Saturday, 20 September 2014

Wheels! 20 weeks post op

It has been a few weeks since my last blog, mainly because I was feeling so low, and then not much really to report.  I knew the wheelchair was going to arrive and so I just held off.

A few items to report before I get to the wheelchair.  There has been no real change in Penny in the last 4 weeks.... she is still incontinent, as much as we wish she wasn't, she still is.  It "looks" sometimes like she is trying  to squat, but only a few drops come out, and the poop of course just falls out wherever she is.  We have a pretty good sense though of when it is due, and take her outside if we are lucky, and if not, if we pick it up quickly, the smell doesn't linger..... once again I am grateful we have a dachshund, not a doberman.  The washing!  The mopping! 

We have been a bit slack in the last 3 weeks with her daily physio- what with the weekly trips to acupuncture (found out Dr. Neil has a facebook page)....

and swimming- the other days it is just too hard.  Kane and I were looking at Pennys condition yesterday, and we can see a difference in her muscles, so we are going to be more diligent about doing them daily again.  She really does need it- her ever so slight deterioration proves it.  Just little things like her spine is a little more prominent and her cute little bum is wasting away.  

Someone on the IVDD support fb posted a link to

these are very interesting toe grips that go over a dogs nail and provide traction.  I have been in email communication with Dr. Julie Buzby who is very interested in whether or not these will help Penny at all.  As Penny has a wobbly spinal walk, her back legs slip out from under her on our very slippery laminate floors.  I sent a video to Dr. J of Penny walking (and I learned how to upload videos to youtube.....

Here she is at 18wks post op

the upshot is, she is sending us a free trial pack with the understanding I will report on Pennys progress over the next 6 weeks! ..... I am very interested to see how they work, and excited to be part of a trial that may help others.  

Emotionally I am feeling a bit better, but no joke, it is still really a struggle.  I love/hate the IVDD fb page!  I love it, 'cause everyone is so supportive and has so much knowledge to share- it is a great place to ask stupid questions of people who have actually been through it, some many times with multiple dogs. The answers are always kind, thoughtful, supportive, informative and helpful.  I hate it 'cause you hear everyday about another dog going down with IVDD and it brings it all back to you.  It is really hard to hear of others going through what we are going through, and yet it does bring some comfort to know we are not alone.  On the other hand, some dogs recover so quickly and well, and I wish Penny was one them.  Happy/Sad.

One of the stupid questions I asked of the group was whether or not the consensus was if we could let Penny and Gidget sleep together again yet.  Toileting issue aside, would there be any harm to it?  We had been keeping them separate at night since Pennys operation, at 1st because she needed to be kept quiet for 12 weeks, then, mainly because of the incontinence, but also for fear of them hurting each other.  But no one felt it would do any harm, and so we tried it.  Happy happy dogs and humans!  
Gidget GoLightly and Lady Penelope happy dogs! 

Ok, so the wheels!
As I mentioned before, we had to fundraise for them, and raised $415- pretty much exactly what we needed in the end! I got them direct from Walkin' Wheels in the US, and paid AU$366 for the Wheels, including shipping.  Because I still had a little left, I splurged and got Penny the special dachshund vest for the harness and 2 booties to protect her back legs  so the total bill was AU $420.  Compared to the quote I got from an Australian distributor of $550 for wheels only I feel we did pretty well!  They arrived 12 days after they were shipped as I did not pay for express post- but 12 days is pretty good for a largeish parcel.  

There is a fairly good set-up video and instruction book, with very clear diagrams of right ways and wrong ways to adjust it, so the initial out of the box set up was easy.  It did take some time to then adjust to Pennys height and length, but with trial and error I think we did ok.  Sharon at the K9 hydrotherapy centre and a qualified animal physiotherapist had a look and suggested some minor alterations as did a couple of people after seeing her picture. 

Pennys wheels out of the box-initial set up
We still need to road-test them, as we have just been putting her in them for a few minutes a day to get used to them.  She goes well I'm not sure she really *gets* it yet, but will happily chase treats up and down the hallway.  Sometimes she will just stop and look confused, but will go again when you bribe her with food..... LOL  typical dachshund! 

