Living in the Moment

If you are one of our “regular” readers, you know that my hubby is a dementia patient (in the early-middle stages). If not, you can read about it here, if you want to.

The past week (since a week-ago yesterday) has literally been hell on earth here at our house – and in the truck or car. For the last eight days, I’ve felt like I’m walking on egg shells. And the poor dogs have been stressed-out way more than I can deal with emotionally. Yesterday, I asked our vet – via text – if Xanax was safe enough for Shadow. That’s how bad it was on Friday night. He responded affirmatively and with the suggested dosage. Bless that man!!!

So far – since late yesterday afternoon – things have been fairly calm and peaceful. I’m praying they stay that way. And I’m trying hard to live in the moment. Last night – just before bedtime – I gave both girls a dose of the Xanax in case things went downhill again. They slept through the night. And, so did I once I turned the tv off.

Living with a dementia patient is NOT for wimps, I can tell you for sure! Especially if you also live with animals who are as sensitive and tuned into your own moods as mine are. And they react to it in different ways. (Shadow runs away to hide; Ducky barks almost incessantly.)

The dogs and I are in the back yard, getting away from the tv news and getting some fresh air. I’m praying that when we go back inside, peace and calm will still prevail. And I will try to keep living in the moment.

Have a great week! And please send us energy and light for a peaceful week; or say a prayer, light a candle, whatever. Thank you for being there for us as we travel this road. Peace and Love!! 💓

Friday’s Here

When I was still in the workforce, I could hardly wait for Fridays. Especially that magical five o’clock hour. Now I wonder where Monday went. 🤔

Ah, well, as long as I can enjoy my first cup of coffee sitting in the back yard – with my pups – enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, I’m happy.

It’s still too early for Shadow. She looks like she wants to go back to bed…

Ducky’s looking for squirrels. They haven’t been around much lately. I think she misses chasing the little buggers.

“Where are all the squirrels, Mom??” They’re wise to her. They hang around the bird feeder until they hear the back door open, and then they scurry up the tree. Those evil little critters are probably up there now, singing “Nah nah nah nah nah, you can’t catch us!” 🤣🐿 🤣

Happy Friday Everyone!!!

So Thankful

It’s hard to believe it’s been three months since Shadow’s stem cell infusion. How fitting that this “anniversary” falls on a Thankful Thursday!

Shadow has her “off” days. Like when she struggles a little to stand up on the kitchen floor. But most days she has no problem. And then there are the days when she triumphs over hurdles like sandbags.

I’m so thankful to our vets for making the stem cell therapy available to Shadow. I’m thankful we were able to give her this gift. And I’m thankful, too, for all the ways the therapy has given Shadow a new lease on life.

We are joining Brian’s Home Blog in the Thankful Thursday Blog Hop!

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Pleased With Herself”

Just before Hurricane Florence was due to sweep through Upstate South Carolina, hubby and I put three sandbags down across the outer screen doorway of the porch.

My only concern was getting Shadow into the back yard safely. She tends to be skittish about “obstacles” since her first CCL sprain a few years ago. So, hubby held the door open while I stood ready to help her over the hurdle.

“Please, Mom, I’d rather do it myself!” By Monday morning, she was a pro! I’m so proud of her!

Thank you to Comedy Plus for hosting the Wordless Wednesday blog hop. Please visit other blogs through the links below!

 

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You Are Not Alone

Today I’m sharing a very personal story. My hope is that in sharing this story I can let others who have similar stories know that they are not alone.

My husband has recently been diagnosed with “mixed dementia”, with vascular dementia being the most prevalent. Although he has exhibited the various symptoms to varying degrees over the last several years, I – and our former primary doctor – attributed those symptoms to various other health issues.

Some of the effects of hubby’s dementia are the inability to reason, to accept facts that he doesn’t agree with, and to exhibit inappropriate behaviors. It’s not constant, but at times it seems to manifest more frequently.

We also have two dogs with various gastrointestinal issues. They both have sensitive stomachs, they both have one degree or another of lactose intolerance, and they both react when their systems are overloaded with the wrong food and treats.

For the sake of my dogs’ health status, I have to be on guard constantly. It’s impossible to convince hubby that this human treat or that human food item isn’t good for the dogs.

(I used to attribute this trait to just being “a man thing” but now I’m not so sure.)

It’s like trying to reason with a toddler who wants to share his potato chips with the family dog. That toddler isn’t old enough to understand that the family dog’s system can’t handle the chips or other human treats. And hubby’s capacity to reason has been diminished to that same level. When my calm requests that he not share those human treats and food items are met with snarkiness, it tears me apart.

