Thursday, June 30, 2016

Week 4: Stella's Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever story or Is it Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?

I am writing this for other dog owners, so that they can see how Stella's Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) played out.  I have read a few blogs that have been very helpful to me about RMSF, and I am hoping this will do the same for others. If you would like to read about the first two weeks of this horrible disease, please check out this blog post or this blog post to catch up.  I can't believe it has been almost a month since this nightmare started.  We have made progress, but it seems ever so slow.

June 23rd: Woke up surprisingly well.  Mornings seem to be hard lately, since she is only getting one pred a day.  When we got home from work, she seemed sore, especially on the front and back leg that has been bothering her.  Other than that, no other problems.

June 24th:  Super sore.  Could barley walk and yelped whenever anyone bumped her.  Melly Mel, my running partner came in and gave her extra lovings.  Silly girl still wanted to play ball, even though she can barely move.  Her spirit is still there, even if her body isn't cooperating.  I met with my new alternative health vet.  She is a normal vet, but she also does acupuncture, chiropractics, and chinese herbs.  My hope was that she could provide alternative therapies to compliment what we were already doing.  She did one of the most thorough exams I have ever witnessed, and took copious notes on EVERYTHING.  She looked over blood work, tick titers, and symptoms.  She at this time does not feel this is rocky mountain spotted fever and that the titer is left over from a previous infection.  She is leaning more towards cancer based on blood work values, and the fact that she has lost so much muscle mass/weight.  We have to repeat the blood work first, and then go from there.  I am honest when I say I am very freaked out by the prospect, but at the same time I just don't feel like this is cancer.  I hope my gut feeling is right.  She did give us a non steroidal pain medicine called Gabapentin, and an herb called body sore.  I immediately after the appointment gave her the first dose of both.  In coming home later that day, stella met me at the door and jumped up to greet me, which is typical stella.  She even continued to be active, and even did some naughty acts like steal some food off of my plate, and steal andrew's pasta when he got up to the go to the bathroom.  That is my typical stella.  Even though I should be mad at her, it make me super happy that she is feeling well enough to be that naughty.
June 25th:  WOW!  I am amazed at the progress with just the addition of the gaba and the herbs.  She has been super active all day.  Is a little loose on her stool, but other than that, she has been all over all day.  I got up at 4 am to run, so gave her a gaba then, so technically she could have had three today, but honestly, I didn't feel like she needed it.  She even jumped on the bed when I was trying to get andrew to sleep today.  It took her a few tries to get everything together, but she didn't want assistance.  She did this three or four times.  She has been traveling at her normal speed, which is 150 mph and is back to being my shadow.  Naughty stella also made an appearance this morning when I went to the library by getting up on the counter and getting not one, but two loaves of bread down and eating them, as well as  a package of hamburger buns.  I am sure she wasn't the only culprit eating, but I am sure she would be the one to get them down to share.  
She even got her frisbee when we were out in the yard picking up yard bombs and brought it to me.  I did a couple of short throws, and other than her not being able to do her normal acrobatics and being a tad bit slower than normal, she was after each and every one.  She didn't seem too uncoordinated or wobbly.  I am super shocked at how well she is doing now.  I hope this continues.  

June 26th:  Woke us up at 1 am getting on the stove to clean a cast iron skillet.  Slept in the bed most of the night, post her midnight snack.  We re did the blood draw and sent off for new blood work, and a new tick titer.  Dr. Kristen was impressed at how much better she felt, so much so that the blood draw became a fun affair.  I didn't think I could hold, since she is my baby, but tony was having lots of trouble holding her, so I had to step in.  We needed a ton of  blood, so it took a bit longer than normal, but once I stepped in, we were able to get what we needed.  I just need to put my big girl panties on and be brave when it comes to my kiddos.  Her poop is a little runny now, but still not diarrhea, more just cow pie.  We made the decision to go ahead with an ultrasound for any masses in the abdomen.  Dr. Kristen is not convinced this is rocky mountain spotted fever, due the liver enzymes being off the charts, the platelets being normal, and her WBC counts being elevated.  If the abdomen is clear, we can just assume this is the oddest case of RMSF ever.  
June 27th:  Last day on pred till we switch to one every other day.  Little girl had a good night, sleeping in bed with me most of the night.  She was the first one downstairs and ate with gusto.  She also wanted to play frisbee when we got back from our run, and so we did.  She also helped me make coffee, something she hasn't done in a while.  
June 28th:  First day without Pred.  Also trip to Topeka to get ultrasound done to rule out cancer.  In true Stella fashion, nothing was to be routine. When we got to Topeka, she started running a fever, coughing, and her heart rate plummeted to 48 beats per minute. She was quickly hooked up to an EKG, which showed abnormalities, and then whisked away for a chest x ray. Heart and lungs came back clear, with one artery looking enlarged, but nothing to worry about. We started to work through symptoms, and kept coming back to a very odd disease called dysautomia (sp?), BUT when we gave her the drug that speeds up her heart to test if it would even speed up (a symptom of this odd disease the heart doesn't respond to meds), her heart did speed up. So this may or may not make sense. Her thyroid is also slightly low on blood work, and she still has that slightly positive rocky mountain spotted fever titer. She couldn't sedate her to do the ultrasound, but they decided to go ahead and try without her sedated. They shaved her belly, and did the ultrasound and she was a good girlie. No masses on liver or spleen. BUT when she tried to go over her kidneys, she went bonkers. SO at this point, we are treating symptoms not disease. She is getting more doxy. She is weaning off the pred completely. She is getting baytril on top of the doxy. She is getting thyroid meds. We redid the blood work to check all values (should get results tomorrow), and we are re doing the tick panel as well. If she doesn't respond by friday, we head to KSU to talk to the dysautonomia expert there. Keep her in your thoughts and prayers, because I feel like we are headed in the right direction even if we don't know exactly what this is.
She was pretty tired and sore the rest of the night, but still brought her frisbee to me a couple of times.  I was pretty worried, she seemed to have back slid so much, but she seems to do this every time we wean down the pred.  Her heart seemed back up to around 87 beats per minute, which seems a little more normal.  We did lots of cuddles last night, but she wanted to sleep by herself in the bathroom.  It is cooler in there, so I was hoping she was just cooling her body.  

