Thursday, August 13, 2009


as a way of honoring sway's life i'm going to be competing in the long beach triathlon in september.
my hope is that it will also provide me with a therapeutic outlet while trying to cope with the hard reality of losing her.

finishing a triathlon is something i've always wanted to do and i suppose there is no time like the present... it is challenging atleast; sway was never really one for swimming but she could run like the wind and loved to lead me when i would go biking... I fully expect her to be co-piloting with me on september 20th.

any funds i raise will end up being split between the 4 organizations listed below...

hemopet animal blood bank
meisha's hope AIHA/IMHA fund #338
pit bull rescue of san diego
bad rap (bay area doglovers responsible about pit bulls)

help from anyone is appreciated...

tribute video i made for sway

Sunday, July 26, 2009

one of those moments

i wanted to share a story with everyone...
this happened to me yesterday and will remain with me as one of the most memorable things that i have personally ever seen.

since sway's passing 2 days ago, i have continued to talk to her at random times throughout the days...
i don't know any other way to help me with my grief, as she lives within me now.
well... weeks prior to all this happening i had made arrangements to go dolphin and whale watching on sunday 7/26 in dana point.
my mom was flying in to visit me on the 22nd and would be here a week and so it was one of the things i setup in advance of her getting here.

i had talked to sway numerous times already this day and we (me, my girlfriend, my mom and her friend) took off in this large boat and went miles out into the ocean for a 3+ hour ride...
while out there we spent the first hour and a half watching 2 blue whales feeding and that in-and-of itself is obviously incredible...
the group then spotted a dolphin pod and the boat began riding with them and there was about 50-100 of them swimming around us... and i, (along with my gf and my moms friend) were on the bow/front of this boat with about 20 other people... and keep in mind this is about a 50 foot boat...
and while everyone in the front is taking pictures and enjoying the fact that we have wild dolphins interacting with the ship, i began to grab my heart and talk to sway and just tell her how much i missed her and loved her and 'we have dolphins here, and do you see this sway??' -- and literally 30 seconds after i started speaking to her... and this is true, i offer my life up as this being fully true...

30 seconds after i started speaking to sway, my moms friend (who was standing 2 feet from me) tapped my girlfriend on the shoulder and pointed out a rainbow reflection in the ocean water as we were riding...
i only overheard him say this because i was standing right next to my girlfriend.
i looked down, and sure enough -- a full on rainbow reflection that was about 5 feet in length and right off this boats left hand side, right in the EXACT area that i was facing...
had i hopped over the railing where i was standing my fall would have been right overboard an on top of this rainbow reflection.
no one else on the boat saw it, 50-60 people on the boat, they were too pre-occupied with the dolphins... we were the only 3 on the entire boat that saw it.
it lasted for about 60 seconds, it was viewable nowhere in the sky, just reflected perfectly on the moving ocean water to the exact left of me as our boat was speeding over the waves with these dolphins... and it stayed perfectly in place, and then was just gone.


now of course i didn't mention the significance of such a thing to them, and it was just a cool lil' rainbow to them...
but me, knowing the existence of a 'rainbow bridge' that passing dogs go too, well i knew it was sway.
i knew it. 150% positive. and i will never forget this for as long as i live.

i told my girlfriend this story that night and couldn't contain my emotions as i barely got this thing out to her, and spoke about faith and hope and the existence of a God and all kinds of things.
i'm not an overly religious person, but that was one of those moments in one's life... you might have 2 or 3 in a lifetime, where you just say in awe - proof is shown to you from God himself.
and i will just never forget it.

and that wasn't all...
i always have said for years that sway's face looked like a baby seal - she has the most beautiful eyes and they are big and bright and pure and innocent and they just looked almost identical to a seals eyes in that sense.
well, 10 minutes after the rainbow thing... we are still riding with the dolphins and again, we are miles out from the shore... and i look backwards off the deck while we are moving with these dolphins, and out pops a california sea lion pup swimming behind the boat, with the dolphins!!!
and it was just him, out of nowhere, totally random... hadn't seen one out swimming the entire trip... but there he was, dipping and weaving behind the boat, and then he was gone within seconds...
the captain saw him swimming with us and pointed him out, and at the time i told my girlfriend that the little guy looked exactly like a mermaid version of sway haha.

