Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

We had Christmas with the dogs. Oh, man. They just loved it. I tried to get into the spirit, but I’m still trying to grasp our new reality. There was also the thought that this is probably her last Christmas.

Tika was a joy, EVERY gift was hers. Period. So we let her open them all. Tika has shown no effects from the chemo besides being a little tired the first day.

My present, paws off!

Mine. Mine. Mine.

Momma and her babies.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The news comes in

Our trip to VSEC. After waiting in the lobby forever, they came to take her back for chemotherapy. I’m about ready to throttle everyone, what are the results? Soon Dr. Heeb came out with the news: Chondroblastic Osteosarcoma. We will be doing a series of four chemo treatments, each three weeks apart. I tried to prepare myself for this, but the punch in the gut still happened. I just sat in the lobby and cried, Tim tried to stay strong for me, but I could tell he was crushed. This sweet girl came over and gave me a hug, “Don’t worry,” she said, “They’ll fix her all up.” What a dear, but unfortunately, that’s not gonna be in the cards.

We went home. I am now numb. Everything is a fog.

Oh, and Tika? She’s just trucking along. A lack of self-awareness is a highly underrated thing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mom, Mom, Look at me, Look at me



Did you just throw snow in my face? That is so wrong, on so many levels.
Dad’s 40th birthday, a bit on the solemn side. We are anxiously awaiting the biopsy results to see if we have
1. Just low grade chondrosarcoma
2. High grade chondrosarcoma, or
3. Osteosarcoma.
The first one is our pick, that means the amputation got the cancer. No word yet.

Snowed today, a present to Tika since we don’t get a lot of snow. I worried about her balance, but she did well, she enjoyed chomping up the snow. Her curly tail keeps on tickling her naked butt and she jumps a bit, she’ll get used to it. I feel guilty because I giggle a bit, it must feel like being tickled with a feather.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Things are going well, we made it through the night with no puking. She’s healing nicely except for what looks like two small seromas.  I think the incision has healed underneath so there’s some trapped fluid. However, I’m not a doctor so I’ll have to wait. We’ve expanded her area to ‘roam’ a bit.  The collar has been staying off most of the time and she hasn’t been fussing. GOOD!  The only thing we notice is that she’s a bit quiet.  Sleeps a lot, I think with no pain meds she’s feeling it a bit. (Okay, understatement of the year.)  However, she’s not showing any signs of extreme pain or distress and I think she would prefer that to barfing.  I definitely do.

Had a first ‘accident’ between the dogs, Caya our german shepherd got a little too excited and swung around and hip checked Tika at her surgery sight. Boy, I didn’t handle that well, I’ve never heard Tika cry out before and it broke my heart. Tim just got me some wine.  (Cheaper than a shrink.)

Doggie is on the mend...we are through week one of the 'Two Weeks of Hell'

Common sight for right now. 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

No more broth, just boiled chicken. I’ve just been giving her a little bit at a time. I want to make sure she has enough to keep her stomach steady for the Deramaxx that she is still taking.  We’ve stopped with the Tramadol, I think it’s making her too loopy and nauseous.           

The day is going well except for the 40 degree drop in temperature over a 3 hour period.  So, Tika is getting to feel the joys of not having that thick coat of hair all over her butt.  The quote of the day is: “I’m freezing my ass off, so you must be, cause you got nuthin’ covering it.”  

She's motivating pretty well.  Still a bit agitated and loopy at times. I am trying not to project my own feelings on her.  I often run upstairs or downstairs to cry.  My poor kitty, Gracie, the queen of the bottom floor is starting to think she's a kleenex. But she's pretty good to cry on her little shoulder.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

You gotta be kidding

Since Tika has been so squirrelly with the e-Collar and having panic attacks etc. We wanted to try different options so that we didn't have to worry about her during the night.

Below is one option.  Needless to say, we figured it wasn't gonna work out.  

"Am I just stoned, or did you fruitcakes just seriously put shorts on me?"
We woke up to a good day. I’ve been spending the night downstairs to make sure she’s doing okay.  It was a very warm for Kansas in December so we worked with Tika to make sure she was okay with the stairs and such. 

