DINNER 141: Sunday, May 21, 2006

We got up screaming this morning — we woke at 9:30am and needed to be at the theater by 10:00am to ‘strike’ the set of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. (Strike means to reset the space, removing our sets, props, costumes, and the rest to make the space ready for the next thing.) We made it there by 10:15am and strike wasn’t very difficult. Many hands — Jay, Ted, Dave, Robin, Julie, Nicki, Wendy & me — made light work, so we were able to load the plant props into Ted’s truck & trailer and get them back to the place we rented them safe and sound, much to Dave’s relief.

BusterThen, a group of us went to PRICE HILL CHILI for some food before Wendy & I picked up Buster (or “Christopher”, as we’re considering calling him), our new dog. Well, sorta. Buster is a sweet 6-year old Dachsund who came into Wendy’s hospital ‘down‘ — paralyzed from the neck back — but otherwise sound & healthy. Apparently, this is something that ‘just happens’ to a lot of Dachsunds because they’re so low-and-long and have spinal problems. Their spinal bones calcify and can shoot into the spinal cord, like squeezing a watermelon seed between your fingers. Wherever that hits the spinal cord, from there back is ‘down‘, sometimes temporarily, sometimes forever. Sometimes they are fine after surgery and sometimes surgery is not necessary. We’re going to try to nurse him back to health with steroids and other medications, and so far it’s looking cautiously promising — only a few days after the event he can paddle his legs a bit and roll himself over. Here are some pictures, the very first we took of him.

Once we got Buster home, we realized that we had some errands to run, so we went to get a pet bed, some pee-pads, and assorted other things to make Buster’s convalescence more comfortable. On the way home, we stopped at Skyline for a three-way (for me) and a few cheese coneys (for Wendy, who temporarily suspended her very-successful diet for one day).

We all spent the evening on the couch watching television and generally enjoying not being busy.

To read more of Buster’s story, click here.

Meet Buster the Dog

Buster the Dog came to live with us on Sunday, May 21, 2006. He is a 6-year old Daschund who suffered an unknown spinal trauma on Thursday, May 18, 2006 and became paralyzed from the neck down. His owners weren’t able to take care of him, and brought him to Wendy, who convinced them to surrender him to us, so we could try to nurse him back to health rather than destroying him.

We’re not certain if any mobility will return or not. Sometimes, over the course of time, mobility comes back and sometimes it does not. Frequently, it’s somewhere in between. Wendy feels like Buster deserves a chance and that mobility will come back enough that he’ll be a functional member of our brood which currently consists of 5 cats and 3 dogs, counting Buster. If that doesn’t turn out to be the case and mobility doesn’t return to a functional level, we’ll evaluate his mobility and make an appropriate decision at that time. But that won’t be for at least a month. Until then, Buster will get care, medications, and physical therapy from us, along with sniffs and hisses from the dogs and cats, respectively.

Here is a link to the first post about Buster. Here’s a growing gallery with pictures of Buster.

Update on Buster — May 23, 2006

Here’s a quick update on Buster, the dog that’s currently with us… As you may recall from this article, Buster is a 6-year old sweet Daschund who is currently paralyzed from the neck down.

On their first attempt last week, the folks at Wendy’s hospital weren’t able to get a read-able X-ray of Buster’s spine. However, Wendy got a good film yesterday and found that Buster has an overriding spinal compression of C6-C7. Below is a scan of a human spine (we’re looking into posting Buster’s scans) with a similar problem, from this page:


Wendy isn’t able to do the type of spinal surgery that might help Buster, plus the location of his compression is in “no-man’s land” of the spinal cord — not easy to get to from the usual surgical entry spots. We’ve got him on a pretty good dose of steroids, muscle relaxers, and some Metronidozol (for his bowels, which seem to be upset by all this). He’s comfortable in his little bed and we take him outside to potty several times a day. His teeth, bad breath, and little pot belly are evidence that Buster enjoyed a diet of people food in his previous life, something that will change as he recovers. We provide him I/D, which is a bland food that should be easier for him to digest. He’s currently pretending not to be interested in dog food, but eagerly accepts the pieces of cheese we use to get him to take his meds.

Dr. Purvis, one of Wendy’s colleagues, is going to attempt spinal manipulation (chiropractic) on Buster today. This procedure isn’t without risks — first, he’s knocked out; secondly, because of the location of his injury, there is the possibility that messing with his spinal cord could cause his respiration to stop (Wendy and the other doctor assure me that this possibility is very remote) — but with the exception of the ‘stopping breathing’ piece, the proceedure shouldn’t make anything worse. Once I know anything about how that goes, I’ll post it here.

UPDATE: As I was finishing this article, I called Wendy at the hospital. Buster’s procedure was already done and she said that the doctor stretched Buster’s neck out so far that he “looked like a little giraffe” and that they got some movement from his spine, and that Buster was only knocked out for a few minutes. As he was recovering, one of Wendy’s nurses saw Buster eating some food (he had to scootch his way over to it, too), but when Buster saw her looking at him, the little stinker stopped eating! This dog knows all the tricks. At this point, it’s too soon to expect any visible changes in his behavior, but we hope that this spinal manipulation will speed his healing.

We’re still hopeful that Buster can be brought back to a fairly normal lifestyle. He’s already able to roll himself over from his side onto his belly and does a bit of ‘paddling’ with his front paws when excited.

Update on Buster — May 30, 2006

This article was written by Wendy. 

