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Waving wildly from Phineas! (Update)

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  • #46
    It's fine. Was just thinking of them and wondering how things are going. Sometimes I'm glad when there's no news as well!
    ~ Lisa & Rupert


    • #47
      Sorry that I haven't updated Phin's post in forever. Back in October, I posted my last update on FB for family and friends. I'm going to cut and paste it, because it still applies today...

      ... I love each and every one of you that ask about my Phineas. I know I've been super annoying with vague answers, and haven't posted about his condition in such a long time. Want the truth? I'm not usually a superstitious person, but I feel like whenever I do post or say something, I jinx myself. I feel like his life is winding down so much now, I have zero room for being jinxed. Every day is so precious and such a blessing, he has no time left for bullshit. This is a huge post, but are the answers to all the burning Phin-Nin-Nin questions, then I'm going to let it all go. I can't change the path anymore, tomorrow will bring what it brings.

      Last week, Phineas turned 8 1/2 years old. So many years, I figured he'd be long gone by now. Nope, he is hanging in there. I use to joke to my vet that I was going to get my ginormous great dane to 10 years old. I'd tell him, "Anything sooner, and I'm blaming you". I've since gave him a break because of the DCM diagnosis, and told my vet that I'll take 9 years old. Nine... it's in April. So close, yet so far away. Phin turning 9 would be so magical, wouldn't it?

      What makes 8 1/2 years old soooooo amazing is... Tomorrow, Phineas will be 26 MONTHS ---- YES, 26 MONTHS.. since his DCM diagnosis. My regular vet gave him a grim 6 month prognosis. Cardio said my vet was foolish, and she said that she'd give Phin a good year. Mmmhmm 26 months. **** you DCM! (UPDATE: SINCE I POSTED THIS ORIGINALLY... HE IS AT 29 MONTHS POST DCM DIAGNOSIS! Yeaaah us)

      His DCM current status.... He is STILL pre-clinical. He has no symptoms of DCM with the exception of zero tolerance for any exercise. He pants going poop. His heart is in poor condition. It was in poor condition at his last echo in January. LOL It's not going to ever improve, we simply joined the crappy heart club. Speaking of our last echo, our cardiologist convinced me to wait until June (6 month check instead of 4 month) to see her again. She didn't actually return to the practice until end of August, and then promptly quit the practice. UGH! His last echo was in January. I'll discuss more below for the reasons of my next statement.... I tried like hell to get cardio out to echo him at the house, but there isn't anyone. I did find one vet who would do the echo here at home, and take the measurements, and send it in to a cardiologist for review. Since we already know he has DCM, we just need the measurements. That guy is a giant dick, who can't follow up or keep appts. I gave up on getting him an echo here at the house. I have found Phin a new cardio, but it's been decided that we are no longer going to the cardio again. If he develops congestive heart failure, my regular vet will treat. We are done chasing the DCM, because we have no other choice.

      Here is the part that will make most sense for what I just said... Do you remember Phin's spine injury from when he was 4 years old? It never went away, it just took a back burner to his heart. He is STILL on pain meds, prednisone, and muscle relaxer. That has never changed, but the spine injury settled in and we were already on strict bed rest for the remainder of his life. About 6 months ago, the spine injury flared up so horribly, it almost took him out.

      We took Phin to the vet for some bump and lump checks. He hasn't done well being transported since his spine injury, so we don't move him until we have no choice. We could do it, it just wasn't great. That day, we tried to get Phin out of the car, and he couldn't stand up. When my husband and I finally got him up, he couldn't keep himself up. This was way worse then usual. We knew then, he could no longer be transported again. We treated him and got him back up on his feet. Phin will no longer ever be transported for any medical care. He either gets it at home, or not at all. Outside of the cardiologist, I can have just about any vet or specialist here to the house, so he has great care. No worries there.

      Not long after that car / transport incident, Phin went down hard. He was in a lot of pain. His back right leg was being significantly effected by the nerves that were entrapped from the spine injury. Think of it as leg pain, like a sciatic problem. Your leg hurts, but it's really your back. He had the same problem at the initial injury too. Always that back leg. We amped up his meds dramatically, vet monitored him closely, and we waited. As long as it was acute, and something we could treat and heal, I was willing to do so. Once pain like that becomes chronic, we'd have to let him go. Thank God it was acute, and after about 10 days, he was back to his normal self. NOT healed, just HIS normal. Since then, his normal has gone down hill. He had another acute episode recently, and he has since bounced back. His new normal looks vastly different from his regular normal though.

