Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Day 6: Sorry I'm late!

I know this update is late but I was enjoying an actual hot bath for once. So many days of lots of walking in Rainbows caught up with my back and legs so I needed a good soak.
Today I went to my wonderful chiro again. We did another cold laser treatment and then she brought up some supplements she wants me to start. She did a test to see which of my organs were stressed, which nutrients were deficient and what foods I should avoid (most of which I allergic to in some degree). Anyone who has talked to me about how I maintain my animals and Mom and Dad's animals knows that I am a huge supporter of holistic medicine and using supplements for health so I'm definitely up for this. It certainly can't hurt like some treatments in the past have.
After that we went to Mayo for my appointment with the breast specialist. She was very ncie and said she doesn't think it is a problem with my breast but that the swelling and pain there are an effect of the original swelling and pain. She is sending me to a lymph clinic in case there is any lypmhedema (although she doubts it and it has been ruled out previously), a neurologist (to confirm the CRPS diagnosis she believes) and for a breast ultrasound just in case because of the severity of my pain.
I am waiting for all of that to be scheduled plus the stuff my doctor is still fighting insurance for. I do for sure have an appointment with the pain psychologist and will most likely have at least the ultrasound tomorrow.
Dixie did her job today perfectly. The exam by the doctor was really painful and after I got off the table, while she was talking, Dixie started alerting I took my medication and we AVERTED the attack! I got a little shakey but did NOT have a full blown attack!! This is the pinnacle of a medical alert dog's training.
I'm so proud of my wonderful Dixie! If this is CRPS, she will be my service dog for the rest of her life (well, until she needs to retire-which is a long way off) since it can't be cured, just managed.

Dixie's Story

I'm not sure how many people know the full story of how Dixie and I got into each other's lives.
I'm more and more amazed how our story has worked out.
When one of my best friends and I went to the shelter, we were just there to look and maybe give some dogs some time out of their kennels (it was a high kill shelter where the dogs rarely saw the outdoors). We made a list of dogs we wanted to play with and the first one was a spotted dog named Dixie of a breed neither one of us had ever heard of. This silly dog bounded in to the room with a smile on her face and her tail wagging like crazy. We were a little "eh" since neither of us really wanted to do the puppy thing (I wanted the cuteness but not the obnoxiousness). Then we called her name and she came. So we started trying to see if she knew commands. She didn't. So, on a whim, Jenn and I tried to teach her sit. She picked it up in the time we were in that tiny "get to know you" room.
Something had already clicked for me when a volunteer walked in a told us Dixie's entire adoption fee was paid but she had been there for a very long time (and at a high kill shelter, their days are numbered). Well, I knew that sealed the deal, Jenn loved her (and still does-she is Dixie's Aunt Jennifer and one of Dixie's favorite people in the world) and I couldn't leave without MY dog. I called Mom to ask if she would mind dogsitting for a month while I was in Australia. She agreed and I literally ran to the front desk to adopt my dog. She had to stay at the shelter to be spayed and I was a nervous wreck until they said they got her spay in earlier and I could pick her up 2 days early. She captured my heart and everyone else who met her loved her too (well, except Dad...he said she proved that animals could be evil!). Don't worry, Dad has come around too. I have yet to meet anyone that can resist Dixie's charm.
Today I have no doubt she is my heart dog, that four legged soul mate some people are lucky enough to have in their lives. She helps keep me healthy and improves my quality of life.
I've said it a lot, but I will never be able to repay her for what she does for me. Because of that, I want to help as many homeless animals as I can. So many people think that all shelter animals have problems. Guess what? They don't. The tope 3 reasons animals are dumped at shelters are :the owners moved, they had a baby or someone is allergic to the animal. There are purebreds and mixed breeds ranging in size from tiny to giant. Unless you show your dog in AKC conformation shows, I don't see the reason to buy an animal. There are millions of homeless dogs and cats killed every year and breeding your dog or cat without championships under its belt is simply irresponsible. The world does not need any more of whatever you have. If you breed your dog and it has 6 puppies, you have just sentenced 6 innocent animals to death. You can't guarantee that those puppies will go to great forever homes, generally at least 2 of those puppies will end up in shelters.
So next time you want to add to your family check out There are tons of wonderful animals out there waiting for their forever home!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day 5: The joy of insurance

