Woke up in the middle of the night yesterday with a stomach ache and ended up calling in which was nice since I was absolutely exhausted from my almost no sleep the night before thanks to Yara’s before dawn wake-ups. Seem to be fine today, but have no idea what the tummy pain was from.

Meanwhile, received my first bill from Verizon for my Internet service and nearly went through the roof. It was over $150 more than they quoted me when I set the service up. After being on hold for an hour, I found out that was because they charged me my installation fee in one lump sum — even though three separate people told me it would be in installments. The CSR told me I only had to pay half and that she’d be giving me a free month of service for the inconvenience. Somehow I see another long, aggravating call to Verizon about this.

Yara is being tapered off Prednisone, since she hasn’t been noticeably itchy in days, and I could not be happier! I’m relieved she’s feeling better, but I wish I knew what she had initially reacted to. She’s been eating a bit better. Well, at least for her. I’m still having to call her back to attempt to finish her food. It’s really the most frustrating thing.

Her one hot spot is nearly completely healed. The other, larger one, is also improving albeit at a much slower rate. She’s still on antibiotics for another few weeks, which seem to be giving her some pretty mushy bowel movements. But aside from that she seems to be just fine and her usual silly self. She was super happy to see Sharon on Wednesday and gladly showed off all her toys.

Frankly, though, it’s been a long week. I am seriously sleep deprived between my own stomach ache and Yara’s nightly steroid-induced antics. I’m sincerely hopeful that this is not an omen of the year to come because I highly doubt I can handle it. At least it’s finally Friday!

“Wheel never stops turning . . .”

Things at la casa del perro enfermo remain eventful as ever.

Yara’s hot spots are healing up pretty well. They are both scabbed up, as I mentioned before. The smaller one of the two has noticeably shrunk and the skin around it returned to a normal color. The larger one remains quite substantial in size and the skin is still obviously inflamed. That coupled with the fact that Yara’s been quite itchy led to the decision to put her on steroids. I was mildly prepared for how not fun this would be for me since Dolly was on steroids for awhile last year and I got a daily phone call of the ensuing crazy. Needless to say, Yara has definitely been reacting to the drugs. Basically, she’s annoying me to no end. She’s not just panting more and drinking more and peeing more, she’s begging for food and has woken me up in the wee hours of the morning for no apparent reason. Interestingly enough, she’s still doing her normal food refusal routine, though, not at the Monday extreme. Mostly she’s just doing the “take her sweet time, have to be called back into the kitchen twice” thing. And she’s specifically left about a mouthful in her bowl every meal. I should admit that I’ve been giving her about a cup extra at every meal since she dropped her weight, so I can’t really be too upset about this obstinant behavior.

On the EPI front, she’s been back on Viokase for about three weeks now and seems to be putting a bit of her weight back on. Her stool’s been a bit soft, but I can’t be sure if that’s not from the other meds she’s on. Or even if it’s just stress. She’s been shedding a lot, too, which was definitely a marker of an EPI flare up. I am a might concerned, though, because I discovered a rumor that Viokase has been discontinued. It’s not a dire thing since the enzyme is still readily available, but I’m not without worry because we just went through a huge ordeal when trying to put her on a different brand. Certainly a complication. For now, there’s not too much I can do and things are in the air as to what can and/or will be done.

Suffice it to say, 2010 is turning out to be a stressful year thus far.

Contest of Wills

A few people on Twitter — and any of my Facebook friends — may have seen a few crisis sounding updates this morning regarding me and a certain guide dog of mine. Frankly, I only feel marginally better about it all and I’m pretty sure my crying jag isn’t yet completely over. But I figure I maybe could use to get it all out there, especially since those that saw those concerning updates might be intensely curious as to what is going on.

First, a small explanation about a common occurrence with Yara. It’s not exactly a secret, but I haven’t shared it with many people outside of a few close friends and Yara’s vet. I’ve stated time and again that Yara is a finicky eater. It doesn’t matter what you try to entice her with, if she doesn’t want to eat no power on this earth is going to make her take one mouthful she doesn’t want to. This is not even a slight exaggeration; she’s turned down everything from a lone kibble in her bowl to her favorite treats to a piece of hamburger and every thing in between.