All is not negative, however. A Nurse Practitioner who works at our hospital system’s Center For Successful Aging prescribed Namenda to help slow the progression of some of hubby’s symptoms. While he only started this drug last week, his mood changes already seem to have leveled out somewhat.

Now I need to work on my own stress levels. (Better sleeping habits would be a good start.) I have been doing some research, as well as subscribing to a newsletter from the Alzheimer’s organization. Additionally, family members and friends have been super supportive all along, even before our first appointment at the aging center. There is also a local support program for caregivers – called REACH – and I will be meeting with one of their folks soon.

If you deal with a similar situation, please feel free to reach out to me in the comments. Maybe we can help each other.

Happy 6th Gotcha Day Ducky!!!

Oh, Ducky, you crazy little stinker! I can’t believe it’s been six years since the morning I saw you on GCAC’s urgent list and called “Daddy” at work. He said “go get her!” and our lives changed forever.

You were so cute! At a few days past seven months, you were still a puppy.

And you were a handful! All explosive energy. You drove Callie and Shadow crazy, even testing Callie’s seemingly unlimited patience at times. You wore me out with your antics. You’ve come a long way little girl!

When we said goodbye to Callie that morning, you kissed her head and jumped back up in Daddy’s lap. It was so cute. I almost wish I’d gotten a picture of it. And when we got home, you tried your best to cheer Daddy, Shadow and me up. And you were sweet to Shadow.

You’ve had your snarky moments when I’ve yelled at you for being ugly toward Shadow. And you’ve driven me to distraction with your incessant barking. BUT I wouldn’t give you up for the world. Neither would Daddy, or even Shadow.

Over the three years since Callie got her angel wings, you’ve grown into a sweet little “pup”. You finally seem to realize that Shadow IS your best doggie friend. And your older sister. You treat her now the way you treated Callie, with respect and even affection from time to time. And she even misses you on days when you’re at daycare.

I was in Florida, helping your Uncle Doug, on your 6th birthday so we’ll have a double celebration today. Maybe we’ll spend most of the day playing outside, weather permitting.

We love you to the ends of the universe and back, little girl! You are our little entertainer.

Shadow’s Exciting News, Part 3

It’s hard to believe, but this past Monday was the two-month anniversary of Shadow’s stem cell infusion.

(You can read Parts 1 and 2 here and here.)

Our vet said Shadow should be the “poster child” for the success of the clinical trials!

Despite some GI issues* that Shadow was dealing with for the last several weeks, she has really benefitted greatly from the treatment.

*Suffice it to say, too much people food, even given with love, is not good for any dog, but especially those with sensitive stomachs.*

Anyway, the stem cells have helped with Shadow’s mobility, her confidence level, her emotional health; and in general, improved her overall Quality of Life.

She’s a sensitive “pup” – always has been – and I doubt that will ever change; but she seems to be handling stress a little better.

Her arthritis seems to be less bothersome, in varying degrees. In areas where it only bothered her on rare occasions it seems to be in remission. And in areas where it was most bothersome it seems just a tad bothersome at times.

Now my job is to continue monitoring Shadow for subtle changes in her activity – good or bad – and let the vet know about them. Since I have his mobile number, that last part will be easy.

Hubby and I have been really impressed – not to mention happy – with the way the stem cells have helped Shadow. As I said above, her overall quality of life has improved considerably. She seems to have a new outlook on life.

Today is three years since we said goodbye to Callie. It’s a sad memory; but sweet Callie is always with us in spirit, watching over all of us. I know Shadow misses her sister and best friend – so do hubby, Ducky and I – but she plays more now and doesn’t seem depressed so often. And that’s a wonderful thing.

Life with Shadow & Ducky

I haven’t put up a blog post in a couple of weeks; and the ones I’ve put up lately have been mostly about either one or the other of my dogs.

So I thought I’d serve up a helping of both my dogs.

They get along pretty well these days. Some days they mostly ignore each other, and some days they look for squirrels together. *BUT* they get along.

Since her stem cell infusion nearly two months ago, Shadow has been rejuvenated. She has a new lease on life. That sparkle is back in her eyes. And her beautiful, floofy tail is more often than not in line with her backbone and wagging, or at least swishing back and forth.

And Ducky? Oh, this little one is quite the character. Just watching her stalk and chase the squirrels is entertainment without equal! She would literally spend the entire day in the back yard if one of us were out here with her.

And nothing makes my heart happier than seeing these two choose to share a tender moment, like this…

Have a tail-wagging weekend everyone!!

Shadow’s Exciting News, Part 2

Well, here we are five days into Week 3 of Shadow’s stem cell infusion; and the results are, well let’s just say A – mazing.  (I just wish I had before and after videos.)

If you missed the first post, you can read it here.

As you know, hubby and I – and the vet – went into this with cautious optimism and excitement over the possibilities for both Shadow and future pets. After all, this therapy IS still in the clinical trials stage.

