Trilostane Day 7

Or is it Day 6, since we skipped Friday, Day 5? Gretchen wouldn’t eat her breakfast, so I called the vet and they advised that I skip her dose for that day, as the side effects we’re monitoring her for include decreased appetite and lethargy.

Her tribe concurs that it’s likely heat and long work days that caused her behaviors, but there’s no denying the girl is off her game. She didn’t go to Ladies Group (workout) yesterday morning. Her humans had decided she wasn’t going because she hadn’t eaten, but she also made no effort to come with me until I was basically out the door, so she somewhat opted out; she didn’t know we had decided she wasn’t going.

She always sleeps a lot on Sundays, so it’s hard to judge what’s going on today. It’s also hard to say whether we’re seeing positive changes, because her routine is so far out of whack, but that’s necessary because she needs constant supervision for the first couple of weeks on this medication.

This is hard. I trust our veterinary team explicitly, but in the end, it’s up to me to figure out what’s working and what gives Gretchen Greer the best quality of life. We’re waiting for the next round of testing to see what the labs say, because Gg’s Cushing’s journey is so muddy and muddled because the symptoms are so very similar to the anxiety issues she’s had her whole life.

Trilostane Day 1

Have I even blogged about Gretchen’s Cushing’s diagnosis? (I mentioned it, but barely.) So, let’s recap:

The week after Thanksgiving, Gretchen had a binge bender than brought me home mid-day to figure out why the puppy cam was upside down. She did some impressive at any age table-surfing and found her “headed out the door”dog treats, AND an old powerlifting meet gift bag that included some (non-chocolate, thankfully) KIND bars in various stages of all gone and what was left was in shredded plastic! She repeated that feat again on Saturday morning (but with no nommies found), and then came absolutely unglued when she was crated (rare, but she was crate-trained) while we went to the work holiday fete that night.

To the vet we went, and we were all surprised when this healthy-looking gal tested positive for Cushing’s Disease. (I’ll probably add her results here at some point so they’re all in one place.) At the vet’s recommendation, we went holistic, in part because she was back to being all but symptom free by then AND because our vets are friends and they KNOW I’m resistant to certain big pharma medications. That went really well for several weeks, and again, I’ll almost assuredly create a Cushing’s page here to track it all, but then in late April, she began having acute anxiety again. On May 31, our holistic vet broke up with us. (No, not really, but I try to keep things light, and when the holistic vet tells you it’s time to use conventional pharmacology, it’s sobering.)

And somewhere in the midst of all of that, baby girl was also diagnosed with high blood pressure. She’s on a microscopic dose of Amlodipine (2.5 mg tab QUARTERED, and one of those pieces twice daily), and while it dropped her BP a bit, it remains a little higher than desired. With everything else going on, we’re going to re-evaluate THAT when the vet tells me it’s time… I think in September?

So, today is day one on Trilostane. She’s on a whopping 15mg compounded into a chicken flavored chewable tablet that the princess rejected as a “treat” but thankfully, she did gobble it down with her breakfast. Yes, that’s a high-maintenance, home-made meal, which I’ll also include on the Cushing’s page. She loved it at first and seems bored with it at this point. I know there’s plenty of room for discussion; my dogs have put me in camp “we like variety when a slow switch is done”. They definitely seem to get tired of the same flavors day after day, week after week.

So far, so good. She’ll be at my side for the next 10 days, until we do her first monitoring bloodwork to assure this is the right dose for her. Despite what I’ve read, I’m still insisting she’s going to live to be 20, and have a happy, healthy life until then.

Privilege

It is my duty and a privilege to care for Gretchen Greer. She’ll be 13 and a half years old in a couple of days. She has Cushing’s Disease, hypothyroidism and a lifelong anxiety issue.

I’m still announcing she’s going to live to be 20 every chance I get. I take great pride each time I hear she doesn’t look like a senior dog. But the truth is, she isn’t getting younger and none of us know when our time will be up, so I’m taking every chance to snuggle, wog, talk… to do anything she wants to do.

So yes, my chores wait, my feet go numb and I go out of my way not to disturb her when she naps on my legs. Heck, I don’t even lean forward to pick up my phone, water, etc. Some say she’s spoiled, but I say I’m just doing my job. It’s my job to try to return the love and devotion she gives me, to take the very best care of her that I can.

