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Posted on 04-05-2018
Here is the story of Abby--a dachshund that suffered back paralysis from an injury, and with acupuncture and hydrotherapy was able to get stronger and start walking!
Trying to keep this short: But how do I start??
Timeline: 2:00 pm - Initial attack from Perry our neighbors dog. They didn’t touch, a lot of snapping though.
3:00 pm - A bit earlier she jumped off of the couch resulting in a yip. Now a missed jump up to the couch and she crumples in pain.
4:30 pm - Took her to Aerowood Animal Hospital (Eastgate) approximately 40 min away. She weighs in at 25.4 lbs.
7:00 pm - estimated arrival home, prognosis not good. A lot to consider…
Boom my Abby, a dachshund, is down – rear end paralysis. I called Animal Wellness for their referral, Sunday… They referenced to a 24hour emergency hospital located in Eastgate. No guessing for me – she is loaded into the car next to me, and we scoot for Eastgate.
Monday – 10 am appointment with Animal wellness center, Bellevue. Doctor Sodhi has been our vet with many animals we have had previously. He was sent the file from the hospital and is examining the x-ray and her. While he is hopeful – he is honest and concerned - being a dachshund, is against her. The location of the ruptured or herniated disk is still uncertain due to swelling - which has not diminished as yet. We immediately discuss a regimen of acupuncture and aqua therapy. I am aware he offers these treatments and has had wonderful results. Proceeding with treatment ASAP seems manageable – more so than the expense of a back surgery with the strong possibility of it not working as well as one hopes. With people the back surgery is still a 50/50 success rate. Likely subject to how much a person will work on their recovery, but an animal will just do, not letting apprehensions hold them back. We start prednisone for inflammation, Tramadol for pain, and a Pepcid like dose for protecting the stomach – 2x’s a day.
Wed and Fri -- We start the acupuncture treatments. She looks like the pin cushion you would expect. While she is tense and suspicious (a rescue dog and the baggage issue we have had to deal with), she accepts the treatments pretty well. By the weekend she seems to feel a little better. Sitting up, and wanting our attention. She now has a bit of an appetite – sitting to eat. We are under direction to get her weight down to 20lbs or less. So we have altered her meals to be more protein based and reduce the portions. Also – we are to tickle her rear toes, hoping to stimulate a rabbit kick response. To her annoyance we tickle. Right now she just looks at us. We support her during her bathroom outs. We are lucky, and she is successful on cue. We flip her often as she gets restless when left too long on one side, even though she makes the effort herself. Her bed is fashioned from an old feather comforter, covered with a garbage bag (just in case), a large bath towel and finally a fleece throw. She seems to rest and has good support with this forming to her shape. Lots of fur pets, and massage to help with tight muscles. OK – a bit spoiled.
Monday -- Ya-hoo!! We decide to add the aqua session, so Dr Sodhi and Carissa (his aqua therapist ) assess her in the chamber first to see how she is using her body when supported by water. I come to find out dachshunds sink in the rear while swimming. Thus they are not water dogs. For now she has her moments, indicating water will work, but both Doctor and his tech decide she would do better in the pool with a flotation jacket. With acupuncture - she is tested with a higher current to see if swelling has reduced enough for the nerves to connect giving the back feet a chance to respond. She is slow but responds to the test. Treatments are run at a lower and even current, and stimulates for 15-20 minutes at a time. After awhile, she relents and relaxes for the duration.
Wednesday -- Aside from her never liking even a bath, and looking somewhat panic stricken, Carissa is remarkable with her in the pool. Even the drying off with a blower goes better than I ever thought it would, due to her mistrust when introduced to new cycles. This is a doozy – everything is new and not her pick.
Friday -- She weighs in at 23.6 lbs (1.8 less). We stick with both acupuncture and pool - three times a week. She is responding and I can see certain changes. Carissa applies acupressure to her tail to get her to use the back feet in the water – it works, even though she has to change the location often to find thee spot. She feels way better after treatments and I see her smile.
Weekends -- We work at home to keep her feet straight, as she crosses them often, which results in a drag behind her, entangled – very bad. I borrow the lifejacket to work over the weekend in the tub. Well that was a debacle. Not enough room for me to stand, with her between my feet, and for me to get an efficient rotation of the back feet. Also, I could not get the water deep enough, and she stiffens to stand on her tippy toes to resist. Oh well..
