Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New Approach To A Pesky Problem


Carmella's Mange is getting better in most places, but the combination Mange and bacterial infection on the bottom of her feet has persisted despite several weeks of antibiotics, dips, and some supplements to boost her immune system, and a few days ago I noticed she had worms again.

I took her to the vet today for a worming shot and her sore feet and he suggested putting her on a new type of flea drops called ProMeris that research has shown has improved Demodectic Mange dramatically. They only had the size for extra-large dogs 88-110 Lbs., but they want me to split it in half and put 3.5 MLS on her every 2 weeks. We are doing this now instead of the dips, and he gave me an ointment called EnteDerm which has a small amount of steroid and Nystatin, and Neomycin in it to put on the ottom of her front paws 2 times a day just until most of the inflammation goes down. We also talked about trying her on a new food to rule out any possible allergies that could be preventing her from healing and I got her some special Science Diet hypoallergenic food. I was surprised at how light it was considering the large size of the bag.

As Dr. Norwood prepared the worming shot, Carmella began to panic. These seem to sting particularly much, but despite this momentary panic she still eagerly wanted to jump up on the vet and all his staff before and after, and the shot was quickly forgiven and forgotten.

The female vet tech and Dr. Norwood both commented on what a beautiful dog she is, and I told them that I have taken some really beautiful pictures of her and plan to look into some possible dog food endorsments pretty soon since she is so photogenic.
I want to start getting some of these photos blown up and offer them for sale next month too. I was hoping to do so this month but my natural gas bill seemed to suck up every last bit of money I would have had for new endeavors, so I've had to hunker down this month and concentrate mostly on planning for new items and strategies about where to market my work.

I hope to be able to make a decent amount of money in the next few months and pay off all of Carmella's health expenses so that I can then turn my attention to getting some dental care (which I have not been able to afford in over 20 years). Now that CareCredit covers that as well I may be able to correct some problems I haven't been able to for a very long time.

During the time my own autoimmune disease spun out of control, the summer I was finally diagnosed with Sarcoidosis, I suffered sudden and frightening bone loss in my jaw within only 5 days. I first noticed that my mouth and my eyes felt very dry. One day I looked in the mirror and to my horror there were suddenly gaps between my teeth that weren't there before and my gums had turned black. Each day for five days this gap got wider and wider. I was given adntibiotics (Zithromax), which stopped the acute infection in that area but much of the damage had already been done by the time I was able to get to a doctor.

Neither Medicare nor Medicaid covers dental care and all I was able to get was an assessment of the damage. I remember going to two dentists both of which were contemptuous and not interested in helping fix my problem and neither were willing to believe this happened within a 5 day time-frame. "Oh my God!" the first remarked, looking into my mouth and then again after the X-ray. I was told in a very cold and dismissive tone by both of these dentists that my teeth would probably fall out soon because the damage to the surrounding bone was quite extensive and there was nothing to replace it. Later when I started talking to others with this disease I learned that these kinds of problems were not uncommon and that dentists often wanted to blame it one's not taking care of one's teeth rather than recognizing that autoimmune diseases do correlate with sudden damage in this area due to disordered Vitamin D metabolism. I knew in my heart that I'd always had good teeth despite the fact that I'd had to do a DIY job of teeth-cleaning for the past 20-some years, so it was not a matter of neglect on my part. Even after all this my teeth were intact. It was the bone around them that was disappearing before my eyes. I set about calling 60 or more dentists around the Atlanta area, none of which were willing to make a payment arrangement. Isn't it ironic that dentists as a group tend to blame the patient when anything goes wrong yet when you try to arrange some sort of payment plan they refuse to make it at all possible. "Sorry, but I'm not young or pretty enough to go out on a street corner and come up with a few thousand to pay my dental bills, thank you", I wanted to tell these guys. I don't think CareCredit was very well-known at that time and very few if any dentists were taking it. Besides, I'd just filed bankruptcy after I had to stop working completely and put my business on hold because of my health problems, so had it been available I probably wouldn't have qualified anyway. I remember bursting into tears after seeing that first dentist and finding out he wouldn't even do so much as a cleaning unless I could come up with enough cash to do a root planing, and that wasn't going to happen anytime soon.

The other dentist, a periodontist, was even worse, and not only did I walk out of there with no work done. I was socked with a big bill that took a year to pay just for the consultation. Medicare was supposed to have paid for that but he vindictively billed it so that the claim would be denied. He promptly told me to go to "some free clinic" with all the vehemence he could muster.

The only one I knew of was unsanitary and I had a friend who had his tooth opened up for a crown and then was told that they "don't do crowns" so he "better go get some other dentist to do the rest within two weeks before infection sets in". He was flabbergasted to say the least and said to them that surely they weren't going to just leave him with a gaping hole in his tooth when they knew he didn't have $400 to get the rest of it finished by another dentist. He had paid them something already. It certainly wasn't free, just reduced, and had he known ahead of time they were going to leave him like that he would never have let them open up his tooth.

I knew that such "care" could leave me wide open to further infection and even possibly hasten my death given my medical condition, and I knew not to go that route.

After that I read up on anything being done on bone regeneration and NIH was doing quite a bit on that and research correlating bacteria in the mouth with autoimmune diseases. Even so, nothing was on the market yet and my doctor didn't seem to have the time to stay on top of the studies to get me into any on the ground floor. After that I have been trying to maintain as best as I can in hopes that I don't lose any more of my jawbone, keeping in mind that someday the technology would be there to regenerate bone.

