Thanks a lot cone.

I don’t talk a lot about Jake’s spine/walking issues.  The progression from good to bad, for the most part, has been slow and steady, so it’s given him time to learn to acclimate.  Every once in a while I’ll find a video of him from the early days of him living here and recall just how mobile and fast he used to be.

It is what it is.

Until it’s not.

The cone is a pain, for sure.  There is no dog who has ever worn a cone and loved it and there is no owner that has had a dog in a cone that hasn’t thought ‘do we really need to use that thing’.  Jake is on week 4 of the cone (24/7).  We have to protect his eye.  But in doing so, it has become apparent that it was at the mercy of his spine and legs.  It’s not just holding the cone up, it’s the posture he’s forced into while wearing it.  His leg function has decreased.  A lot.

If you asked me if I would rather he see or keep leg function as long as possible, I don’t know what my answer would be.  I hate finding out there has been a trade-off but the reality is, his legs were always going to decline so I guess protecting the eye was the right thing to do.

One of our awesome readers suggested we try this mask thing for Jake  It’s much lighter than the cone and it does protect his eyes.  The problem is that Jake is flat faced and even though we ordered the flat-faced version, he is too flat faced for even that.  So he can wear this while I’m home but he has to still wear the cone when I’m not home and at night.  But giving his back any break is a good thing, so we are pretty excited to present to you, the newest Power Ranger!

You can still see his hamburger eye, through his Power Ranger mask. IMG_5411 IMG_5422

IMG_5425

PS. His eye is not healing very quickly.  The graft is taking but it’s still ‘too thick’ so we have a whole new set of eye drops. I would say more on that but I am trying to curse less.

 

Music.

You know that game, ‘would you rather’? Before HGTV, when asked if I’d rather give up TV or music, every time I’d say TV.  I am a music always on type of person.  Even when music is not on, I’m singing, or humming or it’s playing in my head. I often dance.  True story.

Music accompanies me.  Through long car rides, through flights, through workdays, walks and late nights on the patio.

Right now, for the last couple of months, whenever I hear Ed Sheeran’s Photograph, I immediately think of Melvin.  And that song makes me feel like he’s near, and that makes me strong, and happy and mindful of the loss in way that starts to bridge me to being able to think of him more often, look at photographs, watch a video or two.

I leave the radio on for Jake when I leave.  I do not discriminate on what station, whatever station will come in best on the little clock radio I have plugged in next to him.  And every day when I come inside the house, the precise time that I am still learning to accept that Melvin will not be greeting me, the moment that I unlock the door and take a deep breath to accept the visual, wagging, void, that song is almost always playing when I walk in. And that makes me grateful. Because accepting that I can’t see him anymore, does not mean he’s not still here. That song greeting me time after time, is my Joy.

And that song, will become another song. For me, there is most definitely a glorious soundtrack to my life!

 

Where did we go?

Sorry for the lack of updates — last week stunk!

  • Jake’s eye is not healing as fast as they’d like. At the appointment on Thursday they said it might always stay like this — like raw hamburger meat slapped across his eyeball.
  • His eye drops were supposed to get cut back but they did not, so I’m still relying on a spreadsheet.  Ironically, Jake’s eyes do not produce tears but mine produce plenty!
  • He is still in the cone.  We are going on week four.  To help protect his neck I cut up a pair of yoga pants and made liners for under his neck.  It works great although I should not have used black pants — it makes him look like he is in ISIS.
  • Then Jake had a bad reaction to his pain meds but we got that switched up
  • AND his ear infection refuses to heal so we are trying a new set of drops for that.

He’s definitely my dog.

My mom had (planned) surgery, she’s doing good.  Then I got a two-day migraine.  That gets your caught up!

On a completely unrelated note to any of the above. I have a really big SUV.  I actually ordered it for Melvin (because my last SUV was too small for him, it was too tight for him to jump into and he didn’t fit in any of the seats (with Jake) or in the back with the seats folded down -he had to hunch over).  Melvin died one week before it came in.  The universe writes strange poetry.  Anyway, there is a big SUV parked in the driveway so I like to be a bit balanced on the green front. I’m constantly looking for ways to tip that balance. Last week I realized that  our biggest crime against the environment might not even be the gas guzzler (especially since I work from home), it is likely Jake’s maxi-pad addiction count for his diapers. I mean between the giant SUV and my male dogs maxi-pads, well if fire winds start blowing, you can blame us.

