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.

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.

Time Flies…

…when you’re having fun!

Friday is the last day of my externship for my Veterinary Assistant course. And I’m torn between remaining as a volunteer and getting back to my former life as a retired person. 

I have truly enjoyed the hands-on experience I’ve had throughout my time behind the scenes at our vet’s hospital. I know there are many things I need more practice with to become an even better vet assistant. But I also know it takes time to hone one’s skills. All the “girls” and both Dr. Steve and Dr. Simpson have been super-patient with my more-than-occasional lapses in concentration. And I appreciate it more than they could possibly know.  

From the start, my heart has cried for the pet parents whose furry “kids” have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses or been aided in their journeys to the Rainbow Bridge. And rejoiced with the pet parents who received good news.

Something I was afraid would “turn my stomach” – watching surgery on an animal – actually ended up fascinating me. I wouldn’t want to HAVE TO be the vet/surgeon performing the surgery. And I don’t know that I could handle watching surgery on my own dogs; but the surgery itself and the vet’s skill and devotion to his patients just blew me away.  So did the skill of the techs assisting with the surgeries. These gals are fantastic! 

While I am definitely looking forward to getting my former life back – to some degree at least – my life has been irrevocably changed by this experience. 

I am truly grateful to Dr. Steve for having agreed to let me do my externship under his tutelage. And I am grateful to Dr. Steve, Dr. Simpson, and the entire staff at Sunrise Animal Hospital for their mentoring, assistance, guidance, and unending patience as I watched, participated, fumbled, and learned my way through my externship.

Why I Trust Our Vet

Early yesterday I noticed a response to a comment I made on a blog post about the differences between IBD and IBS. This response, while well-intentioned I’m sure, irked me a bit. So I was glad that my friend had already responded to it by the time I noticed it. And she did so in such a way that I didn’t have to add my own thoughts.

Still, that response from a stranger bothered me all afternoon. So I’ve decided to get it off my chest, per sé.

Why do some people feel the need to suggest to strangers that they should change a pet’s diet?  This person doesn’t know me, my hubby, or our dogs, from a hole in the wall.  She has no way of knowing what kind of relationship we have with our dogs’ veterinarian; nor his knowledge of pet nutrition. And this person is not even a veterinarian herself. So, whatever happened to the “I’m not a vet” disclaimer? 

First of all, our vet has been our vet for 16 years. He has treated all of our dogs – from Kissy, my poodle who was five years old when I first moved us down here from Long Island almost 23 years ago, to Ducky, who joined our family nearly four years ago.  Our vet has been there for us through Kissy’s final days and through our beloved Callie’s battle with cancer and everything before, during, and since those “events.”

Our vet is a good man. He’s honest, forthright, compassionate, and he truly cares about his patients. He sells the prescription diets at his hospital as a convenience for his clients whose pets need them, not as a way to make extra money. The profit he might make off the sale of a case – or bag – of these foods probably wouldn’t buy coffee and a pastry at Starbucks.

When Ducky was first suffering through her IBS issues, our vet gave me his personal mobile phone number in case something came up for which I needed advice. (I tried not to abuse the privilege since we do have an emergency animal clinic nearby staffed by wonderful, caring folks.)

And when Callie was so sick at the end from the lymphoma, our vet and his wife took time out of their busy Saturday to meet me at his hospital and hook her up to IV meds that got her feeling better for most of the rest of the weekend. 

I’m aware that not all vet schools have provided much pet nutrition education in the past. Aside from a very basic course in dog and cat nutrition, I don’t have any formal education in that area either. I mostly rely on my common sense and some research. And our vet. I have not always agreed with our vet’s suggestions about our dogs’ diets; however, I have always known that his suggestions are made in the dogs’ best interests. Over this past year, I have fully transitioned Shadow and Ducky to one of the diets our vet suggested. And both dogs have done well on them. Much better than on the premium foods that I’ve tried for them in the past. And raw diets are totally out of the question. I won’t even discuss them any more. The raw diets may be good for some dogs – and I don’t judge anyone who swears by them – but they aren’t for us or for our dogs. And our vet agrees with us. 

So, I’ll close by saying that even when our vet and I “agree to disagree” on certain things related to our dogs, in the long and short run I will follow his advice.

Okay, rant over.  #LettingItGo

#LoveOurVet