Friday, 29 August 2014

Feeling Blue wk 15

You would think that after 3 months of our new normal I would be settling into a better emotional state as well, but no, I'm not.

So many ups and downs.

Up:  my BFF bought Penny a Lil Back Bracer from the US, and organised some of our other friends to pick it up and carry it home in their luggage, saving postage.  It fits her perfect!  This was something I had looked at and researched for Penny, but just could not afford. So grateful for such a thoughtful BFF! 

Dodgerslist has a long review of back braces in general and do not endorse their use unless prescribed and fitted by a specialist. I think their concern is that people will use them incorrectly, and expect them to prevent injury, which they wont. They can only provide support.  That being said, a lot of experienced IVDD dog owners are using back braces on their dogs and do recommend them.  I took it to Dr. Neil, he had never seen one.  He is going to do some research to see if he can find some medical reviews on it.  He did say it looked like it would give her side to side support but not up/down support and to not leave it on her 24/7 or un supervised.  Sharon from K9 therapy loved it, and though it was brilliant and would keep Pennys spine straight. So I guess, like everything, you have to weigh up the pros and cons and do the right thing for you and your dog with the information you have.  Penny  doesn't like it much, but I am going to use it on her give her back some support.

Up:  I posted a profile of Lady Penelope on the Village Vets Australia page, in the hope to raise IVDD awareness.  We can't win the $5000 because we are not Foxtel subscribers, but I linked in the fb support page and dodgerslist and this blog and set up a go-fund me to raise money for Pennys wheelchair.  

Down: Finances are so tight we can't remember the last time we were this broke.  With Pennys on-going treatments adding up to a weekly $110 it leaves our household budget short for other things like Kanes car rego and business insurance and fun.  I hated putting up the fundraiser for her wheelchair! I can't tell you how many of our friends, neighbours and strangers gave to us in the beginning.  It seems so wrong to ask for more... but I can't see anyway of getting her wheels with out some assistance- we could do it, but it would take about 2 months and she needs wheels now.  In the middle of winter now and Kanes work is not as consistent as it has been- I know this situation is temporary but it sure does add a lot of stress to an already intense situation.  Our kitty had a urinary tract infection and had to go to the vet, and we couldn't even pay the bill.  

Down:  Penny had a pretty bad week.  She was quiet and often made no attempt to get up and walk, I had never seen her this despondent.  She would just wait for you to pick her up with those big brown eyes.  She wouldn't even come for dinner.... I don't know if her back was sore, or what.  Seeing her like that really took the wind out of my sails too.... all those same questions about have we done the right thing keep coming up.  Kane was saying he didn't think he could live with a special needs dog- nearly broke my heart.  Although he did go onto say how he was not giving up yet.  But even the thought was a blow.  Saying things like "shes going backwards" just flattens me- I don't believe she is going backwards, recovery is not a steady upwards curve, but a series of small gains and losses gradually increasing.... I keep wondering if the wheel chair will help.  It's the loss of what *used to be* and adapting to the now.  

Enough self pity!!! Onwards! 

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Weeks 12-15 Soldering along

Not much really changes very quickly now.... we continue to see hope of improvement in the tiniest signs- but it is only in watching videos we have made that we can see the differences. This is a link to her Hansel and Gretel stick exercise at week 13.  (apologies, I can not seem to imbed the video)

I was really excited at week 12, when it looked like Penny used the pee pad in her penthouse for the 1st time.. I was so proud of my little fur ball, I wanted to frame it! I completely refuse to think it was accidental, but after another 3 weeks, the incident has not been repeated.... still, it gave us hope for a few days. 

After discussing the wheelchair issue with Dr.Neil Barnsley, (Pennys acupuncturist/Holistic health vet) at first he was like, well, it's a bit early to say she is not going to improve any more at this point, and putting her in a wheelchair could maybe be a bit premature... then the next week he was all well, I've been thinking about it, and it may be a good idea.

To wheelchair or not to wheelchair, this is the question.
There seems to be 2 schools of thought on this... 

One side thinks that once you put a dog into a wheelchair/trolley that the back legs then become lazy and loose muscle tone and there is little chance then of getting them out of it. 
The other side thinks that using wheels encourages leg use and can support the spine during the recovery period. 

