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Third chemo tx and chest X-rays…check!

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

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Today was Elgin’s third chemo treatment, and he also got his lungs X-rayed again to see if any mets have grown there.  The results were good – all clear!

As his treatments continue, he’s really endeared himself to some of the staff at UC Davis.  I suppose they feel fondly about alot of their patients, but it doesn’t hurt that he’s incredibly cute and unusual looking.  The breed (Dogue de Bordeaux) is still relatively rare in these parts.  At his previous treatment, the tech who came out to get him and describe his treatment plan for the day said that she was seriously considering getting a DDB for her next dog, because she’d fallen in love with Elgin, as had many of the techs in “the back”.  Today the same tech came out to greet us. She also brought him back out to us (after only 3 hours this time! Yay!) and admitted that she was still in love with him, and that she “spooned” with him, lying on the floor with him while he received his chemo.  No wonder he seems happy to go there!

We discussed with the doctor his swollen leg issue from the previous treatment, and she assured us that they did extra flushing of his veins this time, in the hopes of avoiding this happening again. We will be watching him closely to see if this works.  He was one tired tripawd when he got home, and hopped directly into his crate.  Originally it was to extort a treat from us, but once in there, he remembered how comfy and safe it feels and he ended up staying in there for a snooze.

Daily, Elgin amazes us.  He’s laying more equally on his leg-less side, and now hops out of the vehicle without using the ramp. Especially when we get to UCD, he bounds out and hops immediatly to the grass.  Of course this could be because it’s a 90+ minute ride to get there and he has to pee like a racehorse once we park. Our original vet is amazed that a bulky mastiff like Elgin has done so well.  Elgin doesn’t much like going there, to our original vet, by the way.  He sits in the vehicle and just looks out and I have to ORDER him to get out.  Then he is very hesitant about going in.  I don’t think they spoon with him there.  The vet told me two weeks ago that Elgin, at 128lbs, could stand to lose 4 lbs, and that it would make getting around easier for him. So I agreed to try to reduce his intake.  Evidently we all like to give him treats more than we realized, because he GAINED 4lbs in a week’s time and I got a stern look from the vet.  Today we consulted the vet at UCD and she said his weight was fine.  He could loose a pound or two, but he was pretty much at the optimal body condition.  Whew.  I don’t feel so badly now.  But we are still cutting back on his food a little, and are more conscious of when/how we give him treats.

We are hopping every single day now, nearly a mile round trip.  He rests in the park at the bottom of the hill for about 10 minutes before he tackles the steep incline to our house.

I think he knows it’s another holiday.  I’ve taken his picture, which he loves, despite the dour look on his face.

he gets lots of treats if he sits perfectly still.

 

 

 

 

 

The weather is coooling off, and we had our first tarantula come out and supervise my yardwork last weekend.  Elgin doesn’t give them much more than a sniff.  Now, the DEER that come around the backyard REALLY set him off, and he hops just as fast as he used to run, when he charges the fence to whuf at them.  He doesn’t bark, but does his odd coughing whuf that he’s done since he was little.

Well, I must end my novel here, and with that, we wish you all continued healing and happy times!

 


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Swollen leg – side effect?

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

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Hello all,

Now a question for all you recovering tripawds…

Elgin was doing extremely well, and still is very perky, very hungry, and moving around fantastically.  However, yesterday afternoon we noticed is right leg (the one through which the chemo was administered) was noticeably swollen.  Starting at the wrist, all the way to his elbow, it is swollen to about an inch and a half thicker in circumference than the other leg.  We tried to see if he was limping; it’s really hard to tell, when his normal gait is so humpy now without that back leg.  We asked him to walk, but he kept cavorting around, playfully!

We phoned the on-call vet at UC Davis and described what was going on, and she recommended that if his demeanor continued to be good, to monitor him overnight.  We did this. This morning he is still very perky, hungry, and again, doesn’t appear to favor it at all. Leg is still noticeably swollen, and possibly a tad bigger.

We will be phoning the vet again in a few minutes, but I wanted to put this out there to see if anyone else has had this happen…

        

Second Chemo tx and Elgin’s ongoing progress

Friday, October 5th, 2012

As you can see, Elgin is taking it easy after his second round of chemo. He continues to astound us and the neighborhood.  He is now pulling me around the block on our browndog walks.  He is so robust, that I have to look for physical signs that he’s wearing himself out… he blushes pink around his eyes and his tongue curls up when he pants (he always pants really hard, so I can’t use that as an indicator). He also starts to “sink” when he’s fatigued… he hops, but his back end gets lower with each hop, like he’s in quicksand.  After my workout at the gym yesterday, I can easily imagine how his leg must be burning!