So we are TRYING cloth diaper pads.  I don’t have kids so I had no idea what options were out there but Amazon knows everything and they served up some charcoal, anti-bacterial pads that claim they can handle a lot of liquid and keep skin dry so we shall see.  They are like a giant pad, there is no adhesive so I just place one inside our awesome belly bands and velcro tight.  I wash so many loads of laundry for Jake every day (bedding, diapers, blankets) that I cannot imagine these will make a difference in that respect. We shall see.

So you are all caught up!  My new full time job is eye drops, Jake dresses like a terrorist, cloth diapers make their debut.  Hope everyone is having a wonderful Monday so far!  We’ll be picking our August Melvin’s Project Joy winner this week – yay!!!!

Cloth diaper liner. IMG_5367A drawing of Jake from the talented Carly! He even has his diaper on! It’s like his body is trying to distance itself from the pee and his eyes! IMG_5335 Off to the vet with hamburger eye, it’s what’s we do! (PS. he is locked into the seatbelt clip — safety always!)IMG_5362  Jake? Are you wearing a black hood? IMG_5365

 

 

 

The eye emergency: part 2

It was a long, way too quiet (no seriously, Jake snores so loudly that now I can’t sleep without his fog horn) night without Jake. It made me additionally miss Melvin. The ophthalmologist came in early Monday, just to see Jake and she and I talked around 8am.  Even though it was a phone call, I immediately loved her and felt at ease that she’d be doing the surgery. There are a few surgeries to fix ulcer issues but Jake required the most extensive one.  While other surgeries had a 50% success rate, his had a 95% success rate (that they’d repair the ulcer and repair and fill the hole in the center of his eye before rupture).  While he was under, she was also going to remove a growth from his other eye via laser.

The surgery went well and I went to pick Jake up around 4pm.  DUDE WAS HIGH.  He couldn’t walk (worse than usual) and his eye was really freaky.  So freaky it gave me chills. We headed home with instructions for all (so, so many) eye drops, that had to be given all day long, 5 min apart (I had to do a spreadsheet) and pain meds. I also found out that a compounding pharmacy in NJ was making ‘Jake tears’.  Not only did they make them the day of his surgery, they arrived at my door (in VA) the next morning.

Giving Jake eye drops is excruciating. He wiggles and locks his eyelids shut and when you have a bionic eye surgery underneath the lid, you cannot put much pressure.  The amount of trepidation I have when it’s time to give drops is rivaled only by the frustration I feel as he tries to flail his body off the cliff (the couch). There may or may not have been moments I’ve had to walk outside and scream so that I don’t implode in front of him.

The day we had our first follow-up appointment, Jake’s eye started bleeding.  Just like in True Blood.  The bad news is, it’s as terrible as it sounds.  The good news is that, it’s good news.  Jake had tissue transplanted into his eye – to fill the hole and stitched (yes, there are stitches in his eyeball) across his eye.  The tissue was connected to blood vessels.  The bleeding means the tissue is alive and there is blood flow. Everyday I have a hard time convincing myself it’s good.  Up to now, bleeding has always been bad.  So eyeball blood being good…so strange!

I’m amazed that animal ophthalmology is so cutting edge and so grateful that they saved his eye.  We are so blessed.

Here are some photos of the patient and his eye (look away if you get grossed out easy). Also, a few days into eye-magedon, Jake got an ear infection that caused him to howl in agony.  My response was to scream ‘ENOUGH’ at the universe.  Enough.  So far, the universe seems to have heard me.

Sometimes when I talk to him he is not even looking in my direction.  Also, he can barely walk cause the cone is too heavy for his back legs to balance out.  IMG_5273 IMG_5285 IMG_5294

He flops over his bed very dramatically every night.  I put blankets up so that all the walls are soft and he moves them open (like curtains) with his cone head. Jake sleeps in the jail so he can be diaper free at night (junks gotta air out) and because pain-meds-Jake wanders. IMG_5261 IMG_5308

And here is his eye.  That dot in the middle is where the hole was (that is now filled up with tissue).  The flap that goes across is connected to the white part of his eye. In the second photo, you can see the active bleeding.  (go ahead and gag, i do). IMG_5282 IMG_5318

Melvin’s Project Joy: Giveaway Two!

We take a break from Jake, to do a little giving…

As a reminder, each month, we will do a giveaway that celebrates the unique nature of our furry friends. There will be monthly categories, so if you have a dog that falls into that one, you can nominate them to win. If your dog does not fit into this month’s category, do not fret, we have a pretty all-encompassing list for the entire year – like if your dog is a cat – we eventually got you covered!

