Quick post-cardiologist update

I wanted to do a quick check in about the cardiologist’s findings, since I mentioned it in yesterday’s post. We went this morning for the exam. At first, listening to his heart, the doc was concerned and I signed an estimate that would have included both an x-ray and an ECG (side note: People kept saying ‘eKg’ so that’s what I was saying too but it was definitely an eCg that they did. Anyway.) We waited for a bit and I warned them about Dexter’s “stinky butt anxiety” where when he’s nervous he’s much more likely to let a little go. Actually, he did MUCH better with that than any visit before! Very little came out – just used a tissue on his bum twice – and he only stank up the room about three times! For Dexter, this is awesome (and for my nose, too).

When the doc took him back to do the ECG, they discovered that his left and right valves both have “very minor” leaks – this is probably why it sounded like a “Grade 4” (scale of 1-6). After seeing it, she decided the x-ray was unnecessary for the time being! Long story short, nothing new is really on the horizon for Dex – at his next normal vet checkup, I’ll get his blood pressure tested, and if it’s high, we can talk about medicating that since it would be tough on his leaky valves. However, from what I was told, it sounds like many dogs who have this issue often don’t get any worse; since Dexter was first presenting with this a year ago, and it’s still in a small/minor stage, I’m cautiously hopeful it will stay the same. Obviously, if anything gets worse in the short term, I’ll bring him in for more tests! But if not, he’ll be getting yearly ultrasounds to monitor the leaks, and then if anything worsens we’ll treat it, and if not, after a few years, they’ll be less worried with treatment if it’s stayed the same all that time.

I took a couple pics of Dexter while we waited, nothing elaborate. But he was very very VERY glad that no one stuck him with anything and they didn’t even take his temperature! No one touched his butt! I’m sure he was rejoicing on the way home as he didn’t whine once during the 20+ minute drive in his carrier.

Final note – Squall seemed to be in pain when we got up this morning but since giving him the Gabapentin, he’s sleeping cozily next to me as I type this. Here’s hoping that the 7 days of 2x a day, then 7 days of 1x a day, gets him through this ‘flare up’ and back to normal. Otherwise, Gabapentin is safe to be on long-term, and the liquid form can be concentrated, but it was $60 for the amount I got so far, ouch! Since he already eats special food that runs about $74 for 24 days! Oh, my little furbabies.

At the cardiologist's. "Mom, pleeeeaaase can we go now?"
At the cardiologist’s. “Mom, pleeeeaaase can we go now?”
At the cardiologist's. "Mom, I can SEE OUR CAR."
At the cardiologist’s. “Mom, I can SEE OUR CAR.”

It’s been a while, sorry!

Hi everyone,

Sorry for the delay in updates. Since the majority of my social network made up the bulk of the donations, sometimes I forget that the Facebook posts I make aren’t enough! Here’s an overview of Dexter’s current situation.

Overall, he’s much better than a few months ago. It’s crazy to realize just how much time has passed, and yet it also has only been going on 8 months since his surgery on September 2nd. Last month I was feeling kind of depressed about his progress and wondering if he would ever be ‘all the way better’, but then I reviewed the pictures of his injury, and WOW!!! He has come a LONG way.

Okay, from here on, there may be some TMI!

Day-to-day, he’s doing really well. Dexter has settled on the canned Purina One diet as his food of choice, and I’ve tried a few different mix-ins to see if I can help him go regularly, but not have any accidents. Over the last few weeks, he’s reduced greatly in the amount of accidental poop (where he used to just be laying in his crate, and his butt would not be able to hold in what was just a normal, small amount). On walks, when he goes to the bathroom, it takes him a little longer and maybe a few more sessions to get it all out, but he is NOT in pain, which is wonderful!!! Never any whining or sad doggie sounds – just that it takes him some time. During the winter and snowy months, he managed all right, and even played in the snow more than any other year!