This week the weather here was incredibly hot, over 100 on a couple of days, and so after our walks, I broke out his pool and let him lounge in it for a while. I think it must have felt funny on his incision because he hung his bum out over the side while he was laying in it.  It was pretty funny looking.

So after the second round (which took 5 hours!) he had no loss of appetite, no lethargy, and just no signs of side effects at all.  Elgin is daily returning to all of his previous mannerisms… plus a few new ones.  While he can hop up the stairs on his own, If Gary is around he will put his front paws on the step, and pause, while looking back over his shoulder with his eyes only-not turning his head, to wait for Gary to pick up his back end and put it on the step, and they make it up the stairs in this way. You can’t tell me dogs are dumb.  This one’s got it all figured out!

He sleeps with us on our bed (good reason to upgrade from a queen to a king) and instead of laying nicely parallel between us, he has begun to lay perpendicular at the end of the bed… I imagine if someone took an aerial photo, we’d look like the pie symbol. What takes the irritation (almost) out of this, is that he lays on his leg-less side.  He’s begun doing this little by little, now, after 5 weeks post-amputation.  We imagine his body was pretty tired of laying on just one side all the time. The bed must be soft enough that the pressure doesn’t hurt so much on that hip socket.

Now he’s trying it more on other, harder surfaces.  He never lays long on that side, but it’s good to see that he is apparently not in ANY pain anymore.

He is a little aprehensive when we leave him alone, and this manifests in him licking.  He has always licked his front legs when he’s nervous, and now he licks his hip/incision too.  But it’s not obsessive. Thankfully.   Poor guy, after being babysat attentively for 5 weeks, he’s uneasy when he’s left alone.  But he’s getting over it.

One last picture; here he is, in his favorite sleeping position on the stairs.  I always joked that it looked like he had a bad wreck on the stairs, but now that his leg is missing, it’s even funnier! (Yes, I’ve been accused of having a warped sense of humor… I guess it’s true. 🙂

Elgin’s going 100mph

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

      

One week post-chemo, stitches out…

Elgin handled his first chemo treatment very well.  He was a little lethargic and had little to no appetite for a day, but otherwise he was fine.  He continues to heal and make his way back to how he was before the amputation (or before the cancer caused him so much pain).  He is the happiest when he gets to go out on Browndogs.  For the past two weeks I would take him 3 houses down to visit his girlfriend, and then home we would hop, because I didn’t want him to overdo it.  Overdo it? HA!

Towards the end of last week I drove him down our big hill, to the park at the bottom of the street.  One of his favorite things is to pee on and walk through the big, brushy ornamental grasses planted around the perimeter of the park.  From the expression on his face, it seems he likes how it feels when they rub his face, chest and belly.( I can picture him in a pith helmet and canteen slung over his shoulder.)  I knew he really wanted to go down there, but we didn’t want to hop him there because we didn’t think he could hop back up our steep hill.  Boy, did he enjoy the park that day!  He hopped all around it, peed until he couldn’t squeeze out another drop, and laid down, partly in protes,t when we tried to go back to the vehicle to come home.  So I let him lay there for probably 15-20 minutes and then loaded him up and drove back home.

Early Saturday morningI hopped him 3 doors down, and then we hopped two more houses.  I figured this would be a long process, to work him up to getting to the park and home under his own power.  Well…… Elgin doesn’t know he’s a tripawd, evidently.  He has discovered that it is much easier on him to RUN than to walk.  Now he hurries everywhere. Even in the house.  Yesterday, I decided that since he seems so robust and eager to go, go, go, I’d hop him down the hill to the park and we’d just take our time getting home, stopping to rest whenever he needed to.  He PULLED me all the way down the hill, thoroughly enjoyed sniffing and peeing and wandering the park, and then he PULLED me back up the hill!  Unbelievable.  We did it again today, with one of his Browndog girlfriends, and same story; he PULLED me down the hill, PULLED me around the park like a kite at the end of a string,  PULLED me up the hill, AND PULLED ME ALMOST UNDERNEATH A PARKED CAR, CHASING A CAT!  Does this dog know he’s missing a leg?!  NO!  I had to stifle a giggle tho, at one point he walked on the wrong side of a tree and tried to lift his one leg to pee…. he only has the one, and he almost fell over.

