24 March 2016

Solving the drought one dog at a time

While Matt and I were recently dying, Zero decided to further diminish Southern California's dwindling water supply by drinking all of it. Due to our lack of situational awareness, we didn't realize the severity of the situation until Zero woke us up by peeing on the rug two mornings in a row. Then we started noticing the hidden puddles of pee all over the house. Clearly something was wrong with the dog and not just us.

We dragged ourselves, a very excited Reese, and a wary Zero to the vet for a visit with Zero's internal medicine doctor. Based on his symptoms of drinking and peeing twenty-seven gallons per day, she had a diagnosis in mind, which she confirmed with blood tests. His blood glucose level was 527. Like humans, dogs are supposed to have levels in the low 100s. Uhhh, fuck.

Zero officially has type 1 diabetes, also known as "dogabetes." It was most likely caused by years of taking steroids for his IBD (irritable bowel disease). Unfortunately, he needs to take his current steroids as only they successfully control his IBD.

Just for fun, he now gets twice daily insulin injections, one after each meal. Getting his dose of insulin straightened out required glucose curves and more visits to the vet than we were physically capable of at the time. He started out at four units, then it was increased to six, then again to eight. Zero seemed stable at eight, but then his urine tested positive for ketones, which are a precursor to DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis).

The vet lowered Zero's insulin dose to seven units. Guess who started drinking and peeing constantly? Hint, it wasn't Matt. The vet raised his dose, somewhat reluctantly, to 7.5 units, and he seems to have finally stabilized.

Sadly, it is very common for dogs with type 1 diabetes to develop cataracts within about six months of diagnosis. They usually require surgery to restore the dog's vision. Zero's eyes are already starting to look a bit cloudy, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

19 March 2016

The Hidden Danger of Disneyland

In early December (yes, I'm well aware that it's now the end of March), Matt thought it would be fun to get food poisoning the night before a scavenger hunt at Disneyland. I ended up going with our only other teammate, so we had to make due with second place. Matt's map reading skills would have assured us first.

A few days later, I suddenly got very sick, complete with explosions out both ends. Because Matt was still weak from his bout of food poisoning, he caught whatever delightful bug that I presumably brought home from Disneyland. For about two weeks, we laid on the couch occasionally ordering delivery food when one of us could muster the energy to use the computer. It got to the point where we admitted we had to cancel our trip to Las Vegas.

Since we weren't going on our trip, we decided that we were damn well going to the doctor that day. Being a Sunday, the only places open were various Doc-in-a-Box™ clinics. Matt selected the nearest and least skeevy one, and off we went for proper medical advice. The clinician we saw, who shall henceforth be known as Dr. Idiot, did not give me any antibiotics because he was worried they would further disrupt my already impaired digestive tract. Dr. Idiot gave Matt cough medicine with codeine and prednisone and no antibiotics either because reasons. He also suggested that Matt stop coughing. Shockingly, neither of us got any better. In fact, we got worse.

A few days later, Matt was coughing so badly he literally couldn't drive. After Matt pulled over, I called our real doctor, Dr. Internist, from the car. He had some choice words with which to describe Dr. Idiot. He also had a proper prescription pad and order forms for chest X-rays. He determined that, from lack of proper intervention, our weakened immune systems had allowed us to both develop secondary bacterial infections. I was "lucky" to only have bronchitis, whereas Matt had full-blown pneumonia. Dr. Internist gave us proper medication, which thankfully kept Matt out of the emergency room. After a few more days, we finally started feeling better.

Then I started to go crazy. Literally.

As it turns out, methylprednisolone has a possible side effect of mood and behavior changes, especially when combined with an SSRI. Let's just say things did not go well, and Matt ended up calling both Dr. Psychiatrist and Dr. Internist. For future reference, I will not be taking that medicine ever again. Dr. Internist switched me to a different medicine with less crazy involved. A few weeks later, I was finally better. Oh yeah, Matt recovered too, though he had a lingering cough for nearly a month afterwards.