The less candid side of this is how she often reacts to this refusal to eat. My morning routine at home is generally to make her breakfast up and leave her to eat it while I shower. Normally she’ll be lounging on her bed when I’m done and her bowl is nearly always empty when I go into the kitchen to make my tea.1 When it’s not, one of two things happen. If the kitchen happens to be devoid of, well, evidence I’ll call Yara back in and almost always she’ll eat the rest of the food. However, more often than not there is evidence of this lack of eating and by that I mean that Yara herself is in the kitchen accompanied by some type of bodily excrement. Before her diagnosis — and very, very occasionally since — this was diarrhea and/or vomit and a good amount of either or both. But almost always since her diagnosis it’s piss.

Believe it or not, I understand the whole thing better than you’d think. See the thing is Yara’s a pretty smart cookie and she gets the routine of her meals quite well, even if she doesn’t necessarily feel like cooperating with it. The food goes down and if she doesn’t eat it, she doesn’t get a window much beyond me exiting the shower because we don’t have time to sit around all day until she decides she’s hungry or whatever. It was pretty obvious at first because these accidents would happen right in front of me, sometimes right after I’d set her food down. And she’d look at me like she was the guiltiest dog ever, knowing that she’d made a bad in both not eating when she should and by taking a crap inside. It was stressful. And it was more obvious after her diagnosis because the frequency of these accidents dropped dramatically. However, they haven’t stopped completely and in some ways they’ve gotten much worse because she won’t just have an accident in the kitchen she’ll instead bolt out of the kitchen when I enter and proceed to trail the evidence of her stress throughout my whole apartment.

It’s a no-win situation because I can’t punish her for it and yet she always reacts like I’m going to kill her.2 Yara has this strange thing in common with Dolly in that they both react like they’ll be bodily harmed when neither of them has ever had a rough hand laid on them. Today was one of the worst examples of this because after I finished cleaning up, I found my dog in my tub, hiding behind the shower curtain, shaking violently.

Probably the only thing that kept me from falling apart completely myself was that she didn’t shy away from me when I found her. But I have to admit I really and truly don’t know how much more of this I can handle. I spent a good hour this morning just crying hysterically about how rotten a handler I must be that I can’t keep this dog from having these gigantic issues. A not small part of me just wants to give up because it’s horribly stressful for me — not to mention her treatment isn’t cheap and does still leave me with a dog I can’t work now and then. And yet for a million and one other reasons I don’t want to give up — and there are a good number of these that seem terribly selfish to me. Frankly, I feel like a failure.

Anyway, I called her vet about the hot spots this morning — which are healing nicely — and talked with her about both the above and the fact that Yara still seems excessively itchy. For the itchy, we’ll be putting Yara on steroids for the next few weeks. But as for the whole eating thing, her vet feels that it’s basically what I’ve always presumed it to be: a contest of wills regarding her eating. I didn’t mention my whole lack of confidence as a dog owner and guide dog handler, since I’m sure she’s well aware of Yara’s lack of abuse at my hand I have to say I felt only slightly better, but hearing that unprompted conclusion from someone other than me was a nice thing.

Still, I really just don’t know.

  1. Yes, tea. Since I’m no longer allowed to have coffee due to the migraines I supposedly get from them. And while I do greatly enjoy tea, I have to admit I don’t think the lack of my morning cup of coffee has done a thing other than make me extra crankier when the whole Yara not eating her breakfast routine occurs.
  2. Not that the thought hasn’t crossed my mind which just makes me feel like the worst person ever.

Hot Spots

Some of you might recall that the last time I spent the night at my grandparents I came home with hives thanks to my aunt’s cats. So, I wasn’t overly surprised when I woke up Saturday morning covered in bites. I don’t know from what, but they were super itchy. Since Yara slept in the same bed, I figured she probably got bit up, too, and have been spending the majority of the last week stopping her from scratching and/or biting herself raw.

Today at work, I noticed a huge patch of matted fur on her back and immediately became concerned. I asked a coworker to help me check out the spot and see if she could find a bite or sore. She checked out the spot — and another smaller one near it — and noted that the larger was bloody. Her thought was that Yara probably had hot spots and I’d caught them before her fur fell out.

Anyway, because we certainly couldn’t leave 2009 without one more trip to the vet, I rushed out of work and had the diagnosis confirmed. Which means that my crazy shepherd is now sporting some very fashionable bald spots on her rear end and has to take antibiotics for the next two weeks. She’s pretty much fine with all of this so far as I can tell and is only moderately sulky that I continue to reprimand her for attempting to chew on herself.

In fact, since arriving home she’s tried several times to sneak away into another room to attempt said chewing. The most amusing of these attempts was when she tried to beat me into the bedroom and literally tripped over herself in her haste. Seriously, I’m still laughing.