Balancing Act

Old age isn’t easy for any of us.

I know I haven’t been keeping up on this blog as much as I used to. Life gets in the way and Risa’s been struggling lately. I’ve been struggling, too, with possible end of life decisions for her. I don’t think we’re there yet but I can’t help but think about it. Some days more than others. Pre-grieving, I believe it’s called. Risa’s been through and bounced back from so much but I know, some day, that will no longer be the case. I’m always trying to keep her quality of life at the forefront of my mind. I don’t want to lose her–EVER–but I won’t make her hold on for my sake. I owe her more than that. Deciding when the time could be, however, is always a challenge.

It was weighing on my mind a lot the past month. A lot. Like not sleeping. Worrying that I might be reaching the limits of what I can do to help her feel comfortable. Her back injury is taking its toll. The nerve damage is showing. She stands wide, falls into a sit if she tries to make a tight turn, and she stood on her overturned right rear paw for at least 30 seconds the other day. It’s rare that she stands still–moving is more comfortable–and she has trouble getting up. She doesn’t even lie in her orthopedic bed anymore because I think she has trouble getting out of it. She chooses the flatter beds instead. Her right elbow is also acting up again which is troublesome when she places a lot of her weight on her front end because of her back end’s issues. She’s on three pain meds at the moment (tramadol, amantadine, and Tylenol). I stopped her gabapentin when it appeared that it’s use might be causing some of her issues. I’m no longer sure if that’s the case though she appeared to improve after I stopped it. She definitely had significantly worse neurological symptoms when I increased the dosage at my vet’s recommendation. It’s been a challenging balancing act trying to alleviate her discomfort.

She’s also had a chronic urinary tract infection for several months; possibly even from as long as she’s been on prednisone. The pred definitely caused some urinary leakage (requiring washing of dog blankets at least weekly) and may have been the cause of her UTIs. After a third urinalysis came back positive for bacteria, I had concerns the pred was the problem. She’s on antibiotics again for at least 4 weeks to clear it up and I decided to discuss taking her off prednisone with our vet. Our TCVM vet had prescribed it and agreed with weaning her down. She gave me a schedule that would have her down to 1/4 of the dosage in about a month’s time. Unfortunately, Risa’s pain level has increased and the medications she’s on are insufficient to keep her comfortable. I had a chat with her general vet about the prednisone wean and he recommended we expedite the process so we can start Risa on NSAIDs again. It’s still a three week long wait but I think it’s truly her best option. We could potentially eliminate the UTI problem (assuming, of course, there isn’t anything else going on to cause it) but, more importantly, make her less painful. I find it funny that I was so against putting her on NSAIDs when she first injured her back and now that’s the thing I want to do for her most of all!

Still trucking along and getting enjoyment out of life. Even if her pace is slower.

I still worry that she’s not going to make it through the year. Winter is going to be hard on achy old bones. And snow is difficult to navigate. It’s hard to say how much longer she has. With her health issues over the years, I’m happy to see her approaching 15 years of age. I just hope that, whatever time she has left, it’s good time. Because that’s my biggest concern with her right now: quality of life. She still gets out for walks even if they’re short and slow. I still take her for outings when I can because it’s important to keep her mind active. We even got one last chance to dance together at this year’s local freestyle competition. I don’t know how I held it together but I did. And we truly enjoyed every moment together in the ring among our friends. I know the journey is coming to an end. I’m so thankful for it. I’m so appreciative of everything this dog has done for me, taught me about, and lead me to. She has been my rock. . .and I hers.

Here’s to hoping the next 3ish weeks fly by and that the re-addition of Novox helps put some more pep back in her step. <3

About Jamie

I'm just a traditionally-trained artist with interests in dog training. I currently teach classes at the local obedience training club (tricks, freestyle, and Rally-FrEe) and I also teach classes professionally for an organization who helps veterans train their own service dogs.
This entry was posted in Aging, Back Problems, GI Issues, IVDD, Laser Treatment, Physical Therapy, Thoughts, Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, Veterinarian. Bookmark the permalink.

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