Monday -- We start out almost off the prednisone and pain pills. With that, she brightens up. Definitely more active, and we need to curtail her dashes and spins on her tail when she gets excited. Back legs loosen a little with the pool work, but she still stiffens them in any other scenario. We support her to pee & poo. We work with her outside of class on the tickle and bicicle rotations – one leg at a time. WOO!! While on her back she actually rabbit kicked – only once, but it was a kick. She hates, at this time to be on her back – we are relentless.
Wednesday -- She weighs in at 22.6 (1.0 less). Doctor Sodhi addresses the need for a walking wheelchair. He thinks it will also encourage muscle memory between the functioning front end and the dysfunction of the rear. She shows that there is nerve response when forced and definitely, the pool does it work. I can empathize as I teach an H2O Arthritis and Injury class at the YMCA. I have arthritis issues, and bone on bone conditions, present in both knees. Water is wonderfully nurturing and eases the joints from pain. While working in the pool one stimulates the synovial fluid necessary to lubricate the joints. I truly am blessed to have Sodhi and his facility so close. Not to mention – the Doctor and his staff work relentlessly to make the animals feel better. I see a change in Abbys’ attitude, as well, towards going to the vet. She attempts to jump, as best she can – as if to say; “Don’t you think of leaving me behind. This is my day!” This speaks volumes, for she started not being the most trusting dog. Not the vets fault. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday she sticks to me like glue. “Yes – you are taking me!”. Every Tuesday and Thursday – she accepts my schedule of walking out the door for work. While sad to see me to go, she accepts this as the day off. More importantly her body language is entirely different.
Friday -- We light out early for Whidby Island and K-9 Carts, Freeland, for a custom fitting to a wheelchair. The chair allows her to walk, supporting her rear end with two hoops, much like shocks on a car. Much to my surprise, she takes to the chair with comfort and swagger, and again - she smiles. OK!
Turning around, and bee lining it back, to make our appointment with Doctor Sodhi at 3pm. While it is a long day for us both, she is excited to show off – demonstrating her new toy to those at the veterinarian office. At pool side, I start to run along the edge and Abby makes the effort to catch me. I encourage her to, and she wants to please. It demonstrates, that with a higher action - comes a forgetfulness of back leg action. Not stiffening, but rounded – hum??!!
As we arrive home I decide – Why not, let’s go for a walk. Using the wheelchair, to see how her session went with her treatments. She usually seems spry after treatments, and sure enough, she struts right out excited to see what is up our road today. We go to our neighbor’s driveway, approximately 664 feet (round trip) from the front door of our house. Shortly after starting, I put on the socks to prevent scuffing the knuckles. I use the leg straps to minimize dragging her legs. She takes on the challenge and makes our 1st goal, a little slow but diligent. Now wait! - there is dinner at the house, so home we go – full steam ahead. So my tension eases to see how easily she returns to the house. Dinner and rest – ah my bed and how comfee it is…she is tired, but so am I, after the long day in the car. Also, I haven’t been walking on land for the leisure of a the walk . Usually walking triggers a glitch in my knee &/or hip. So again, if I can – I watch her, and observe, using how my body reacts as a guide of assessing her.
The weekend -- and future week days: Now we set upon the addition of daily walks @ 10am & 4pm on the average.
Lengths (note: human fit bit sets the length by pedometer readings):
1st point – Scott’s driveway, the short walk – 664 ft round trip (uphill slightly2-4%)
2nd point – Snow’s driveway, the medium walk – 930 ft rd trip (from Scotts’ the road levels out somewhat)
3rd point – Street sign/hydro, the long walk – 1100 ft rd trip (road mostly level by now)
4th point – Mark’s driveway, the really long walk – 1260 ft rd trip (still slightly up) – by car it measures almost 0.4 miles.
Home, treats, rest and lots of massages to ease muscle tension. Adjustments to our walks and schedule are subject to how early we need to leave the house. How she feels, and if up for the rain – a big motivator - not. However, the possibility of a rabbit on our route, is of high interest. So far it is only goats, an occasional free roaming horse (harmless), and Perry, the aforementioned lab. He is not usually out (his owner is aware we need to walk and keeps him corralled during the 10a/4p walks). Occasionally though, he escapes his master, he barks across the great lawn straight for us. I just pick Abby up, wheelchair and all, and yell at him to go home. So far it has been working.
Weekends – are stepping up per the result of the previous week. We rotate or bicicle the back legs to encourage the muscles to give and work in that way. We rest between our walks and provide her bed close to us as she too watches TV.
We are finally off prednisone, and pain pills only when she is restless (usually on the long days or Friday, at weeks’ end), less and less as time goes on. This week continues with the norm – onward, upward – upward and on.