However, he still does have a little bit of a messy butt usually after a walk and then at some point during the day. I’ve taken to covering my couches in fabric that can be easily thrown in the wash, just to be safe. It’s down to twice a week or so that I discover a place where his butt has left something behind on the carpet (always without him meaning to). In the morning when he ‘has to go’, he’s 99% of the way able to hold it in until I get my shoes on and get him out the door. If any comes out, it’s just a small smear (though of course this still means more cleaning for me!)

In NON poop related updates, I’m taking him to the cardiologist tomorrow (4/25) for an EKG to check out his heart murmur. It’s been longer than I wanted, but he had about 2 days of enough coughing to freak me out, and then of course after I made the appointment he seems basically 100% fine again. But I’ll still get the workup done and hopefully get him on medication.

All in all, I was first frustrated by his progress but have been able to recognize over the last few weeks especially that he’s doing much better overall. He now surprise-farts and scares himself, which is pretty hilarious (though the stench is not so funny), which he never did pre-surgery. But compared to the crying and suffering, yeah, it’s not so bad.

Thank you again to everyone who made this possible. I’m also still battling my cat’s idiopathic cystitis, especially this month as he’s had 2 vet visits in 7 days – but thanks to all of you, my little family is on the road to recovery and we’ve settled into a fun new kind of normal. <3

Squall says, “What about me? And this slipper?”
My two furbabies together in the sun!
Loungin’ around
He’s so moest 😛
The boys being with me – shortly after I first let Dexter back on the couch, so he was very happy!
More modesty
The boys “helping” me work from home
He was being so snuggly! Hard to get any good photos, this one is okay.
“I can be on the couch now right?”
Artsy Dexter

Dexter loves autumn!

Well, except for the rain – he doesn’t like that at all! He’s been having a lot of great walks otherwise. The steady progress seems to be continuing. I snapped a picture of him outside today simply to show his hair re-growth on his back – the shaved edge is all but gone! It also kind of shows the current shape of his butt. He was standing still in the picture, and it’s not really distorted (take my word for it, I guess). More pictures below!

Just showing the way his hair has regrown and shape of his behind
Just showing the way his hair has regrown and shape of his behind

The right side where his muscles were rebuilt is tucked in closer to his body, more ‘normal’. His left side still has a little slope that it should not have. From the under-tail view, though, progress is DEFINITELY visible compared to a month ago. The area on the left does not seem to hold as much feces anymore and so his butt now points only a little to the right, even when he’s going to the bathroom. It used to come out of his body at a right angle, believe it or not.. So it’s better than that, for sure!

November is off to a good start for Dexter. He’s still kind of dribbling urine when he shouldn’t be, and he still leaves some poo smears when he’s curled up in a towel or blanket – so he’s still not allowed on the furniture or the bed, much to his dismay. But he hasn’t had an accident in his crate in weeks. He seems to be regaining the ability to ‘hold it’ – like when it was rainy and he refused to go until the next walk! This is all very ‘normal dog’ behavior returning to him, so I am hopeful it will continue to improve.

Photos below are some various cute ones from the last few weeks. For the Dexter fans!!!

I like the highlights on his eyebrows
I like the highlights on his eyebrows
Something caught his eye!
Something caught his eye!
Chewing his favorite toy
Chewing his favorite toy
"Why aren't you throwing the bone?"
“Why aren’t you throwing the bone?”
Getting all the way out of 'bed' was too much work I guess
Getting all the way out of ‘bed’ was too much work I guess