Today the Fentanyl patch came off, I made sure Dad kept Caya busy outside while I worked on it. It went well, of course I was treating the situation like it was a HazMat emergency. J

She vomited again in the middle of the night, for some reason she is making it through the day, but not the night.  She’s been eating boiled chicken with a little kibble and her pills snuck into cheese. I had some chicken broth from the boiled chicken and I was using that on her food. Maybe all of the fat in the broth is a little too much. I’ll stop adding it.

It was quite dramatic how the vomiting happened. She wouldn’t stop pacing and kept nosing her food dish, so I thought I offer her some boiled chicken to munch on. As soon as she took it she gagged it out and started retching, bless her little canine heart we made it out to the deck before everything came up.

We’ve also decided to back down on her pain meds, she seems to be really sensitive to them.

Friday, December 12, 2008

We kept Tika in her pen, but let her have the collar off as long as she behavedBesides some general confusion because of the surgery and pain meds, she’s doing well. We spent the day with her, fussing, seeing if she’d eat. (She did.)

She has been a bit antsy, and jumpy. So I calmed her down a bit and gave her a light sponge bath. Mostly to get that itchy antibacterial soap out of her fur and some of the post surgery crud. Tika seemed to really like that. I think the pain meds are making her see pink elephants.

I don’t know if I let her overdo it but we had barf-o-rama tonight. Most of the food was undigested. Poor baby. Most of the night she was pacing I guess it was nausea. After vomiting she curled up and went to sleep.

Even though I took the collar off, it would put her into these full blown panic attacks, she did figger out how to manipulate it to get some water!

Oh, I might add, I am going batshit crazy because we haven't heard the final results of Tika's biopsy after the leg came off. It's only the difference of knowing a) whether she's done and she'll live forever as a TriPawd ORRRRRR she's not done and we only have a year or less with her.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tika comes home

We brought girlie home.  We about had to tackle her as she started bouncing out of the lobby.  It was as if she was saying, let’s get out of here, they’ll steal your leg!  The post-op instructions were pretty clear, rest, pain meds, hopefully she’ll eat and do her bodily functions.

Now the fun part, the dog that isn’t really into riding in the car now has to endure a 40 minute ride on three legs.  I stayed in the back with her and tried to get her to stay still as much as possible.  Hah, that was the longest trip in my life. She did pretty good.  We got her out of the car, she thinks the scarf I’m using as a sling is completely retarded, what is THAT for?  Right off the bat she peed….ALOT. WhooHoo, I don’t Tim and I have been so excited about dog pee in our lives!  We got even more excited when she did #2 later on.

Caya, decided to take her duties as head nurse very seriously and was very good. Of course, she’s trying to figure out what exactly is going on.

We made a pen for Tika so she could be with us and we didn’t have to worry about her moving too much right off the bat and Caya couldn’t accidently hurt her.  She quickly got used to her room and when we’d go out she’d immediately walk back in it.   She’s happy to be home, that’s for sure.

I spent the night by her, she had to wear her e-collar and didn’t really like it.

Look! I'm a flower!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The visit

The folks at VSEC call with an update and tell me I can come see Tika that afternoon, possibly even bring her home that evening.

I went to see Tika at VSEC.  She was still pretty loopy, but recognized me.  My first reaction was how good the surgery site looked. She had the big Elizabethan collar on her head that she wasn’t too thrilled about.  Since I was in the back, I could only visit with her about 15 minutes. So I talked to her and pet her and told her that she’d be home soon.  At one time, one of the nurses let out a 'ahhhh', I didn't realize it but, I had my head in the e-collar and Tika and I had our foreheads against each other, it's our little love touch.

She would paw at me for more pets and love.  The doctor stopped by and I had him explain more about the surgery.  Some of the muscle, etc was saved to give her more of a ‘butt’ to sit on.

They said they’d call to let us know whether she could go home tomorrow or tonight.