Always the fur-girls

There are just some blocks on the calendar that are bittersweet, and no matter how I plan to focus on the sweet, it’s tough.

On October 24, Missy Sissy, Queenie, DIVA and so much more, would have been 13 years old. Gretchen and I have lived more than two years without her, and they have been challenging, rewarding, well-lived days. Neither of us are spring chickens, but we’re still going and growing!

The day before that, we celebrated Gg’s Gotcha’ day. For twelve years, that cute little imp and I have been together. She’s a curious mix of courage and anxiety, clingy and independent, and I love watching her continue to evolve and enjoy life. We can’t remember Gretchen’s arrival without honoring her remarkable big sister, who didn’t mind at all that her first birthday present was a puppy.

Yes, I would have loved more time with Sissy, but she lived the life she had with a gusto I still can’t begin to reproduce. Life was a party. She loved big, and never let anything slow her down… until the very end. Even when she hurt and just living was hard, she made sure her pack knew how deeply she loved us.

Somehow, she loved little Gg so well that when we were certain she wouldn’t make it without Sissy, the little one came into her own and is happier, sassier and yappier than ever before. Thank you, Sis-ma.

It’s more than ironic that the day after the 13th anniversary of her birth, I had my first above average eye pressure readings. After multiple re-checks, they settled down, but I can honestly say I was never worried; after almost 8 years with Sissy and her glaucoma routine, I know it’s manageable if it becomes an issue.

Thank you Sissy, for everything you taught me. You were such a strong spirit, and you loved as you lived, with no regrets, no fears. Gretchen and I are better, stronger, kinder, wiser, because you loved us.

Face your fears

Gretchen’s battle with anxiety inspires me almost daily, but this post is about my fear, specifically the one I’ve named since the day our vets were exposed to Covid 19 and had to change the way they do business. They are still not allowing non-staff into the building, and I knew that would be a challenge for Gg when she had to go visit.

What I didn’t know is that an unbreakable, pain induced, six hour long anxiety attack would get us there. Turns out she was yelping and trying to get me to take her somewhere (to the vet??) because she had another raging urinary tract infection, but it was an all-day diagnosis, because she’s very modest about the whole sample thing.

Happier hour Saturday afternoon

She lived through it. I lived through it, and if it was possible to respect and adore my vets and their staff more, I do. It appears she is back to being afraid of nighttime, but she has had a no-symptoms of the UTI pain day, and I’m delighted.

Valium is NOT her friend. We had tried it before, years ago when she was an awful (read: makes a mad cat look easy to pill) patient, and Friday night, I had to coax her to take it, hidden in her favorite pill pocket. Last night, she was already in full panic mode, so I’m shocked it went down even in the pill pocket, smeared with her favorite egg and cheese.

She panted and shook for three hours after that before exhausting herself. Tonight I’m going to take the Valium (kidding!) and give her more melatonin, which she doesn’t mind as long as we don’t stay heavy too many nights in a row.

Current situation with mild tremors

I’m sitting with her on the deck now, and feel we need to change things up with her sitter. SOMETHING (loneliness? a poorly timed bee sting?) sets her off about this time nightly. It isn’t even dusk yet, so I welcome any and all ideas. She prefers to be outside, and we often find her on the back deck when we get home, regardless of the weather, or amount of light left in the day.

Not being able to protect her from her fears is my greatest fear. What is yours?

12 or 64?

Yesterday was Lady Gretchen Greer’s 12th birthday. According to two different internet sources, that makes her roughly 64.

That chart gives me more hope that we have many years together yet to come. It also means I’m less inclined to let her dictate the pace and distance of our runs. Yeah, she’s a senior, but the girl isn’t ready for a doggy rocking chair yet!

Hanging with the ladies on a Saturday weighted vest walk. Credit Toni J

It’s been a rather unremarkable year and that makes it very special. Her meds didn’t change, other than varying her nightly melatonin dose according to her current state. Her thyroid is properly supported, and so is her emotional well-being. We’ve dodged the contactless Covid operations at our local vet thus far, and there have been no injuries or issues other than her dental surgery, immediately pre-Covid. (That was basically her first cleaning with a known broken tooth to complicate things; it was all but a non-event.)