Weekend also progresses with chair walks – short, medium, one long (1100 feet round trip). She loves being outside and with her geared up (socks, straps, chair). Her head is up and perky – tail wags freely with the motion of a trot on the downhill return.
Monday -- starts package three. She weighs in at 21.8 lbs (0.8 less).
Wednesday – Feb 14th, marks one month from the date of her collapse and paralysis. She is walking without the aid of the straps. I keep reminding her to use her feet, when I see her curl her toes and stand on the knuckle. Sometimes I place them in the right position, as I repeat “Use your feet” and she seems to understand, willing to correct feet positioning when I make her aware. No one said dogs are dumb – and she is no exception. I always get a side look and a sigh, but she will correct them. Left back leg is lagging in strength. Occasionally it seems like the right leg. Doctor Sodhi feels that slight pressure of swelling will change the receptors and thus change the side affected. Mostly though, the left is not as strong.
Friday -- There are pictures taken of her gate/stride, as is left in the snow when we make our way up the road, a work of art. Week by week she shows improvement – getting stronger. She can stand while eating without showing fatigue or shaking. I am working on not using the socks. When I don’t use them, I do not need to remind her of foot placement as much. Our dirt and gravel road seems to send the message, and she is happier to use the pads of her feet without the socks.
Monday -- is truly a great day! A breakthrough in the pool. Sushma (Dr’s wife) takes a video of her back leg motion.
Wednesday -- session starts out with a reassessment in the chamber with treadmill. They are working up a new plan of treatment. It is decided to have her use the wheelchair while partially submerged in the chamber with use of the treadmill.
Friday -- session proves that minor adjustments are necessary. Wheelchair wants to lift in back, and she is trying to just wave the feet, rather than use them. Too smart for her own good, one would say. Meanwhile she has made friends, and is at ease, both with staff and other dogs. I think she likes Angus particularly. Her hackles are not up, and she happily wags her tail when she sees him.
Monday -- Abby wins the battle. Carissa continues to adjust equipment with each treatment to keep the legs working.
Wednesday -- Carissa wins the battle. Back and forth we go – Carissa is more determined…
Friday -- Abby weighs in at 21.5 lbs (0.3 less). This too is successful. Although Rod and I are nervous she is getting awfully thin. Doctor sees her every time, and has said nothing, as we enter the clinic. She is in her wheelchair going in now – wagging her tail – smiling.
Weekend – OK, she knows the routine clearly. A small disruption and she lets’ us know. There are clearly improvements, as our walks are longer and longer without fatigue. She is maneuvering around the house without the chair easier. Linoleum is still a challenge, and while we both try to stop her, sometimes she makes the effort to follow us. Although, I can see the attempt is a hesitant thought as first steps are cautious.
Monday -- due to the challenges to stay one step ahead of Abby, she found she can be lazy in the chamber, Carissa chooses to start this week out with a harness and omit the wheelchair. Again she has better leg action for her change. The result from the down time she suffered, she atrophied terribly. Front end is so much more developed, while the rear is stringy and looks frail. Time to build muscle!
Wednesday -- we are now on package five, and Abby continues to show massive improvements. A new video is taken with her in the chamber, working on the treadmill with great motion in her back legs. She is walking freely and stronger through the living room. When she tires, her motion is a bit rocky, but much improved, even from the week prior. She has started to play again with her toys, and once in a while will roll to her back for the stomach rub she so much desired before this happened.
Friday -- while she has both - acupuncture and chamber treatments. Doctor Sodhi decides we can drop back to acupuncture treatments once a week, rather than the three a week we have been doing. This week has been exceptionally a great week…
Weekend -- she is navigating the linoleum stronger, and more confident with short determined steps - slow but true, with no slippage. Wow! She thinks she can jump up – but quickly realizes this is not happening right now. She collapses into a sit, but with no pain - just with the minor attempt. Again we stop her from doing it, but she is quicker sometimes – ug.
I am challenged with the concept that we are going to have to change our practices. Keep her down, and not lift her up onto the couch. Especially when she is more active than her common sense allows. So we implement the schooling - that she is allowed next to us, on the couch when she is good; and keep her off when she does something silly, like getting down from the couch – more of a slither but down just the same. Rod takes her out morning and late night - now without the wheelchair. He reports she is handling this well. It is not the walks that I take her on, but noodling around the driveway to pick her spot to pee. Then both of them are off to the back bedroom, and bed.
