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…)

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…)

Image: flattop341 via flickr

Image: flattop341 via flickr

Friday, the day before, 5 months, was harder than today.

For the most part, the day was busy. I had my writing group in the morning & then spent the late afternoon & much of the evening at the birthday party of a family friend. “B” is the younger sister of my oldest friend. She, with my friend, & their mother, were the first people here the day my mother died. “B” has proven to be a life-saver. She has helped me with walking the dogs in the last few months. Even before I dislocated my knee, I couldn’t walk them together. Leo & Teddy travel at two decidedly different paces. Leo loves to run. Teddy is content with a just the car ride & seeing the park. He prefers to kick back & lounge in the grass. So, “B” has been there to fill in the gap my mother’s loss left. She used to walk Teddy, while I ran Leo. “B” was also the one who dropped everything the day I had to take Teddy in for surgery & stayed with me until we knew for sure he had made it through surgery. It was good to be there to help her celebrate, but the unfortunate thing about any family event with her family is the noticeable absence of my mother. She would have been there. She was always there for parties, special occasions at their house. But still, it was a nice way to pass the day even if it did suck on some level.

But I’m learning that’s how it goes. Every day, every thing, even if it’s good or ok, still sucks on some level.

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

mav1234 via flickr

Image: mav1234 via flickr

Saturday was rough. Mainly because of Teddy. I spent the better part of Friday night & all day Saturday trying to get his meds & schedule right. Originally the vet had prescribed his pain meds for every 8-hours. The problem was they were wearing off at about hour 6, which made it hard at hour 8 to get him to take the food with his pill. So, the vet agreed that we could go every 6-hours which is working much better; although, the current schedule has me giving meds at 2 & 3 in the morning. Needless to say this is cutting into my sleep.

I hate to admit this, but I was totally the over-wrought parent. I called the animal hospital every couple hours for one thing or another–including a 3 AM phone call. Luckily they were very nice & answered all my questions–& never suggested that maybe I should be the one taking the sedative.

So, I ended up spending the day at home; only going out to grab dinner quickly.

Taking care of Teddy like this brings up a lot of emotions. Even though he’s the “family” dog, he was first & foremost my mother’s dog. He would follow her everywhere–including barging in on her in the bathroom. When she went to bed, he trotted to bed behind her. He slept in his bed next to hers. He got up when she did, & not until she did. Luckily, he’s been ok without her. But I know that has a lot to do with me keeping his routine & environment the same. And I guess he probably thinks of her absence the same way I do–a really long trip.

…but today is Sunday, & Teddy, Leo, & I had a much better day. Teddy was much more alert today. He even went for a very short walk today. His appetite was also better. So, today was better.

Saturday was rough, but we got through it. I got through it. One day at a time. One week at a time. What else can you do?!

Image: mav1234 via flickr

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…)