Saturday, July 29, 2006

Summer Bummer

Tinker gets 2 weeks behind bars

Well, things took a bit of an odd turn this past Monday. If you have been following Tinker's recovery you know that he has been doing very well. Everything seemed as cool as the other side of the pillow. Then 3 weeks ago on Friday, July 7 Tinker had a bad day (see the post "A Not So Peaceful Uneasy Feeling" below). What was first thought to be a stomach ache began to look like signs of a back issue instead. For the next week, Tink's energy level wasn't as high as usual and he wasn't trying to jump up on the futon to be next to Virginia.

We had scheduled an appointment with Tinker's surgeon, Dr. Christoper Hunt, at the AERC, but canceled when he seemed fine a few days later. The following Sunday, 7/16, I finally felt Tink was at 100%. Actually more like 125%. He was back to his version of normal, full of energy, going up on the futon, loving life. We still wondered though if we should take him for a check-up with his neurologist Dr. Christine Massicotte. A trip to Valley Vet for Tink's hydrotherapy appointment convinced us to do so.

Tinker's PT tech, Tracy, didn't want to put him in the hydrotherapy tank since it appeared that something might have occurred with his back. She didn't want to take a chance on further injuring him, plus of course they have to be careful of their own liability. So we scheduled an appointment with Dr. Massicotte for this past Monday. After examining him, Dr. Massicotte concluded that something was indeed going on with a disc toward Tinker's hind end. It was below the area where he had a disk rupture and had surgery a year and a half ago, but it was still very much a concern to her.

It was stunning to hear her words since we suspected maybe Tink had twisted something in a leg or hip or just had some temporary blip that caused him not to feel well. Dr. Massicotte shot those theories down with a resounding "no". The answer for now: 2 weeks of complete crate rest. No going for walks. No playing with Virginia. No fun. :(

After a few deep breaths and realizing we were NOT back to square one, we realized that the next 2 weeks would not be easy, but we would get through it. For one thing, Tinker's attitude is still tremendous. Yes, he would rather be out of the crate, but for the most part he's been great. The first night was pretty sleepless since he "wanted to go over the wall", but since then he's been a model patient. Which, of course, was no surprise to us.

We have almost made it up to 1 week of "incarceration" and we always remind Tinker how many days are left to go. Of course we're really reassuring ourselves, but...We have an appt. with Dr. Massicotte for August 7 for a re-evaluation and we will go from there. No matter the issue, Tinker is still one awesome Dude :)

Monday, July 17, 2006

A Not So Peaceful, Uneasy Feeling

I'm paraphrasing the Eagles song here because a week ago Friday, July 6, we had a bit of a scare with Tinker. Early in the day Tinker and Virginia had their every 5th week round of acupuncture and B-12 therapy. It went as it usually does - we struggle to keep them still so their needles will stay in and they lose their minds when they get their post-treatment snacks. They always manage to get extras from the staff, of course. .

Later that afternoon, C was at her Dad's house when Tinker started showing signs of being off his game. He laid down under the dining room table- it didn't seem to be because he was looking for a cool spot. This was a behavior he never exhibited before. Tinker repeated this (laying under the table) that evening while we were eating dinner at home. Tink has looked for "safe spots" during a thunderstorms, but this was something different. He began to get restless and began methodically moving around the room, laying down for 30 seconds, getting up and moving somewhere else. The behavior continued to repeat itself and had us scratching our heads. Finally, Tinker jumped up on the futon next to Virginia and nodded off.

He slept for about 30 minutes, but his restlessness had not gone away. During this time we remembered that he had snagged a piece of a chicken bone during his morning walk. We began to wonder if he had an obstruction of some kind that was making him uncomfortable. Ironically, just 2 days earlier we had been discussing what had transpired when he was injured in February, 2005 and how we would handle things differently. Specifically, we would make sure to get Tinker to the emergency hospital a lot faster if we saw something out of kilter with him. We took one look at each other and realized this was one of those times. We packed up the Beags and headed down to the AERC to have Tinker checked out.

When we arrived, our little Dude's behavior was noticeably different then when we had been there before. That first night in 2005 when Tinker had showed signs of an injury, when we got to the AERC he was walking around, exploring, being his usual "Hey, how ya doin'?" self. That wasn't the case this time. He didn't want to walk to the examining room and he trembled as the ER vet checked him out. Tinker NEVER shows fear at the vet's. Both of us were tense as we feared this was more than his stomach acting up. Virginia was tense too, and whined and whistled through her nose to prove it.

