It’s been a while…

It’s been a while since I have written.  I’ve had a serious case of writer’s block and honestly, since switching to my latest biologic drug, I’ve felt pretty good.  Maybe I was feeling cocky.  Maybe I was feeling lucky.  Maybe I am only inspired to write when I am in pain.  Today I am inspired and I am in pain.  You see 2017 has been a craptastic year in many ways.  Whenever things are going well, life seems to smack me hard.  This time, it hit hard and broke my heart.

I’ve written many times about Georgia Grace, my 8 year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  23473169_10215316483811544_2051780795757797242_nShe is the epitome of a #spooniedog.  She battles a neurological disease called Syringomyelia, hip dysplasia, arthritis, chronic ear and eye infections, dry eye syndrome, and chronic skin infections.  In March of this year, she was also diagnosed with chronic valvular disease.  That last diagnosis really broke my heart….because I have no way of fixing her (literal) broken heart. She takes 15 pills a day, receives acupuncture, and is the poster child for canine cannabinoids.  It’s a lot to manage, but has become our normal.  I can typically look at Georgia and know what is bothering her.  Usually a quick medication adjustment and she is fine again.

A few weeks ago, I started to notice that Georgia was fairly mopey, guzzling water and very clingy.  We had a change in weather, so that tends to trigger syringomyelia flares.  I chalked it up to that.  Adjusted her meds and kept watch.  The excessive water drinking continued and my neighbor mentioned that she thought she had lost a lot of weight.  I knew that was a sign of something being wrong.  I had a feeling we were looking at diabetes or something worse.

Waiting for test results. Feeling pretty sick

Sure enough, blood work indicated diabetes.  I was sent home with insulin and needles and told someone would contact me about the rest of her blood work results.  My head was reeling.  I thought it was bad news, but something we could treat.  The next day, test results indicated that Georgia had diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially deadly complication of diabetes,  and she needed to be hospitalized right away.  Suddenly, I went from thinking, “I can do this” to OMG… dog may die.

I was faced with a huge financial bill and no guarantee that Georgia was going to survive.  I canceled my Thanksgiving plans which included spending time with my parents and family, as well as my 30th High School reunion (all of which are located 2 hours away).  I needed to stay close to the vet hospital in case a decision needed to be made about Georgia’s life. I would never let her cross the Rainbow Bridge without me.  The vet hospital didn’t give me much hope.  Her heart condition caused complications with the treatment of IV fluids and they had to stop it.  Eventually, she stabilized and they tried a more conservative treatment.  The entire time I was told that she may not respond due to all of her medical issues.  I literally felt my heart breaking.  Georgia Grace is a warrior who battles diseases that would topple the strongest of men (or women), and she never complains.  I wasn’t going to see her in the hospital because she has terrible separation anxiety.  The hospital encouraged me to come and see her Thanksgiving day.  She needed to be carried away from me because she was determined go with me when I left.  She kept sitting by my purse no matter where I moved it to.  23795831_10215411959078366_8172862047408054690_nI suddenly realized she knows that I take the purse when I leave, so she stayed close.  I felt so guilty leaving her.  That night she complained and fussed all night.  The vet tech told me she started showing some feistiness after I left.  After 3 days in the hospital, I was finally told they were “cautiously optimistic” that Georgia would recover.  She ended up coming home at 9:00 pm on the 4th day of her stay.  Nine pounds lighter, exhausted, and with an arms length of directions for me to follow.  The look on her face when she realized she was leaving with me was priceless.

Let’s go home!

Now we have a new morning routine that includes blood glucose checks, food, and insulin.  It takes me almost 45 minutes on average to be able to stand up in the morning, so now I am getting up even earlier to get her routine completed.  As you can guess… body is finally rebelling.  Two days after bringing Georgia home, I had a huge flare. The stress and lack of sleep took its toll.  My knees, elbows, hands, and shoulders literally burn with pain.  It seemed my Fibromyalgia and RA were fighting for dominance.  I’m still not sure who won, but I know it wasn’t me. I slept almost 16 hours with braces on my joints so I could actually cope with the pain.  A week later, and I’m still struggling.  I fear a call to my rheumatologist is in order because things are not getting better and simple tasks like dressing, showering, and taking care of a #spooniedog are just about impossible.  I see cortisone shots and prednisone in my future and it’s not making me happy.

Someone said that Georgia’s medical conditions are not good for my health. I brush it off because I will never regret one moment I’ve spent with Georgia. She has taught me so much about myself and how I deal with my chronic illness.  She is an inspiration and a positive light in my life even when we are both struggling.

I have to thank my amazing neighbors and friends for helping me when I needed it and inviting me to be a part of their Thanksgivings so I wouldn’t be alone.  I also have to thank the Cavalier Brigade who helped take the financial stress of the hospital bill off of my shoulders.  Georgia and I have made friends in the cavalier rescue world and I am eternally grateful for their support.  Finally, I have to thank my family who checked in on me and talked me off the ledge a few times.  It’s been a rough few weeks but hopefully I will get past this flare and get back to better days.  Time will tell.

Being a spoonie is hard.  Being a spoonie with a pet spoonie is extra hard, but it’s worth it.  Georgia’s purpose on Earth is to love and be loved.  Lucky for me, I get to love her the most.

Thanksgiving at the animal hospital.  Love you to the moon and back Georgia.



Posted by

Kelly holds masters degrees in both Special Education and Speech-Language Pathology. She works full-time as a speech-language pathologist in both a public school setting and as an adjunct faculty member at a university, in Philadelphia, PA. She specializes in both autism and augmentative/alternative communication and took her skills to Uganda, Africa to start a special needs program for disabled children living in an orphanage in 2011. Kelly began experiencing symptoms of autoimmune arthritis in 1984 (while in her teens) but wasn’t officially diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis until 2001. Her first diagnosis was Sjogren’s syndrome. Eventually her diagnosis was changed to sero-negative RA and now Polyarticular Spondlyoarthropathy. She also manages thyroid disease (resulting from Graves Disease), fibromyalgia, renin-deficient hypertension, and disseminated superficial actinic porokeratosis (DSAP) on a daily basis. Kelly connected with other autoimmune arthritis patients via social media in 2008. She began volunteering with the “Buckle Me UP! Movement”, which evolved into the International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement (IAAM) beginning in 2009. Then became a cofounder of IFAA in 2013. She has represented the ACR on Capitol Hill as an Advocate for Arthritis, was a finalist in Wego Health’s Health Activist Hero awards in 2014, and speaks at various healthcare conferences as a patient advocate in the Philadelphia area.

6 thoughts on “It’s been a while…

  1. We had two wonderful cocker spaniels whom we loved as much as you love Georgia. They both suffered difficult eye and skin issues and we also battled their man issues. I loved them both and wished either was still with us. I am glad she has you and you care for her so.

    About the diabetes, let me know if I can help out. I have some extra syringes and may know where I can get some lantus if that is what she is taking. Hey us people and dogs with diabetes have to stay together

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Rick. My aunt had a zillion needles that she sent to me. She has a pump now. I have to figure out how to convert the dog units to people units. I appreciate your help. I fear I am not doing the right thing….all the time.


      1. I have access to humalog and lantus if any of that helps. I do not know what the pet equivilants are, but if you want to send me the guidelines, i will be happy to read them and see what i think.

        I tell moms of new T1 children, the best thing you can do is love them, they need that badly, every thing else will follow from that. I bet it is the same for puppy dogs.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s