A friend of mine recently told me she had a bone scan and that she might have osteoporosis, and that got me thinking again about regeneration of bone. I'm sure many of you readers have seen the commercial for Boniva with Sally Field in it where she talks about that not only does this medication for osteoporosis stop bone loss but also reverses it. This advent of science has not been on the market very long, so chances are there are paralells in the science of jaw bone regeneration. I'm not sure that this same medication would work for the jaw as it does for other bones because I think some people have had side-effects that involved spine or hip bone regeneration at the expense of jaw bone (meaning Calcium was pulled from there to build up the spine or hip bones where osteoporosis tends to hit).

I need to look again at current studies in this specialty and see what has been done in the past few years. Maybe now is the time to act, when science seems to be gaining in leaps and bounds! Just yesterday I saw a news segment saying that scientists may be onto a great discovery which could render all strains of Flu virus defunct. They've identified an antibody which when introduced into a flu cell accesses an area in which the cell is defenseless and cannot mutate to escape the immune system's assault upon it. The discovery is even supposed to work on Bird Flu which the CDC has been worried would be a major agent for a pandemic.

This could be of tremendous significance and it could really tell us alot about how viruses work.

It is amazing how all of these seemingly unrelated pieces fit together to give us the bigger picture. Perhaps NDV also does this? I suspect that what we know about it isn't all.
I wonder what role stem cells play in all of this too? The body is like an amazing machine with all parts being integral in its peak performance, so science's focus on optimizing its function rather than merely killing the virus (or bacteria for that matter) is right on target. If the body can be helped to do the job it was designed to do with outside help playing more of a supportive role then the chances of permanent cures to any number of diseases are much better.

When you look at disease as a give and take process you can see how all this fits. Science has confirmed that in most cases disease takes hold because of two triggers; one being genetics and the other being environment. If one finds out how to control both of those two factors therein lies the key to a solution in the end.

Virus, bacteria, and other parasites are often all around us at all times and sometimes even within us at certain levels, yet there are many people and animals that manage to coexist with these things without ever becoming ill.

Others get exposed to these microorganisms and become very sick and seem unable to shake them (like Carmella or me, for instance).

The common denominator is a geneticly programmed weakness which allows these microorganisms to enter areas of the body and its cells where it should not be. Certain genes determine susceptibility or lack of susceptibility depending upon whether they are switched on or off. Scientists are just beginning to get a handle on which genes are in which position in which diseases and what determines whether these genes are switched on or switched off.

Until fairly recently genetics was thought to be fairly set in stone, but recent discoveries have proven that theory wrong. This is where they are finding out that diet and other practices can change the body's programming at any stage of life. The adage that "biology is destiny" no longer holds, and that brings new hope for cures to many conditions that up until recently were thought hopeless.

I watched Barack Obama's address to Congress tonight and his speech was quite inspiring. In the short time he's been in office he has already done alot that is positive. I had written him letters a few months ago about healthcare, the economy, and one or two other topics and lo and behold this guy really does use suggestions in his policy-making!!! He has already used some of the ones I wrote in my letters.

I've always been very active in the political process but in most cases never got any inkling that any of my suggestions were implimented by other political officials. Occasionally I'd receive a letter back saying he or she agreed with me, but rarely did I see any action come out of it. I figured that it went on the pile with thousands of others and was quickly buried, but not this time! Obama made a point tonight to emphasize that he is fast-tracking more access to healthcare, and help to people who have been laid off.

I am dismayed at Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue and other conservative Governor's stubborn talk about refusing Federal stimulus money to their respective states on principle simply because they don't want to be held accountable (what they consider "strings attached"). These guys should be ashamed of themselves refusing or even considering refusing money which is absolutely vital to their constituents basic needs. Of course this will not affect them at all; these well-fed, well-housed, "VIPs" who have the top of the line health insurance.

As it stands now COBRA is only getting about a $25.00 subsidy toward premiums whereas the full stimulus package (if accepted by the Governor) would enable states to kick in 65% of the premium, something that laid-off workers desperately need. At least in this state COBRA costs about $900/Month for a couple to remain insured after one spouse loses his/her job.

Obama tonight made a wonderful point that certain people may be angry at the terms of the package that was recently passed, but that decisions should not be made out of anger. Such political protest that negates the needs of the people is not helpful. I wholeheartedly agree. If these Governors want to make a statement then let them refuse money for their personal expense account, salary increases, bonuses, or turn down their own health insurance, etc., but they should not get to decide the fate of the lives they are entrusted with; those who have nothing left to sacrifice and expect them to sacrifice some more simply because of their personal power struggle with the new president.

The other day I decided to post a thread in the Etsy forum to generate some ideas as to how to solve the batch uploading problem on Etsy. The response was rather dismal with several people posting versions of "That would be nice but...impossible" with few answers about how to improve it. It was sad to see so many resigned people who could not even fathom that anything better could be devised to make everyone's work more easily seen. The current system is just not cutting it for me and I gather I'm not the only one. By responding that way we unwittingly give permission for the status quo to stay in place and we don't open ourselves up to the possibility of change.

All progress starts with big dreams. To those naysayers who continue to cling to the old ways that have grown obsolete I say, "How's that working for ya?"

For every new and great frontier there seem to be sticks in the mud along the way, in science; as in those who are slow and resistent to embrace wonderful cures as they unfold such as that developed by Dr. Sears for Distemper, in politics; as in the new approach of Barack Obama, and in many other arenas. We must pull these sticks out of the mud and set them on the path that will take us all where we need to go. As much as we would like to think we do, succeed or fail, we never do it alone.

4 comments:

TheresaJ said...

Carmella is looking quite wonderful!

The Beneficial Bee said...

Poor Carmella! I hope she continues to get better. She is lucky to have you as her human!

Giftbearer said...

Thanks! She is much better this week (knock on wood). More news to come. Stay tuned.

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