Mavis’s Ordeal

As many of you know, my pugs mean everything to me. Mavis, in particular, is my emotional support animal and I’ve never felt this connected to an animal in my life. She is my baby, my first dog raised on my own, and I would go to the end of the world to make sure she is healthy and happy. It began Thursday morning shortly after awakening. I noticed Mavis’s eyes and mouth had become swollen. I immediately gave half of a 25mg Benadryl, knowing the exact dosage to give (1mg – per body weight) from my days as a vet assistant. I thought things would clear up and that this reaction was a result of some type of insect sting or bite, but things only began to progress for the worse.

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First Symptoms: ~9 am on 03/23/2017

Around the time my fiancé, Caleb, came home for lunch at 12pm, Mavis rapidly began to deteriorate. She began breaking out in hives all over her body and swelling heavily. We rushed her to the nearest veterinarian (Animal Medical Center in Copperas Cove), who wasn’t quite sure what was causing this, but was concerned. Mavis was given dexamethasone, a steroid injection that lasts 24 hours, to help her immune system fight this. After waiting for her reactions to calm down a bit, we were “discharged” and told to keep giving Benadryl every 8 hours until hives are gone for 24 hours and to keep a close eye on her.

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03/23/17 – ~ 12:15pm at the Animal Medical Center

We were hopeful that this was the end of things and that she would start getting better with the steroid injection. She had been carefully watched the entire day, so we were racking our brains for an explanation as to why she was having such a serious allergic reaction. Things seemed to be okay until around 7:30 pm after Mavis ate. She again began swelling heavily on her face and hives covered her legs and stomach. We gave another half of a Benadryl and called one of her veterinarians to consult. After ruling out that the reaction most likely would not have been caused by an insect (due to all over swelling and hives and not localized to a specific location), we began thinking of things Mavis ingested. Since we watch her so carefully during the day and this first reaction happened between 5-9 am in the morning after eating and again around 7:30 pm after eating, we were led to believe that this is associated from her meal time.

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03/23/2017 – ~7:30pm after eating her second meal of the day.

She had been eating the same food for about three months, but we had just purchased plastic containers to store her food in and introduced it just a couple days prior. The next morning I took Mavis back into the vet for oral steroids because her hives did not dissipate. The next couple of days she battled continuos hives. We gave Benadryl every 8 hours and her steroid every 12 hours as directed, but she didn’t seem to improve much, other than reduced swelling. We bathed her in oatmeal shampoo and stopped her dog food in fear it may be food allergies. The shampoo helped a good deal with her skin irritation and have made quite a few changed to help prevent or further a reaction like this.

We believe that this is linked to the plastic containers we purchased to store her pet food in. I bought an IRIS 3-Piece Airtight Pet Food Container Combo and this is when things began. We cannot know for sure what the exact cause is or if she has a plastic allergy, but these containers are DANGEROUS. Plastic often causes issues with animals and can contain toxins. Since then, we have switched to all glass containers. Mavis and Eleven both use metal eating bowls and ceramic water bowls. We are avoiding plastic in all their food and water intake, as well as toys, just in case this is what has caused her issues.

Mavis is just now starting to feel better after three visits to the vet and quite a lot of medication. She is now eating homemade dog food that Caleb and I spent hours preparing (I am happy to share if any of my readers are interested) and carrots and green beans as snacks, instead of processed treats, to rule out food allergies. We additionally changed our detergent to an allergen free brand and washed all of her bedding and toys to rule out chemicals in the detergent. She is not allowed to go outside currently, except for when she needs to potty (front yard only) to ensure that outside allergens are not making her sick.

We are doing our best to get both of our pups healthy. Mavis is nearly back to 100% after four days of intense reactions, but now our little baby has coccidia bacteria in her intestines, that she got from her litter. Hopefully it should clear up soon with treatment and she will be back to good as well. It’s just been a tough week for us girls!

xo,

Cass, Mav, and Ele

Attack.

I had an extremely unpleasant Saturday night and early Sunday morning as I became awfully ill. It began around 10 pm. My fiancé and I just finished eating and were consuming ourselves in the disturbing, but enticing Black Mirror episodes when I began to have an allergic reaction. My reactions don’t really have a certain substance or food that causes me problems; instead it’s just when my mast cells decide to act up, often with foods I have eaten so many times before and have had no issues whatsoever. Mast Cell Activation Disorder causes my mast cells to react inappropriately including cardiovascular, dermatological, gastrointestinal, neurological, and respiratory problems when attacks occur. I unfortunately have had anaphylaxis to near-anaphylaxis attacks on several occasions and it’s terrifying.

