Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Payton’s battle with PDE…sacrifices and rewards

Here is a long overdue post.  It’s Christy here.  Payton has been gracious enough to let me take over the blog today in order to finish (at least for now) our series on PDE.  Ok, so I had to bribe her with some treats. 

Anyway, if you haven’t read the other posts, here they are:

I left off wanting to talk about how Payton’s condition has affected my husband (Tim) and me.  I will tell you that we made some of the most impactful decisions of our lives thus far during the weekend/week that we traveled up-state for her diagnosis and treatment.  And the funny thing is that we had no idea how they would truly shape our lives at the time.

The immediate predicament was the cost of her treatment and her need for home care.  Payton was in no shape to be home alone, and she couldn’t stay in a kennel or doggie “day care” because of her increased risk for illness due to her lowered immune system.  Plus, there was no way I was going to have my baby live in a cage Monday through Friday for the time she has left on this earth.  If we were going to spend the money and make every effort to give her a good life, it didn’t make sense.  So the first decision was: how can we still afford all of our current bills (cut to the bare minimum) plus the additional cost of treatment on only one salary?   So we took a leap of faith.  I told my boss that I had to either quit or work from home.  You should have seen his face when I explained the situation.  But, I guess they didn’t want to hire someone else, so I got to stay home! 

What a relief that was!  Cause let me tell you, Payton’s treatment is not cheap.  Not counting the initial diagnosis (which was in the thousands of dollars), her medicine, quarterly rechecks, and occasional issues average over a single year to about $800 a month – and that is with some generic drugs!  That is a house payment for some, so you can imagine the struggle and commitment it takes.  We have been blessed to have a good income, and having children hasn’t been a priority for us, so we do not have that expense.  A few of the ladies at our local vet always say how lucky Payton is that she didn’t come to live with a family of kids or it just may not have been feasible for us to afford this.

It’s funny though, because in many ways it feels as if we do have a child.  Certainly the expense of one!  But there are also many days that my husband and I are just exhausted.  At the beginning, she had to go to the bathroom so often that we would likely get up 3 times in the middle of the night.  Now we pretty much have it down to once a night for pills.  The routine starts at 3:30 am, then 5:30 am with breakfast, 9:30 am, 11:30 am with lunch, 1:30 pm, 5:30 pm with dinner, 9:30 pm, and then it starts all over again.  It can take a toll on you.  In the same way new parents complain about having a non-existent social life, our lives have had similar relationship impacts.  Even though Payton is doing much better than when she was first diagnosed, she could still have a relapse or seizure at any time, so we still can’t bring ourselves to leave her alone.  Plus, at this point she hasn’t been by herself for so long that it probably would cause her too much stress.  So that means that anytime we want to go somewhere, we have to get a dog-sitter.  Luckily we live in the same town as my parents, and they love Payton with all their hearts.  They (my mom in particular) have been so accommodating and generous with their time, watching her if I have meetings for work or if Tim and I just need to have a date night.

And as much as I love my little angel, it is good for me, like any mom I suppose, to have some time apart.  It is sometimes emotionally taxing to care for her 24/7.  Although she is having some of the best days of her life, the journey has been a roller coaster ride.  We try to focus on the positive side of this experience, but sometimes I just can’t help but be saddened by the thought of one day losing my sweet Payton.  We just never know when/if the next seizure, relapse, or problem will be her last.  She’s a fighter, and the strongest creature I’ve ever met, but her little body will give out one day.  There are days that I think I could handle it since we have had so much time to prepare mentally, but there are other days I think I’ll fall apart.

At times, it can be very lonely and isolating going through something like this.  As you may know, that was one of the main reasons for starting this blog.  We were hoping to be a light out there for others that may be going through this or something similar.  We want to make a difference so that Payton’s experience won’t be in vain.  Already we’ve received two emails from families that were fearful their pug had PDE.  We are saddened by that possibility, but are so grateful that we could be there to help in any small way we can.

Ok, so we have made and continue to make a lot of sacrifices for our girl, but it’s not all so depressing.  We certainly would not trade her (just the way she is) for anything in this world.  There is not a single day that goes by that she doesn’t make me smile.  We just feel better, happier in her presence.  We are truly blessed to be loved by her, and she has taught us the true meaning of unconditional love.  Tim and I love each other and our families more deeply because of her.  Despite all she has been through, her sweet disposition and great joy for life shines every day.  It’s infectious.  Everyone that meets her falls in love.

