Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Feeling Good

"It snowed and I'm going to get to play in it!"
Here's Zephyr, the happy boy who's been feeling pretty good and a little nutty this past week or so!  The encephalitis still seems to be under control, Woo Hoo!!!  I've been taking lots of pictures and thought I would share some along with an update.  My thoughts might seem a little random, it's hard to keep track of everything and then write it down in an organized fashion.  But, I'm finding that writing is really helping me handle everything.  When Zephyr came home I started documenting everything in a notebook.  Dates, times, amounts, behaviors, etc., of everything that happened.  I'm up to about 20 pages now.  When he first got sick over a month ago I thought I was over exaggerating about being so worried about the fact that his head seemed to be bothering him, rather than thinking it was something small and simple, and considering all kinds of horrible things.  I remember even seeing something about encephalitis.  We all know how that turned out, so now every little detail is considered important.  :-)  I have a science background too and I'm sure that has something to do with wanting to record everything, plus it just makes me feel better to write it down.  It's definitely not an exaggeration to say that I have been, and still am, extremely worried about Zephyr and everything that has happened and that could still happen.  I even worry about the fact that I worry and that Zephyr, Astro, and the kitties can tell when I'm so worried and upset, and that it affects them and Zephyr's recovery.  Holy Cow!!  

"Mom, please don't worry so much, I'm going to be okay.  Plus, I love all the chicken and beef you are cooking for me."
I try to stay positive, project a happy attitude for Zephyr and the others (I know they sense these kind of things),  remind myself that I am doing the best I can and that Zephyr is doing a great job of getting better.  I think I'm hyper-sensitive to all this because Zephyr is my first dog, I love him so much, and I've never had a young healthy animal get so sick.  I feel very fortunate to have him right now because I've heard even more stories of people suddenly losing their young dogs. 

Under house arrest and ordered to get even more rest!
Last Thursday, and Friday I was worried that he was coming down with something.  He had been sneezing some and on Friday morning he had a little goop in one eye.  I had been taking him on short walks and, although he had really good energy and wore his coat when out, I was worried that he might have done too much or picked up something from another dog that had been on the trail.  I had also been giving him a limited diet, boiled chicken or beef, at the time because his stool hadn't been normal since getting sick and I really needed to get them under control.  Thursday night he was so hungry, and I was so worried that he was getting sick and needed more nutrition, that I mixed chicken, kibble, and some of the EVO canned beef up and let him eat as much as he wanted.  I think he ate about five cups in addition to the meal he had in the afternoon.  I also stopped the prednisone for 24 hours because it would be suppressing his immune system that was already suppressed from the chemo.  Happily, after the eye goop and more rest, nothing else developed.

Gettin' goofy on the couch!  "Ain't I a cutie?"
Overall, Zephyr's energy and strength have improved even more.  His mood has really improved, he has been very playful and happy.  His personality is getting back to its regular self.  I'm sure his white blood cell level has improved even more from his last test at 3,500 a week and a half ago.  I'm pretty sure he has gained back more of the weight he lost too. 

What a beautiful sight!
Zephyr and Astro have been able to play again and they are so happy!  I always stay close by to monitor and play referee.  Zephyr doesn't have all his strength back, you never know what could happen, and I'm not in the mood to take any chances (although Zephyr is), so I calm things down when he starts doing things like his 180 twists over Astro.  :-)  I want to let him play though because I think it helps him stay happy and also builds strength and coordination.

"I'm so happy Zephyr is getting better!  He's the best!"
Astro has been so awesome through all of this.  I'm sure that he knew/knows what's going on.  When Zephyr wasn't feeling well Astro was so calm and would lie down next to him.  On the Saturday that Zephyr was in the hospital and not doing well I took Astro with me to visit.  Zephyr could barely wake up, etc., so for awhile I just laid next to him and Astro laid down too and rested his head on Zephyr.  What a sweetie.  He has also be extra cuddly with me.  Astro definitely hasn't had his share of walks, running, and play in the past weeks.  He's handled it so well.  I've played with him some in the house and the backyard.  I've also done some fun "training" sessions with chicken and beef treats in the house with both Astro and Zephyr to try and help with boredom.  There doesn't seem to be any kind of cognitive damage from the encephalitis or seizures.  While things were bad he was circling to the right and the Dr. said that was because the right side of his brain was stronger.  I think maybe the left side was more effected by the encephalitis, but I still need to ask about that.  During our sessions I've had him do lots of left turns and circles to strengthen that side and he's done well.

"Uh, Pablo, that's my dog bed."  "Oh yea?  Try and make me move Astro!  Besides, how many times have I seen you try to fit in a cat bed?"
All of the cats; Riley, Pablo, and Annie have even been great too.  They've been sleeping on the bed with me more and often with a dog or two.  Yes, Zephyr's able to get on the bed, no problem.  I've had Zephyr's fabric crate, the big 48 inch long one that is even taller than my bed, at the foot of the bed since he came home, although I'm not zipping it up anymore.  Today when I got home they were playing in the bedroom.  Zephyr decided that rather than go around the fabric crate to get on the bed he would just jump on it and then on to the bed!  Scared the crap out of me!  Then a few minutes later he just jumped over its corner and on to the bed.  I decided that it was time to fold up the fabric crate.  :-)

"What? I know you were done anyway."  Cracker thief!
It's safe to say that Zephyr is even more spoiled now and can pretty much do no wrong.  He's been very hungry and for the first time even begs for food.  I had finished having some cheese and crackers, but there was one cracker left.  He just walked up and took it.  I just watched, let him take it, smiled, and grabbed the camera.  :-)  I'm scared to think about what will happen when I stop cooking chicken and beef for him, and Astro and the kitties because I have to be fair.

"Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha!  We're playing together in the last snow storm of the season!"
This past weekend we had another snow storm, about 10 inches fell.  On Sunday I let Zephyr and Astro out for a few short play sessions.  Again, I referee.  They had the best time and Zephyr did great with no slips or accidents.   

"Catch me if you can, Zephyr!"  "You know I can, Astro!"
I even let them do a few laps around the yard.  It was great to see them playing and running together.  I'm sure it was the happiest they both had been in the past month.

I also want to mention that on Sunday Zephyr had his first normal poo in over three weeks!  Who knew that poo could be such a great thing!  I was so happy! LOL!  His stool had been very soft or runny most likely from all the medicine and diet change.  He's down to only the phenobarbital, prednisone, and Pepcid AC.  As long as things go well, he'll be off the phenobarbital within the next week.

Happy, tired boys after playing in the snow.
I'll probably start taking Zephyr on short walks again tomorrow.  He was full of energy when I got home today and he kept going to the front door wanting to go out.  He's been playing off and on all evening and talking it up too.  Currently he is barking at Pablo, who was resting peacefully.  And he wonders why Pablo gives him a hard time.

Sweet sleepy guy.
This Friday Zephyr will go for another blood draw to check his white blood cell count and everything else.  As long as it all looks good the next Friday we will go to Phoenix to see Dr. Knowles for his next chemotherapy (Lomustine, CCNU) treatment and a checkup.  He'll have to start taking all the antibiotics again then, which is a bit of a bummer because it will probably mess his GI track and stools up again.  The chemotherapy dose will be lower this time since his WBC count dropped really low and he got sick the first time, so that will be better.  I'll be able to talk to the Dr. and ask some questions I still have then.  I'm just so happy that I was able to get him the treatment he needed and that it has gone so well.  The other morning before I got out of bed he jumped up and licked my face.  I couldn't have been happier!


Greyhounds CAN Sit said...

This is simply the BEST news!! It's so wonderful to see Zephyr running around and playing and being able to do so:) I'm so very pleased for you all. There's still a ways to go yet though, isn't there. Hopefully this huge worry will be all over soon:)

Sue said...

Really fab news. Song and I are still sending Zephyr positive healing thoughts and of course huge hugs for him and Astro.

Mr.Mischief said...

Wonderful news indeed! :)

houndstooth said...

This is such great news! I feel a little misty-eyed. You've got some great action shots of him running around out in the snow. :)

Our dogs are always loose-stooled when they're on antibiotics, too. I guess it's just par for the course. Also, as a person who has had to be on prednisone, it DOES make you extremely hungry (and moody)! I wouldn't feel bad about feeding him a bit more now while he's on it and battling to get his health back. I felt like I could inhale the whole house just for a snack! lol And my poor husband claims that he and the dogs lived in fear, but I hope that's an exaggeration!

I can't wait to see pictures of you guys back out on the trails! I'll bet it won't be long, now!

KF-in-Georgia said...

I'm glad he's doing so well.

After your post on Greytalk, someone else chimed in on that thread: her dog had had Granulomatous Meningenoencephalitis (I nearly typed that right in one go). She had chemo with a different chemical, stayed on meds for a year, and now has gone four years with no relapses.

Keep it up, Zephyr.

gyeong said...

Great news! When my guys aren't feeling well, I feed them as much as they will eat. And always looking for firm poo as a good sign.

Edina♥Regina said...

wonderful news!♥

Aragon greyhounds said...

Hi sorry to have been away for a while. When I got back I read what happened to Zephyr. Can I talk to you directly and enter him in the greyhound database?
My email is get in touch with each other.

greygirl25 said...

Wonderful news about Zephyr.

I am so happy for both of you. Here's to a healthy future.

IHeartDogs said...

Beautiful update! Yay for Zephyr! Keep it up big guy, your Mama has done and continues to do such a greyt job getting you back to 100%
All the pics of you playing put a huge smile on my face. <3

Michelle said...

Wonderful news!! I hope he continues to get better. :)

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

I'm glad Z is doing much better!

Sara said...

Great news to hear that gorgeous boy is back on the road to recovery. Licks and tail wags from Tillie & Raven.

Joanne said...

I am so glad he is recovering! I had encephalitis as a child and it took a long time to recover. I remember most of it. Headaches and feeling worse than I have ever felt before or since. Had to be carried around because I had no coordination and no energy to move even if I could have. I was lucky and didn't get to the point of seizures though. They never pinpointed what caused it and I don't remember getting much treatment but that was a long time ago. I think the attitude was that I would either make it or not and there wasn't much that could be done so they had my parents take me home. My coordination gradually came back over a few months. I don't think I had any permanent damage but others might tell you different. LOL. It never came back so hopefully it won't for him either.