June 29th:  She had a good night, only heard her up once walking around.  She was pretty stiff/sore especially in her hind end, but ate with gusto and took all of her new pills.  I was glad that I wrote up a list, because at 4 am, my brain is not functioning at full capacity, and that is a ton of pills.  Post my run (that took about an hour) she seemed better, but she got a dose of pred today.  She was still pretty stiff, but that glint was back in her eyes.  As long as I see that will to fight, I will do anything for my baby.  

PM she was still good, but the blood values came back that her body was not good.  I had emailed the dysautonomia expert at KSU and he had suggested that we bring her in immediately.  By the time I called, they weren't making appointments and had switched to emergency only.  Her tick titer also came back lower than previously so not a good indication that this even is RMSF.  Sigh.  To KSU we go in the morning.

Monday, June 27, 2016

15 weeks to Go! Week 4 of 50 K training

I am hoping this will be a better week than last.  Stella seems to be much, much better and in fact we are in the whole her overdoing it because she feels so much better stage.  We are still dealing with some hind end weakness and some back leg soreness, but we are hoping there will be NO permanent damage.  I am hoping this week too that Deuce can get out with us some.  Last week had horrible humidity, too high for him to deal with.  Since it is pretty much dark when we run lately, and the sun usually isn't even up when we finish, I will be peppering this blog post with some random photos:)
Grapevine beetle on my roses.  Silly beetle, wrong plant for you!
Monday:  Planned Speed work (5 sets of 3 minutes at 10-10:15, 10 minute warm up and cool down till 5 miles hit).  I really like this type of speedwork.  Hard, but not too overwhelming.  I also like having a range of times, since it is so hot out right now.  When we got up this morning at 4:30, it was almost 80 degrees (YIKES), but the humidity was tad bit lower than normal, so the dewpoint was in the upper 60s.  Poor Deuce didn't get to go again :(  The irrigation systems were on this morning, and we timed it where we got to run through one as it sprayed across the road.  Yes, I still scream every time, even when I am by myself.  SO cold, but so wonderful!

Look at me take a selfie while I ride my bike.  WHEEEEE!
I also had another appointment with Dr. Needles.  I was very honest with him that I wore flip flops my entire Colorado trip, and that I felt like that might have caused issues with my foot, as it has been hurting pretty much non stop lately.  I also had not been faithful in doing my PT the week of my trip, but had been good the week after.  He took it all in stride and starting looking at lots of angles.  This is why I love this guy.  After looking at my shoes (i guess I have started dragging my left toe), my inserts, my legs, my hips, and my back, he decided that the root of the problem may be the fact that my left leg is shorter than my right, and not by a little, by a lot more than normal.  Through adjustments and working on my back and hip, he got that difference to be less, BUT he wanted an official measuring of my bones to confirm or deny.  I am ready for this.  I had a chiro YEARS ago tell me the same thing, but I honestly thought he was full of it.  If this is the cause of all of my problems or even the majority, and the easy fix is to put a lift in my shoe, I am going to kick myself in the butt pretty hard for quite a while.  Not going to lie, walked out of that office pretty worked over and pretty sore.
two cool dudes walking through menards
Tuesday: Strength and PT.  Not much excitement.  Didn't get on my bike as I had hoped, so only did PT.  Had a beer and watched the Royals.  Sometimes you just have to take it easy and listen to your body.  Getting up and 4 am 4 days a week and not getting any early bedtime is starting to wear on me.  I pretty much am a zombie most days and live on coffee.

Pretty sure the extra weight I have been sporting is because our little town has a doughnut shop now! YUM!
Wednesday:  Planned 6 miles.  Between both of us having icky tummies, and me having dead legs, AND the fact that it was 80 degrees at 4:30 am again, we managed to eek out 6.  It wasn't pretty, and I have NO clue why I had such dead legs.  Will blame it on ALL of the adjustments and crap that Dr. Needles did Monday, or perhaps that beer I had while watching the Royals duke it out with the Mets last night.  Either way, filing this one under the that sucked, move on runs.