When they finally called, Tim and I had decided to give her one more day at the hospital to sober up a bit.  I also realized that we needed to do some work around the house to make it more tri-pawd friendly.  By now, I feel completely different than I did about 36 hours ago. Not like hyper happy, but not throw myself off a cliff either.  

My friend Sabrina met me for an early dinner and some 'human' time, I am really grateful to her, I'm sure I was just a joy to be around.  But it was much needed.

Here's a pic of stoner dog.  She's in a galaxy far far away. 

Here's her surgical site, just in case anybody was like me and wants to prepare for what is going to happen.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The day of surgery

The big day, we got up early to get her to the surgeon by 7:30am. I tried desperately to be strong, but I felt like I was going to lose it. Fortunately, Tika just thinks vets are the neatest places so she stood there ‘talking’ to everybody she could. Finally, they came to get her. As she looked over her shoulder one last time before trotting to the back, I knew I could not hold back the flood gates any longer, I told Tim to get me out of there and I got to the truck and just succumbed to hysterics. I was hyperventalating and felt like I was going to vomit. I wanted to run in there so bad and grab her and just go as far as I could.

After I got calmed down, I just felt numb, I kept trying to go through this as logically as I could. I’m saving her life, I’m allowing her a chance without pain.

After a completely NON-productive day, I finally get the call that Tika made it through surgery okay and she was alert and responsive. Big sigh. I made plans to see her tomorrow, however, how am I going to react when I see her. I spend the night crying and searching for pics on the web of post amputation surgery. (Does this sound sick?)

I should mention that I have found the most awesome web community I spend the night reading everybody's story.

Finally, exhaustion kicks in, and I crash.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The night before

We visited the surgeon today who met Tika and reviewed her X-rays. We found out the further nasty news that it appears she may have hip dysplasia. He isn’t concerned that it will affect her mobility, but we’ll need to start adding glucosamine and Omega-3 to her diet.

He walked us through the procedure and what to expect. Her leg will be removed at the hip joint so she doesn’t have to deal with the pain or potential difficulties of an amputated femur.  We discussed her pain management during and after the surgery.

That night I was a complete basket case, I couldn’t stay still and kept pacing around the house.  There must be some mistake.  This can’t be happening. Why my Tika?  I don’t want her to lose her leg!

Tim poured me a glass of wine and the girls did their best to entertain me.  Tika won with the face below.  What is THAT all about? And yes, we will on occasion put stupid articles of clothing on our animals.....shut up.

Monday, December 1, 2008

First diagnosis in

We found this week that Chondrosarcoma was confirmed. We quickly made an appointment with VSEC in Overland Park.  I was really bouncing off the walls because I had a business trip in Grand Rapids, MI and couldn’t be there for the initial meetings. 

Tim was bouncing off the walls, because if it’s just chondrosarcoma the amputation will take care of all of the cancer and Tika will live a long life.

Later that week, Tim’s buoyant mood took a nosedive after talking to the oncologist. Evidently 50% of the time when Chondrosarcoma is present in the bone so is osteosarcoma.  So, they will do an intensive biopsy when the leg comes off and find out then.  The amputation is scheduled for Tuesday, December 9th.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

Needless to say, it's been a bummer day.  We continue to research our options, only for me to break down over and over again.

Tim is starting a list of questions.  (Our vet must hate us at times).  Although we don't have confirmation, we are preparing ourselves for having to amputate my baby's leg.  Just the thought of it makes me sick to my stomach.

Tika on the other hand has decided to take matters into her own paws. She started her trick of chasing her tail and catching her back leg until she flipped herself over and landed on the bad leg.
"Oh baby, be careful."

She later proceeded in her favorite hobby of tormenting her sister.  

She's happy, that's good, right?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The day the earth stood still

After limping for a couple of weeks and not showing any improvement, we decided to take Tika into the vet to have her rear leg checked.

Thankfully, Tika is really good with the vet, she just loves the attention.  She seemed confused on why I was going to the back with her (we also board the dogs at the vet). But seemed cool with it.

I got her to lay down and she dozed off waiting for the vet.  After the usual, what do you feed her, what has she been doing, blah, blah, blah, he began examining her.  When he got to the offensive leg, Tika shot up and took notice.  Since she isn't a reactive dog, the vet said, we got something going on here.