      Phineas can no longer lay down on the floor or sit down. He can stand for a very limited amount of time, or he can lay on my bed. Outside of those two positions, there isn't much else. His ass starts to sink to the ground, and then he is over his threshold physically.

      Here is all the truth I can give you... Phin isn't really mobile anymore. He is on his feet long enough to poop, pee, eat and drink. Most of the time, he can barely stand long enough to do all 4 of those things at one time. His back right leg is dramatically effected by his nerve damage and muscle wasting. His left leg has issues now too. The muscle wasting in his rear as a whole, is as bad as you can imagine. He is a 200 pound dog that is a hair shy of 40" at the withers. He is a gigantic great dane, and his body is failing him. What makes this so much worse is, he falls down. Not like falling to the side. His back legs literally give out, and his rear end ends up in the splits. He has no muscle to bring his back legs together and stand back up. Once he is stuck in the splits, he has to be picked up and righted. He can't do it himself. It is the most gut wrenching thing to ever witness. He went through a period of just falling all the time for no obvious reason. Slipping on the floor and falling too, and we placed rugs there. It's incredibly hard to pick up a 200 pound dog who is struggling to get up. I've re-injured my shoulder getting him back up.

      Now, we never ever leave the house until we are certain Phin's been fed, drank, peed and pooped. We tuck him into bed, and that is where he stays. He doesn't wander the house. *IF* he was to get up while we were home, it would be for one of those 4 reasons. We make absolute certain that all those things are taken care of, and he stays right where we put him. It would be just heart breaking for him to fall while alone.

      Phin also struggles to stand from a sitting position, on the soft squishy bed. Even when standing up, just to turn around on the bed, he often needs a butt lift. I do my level best to support his bum right leg, but he has a hard time weight bearing on it. The nerve damage is a major problem for it. When he stands on the soft bed, he stands on the top of that paw, so he doesn't do a good job righting it. Dogs walk on the top of their paws, it's neurological. It's always been a symptom of his spine issue.

      We've increased some meds for him, and he isn't in chronic pain. Granted, I can't fix the muscle wasting or leg problem, but I have him very comfortable and spoiled. Also, a dear friend got me to order a cold laser therapy machine for Phin. It was pricey and the insurance refuses to pay for it, but I believe it is helping him. I can't give exacts, except for the following noted changes:

      ... He lays very spread out on the bed. Not curled up like he is painful. Very stretched out and relaxed. Hubs and I both noticed that Phin seems more comfortable.

      ... He was falling a couple times a week. Since we started the cold laser therapy at home every day, he has only fallen twice. That is twice in 2 months, instead of a couple times a week. One of those times, he actually tripped stepping over Buck, who was laying in the doorway. That shouldn't count. LOL His only other time falling was getting off his bed. He is having trouble from stiffness in the AM, and he slipped on the floor. I was standing next to him, so I caught him before he totally fell.

      I think it helps. I'll continue his treatment every day. If it really helps or not, I can't prove it. I'll even take a placebo effect at this point. Jim and I both can see positive changes in Phin's overall movement, time he can stand up, and lack of falling down.

      The nerves in Phin's spine has caused issues with him feeling the sensation to poop. He is NOT incontinent. He isn't pooping and not knowing it. We believe that he has lost the sensation up to the last seconds before he has to poop, then he knows it. So he is NOT pooping on himself. For example, he will go out to pee, and should be pooping. He no longer actively looks to go poop. He wanders the yard for a minute and then all of a sudden, he gets the sensation only a mere second before the poop leaves his body. Like, if he was in the house, he would be bolting for the door at the last possible second. We think the sensation leading up the rectum has been compromised by the nerve damage, but he has rectum sensation. Basically, he doesn't know he has to poop until that very second and then he panics. It took us a quick minute, but we've figured out how to get him to poop, and have him on a schedule. He does NOT poop on himself, and doesn't even have accidents in the house. Jim and I have him pooping like clockwork.. LOL

      Every day I have to ask myself, is today the day? I worry that I'm not ever going to decide the 'when' because I never want the 'when' to get here. I cry every day over it. Thinking about losing him is this constant stress and deep sadness in my life.. every .. single.. day. Back at the beginning of September, I went and sat with my vet. We talk a lot via email and phone, but I needed to have a face to face conversation with him. I needed to know when to say when. I knew now was not the time, but I felt like he and I needed to identify clearly what is going to be the line in the sand.