Thursday:  Planned rest day and so I did.  My hubby is really into fixing things around the house right now and I am thrilled.  We have two ceiling fans in our vaulted ceilings that have issues, so he wanted to work on those last night, so I played baby sitter and kept andrew out of his hair while he worked.
Crazy girl was so happy to see me post hill repeats that she wouldn't sit still for an arfie!
Friday:  Hill repeats x 5.  We started out with a low number of repeats, with a total of 5 miles total.  We did about a mile warm up, and tackled a new hill that we haven't ever done.  It was a perfect hill though, took about 30 seconds to get up, and was tough, but not too steep that it killed us.  Had to make a pit stop at the gas station, but at least it wasn't my typical field potty stop.  It was pretty humid, but there was a cool breeze blowing that kept us cooled down.  Honestly, I am wondering if the new Nuun is hurting my tummy.  I hate to say that because I am an ambassador, but it seems that every time I takes a sip of the new formula, my tummy does flips.  I need to test this out by taking just water and seeing if my tummy still is hateful.  Morning running has never been good to my stomach, and I just can't get up an earlier than 4 am to get ready to run.

Saturday: Planned 12 miles.  Went out at 5 am so I got to sleep in till 4:10 yahoo!!!!  Sad that something like that makes me super happy.  As usual it was super humid and 77 degrees.  Rockin robin came with me, so we made a pact that we would walk a tenth of a mile every 2 miles.  It worked really well, even though we were drenched and hot.  My left shoe still is bothering my foot, and I think the size needs to be bigger, but I bought these puppies and I am going to get my mileage out of them no matter what.  Finished drenched, sore, and tired.  Would love to just sleep the rest of the day but not going to happen.  AH the life of a mother runner.

Sunday:  Strength and PT.  More like PT and biking.  12 miles on my bike.  I love that fact that even when it is super hot out, I can still bike and not die of heat stroke.  Plus I can hear my podcasts so I can catch up on all of the great podcasts I miss while training with my awesome running partners:)

28 total miles.

A better week for Stella and for I.  Looking forward to finding more answers as far as what is really going on with Stella.  Looking forward to upping my miles again and getting closer to back to back long runs.  What doesn't kill me makes me stronger and I am getting super strong lately:)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Stella's Story Week 3 with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

I am writing this for other dog owners so that they can see how Stella's Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) played out.  I have read a few blogs that have been very helpful to me about RMSF, and I am hoping this will do the same for others. If you would like to read about the first two weeks of this horrible disease, please check out this blog post.

I wanted to add a note here because I have been repeatedly asked on FB.  I did not have Stella on preventative.  Here is my take on this and this is totally my own opinion.  You have a right to do whatever you want with your dog, and I will not judge you.  I do not fill my dogs with medicine/preventatives, unless absolutely needed.  We do not do year round heartworm meds, we do a month before it gets hot or best guess, all of the summer months, and one month past the last time we see mosquitos AND it is no longer hot at night (our rule is 50 F for three nights in a row).  We do three year vaccinations, unless it is lepto, which we do every year.  I do not do year around flea or tick meds, we use them as needed.  I am pretty sure that is why most fleas and ticks in our area are immune to front line now as it is (overuse of topicals and evolution of the fleas and ticks that do survive exposure).  This is totally my choice, and I do strongly advocate you listening to your vet and making your own choices.  There is research out there that shows all ways being good or bad, so you have to make your own decisions.  I will never judge another pet owner, and I appreciate the same.  Most people have been super civil in discussions of this, but I have had a few nasty notes privately.  Preventative is not an absolute way to prevent these diseases, but it does help.  The tick only needs to be on the dog for 5 hours to transmit the disease, and if you do the ingestibles, the tick has to bite your dog and start feeding to ingest the poison that kills it.  Topicals are a little better, because the tick does not have to bite to get the poisons to die, but topicals are not suggested if you have younger children in the home as we do.

June 15th:  After a rough afternoon of the 14th, we had a pretty good night of sleep.  Stella woke up with much less pain.  She made it up and down the steps, and ate a huge breakfast.  Poop and pee like normal with a little bit of wobbly.  She even barked at me when I came back from my run!  Naughty girly!!!!  I dropped her off at the vet's office for observation and new x-rays.
The bottle cap is still in her tummy, which is good.  We will try and make her vomit it up when this is closer to being done.  I am not sure if it was the new doxy or if we were just at a point where she was making an improvement but we did NOT see the horrible coming down off the pred that we had been seeing at night.  When I picked her up from my vet's office, she was perky and asking for pets from people.  She was not having any issues breathing and no nasal discharge. She was still obviously sore, but her neck and shoulders didn't seem to be bothering her as much.  She ate a full dinner and continued to be active all night till we went to bed.  She brought her cuz ball to me and wanted to tug.  We tried a modified version of tug because she tugged so hard once her back end gave out!  Tonight is the last night of the double pred dose every 24 hours, as we are going to go to 1 tablet every 12 hours.  I am amazed at how all of the sudden she is bouncing back, especially after the way she was the 14th.