This month, in honor of a cyber dog and dog mom (L&M) that I’m in awe of, we are celebrating…

Dogs with less than four legs!

Here is how it works…

This goes beyond just a giveaway (but yes, there is of course some loot!). Our goal is to remind each other that we are all in this crazy life together. That through these giveaways, we can all bring empathy into play. As you share stories of your dogs-with-fewer-legs, read the stories of others. You may nod, and realize you are not alone. You can message others and share your experiences and advice. Friendships will form. Support can be shared. Joy will be spread!

Share your dogs-with-fewer-legs (your dog’s name, a photo. and the story how the leg count came to be) on either our Facebook page containing this post, on Sirius Republic’s Facebook page when they share this post. If you are not of the Facebook world, you can email your info to ohmelvinyojake@gmail.com. You can also post the info below in the comments, although you probably can’t share a photo on here (and that’s ok). No matter how you submit your info, you will be entered to win.

READ ALONG AS OTHERS POST. DON’T FORGET TO REACH OUT.

We will pick one female and one male winner at the end of August!

Next month, it will be a new category!

MPJ-Color

 

The eye emergency: Part 1

Saturday: Jake’s eye with the little ulcer had improved.  Jake’s eye with the ‘very deep’ (seriously, they repeated the very deep part about 15 times) was not improving. We’d been doing eye drops for about four days and they expected to see improvement with both. So, they took Jake’s blood, and made eye drops out it. I 100% expected the drops to look like blood and that after I put the drops in Jake’s eyes, he would look like one of the vampires in True Blood when they cried.  (In case you didn’t see True Blood, the vampires cried blood). Instead, the drops were a milky liquid derived from his blood. And in a test tube. Add this to the list of things I never expected when I became a dog mom.

Sunday: We woke up, I fed him and then got him up on the couch for his eye drops (this is also known as the time he thrashes around like I am performing an exorcism on him).  After I put the drops in, I looked into both eyes (knowing full well I had no idea what I was looking at or knowing if I’m qualified to notice a change).  The left eye seemed fine.  His right eye, the one with the deep ulcer, had A HOLE IN IT. I looked around the room and thought, it must be a reflection of a light or something, THERE CANNOT BE A GAPING HOLE IN HIS EYE. But there it was, a perfectly round hole and I could see into it and it was deep.  No one had mentioned a hole but I knew it wasn’t good (I’m that smart). We were at the ER 20 min later.

ER: The ER was packed but they put Jake in a room immediately and the dr came in pretty quick.  When Melvin and Jake are your dogs, you know the ER vets by name. He looked at Jake’s eye and said ‘it’s bad’ and left the room to call the ophthalmologist for an emergency consult.  When he left, he told me to hold Jake very still, that any sudden movement could rupture his eye.  Uh…what? I’m not qualified.  I held him and then as any parent would do, I replayed all the sudden movements he’d had since seeing the hole.  I then had a silent conversation with my crazy self that I of course didn’t try to rupture his eye and that I didn’t know there shouldn’t be sudden movements and then I continued along the silent conversation route saying there was no way to not jar him a little when putting him in his car seat since his body is not flimsy, it’s more like a cinderblock.  And then I had an out loud conversation with Jake about how I needed him to hold his eye together.  Crazy person, room three. The doctor came back and said he’d consulted with two ophthalmologists and both agreed that Jake should be admitted, sedated and have emergency surgery the next day. I sorta knew this was coming since they day the ulcer formed.  My dogs like to push the limits on how far they can take each health conundrum.

Sidenote: You all know the extent of vet visits I have had with both boys.  There are very few things we have not faced and very few tests we have not had.  We have been to the ER so many times, I lost count.  There have been surgeries, MRIs, Spinal taps and issues that vets had never seen before.  Melvin almost had to have a lung lobe removed for cripes sake!  But never, ever, never (and I don’t know how this is possible) but never have I had to leave a dog overnight.  So I started sobbing.  SOBBING.  Which turned into an ugly cry and mumbling about things that didn’t even make sense to me. (For example, we were currently in the room that I was with my friend Virginia in when we thought we’d have to put her beagle MollieAnne down and I had gone out to get her (the dog) fast food and the only fast food close by was Roy Rogers and the cheeseburger and fries I brought her that night brought her back to life.  And in my crying fit during the present time visit part of my mumbling was that being in the Roy Rogers room would certainly have to work in our favor too and Melvin would be with Jake in his condo and maybe I could bring them both Roy Rogers).  The doctor just looked at me and nodded, even when I said ‘ROY ROGERS ROOM’. And the thing is, I have complete faith in this hospital.  The Life Center is one of the premiere vet speciality hospitals on the east coast.  But mama was overwhelmed and the thought of abandoning leaving Jake seemed impossible.  They told me my reaction was normal (sometimes it’s kind to lie) and they let me come back to the ICU with Jake while they got him settled in.  He pee’d on the way into his new condo and that made me laugh.  So I sat with him for a while and then when they were ready to sedate him, I left.  It sucked. I called every 15 minutes regularly to check on him but since he had to remain calm, me visiting him was not a good option.

