It’s been a long time since my last update, when Maggie was diagnosed with failing back legs and taken to the Monash Vet clinic to participate in an experimental new stem cell procedure for arthritis and other joint problems.
Maggie was knocked out for extensive X rays which revealed her arthritic spine to be in a pretty horrible state. One or two of her vertebrae were pretty much collapsed, as I understand it. To do this, they had to shave her tummy. Fortunately that was back in January and it all grew back very quickly (Plus, if you’re going to have an exposed tummy, January is the time to do it.)
In March she went in again to have the stem cell treatment in both hips, spine and her front elbow (a different, old injury) again under a general anaesthetic. To accomodate the needles delivering the stem cells, they shaved two circles on the hips and a smaller area on the elbow. At this point when she came to she must have decided she’d been abducted by aliens and subjected to inexplicable experiments. “Every time I come to this place I get knocked out and another bit of me gets shaved!!”
For some reason, while the fur on her elbow grew back right away, the circles on her hips are still growing. So in winter, I bought her a spiffing blue coat to wear in the park. She’d never needed such a thing before, as a double coated dog living in Yarraville, but she thought it was pretty good.
Then we waited. And she’s seen every six weeks or so. The vet checks her over and updates her progress for the stem cell study.
Most dogs on the program so far have experience some kind of surge of wellbeing soon after the treatment. That didn’t happen with Maggie. I kept on with the other stuff we were doing, which I’ll list for you dog people, because it’s a great routine for an old dog:
Glucosamine/chondroitin and fish oil, both 1000mg daily
Hot packs for five minutes twice daily on the spine (or a massage if it’s heatwave conditions)
As well as this, and this is on vet advice only:
Gentle back leg stretches (best to get your vet to show you how this is done.)
Six weekly vet checks with a Cartrophen injection.
But she held her own, and was happy. Then, sometime in December, something happened. She started to run a little. Just here and there. Her body language has changed – there’s a swagger in her step.
The vet says it’s because we’ve got that back more comfortable.
She’s still in two minds about that vet. No more alien abductions and shaved bits, but she gets a needle every time. Not her favourite thing, those vet visits. I like them though, because he’s always pleased with her, so far.
Maggie was given maybe a 6 month prognosis last January if nothing was done. A year on, and she’s enjoying life to the full. She still walks a little bit skewwhiff, but she’s happy, healthy and having fun. Now let’s see how long we can keep that going.