June 16th.  Had a great night's sleep.  No stress panting or mouth breathing.  She ate her breakfast and even pushed one of the boys out of the way this morning.  Normal poop and pee.  Today we will have another full day of the new doxy, as well as a split dose of the pred.  I was with her much of the day, as I had my 6 month follow up mammogram from my breast cancer scare, and the appointment was in Wamego.
She started out the day great, but by the time i got back from my mammogram, she was swollen in a front and back leg pretty bad.  She still was in good spirits, with no breathing problems or fever.  I think faith in the fact that there will be good times is helping me be positive now, even when we do have a dip back into old symptoms.  

June 17th:  Good night, no stress panting or mouth breathing. I think her being able to rest at night and breath is helping her heal. I know it helps me heal to get a good night's sleep.  She still seems to be favoring that same front and back leg.  Doesn't seem as swollen this morning, but she was holding up the back leg as she was eating.  She got to see both of her favorite people in the whole wide world, Mel and Robin this morning.  They were both blown away at her progress, even with her limping.  While she didn't jump up like her normal self,  but she did seek out pets and cuddles.
 June 18th.  Swelling down even more.  The back leg seems to be the most painful.  When she lays down, she will tuck it under her or lick it or hold it out straight and it shakes.  I am not sure if the pain is in her hock or lower down.  I have been doing tons of research on supplements and what we can use for rehab.  Still debating.  Getting so much good information.  Got our final vet bill.  Well, we didn't break a thousand but we got pretty close :)
June 19th: I don't see any swelling left in any leg now, but the back leg still seems to hurt.  She also seems to be pretty weak in her hind end.  She was asking to come up on the bed and her hind end just can't  give her the power.  That's okay because I can lift her.  I notice when she wants to get up, she has to go from a down, to a sit, and then up, and it usually takes her a while from the sit to go completely up.  She did jump on the bed this afternoon unassisted, and was playing pretty rough with the boys, but I think now she is paying for it.  Now she seems sore and tired.  As she feels better, it is going to get harder and harder to keep miss sassy pants quiet.

I did notice that this PM she seemed a little sore and a little more cautious about trotting/jumping.  She probably over did it playing with the boys in the morning, which I was afraid of.

June 20th: Stella has had lameness in the front and back leg that has been bothering her all day and night.  I sure hope we aren't dealing with polyarthritis, but thinking the pred should be helping with that.  We are also at the point where we need to back down the pred.  I know we need to be careful with pred, but this sure does scare me.   My vet assured me that if this doesn't work, we can bump it back up.  She still is bright eyed and full of life, but I sure am hoping this isn't going to change.  I am not prepared for a back slide.  Last night stella slept in the bed with me all cuddled up.  I have missed that so much.  I just love her to pieces.

June 21st:  First day on 1 a day pred only in the morning.  Came home to a much happier dog overall.  No swelling, but still slow and cautious.  She really has that spark back in her eyes.  Lots of accidents, but that is why we have hard wood.  I am still a little scared to start weaning her off of the pred, but I know it is necessary.

June 22nd:  Day 2 of just one pred.  Had a great day yesterday, but woke up to a super sore, super slow, and super cautious dog.  Had to help down the stairs, and she yelped loudly when deuce bumped her.  Seems the pain is back in her neck again.  Gave her a dose of pred early in the morning, so I could see if she improved by the time I left for work.  She could barely wag her nub and she seemed so sore.  Still eating and drinking and no fever.  Going to call vet and see if we can't do something for her pain.  I know that we have to wean the pred down, but I HATE seeing her in pain and will do anything for her not to be in pain.

After pretty much worrying all day about her and not being able to leave work early,  texted my hubby who gets home earlier to see how she was. Thankfully, she met him at the door wagging her nub and barking!!!!  We didn't see the huge drop off from only one dose of pred last night either.

So being a scientist, I put the call out to my friends including those who do dog sports, are practicing vets, and those who just have pets that they dearly love.  I asked what joint supplements do you use and why?  I was surprised at the responses I got.  Every person I asked had an entirely different take on what they liked and why.  Most often, as with us crazy dog people, cost was not an issue.  Most answered quality, what I researched and liked, and what my vet recommended.  All seem to be very good products.  Now for me to figure out which product I would like to try.  In the past, with Strawberry's blown knee and joint issues, I used duralactin and cosequin DS as well as some adequan.  Both worked nicely, and I used duralactin as well with Miller with his various injuries.  However, I am open to any new therapies and products out there,k and will investigate them all probably.  I have contacted a new vet in our area that does acupuncture/chinese medicine and chiropractics to get her advice on a treatment plan for moving forward using alternative therapies once we are done using traditional medicines.

 I am going to go ahead and post this week and start a new week in a new post.  This has been a roller coaster of a week!!!  What I am learning is this is a long term disease that can NOT be predicted.  There are and will be LOTS of ups and downs.  

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Week 3 of 50 K training, 16 weeks to go!

Stella update:  Just in case you missed my last post, the tick panel came back slightly positive for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  While I have not pulled any ticks off of her, the titers don't lie.  While the prednisone has helped her feel much better, she still has swelling of her joints and nasal and eye discharge.  Please keep  her in your thoughts and prayers.

