010Today was my dog Leo’s last chemo treatment. His oncologist (yes, my dog has an oncologist) is very happy with where we are. Six months ago, I wasn’t so sure this day would come and that Leo would be doing so well.

Overall, chemo was an non-event. For the first month, he had weekly injectable Vinblastine treatments. Then he switched to five months of twice monthly treatments, which were a mixture of the injectable Vinblastine and oral Lomustine. There were one or two days over the course of his treatment where he exhibited some side effects–mainly vomiting and decreased appetite. But for the most part, these episodes resolved themselves within a day. For the last six months, his appetite and energy level were just as they were before he was diagnosed with a Grade 3 Mast Cell Tumor (the worst kind) last November. No new masses appeared during the course of his chemo; and more importantly no mass reappeared at the site of the original mass that was surgically removed last November confirming the cancer diagnosis. His regular vet & the oncologist had warned us back when this all started that there was a strong likelihood that that mass would regrow within a couple months. Six months later, there is nothing & that is absolutely wonderful. (more…)

Yes, it’s been awhile. I could blame life, but really I think it was laziness that got in the way of me posting.

Yes, life has been trying at times. Definitely some days that I couldn’t wait to get over with–specifically my mother’s birthday (May 9) & Mother’s Day (May 10). Yep, back-to-back. After I passed the 6-month mark in March, I think I became obsessed with how I would or wouldn’t get through that weekend in May. On the upside, I got through it with a trip out of town. I knew I couldn’t be home that weekend. I knew it would be too hard. Instead, I went to DC to spend it with my brother & a lot of really good friends, who for the most part did a great job of distracting me & keeping me busy. Admittedly, attending the wedding of one friend on my mother’s birthday was not ideal. It was a little hard to stand in the church & know that when/if I ever finally decide to get married, my mother won’t be there. That wasn’t a reminder I needed on her birthday. I had thought about skipping the wedding, but I knew I couldn’t. And in the end, as hard as it was to be there, I’m glad I was there. My brother & I dealt with Mother’s Day by essentially ignoring it. Sometimes, that really is the best way to deal with things.

I’m relieved to have made it through that weekend. These last 8 months of events/holidays to get through & get past  have been just that, things & days to get through & get past. Unfortunately, what I realized the day after I returned home was that getting through or past any of these events/holidays really doesn’t mean anything. Yes, I’ve gotten though the one, but there are a lifetime more to come. This just keeps going. Yes, I will admit that today was better than yesterday; but the reality is, however many days, months, or years pass between the day my mother died & where I am, the fact remains, she’s still not here.

God, depressing. I so didn’t mean for this post to be such a downer. (more…)

Image: Inma :) via flickr

Image: Inma 🙂 via flickr

I don’t know where I’ve been, but I’m back.

Weeks 24-27 & number 28 today. They came & went. One just blends into another these days, so I guess I can just let them go without saying much more.

The 6 month mark didn’t pass by as easily. The day was blah. Tears were shed. I finally realized I do most of my crying while driving. Sunglasses help to keep the other drivers from wondering what the hell is wrong. I’ve been able to drive through it; only once in the last 6 months have I had to pull over. Anyways, I’ll get around to writing a post for that day. But for now, I survived it. I guess that’s the important part. The main observation to come out of it was how quickly & how slowly time has passed. And now I get to look forward to 1-year. Fuck.

On the writing front, things have gone really well. I took another writing class this past quarter (just finished last week). As I wrote in my last post, I got incredibly good feedback from my instructor. The positive feedback started with my editing skills and then extended into really great comments on my writing & my novel. The course focused on writing & rewriting the 1st 50-pages of your novel. So, I really feel like I came out of it with a good start, with material that should carry me forward. I had my weaknesses pointed out & spent the course addressing them. I feel like I know how to overcome them now which is great. (more…)

Leo Reynolds via flickr

Image: Leo Reynolds via flickr

20…so much time, but really so little. All a little weird. None of this feels right.

I think I’ll blame the weather. These days the rain just seems to do me in. Mix it with a Saturday & I don’t know how I get through it. Can you have Seasonal Affective Disorder just on rainy days? Because I’m beginning to think I do. Thank God I don’t live in Seattle! I think it’s supposed to be sunny by Tuesday. Just in time.

Some updates:

  • Teddy is doing great. I’ve weened him off the pain meds & he’s alert & himself. Lab results did show he has an infection in the bladder wall, but that just means a longer course of oral antibiotics. He gets his sutures out on Thursday. Still incredibly grateful that he made it through all this. And still utterly surprised.
  • Leo had chemo last Wednesday–the injectable. Again, no side effects. He’s doing well. So, he has the next 2 weeks off, & then will get a dose of Lomustine–the oral chemo drug.

Oh, & finally, pics…

Teddy

Teddy

Leo

Leo

I just brought Teddy home 2 hours ago.

I went to see him twice yesterday. Once in the morning when Leo was there for a regularly scheduled blood test to see how he reacted to the first dose of the Lomustine & to make sure he was okay for next week’s injectable chemo treatment. All clear for him.

So, while Leo was in back, they put me in an exam room with Teddy for a visit. He was definitely out of sorts, but walking around & somewhat alert. They said he’d gotten through the night with no problem & their goal at that point was to start tapering the IV pain meds he was receiving & getting him to eat. They asked me to try & feed him with the dog food & chicken baby food they had. He wasn’t having it. He usually gets chicken & rice at home or a canned food–but it wasn’t the canned food they were peddling him. They also thought he might be refusing the food because the IV meds suppress appetite. So, they asked me to come back later in the day with his food & they would have time to taper the meds in the hope that he would eat. So, I went back around 4PM. It was quickly obvious they had decreased his pain meds. He was whining more than I’d ever heard him & of course refusing food. He won’t eat if he’s uncomfortable or sick. So, the doctor agreed to up his dosage again & to try & feed him his own food again later. By 9PM when I called to check with the vet tech, he said Teddy was more comfortable, even sleeping, but still hadn’t eaten; but he would try to get him to eat again throughout the night. (more…)

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…)

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…)