Wade Franklin via flickr

Image: Wade Franklin via flickr

Teddy made it through surgery. He is now in ICU at the animal hospital under observation. We still have to get through the next 24-48 hours. Worries are infection & possibility of a clot. If all goes well, he’ll be home in 2 days.

Things actually didn’t go to plan. We got up early this morning & trekked to the vet for surgery, ready to go. We got there & found out that the stones were definitely the kind that required surgery. So, the simple sedation & flushing were out. Given his Cushings, the vet decided she was less comfortable with doing the surgery herself. While she does surgery, it’s not her speciality. So, she referred us to the animal specialty hospital where Leo gets his oncology/chemo care.

Even though I’ve been going there almost weekly for the last 6 weeks & really like the staff, I remembered how stressed I got when I first had to take Leo in there. I was worried about having a melt down again. So, I called up a friend & she was kind enough to drop everything & come with me. Her presence helped so much. She shared her snacks with me at the hospital, because of course I hadn’t eaten–which only increases the likelihood of me having a meltdown. So, the snack was good. And she was just helpful with asking questions & keeping me calm.

Luckily we got another great doctor there, a surgeon. So, if anyone is in the Los Angeles area & needs a good animal specialty hospital, I can highly recommend Animal Specialty Group–at least their oncology & surgical departments. I’ve been to other animal hospitals in the area, & this is by far the best place I have ever been. Expensive, but good. (more…)

Advertisements

(Really, I’d like a break…)

So, this morning I noticed that Teddy, my other dog, was whimpering when he was peeing. I’d noticed in the last couple days that he seemed to be struggling when he urinated, but he was urinating. So, I called the vet & took him in this morning. Turns out he has bladder stones. There are a bunch of tiny ones sitting in his bladder (as seen on x-ray) and one lodged in his urethra, blocking his flow of urine.

Essentially, we’re waiting on lab results on the stones that he did pass while in the office. There are two types: one that can be treated with a special diet, and the other which require surgery. Nonetheless, he has to go back to the vet tomorrow to be put under heavy sedation to see if they can flush the one in his urethra back into his bladder to remove the blockage so he can pee normally. If that works & it’s the kind of stone that can be treated with diet, then we’ll hope the diet will take care of the other stones. If they can’t flush that one stone out of the way, he has to be put under full anesthesia & be opened up to remove the stone from the urethra, as well as the stones in his bladder. Surgery will also be required if lab results show they are the kinds of stones that can’t be treated with diet.

The concern here is that with Teddy’s Cushings, he is a poor candidate for surgery. He’s prone to infection, as well as bad reactions to the full anesthesia. But essentially there is not another option if he needs surgery to treat. So, I’m going into tomorrow blind. I don’t know what the end of the day holds. Part of me hopes the flush works & we can treat with diet. The other part of me hopes surgery works, he makes it through, & we can just get the treatment over with.

Teddy is as old as Leo (11-years old). While Leo is a hyper 11-year old, Teddy is definitely the old man. He was my mom’s dog; attached at the hip to her. I’d said when Leo was diagnosed with cancer & given slim odds for surviving 6-months that I could handle it better if it was Teddy. I say that because Teddy, while for the most part fine, is noticeably older & less healthy. But now, I know it would never be any easier. So definitely some tears today imagining the worst case scenario, but also trying to put those thoughts out of my mind & hoping for the best.

Positive thoughts.

Virany via flickr

Image: Virany via flickr

Leo just started the maintenance phase of his chemo treatment. As I mentioned earlier, he finished up the “induction” phase–weekly injections of the chemo meds–2 weeks ago. For the next 5 months, he’ll be on a bi-monthly schedule. Just now I gave him his first dose of the oral chemo treatment he will receive once a month. Two weeks from now, he’ll go in for an injectable treatment. This will be our new cycle.