In any case they need to be properly fitted and adjustable in height so you can lower the wheels as the legs get more strength, and of course the dog can not be in them unsupervised, or 24/7.  

The wheelchair my physio recommended is called "Walkin Wheels" they are fully adjustable, and through her they cost $550 plus a full consult fee $120 to fit them.  If you buy the same wheels direct from the USA from Handicapped Pets they are US$249+ US$95.30 shipping.  It comes with a how to dvd.  

There are many other wheel chairs  available, including some really nice custom built ones here in Australia.  The best ones I've seen so far are from "Wheels and Paws" AU $350 + shipping. 

Kane thinks he may be able to make a set, and has started to build some, so hopefully he will be successful, and we can trial them on her to see if they help and if she likes them.  If they work, that would be great and save us heaps, if not, at least we maybe able to see how she goes and if we should spend the money on a custom set.  

Her poor little paws are rubbed raw from dragging on the floor and concrete pavers outside, and I can not seem to keep any-type of sock/bootie on her feet.  I've tried dog socks, dog booties, dog booties that look like balloons, medical tape, elastic bandage that I got from the vet, bandaids, gaff (with cotton pads on 1st).  She either can not walk in them at all, or they just slip off... frustrating. 

As were were sort of discouraged by our physio, Dr.Neil suggested we may spend our money instead on hydrotherapy, and to keep doing her PT exercises daily at home .  I turned to the resources page on the Dachshund IVDD support fb site,and found a hydrotherapist nearish to us (about 1:20 mins away) in Londonderry.  She had her 1st swim at 13 weeks.  It was really great.

So K9 Swim is an old greyhound exercise pool, with heated water and everything.  Sharon and her team are really nice, and very experienced.  Sharon said they do see a lot of dachys there, some even worse than Penny and she has had good results.  They fitted Penny with a little life jacket and got into the pool with her.  On one long side of the pool is a ramp which start shallow and goes deeper.  Penny loves to swim, so her little front legs immediately started dog paddling about 1000 miles per hour.  She was only a little concerned at 1st, and was a bit frantic, but settled into a nice steady pace... One lady held Pennys front lifejacket and steered her, while Sharon worked the back legs and did various water exercises with her.  It was great to see Penny moving and getting some exercise after being limited for so long, and doing something she loves!  I cried of course.  Afterwards, a nice warm rinse off and lovely conditioner. 

Emotionally its still tough going.... I still find myself crying for "no reason" and very sensitive on so many levels.  I am finding it really hard to enjoy life and to relax.  I suppose this will pass, and we have to just keep soldering on.  

Friday, 11 July 2014

Weeks 10 & 11 Spinal Walking

The last two weeks have not been very remarkable in any way.... just plodding on with our routines... 

We continue to have weekly acupuncture sessions, Dr. Neil Barnsley at the Animal Holistic Therapies was really pleased with Pennys progress last week.... I did not put her in the pram, but let her walk (stagger) in on her own two legs....  he even took a video of her walking.  He said when her legs get a bit stronger, he can start doing some treatments to help her bladder, which would be awesome.

I keep thinking her incontinence is coming to an end, because she is still trying to squat and sometimes a few drops come out, but I think it's just when her bladder is really full, she can not initiate a full stream on her own.  Expressing her bladder is easy, and if we do it 4 times a day, her bedding stays dry... otherwise when her bladder gets full it does leak out a little.... 

Poop, though is a different story... poop poop everywhere like a little trail of breadcumbs.... so now that she has a little more mobility, I have been letting her spend more time outside after expressing her, in hopes that she will poop outside, but it hardly ever seems to work... she always just goes on the floor when she comes in.  She also consistently poops when she barks.  So I thought, ok, maybe it's because I pick her up, and that makes her go.... so I started picking her up outside and walking her around, then put her back down on the grass..... nope, nothing.  As soon as I bring her in, yep, poop on the floor.  Thank goodness we have wood laminate floors  and her stools are firm.  (the downside is that the floors are slippery and she slides around on it.... still waiting for the booties I ordered to come in)  Anyway, there just not seem to be a way to predict when, or to help her to actually "go" outside..... One night, she did her usual, and I picked it up and cleaned the floor, but I still smelled dog poop... check our shoes, double check her bedding, check her feet and her bum... no  poop.... wheres the poop?  Put my hand in my hoodie pocket...yep... poop surprise!  Lovely.  

