April 4, 2010

Amateur hour as a vet tech

So we're three weeks into the pooch-with-diabetes phase of our life. She has become less tolerant of the insulin shots lately, and it usually takes a firmer hand to get her to sit still. But in general, she is doing great. Her energy level is up and she is back to doing her happy dance at meal time again.

As I mentioned in my last update, the next step was to do some blood testing to monitor her glucose level throughout the day. The initial dose of insulin was largely an educated guess by the vet. By monitoring her blood work for a day, we can see how her meals and the insulin shots affect the glucose level in her blood. If her levels were still too high, we could increase the amount or frequency of the insulin shots (or decrease them if the levels were too low).

The pooch had a bad episode about a week ago. I came home from work at around 10:00, and she was acting funny and having difficulty standing. From what I had read, I assumed she was having a hypoglycemic reaction (dangerously low blood sugar) so I gave her some molasses for some quick sugar. It seemed to do the trick, but it was pretty freaky.

I cut her insulin dose in half for the week and got online to order a meter and test strips. I had Friday off so that became blood testing day. The plan is to take readings every hour or so to check her blood glucose level to see how it rises and falls between meals and shots. Ideally it rises and falls in the acceptable range. I had done a little internet research, but I was still a little nervous about the whole thing.

The suggested place to draw blood seemed to be from the ear or the lip. I figured that the ear was the safer bet since she doesn't like her mouth messed with. There was no way I would be able to get her to sit still before her morning meal, so I tried to get a sample shortly after she ate and before her insulin shot. It did not go well.

I stabbed the veins in her ear three separate times and all it did was irritate her. The meter needs only the smallest drop of blood, but I came up empty each time. We were both pretty frustrated, so I stopped trying for a while and jumped back on the internet. I found a new site that suggested taking blood from the callus on the dogs elbow. The first try there didn't net enough blood either, but at least it seemed to be painless. The fifth time was the charm and I actually had my first clear reading.

Since things started so badly and the first reading showed a decent glucose level, I decided to take readings every two hours instead of every hour. The rest of the blood draws went relatively well, and the readings were all within the acceptable range. Assuming the meter is accurate, the current half dose of insulin seems to be enough. I will discuss this all with the vet, but I am guessing that I should just check her blood work periodically to see if we need to adjust anything further.

A stressful day, but in the end a good one.

1 comment:

Me said...

This would be making me a wreck. My husband would probably be waking in the middle of the night to find me cuddled up with the dog on his bed.