It's faint and kinda hard to see in the picture, but there is a rainbow in the sky.
Payton has also taught us how to live in the now.  At least we try to.  Her life is so fragile that we strive to cherish each moment with her.  We have adjusted our priorities.  It’s most important that we spend time with family and have fun with Payton.  We try to do as many of the things that she likes as possible.  When Payton gets in the mood to play, we play.  When she wants to lie outside in the sun, we stay outside.  We try very hard not to get wrapped up in the routine of life (chores, work, etc).  And lastly, most importantly, our faith has increased.  We pray every night that God will continue to heal Payton and keep her with us.  All three of us have become dependent on His grace and mercy.  I have no doubt that our prayers have helped to give Payton the best life possible.

Christy (and Payton)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Grain-free food update

I’ve been meaning to tell everyone about what my parents finally decided to do with my food situation, so thanks for reminding me in a comment you made last week, Vito.  It’s been 3 weeks since I switched foods, from Hill’s Prescription Diet w/d to The Honest Kitchen Zeal.

A BIG thanks to Mandy and Izzie for recommending it.  Not only does it fit all the criteria that Dr. Podell recommended (grain-free, low fat, low calorie, and non-poultry based protein), but it is so yummy that words can’t even describe my love for it!  It’s dehydrated, so my mom just adds some water and keeps it in the fridge for my next meal!

Zeal after it has soaked up the water...I'm getting hungry!
Since it is so similar to the Hill’s w/d regarding calories and fat, I can eat the same amount as I used to.  YEAH!!!  For anyone on w/d or wanting to try grain-free, I’d recommend this in a heart beat!  My mom found it at local pet boutiques, Treats Unleashed and Four Muddy Paws, or it can be ordered direct from The Honest Kitchen.  She says it is considerably more expensive than most bagged dry dog foods, but I’m so worth it!

Get in my belly!
Nom, nom, nom!  So yummy!
Is that it?
Oops!  Did I do that?
Mom's attempt to embarrass me by circling the bits of food on my face, but it won't work!  I'm not about to hold back at meal time!
As you can see I make a mess.  Mom’s not too happy about that or the smell (I’m not sure what she’s talking about), but I love it so she does too.  Mom wanted to make sure I told everyone that I also get about a tablespoon of the Blue Buffalo Wilderness salmon recipe at each meal.  It bulks it up a bit to make sure I get the same amount of calories as before and gives some crunch.  It’s yummy too.

Aside from the deliciousness, the most important thing about my new food is that it has helped my sinuses tremendously.  I have only drooled like a Saint Bernard twice.  I still have drainage that causes a few "reverse sneezes" once in a while, and I am breathing heavier more than I used to (and snoring occasionally), but I haven’t had any of the bad “attacks” that make it hard to breath or sleep.  YEAH!!

Oh, and to take my pills, my mom gives me canned pumpkin and, every now and then, a bit of peanut butter.  And I get some freeze-dried green beans, sweet potato, and cheese snacks.  YUM!  So, for me, grain-free was a smart move.  I give my new food FOUR paws up!  Good luck to anyone that is looking to switch…I hope you have as much lip-smacking success as I did!


Friday, June 24, 2011

Officially tired...

I am just so tired today, but it's been a fun couple of days.  I was able to convince my mom and Gammy to take me out to lunch two days in a row!  Yesterday we went to Sqwires restaurant in Lafayette Square.  I must give a special shout-out to Noodles, who told me how to "wear" my Frogg Togg so it wouldn't fall off.  It pretty much stayed in place under my harness and kept me nice and cool.  Thanks again, Noodles!

My mom was so nice to give me a little piece of chicken and a pea and carrot!  And then after lunch, we took a walk in the park.  I love to zig-zag all over the place!

And then after smelling every scent in the park, we went into Four Muddy Paws (mom's camera battery died, so no pictures there).  It was so much fun!  I'm glad I got to do things with my family cause it's supposed to storm all weekend and the temperatures are heading back into the 90's on Monday.  But after a lot of adventuring, I'm just dog tired!

Can someone tell my mom to get that camera out of my face and let me sleep?!?
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!  I'll see you next week after I wake up from my nap!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

This is not a paid advertisement...

Since it seemed like the thing to do, my mom ordered me one of those Frogg Togg Chilly Pad/Towels (in hot pink, of course!).  Well, because today is so nice out (upper 70's to low 80's) and I needed more of my new grain-free food from a pet store in the city (St. Louis), mom and Gammy decided to take me out to lunch!  YEAH!  This was the perfect time to give the Frogg Togg a test drive.

It's amazing how cool it really gets.  The only down side is that it just doesn't stay on very well (especially with the harness and leash on), so we found the best thing was to put it on the ground to lay on.  Of course, with the prospect of food, I wasn't about to take a nap.  Overall, I'd give it 2 paws up!  Thanks to Sal, Mack, and everyone else that recommended the Frogg Togg Chilly Pad/Towel!

Ok, back to lunch...we went to the Boathouse in Forest Park.  It is so lovely there and very dog friendly.  I think there were at least 4 other dogs there.

me and Gammy waiting for food
me begging for some of Gammy's yummy fish and chips
The weather is supposed to be the same tomorrow so wish me luck in convincing them to take me out again!