In week 11 we expanded her pen to a penthouse... 
Lady Penelopes new penthouse
We are hoping that the addition of the pee pad will encourage her to use it, should she feel the need.  

We were so encouraged Kane built ramps in and out of our doggy door, and out the back sliding door for Penny... she manages them in a noodly wobbly drunken stagger sort of way, and I don't feel confident leaving her unsupervised at the moment, but it is nice to see her able to make her own way when she wants.  

The hard news this week was from our physio... Pennys physio  said she was "spinal walking" (aka Spinal Locomotion) which I have learned means her back legs are automatically following her front legs in a sort of body memory way.... she still does not know where her feet are, and has adapted. Our physio thinks this *could* be the best Penny gets, as nearly 12 wks post op, most improvement is seen in the 1st 6-12 wks. Of course she did go onto say, she didn't want to be discouraging, but for us to be aware of the reality, and that Penny *may* get some more improvement over time, and no idea if her bladder/bowel control will come back at all....

We always knew Penny only had 50/50 chance of walking again, so we are not devastated or anything, just trying to get our heads around having a "special needs" pup... and worried about what the best next steps for us would be... there is some discussion here and on the IVDD support fb site as to whether or not we should get her wheels... I don't know if this will help or hinder her recovery... I have posted the question to the Dogerslist forum. 

.... We will continue with all the treatments- acupuncture, physio etc till we have exhausted all chance of further improvement of course... (even though it's costing us a bomb! LOL) 

Lifted from The Dodgerlist website:

"Animals have locomotor automatism, meaning that the basics of walking are hardwired into the spinal cord of domestic species. 
The brainstem adds the remaining ingredients for rudimentary, voluntary locomotor activity. The cerebellum adds smoothness while the cerebral cortex provides behavioral direction." The Neurologic Examination. R.M. Clemmons, DVM, PhDWhile a dog with severe spinal cord injury does not have deep pain sensation meaning their legs can no longer communicate with the brain, some figure out how to "walk" by using their rear limb reflexes. They learn to swing their legs into position underneath the body. The leg movements look jerky or motorized. The "walk" is in a straight line, as the brain is not involved to tell the legs to change direction to avoid falling."

Lifted from Handicapped blog:
"It is a spastic, motorized-looking movement of the back limbs of neurologically impaired dogs (and other animals) that propels them forward with an odd but effective gait. In crude layman's terms, the neurological signal bypasses the brain and it is a reflexive motion not dependent on the (damaged) neurological pathways to complete the process. From what I understand, this is an oversimplified explanation, but it conveys a rough idea of what occurs. ....(sic)  "

Also from The Dodgerlist website in the 'Ask section' Dr. Jared Galle, DVM Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology),:
"In my experience, dogs that do not regain deep pain perception (sensation) after 6 weeks rarely regain it.  Notice, I didn't say never!  These dogs often times will regain motor function and appear to "walk" once they get their legs under them.  When this occurs we call it SPINAL WALKING.  The "walking" is actually reflexes in the rear limbs being stimulated, which gives the appearance that the dog is walking.  These are involuntary movements and do not require the input from the brain to occur.  If you watch carefully, the front legs and back legs are not in sync with each other.  We do see paralyzed dachshunds that never regain deep pain perception but spinal walk several weeks or months after surgery.  These dogs live a great life!"
I was thinking that because I could see her actually "lifting" her back legs and stepping forward with them that she was recovering and that her nerves were "getting there"  Apparently I was wrong.  It does not mean that at all... 

She has adapted to her new normal...I think I may have had one day where I didn't actually cry.... I guess I'm adapting as well. 

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Week 8 & 9

Finding the "New Normal"

The daily routine is really grinding us down, it is so much work, but it is obviously paying off!  Penny can now waddle along on noodly legs, and hold her weight pretty well, one side is stronger than the other, so she often lists to one side.  She will drag her legs behind her, then sort of lever up onto them, take a few steps.... actually lifting her feet and moving her leg forward from the hip for 2 or 3 steps, fall over and do it again... 

