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.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Are You Ready For Valentine's Day?

This long, luxurious necklace was just listed on Etsy tonight.

Here's a close-up of it. You can see the pretty speckled nut that I got from the Phillipines just above the heart which is made from ultrasuede. This necklace is 23" long with a variety of gemstone, copper, and ceramic beads in it.
That makes 6 pieces of jewelry I've listed for the big day! Stimulate the economy and pick up something for yourself or for someone you love. You won't find another one of these like the necklace above. I wanted to make something out of the ordinary; not the typical jewelry you see being offered all over, so I combined materials you don't always see together.

I need to re-charge my camera battery pretty soon, but was able to get a few new pictures of Carmella.

She loves this chair in the computer room and so I took some of her tonight hanging over the side and curling up in it.
She's a little less red tonight except that she keeps licking her right, front paw and making that red again. She's not limping on it as much, so I think the antibiotic is helping somewhat.

I think I narrowly escaped getting a cold or flu over the past few days, but taking Zicam seemed to keep it from taking hold.

Today I bought some vitamin E for Carmella. It is 1000 IU, so it should be strong enough to do some good. Hopefully that and the pet tabs and fish oil will start to build up her immune system.

Carmella had a strange night and was kicking her back legs in her sleep quite violently. I'm not sure what was causing that. It woke me up because at some point she actually kicked me. She woke up and tossed and turned several times, then sat up. She might have forgotten that she was sleeping on my bed and gotten disoriented. The night before she had slept like a stone and so had I. Hopefully she will stay still tonight and sleep all the way through. I'm glad that it seems to be working overall because after she chewed up her bed the floor in the kitchen was pretty cold for her to sleep on and I was worried about her not being warm enough at night.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Nasty Little Bugs Taking Advantage-Bacterial Co-infections

Yesterday I took Carmella to the vet for what I thought was a bruised foot from stepping on a rock or possibly a chemical burn from the Mitaban dip, and found out that what she really had on the bottom of both front feet is an opportunistic bacterial infection. Most likely it's what she had earlier on her stomach after the previous round of antibiotics; probably Staph. These nasty little bugs take unfair advantage when a dog's immune system is compromised and often they are hard to kill and keep away.

If any of you run into this problem maybe this will help. My vet prescribed the following;

* Cephalexin 500 Mg. every 12 hours for 14 days (antibiotic capsules)

* GenOne Spray to be sprayed on affected areas 2-3 times/day for 14 days (antiseptic/antibiotic spray containing gentamycin sulfate)

* 3V Caps Liquid (Dietary Supplement containing Fish Oil plus antioxidants (2 pumps into food for a 40-59 Lb. dog to strengthen immune system)

* PetTabs multivitamins (also to strengthen immune system; can obtain at vet or any pet supply store)

There are other supplements/herbs that will help build up your dog's immune system as well. Somebody sent me about a 30 page document about Demodectic mange in which many more supplements to build up the dog's immune system are outlined in great detail but they are way too voluminous to mention here. I may go into those in future writings, breaking the document down into a number of seperate posts. I don't want these posts to become too dry and bore my readers.

My vet asked if Carmella had been licking her feet and I told him yes she had been. He said that the moisture breeds fertile ground for the bacteria to grow. I'd always thought that it helped for a dog to lick its wounds, but apparently not. Trying to get her to stop, though, is nearly impossible.

Dr. Norwood did not want to wrap up her front paws thinking that would keep moisture in as well, and just suggested I wash them off and then dry them if she got dirt on them after going outside.

I spoke with Dr. Norwood again about the research paper between him and Dr. Muller and he said that he had not gotten in touch with him yet but would do that soon. We talked briefly about her having repeat antibody tests at some point and possibly others to document her recovery. He seemed even more excited than the last time we'd talked seeing how good Carmella looked aside from her current problems, and noted that she has gained a pound and a half more just since Saturday when one of the vet techs weighed her. She now weighs 44.5 Lbs! She's really getting to be a big dog now and it doesn't seem like she's finished growing yet either!