Monday, June 20, 2011

The Purple Elephant

So remember that surprise gift that I told you my Gammy and Gampy brought back for me from San Antonio TX?  Well, I just loved it - the loudest squeaking purple elephant I have ever seen!  I think it is my mission to rid the planet of squeakers, so I was attacking this guy pretty violently.  My slacker of a mom didn't get the best part despite having lots of time...after all, I was at it for like an entire hour straight.  But you'll see a mild shake in the video.

I miss my purple elephant already.  I pulled off it's tail which created a big hole right by the squeaking mechanism rendering it useless.  I did my job and killed it, but I was hoping that it would've put up a better fight.  Maybe the local pet stores will have something like it...sounds like a good let's go!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed seeing me in action.  I'll try to get my mom to take more videos


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

I hope you get to do something extra fun with your dad today.  Mine always takes me to the best places!

Boathouse restaurant in STL 2008
Oberweis somewhere in Chicago suburbs 2008 - if you look real close you can see a crumb of cone on my lips!

Chicago river cruise 2009
Wrigley Field in Chicago 2009
Naperville Riverwalk 2009
Feast restaurant in Chicago 2010
Millennium Fountain in Chicago 2010

I love you, dad!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Singing in the sun…

Just singing in the sun
What a glorious feelin'
I'm happy again!

Since the weather was so nice this past weekend, I was able to catch up on my sun bathing.

Hiding in the clover...

YAWN...what a beautifully lazy day!

Sniff, sniff - I'm hungry, maybe this leaf would be yummy...

What's this...does dad have some food?

Ppplllbbbt!  No food, just that silly camera again.

No matter how much I love the cool grass against my skin or the warm sun shining on my back, it doesn’t compare with the possibility of food!  My mom says I have a one track mind.  I’ll agree.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What a COOL weekend!

All of a sudden on Saturday afternoon, the wind started to blow gently and the heat and humidity went away!  YEAH!  Now we can go on some adventures and have fun.  So Saturday evening mom and dad borrowed Gammy and Gampy's SUV, and they packed me up in the car.  We went to see a movie at the Drive-In!

me and mom enjoying some pre-movie snacks
the four lights in a row are on top of the screen
Now, truth be told, I would have much rather gone to a drive-through, but mom and dad enjoyed the movie.  They could tell, so when the weather was still nice on Sunday, mom and dad took me to a Mexican restaurant!

me and dad waiting for the food to come
There's not much on the menu for me so dad had an apple treat for me...smells good!
Nom, nom, nom!  It is good!
It kinda looks like we are inside the restaurant, huh?  But we're not.  They just have a nice covered patio that is decorated like the inside.  Well, the weekend was over, but I've got one more thing to share.  As many of you may know from my post yesterday, it was my Gammy's 60th birthday.  I got to spend the entire day with her!

Which one is mine?
Is it this one?
As you can see, I stuck my nose in Gammy's business when she was opening the gifts we got her.  I know it's a bit rude, but I love opening presents and getting new toys.  I was just hoping that one of them would be for me...  Well, my Gammy came through for me.  She and my Gampy had just got back from a trip to San Antonio TX and they brought me back a souvenir!  So after Gammy opened all of her gifts, she gave me my surprise.  My mom shot a video of me attacking it with her new camera.  Since she has to figure out how to post that, stay tuned for that next week!

I hope everyone had as much fun as I did this weekend!  Paws crossed that the weather stays pug friendly around the globe!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Happy Birthday, Gammy!!

Today is my Gammy's (my mom's mom) 60th Birthday!  We are going to celebrate and have a good time!

Can you believe that we don't have any recent pictures of me and her?  My mom is slacking!  But to be fair, Gammy is usually the picture taker in the family so she's not in many.  Here's some of me to enjoy, wishing her the best day ever!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Emergency juju needed for Roxy!

Hey everyone, I need your help.  Saturday evening mom got an email from a pug named Roxy.  Her mom thinks she might have PDE.  Please keep them in your prayers.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Flashback Friday...Navy Pier Cruise

My mom is finally looking at the calendar and planning our next vacation to Chicago (and my next routine check-up with Dr. Podell).  I can't wait to go back!  So for this reason and the fact that it's been way too hot to go for a walk or have any kind of outing (Suki, I'm still trying to get mom to call some stores so I can have an A/C adventure like you!), I've been day dreaming of my past trips to Chicago.  Hope you enjoy these pictures from July 2007.

My mom thinks that I look like the cruise announcer here.
Mom, Dad, and me!
What a view from the lake!
Feelin' the breeze...
Fun in the sun!
I had such a good time on this lake cruise.  Chicago is my kind of town!