shown on the monitor. When an ERG  performed on a dog shows a “flat line” it indicates total destruction of the visual cell layer (the rods and cones) of the retina with subsequent blindness.  The diagnosis is Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration (SARDS), you are told there is no treatment and given handouts on “Dealing with a Blind Dog”. Nearly 5k in diagnostics only to be told to help Sasha adapt to blindness as she’ll never see again. “You can’t help her”.

Sasha Quick ERG April 22, 2016
Sasha’s ERG ~ April 22, 2016 (not exactly flat lined)

 

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One of the many tests by the opthalmologist
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More tests

Somehow it didn’t “feel right” to me and since my mantra is “Can’t is a fellow that never tried” I didn’t accept it. Not because I didn’t want the burden of a blind dog but rather, I wouldn’t have accepted that diagnosis for a human family member so why would I for Sasha? If there was a chance to regain either full or partial vision I wanted her to have it. She’s had so many atypical medical issues yet always landed on her feet. After the FCE in 2011, I accepted that she wouldn’t reach the last Schutzhund level or scale a 6′ fence – who cares? But I wanted to be able to watch her face as her eyes followed a tossed snowball or a chirping band of tree hopping squirrels. And if there were no options, I would have accepted that too; but I owed it to her to explore.

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Sasha ~ In Schutzhund class one month before the FCE

As a young child I was not allowed to touch, play, talk to, or interact with the family dog on ANY level. Her name was Beauty; jet black fur with a slight wave to it and long lovely ears. Looking back I think she was some type of spaniel. To be honest I don’t know where she came from as she simply appeared inside our house one day when I returned from kindergarten (just as she mysteriously appeared, a few years later she was gone). I also don’t know where she was most evenings and on weekends as I would only catch fleeting glimpses of her. I asked my father one night (when he wasn’t drinking) why I couldn’t play with Beauty. He said “Mommy told me she caught you sticking pins in Beauty’s ears”. I can still feel the hurt and shame that enveloped me that night because I knew I had never, ever done anything to hurt Beauty but from living with a mother that lied, I inherently knew to protest or deny her accusations was futile. I can also remember the rare times I would see Beauty in the living room while my parents watched the evening news. My father would be stroking her and my mother alternating between giving me her famous smug smirk or looking at me in horror and making motions with her arms as if to protect Beauty from the me ~ the resident demon. She would do it when my father was engrossed in the current new story so that he wouldn’t see her. I always felt like she was a like a taunting schoolyard bully instead of a mother. Gotta tell you, it was a real joy being 5 years old in that house! So as usual I immersed myself in books, many which were about dogs. Our home had an abundance of older books, many of which I still have today. We seemed to have many by Albert Payson Terhune, a native of NJ. He wrote about his beloved collies and while I couldn’t read many of the words in his books,  I still enjoyed them.

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Albert Peyson Terhune & his collies of Sunnybank

Until I became a mother the only happiness and unconditional love I’d ever had was from the dogs I was blessed to have in my life. Their wagging tails and sloppy kisses kept me going when I wanted to literally give up. They lay by my side as I cried uncontrollably. They entertained me with their hilarious antics on lonely nights and weekends. An introvert my nature, I sat on the floor with them and enjoyed a Saturday night party of treats and tracking. They were usually the only ones who were openly happy to see me. Somehow because of them I felt validated as a person. All the hateful venom hurled my way as a child didn’t matter because in the eyes of my dogs, I saw love and acceptance and that was enough to sustain me. As we do with our loved ones, I put their veterinary needs before my own the same way I later put my children’s needs before my own. That’s just what we do in life. I won’t deceive or gild it though; keeping up with Sasha’s medical costs has been one of the biggest financial challenges of my life, especially since I wasn’t working and involved in a legal matter. It pained me deeply that I had to turn to asking people to lend me money but it all goes back to what mattered more; my pride or Sasha’s well-being. Definitely a no-brainer!

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Sasha May 2016

So yes, today I am excited, blessed, thrilled and confident. Tomorrow something may crop up in her care that changes that but I know that whatever obstacles she encounters will be stepping-stones. I believe Sasha knows how very loved she is. I also think she senses that her internist, Dr. Sarah Noble, truly cares about her. You can see Sasha perk up and radiate contentment whenever Dr. Noble enters the room. Her other hero is Dr. Plechner who ironically is located on the West Coast while we are on the East. Opposite ends of the country yet he has been there every step of Sasha’s SARDS journey. Dr. Noble collaborated with him for Sasha’s treatment by using a protocol that he researched and developed. Many in his profession believe he is too controversial but I say this; it was the controversial pioneers that gave us many of the gold medical standards (both human and animal) in today’s world. Bottom line, Dr. Plechner’s theories made sense. They fit together like pieces of a puzzle. As a healthcare professional I researched SARDS, his protocol for treating it, spoke with owners of dogs whose vision returned after using his treatment plan. At the end of the day I knew it was an opportunity I wanted to give Sasha but accepted that, like anything in life, no guarantees. Both Drs. Noble and Plechner care about their patients, viewing them as a sentient beings as opposed to Patient #936. With heroes like that in her corner along with the beautiful thoughts and prayers from all of her followers on Sasha’s Journey , Sasha has a sure-fire recipe for success. Most of all, she is loved and that will never change ~

 

 

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Sasha Smiles