Monday:    Planned speed work.  I am honest that I did NOT want to get up and run this morning.  I had not gotten to bed as early as I wanted to, thanks to a toddler hopped up on birthday cake and candy from Colorado.  Stella woke me up around 2:40 stress panting, so got up with her and let her out thinking that maybe she needed to potty (she had already had two potty accidents in the bedroom).  I am not sure why she was panting so bad, but I was worried and put her on the couch with me for a while.  I did drift back off to sleep, but then she woke me up again breathing oddly and then I was wide awake till almost 3:30 am.  I finally took her back upstairs and we cuddled for a while, but when my alarm went off, I was not feeling it.  Thankfully Mel was up and convinced me to get up and run.  It was SO humid that i didn't even take Deuce with us.  70 degrees and 95% humidity.  BLEH.  On the bright side, Stella got up and ate her breakfast like a champ!

Side note: I am writing a separate blog post  on this blog that will go out every two weeks about stella's progress for others searching about RMSF information.  I have posted the first two weeks at the above link.

Tuesday:  Strength and PT.  Came home to a very sick dog.  Spent most of the night tending to her and a stopped up kitchen sink that was emptying in our dishwasher that was then emptying into our floor.  Honestly, I didn't even eat dinner Tuesday night.

Wednesday: Planned 6 miles.  Honestly, I just wanted to sleep.  Andrew wouldn't go to sleep Tuesday night, and I had to get up at 4 am to get ready, since my hubby had an all day meeting to attend that started at 7 am in topeka.  I slept very lightly listening to stella's breathing all night.  I kept waking up and checking on her.  The pred worked wonders, because she slept well and got up hungry and ready to be mobile.  She even barked at me this morning when I was coming back from my run.  My run was eh.  It was SUPER humid and Melly Mel and I have to walk occasionally. We both struggled with tummy issues, but we just walked them out.  I guess I should call any day without having to make an emergency pit stop in the weeds a win.

Thursday:  Rest day.  Well, since I technically took a forced rest day Tuesday, I figured I would strength train and do my PT.  I got my PT in, but just wasn't into strength, so instead i took my bike out at 8 pm while it was still real feel of 105 and rode for almost 10 miles.  It honestly wasn't that bad with the wind blowing and I had my water with Nuun that I stopped and chugged a few times.  I also had my 6 month check up on my mammogram.  If you remember, around christmas time last year, I had a biopsy done on a lump that was found during my routine exam.  While it was not cancerous, there was some debate as to what it was and how we should continue to monitor.  I got a second opinion, a surgical opinion, and he took over the case.  Long story short, nothing had changed, so they think I am in the clear now and can go back to yearly exams.  YIPEEEE!  I will take all the good news I can right now.  Between stella being sick, our kitchen sink being stopped up and backing up through our dishwasher and damaging our wooden floor, and our AC going out upstairs during the hottest part of the year thus far, I am kind of at my fill for bad news.
Friday: Woke up to this.  All the windows and glass doors in the house were fogged over.  Not good. I decided to institute a walk a tenth of a mile every mile so we would all be safe.  Rockin Robin joined Melly Mel and I, and we headed out for 5.    Actually we had hill work on the schedule, but since we were running Konza saturday and it is basically one BIG hill continuously, I decided two days in a row of hill work might not be a good thing.  Coach Jenny agreed.  This was the first really hot and humid run of the year.  Lately it has only be humidity,which is bad enough, but now you add hot and your body can't cool itself at all, so you get dangerous.  We took it easy, took our walk breaks, and doused our necks with water.  Rockin Robin is doing a 15k on the 50K course we are doing in October this weekend so good luck to her!!!!

Saturday:  Long run 11 miles out at Konza.  We woke up to the most awesome weather EVER for Kansas summers.  Low humidity and temps in the 70s with a slight breeze.  While the Konza is a tough place for a long run, at least we weren't battling the weather too.  The scenery as always is amazing.  Staring to think about strategy to get a PR.  We did 11 in around 2 hours and 22 minutes, but we had to take a couple of breaks for gear adjusting.  We were both rocking out our packs FULL this week, to start getting use to that weight for the 50K, and we need to re think some things.  I tried a different fueling strategy of 100 calories every hour of real food, and I think I have to do 200 every hour.  I used my fig bars I found at target, and did half at 1 hour and the other half at 2.  While I never had brain fog per se, my legs did get pretty tired.  I also ran with both bottles full of Nuun, and I think I need one with and one without.  I seemed to have plenty of water post run, so that should be enough for Konquer the Konza in the fall.
Still not fully loving my new shoes.  I feel like it forces me on the outsides of my foot, and that whole area is still sore and not happy from the needling and adjustments.  Will be doing an appointment with Dr. Needles on monday and will be discussing.  I haven't been noticing it as much during my normal runs of 6 or so miles on flat road, but I for sure noticed it on the trail today.  Perhaps I need my Kinvaras for trails so my foot can do what it wants and needs to do to navigate trails.

Sunday:  Planned Strength and PT.  Happy Father's day!!!   Andrew filled out one of those fill in the blank deals for Tony and it was hilarious!!!  Tony really is the best dad EVER!  He is so wonderful to the dogs and to our son!  I am really, really lucky!
I am also very lucky that Andrew has such a great grand daddy.  He is stuck like glue to Tommy when he is here.  Tommy is so great with him and andrew has him wrapped around his little finger.  