Slow but steady progress

Hi Dexter fans! We had a checkup with Dr Collins yesterday. The verdict can be summarized, “He’s not quite as healed as we’d like, but he’s doing well and we think he will keep getting better.” The exact words used were “He hasn’t peaked yet.” So that’s good! There’s also currently no herniation to the right side muscles like I was worried about. The urinary problem is hopefully going to keep improving, as he re-learns the feelings from his bladder. And more importantly, his rectum issue is looking better than a few weeks ago, even if it’s not as “snapped back” as we’d like yet. I got some more instruction on how to squeeze/massage his rear end in order to make sure the area is fully vacated, allowing it to heal more, we hope. Basically, Dexter gets 3 walks with me and 1 with a dog walker (on weekdays, at least), and when I walk him I am going to make sure he’s cleared out as much as we can. This is only possible because of surgery – he was WAY too painful back there before, and if you even tried to touch it, he would cry and shiver. So the fact he lets me touch him at ALL, let alone squeeze the area, is crazy! It’s not pleasant to be sure, but to me, he looks to be improving a little faster now that I have started helping him out in this way. Besides, he is a good little patient. Here are a couple pics from his bath last night. He was so squirmy it was impossible to get any better ones than this!!

dexter bath 1 dexter bath 2

An overdue update

Hi everyone! I do apologize for the length in between these updates. I have been carried away with work and getting my life to some state of ‘normal’ again. Anyway, Dexter! Whenever someone asks me “how is he?” I can only say, “I’m still not sure and it varies day to day, but overall, I think he is improving.” It’s not a resounding answer, I know. And I haven’t had another vet appointment yet to provide any more solidity to this update. In a nutshell, his incontinence and pooping ability in general seems to vary a little more than I’d like but compared to a few weeks ago, I think(?) he is better. The ongoing concern is still that while his left side tries to ‘snap back’ to its proper size, it’s not able to use the muscles as well, and his right (surgically-repaired) side is doing too much of the work… and thus at risk for more herniation. I don’t know if that’s happened until I get another rectal exam done at the next vet visit, but I’m definitely not thrilled that his butt has not really decreased in size over the last 2 weeks, either 🙁 His urinary function is still a bit odd. He pees when he’s startled, which was never remotely an issue before; when he goes outside, he only sometimes seems to start and/or stop peeing when he wants to (so he licks at himself when he’s annoyed about it); he only just ran out of pain medicine for that yesterday (10/12) and so I’m not yet sure if I’ll need to refill the prescription or if his pain has improved.
These are the reasons why I’m going to schedule a vet visit within the next few days or possibly this weekend. He’s also running low on rimadyl anti-inflammatory pain medicine, and I’m not sure if it’s still helping or not, but Dr. Collins will know!

Surgery checkup

Dexter had another appointment this morning at Alpenglow with Dr Eshelman. It’s been a tough week for me since I had a surprise wisdom tooth extraction on Tuesday, so I’ve been juggling pain meds for myself as well as Dexter’s care. Since my last update, I’ve tried various doses of lactulose (stool softener) and coconut oil both with and without the lactulose at the same time. The goal is to get his body to pass stool as quickly as possible as soon as it’s ready to come out, so that it doesn’t make his rectum dilated any more and gives it a chance to “snap back” into place, but so far no matter what dose of anything he receives, he won’t have the “liquid” state of diarrhea that would make this snap back happen fastest. So long as it’s too dilated, he doesn’t have proper function and is partially incontinent, leaving poo all over my house and in his crate (where he spends most of the time already).

The last two days of using coconut oil in conjunction with lactulose have given him a pretty good result. The stool is formed (and not paste-like, which is very hard to pass), but seems a bit easier to get out with the addition of the coconut oil. In addition to this, I discussed with Dr Eshelman that I could manually help his body along by snapping on some gloves and massaging Dexter’s bum. Today he was very tolerant and pain-free when the doctor gave him some gentle squeezes and got a few tablespoons of soft stool out that way. His rectum (really his whole backside) looks much more properly sized and shaped now that we are resting at home. I’ll have to start figuring out the best way to do this at home since I don’t have the same table/setup as the vet’s office. I’m also unhappily waiting until tomorrow morning for my next dentist appointment as it seems like my extraction site has gotten infected. In other words, I’ll update when I can and when there’s any news about my furbaby.

He was good at the vet’s today! Very low on whining, and let them do their work without much struggle. He’s cleared for normal physical activity again since it’s been about a month since surgery. Yay! Here he is waiting for the doctor. You can see his hair is slowly regrowing.