Monday -- Status quo………. She weighs in at 20.7 lbs (0.8 less), and meeting her goal, somewhat. Doctor wanted her 20 lbs or less. She is so big barreled (large rib cage). I am just waiting for her to develop that muscle mass she had at one time.
Wednesday -- marks month two since her collapse/paralysis, and we have made a lot of ground in the two month recovery.
Friday -- shows she is brighter - a different dog. I keep telling her – she has a job to do “get better”. We still strive for a complete recovery. Doctor is happy she has come as far as she has in such a short time. No matter what, the water treatments just brighten her day, and she knows it too. She managed to still fake out Carissa, waving those back legs whenever she can get away with it.
Weekend – I proceed with a game plan of my own. Our walk Friday after we got home, was to the short mark, however, without the wheelchair. I carry the chair (just in case) and half way on the way back she sits. OK – wheelchair time – BUT three quarters of the way was successful – again slow, but she met the challenge. The weekend is spent, slowly, make our way to Scott’s/short. Usually on the way back she is trotting now, setting a better pace for stability. I carry the wheelchair for backup, but haven’t needed it throughout the weekend. On to a new week….
Monday -- Carissa still challenges her, and notes that she is able to make it down the ramp from the chamber unassisted. Abby can follow her to the holding room - willingly. No fear hear, and it is – what has become routine.
Wednesday -- I take a video of her at home walking without the wheelchair, now both ways.
Friday -- is the start of package 6. Rod picks her up around two, but nothing has gone right with the day, and the norm has not happened. Both morning and afternoon walks fell through the cracks. As evening comes on, she is off her pace. Not everyday can be a good day. Everyone has a down day. This just shows how important routine is – at home and with treatments. We have set a pretty intense program, and fortunately it has shown a remarkable steady improvement. We just have to stay the course, and try not to relent.
Weekend -- she just isn’t herself – so I backup to using the wheelchair Saturday during our walks. We take an afternoon ride in the car and she soaks up the sun and enjoys the view. Sunday her attitude picks up again and our walk resumes without the support of the chair – even though I still carry it. Seems like only a slight setback, and back on course from where we left off. Hopefull anyway….
Monday and Wed -- we strive to do the short walk, due to my medical appointments, longer if time allows. Tuesdays and Thursdays we aim for the medium to long walks. Her day is home awaiting my return – Rods’ too. She clearly knows the schedule. With our weather patterns brightening there is more activity on the street. Not so good…
Friday – Our morning walk – normal until short of Scott’s driveway, her ears perk up. I look for what she sees. While I was expecting a rabbit, it turns out we have two lost yellow labs loose and looking at us from our next neighbor’s driveway (the medium goal – not ours today). We turn calmly to return home and I can hear them approaching. I scoop her up with her hackles up, barking/snapping at them as I lift her. They are curious and continue to follow us home, running circles around us. I put Abby in my car. Unleash her and snap the leash on the one who has a collar. His tag provides a phone number and I am successful in contacting the owner. While both labs are yearling puppies (I find out), they act like puppies and are mostly harmless. The whole event though, unnerves Abby and she is really upset. By the time I arrive at the vet (better than an hour later) she is still tense and everything is going to attack, so she thinks. This is just how she is. It is called baggage from being a rescue dog. The rest of the day, is again a minor setback. Nothing she has done wrong, but it seems that when she engages the alpha and hackles are up, she triggers a nerve response and swelling right where it is weak in the spine. Something to keep track of. Another day now to calm and recover and she reverts back to where she was in recovery.
Easter weekend (present time) -- ends with her walking, true and steady. She is playing with her bones again – also a point of note - this as a recent change ?? Jaw clinching and lots of licking, seems to cause an arch in her back. Showing the same weakness and strain at the point of damage. Also something to keep track on.
All and all – we continue the progressive progress of gaining leg strength. I truly am blessed that I knew of Animal Wellness and of their facility to contact them as this happened. It has only been two and one-half months (2 ½) and not the six that was originally expected. I feel I have chosen the right path and expect we will continue with a maintenance program when Doctor Sodhi thinks it is right to do so. The expense not the seven to ten thousand a neuro-surgeon would have cost not forgetting also of a PT program (post-surgery therapy) charges. I am not saying that would not have been a path to choose; but with a little extra care and due diligence, I feel (for Abby) this has given her a better and stronger chance for recovery.
Still working on it but the prognosis is good!!! Hugs and kisses to you at the clinic.
Sincerely ABBY and Rod and Cheryl O.
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