I definitely felt the Konza's effect on my body getting up. Konza, you kick my ass in such a good way!  

27 miles total.

We had a great week of running especially post vacation.  I am still getting use to getting up at 4 am and getting to bed (and getting everyone else in bed) early.  We are also still getting use to high humidity, and we had our first high humidity AND high temperature morning.  I have not taken deuce out at all this week due to the temps and humidity.  Stella continues to improve, and it's slow, but we are seeing improvement.  We got our vet bill and while we didn't break a thousand, we got really, really close.  Keep thinking of my baby girl and keep her in your prayers.  I think it gets harder now that she is feeling better and wants to be active but can't and shouldn't be.  Have a great week!!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Stella's Story: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: A time line (the first two weeks)

I am writing this for other dog owners so that they can see how Stella's RMSF played out.  I have read many blogs that have been very helpful to me about RMSF, and I am hoping this will do the same for others.

*****Please note.  There are several blogs in this series devoted to stella.  Her diagnosis was changed to IMPA much later into the process so read all the blog posts to find out what happened and why!*******

June 2nd:  As stella was playing frisbee, I noticed she wasn't going after it with much gusto.  She would half heartedly go get the frisbee, and decided to quit rather quickly.  It was a bit hotter than normal, but she can typically handle the heat really well.  I finally got her to come to me, and I started putting my hands on her and found a HUGE lump on her side.  It was behind her rib and in front of her hip.  I immediately thought of mast cell tumor.  I had a dog years ago go through this cancer, and while we beat it, it was super scary to go through.  Stella is only 5 years old.  She is in better shape than me and eats better than I ever do.  I was not ready to lose her to some stupid cancer, so I immediately sent a text to my vet's cell phone to set me up for the first appointment available the next day.  She had run a 6 mile run earlier that day just for reference.

June 3rd:  We had a full exam and a needle aspirate done on not one, but two lumps.  She had another very small lump on the other side near her last rib.  She was still active, but off.  Eating normally.

June 5th:  Results came back on the aspirate.  No cancer cells detected, just lots of inflammatory cells.  Plan to put her on clavamox to treat the "infections".

June 6th:  Started on clavamox, high dose.  At this point stella seemed to be in pain.  Couldn't tell if it was the antibiotic hurting her tummy, or what.  Started giving pepto and that seemed to help.  She would hunch up like her tummy was hurting, and seemed to have trouble eating or drinking water, but would do so despite what I thought was pain.  I interpreted it as tummy issues.

June 7th:  Came home to stella having nasal discharge and eye discharge.  Alerted my vet.  He suspected that she had some sort of reaction to the clavamox, even though it didn't really follow those lines.  He wanted her to go a day without, to see if she had any improvement, and then try another antibiotic.  I suggested she go on Doxy, since it is the popular antibiotic for tick borne disease.  We honestly did not think it was tick borne at this point.  I was leaning more towards Blasto.  Blood work taken.  Fever of 105 at this point.

June 9th:  Left for my vacation to CO and left stella in the hands of my mom.   Did lots of research on Blasto the whole drive down.  Convinced vet, mom, and tony that she needed a chest x-ray to rule out blasto.  Fever came down slightly to 104, so vet was thinking more antibiotic reaction.

June 10th:  X-rays performed.  Found what looks to be a metal bottle cap in stella's tummy.  Possible Zinc toxicity.  Lungs clear, so Blasto partially ruled out.  My vet, being the awesome vet that he is, took the x rays and blood work to KSU for a consult.  Blood work had normal WBC and normal pretty much everything else, yet her platelet counts were odd.  KSU wanted to do endoscope or have her try and puke up the cap, but did not think it was an issue we needed to address till we got the Tick panel back and the infection under control.  Upped the dose of doxy.

June 12th:  Arrived home to find stella in bad shape.  Horrible nasal discharge and all joints swollen.  Tick panel came back positive for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  Included prednisone at double the dose.  Saw a pretty quick improvement in attitude and mobility.  Swelling still there, but not as painful.  Actually did some playing and some raiding of the recycling bin.  Still eating.  Noticed some blood coming from either her lips, which seemed to be chapped, or her nose.  Cleaned nose and eyes and even use a q tip to dig boogers out of nose.
June 13th:  Had some trouble breathing the night of the 12th/morning of the 13th.  Woke up to her stress panting and her having had a couple of pee accidents.  No biggie.  Got her back to sleep.   Ate her breakfast with gusto and actually attempted running up the stairs.  Barked and growled at someone.  Starting to see some of my baby stella back.  Still not 100%, not even really 50%, but better than where we were at.  Fever was down to 103.2.

Took temp again post getting home.  Down to 101.2.  YIPEE!  Except she acted like she felt horrible.  Super stiff and sore, not wanting to lift her head.  She ate a full bowl of food and pooped normally, but she just acted like she felt horrible.  This makes no sense to me.  She has now been on doxy for 5 days.  Sent many texts to my poor vet.  He thinks we are seeing slight progress and should keep the course.  He let me know that the doxy came from a compounding pharmacy, due to a shortage from his normal supplier, but that may or may not be affecting anything.  When the Pred finally kicked in, she wanted to play ball.  We did three or four short tosses, where she trotted over and brought the ball back.  We all went to bed resting easier and slept the entire night.