Dexter waiting for the doctor on Sept 28th
Dexter waiting for the doctor on Sept 28th

Dexter and the mysterious peeing problem

Fun title, right? :\ Well, it’s been a few days since my last update, but there’s not much change to report, unfortunately. Dexter is definitely having pain when he urinates – sometimes he yelps, not necessarily every time, but every time he struggles to stop urinating once he’s started. I heard from Alpenglow today, and there is NO sign of infection – which is unfortunate, because an antibiotic would have been an easy solution. Since Dr. Eshelman is traveling for the next week, the doctor who is temporarily assigned my case (Dr. Pauls, or something to that effect – this was an update over the phone) is going to be emailing him for advice on proceeding. I didn’t get any information about the problem to explain what it is, why it’s happening, or what can be done, but I am supposed to hear back again tomorrow.

It sucks, because the pooping problem is not sorted out yet, either. His body and the lactulose (stool softener) do not go together according to plan, as usual – the stool just refuses to reach that liquidy state that Dr Eshelman would like, to give the rectum and that whole area its best chance to regain normal function. I’m authorized to up his dosage one more time, but it’s ridiculous – normally diarrhea isn’t a good thing, but when you DO want it… Sigh. I should add that his diet has also included a hefty dose of unflavored Pedialyte added to his food at every meal to increase his liquid intake, and it hasn’t helped so far.

Anyway, the next checkup at Louisville Family is on 9/21 (monday) and I’ll be seeing Dr Eshelman at Alpenglow on the next monday, 9/28. These visits together are already > $100 and any medications or other tests will be additional costs. I’m quickly getting back to the point where all of my spending money is going to my pet bills… And with winter fast approaching here in Colorado, I have got to put some dollars into winterizing my 12-year-old car.

Sorry I don’t have any new pictures for this post. It has been a stressful week. I’ll try and take some over the next few days. Thanks for your support.

Dexter gets “the full monty”

Today was the surgery checkup to remove sutures and see his progress, and it was also my 29th birthday! Yay…Sadly, it wasn’t the best news, although his sutures were removed, and both his repaired muscles, plus his left un-altered side, still feel really good according to Dr. Eshelman. He spent the day at Alpenglow because they wanted to do an exam that required him to be under some narcotics. He also got a full-on bath that the tech said was so thorough that she had given him “the full monty!” I thought that was funny. The issue is that Dexter’s rectum is too dilated – open, I suppose is a synonym – and because he had about 6 months of in-between surgeries, where this issue was ongoing, the doctor is concerned that it may never fully retract to the proper position.

Recapping the last few days, briefly: Dexter’s been very happy emotionally and quite pleased with life except for one issue; he’s been pretty much incontinent in terms of passing feces, his rectum was dilated and swollen, and despite many sessions hand washing his back end, there was crusting and irritation of the area. (Now that the sutures are out, he can be bathed again, but until today, that wasn’t an option – hence hand washing.) On top of that, as I’d reduced the dose of stool softeners in order to ease this diarrhea-born surface irritation, Dr Eshelman seemed concerned that the rectum was beginning to accumulate stool within it, and thus dilating further, and not getting better… 🙁 The rectum needs to regain its normal sphincter action in order for him to return to fully normal life. Otherwise, the issue will continue where no matter if he tries to poop outside a million times or not at all, when he’s doing normal activity or even just sleeping, poo comes out of him. It’s gross and not pleasant for anyone, but it’s also scary because the ideal recovery would, by now, have him regaining this function instead of seeming to have plateaued.

