Sunday, August 26, 2012

necessities and accessories (or things to make life easier with a blind, partially disabled dog)

AP here:
I have discovered some things along the this journey with the Tonka Man.

#1 nothing is ever easy with Tonka (except loving him)
#2 trying to make things easier you need to be inventive or very rich (not rich so having to be inventive)
#3 poop happens (often) and no matter where it happens it is never the end of the world
#4 if poop doesn't happen you can make it happen (which isn't much fun for anyone)
#5 anger is a waste of your time

We are now creeping up to the 11 month mark with the Tonk and his bizarre mobility problem. Some days it seems like its already been a lot longer than that. A very wise woman (my mother) suggested to me the other day that this may be as good as it gets. She then followed that with "and we will just have to deal with it" and in true mom wisdom she is right. We will deal with it just as we have been. I think at some point I stopped looking at now and started trying to look ahead thinking that this leg would come back just like the other. In thinking that I stopped coming up with things to deal with the now. I stopped thinking of things that would make the daily routine and challenges easier on everyone including Tonka. So that is the priority now, to put systems and things in place to make it easier to get through the day. Back to the Girl Scout motto - "be prepared".

He will probably always need the Tonka trailer so I have outfitted it with a hand pump using 2 of his rubber booties to keep it from slipping out of the Velcro straps. His cart is not a standard bike frame so commercial mounts don't work. It is now secure hanging off the back in case we get a flat (like we did a week ago and I had to push him uphill doing a wheelie). Two necessary items packaged together, extra booties and a bike pump!

The wheels don't have fenders so if we don't have the covered wagon piece (what we call rain gear) on dirt and grass kicks up and all over his back. That means that once we deal with the whole ordeal of getting him out of the cart I have to make sure I get all the little grains of sand and dirt out of his fur. I got to thinking about the little red wagons and how they had sides that you could put on. That's exactly what we need side panels - but side panels that allow air flow so I took PVC pipe, some screen and some duct tape and made little panels to block the dirt. Once I know it works well I will come up with a little nicer looking panel to accessorise his very cool cart..

Since his right leg is so goofy he usually falls to that side and props himself up on the right elbow. As a result of staying on that elbow it is developing a rough spot. To keep it from becoming a sore I needed to come up with something to cushion it. Tonka wont lay on a dog bed and the mutt mats and blankets slide out from under him when he tries to stand. As he already has trouble getting himself up the last thing I need is him sliding all around.  I did find an elbow brace for humans with memory foam in it which got me to thinking that memory foam would be perfect but something thin and with a non slip backing - the answer was a memory foam bath mat. Not too thick - non skid bottom and soft easy to clean cover -perfect. So now when he lays down I stick the mat under his elbow and he is good to go.

I purchased the Hartman's Hip Helper since it has a handle over the hips to help you get your dog to its feet and then help it walk. It is really well made and light weight with lots of cushy padding around the chest and legs. Of course since Tonka has to be difficult when I put it on him it messes up his gait and he cant walk well at all. So much for thinking about making it easy to get him around. I can put it on him if he is going to be laying around, then use it to get him up and then take it off right away but that is all a bit much. I also prefer him to try and get himself up as much as possible so we will hold on to it in case we need it later. I am now trying to come up with a less back breaking way of getting him to his feet when he cant do it alone.

When he is really struggling to walk correctly he gets himself bent into sort of a u shape with the right side swinging around to the front. I have discovered that when that happens if i hold his tail up and to the left it counterbalances him and he walks/stumbles a straighter line. I took a roll of vet wrap and bound his tail up like they do horses for polo thinking that perhaps that would help - It didn't! So now I am trying to think of ways to get his tail up and to the left.

Of course we have our awesome thin fleece blankets all over the floor in case he has any accidents (fleece is a great moisture barrier). We have baby wipes stationed everywhere to wipe after a potty a break since he cannot clean himself very well anymore and his belly bands loaded with a Poise pad for bad dribble days.  I still have baby monitor cameras all over downstairs so that when I am upstairs I can watch him and Internet cameras to monitor him when I am not home.

Perhaps this blog should have been titled "inventions for Tonka".

Friday, August 17, 2012

Goodbye Dr. Ferguson

AP here:
This week the world lost not only a great Veterinary Cardiologist but a really wonderful human being.
Dr. McGregor Ferguson was one of Tonka"s cardiologists, but he was much more than that for us. Dr. Ferguson was a friend and advocate for my boy, reaching out and talking to other professionals and trying to help with Tonk's neurological problem.
He was a kind and compassionate man and it was not uncommon to see him sitting out in the waiting room having a conversation with clients. Always upbeat and wanting to make sure that you were OK he could put you at ease even in the face of serious problems. On one of our first appointments he made it clear that if we needed anything, even just to talk, that he was always there for us.
Every Tuesday Tonka and I are in the building that houses all of his specialists (including cardiology) for rehab therapy. We would occasionally run into Dr. Ferguson in the hall or the waiting room. He would stop to give Tonka some attention and ask how we were doing, always with that ever present smile. Going to therapy this week was done with a heavy heart, knowing that we would not see him again.

The service for Dr. Ferguson was held at St. Martins In The Field in Severna Park The parking lot was overflowing out into the neighborhoods as hundreds turned out to say goodbye and pay their respects.The sheer volume of people, family, friends, co-workers and clients there is testament to how much he was cared for and the kind of man he was.

Tonka and I are just 2 of many that will greatly miss you.
Rest in Peace.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Walk, Drag and Stroll (love the Cycletote)

AP here:
Since Tonka is more alert and mobile we have resumed our evening walks. Really it is more of a sort of walk, that becomes a drag and then ends up in the cycletote trailer. No worries though he is at least out and about and connecting with his friends. People and four legged friends are extremely important to Tonka's mental well being and I like to think he also brightens the day of those we run into.

Look at me Go

Rain Gear

Happy Boy


More Hugs

Talking to his kids

Tonka loves his people

Spencer Says Hello

Charlie Says Hello

Monday, August 13, 2012

More Prednisone Anyone?

AP here:

Check out the miracle that is the drug they call Prednisone. I absolutely hate the fact that he is on it but I cannot argue with the results that I have seen in just a few days.

This was in July

This is 3 days on Pred - watch how well he turns

Also 3 days on Pred on evening walk

Friday, August 10, 2012

Myesthenia Gravis - NOT!

AP here:
We met with Dr. McDonnell at Veterinary Neurology of the Chesapeake and discussed the mystery that is Tonka. As he seems to get really tired with exercise we ran a test for Myasthenia Gravis. Of course the test came back negative, all his tests are negative.We really are running out of tests that would make sense for any of his symptoms.

Tonka's therapist Chris has joked that we should nick-name the boy "everything's beautiful" since all his diagnostics come back as normal and beautiful.

Last year when Tonka started having nosebleeds he was put on prednisone and he did not react well to it at all. I swore that he would have to be dying to ever go back on it. Well this is one of those never say never moments as we have put him on a very low dose to see if there is any improvement.The wonderful thing about Dr. McDonnell is he listens when I say that Tonka is sensitive to medication and this really is a very, very low dose.
Fingers crossed!