Dr. Coogan decided to take an Xray and we waited impatiently out in the reception area for 20-25 minutes. While disc issues can't generally be detected on an Xray, they would make sure to to include his spine in the Xray. Thankfully the Xray showed no obstruction. The Dr. gave Tinker a shot of Pepcid and gave us Sucralfate to give him at home to help coat his stomach.

We gave Tinker the Sucralfate on Saturday and Sunday, but by then we started to surmise that whatever was bothering him was not emanating from his stomach. Tinker loves to jump up and down, especially while food is being prepared, and also loves to jump up on the futon. We discourage this as much as possible, but sometimes you can't stop him. He was not displaying any desire to go on the futon and he was pretty sedentary, for him at least, while waiting for his food.

We decided that we would make an appointment with Dr. Hunt, the orthopedist who had performed Tinker's surgery at the AERC. By Tuesday afternoon, Tinker had shown marked improvement so we decided to cancel the appointment and would see how the remainder of the went. One of the biggest problems facing Dr. Hunt would be that he had not seen Tinker for over a year. So, he had not seen his progress to the point of full recovery, and really had no frame of reference. So how do you know when the patient has taken a step back as opposed to just doing really great (which is how Tinker would appear to anyone who had not seen him on a daily basis).

Friday afternoon came around and it was time for Tinker's underwater treadmill therapy. Tink's on about a 5 week "maintenance" schedule now. Tinker's rehab PT Tracy decided that Tinker should not go in the tank after hearing what had occurred. She felt the best course of action was to see Dr. Massicotte, Tink's neurologist. So we made an appointment for first thing Monday.

Over the weekend, though, Tinker went from 90% to 120% recovered. We had our boy back. He was back to his silly self, running around like a horse, losing his mind over dinner, leaping on the futon, and rough-housing with his sister. We still feel something occurred, though. What, we just don't know. We've speculated that maybe Tinker twisted or pulled a muscle, a joint, etc., or perhaps there was some scar tissue inhibiting him that then broke loose.

Needless to say, we are relieved that he is much better, but we have rescheduled our appointment with Dr. Massicotte for a week from tomorrow.

Tinker would like to send his love to everyone and thank you for your continued good wishes. Keep those cards and letters coming!

Oh, and Virginia would like to know if you have any spare food laying around. She hasn't eaten in the past 5 minutes.

Monday, July 3, 2006

A Day to Celebrate

Tomorrow is the 4th of July - a day to celebrate our country's independence. It's also another day for us to celebrate Tinker's independence from walking aids. We continue to marvel at "The Dude's" progress. Yes, there has still been additional progress. For one thing, Tinker has visibly added more muscle. At 21.6 pounds, he's a lean, mean loving machine.

A good example of the difference a year can make occured when we went to a local 4th of July parade this past Saturday (7/1). We had gone to the same parade a year ago. Only last year Tinker was in his cart. This time around Tinker walked around, sat around, jumped around...

One of our highlights of this year's parade was seeing Zoey the Beagle again. We had originally met Zoey and her humans at last year's parade. And, Zoey's people were all smiles when they saw the progress that Tinker has made. And, Tinker wasn't the only one with a big change. Zoey was just a 5-month-old pup last year and is now a full grown Beagle girl.

This time, Tinker got the chance to romp around with Zoey, which was a treat for everyone. Virginia likes to watch - "You guys go ahead, I have stuff to sniff".

A meeting of the minds

It was very hot this past Saturday, but neither we nor the Beags seemed to mind. The warm weather this year, especially the milder weather in February and March, has really contributed to a very apparent improvement in Tinker's gait. With milder weather, we were able to take him out more often for longer walks, rather than just a quick in/out to do his business. It's also been very helpful in making sure that Tinker completely empties his bladder. Rather than when we just express him, he does most of the work himself in emptying his bladder. He's even begun to try to lift a leg at times, often balancing against the side of a tree. Tinker likes to create what's known in the business as "piddle art". :) It's the fine art of peeing as you walk, leaving a nice trail that is not only a work of art, but is also self drying! His routine tends to be: walk, pee, lick his legs (he tends to spray the back of his front legs)...walk, pee, lick his legs, repeat...

Though we don't allow Tinker to jump up on the couch or our bed we still let him go up on the futon, which is much lower to the ground. He likes nothing more than to snuggle up with Virginia on their cushy crate pads atop the futon. He usually gets a running start and then pushes off of the dog bed we have in front of the futon. His approach kind of resembles Spiderman swinging thru the air.

Tinker still walks on an underwater treadmill and goes for acupuncture every 5 weeks. We figure by this time next year he'll be climbing trees. ;)