I started Alec on Rimadyl and Ciproflaxin today. The Ciproflaxin is an antibiotic for a urinary tract infection – which I knew dogs in his condition were prone to but I was kind of bummed he contracted one so soon – and the Rimadyl is an anti-inflammatory to help with his front legs, which are becoming swollen and painful from his putting so much weight on them. He is already showing signs of arthritis. I can’t wait for his cart to arrive since that should help balance out his weight more evenly. The good news is that Dr. Leavey (my amazing local vet from Animal Hospital of Cotati) just had a bunch of Rimadyl donated and she said we could have it for free! I had just ordered another brand of anti-inflammatory from PetMeds.com that was going to cost $100 for just a few weeks supply (why are all the medications he needs so expensive??), but luckily I was able to cancel the order after talking to Dr Leavey, who was has truly been our angel throughout this ordeal. She has been making house calls to check on Alec ever since his surgery and has not charged me once (in the beginning she was coming almost everyday). I am so grateful for her compassion! I really don’t know how we could have managed this far without her, especially during those first difficult weeks after surgery when I was struggling so much with expressing his bladder and had no idea if I was doing it right.
The photo: Juli the rehab therapist brought by a p-nut ball (aka physio-roll) to try to help with Ali’s standing exercises. Someone (in this case, Maggie, my friend, co-worker, and future roommate) holds a peanut butter kong while I (try to!) hold his back legs in position and gently rock him back and forth to try to stimulate his nerves to “remember” walking. It’s harder than it looks.
Since I have to leave my house (and fabulous housemates Courtney, Nicte, and Javier [and Courtney’s dog Usha, who was Alec’s best friend]) in San Francisco, I have been looking for a new place with my friend and co-worker, Maggie, who also found herself needing to move recently. We had not had much luck until we found a really gorgeous place in Petaluma, the bottom floor of an old Victorian house just about 15 minutes from work and in a nice neighborhood with two parks close by (also right across the street from a really good Thai restaurant, where we will never be able to afford to eat!). We had looked at some less expensive, but sketchier, neighborhoods in Santa Rosa and while I would not have minded these types of transitional neighborhoods “before,” when Alec was mobile, I would just not feel comfortable walking around a bad neighborhood with a disabled dog in a cart. Ali has been more protective of me than ever since his injury – I’m sure it’s because he cannot get up and check things out so he is trying to preemptively deter everyone through rather indiscriminate barking. Well, it seems indiscriminate to me, but in his mind I’m sure it serves a purpose! So, the anxiety it would cost me to live in the more gang-friendly neighborhoods is not worth the few dollars of rent it would save. Plus, I really did not want to move further north if I could help it. Petaluma is to the south of the ALDF office and closer to San Francisco, so this makes me happy as I am planning to go back and visit my old roommates a lot once Ali is good to go with his new wheels.
It all sounds good, right? Yes, but the place, although it is on the first floor, has 6 steps leading up to the porch. I didn’t think it would work because of this fact, but my good friend Steve said he could and would be willing to build a ramp if the landlord would be okay with that. I then checked with his rehab specialist and she said a ramp would be fine once he gets his cart. So, we went ahead and signed the lease tonight because everything else about the place seemed really great (well, obviously except for the fact that it’s not in San Francisco, but there is nothing I can do about that right now so am trying not to dwell!) – but now I am really worried. What if the ramp situation doesn’t work out? Did I just make a huge mistake?? I have had to make so many big decisions lately about me and Ali and our future and his well-being; it can be overwhelming at times. Hard to think we were cruising along enjoying a relatively uncomplicated life just 6 weeks earlier…
I stopped the Phenoxybenzamine completely today. I have been expressing him less but he has been going to the bathroom a lot on his own, so things seems to be going well in that area – for now.
A couple days ago it suddenly became really difficult to express Alec’s bladder, even though I had been doing fine the last few days. I know it’s not my technique because I can feel the “balloon” now under my hands and everything was going pretty well…then suddenly nothing! After my local vet, Dr. Leavey, checked and also found him hard to express, the doctors at Animal Care Center prescribed Phenoxybenzamine, which is a drug that relaxes the urethral sphincter. This drug cost $144 for a one week supply!!!!! Unbelievable… just my luck that he was prescribed the most expensive drug ever. I asked one of the neurologists if he would have to be on it for the rest of his life and she said quite possibly, but the other neurologist said no, it’s very rare that a dog would have to be on it for a long duration and that the plan should be to wean him off it, if and when expressing starts to be easier again. Luckily I accidentally gave him only half the prescribed dose the first night and I found he was already easier to express the next day. I am keeping it at this dose and within a few days will scale back if he improves. I called Costco pharmacy, which is supposed to be the cheapest option, and they will only order this drug in bottles of 100 pills, which costs over $600 per bottle!! I really hope he does not have to be on this for the rest of his life. 😦
On a happier note, I walked in the room yesterday and Alec looked at me and wagged his tail! I got really excited. I don’t know if it means anything, but I will investigate. Either way, it sure was nice to see it wag again!! He does this thing where if I walk in the room he will just wag the tip of his tail. It’s really cute – I call it his “rattlesnake tail.” Well, that’s what he did. It was pretty cool.