When we got home I checked him over for injuries (he really dug in after that cat, and with only one remaining back leg, I was worried about him hurting that one.) and found a scrape/tear between his pads that was bleeding a little.  Since we had to go to the local vet for a CBC, I asked for something for his foot too. I was concerned that the chemo and his compromised immune system might turn it into an infection.  So we came home with an antibiotic spray.  This was the first time our local vet had seen him since his initial diagnosis.  The vet and his staff all turned out to see how Elgin was doing.  They were all smiles and laughter at how gung-ho he is now!

We are still watching him almost all the time, because he likes to lick his incision.  But hopefully in another week it will be sufficiently healed that the danger will be over.  His fur is growing back, and he seems generally much perkier than a week ago. Last night he was chasing me around the house playing hide-n-seek, and was mock-wrestling with my husband.  We are very pleased with his outlook.  I hope the other tripawds we’ve met who are on Elgin’s timeline, are doing as well.  Fenway?  Jack? How you guys doing?

 

First chemo treatment and stitches out!

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Hello all,

Well, after two weeks of babysitting 24/7, sleeping on the couch to make sure he didn’t lick open his sutures, get stuck behind a chair or couch, occasionally hand-feeding him, and generally overanalyzing every sneeze, blink, twitch, or cough, we finally hit a milestone:  the stitches are out and he had his first chemo treatment today.

We had been trying to let him get around more, and let people come visit him.  I was really concerned early last week because he seemed so apathetic.  Then he went 24 hours without drinking anything, and just generally seemed as if he’d given up.  His appetite was fair, at best, hence the hand-feeding. The only thing that seemed to perk him up was letting him outside on his leash, to hop down the sidewalk.  We did this late at night in the darkness, to lessen the possibility of distractions he might suddenly take off after, as well as it was cooler than the high 90’s temps we’ve had most days.

We worried also about his overal body soreness, because he seemed very hesitant laying down and getting up.  Rather stiff and shaky.  At the same time, we tapered him completely off his pain meds.  Not knowing if some of the side effects were from the meds and not the pain, we didn’t give in and administer any more doses. It was so sad to see him so listless.

Then, yesterday, a breakthrough! One of the neighbors came over for tea and to see how he was coming along.  When she came in the front door, he pupped up and ran to her, just like he used to!  Then he actually POUNCED on one of his toys!  This episode lasted less than 10 seconds, but it was REALLY good to see that spark.

So today we loaded him up and drove him to UC Davis for his 3-hour chemo treatment. He is doing really well and even managed for the first time, to beg like he used to!  “Belly Up!” has never been so wonderful!  His appetite seems better than before, as evidenced by the fact that he’s actually begging for food.

We are prepared for the nausea and possible diarrhea (they gave us meds for it when they gave him back to us today), if it happens, but for now we are pretty happy with how good he appears to be feeling.

His next chemo treatment will be in three weeks. He’ll have a total of 6 chemo treatments, with another lung X-ray after the third treatment, to check for metastases.  Lord willing, there will be none. We forgot to ask how much the leg weighed, but I plan on emailing the oncologist about some other questions, and will ask then.  I’ll share what the result is. 🙂

I hope our new Tripawds friends, Fenway, and the others who had their aputations around the same time as Elgin, are doing well too.

Here is a cell-phone pic of Elgin going belly-up for our burritos.

 

Daily drivel

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

HI all,

Elgin is doing well.  I continue to ice his incision a couple of times a day, and while I’m down there, I pick at his grody scabs from the razor burn, which covered almost all of his left bun.  They come off easily and I find that he’s easier to look at when that scabby patch is gone. Makes me wanna puke, tho.

Yesterday was a little tough on us both, as he is becoming more restless and mobile (or “clingy” as my husband, Gary, says, because it amounts to Elgin trying to find me, wherever I am in the house).  I thought I could get away with not putting up his pen in the living room, and simply putting on his inflatable donut, letting him have free access to the ground floor of the house.  He had been sneaking licks in and irritating his incision.  Up I went to the second floor, to start my work day. I heard him hopping around down there, and then all was quiet.  I thought, “COOL.  I can actually make some good progress on this book!” After about 10 minutes I heard noises down there and when I checked on him, discovered he can lick his incision AROUND that donut!  Dogue de Bordeauxs are very long-bodied, and it turns out in his favor, that he can reach his hindquarters.

So I put on the GINORMOUS satellite dish E-collar he was sent home in.  I went back upstairs, and continued up and down the stairs the rest of the afternoon, as he proceeded to get stuck in every doorway, catch every corner, and crash into every chair we own, with that vast expanse of plastic…. it reminded me of an object ‘d arte by Cristo! So I gave up and stayed downstairs with him, and when he would get up, I would get up and walk with him, to hold the edges of the collar so he could squeeze past the couch, or make it around the kitchen.