At this time Buster is making great strides, literally. As last week drew to a close he started to push himself around the floor more enthusiastically. As anticipated, his rear end is stronger than the front (which we expected due to the location of the injury, which is right where the nerves controlling the front legs attach to the spinal cord). By Saturday he was righting his rear end by himself and shoving forward on his down front end in sort of a ‘commando crawl’. He has progressed to being able to support his weight on all 4 feet and taking a few halting steps before the front end gives out and he tumbles over.

He has plenty of strength in all 4 legs, but the problem remains in the proprioception, which is knowing where one’s body parts are without looking at them. This is always the first thing to go and the last thing to return in this sort of injury due to the way the associated nerve tracts are positioned in the spinal cord, so we are encouraged that it is beginning to come back to him at all. In humans, we lose proprioception not only when we have traumatic injuries like Buster’s, but also when we drink too much; hence the “drunk test” of touching your nose with your eyes closed. It’s why we stumble around after too many beers… we just don’t know where our feet are without seeing them anymore. So at this point it is honest to say that Buster’s movement is like a VERY drunk person’s… he is strong but terribly uncoordinated.

Buster rolls over the tops of his feet and can’t bother to place them correctly on the floor (pad side down), so he tumbles over. Fortunately, he’s rather low to the ground to begin with, so a tumble is not a major trauma. After a few good steps (usually to escape his own waste or to get to food) he falls over and gives up and lays there until someone comes to fetch him.

He is eating well but still has some loose stools, which I attribute to the high doses of Vitamin E he has been taking to help his nervous function. We have stopped this tonight as he is progressing so well and we are hopeful his bowels will firm back up soon. Overall his spirits seem to be pretty good. You can tell he gets frustrated when he wants to do something he can’t, but mostly what he seems to want to do is eat and sit next to us on the couch, and those things are currently within his reach.

DINNER 150: Tuesday, May 30, 2006

This evening, Wendy & I went to Joann Fabrics to pick out fleece for our upcoming participation in a Project Linus event that Holly organized and Tracy is hosting.

Project Linus is a 100% volunteer non-profit organization with a two-fold mission:

First, it is our mission to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer “blanketeers.”

Second, it is our mission to provide a rewarding and fun service opportunity for interested individuals and groups in local communities, for the benefit of children.

I picked out a nice HELLO KITTY fleece and Wendy selected a fish-themed fleece. Those in hand, we stopped by Frisch’s for a fish sandwich, onion rings, and cottage cheese for me and a tuna melt and fries for Wendy.

P1010014.JPGOnce dinner was done, we took Buster upstairs to the computer room where he crawled around a bit while we computed, but mostly he was happy to lay in his cuddle cup. We’ve discovered that he absolutely loves his cuddle cup — he lunged (unsuccessfully) for it when I put it on the floor for him before I could put him in. He doesn’t have the control of his front end to jump up the 2 inches it takes to get into the cup. When I placed him in there, he was thrilled and nestled right in. The only thing Buster seems to like more than his cuddle cup is when Wendy or I lay on the floor. He’ll flop out of his cuddle cup and crawl the length of the house to lay against whomever is on the floor. It very sweet — he’ll go through the considerable effort of slowly crawling over just to be next to us. He’s starting to get better control of his front paws now.

He’s still down more than he’s up, but we’re seeing progress nearly every day. As an example, this morning was the first morning he’s been dry & clean in his playpen. We think this is because he’s now off all his medications (the steroids made him thirsty, and that water has to go somewhere!). We’re hoping that being off the meds will also calm his bowels a bit, which have been mostly loose.

There are several new pictures in Buster’s gallery, here.

DINNER 151: Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I had my GARDE MANGER class this evening, so I went directly to Cincinnati State from work.

We worked on a few items tonight since the food order was yet again messed up. As a result, we didn’t have the ingredients we needed for the items assigned tonight. This is a frustrating occurance that has happened far too many times this term. So, we made what we could — Pate Choux Paste, herbed cracker dough (we’ll pipe this out and bake it for decorations on our final platters), and a few other things, but nowhere near the production we hoped for.

During class, Chef brought out some Irish Breakfast Sausage and one of the students whipped up some Cranberry Mustard. The two together were a very satisfying dinner.

Buster getting a belly-rub from Wendy.At home, Wendy was in the computer room and Buster was laying at her feet. When Dolly & Bean (the other two dogs) went crazy when I got home. Buster followed them halfway down the upstairs hallway before Wendy could catch him! Pretty good for a ‘paralyzed’ dog, don’t you think? He’s really starting to get his proprioception back — he’s placing his front feet somewhat deliberately, but he gets it ‘right’ almost half the time now. Pretty good for a dog who was immobile only two weeks ago! We’re hopeful that he’ll continue to improve.

In other news, he’s completely off all his medications now — the steroids, the muscle relaxers, the metronidozol, the Vitamin E, and the Selenium. He’s been dry in his playpen for the last couple mornings and his stools are starting to firm up.

Buster gets his teeth cleaned

Dog TeethToday, Wendy took Buster in to clean his teeth, implant a microchip, and to remove his floppy dewclaw. She said he did well through the proceedure, but that his teeth “look like the teeth of a 10 year old dog” (we think he’s about 6 years old but are not sure) and that it’s clear that he’s never had any dental care in his life. Buster was rescued from the pound by the owners from whom we got him, so his history prior to the previous owners is completely unknown. (The picture is neither Buster’s mouth nor from Wendy’s hospital — it’s just a photo I found on the ‘net)

Wendy had to remove one of Buster’s molars because it was so crummy, and she thinks that he may lose a couple more teeth in the next few years — they might be too far gone. The cleaning she did was thorough, of course, and we hope that with continued close monitoring and care, we may be able to head-off any more tooth decay or loss.

(this is his floppy dewclaw)

And maybe his breath will smell better, too!