So the last two weeks have brought only minor changes, but they do add up! It's the little things, like she is licking her bum... ok, gross, but you know, a good sign that some feeling is coming back....Unfortunately, she is still incontinent.  I was hoping it would be starting to come under her control by now.....but it obviously is just going to take longer.  

We have had another 2 acupuncture sessions, and Dr. Neil says Penny is improving, and getting stronger every week.  Her treatments now include the needles being hooked up to an electrical device that sends electric pulses down the needles and across the spine.... she really does look like Frankensteins dog when she is all hooked up.  In the last treatment, for the 1st time, she didn't really like it, she kept turning around and trying to get them off, and shaking, trying to remove them.... usually she is kinda in a trance.  Dr.Neil says its a good sign....

We have had another physio session with Dr. Naomi, and some of Pennys exercises have changed, increasing in difficulty.  As Penny is now doing a lot of "hand-standing" the focus is on trying to engage the rear legs to bear more weight, so we have to put her front legs on a book and lift one front leg at a time so her weight moves into her rear legs and transfers from side to side.  Not as easy to do as you would think!  She still trys to hold all her weight up front, and then because one side is stronger than the other, on the weak side she ends up balancing on 2 legs.... so challenging to make her use both rear legs, its a fine balancing act of treat-coercion, co-ordination, firm handling and patience.  If we get it once or twice for 3 seconds we feel we have achievement!

Winter Magic came and went.... Lady Penelopes 1st Winter Magic absence ever.  We had to leave her at home but took little Gidget.... who took 2nd place in the Pet Parade!  Thanks to Leura Doggie Store and Katoomba Vet Clinic for hosting!  It was really fun.  Truffle the Magic Dragon came 1st, so we felt it was all in the family....

Then we had our final follow up appointment with the surgeon Dr. David Lidbetter.  
He examined her, and tested her strength and asked us a lot of question on what we had been doing, so we told him, physio 2 x a day, with weekly sessions with Dr. Naomi Boyd, , weekly acupuncture with Dr. Neil Barnsley, ester c, rose hip vital canine, walking in the bath 2 x a week.  Kane showed him a video of Penny walking.

He said she was doing much better than he expected.   *yeah* !

We talked then about the on-going expectations.  She still needs to be in her pen mainly 24/7, for another 4 weeks which makes it 13 weeks post op.  But that for her own safety, he would keep her in there while we are out, and at night, pretty much till she is fully ambulatory (so the flip side would be, if she is not fully walking she has to stay in her pen during un-supervised times) .  So she can be allowed out of the pen, with supervision, to scootch around, on grass or carpet as long as she does not hurt herself (stairs, falling off furniture  etc) or get raw spots on her skin.   I wanted clarity on this, because some comments on the IVDD fb site had led me to believe that scootching was bad, and that she could harm herself, ... but no, at this point post-op (9 weeks) , there was no harm in her scootching on flat ground, as long as she is motivated to *try* to get up, and in actual fact it was good to let her move around, to build up her strength.  

He said to keep up the physio, the more energy we put in, the more we will get out.... so thats good news that our efforts are actually effective!  He also said that the more she tries to walk, she is getting her own physio, so we will need to do less of the stand/sit type exercises.  

There was a long discussion about her bladder function- he wanted to know if urine just dribbled out all the time, or only at excitable moments, does she ever initiate or had a full stream on her own?  So I explained that we were expressing her bladder about 4-5 times a day, but when we came home, someones knocks on the door, or when you pick her up in the morning it would dribble out.....   He seemed to think this was good, and so he did not prescribe any medication for her.  He said it would be pretty unusual if as she gets more control of her legs if her bladder function did not come back, so just be patient.  I told him it wasn't the pee so much as the poop, and told him of her trying to squat, but still having *no clue* that she was going..... again, just be patient and be glad shes not a ridgeback...LOL. 

We also talked about the long-term do's and don'ts.... the list is unfortunately growing.... I wish we had known all this from the beginning... maybe I just didn't ask the right questions.  Anyway, heres the list:

  • no jumping, 
  • no stairs, 
  • no playing ball, 
  • no slippery surfaces, 
  • no running at the beach on soft sand, 
  • no playing with dogs larger that she is, 
  • no wrestling, 
  • no tug of war, 
  • or running at high speeds 

Basically, any activity that causes jarring impact, or overt bending of her spine is off the table. For the rest of her life, we’ll need to try to keep her spine as ‘straight’ as possible, as often as possible.  