I got a phone call this morning at 9 am from the Mayo Clinic. My breast ultrasound was cancelled and the test we really need to proceed, the MRI of my brachial plexus, was denied. Instead, a few hours later, I was scheduled to see a breast specialist tomorrow at 945 am and have a breast ultrasound at 145 pm. My doctor and his staff were going to try their hardest to get the insurance to approve the MRI.
We had another day off (I'll get to that in a minute) which, while nice, is NOT what we are here for. I want a diagnosis and treatment plan so I can get on with my life one way or another.
We got another call this afternoon. The ultrasound was cancelled again and a different breast specialist had asked to take on my case. She rearranged her schedule to see me tomorrow so I suppose that is a good thing. My doctor and his staff are going to continue to try and get my insurance company to work with them and get the tests approved.
So after Mom did her work (and I tried unsuccessfully to get NCSU's websites to work so I could do some school work) we decided to go to the fort at St. Augstine. I loved it! It was really interesting to learn the history of it (yes I'm a nerd) and to see some of the craftsmanship on the Spanish cannons. Those things are pieces of deadly art.
We also stopped at a beach in Ponte Vedra. It was not crowded at all. Yea, that was for a reason. The beach wasn't huge and the waves were rough. Mom got soaked and Dixie and I almost got knocked over. At that point, Dixie decided she was not a fan of the beach. We will try again on a gentler beach.

Dixie and I on top of the fort

This cannon was made in the late 1700's

One of the Spanish cannons. Isn't that detail work amazing?

Dixie and I with another gorgeous cannon

My back tattoo-Dixie, Indie, Karma and Lola's paw prints (although I had the tattoo before Lola!)

Dixie and I being swamped

Not a fan

Monday, September 28, 2009

Day 3 and 4: Exercise and Hurry Up and Wait

The May Clinic was closed on Sunday so after being lazy all morning (well, I was being lazy anyway) Mom and I were looking for something to do. My interwebz skillz (that's lolcat language for the not icanhazcheezeburger savvy) are not so good so Mom found (within 5 minutes of searching) that there was a zoo nearby. Since we both love animals, we thought it would be a good way to get out and get some exercise. After that we went to dinner with some wonderful ladies from my message board. Mom and I both had a great time with them :-)
Dixie and me by the fake elephants

People got to feed the giraffes

The monkeys were intrigued by Dixie and followed us around their enclosure

The cool stripey deer

Mom's favorite-the elephants


Today we went to try and get a standby appointment for the breast ultrasound. It didn't happen, so we came back to the new hotel and I napped most of the day. It is in the 90's here and it is taking a lot out of me. We went to my wonderful chiro at 4 and she did more cold laser and tried the BEST method to "reset" my nervous system and try and help the emotional component of everything. I'm not sure how well it worked but it definitely helped me relax. After that we walked around the outdoor mall and had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory (and ended up with leftovers for dinner tomorrow!).
Dixie has continued to do extremely well. Nothing at the zoo phased her and she does great at doctors and restaurants. At the Cheesecake Factory our waitress and the couple sitting across the aisle had no idea she was there until we left (which is the best compliment an SD can get). My chiro and the rest of the employees love her. I love that I get to tell everyone that she came form a shelter. I can't ever give back to her what she has given to me, so I try to pay it forward to other wonderful dogs and cats who are homeless.
Tomorrow we have my breast ultrasound (we got it moved up a day at least!). We also hope that the insurance will have approved some more of the tests, since we called today to ask about it. Once the tests are done, we can start seeing more specialists!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Day 2...sort of