only after i explained the rainbow story to her that night did she put into context the significance of that lil' sea lion pup showing up out of the blue, it was pretty neat.
both memories will stick with me forever, and they just show me personally that sway is clearly all around me.
subtly and maybe only showing up in a situation like the rainbow, that was clearly meant for my eyes only... but she is there none the less.
and it makes me feel good to know.
it gives me faith and it helps me.
it helps me.
she always does that and is clearly still doing it.

love you sway.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

7/24 - heaven, the bridge

thursday i had taken sway into the vet and my (normally) 40 lb pit bull was down to 17 lbs -- she had been around 23 lbs for most of this year.
that was a complete shell-shock to me as just a week ago she was 23 lbs.
her physical body had been skeletal for an extended period of time now due to numerous reasons, but this drop was clearly of a significant nature as i could almost fit my thumb and index finger around the entire circumference of her neck.
she had been vomiting all night on wednesday and had most notably become very listless and withdrawn over a short period of time.

within the last month she had also started to develop a long stringy mucus that would sporadically hang from her backside after she would pee.
dr. woods thought it was either an elevation of the constant UTI's that she has, or an infection linked to a kind of pancreatitis.
unfortunately we weren't able to treat the more recent urinary tract infections because all the suggested medications via the urinalysis' were very harmful to dogs with serious liver issues.
it just seemed as though everywhere we turned it was 'between a rock and a hard place' - and that this was our reality, over and over.

they ran a full comprehensive blood panel on thursday and the next morning i got the results...
i was up early with sway and she was having a very rough time.
her walking was very labored and she could barely keep her head up for more than a few seconds.
the panel showed that it was indeed pancreatitis.
...on top of AIHA, on top of multiple in-operable liver shunts that were preventing proper absorption, on top of SIBO, on top of multiple UTI's, extreme cachexia, etc.
it also showed that her HCT had dropped to 11% (was holding in the low 20's a month ago)
we could try fluid therapy for the pancreatitis, but i was told that would dilute her blood even further.
then we are talking about blood transfusions after that...
i called dr. dodds and she spoke of sway's body just breaking down.

a million times the prior night i had fears and thoughts of what if, what to do, what to expect, can/should we continue...
after receiving the panel, consulting both doctors, being with sway and seeing the drastic shift in her well-being over the last 48 hours; i had made the heartbreaking decision to put her down.
it was scheduled for 2pm and i spent every moment laying next to her.

at 12:45pm sway passed away naturally in my bed with me talking to her and giving her kisses.
coincidentally my mom was out here on vacation at the same time, so she was with us.
i will never be able to put into words the range of emotion that ran and continues to run through my body...

rest in peace Sway, my favorite of all times.
thank you for being everything i ever wanted or needed.
the 1 being that could do no wrong; that could always brighten up my day, did it perfectly for 8+ years.
i love you forever - more than anything in the world; i'm so proud of you and i will miss you every single day.
i cannot wait until i can see you again,
and until that moment i live better having had you in my family, and having you continue on in my heart.
please watch over me as i keep trying to do what i was put here to do... God bless you Sway, you are the greatest.


Monday, April 6, 2009

scintigraphy results

unfortunately the scan showed multiple shunts on the outside of her liver, and it has been determined that this would be in-operable...
there is a laundry list of reasons as to why this news was not the news we wanted to hear, but unfortunately these are the cards we have been dealt.
it's very disheartening to know of what will (most likely) result from this, not to mention all our attempts at fixing her AIHA have really been and will continue to be unsuccessful due to the fact that her liver has been rendered an un-used organ.
that is the toughest pill to swallow for sure.
we will keep doing the best that we can do.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

portosystemic shunts

portosystemic shunts is when an abnormal blood vessel(s) re-direct blood around the liver and directly into systemic circulation (heart).
this diversion leads to a collection of toxins in the blood and potential liver failure.