This past Saturday I began feeling flushed and my heart rate began to increase. I went to the bathroom after feeling horrible stomach upset and began having what I call “allergy-related diarrhea.” I know this is probably too much information, but unfortunately that is one of the big symptoms of MCAD: severe diarrhea, intestinal cramping, vomiting, and nausea. I called my husband in to get me my Benadryl: my go-to drug when I begin having reactions. I was covered heavily in hives on my neck, chest, stomach, and back. I quickly took 50mg of antihistamine, but my pulse and heartrate were fast and I began to wheeze a little. I have had bad allergy attacks before and like to avoid using my Epipen unless necessary (as I must go to the emergency room), so I’d rather take 75mg of Benadryl than rush to the ER. I began to calm down and try to slow my breathing. I thought I was doing better. We finally headed upstairs around 12 am and something just didn’t feel right. My heart began to feel pained and heavy. I clutched my chest in pain and then I began to feel extremely sick. My whole body felt numb and felt like it was burning (kind of like how my lidocaine patches make my back feel – numb, but like a slight burning/tingling sensation); I became extremely nauseous and I got tunnel vision. I told my fiancé I need to go to the ER. My heart began feeling like it was going to explode and just sputter out. I became most confused kind of rambling and I told my husband I need an ambulance. I never felt like this before. I was on the verge of passing out and Caleb said my skin was very cold to the touch. I felt so sick and confused. We got up and made our way down stairs as I was mumbling that I had to have my glasses, I needed my glasses repeatedly. When we got down the stairs, Caleb couldn’t find his keys. I sat down on the bench and started taking deep breaths. When my fiancé finally got his keys, I decided I wanted to try to go to bed instead. My heart rate had slowed a little and it was nearly 1 am.

I had never felt like this. The only thing I could relate it to is my atrial fibrillation episode back in 2014- I stood up and became faint with my heart beating uncontrollably fast. I wondered if my heart again went in to a-fib. I emailed my doctor the next day explaining what had happened and he called me immediately that day. He was extremely concerned that my heart had gone into another atrial fibrillation episode. He has put in orders to see another allergist that can do more definitive testing and can hopefully test for reactions to spices. He also put in another order for a heart monitor (my fourth time wearing) to see if I have developed an arrhythmia or am in tachycardia often. Finally, he put in labs for bloodwork just to make sure everything looked okay.

I have known that there has been issues with my heart since sixteen when I went to the hospital for unexplained tachycardia. My meme (maternal grandmother) has a history of chronic tachycardia and she actually ended up having a heart attack recently. My mother also has some heart issues: a murmur and a possible infarction (mild heart attack). I am just praying that I end up making it okay. I want to have a future ahead of me and I would like to have children eventually, so I being healthy (and finding answers) is my number one priority.

Much Love,

Cass

Be Kind to One Another Boxes

I am incredibly honored and appreciative to have been chosen to receive a “Be Kind to One Another Box” from the lovely Cass Reitano (@indisposedandundiagnosed). My incredible fiancé (@caleb_robin_son) nominated me to receive one of these surprise boxes that Cass so graciously send to worldwide suffers of chronic illness. While I am so excited for my package of goodies (that companies graciously donate and Cass works day after day to put together and collect donations and products, etc.) to arrive, I am even more excited that I have gained such wonderful friendships through this project and the community. I can’t begin to explain how great it feels knowing that I can talk to others who can get a similar idea of what I’m going through. While explaining and venting to my fiancé, friends, and family, it’s just not the same as telling someone who knows exactly how you feel. I often feel that I complain too much around those close to me because I constantly am saying my back hurts or my neck hurts, but honestly my brain is just wired to say what is on my mind at the time (I’m bad at holding back), so expressing how I am feeling to another spoonie is relieving because they know it is a daily thing and it’s not like a cold that will fade away with some Nyquil and rest. Cass has been so incredibly kind to me and we now talk almost daily on how one another is doing. I urge you to please share the Be Kind to One Another Boxes donation page and/or donate if you have the availability because this amazing project is uplifting individuals where any pick-me-up is a huge welcome because they are battling different illnesses that can leave them feeling hopeless.

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I’ll be returning to this post to include a what’s in my box section and a lovely photo of yours truly with the box! I can’t wait! A huge thanks to Cass, who goes above and beyond to help others.

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the information below was used from indisposedandundiagnosed

 

Much love,

Cass, Mav, and Ele

 

Self Destruction.

I’ve been struggling lately. In addition to having added intestinal issues including intense stomach cramping, I’ve been having self doubt. I’ve always been over critical of myself. I’m extremely self conscious and constantly am telling myself how fat I am and pointing out every flaw. No matter what size I get down to, it’s not good enough. 