So Mom and I got up bright and early at 7 AM to be at Mayo at 730 to be on standby for a breast ultrasound and some other tests. I dragged myself and Dixie out of bed, we walk down there and guess what? Yup, Mayo is closed on the weekend. Apparently my nurse had her days confused.
So we came back and went back to bed. We "slept in" and then decided to go to St. Augustine and the outlets there.
There was an American Apparel store and they had Andrew (my brother)'s favorite polos on sale for 10$ so we got him 6 to tide him over for a few months :-p We went around to BCBG, Gucci, Guess, Coach and the Bebe outlet, just to name a few. Surprisingly, I found 2 really cute tops and a nice scarf at bebe. Mom got an adorable pair of flats and we got out ridiculously cheap. I also got a great new pair of low top Chucks at the Converse store.
We also stopped at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for the best candy apples any where. I got 2 carmel with white chocolate and sprinkles and one candy apple and Mom got a caramel apple (although we've nibbled on al of them!). They are so hard to find in NC so I was super excited to get them here (yes, I'm a fat kid...I own it!)
We got some dinner and came back to the hotel because we were all tired and I was really sore.
Dixie did great, even when some smallish mutt tried to attack her. One of the ladies at the RMCF owned a Catahoula as well and gave Dixie a free peanut butter cookie dipped in white chocolate. Dixie now says that is one of her favorite places in the world too (and she says Christmas hint hint :-P )
Tomorrow we are going to sleep in and then maybe take Dixie to the beach for the first time. Then tomorrow night we are having dinner with two friends that live down here! I can't wait!
Monday we are back to the hospital at 730 for the breast ultrasound and more stuff.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mayo Clinic Day 1

We got to Jacksonville around 5 yesterday and just hung out at the hotel because we were all exhausted. We've had no access problems with Dixie and she has done great! We couldn't get the internet figured out so I could only check my e-mail and get on Facebook from Mom's iPhone.

Today we had to be at Mayo at 8. We saw my main doctor (who supports holistic medicine and has been rated as one of the top 25 in the US the past 2 years) and he sent me to get bloodwork, a chest x-ray and an ekg today. He also referred me to an upper cervical chiropractor who did an adjustment and a cold laser treatment. She was wonderful as well and super gentle. I was decently out of alignment and it was much better after the treatment

Tomorrow we know I have a breast ultrasound (since breast cancer runs in our family) and a few other tests. I will see a pain psychologist, breast specialist and one or two other doctors. I'm seeing the chiro 3 times next week as well.

Dixie has done really really well and has made me so proud. It is really hard for her to watch the doctor mess with me because it hurts, but she hasn't been disruptive at all. We've got to tell so many people her story and everyone is surprised she came from a shelter.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dogs die every day for the greed of humans

Today is National Puppy Mill Awareness Day
This is a day for everyone to try and get the word out on the deplorable thing that is puppy mills. If anyone doesn't know, a puppy mill is a large scale breeding operation where the dogs are kept in tiny cages stacked on one another and forced to breed until they no longer can. Dogs that can breed are sold at auction if they are lucky and shot, blugeoned or killed in another horrible manner and tossed in the back.
These dogs never see sunshine, have never put their feet on grass, they don't know the joy that is being indoors with a family. They are bred and bred and their puppies are taken away too early.
So when you see those cute puppies in the pet store window for sale for thousands of dollars (like a product, a thing, not a living creature) remember their parents who suffer immeasureable cruelty for that puppy to be there. It doesn't matter if the store says they don't get dogs from puppy mills. They get the dogs from brokers who buy from puppy mills. NO REPUTABLE BREEDER WOULD SELL ANIMALS IN A STORE.
Reputable breeders do exist. They are few and far between however. Reputable breeders have champion dogs (NOT champion lines) which shows that these dogs are the best of their breed. They don't have more than 1 or 2 litters a year. They have a rigourous screening process and a waiting list to get one of their puppies. They don't breed until they have homes for all the dogs.
Now, I'm sure some of you are saying, well, my breeder wasn't like that, but they were still good. No, my friend, your breeder is what is referred to as a Backyard Breeder. They breed for many reasons: they have a great dog, they want to make money off of the dog they bought from another BYB, they want their children to see the "miracle of birth" (which by the way, is not miraculous as messy and heart-breaking when dead babies are born), they want their dog to have the experience of being a mother (dogs don't care. seriously. spay them and they will never know). These people are just as irresponsible as puppy millers, even though their cruelty, greed and thoughtlessness come in a different form.
There is a new trend in the US these days. That of "designer breeds." Guess what that precious labra-chi-pom-a-doodle-poo is? A mutt. People pay thousands of dollars for mutts that were started by these deplorable practices. It is just a marketing tactic so they can sell more animals. Any of those expensive mutts are just that: mutts. They can't be registered with a reputable registry and they can't breed more from 2 of the same mutt. So, for example, if you breed a lab/poodle cross to a lab/poodle cross, you can get labs or you can get poodles. Since a breed has to breed true for many years, guess what? Yep, it is NOT a breed. Don't fall into that trap.
The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 3-4 MILLION dogs and cats are put to sleep every year. Why are they being killed? For the most part, because they committed the crime of being unwanted. A new baby came, the family moved, a new significant other didn't like them, they didn't have time for the animal.
At least 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred. There are puppies, adult dogs who are already trained, tiny dogs like chihuahuas and dachshunds. If you aren't planning to show your dog, why not adopt one of these wonderful animals? All of my animals are rescued and from them, I have a service dog, a future dog sport star, a wonderful little dog with a great temperament. Our house only has rescue animals. We have few behavior problems, few health problems and the gratitude that comes from rescuing an animal.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Holy Cow, We're heading to Florida!