$65 for that follow up, and no need to see him again, unless her situation changes, and he wants us to email him an update in 6 weeks. Once again I was struck with how nice he is, and how patient he is with all our idiotic questions!  

In week 8 I had a lovely conversation with Chrissy from the Dachshund IVDD Australia support group, she is a really encouraging, supportive lady!  So much experience and so much love for our little 4 legged friends.  She offered Penny to be one of the Rose-Hip Vital canine recipients in a 6 month free sponsorship, but as we had already purchased some we declined, so someone else can take advantage of it who may need the financial support more than us ATM... she also suggested little non-slip booties for the house, and a back brace for Penny.  Both which I am looking into.  

I also read a fascinating blog written by a Canadian lady about her 2 french bulldogs and her experience with IVDD... her story is very similar to ours, except of course we have dachshunds.... (way more cute in my eyes.... ) it was nice to read a blog and hear her personal experiences with the highs/lows fully documented, and to see how she is faring 2 years on....

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Week 7 Post op

I have now caught up the blog to real time, and I will continue to update Pennys progress weekly.  

For the 1st time in 7 weeks my heart is not so heavy, but I have to admit to still being quite depressed by all this.  I feel a variety of mixed emotions- 

Hope:  Penny will get better, and be able to walk and will be continent again... but I am filled with doubts,  and know she will never be the same again. 

Fear:  This could easily happen again, or it could happen to Gidget... how are we going to manage THAT, fark!

Guilt: 1st, The money, of course. So many other uses.  So many need it more than my dog.  All those poor stray dogs in India, children needing medical attention, etc, it seems selfish to me to have spent it on Penny when so many others could have benefited from it. The words of my family haunt me... would it have been better to put her down? 
2nd: If I looked after her better- not allowing her to jump, play with big dogs, chase her ball etc maybe this would not have happened.... it's my fault somehow....

Doubt: Have we done the right thing "by Penny"  were we being self-serving because we could not bear to live with out her?    Is she happy?  Are we doing everything we can to help her heal and get better?

Anger:  Why did this have to happen to us?  Why can't things just go back the way they were "before"

Resentment:  OMG all this time spent on Penny.... Penny this and Penny that.... wheres my time?  I feel guilty going out, or even having a shower.... I should be doing things for Penny.  

Pathetic:  Is pathetic an emotion?  Any way I feel pretty pathetic crying all the time and not just "getting on with it"  I mean compared to others our situation is just one tiny dog who can't walk.  Get over it.  

I'm sure all these feelings are quite normal, but geez it's a lot to bear, and not sure if I'm strong enough......

This week continues to see small improvements... Penny continues to try to walk, and is getting better every day.  We have had another acupuncture and another physiotherapy session.  She is still in her pen 23/7, as she is still incontinent and we have not had clearance to let her out from the surgeon yet.  That appointment is still 2 weeks off.  

We filled the bath tub and marched her up and down, Kane had to put non-slip adhesive down for her, as it was way to slippery the 1st time.  I'm not sure how effective it is, but we are trying to  following the instructions on:

And we have been pretty religious in doing her physio exercises 2ce a day.  Some of the exercises are harder than others, and she is learning how to cheat by "hand-standing" so I will ask at our next appointment how to encourage more weight onto the back legs.  Here is a list of exercises we are doing: 
  • An electric toothbrush to each toe pad 5 x.  
  • Then toothbrush from toe to outside ankle to knee 5x . 
  • Then toothbrush for 2 mins around the vulva, and the sides of the tail... (this always makes her pee, so we do it outside)  
  • Then from sit to stand 5 x , and she has to sit correctly with her legs under her, not out in front like a kangaroo. (we usually do more than 5 x) If she does not sit correctly, we just have to try again, often her back legs "lock up".
  • Then puppy pilates- front legs on a 1/2 filled hot water bottle, back legs on the table and shift weight from side to side 5x
  • Then marching in place- pinch her toe till she lifts her foot- direct her foot back down, and do the other leg. She is still having a lot of trouble placing her foot back down and shifting her weight to the other side, but the fact that she can now stand the whole time we are doing this is a great improvement. 
Following some advise from the Dachshund IVDD support group, we now put little Gidget up on the table so she can see what we are doing and join in.  When Gidget sits, she gets a treat too.... this has helped with the frustration aspect of having Gidget whining and jumping up to see what we are doing with Penny.   It's still challenging to wrangle two dogs on the table, but it's easier than dealing with an unhappy jealous Gidget LOL. 