I am beyond happy about, beyond excited about, and extremely grateful for the results we have been seeing already….

Shadow’s mobility has already improved about tenfold. After her little tumble in the backyard – about a week before the infusion – I figured the early signs we were seeing were simply the healing effects of the Gabapentin, CBD oil gel caps, and Tylenol 3 I’d been giving her. However, I had stopped the Tylenol 3 completely over that weekend prior to the infusion. And, due to my supplier’s lack of response to phone calls about the latest shipment, I also had to halve the dosage of the CBD oil gel caps. Yet, four days after the infusion hubby and I noticed that Shadow was indeed walking better and getting up and down the three steps better than before. And she continues to improve. Also, she isn’t struggling as much to get her back end up off the carpeted floors. In fact, she barely struggled at all this morning. And getting up off the linoleum floors is getting easier for her as well.

Shadow’s confidence in her own physical abilities is growing in subtle amounts…

She’s not “tiptoeing” across the kitchen floor – to keep her balance on the slippery surface – as much. In fact, this morning I noticed she walked normally from one side of the floor to the other with her head held high! And she didn’t have her slipper socks on, either!

Sometimes, in the morning mostly, Shadow will not eat her breakfast out of the bowl if I put it in the stand. The noise the bowls make when they move around seem to make her wary. (Yet it doesn’t seem to bother her at dinner time.) This morning, though, she stood at the bowl stand waiting for me to put her bowl in it and then ate all but four or five bites of it standing at the bowl. For now, I’ll attribute that bit of courage to the fact that she was hungry after yesterday’s reduced appetite status.

Shadow had been having normal poops as well; but between the stress of having been at the vet on Thursday morning, and then Ducky’s jealous streak on Friday night, they went back to being “yucky” again and still are today. I need to talk to the vet about that tomorrow. I have an idea of what’s causing it today, but I’ll keep it to myself for now. Hopefully it will go back to normal in a day or so.

Shadow’s Exciting News

Shadow is participating in a clinical trial!

Let me begin by telling you that back in May – while I was still at my brother’s home – one of our two vets at Sunrise Animal Hospital called to talk to me about an exciting new treatment for canine joint disease that is still in the clinical testing phase.

Dr. Simpson told me that this new therapy (HUC-DT) uses the stem cells from human umbilical cords; and that he felt Shadow would be a good candidate for the treatment. A quick note here for those of you who, like me, have heard of stem cell therapy but aren’t familiar with how it works: stem cells are the cells present in all our bodies that are there to help heal and rebuild tissues. As we age, we have fewer stem cells but their healing and regenerative effect remains intact if needed.*

When we give a pet human stem cells, the stem cells migrate to the areas of pain and inflammation by following the body’s natural cues, and anchor themselves within the tissues, and begin stimulating the dog’s natural stem cell population to fight inflammation and rebuild tissues.”

The old method of using stem cell therapies in pets was mostly limited to what is known as mesenchymal stem cell transplants (MST). This method required not one surgery, but two surgeries. The first surgery involved anesthetizing the pet and harvesting a large amount of fat cells. Those cells were then sent to a lab where the stem cells were extracted, given various chemical treatments to “boost their vitality”, and shipped back to the veterinarian. Then the pet had to undergo anesthesia a second time to have the treated stem cells implanted. Such a process is not only costly and time-consuming, but also puts the pet at risk of potential dangerous anesthesia side effects twice. Not really a viable option for the older pet.*

The process Dr. Simpson used for Shadow (and other patients, including his own dog) does not involve anesthesia, or any chemicals to boost the stem cells’ viability. Dr. Simpson explains the whole procedure in the video clip below. (We had a slight technical issue at the very beginning which cut off some of Dr. Simpson’s introduction, but that’s okay. You can still get the idea.)

We also took videos of Shadow walking, and then jogging, down the long hallway outside the treatment area so we can document the results of the therapy. And we took some other photos as well.

Hubby and I are both cautiously optimistic about the eventual positive effects on Shadow’s overall quality of life; and excited by the all-natural and safety aspects of the treatment.

On average, results can be expected between four and six weeks following the treatment; but many of Dr. Simpson’s other patients started presenting subtle changes in behavior within two weeks that indicated the treatment was already helping them. I will follow up with more blog posts about how the treatment works for Shadow.

Lastly, I want to give credit where it’s due: All of the “technical” wording that’s either followed by an asterisk (*) or set within quotation marks is either paraphrased or directly quoted from Dr. Simpson’s white paper that he wrote about the HUC-DT treatment. He provided me with a copy for information purposes, and so I could write this post. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments. If I don’t know the answers, I’ll ask Dr. Simpson.