Wednesday, July 27, 2011

UPDATE! by Mel

I asked Piper if I could write in her blog today because two Horrible Things happened to me yesterday, and I wanted to complain about them.  Piper said I was welcome to write my complaints in her blog, if I would also put some of her complaints in, too.  I said I'd be glad to do that, and so here I am writing.

First of all, I will tell you about the Horrible Things that happened to me.  The first Horrible Thing was that Mom gave me a bath!  Mom hardly ever gives us dogs baths because she is too lazy, and also because we don't like to have baths.  But I have been shedding a bunch lately, and Mom is tired of seeing all these clumps of my undercoat sticking out.  Whenever she tries to brush me or pull the loose hair out by hand, I snap at her.  I just do not like people messing with me, especially anywhere on my back end!  Sometimes Mom puts a muzzle on me and tries to brush me anyway, but I dance and twirl and try to make it as hard as possible for her to do this.

So anyway, that's why Mom got the idea of giving me a bath because she thought that would loosen up a lot of hair and she could get it out while I was having the bath, since I don't usually try to bite her when I'm getting a bath.  Oh, and Mom also decided she would give me a bath OUTDOORS, using the garden hose, which she has never done before.  Usually we get our baths in the bathtub.  But Mom did not want a bunch of dog hair going down the drain.

First, before Mom gave me a bath, she mowed the back yard, which really, really needed mowing, even though we haven't had much rain lately.  But the weather has been blistering hot, so Mom has been avoiding doing anything like mowing.  However, she finally bit the bullet and mowed the back yard.  Then after that, she was all hot and sweaty, so she sprayed herself with the hose to show me that it feels really good, but I didn't believe her.  And after that, she gave me a bath.  She got some of my loose hair out, but there is still a lot of it left.

Anyway, after that traumatic event, I thought I could just relax the rest of the day.  But I was wrong, because then the second Horrible Thing happened, which was that Mom took me to see Dr. Patricia!  This was just kind of a general checkup, and also we had to see if I could get less prednisone.  So of course, I will have to have blood tests and a urinalysis and a fecal flotation.  In fact, I have to go there this morning before breakfast to have my blood drawn, so that won't be any fun, but at least I get to come home and eat afterwards.

Mom told Dr. Patricia that she has that same nagging feeling about me that she had about Piper, thinking that something is wrong with me.  But I don't even have any real symptoms, like Piper has.  Mom doesn't know if I'm just getting old or if I'm getting sick.  Lately I like to hang out in some of my really special, safe places -- the ones where I usually go during thunderstorms.  These are places like under Mom's computer desk or under the bed (where I sleep most nights now).  So anyway, that's why we have to do all that bloodwork and stuff.  But really I think there's nothing wrong, and Mom just worries too much!

Okay, so enough about me.  I promised to talk about Piper, and I am now going to do that because she's a pretty nice little sister, at least most of the time.  On Monday, Piper went to Dr. Patricia's office, and the radiologist came and did an ultrasound.  And what the radiologist found out was that Piper's adrenal glands look fine, and her kidneys look fine, and her liver looks fine.  So this means that Piper's Cushing's is the pituitary-based variety.

So the next thing that has to happen is Piper will get a special medicine for a week, and this medicine is called Mitotane, which is the generic name, and the brand name is Lysodern.  I think it's confusing when there are two names for every drug, but nobody asked me what I think -- not that the opinion of a little omega dog would matter.

Anyway, this Mitotane stuff is very powerful, and it's what people sometimes use when they have cancer and are getting chemotherapy.  Also this drug is very expensive.  Mom looked at some prices on the internet, and they range from $2 for one 75 mg capsule to $7.49 for a 500 mg tablet.  And of course, Piper will need to take a bunch of these pills, so when they cost that much apiece, it will add up pretty fast!

We don't know right now what dosage Piper will be getting, but Mom will find out today when she picks up the prescription.  There are lots of possible side effects from Mitotane, such as vomiting and diarrhea and loss of appetite, so Mom has to watch Piper to make sure she doesn't get any of these side effects.  Because if she gets any, Mom is supposed to stop the Mitotane and give Piper some prednisone to make the side effects quit.

Then after Piper has been on the Mitotane for a week, she has to have something called an ACTH stem test, and that will take a couple of hours, and it will cost $250.  Also it may have to be done at Mission MedVet because Dr. Patricia's office might not be able to get the right kind of gel stuff that is needed for the test.

Anyway, once Piper's levels of ACTH are good, she will stay on a maintenance dose of Mitotane (or a different drug, if she can't tolerate that one), and every 3 months she will have to get re-tested with the $250 test.  So this is what Piper wanted me to complain about, and Mom said she would like to complain, too, because this whole Cushing's thing is turning out to be a very expensive illness, and she just hopes she will still be able to afford to buy us dogfood.  Plus she also hopes that there is nothing wrong with me -- especially nothing expensive, like Cushing's!


  1. Hang in there Mel...we're all with you!

  2. Dear Va,
    Thanks for your encouraging words!
    Your friend,

  3. Hi Mel and Piper,

    Yes, some illnesses are VERY expensive. Zena's itchy ear syndrome gets VERY expensive; ones of her medications is almost $200 every few months! I'm not sure how much her cleaning solution is, but it's very expensive to keep her ears clean and itch-free!

    Her bladder pills are also expensive. Zena, in general, is a VERY expensive dog. She goes to the vet EVERY FIVE WEEKS to get her toenails trimmed because she won't let me, my parents or a groomer trim them. Nope, a vet has to do it! Spoiled dog.

    Hopefully Piper's medication will be on the cheaper side! I hope Piper and you get well soon!


  4. Dear Katie,

    Piper is quite proud of being an expensive dog because she knows that if Mom spends lots of money on her, it means Mom loves her! Anyway, Mom bought Piper's first 10 pills today, and they only cost $6.20 apiece instead of $7.50 apiece, like they were online. So that made Mom slightly happier.

    You're right about Zena's being a very expensive dog, too. But I'm sure she is well worth spending the money to keep her healthy and happy!

    Mom always takes us to the vet to get our toenails trimmed, too, because we won't let her do it. Mom can do the cats' nails, though, so that saves a little bit of money.

    Your friend,