June 14th:  Woke up  this morning with her trying to get in the bed.  She had had another accident during the night, but it is just carpet, we can rip it up.  She ate her food and took her pills no problem.  Her stool was a little loose, but not too runny, more like a cow pie.  She even tried to jump up on her hind legs and help me fix coffee like she normally does:).

By the time i got home, everything had changed.  She was super sore, couldn't walk, and was stress panting.  She couldn't breath out of her nose, and her third eye lid kept coming up.  She had had her double dose of pred when tony got home, so exactly 24 hours since her last dose.  When we give it, it takes 4 hours or more to start working.  As I type this, she is finally resting and not stress panting.  I am incredibly worried.  We are taking her back for observation tomorrow, and they will be redoing the x-rays to check for the position of the bottle cap again.  It may be a long night.  Have had many breakdowns tonight.  It is killing me to see her in this much pain.  I can't lose her and I won't even if it means me taking out a loan.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Week 2 of 50K training, 17 weeks to go!

Another week of summer running meaning getting up at the butt crack of dawn, living on coffee, and trying to survive.  I feel more adjusted this week after a couple of weeks under my belt of getting up at 4 am, but still, I long for the day I can run in the afternoon again already.  I am also super excited for this week, because we head to Colorado for a short vacation and Melly-Mel's wedding.  I look forward to some good food, some good company, some rest, and some wonderful Colorado views.

Just a quick update on Stella before I launch into the week of training.   The needle aspirate came back negative for any cancer cells.  All cells pointed to an infection of some sort, so are trying a course of antibiotics for a week.  She seems to be pretty painful, so I am continuing the pepto and buffered aspirin.  Poop and pee are normal and she is still eating, so that is good.  I hate leaving her behind when I run, but she doesn't even try to act like she wants to go.  It breaks my heart.  Deuce is subbing in, but he has only been running 1 day a week, so he probably won't be able to go as much as I would like till he gets up to speed.

Monday:  Planned speedwork switched for easy miles.  I was super tired/sore from Konza, so switched out my runs on my plan for the week.  I did my easy 6, which was still a ton for my tired body.  I even instituted a walk for a tenth of a mile every mile to let me body rest a little. I also decided why not totally kill myself and try my new shoes that the Chiro wanted me to run in.  They felt like bricks on my feet, versus my super lightweight Sacounys.  My foot honestly feels like a giant mess right now due to all of the things we are piling on it.  The spot where Dr. Needles needled last is still super duper tender, and I have all day pain some days.  Still doesn't hurt when I run, so there is that:)  I had another appointment with him Monday afternoon, and we discussed my foot pain that I think is being caused by the myriad of PT exercises he is having me do.  He agreed and changed a few of them up to concentrate more on my hip strength than my foot.  He also gave me a new one that is killer to replace the step ups, which I believe was the exercise really hurting my foot.  He did more manual manipulation and isolation of the adductor hallicus.  Man that is painful even without the needling.  He can hit trigger points that make my toes go nuts.  He also did some work on my leg itself that was pretty ouchy, but I walked out feeling loose and comfortable.  We had a really deep discussion about all of the aches and pains I have had over my years of running, and how my biomechanics cause all of them.  I really do love this guy, as he totally respects my curious scientific mind and fuels that fire with great discussions.

Tuesday: Planned Strength.  Well.  My parents came in Tuesday night.  They are staying here with Andrew and the dogs, while Tony and I attend Melly-Mel's wedding in Colorado.  Instead of working out, we headed out to the local bar to have yummy sandwiches and beer.  #Sorrynotsorry.  I did get most of my PT exercises done, so there is that.

Wednesday:  Planned speed work (5 miles total).   I took Deucey Doo today just to see how he handled speed work.  This was a gentle introduction of 10 minutes easy, 3 minutes at 10 min/mile 3 minutes at easy pace x 5 repetitions, and then a cool down to hit 5-6 miles total.  I had had a long night with Andrew not wanting to go to bed and stella having issues breathing.  Yes, stella is now having issues breathing and has discharge coming from her nose and eyes.  I have no clue what this means and I fear we are heading back to the vet.  We headed out to Colby KS, so we were half way to CO and could spend more of the day Thursday exploring.  I had a heavy heart leaving stella, but knew mom would take good care of her.

Thursday:  Drove another 4 hours to Estes Park and did some sight seeing.  We hit up the Stanley first thing and got a tour and booked a show for that night.  We had so much fun!  I think I will do a separate post just on the Stanley, but here are a few pictures.  Stella had a chest x ray to rule out blasto, since she wasn't getting better.  While her lungs looked clear, she had a bottle cap in her stomach.  We can't do surgery to get it out yet due to her fever not going down.  We are probably going to have to do an endoscope to get it out.  Can you say expensive????

Friday:  The wedding day.  I had delusions that I was going to get up early and run and that just didn't happen, yet I am don't feel bad at all.  We had a great day and night, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.  Melly-mel and Pat are a match made in heaven and I am so glad i got to participate.  The wedding was so gorgeous and perfect!