I still remember the girl on the left and the relentless bullying I received as a child. I try my best to act like I’m some tough girl, but I’m not. I’m not happy with the way I look still. I would undergo cosmetic surgery in a heartbeat if I had the money and that in iteslef is just sad. How does one learn self love? I always want to lose another ten pounds and gaining any weight is absolutely discouraging; a pound gain is like I’m killing myself. It makes me disgusted. It makes me feel like I’m undoing everything I worked so hard to lose and maintain. I’m hating myself and I don’t know what I can do to break this or to reverse the damage I do to my own self.

-Cass

Top Five Chronic Pain Go Tos

I am going to try my hardest to blog more regularly and especially about my illnesses because my blog was founded on the prediagnosis and diagnosis of my illnesses. I have been having a rough time lately with my pain amount which has lead to something I call painsomnia, or insomnia caused my unrelenting pain while trying to sleep. I have some go to things I use during pain episodes depending on the location of the pain and the severity.

1) The Leacho Snoogle Total Body Pillow – I originally used some of my gofundme money to buy this gem before I had my decompression surgery and it really is wonderful. According to the chart below from sheknows, sleeping on my stomach (which I have done for years) is the worst position for my neck, hip, and low back pain I deal with everyday. Using this pillow not only allows be to get in a comfortable position, but it also keeps me from reverting back to my stomach. The Snoogle can also be formed in different ways for different uses, proving pregnancy is not the only source of intense pain. I definitely recommend purchasing this pillow if you suffer from chronic pain.


2) Heat- my heating pad, in particular, is from the 1960s (or so) and therefore heats up like a little hot plate, which I love! Let’s be honest, the modern heating pads have a temperature maximum that just doesn’t do it for me. I usually use my heating pad at night on my lower back. Heat is a wonderful remedy for muscle aches and pains! Hot baths also are part of my pain regimen with some Epsom salts to soak in!
3) ESA – my emotional support animal helps me with the mental desperation chronic illnesses leave me with. Mavis is usually by my side whenever I’m in pain. Besides providing loving company, my little girl can tell when I’m not feeling well and cuddles up with me to share the burden.

4) Cervical Collar – I use my cervical collar when my neck begins to tire out. Every time I go to the movie theater I use my brace because I begin having pretty significant pain from straining my neck to get a proper view of the screen. My neck has become quite sensitive after my laminectomy and it’s is easily irritated. I am limited on the degree I can turn my head and it often cracks and pops at different times, so stabilizing it can help with pain and support.

5) Medication Regimen – last, but not least my prescriptions and medications aid in managing my pain. On a daily basis I am accustomed to taking tramadol, alieve, Tylenol pm, gabapentin (nerve pain), methocarbinol (muscle relaxer), and lidocaine patches for my neck, back, and nerve pain. I also use a muscle rub and different oils for massages (Bed Bath & Beyond’s Aromatherapy Collection).

If you have any reccomendations on what you use for your pain please let me know.

Xo,

Cass

New Header!

How amazing is the new header by Zoey Cottom? I had Zoey design a custom header for my blog and I absolutely am in love. How perfect is this magnificent header?! I just am so absolutely happy with it. Please go follow Zoey and order a custom design!! I think I will just have to order a print of this too!

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This was a custom design created for me so please do NOT steal. You do not have permission to use.

Xo,

Cass, Mav, & Ele

Mavis and Eleven

Good news, good news, good news! Eleven is home and officially best friends with Mavis! This little seven-week-old pug puppy is so full of spunk and energy, she is known as ‘spitfire’! I officially turned twenty-four this past Sunday and it just so happened to line up with bringing the baby home. Mavis met Eleven on Saturday night right before we went out to Red Lobster to celebrate my day. She did wonderfully with the introduction although

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Eleven was a bit intimidated and scared by this new strange long-legged lady.Eleven is quite different from Mavis when she was puppy! Ele is noticeably smaller than Mae Mae, as she was the runt of eight puppies (Mavis was the runt of five!). She is super quick on her feet, which makes me think she secretly should be called “Lightning McQueen.” Her personality is quickly blossoming into the sassy little soul she is. She is completely fearless now when it comes to playtime with Mavis. She is constantly throwing herself at Mae over and over again looking for a boxing match. It’s quite hilarious!

Mavis and Eleven were even featured on television on Right This Minute! I have never had anything posted main stream wise, so this was pretty cool for all of us. They’re little “puglebrities,” as I have been told. I will continue to videotape Eleven and Mavis as they grow up together and cause shenanigans.So much love to you all!

Xo,
Cass, Mav, & Ele!