Anyway, his incontinence has continued pretty much unchanged and we’d had to develop some new bathing methods. Today he had his sutures removed and now he can be bathed again, but in order to let his rectum heal, he needs to be kept on stool softeners until he’s going “as liquidy as possible” – yay 🙁

Therefore, tonight while I was having dinner for my birthday, and Dexter was still doped up from his narcotics-fueled rectal exam of this afternoon, I gave him a trial run in a doggy diaper. BOY, was this dog ANGRY!!!! He has put up with a lot, but he was in full-on sulking, whining-for-no-reason, petulant pup mode, for sure. That said, I could tell he was in no pain and it was simply an emotional response, so we went to dinner with him in the cone locked in the crate. On returning home, he was still discontent, and had managed to tug his diaper a bit low on one leg (despite wearing his usual two-cone combination outfit), but overall he was perfectly fine. At one point tonight he even gave up on sulking long enough to eat his dinner (Purina One canned food with additional unflavored pedialyte for nutrition and hydration – he HATES drinking water).

He has a long way to go still before he is out of the woods. I’m now back at the point of $350-400 vet visits for each of these exams (because there’s too much pain on his unhappy rear for them to do an exam without narcotics) and if he needs an enema over the next few weeks, then it will be the same sort of deal. I’ve decided to add a second ‘goal’ bar to my page to track donations for after-care. I know a few people have expressed the desire to help but I’d reached the goal already and so I just want it to be obvious that Dexter STILL NEEDS HELP! I hope that is understandable.

Here is a picture of him in his diaper and cone. The ultimate in Pathetic Combination Dayware:

After Dexter's follow up on 9/14, he is not happy with the first wearing of the diaper!
After Dexter’s follow up on 9/14, he is not happy with the first wearing of the diaper!

Wednesday – 1 Week Later

I haven’t updated due to my own sudden onset of sore throat sickness draining my energy, but Dexter has been doing well! Today marks 1 week since his surgery, and we had a 2nd progress exam at LFAH. There are so many various things, I think I’ll just make a list this time to hit on each point:

  • His incisions and sutures are healing well. The bruising is all gone. Only one spot near the neuter site will need some topical treatment (neosporin is all)
  • His pain levels have been pretty good. Without tramadol, so he has actually been eating, too! We got the OK to continue his treatment with 1 vetprofen a day (any more is ineffective as it’s a 24 hr dosage already)
  • His appetite and energy levels are great. Adding some unflavored Pedialyte to his food to help supplement his liquids intake, as well.
  • His bladder and urinary function is recovering but still not ‘normal’ – this makes a lot of sense given they have moved the bladder in such a way that it no longer contracts quite as ‘freely’, as one side is now attached to his abdominal wall. But he no longer has to take bethanechol and so he hasn’t had as much urinary leakage – this also means no more irritation on his underbelly.

Overall, it’s going great!! So far, Dr Collins thinks he is healing enough on his own that we haven’t yet done any laser therapy or other options. I have an appointment with Dr Eshelman on Monday 9/14 to hopefully get his sutures out!! Yay!! That is my birthday too – it will be a great present. 🙂

Dexter was enjoying the grass on his belly! He didn't want to go inside!
Dexter was enjoying the grass on his belly! He didn’t want to go inside!

Sunday night update

Dexter’s pain levels have seemed really great on the new approach (no tramadol and using vetprofen) but since I only had a small amount of Bethanechol (for his bladder to help it contract and go more easily) I’m not sure if his current unhappiness is due to the pain when he tries to pee or there is a functional difficulty – it seemed a lot easier when he was on the fentanyl patch, but was also getting bethanechol 3x a day as opposed to 2. In any case, he has been tossing and turning way too much today. Plus, his underbelly has a red spot that’s from urine leaking out of his body and basically giving him a patch of diaper rash 🙁 It was getting better yesterday and today seems rather red again. So I’m not sure why he’s not going enough, but then some is leaking out maybe due to the medication or maybe due to him “re-learning” the signals.

In any case, I’ll be trying to refill/extend the days he is on bethanechol starting tomorrow. Alpenglow is open during Labor Day and they are the ones who called in the prescription before. The only pharmacy in the area I could find was a King Soopers which is open 24 hrs so hopefully the pharmacy department is open… Until then, trying to give him some relief with some late-night walks and some topical ointment on the red spot. 🙁