Friday, May 27, 2005

The Update to the DM List

Mom wrote an update about me to the Yahoo Group on DM (Degenerative Myelopathy). I know she gets a lot of good information from that group. It's also where she met Aunt Cindy.

Here's the note Mom wrote to the group. I didn't read it myself. I'm too busy barking at the cats.


Hi everyone,

I’m sorry I cannot keep up with all of the posts. I have read all of the ones that were in response to my requests for information thank you very much and please forgive me if I did not respond to you directly.

First my condolences over the passing of George and Smokey. Both of them beautiful and very beloved doggies.

Last night Sam was sleeping in an unusual position for him and as I looked at him I wished he would just pass away in his sleep so that I would never have to make the decision. But he woke up happy as can be so life continues albeit with difficulties.

There are always multiple problems and I seem to go forward then backward. I feel though that we are making some progress.

Here’s an update.

1) The grass turf on the patio didn’t work out. Sam peed on it and it immediately died. I tried using baking soda to counteract the ammonia but to no avail. Plus I had to water it and as it died that meant it got muddy. I’m going to buy still more rugs and put them on the patio too (along with inside the house) and wash them as needed (I wash about 6 rugs/day).

2) Speaking of rugs, after much experimentation I have decided the long bath rugs from Costco are the best. They are thick enough to stay down when Sam crawls over the ends and they wash beautifully. They cannot be put in the dryer because of the backing which is a problem in the winter, but now in the spring/summer they dry very quickly outside. The rugs have actually gone down in price too – they are approximately $12/each and come in many colors. I tried many, many other rugs – from Wal-Mart and Home Depot in particular. Most of them were too thin to stay on the floor when Sam crawls, or they fell apart in the washer. I tried taping them to the floor and that was a disaster…the tape still hasn’t come up! Plus it got dirty and couldn’t be easily cleaned. These Costco rugs are just the right size to put in the washer but only one per load. They are too thick and get too heavy to combine them.

3) The melatonin is working! I believe it was Richard that suggested this. Maybe some others too. I give Sam two 3 (mg? not sure) right before bed and he then only wakes up twice in the night, with only a bit of whining and then, after a snack of course, he goes back to sleep. So I still have to get up at 1am and 4am and 6:30am but not for long and I am not tortured by his incessant whining. He eats his snack and then zonks out again. The beer also worked well, but caused Sam to pee at night. The tranquilizer worked too but then Sam couldn’t do anything for 12 hours including get on his front feet so that he could go out to do his duty.

4) The sores on his left side where he drags are my main concern right now. They are gradually getting worse and worse. Every night I put an antibiotic cream on them and then cover it with nuskin liquid bandage. Luckily he almost always sleeps on his other side most of the night so the sores have a chance to partially heal. But I am trying something new which may really help. Boys underwear. I just put a pair on him after cutting out a hole for his tail. The underwear is still on him and it’s been an hour with quite a bit of crawling around. My other attempts to protect the sores immediately peeled off. I think the underwear is staying on because the tail is keeping them from being pulled off. I took him out to pee and he didn’t have a problem. The underwear is not covering his penis the elastic band is right below it. If this works thru the night then tomorrow I will try putting a bandage on the sore to protect it even more and see if the underwear will keep it in place. Or it may turn out to be best to leave it as is. I will have to experiment. I bought several pairs of underwear and will change them at least once/day. Don’t know exactly what’s going to happen when he poops.

5) Pooping. The other big problem. Sam still has diarrhea. He’s pretty much had diarrhea continuously for a month and of course he had it off and on (mostly on) before that. Ever since he went down actually. The diarrhea kind of pushes me over the edge. But his vet gave him some new medicine today I am hopeful that this problem can be solved.

6) Sam is on prednisone to control his rear end discomfort which has caused him to bite me in the past. He will give a little growl now and then but he seems to be feeling OK. I am very, very careful to always put the muzzle on him before I do any manipulation of his back legs or his tummy. He doesn’t mind anything on the face or head. I could pull his ears off and he would love it.

7) Peeing in the house has been a problem lately. Part of this is that it is very hard for me to get his harness on him. Once the diarrhea and sore problems are more under control I am gong to try to figure out a harness that I can leave on him all the time.

8) Getting Sam in the cart by myself is very difficult. It can take me up to ½ hour to do this and it is exhausting. Holding him up and hooking the harness to the cart at the same time is quite challenging. I brought in a roommate specifically to help me care for Sam but that has not worked out at all. So Sam is not getting much exercise right now. I hope to come up with a better solution to this soon.

9) Sam’s condition is clearly deteriorating. His right leg is now as useless as the left one. My hope is that he will have a good summer. On August 26th will be his one year anniversary with me and reaching that date would be a major achievement. I know that I will not be able to care for him when it starts raining.

The Rescue

I was able to take 24 hours off from my “caretaker” duties and go to Portland (from San Jose). Thanks to Cindy on this list and her husband and their sweet dog Kodi who took care of Sam for me. So Sammy even had a little vacation! Apparently he whined and barked the whole night while at their house though. There are some photos of Sam on his mini-vacation in his blog.
Sam and Kodi in the car

Sam in Cindy's kitchen

Thanks to all of you with your great advice and caring. I hope these comments are useful to others.

Cynthia and Sam


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