I think the Distemper had stopped her growth and that put her behind schedule by 5-6 months and as soon as she was cured of that she started growing again. If I am correct about this she may still have more to grow until she's a year and a half old.

Last night I accidentally left my bedroom door open and after letting her back inside from the back yard she barreled in and jumped up onto my bed. She plopped herself down right where I sleep and seemed to close her eyes within just a minute or so. First I tried calling her to get her to go back into the kitchen, as I was starting to get sleepy, but she wouldn't budge. Then I tried lifting her to get her off the bed but she was like a bag of sand drooping and sinking in every possible direction.

Being too tired for this task that late at night I just moved her aside and fell into bed myself, crossing my fingers that I wouldn't wake up to a shredded comforter in the morning. Quite surprisingly I slept better than I had in weeks or possibly even months. She stayed curled up against me throughout the night and did not jump down to see what she could get into as she had done in the past when I put her on my bed during the daytime for shorter periods.

One reason I think I slept so well is that she kept me uniformly warm. Many nights I wake up because some part of my body or another gets cold in the middle of the night or at some unGodly hour around the crack of dawn. Last night that didn't happen and I awoke more rested than I had been in a long time! It also seemed to me that there was a long period in which her jerking stopped altogether. That is all good news! I had wanted to be able to let her sleep on my bed but up until now she would have pulverized anything in the vicinity so I dared not risk it. Maybe she has just about grown out of that habit, especially when she's not alone in the room. I'll probably try her again tonight and see if she is still on her best behavior.
Note: the photos I'm using are from about a week and some are from 2 weeks ago. She's no longer this red in the face and alot of her fur has grown back since then. I hope to take some current pictures of her tomorrow.

The Facebook group on Distemper is continuing to show promise and Ed Bond has now created an informational page on blogspot about the treatment so that we can boost Google ratings. As more successfully treated dogs are blogged about we're all going to link these together. Be sure to check these out. I should have these various links added within the next few days.

I'm getting ready to send in another payment on Carmella's vet bill within the next week, so if you'd like to help her this would be a good time to buy an ad on my blog, buy jewelry from my Etsy shop, and/or donate via the button above in my sidebar. Valentine's day is just around the corner so that is a perfect occasion to buy jewelry, and it is going to the upkeep of a great dog!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Healing After Distemper! Some Improvement In Carmella's Myoclonic Jerking!

Did I mention earlier that the left rear leg jerking that had just started before Carmella had her NDV treatment in the central nervous system is gone?!!! That was the newest damage she'd obtained from the Distemper virus, so it's logical that it would be the first to heal.

The biggest hurdle is the jerking in the right, front leg which was the most severely affected. I have noticed just a little change there. It used to be more pronouced when she was asleep than awake, but now if she is deeply asleep it will become much milder and for short periods even stop temporarily!

The day after I noticed this improvement it seemed she stepped on a rock in the back yard in the past day or so and bruised the pad, so is limping and holding it up. Her stepping on that rock with that foot could mean she's not favoring it as much (which is both good news and bad). Clearly she's not as careful with it as she has been, thus the injury. I hope that bruise resolves soon so she can start using it again. It's important for her healing myelin that she stay active. It's been bitterly cold and she really didn't want to limp out there to go to the bathroom tonight and has been whining when I'm in the computer room and she's in the kitchen. She's gotten used to keeping me company lying on a wicker chair in here while I'm doing my work online.

Her Demodectic Mange is still itching her somewhat but I think she's over the worst of it. This past Saturday she went back for her third dip. Dr. Norwood didn't see her because they want to wait to do another skin scraping.

Next time when she has the skin scraping I need to talk to him again about the research paper.