She did have sore toe a few weeks ago that was easily fixed by her new friend at DogTopia. Our vet isn’t doing weekend hours right now, and none of the local groomers I’ve used before (or had positive recommendations for from a trusted source) answered their phones or had any availability the Saturday morning in question, so I rang up that new place near work, and my hot mess, doesn’t like to leave my side girl didn’t even look back when her new friend met us at the car. Before I could order from my Dunkin’ app, they were back. I may never cut her nails again; for $10 and a very generous tip, Gg made a new friend and the “jammed because it was too long” nail and its friends were all cut back without incident.

Here’s to another 12 years together, sweet girl. You’re high maintenance and it took me 10 years to figure out your stressors, but I love helping you live your best life.

Essential Services

The firefighter I used to be laughed at automotive services being declared essential services. Yes, we are the contracted vehicle maintenance shop for the University and some local police, fire and rescue units, but then yesterday, two doctors thanked us for being open because they too need to remain mobile.

This is not a time for judgment. I’d argue it’s never wise to judge, but that’s another story for another time. There are plenty of folks talking about what you should and shouldn’t do, and I’m not an expert, so…

What is essential? Good food. Exercise. Fresh air. Staying connected. I’m grateful my tribe filled my voids; I now have rice, broccoli and ground beef. I also found a silly, wonderful peanut butter whiskey (see my Facebook or Instagram) and crafted what I’m calling Eggs Benny-ish.

I love eggs Benedict. I bought The Pampered Chef stoneware egg pan just to do poached eggs. This morning, I felt the urge to break it in, but alas, no English Muffins, no Canadian Bacon. I rarely follow a recipe as written, so…

Eggs cooked per instructions ( 80 seconds on high in microwave). Biscuits split, covered with cheddar and deli ham, then put back in the warm (but turned off) oven whilst whipping up the hollandaise sauce. Eggs added on top, sauce slopped on and… yum.

How goes it where you are? What can we do to help?

Gretchen wants it known she had her teeth brushed today. She didn’t fight me nearly as much as I anticipated. We will be doing it at least once weekly from here on out, more often if I can figure out the routine.

Showing up

I don’t know where that originated, but I found it on a knitting/spinning friend’s Facebook page a few days ago. It made me happy… because I can relate, and because I can’t even aspire to be Glenda the Good Witch. I am quintessentially Dorothy, complete with the little terrier in my basket bounding down the Yellow Brick Road, but I have also spent years explaining to folks that I really am more comfortable “dressed up” vs. super casual.

Thank you for those kind words on my last post. I’m flattered and amazed that you not only still follow and read, but you remember dreams, random comments, thoughts shared on all the different blogs over the years. I am going to take Kath’s advice and show up more. I miss reading and writing every single day, but I’m also going to take a business mentor’s advice and give myself grace; I most certainly do have a lot going on. So I’m going to show up here more, write more, and heaven only knows what you might read here!

I suppose I have been honing my “just show up” skills in the gym. I haven’t competed in well over a year. Some of that is injury/recovery related. Some of it is (lack of?) a life balance issue, but in spite of the reasons and myself, sometimes amazing progress happens just by showing up.

We’ll stick with the gym, knowing it is an analogy for life in general. While I’ve been not following a serious training program, not getting in the gym 5 days a week, my squat has held its own. In fact, a gym friend shared with me a few days ago that I’m still a state record holder from two years ago! I can’t even defend the record because I’ve aged out of that division. My bench has gotten stronger, as has my deadlift. In addition, I’ve added all kinds of tricks to my bag; I can now do pushups without modifications in almost any quantity. I can do *A* single pull-up, and I’m working on turning that into a string of them.

I haven’t done any real running in more than 3 years, but my half-mile time was stronger than ever (well… in the past 20 years or so?) this summer, and Gretchen and I can still run at a 10 minute mile pace whenever her little heart desires. All of this is proof that just showing up can yield gains, however underwhelming they might be, so why not apply that here too?

Lastly, there’s exhibit C… the little fur-princess herself. Y’all may recall how stressful car rides have been for Gretchen Greer, but she always came anyway, because she’d rather be anxious as can be with us than be left behind. Progress was slow, painfully so, but here she is at almost 11.5 years, just hanging out in one of the beds in the back seat. She didn’t even pop up when I made turns, when I announced that we were almost home. She was content,chilling in her little nest.

Evidently, just showing up can lead to big accomplishments, so look for me to show up here more, even if I don’t have time, don’t have much to say.