Tomorrow, I’ll finish the hospital and surgery story. And we have a Melvin’s Project Joy giveaway for August coming too!

Until then, here is a little check-list for sanity.  It’s some preparedness tips for ‘a just in case’ ER visit with your pet:

  • Write out all your pet’s meds and take a picture of that list.  When in the ER with your pet, you will not be able to recall the name of the meds they take nor will mg/dosage be within your brain’s reach.  Even if the pill your dog takes is called ‘pill’, that word will escape you.
  • If you think for one minute that the emergency will require your pet to stay, bring their critical meds with you.  I had to go back and get Jake’s meds and True blood eye drops and bring them back over.
  • Have an emergency plan for the car (a blanket in the garage you can throw down, easy access towels, a plan to secure your pet (this is just a good idea in general for regular travel). I learned this one the hard way when Melvin had is first (of several) bout(s) of bloody poop. I know, I know, the glamour.
  • Keep a leash in your car.  You will forget it and unless you can carry your pet, you’ll need the leash.
  • When your pet has blood work done, have your vet send it to you via email or print it out for you.  Bring that most recent blood work report with you.  They almost always want to do blood work.  In Jake’s case, he had just had a full panel done a few days prior and having that saved us a lot.
  • Ask the ER vet about payment plans.  Regular vet care is expensive.  ER vet care is crazy expensive (albeit worth it).

 

Eye am worried.

Jake went to the vet on Tuesday.  He goes monthly (sometimes more).  He got a bath, a legs check, a look at a rash (staph (diaper issue), got antibiotics), blood work and a look over.  Eyes, ears, heart, etc.

Wednesday I noticed his eyes were bloodshot.  This is not a new thing except his eyes are usually only bloodshot when he is stressed, which he was not.  Luckily, we had his therapist (laser therapy and B12 acupuncture) coming at noon.  I asked her to look at his eyes.

She looked and said, he needs to go to the vet right away.  He has an ulcer and it’s big.  It’s an emergency. Yep, sounds about right.

When you love your vet, you are willing to drive 45 min one way.  When you love your dog, you will do this day after day if need be.

His eyes were fine on Tuesday, I spoke to the vet that saw him (not our normal vet) and on Wednesday he had an ulcer in each eye, and one was very deep.  He also had edema and  vascularization.  How does this happen overnight? We have eye drops and a cone. He goes back on Saturday.  If the ulcers change at all or grow or start oozing liquid, we are to go to the ER vet immediately for emergency surgery.  He could lose an eye over this.

When I was told Melvin would lose his tail, I was heartbroken.  His wildly wagging tail was the barometer of his unending joy.  That tail defined his purpose. It had become a visual I counted on. (Not to mention I was convinced he would not be able to communicate in the dog world or that by not having it, he’d miss out somehow).  But then I realized, his nubbin wagged and that even if it didn’t, his joy was palpable. Tails are sometimes overrated.

Eyes are not overrated. I do not want Jake to lose more than he has already loss.  Partly because his googly eyes are something I stare into daily and they connect us in a way that I can’t explain.  But mostly because he has enough challenges, and I am still pretty sure he can see Melvin with his magical eyes. But if he does lose it, if this does not go in our favor, we will figure it out.  It is what we do.

Poor thing is in pain.  He can barely walk on his own let alone with a cone weighing him down.  He’s the most ‘special’ dog I have ever seen.

He fell asleep sitting up.  Rough day. IMG_5186

Is anyone shocked that I have a cone collection for ‘just in case’?

IMG_5194 IMG_5195 IMG_5201

He got to sleep with mom last night.  I put down 45,000 blankets to catch pee and meatballs. He flopped down like that pretty dramatically after his eye drops.  Giving Jake eye drops is like wrestling an alligator with  your hands and legs tied behind you. I also had to put a diaper on him just to do eye drops because he tried to pee on me. True love. IMG_5205

Today is not much happier. IMG_5209