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…)

Yesterday was a bad day.

Leo had his first appointment with the oncologist to discuss treatment for his mast cell tumor. She outlined the tests & chemo treatment plan she recommends. As far as tests: she wants to do an ultrasound to check to see if the cancer has spread to his liver or spleen; then aspirate (stick a needle in & suck out some cells) two lumps to see if they are just fat or the cancer; and then do a bone marrow tap to see if the cancer has spread there. For the chemo, he’ll have IV therapy once a week for 4 weeks; then he’ll go every 2 weeks for five months with a mixture of IV and oral meds. All in all it’s a 6 month protocol. She essentially said we’re looking at 6 months to a year. I choose to focus on the year. Keep in mind that he’s still perfectly himself.

Anyways, so I got all this information in about 10 minutes. Then I had the costs for the next 6 months of care thrown at me. Cancer care for dogs is not cheap. They wanted to do the tests & start his first chemo session that day. It was just too much at once & I started feeling really anxious. Luckily I had called my brother to discuss what was said (Leo afterall is both of ours) while they were getting stuff together. He noticed I seemed really stressed. He recommended that I ask if I could bring him back to start everything. I’m glad I did ask. I don’t think I would have thought to do it if I hadn’t been told to. I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Getting out of there when I did with Leo probably saved me from having a full blown panic/anxiety attack. I could just feel myself getting amped up the longer I was there. And being in the exam room with closed doors did not help me.

I think one of the key factors in why I started feeling overwhelmed yesterday was my mother. Being there on my own with Leo just hit me over the head again & again with the simple fact that she wasn’t there. With all the family dogs, my mother always took the lead with their healthcare. We’ve had dogs with serious illnesses before; & while their care was a family decision, she was there to make the final decisions. And there I was doing this all on my own for the first time. So it was her not being there & then having to make all these decisions. Not that the decisions were hard. I’m going with all the doctor’s recommendations & I’m going ahead with treatment. But it was just way too much at once. Really, doctor’s should spread this stuff out. This really just should have been a consultation appointment & then testing & treatment would start another day.

I understand that in delaying treatment for another week risks having the cancer spread further. And I know we’re supposedly playing with a one-month life expectancy without treatment. But, I’ve never really believed that one-month life expectancy crap, & I’m convinced that he’s fine today, he’ll be fine next Wednesday when we go back. Yesterday was just not the day to start all this.

It took me until about 7 last night to finally calm down, but still I felt scattered. I feel better today & I know I did the right thing for both of us, me & Leo, in getting us out of there yesterday. A benefit of starting all this next week is that my brother will be home from school for the holidays & he can help me with everything & be there to keep me from climbing the walls. Always a good thing. Yesterday just really made me realize there are things I can’t do on my own & for future reference, I have to have someone there with me. So, lesson learned.