He wants to keep her, we started talking about the possibility of an ACL tear.  Since Tika is so strong, he wants to sedate her do some manipulation and take X-rays.  They would keep her for the afternoon and then we'd touch base later with what he found out.

Ring. Ring.  I start crying everytime I think of this phone call.  I will never forget it. (Even though at the time it seems it was a blur)

The vet himself was on the phone, and it's funny because he probably has one of the kindest, smoothest voices I have ever heard.  But this time, I could pick up on the tension.  He dropped the bomb on me, the X-ray is showing an alarming loss of bone mass on my rear leg.  
Me: "And that means?"
vet: "Either a rare bacterial infection of the joint.......or bone cancer."
Me: "WHAT?"
Vet:  "Bone cancer, it's not something I would expect to see in a dog that's only 4 1/2 years old.  I want to do a biopsy to figure it out."
Me:  (feeling hyperventilation coming on and seeing spots) "Wh-wh-what i--i-if it is b-b-bone c-c-c-cancer?"
Vet: (sighing) " The most common treatment is to amputate the leg and then decide on whether radiation or chemotherapy is needed.  Kim, the average life span of a bone cancer dog is 1 year after diagnosis."

I honestly don't remember much of the conversation after that.  I couldn't breathe, I felt like I had just been punched in the stomach. It had to be a mistake.  SHE'S TOO YOUNG.

When I finally got my breath back it came out in a looooong wail.  I just curled up on the floor sobbing hysterically.  Caya came tearing into the room and just knowing like those damn shepherd know, laid down by me and let me cry into her soft fur, while she just gave me kisses.

I don't remember how long I laid there with Caya, but it dawned on me that the vet actually said, he HAD done the biopsy, and Tika WAS ready to go home.  So I got myself together to go pick her up.

Oh, god, I have to tell Tim.

While driving--yeah, smart move--it's always good to be on the cell phone delivering bad news and driving at the same time, this just shows you what a basket case I was.  I gave Tim the news.  Although Mr Stoic handled it a lot better than I did, he was reeling. Then he went into his 5,000 questions mode.  I lost it on him:  I DON'T KNOW.  I DON'T KNOW!

I picked up Tika, the vet staff was in tears, so the thin string I was holding onto snapped again.
My baby came limping out all groggy, like, this trip wasn't fun at all mommy, I wanna go home.

The Thanksgiving holiday is coming up so it could be almost a week before we hear about the biopsy results.  You can send your sympanthies to my husband now.

That night was not a good night in our household.  Caya just laid there watching back and forth to Tika, me and dad.  Tika was resting on the bed of comforters I made for her.  Tim is sitting with his laptop in his lap combing the internet for everything he can find on osteosarcoma and other bone cancers.  I think he stayed up and read the entire internet on the subject that night.

Me---well, the emotional train hit me hard and I crashed.  Didn't get a good night's sleep a'tall.

(20/20 note:  If I had it all to do over again, I WOULDN'T have done the biopsy, I would have the Xrays sent to an surgeon or oncologist.)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Secondary problems with EPI

Caya was starting to act a little funky and losing a bit of luster in her fur and not eating, so I took her to the vet.

I read that EPI dogs can have vitamin deficiencies, particulary cobalamin (B12).

Well, sure enough, Caya has that deficiency.

So what now? Well, after a long argument with the vet, I convinced them to let me do the shots at home.

It's a simple subcutaneous shot of cobalamin in a series for a month. We might have to do a maintenance shot monthly.

I was very annoyed with our vet, I had given my cat SubQ fluids for almost two years for her renal failure, I understand what to do.

This was a cake walk, that little needle into Caya's ruff, nothing like a big IV needle into my little jellicle cat.

So we are working on that now, last night Tika came to fuss with Caya just as I was giving her the shot and Caya jerked. The cobalamin itself is a pinkish red, so when hubby saw the fluid run all over my hand, he about passed out. It's not blood!

Caya just slightly twitches when I jab her, like, ew a bug bit me.