The oral treatment is 2-10mg pills of Lomustine. Big white capsules. A year ago I would have said there was no way I’d be able to get him to take them; but with all the meds he’s on now, getting a pill down his throat has become a non-issue. Hide it in some dog food & he’s good to go. (Go figure; all those years of failing to get him to take a pill while hiding it in roast beef, etc., only to have him spit it out, & dog food of all things works! He’s not usually a dog food fan. He’s on a chicken, rice, & veggies diet.) Sometimes I have to hold his mouth shut to make sure he doesn’t eat the food & spit out the pill–skill I know; but for the most part, he’s taking them. These pills do require that I wear gloves; these are chemo drugs after all. I think the gloves had an odd taste that he didn’t like, so next time I think I’ll wash my hands with the gloves on to get whatever powder is on them off. (more…)

Leo had his 4th chemo treatment today & the last of phase 1. He gets a week off before he starts phase 2, which spreads out treatment to every 2 weeks. He’ll have an oral dose of chemo medication in 2 weeks, & then 2 weeks after that he’ll go get the injected chemo treatment. This cycle will go on for the next 5 months. One new side effect we’ll have to watch for with the oral medication is liver disease. Apparently, it’s a known side effect, so he’ll have labs done every 2 weeks to monitor his liver function.

It will be  nice to spread these vet visits out a bit–for Leo & me. Even though the appointments only take about an hour, with travel time, etc., it ends up being about 2 hours. (more…)

Leo had his 3rd chemo treatment the morning of New Year’s Eve. His weight maintained between last week & this week, which is good; & his white blood cell count was the same as last week. I’m all for status quo.

Between treatment 2 & 3 he was perfectly fine. No side effects. And 3 days after treatment #3, he’s still good. A relief.

Next Tuesday will be the last treatment of the first part of his chemo protocol & he’ll have a chest x-ray to make sure that a mass that was spotted a couple months earlier on a previous x-ray hasn’t grown. The first part of the chemo treatment involved him getting chemo weekly via an injection (well, not quite an injection, but I don’t know what it’s called; he’s not having it via an IV, but it’s being injected). For part 2, treatments will be spread out to every 2 weeks for the next 5 months & include an oral chemo medication that I’ll be giving him at home. Fingers crossed that part of the treatment will go just as well.

So, that’s where we are. Good so far. Hoping to just stay that way.

Everything happens for a reason. Everything is a lesson. Nothing is a disaster. Nothing is the end of the world. That’s what my mother taught me.

In the last 3 months my mother died unexpectedly, our family dog was diagnosed with terminal cancer, & I dislocated my knee cap on Christmas Eve resulting in crutches & a straight leg brace. While each of these events have tested my will, my faith, my optimism, none of them has knocked me out (even though any one probably should have). I don’t believe I’m any stronger than anyone else. I’m devastated. I have minutes, hours, days where I just want to scream. I want to rail against the unfairness of it all. I want to be bitter that I’ve been dealt all this at once. I cry. I breakdown. I wind up on the kitchen floor in the fetal position, now & again. But then, I have to get up. I can’t keep it up. I can’t sustain the tears, the sobbing, the depression. I just get tired. For me, it’s more exhausting to give in than to get up & try again. (more…)

…and still counting.

At least Christmas is over. Got through it by ignoring it. I slept through Christmas Eve as I slept off the morphine. Christmas Day managed to be a non-event as I didn’t feel like going anywhere. My brother & I just stayed home watched movies & avoided the day. Worked out well. We agreed that next year we’ll make an effort, but this year it just wasn’t going to happen. The knee just made it easier to do that & get away with it.

Went to my writing group this morning. Nice to get out & to catch up. Not so much writing. I know, I know. I need to write. I need to get on it, but apparently I’m a master of avoidance. A theme these days I suppose.

On my own this evening. My brother & his girlfriend are off to see friends they haven’t seen since coming into town. I’ve been left with my supplies in reach: TV remote, laptop, books, magazines, assorted pain killers (although really haven’t needed them), water, & snacks. They took the dogs for a long walk & fed them before they left. They’re sleeping now. Hopefully that will remain the case until they get back. Otherwise if they’re looking for attention or to go out, I’m screwed; or rather they are. (more…)