Thursday, January 20, 2011

Woody, March 1999-October 2010

March 5, 1999- Oct. 20, 2010

Merlin's alter ego in North Carolina was Woody Capell. They progressed through DM during the same approximate time frame. Woody was much younger, nine when diagnosed with DM. He began showing the earliest signs at almost eight years old.

Margie's vet did X-rays, bloodwork, etc, but finally referred Woody to a specialist who made the DM diagnosis after ruling out everything else. Margie's vet was surprised at the diagnosis in a corgi, but the other specialist said it was "a problem showing up more and more in the breed." Woody did not have the DNA test but ultimately had definitive necropsy results from the University of Missouri. His symptoms were very typical of classic DM.

At the time of his diagnosis, Woody was walking two miles a day, taking weekend hikes in the woods, and periodically swimming in the river. His coordination was waning but he was still active when he was diagnosed in April of 2008.

Asked, "How did you cope?" Margie states, " You name it. We ran the gamut: Carpet runners, tape and boots to prevent rug burn, cart (June 2008), T & T boots for cart, baby gates to avoid accidents as incontinence started and to keep him from going down ramp and not being able to get back up (when I was not there), diapers (belly bands, taping, homemade vests, anything to keep them on), playpen, crate, daily baths for a while, expressing as retention started (this got more and more difficult to ensure that he was fully expressed), 4 wheel cart (Dec. 2009), stroller (off and on from Oct. 2009- continuous after July 2010 when he could no longer use cart), shifting position often throughout day (usually slept through the night, with occasional flipping to other side), expressing was at least 4-5 times a day at this point, lots of carrying for at least a year (everywhere he needed, unless in the cart or stroller)- complete lack of movement from one spot without being carried from about May 2010, required propping up with towels when awake for last 2-3 months, remained happy and cheerful throughout."

Woody, like Merlin, went through a series of carts, beginning with a Dewey's cart, progressing to a counterbalanced Eddie's cart and then a fully supportive four-wheel cart, which he stopped using about four months before his death.

Woody's death in October of 2010 was definitely DM-related. Margie wanted to donate his tissue to the DM study at the University of Missouri, so planned for euthanasia and coordination of tissue harvest. The timing was based on some swallowing issues, shutting down of peristalsis, inability to eliminate, fears of aspiration or impaction. He was also having traces of UTI secondary to urine stasis (his bladder was impossible to empty completely as it was flaccid.) Margie was also no longer able to keep him comfortable in any position, and both Margie and Woody were restless and worried.

The necropsy results confirmed the diagnosis of DM.

Asked how Woody's illness affected her life, Margie states, " A bonding experience like no other, exhausting, rewarding, privilege. I am not getting past it yet. I would have him back under all those circumstances if I could, rather than start over with another pet at this stage. As hard as those three plus years were, I would not have had it any other way- it was all about accommodating, accepting, giving and loving on the parts of us both."

On October 20, 2011, Margie wrote, "Speaking of letting go, sometimes it takes longer for one than another. It is a year today that I had to say goodbye to Woody. I will be leaving work early to take his ashes to our favorite spot (featured in the calendar a couple of times), Max Patch along the Appalachian Trail. I hope spreading them at one of the tops of the world will help me with the "coming to peace" process. "

"There he goes. I was standing on the Appalachian Trail at this spot, the wind was quite strong and going out in the right direction. He floated off onto this beautiful expanse. It was cold, but clouds were moving quickly leaving sunny openings moving about the landscape. It was good."

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