Saturday:  The plan was to head down to Golden and spend some time with the family I lived with when I worked in Denver.  Unfortunately, they had an emergency, and had to leave.  I was sad, but I know we will see them at some other time.  I was super worried about stella and wanted to get back.   She had been on one antibiotic or another for several days with NO improvement.   We ended up stopping back in Colby and staying the night, which was kind of disaster.  The hotel we chose was having AC problems, and after trying three different rooms, we kind of gave up and asked for fans.  We eventually slept, but not the restful sleep I had hoped for.
Sunday:  We got up and headed back home.  I didn't get a long run in, but I got to see my baby (who turned 4 on the 12th), and I got to see my stella.  I was shocked at how bad she looked.  She now not only had the discharge and breathing issue, but also swelling in her joints.  The odd thing is she is still eating normally, peeing and pooping normally, and only running a low grade fever.  Her tick panel finally came back, as that was the next thing to test, and she was slightly positive for Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, which is transmitted via ticks.  While I have NEVER found a tick this year on any of my dogs, that is what the tests are pointing to.  The new antibiotics should help,  and the addition of prednisone will help as well.  Please keep stella in your thoughts and prayers.  I don't think we are out of the woods yet.

It was a low mileage week but I don't care.  I had fun on my vacation and while I was pretty upset about Stella most of the time, I did manage to distract myself and enjoy the wedding and the stanley.  Back to normal training next week!  Also pray for me as my kiddo enters the age of 4.  He is already starting to show me some new big boy tricks and words:)  Love all of my kiddos dearly.  Have a great week!!!!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Ultimate Direction Clutch Handheld

I hadn't planned on getting another handheld, but you know when you get a good deal, you just have to go with it.  For that reason, I thought I would give a product review, since others might be looking for a similar product.  I have always been an Ultimate direction fan.  When I knew I needed hydration  for a race I was doing that didn't have cups, and I wasn't fond of the belts at the local store, I started looking at hydration vests.  I saw a review on a blog about the Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta, made specifically for women, and I was sold.
The only problem, the bottles were pretty small.  At the time, the distances I was doing didn't need bigger bottles. I got use to the sloshing of the water in the bottles (that sit right on my boobs, but don't chafe:) but after the trail race was finished, I kind of stopped using the vest.  I went to using handhelds instead, since I could carry more water.

I would take my 25 oz bottle with the hand strap from MRC,  and then swap it out for the other bottle when I came by home for restocking.  Plus, stella could drink out of the big bottles way easier.

When I signed up for my 50K, I thought maybe I would re visit my hydration pack issue, and look at something from Orange mud or elsewhere, so I could have bigger bottles.  Then I noticed that Ultimate direction had new bottles that supposedly fit in the vest I had.  While they still aren't as big as I would love, they are much bigger than what i had (10 oz versus 17 oz).  I have a new collapsible bowl for stella that I can cram in my vest as well, so there won't be as much waste when I water her.

I quickly ordered the new body bottle plus to try them out.  Per the website, the body bottle plus had a wide mouth, so I could still add nuun and ice, but collapsed down, so I could fit them in my old vest.  I was excited to try this new type of bottle, but then I got my bottle and something wasn't right.  I was bummed, but they quickly sent me a replacement top for my bottle for free, and I was so happy! Great customer service! The new bottle fit in my vest perfectly, and even fit in my short's big side pockets comfortably.  BUT, i had only ordered one.  They are quite pricey in my opinion for just a bottle and no frills.
I was in luck because the Clutch came on sale for 10 dollars off, which was about the price of one body bottle without the handheld material.  I decided this could serve as my second bottle, and I would get a hand held for shorter runs.  Plus the Clutch might be a little more comfortable than my hard big bottle with the rubber strap that I had been using.  Today I took it for my very first test run, and while I need to take it on more, I was super impressed.  Here are my thoughts.
I love how comfortable the material is.  So much better than a rubber strap.  Plus, as the body bottle does, as you drink and empty the bottle, the bottle collapses, which makes it way nicer to hold on to.  My hand gets so tired of holding onto the hard plastic that I get hand cramps, and constantly have to change hands.  Not so with the soft body bottle.
The pocket is the perfect size for a GU or chomps or keys but not enough for a phone. I am fine with that because my beloved gypsy runner shorts have side pocket for my phone that are easy to slide the phone in and out of.

I should add that the bottle is very easy to clean and maintain.  I just rinse out and air dry and have had no problems with mold even using my Nuun tablets in the bottle.  I am just very careful to have the bottle dry completely every time.  I have purchased the camelback tablets for my other bottles and did use one the other day, but not because I saw any mold, just figured it was time for a good cleaning.
A little advice.  I am not sure the why the bottle tops are different.  The bottle top on the left came with my original body bottle.  It was the defective part that they replace.  I have not used this type of top before so I had to get use to using it.  The top is a bite valve that has to be turned on to use.  It does not leak when on and in my vest. I imagine you can turn it off and store your liquid and further prevent leakage.  The new bottle had a different lid, one still with a bite valve but without an on or off position.  

I can't wait to use this bottle all summer with my vest and with my clutch. I think UD products are well worth their cost and I will continue to buy their products.  Check them out, you won't be disappointed!