It happens to us all.
Everyone knows how it feels to watch their pet not feeling their best.
Whether they're recovering from a spay/neuter, experiencing G.I. issues, or just generally under the weather for a day or two, I know most of us would do anything to help our family members feel better.
If you're reading this post, I assume that you have an affinity for animals. Because of this, I am choosing to share what's been happening with our beautiful dog Freddie. Yes, THAT Freddie of "Friday Feature" fame!
Frederick Maximus is about two years old. He was found in a field and brought to the San Luis Obispo county shelter when he was between eight and 20 weeks old. (We were told 8, then ten weeks, then five months within a span of one week, soooo.....?)
Freddie enjoyed playing fetch in our hallway. He adored chasing after his favorite toys over and over and over again!
A little more than a year after we adopted him, so this past spring, we noticed that Freddie's hind legs were appearing weak. As he stared at the trees in our yard, willing squirrels to run down the trunk, his bum began sagging. He'd usually correct himself and move along.
By June, he had started wobbling a bit while walking. Sid and I described it as appearing drunk or that a different brain controlled his back and front end. By September, he required our help to walk without falling over. Neurologist, here we come.
After a few second opinions, anti-inflammatories, and acupuncture visits later, the day of our long-awaited appointment with a neurologist arrived. In one day, Freddie endured a three-and-a-half-hour drive, a physical exam, an MRI, Spinal Tap, a muscle biopsy in his back right leg, and another three-and-a-half-hour drive home. He was a very good and tired boy!
The spinal tap revealed foreign neurotransmitters in his cerebrospinal fluid. These are a marker of inflammation, so the doctor prescribed Prednisone. After two weeks of increased hunger and thirst, typical side effects of the steroid, the doc called to inform us that Freddie's muscle biopsy results were in.
Our mitochondria are where energy, or ATP, is made from fat. If the fat doesn't permeate the mitochondria, ATP is not made at the appropriate level. Our neurologist believes this occurrence, known as Mitochondrial Myopathy, is causing Freddie's muscle weakness, balance issues, and inflammation. Freddie has been taking Coenzyme Q10, l-Carnitine, and a B Complex for the last six weeks, and thankfully we could taper and stop the Prednisone. We hope these supplements allow fat into the mitochondria and help Freddie move better.
Freddie has also developed Megaesophagus (Mega-E). This is when the esophageal muscles don't contract properly, causing food and liquid to regurgitate instead of moving toward the stomach. Sometimes during the regurgitation process, particles are inhaled, and this causes Aspirate Pneumonia, which Freddie also had.
Managing Mega-E means that Freddie must be fed upright. Until his specially made chair arrives, we sit him in a storage bin, prop him up with pillows and blankets, and feed him very soft food with a spoon. He also gets meat Jell-o–homemade gelatin cubes made from turkey or beef broth and water. These ensure Freddie doesn't get dehydrated since he can't drink water as he pleases.
The process of feeding Freddie takes almost an hour. It entails preparing his food, feeding him, sitting with him for 20 to 30 minutes after eating to let gravity pull his food into his stomach, and culminating in a visit outside. We do this three to four times a day.
So how is Freddie now? Well, he's getting a little stronger. The neurologist said not to expect many, or possibly any, changes before six to eight weeks of supplements. We're just at six weeks, and we're hopeful! He still can't walk on his own. But we got him a sweet stroller so he can go for rides and outings that always result in mostly loving, and some odd, looks and comments.
Now that you know what's going on with Freddie, we'll keep you updated on his progress. If you'd like to follow Freddie's antics, check him out on Instagram: @freddie_max_pup, and let him know you're rooting for him!
And, while you're there, give us a follow, too! @spexeyewearinc