Back in February, when we found out our dog Zoey had a brain tumor, I asked one of her vets how long she had to live. Mind you, I was trying to be big and brave while talking to Zoey’s vets and not break down in tears, but when I asked this question, the tears welled up and I could barely speak. Dr. Amanda said “Zoey would be an outlier if she is still alive in 6 months.” Well, not only did Zoey turn 8 on July 21, she is still with us today!
It has definitely been an intense 6.5 months of caregiving! The regimen of medicine she was first prescribed with in February–Levetiracetam (Kepra) and Prednisone to help prevent seizures, Tramadol for pain, and Omeprazole to suppress nausea–kept her condition under control until around Mother’s Day. If she had any seizures, we would increase her dosage of Kepra. She started to show signs of pain, though, before Mother’s Day and this was scary because we had tried to increase the Prednisone with poor results and she had maxed out on her dosage of Kepra. She was also losing control of her rear legs if she overdid it at daycare and showing signs of major discomfort if she got too warm. (Remember: it starts getting hot in New Orleans by early May). I honestly did not think she would make it Mother’s Day weekend. I contacted Dr. Johanna and she recommended we introduce Gabapentin, which is prescribed for seizures (among other things), on top of her other medications. The Gabapentin has been just what Zoey needed! The Gabapentin is not a miracle cure and her seizures haven’t suddenly stopped; however, if the dosage is right and Zoey is staying cool, the seizures take a break and we are given a respite.
Of course, Mother’s Day was around the time Terry accepted a job offer in Chicago and only a couple of weeks before my school year ended, so we didn’t have much time to figure out the Gabapentin before our world went into upheaval mode. With more than two months of traveling and moving, packing and unpacking, and basically living like nomads this summer, it is amazing that Zoey has been able to cope with this huge transition so well. She has had to be a priority, however, to make this happen. We had to do things like having 2 months worth of prescriptions filled before we officially left NOLA July 6th and traveling with a bag of extra dog towels as well as a fan. Hooking her special shower hose up in one of our new bathrooms for cooling baths was crucial, as was setting up a counter and cupboard for food and pill staging in our new kitchen. I also needed to locate Chicago vets we could go to when problems arose–which of course they did a week and a half ago. The Hyde Park Animal Hospital was recommended, conveniently located and did not disappoint. We have found another kind, patient, thorough and compassionate vet in Dr. Gail Henry.
Somewhere along the line I realized I needed a break, however. After 6 months of my being the primary caregiver for Z, with lots of nights of interrupted sleep, I jumped at the chance 3 weeks ago to travel back to New Orleans from Chicago for a wedding and to pick up some things we left behind. During the trip, I listened to two fun, escapist books on CD (while I drove), luxuriated in 2 nights of uninterrupted (hotel) sleep, went to brunch with one of my girlfriends and thoroughly enjoyed the wedding. Sometimes, the caregiver needs to care for herself. 🙂
The best part? Zoey and Bleu were in good hands the whole time with Terry.