Sorry, friends, long time no posts! While on break, I continued to keep track of all of MP’s countersurfing and food journaling as before, so I will share them with you somehow, soon! She’s been eating three meals a day for a while, so that’s at least three bowl faces a day!
First thing first, MP turned thirteen last month, on her made-up birthday—yay-yay-yay! And, not entirely unrelated to her age is the fact that she’s become a bit of a gimpy Pancakes from arthritis (and possibly some nerve impingement) in her left shoulder. She has a permanent limp from the loss of range of motion and muscle tone on her left front leg. She also has some pain, but as Dr. Julia put it, she looks far worse than she feels—that the limp is more from the structural changes in her joints than from pain. To make a very long story super short (for now), we’ve been seeing the most amazing rehab specialist (and all-around bad-ass), Dr. Julia Tomlinson at Twin Cities Animal Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine for the last year and a half. Arthritis being a progressive thing, my goal is basically to slow down any worsening of symptoms, and to keep the pain in check while reserving the big guns for when nothing else will do. Being a little older, she’s more susceptible to the deleterious effects of harder drugs, and we want to keep those Pancake innards good and healthy. Because she’s such a skinny and lanky build to begin with (basically, a tropical fish on stilts) and with the short, thin coat—when she gimpsy-hops along all happily on our daily walks, well-meaning passerbys stop to say, “Awwww…” (More on THAT later.) In any case, we have a fine-tuned arsenal of supplements Rx-ed by our vets, and rocking the acupuncture, laser, hydrotherapy and bodywork to help keep her active. We even got to try stem cell therapy (as part of a study) at the University of Minnesota, as well as this new shockwave therapy at TC Rehab. She’s been a good sport and an eager participant so far. It’s all very involved and kind of overwhelming, but thanks to all our doctors and staff—and insurance, OMG (a ton of this later!)—we are chugging along happily!
Lots to catch up on, but at this very moment, I want to give a super big shoutout to Assisi Loop!
Assisi Loop is a handy portable therapeutic device that uses PEMF (Pulsed Electromagnetic Field) technology to help animals and humans with a variety of conditions. It has proven efficacy for things like pain reduction and stimulating cellular repair, and the technology has even shown some promising results for depression, also! As many of you—especially those who are caring for pets with mysterious or chronic conditions—might understand, I sometimes *cannot* resist the foreboding lure of laptop glow from after-hours Dr. Google consults, only to end up in tears and a severely deteriorated mental state. Not this particular night, for once! Cue angels:
I magically stumbled onto Assisi’s site after typing in something like “non-invasive pain management,” and was immediately curious and encouraged by what I read! I sent an inquiry through their contact form and promptly received a reply from a lovely fellow dog lover and customer relations extraordinaire, Charlotte. When I spoke with her, she was actually wearing one on her head for her migraine! After getting approvals and Rx from my vets, along with a promise on my part to share my experience on the Countersurfer, Charlotte sent me a lovely unit with an information packet with lots of great research and case study summaries. I tore through the material, and especially loved that the case studies included photos of the animals using the devices—they were so helpful in determining placement of the Loop for MP. Charlotte herself shared her own awesome tip to put the leg through the Loop—that’s how she treats her doggie Blake’s shoulder, and she had even sewn it onto a sweater to keep it in place. Brilliant!
The Loop couldn’t have arrived at a more perfect time. Our vet’s laser machine was pooped out for some time, causing us to skip that week. MP really needs her laser beams, so I was hopeful that the Loop will tide her over until they get the machine repaired. Actually, that’s kind of an understatement. It was more like, “This thing better expletive work!” 😉
The main spots Dr. Julia recommended to Loop were her shoulder and her neck. Because I only had one Loop and you’re supposed to wait 2 hours between sessions (for better battery life)—and I can barely keep track of what month it is—I tried a few positions and eventually found some that can catch multiple spots in one session. Depending on the way she’s configured, I could sometimes even get her knees in there! It’s like ultra BOGO+. 😉 Here’s some of the positions we’ve tried:
So, did it help? I really think it did! Without the laser, MP would’ve been a lot more owie, and doing the Loop as directed (1~4 times a day for chronic conditions [2~4/day for the first 7-10 days, then 1~2/day or less after that]) really seemed to give her some relief! I could tell she was doing well by her general gait, along with how long it takes her to “walk off” the initial lock-up when getting up from rest. It was cool to see that MP could definitely feel the treatments—she’d look at me, grunt or adjust position, etc., then go right to dreamland. I don’t know what exactly she feels, but when I put my hand in the Loop’s “circle of awesome,” I felt a very subtle tingle. But, I’m one of those people who think my car drives “happier” on a full tank of gas or after an oil change, so, you know, try if you can feel it for yourself. 😉
Although the technology is apparently very, very safe, just to be ultra careful, Dr. Julia did mention that she wouldn’t recommend the PEMF *mat* (it’s like a big dog bed where the patient lies down on it for the duration of the therapy) for MP because she’s had some seizure-y episodes in the past. The great thing about the Loop is that the treatment area is so localized, you can choose/avoid any areas of concern. I totally love that I can use this for many things, on many places on MP’s body! Should she get a gash or a sprain or some acute injury, I’d totally Loop that! 😉
The only thing I wish were different is the fact that the Loop is disposable. It’s a sealed system and is charged to about 150 15-minute treatments—and after that, you have to order a whole new one. As a greenie, I really would prefer a rechargeable or a replaceable battery instead, although I can sort of see how that could require more durable parts or result in a higher price tag because fewer units will be sold.
All in all, I totally recommend that anyone who is looking for a non-drug treatment for pain or wound healing to try the Loop! You do need to get your vet’s Rx, but the process is a breeze from there. Although MP’s condition is not very susceptible to dramatic changes from anything, really, I would think that the Loop’s benefits would be far more visible for an open wound or acute injuries.
Although we had to take a break from the Loop for a few weeks because we had started yet another time-sensitive trial therapy (shockwave) for MP, we are totally going to fire it back up this week, and give you a post-initial-assessment post, then. Now that it’s officially cold outside in MN, it’ll be perfect timing, again. (We all get creakier in the winter around here.) By then, I hope to have updated you all on our road to less-gimpy Pancakes, and what we are doing food/supplement wise, too!
Thanks for reading, and big hugs and tail wags to Charlotte at Assisi Loop!