It will be vitally important that he and Dr. Muller stay on this and share their data and submit Carmella's case history to medical journals because there are still ignorant people out there, those who not only do not know about this, but who want to see it fail for personal dysfunctional reasons. I think that is very sad. I ran across someone on one of the dog forums who was not genuinely interested in this treatment but went out of her way to try to debunk it. Her dog had myoclonus in her back leg which will most likely do her in as it progresses to full-blown seizures and/or paralysis if left untreated.

This particular woman is one of those people who has an emotional need to use her dog to hold on to an "illness identity". This is common in the human disease community but less so in animals, but I believe that when it is projected onto an animal it closely approximates Muenchausen by proxy. People like this resist or sabotage treatment in order to prolong the secondary gain they get. In humans they actually make their children sick by giving them toxic substances or not giving them needed medication, etc, but I think the principle in denying an animal medical care that will resolve a disease is the same principle. Animals depend upon us to take care of them just like children and when they're sick they are at the mercy of the owner. If the owner thinks of the animal's needs first they are taken to the vet and everything possible is done to cure or at least help them the best they can.

When somebody continues to post on forums that they or their dog doesn't need treatment and tries to prevent others from getting lifesaving treatment when there is something they can do about it, then that is just flat-out medical neglect; sabotage and self-sabotage!

The sad thing is that her dog has no voice in all of this. The dog is the real victim while this woman gets all this attention by dragging out the duration of the dog's positive Distemper status, asking pointed questions while her dog waits, just to try to pull others into a fight, and discounting any proof we offer her. Apparently her own vet has been indulging her in casting these aspersions.

Well, it's like this; one can either see the glass as half-full or half-empty. Medical cures are a beautiful thing and everything should be done to support them and boost them up when they come along. I can tell the difference between real interested questions and pointed questions which are really snide statements masquerading as questions. The latter has no intrinsic value. It seeks to tear down a good thing; not learn about it.

As a matter of fact I received one of these zingers by somebody tonight who read about the requirements of the Etsy street team I run for jewelry artists. Since I didn't feel it was a legitimate question I simply answered by saying that what she was saying sounds more like a statement than a question. Again, another form of self-sabotage on her part. If she'd wanted to apply for membership in some indirect way this was not winning her any points. If she didn't like our requirement of listing at least 1 or 2 items a month (which I think is very lenient if you ask me), then she should have just applied to another team. Instead she went out of her way to seek me out by convo and get nasty to me. Maybe she was bored and had too much time on her hands. I don't know, but clearly she was not using that time to make jewelry, LOL.

I surely did not need this after being sick again the past few days. I came back online feeling better, answered my e-mails and convos only to find what amounted to a verbal fart or dog-doo in the flaming bag in my Etsy convo inbox! Usually people are writing to say nice things about the team and more than willing to accept the requirements to get in.

On a happier note; I finished several more pieces of jewelry and got them listed tonight! I've had to catch up on my jewelry because of all the time recently spent on Distemper-related activities, and it was a relief to have some new things completed and ready for sale in time for Valentine's Day. I hope to finish a few more before it gets too late for customers to order.

The Facebook Distemper group continues to grow. We had one loss recently. The woman in Indonesia received the NDV and her vet gave the first part but then balked when it came to injecting it into the spinal canal and at that crucial time began calling around to University vet schools to get some other vet to take the risk. Unfortunately the owner lost hope and decided to have him put the dog to sleep. I still find it perplexing that vets are willing to kill dogs on purpose yet they are afraid they'll kill them accidentally while trying to save them.

Carmella is over here in the chair fast asleep right now and her jerking has really slowed down. If that's not proof her Distemper is cured I don't know what is! It was clearly the NDV that caused the improvement because as fast as her disease was steadily getting worse before treatment it was not about to slow down right up until October 1, 2008 when she had the CSF tap procedure. It is clear that the collision course she'd been on had been aborted when I brought her home from the vet, and then it was all over but the healing! What Dr. Sears said about it being a minimum of 4 months before I would see any noticeable regeneration has born out to be true. The next 8 months could be quite exciting as I watch for even more!