Yep, we are heading to the Mayo Clinic! Next Friday if you can believe it. Honestly, it doesn't even seem real to me yet. In one week I will be in Florida.
This could be it. Where we figure out what the hell is wrong with me and how to fix it. When I can drive again and go out with my friends and go back to Raleigh and vet school and get my life back. No more sling, pain meds, sleepless nights, attacks. Holy shit.
But the other side of that is terror. We have been disappointed so many times, what if it happens again. If Mayo can't figure it out, who can? I won't go in to the other what ifs I have.
I have to admit, I'm excited to have a weekend in Florida. Dixie has never seen the beach, so I'm gonna try to find a dog friendly beach for her.
I promise both Dixie and I will blog our experiences while we are there!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

My concept of a soulmate is much broader than most

Most people think that a soulmate is a person who is perfect for you, who is your other half. I don't necessarily disagree with that, I just think that a soulmate can take many forms. For me, my soulmate has 4 feet, a tail and spots.
I know people will say that I am just a crazy dog lady but why can't a dog be your soulmate? I doubt there is any human who can do what she does for me. She gives me quality of life, confidence that I can go out and not be totally debilitated if I have an attack and she give me comfort. She always knows how I feel and she is always there for me. No one can celebrate like a dog does, no one can comfort like them either. She is my heart dog.
So many people flip out when I say that it won't break my heart if I don't get married. Don't get me wrong, I would love to find someone I loved enough to spend the rest of my life with. But I already have so many wonderful people and animals in my life and I continue to meet more.

Monday, September 7, 2009

It was a one step forward two step back kind of week.

I am being referred to the Mayo Clinic in Florida. We had a little snafu with insurance, but it was resolved and I should find out my appointment time and date this week. We have used up our resources here in NC and we still have no answers. Not to mention, we'll be in Florida! Mom, Dixie and I will make a stop in Charleston at my grandparents' house and possibly pick up my grandmother then head down there.
Unfortunately, I also went down hill this week. I thought things had leveled off again (I even mentioned it to my therapist) and was happy. Sunday afternoon I was working on some school work when, out of the blue, pain like I haven't felt before shot through my left chest. It sent me into tears immediately and Mom and I were trying to decide if we should go to the ER.
We decided not to since there is nothing they can do and it isn't worth the hours wait and 200$ co-pay for a pain injection that will wear off in a few hours. I took some more pain meds and laid down to just wait it out.
About 20 minutes in to this, Dixie started alerting that an attack was coming. I took my meds and she stayed by my side the entire time. It was really a short attack and not as severe as the ones where she wasn't there to alert. I am honestly so so amazingly thankful for my wonderful dog. She improves my quality of life in a way no one else can.
Today the pain is still there but I haven't had any more attacks. I can't use my arm at all any more since any movement makes the pain worse. It is kind of scary, I guess I just wasn't prepared to get this much worse this fast.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Please Vote for Lola and Laura

Vote for Lola and Laura!
I entered the picture below in BAD RAP's calendar contest this year. The top 12 get to be in their 2010 calendar and we would love to be one of those! All proceeds go to pit bull rescue and education.