the way i understand it is that all the nutrients are usually absorbed from the digestive tract and then go straight to the liver for processing.
a shunt diverts the blood away from the liver, so the vital food nutrients are not absorbed and used.
in addition, the shunted blood is not 'cleaned' or detoxified by the liver, and these waste products recirculate again and again.
all of this adds up to increased loads on the other organs, which would explain the kidney and bladder inflammation.

there are 2 kinds of shunts-
congenital (extrahepatic) - usually single shunts, found outside of the liver.
acquired (intrahepatic) - usually multiple shunts, found within the liver.
apparently the single shunts can be surgically tied off and have a very high rate of success...
the acquired shunts present a much more difficult road, as they are within the actual liver and there is usually more than 1.
from everything i've heard thus far, it is most likely that 'acquired' is the type sway has...

some of the symptoms of this condition are:
non-regenerative anemia w/ microcytosis (which sway has)
anorexia (which sway has)
elevated ALT (which sway has)
dilute urine (which sway has)
elevated ALP, white blood cell count, liver enzymes, bile acids (which sway has), blood ammonia
hypocholesterolemia, hypoalbuminemia, hypoglobulinemia
some of the clinical signs are:
drinking/urinating too much (sway has)
poor weight gain (sway has)
stunted growth (sway has)
excessive sleeping/lethargy (sway has)
diarrhea (sway has)
straining to urinate
pressing head against wall (she does this sometimes)
pacing and aimless wandering (sway does this)
abnormal behavior after eating

the first step in diagnosing this is to have a bile acid test done...
i had this test administered at hemopet on monday and the results are already back-
the numbers showed that there is a very significant problem in the liver.
her pre-food result was 79.7 (normal range 0-12)
her post-food result was 111.9 (normal range 5-25)

dr. dodds then arranged for sway to get a scintigraphy scan over at the medical imaging center in tustin...
this is being done as i type this, as i dropped her off before i came into work today.
it involves placing a radioactive 'dye' into the intestine and then recording the route of dye absorption.
in a normal animal the dye is absorbed into circulation and moved to the liver.
in an animal with a portosystemic shunt, the dye bypasses the liver and appears in the heart.
the procedure is performed without sedation or anesthesia and only takes a few minutes...
she needs to stay at the facility all day though as to let the radioactive material pass through her system.
this should provide a far more detailed idea as to what we are up against, whether a surgery is necessary or even possible.

needless to say, my emotions are all over the place.
i'm elated that we might have finally found A REASON WHY we've had such a difficult time over the past year and a half.
i'm scared that sway is so far beyond 'a normal case' that any surgery would put her life in jeopardy.
i'm elated that sway could eventually get her liver function back and face AIHA with a full set of tools.
...the possibilities,
sway has been living with AIHA for 22 months now and who knows how much of that was spent with a compromised liver.
that means all the treatments, medications, supplements she was getting...might not of even been absorbed at all!

i am committed to going the distance in the name of my dogs restored health.
and i'm just praying for some clarity soon.
scan results could be in tomorrow,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

ultra sound results

sways ultra sound was given on march 14th and showed what looked to be a 'shunt in her liver'
dr. woods said it could potentially be diverting large amounts of her blood flow and definitely not allowing for proper absorption...
he told me this could be very, very significant or perhaps not so much...and that we would need to do a bile acid test to confirm an abnormal liver function.
he also told me that her bladder and kidneys were both pretty inflamed, basically concluding that her immune system is incredibly out of whack.

later that night i got an email from patrice...
she had just read my lastest update and mentioned that she had told me way back in november about 'portosystemic shunts' and that i should ask my vet about sway potentially having one...
i then realized that i did indeed ask, and at that time i was told that it was a good question but 'wasn't very likely'
at that time some people on the vetnet board also quickly refuted patrice for even suggesting it, i remember that as well.
...this all came rushing back to me at that moment and to be honest i was pretty stunned.
to be clear...this is at no fault to my vet, as sways case has been incredibly difficult and everyone is doing the absolute best they can, i know that and greatly appreciate the efforts that have been put forth.
but still, i couldn't help but be stunned when i finally made the connection in my own head.
i spent the rest of the night reading and reading and reading and reading and reading up on this condition.