Little things are starting to happen... She is trying to squat when I express her bladder and I can see her trying to squat at other times and if I notice I take her out.... poop!  So I do think in the next couple of weeks she will get control of her bowels- it's looking very promising!  She is doing more "doggie" things, like she now rolls over so you can pet her belly (completely voluntarily), she's sleeping curled up, she's licking me- and everything really.  She tries to stand when eating, she lists to one side and then eventually falls over, but she's trying to stand, and the length she can support her self is getting longer, of course she is using a lot of front-end strength "hand-standing" but still, she is getting herself up onto her back legs more....

Next week: Finding the "new normal".....

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Week 6- Acupuncture & some Action!

Let me tell you about our Holistic Vet experience.  

The practice is in Greendale, a part of Western Sydney I had never heard of till now... it's near Wallacia.  It took us 1hour and 15 mins to get there, so a bit closer to us than the physio in Homebush.  

It's in a low key house, with a concrete parking area.  As you get out of the car, you are in a completely rural setting.  Cows in the paddock across the road.  You can tell it is an unusual place because of the horse hitches off to one side. 

We wait a bit while Dr. Neil finishes treatment on a greyhound and we go in with Penny.  Dr. Neil is a young, tall dark haired gentleman with a soft spoken manner.  He gives Penny a once over, feeling her spine, neck and legs, and testing her for a Deep Pain Response with a tiny needle between her toe pads (we were gratified to see a jerk! )  and asks us lots of questions about the surgery, and says he will give Dr. David Lidbetter a call (turns out, they know each other).  

We have a chat about the injury, how it happened, when we noticed her going down, the timeline etc.  Dr. Neil said that he prefers to have paralysed dogs who have NOT had surgery, he said he feels he can get them back on their feet quicker and better than ones who have had surgery.  Not 100% sure why, but I think it has something to do with scar tissue and keeping the discs intact.  He goes onto say that Pennys results will be individual, there is no predicting an out come as to whether or not she will walk again or regain continence.  The good thing is that she is only just 6 weeks post op, that we did not wait to bring her in, we have started early.  

So we begin treatment.  He starts by giving her acupuncture- tiny needles on both sides of her spine from her hips up to her shoulders... maybe 8 in all... Penny was so calm and still.  After the needles were in, he used a directed infra red laser light gun to target the inflammation, and stimulate nerves around the scar tissue.  He goes slowly up and down the spine.  Penny is now nearly asleep, if she was a cat she would be purring.... so relaxed, her eyes closing over and her head leaning on my hand... it was weird!  Then he takes out the needles and uses a chiropractic activator down the bony protrusions of her spine- this to increase blood flow to the area (I think).   All done.  

I ask him about supplements, and tell him Penny is on 1000mg of Ester-C per day, and did he recommend anything else for her? He gave us a bottle of something called Hernidisc which is formulated for humans post ruptured disc surgery and he tells us to give Penny 1/2 a table per day with food, he said it has worked well in animals and to try it.

The cost for all this? $75, including the supplements!  So very affordable, we couldn't believe our luck!

We kept Penny calm that night and the next day just did her light physio exercises as usual, but the day after that, we saw some remarkable improvements in her.  She was able to stand on her back legs for longer, from about 10 seconds to nearly 30 seconds before she goes off balance, she pulls herself up onto her back legs and trys to WALK... we can see her hips actually making front/back motions, and although most of her weight is on her front paws (hand-standing) she is actually taking about 1 step in 3 or 4.  She drags her back legs, but she is up on her knees, then gets her legs under her, and takes a step or two, wobbles and falls over and tries again.  She is still knucking her toes under, but her toes will be the last things to come back.  

She has also started to squat when I am expressing her bladder now, which can only be a good sign!