      Here is the thing... Phineas is VERY aware and so full of life still. His body is giving up, but he is all there mentally. He is very alert, interested in life around him, and does not want to be left out of anything. He still loves to chew toys in bed, demands cookies all the time, and loves his food and to eat. His mind is super clear and very attentive. He and I spend tons of time together, and he isn't ready to go. He still gets out of bed for visitors to the house, even though it's so hard on him.

      One word that I think sums Phin up is... frail. He is just so very frail. Do NOT think he is miserable. He is not. He has a lot of challenges, some pain, and is very limited in the mobility department, but he is actually a joyful dog. Some examples... his favorite is butt scratches while he eats breakfast. He even wags his tail while you give said butt scratches. Tail wagging isn't easy for Phin, because his spine injury is just above the tail. Phin will also not go back to bed after peeing, until he gets his pee-pee cookie. He doesn't care if his ass is dragging and about to fall over, he says, "You owe me a cookie!" If he poops, we have a giant party and he semi-gallops into the house because he is a happy pooper! Poop cookies are extra large and delicious. His favorite poop cookie is a dehydrated piece of cow lung. Way better then a pee-pee one.

      When it's time, the line in the sand looks like this..... chronic pain that we can't manage, when he can't get up and go out under his own steam, or he becomes incontinent. We won't allow him to be humiliated, suffer in pain, or struggle relentlessly. I've spent at least the last 4 1/2 years saving him, and I worry that I won't know when to quit. Those are the deal breakers. When it's time, which will unfortunately be soon, our vet will come to our home, where we will let him go. I've already found a crematorium that can take a dog Phin's size. It use to be a human facility. I'll take Phin, wait for him, and take him home the same day. I've never left his side before, and I won't in death either. Everything is planned, and we just wait... praying for days to turn to weeks, and hoping weeks turn to months. I'm not ready and neither is he. I'll never be ready though.

      He is my best friend, and my faithful companion. When he is gone, it will forever change who I am. Until then, we will snuggle, watch tons of telly together, eat all kinds of stuff that neither one of us should have, share scratches and kisses. Nine years old... it would be magical, wouldn't it?

      Ninners sends slobbery kisses to each of you.

      January 2020... All of this really still applies. His 9th birthday is in April and we are cautiously optimistic about him reaching it. He's actually pretty stable ...but HIS stable. It's the best I can ask for.
      Our pittie mix rescue with the attitude, Buck, died in December. He lived only about 4 weeks after his lymphoma diagnosis. Even the vet techs at the office were shocked that Phin outlived Buck. Our hearts are broken by his loss. Buck was a big pain in the ass, but he was ours and we loved him. It's funny, our house is so quiet and like no dog lives here. Phineas let Buck do all the talking. Buck was the one that asked for the back door be opened for a potty break, for someone to feed them, or just for cookies. We never noticed how much Buck spoke for both of them. Now that Buck is gone, Phin is very quiet and doesn't make a peep. His side kick is gone.

      Miss all of y'all.


      • #48
        9 years old would be magical, indeed! you love him so much, and lost your other dog to soon. thank you for the update, as well as the advice you posted on my thread. Had considered putting down my dane, but will get him more meds, a chiropractor visit and a couple more weeks to see if he can come back from this. Your Phin sounds amazing, and you and your husband are terrific dog parents that obviously go above and beyond. ty for the update.


        • #49
          Hey! Iíve not been on much since the forum was reconstructed like ages ago lol. Glad to read through all of this thread and see that phins hangin in there. I remember him being such an insanely huge boy!!! Andross is 10.5 doing fine doesnít like to leave the bed much but what do you really expect? Lol
          sigpic Little boy!


          • #50
            Been thinking of the Phinster a lot lately. Rupert is 11 and slowing down a bunch. I just had him in for bloodwork to see what pain meds to get him on. It may or may not help, he may have nerve weakness which I don't think you can do much for. He's still pretty spry but we don't walk him anymore and he has poopy accidents while he sleeps like every couple weeks (basically, easy enough to deal with for now). Hope things are still 'status quo' for you.
            ~ Lisa & Rupert