I did try boxer shorts, but I picked the wrong pair.  (I’m not accustomed to pilfering my husband’s underwear drawer to find something for the dog to wear!) When I put them on him, Elgin hopped right out of them, in addition to them not being very comfortable. My frustration was getting the better of me. I am not willing to spend my day walking around the house holding the edges of an E-collar! Nor do I think Elgin wants this.  So when Gary came home last night, I went to the gym.  When I got home (in a much better mood!) he had let Elgin outside to enjoy the night air without ANY collar, and Gary could still see him through the doorway to supervise the licking thing.

This morning, Gary picked a really good pair of boxers and put them on Elgin. Voila! They fit him much better, they didn’t fall down, and Elgin can’t lick the incision!  I actually got a lot of work done today, until the landscapers came and started up their leaf blowers and lawnmowers (which means a mandatory break for my recording, and a chance to blog).

I’ve begun to taper his Tramadol, and by Friday, he is to have stopped all pain meds.  I think this will be good, because he was a little weird sometimes, and we’re chalking it up to the meds.

Elgin’s progress

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

 Sept 5, 2012

Elgin is progressing nicely.  His razor burn is looking much better, and he’s getting around quite well!  I still sleep on the couch to make sure he doesn’t climb up there in the night, and also because I’m worried he’ll fall over or get stuck behind a chair or something.  I will soon go back to my own bed, after I’m sure he knows completely how to manage himself.  We bought a pen for him and I set that up in the living room yesterday and put his donut collar on so he wouldn’t lick his incision (I’ve caught him at it a few times now), and actually got in a few hours of work!

This morning, Elgin went to the front door and nudged his collar and leash… a clear sign he wanted to “Browndog”. (that’s what we call it when the 3 brown dogs on our street get together for their twice-weekly walk) Obviously he isn’t up to that yet, in fact, he’s not even up to having visitors yet, because he might get too excited and bouncy. So I compromised and let him lay on the front lawn.  He seemed perfectly content, and even managed to lay right in a small patch of sunlight.

Next Tuesday he gets his stitches out on 9/11, and also will start chemo that day.

Now, time to get back to work.

Elgin’s progress – day two – he poo-ed!

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

First, let me be clear, I won’t be blogging every time he blinks or farts or twitches a muscle.  BUT, this is important. ELGIN POO-ED.

When we brought him home yesterday we let him check out the house and yard and worried later that we’d let him overexert himself. We’d walked him around, holding him by his harness and the sheet under his abdomen supporting him too, but we worried anyway.  The night was a little restless for him and I slept on the couch nearby.  Good thing, too, because he clearly wanted to climb up and sleep there, in his usual spot.

This morning we took him out to potty, and he really seemed sore and very hesitant to move foreward.  We were dismayed that we let him do so much yesterday. So very, very slowly we made our way to the potty area.  He peed, then just stood there on trembling legs, looking around.  Finally we decided to drop the harness and take the sheet away and see what he wanted to do.  Kicked him outta the nest, so to speak.  He looked around and hopped off at a decent speed, and POO-ED!  He strained a bit, and it was pretty hard in consistency, but he did a respectable amount, twice!  Taught us that we were feeling way more sorry for him than we should have. We are still going to try and limit his activities, but it seems he needs to do things more on his own, with out us hovering like a helicopter.

We have left the harness on since he came home, in case we need to grab it in a hurry. I think we’ll leave it on for a little while yet, as he’s still a bit shakey and staggers into things. His aim is a little off when he goes to lay down, and usually gets just his front half on the bed.

He is eating ok, and so we did add pumpkin to his food this morning, hoping to soften up the stools. We are letting him eat and drink in the house.  This is a pretty big deal. Dogues tend to amass about a gallon of liquid and debris in their lips so that when they shake their heads they get maximum coverage on the walls. I’m not too tickled about the upcoming “slobber patrol” I’ll be doing.

There have been such nice comments from everyone, and the helpful hints are much appreciated.

Elgin is clearly more comfortable at home, and lord knows we are happier having him back home with us. I know you all know THAT feeling!

Elgin’s home!

Friday, August 31st, 2012

We picked up Elgin this afternoon.  It was sure nice to see him again, and it was obvious he wanted outta there!  They loved him there, said he was a great patient, and that he did amazingly well with the surgery, anesthesia, and his willingness to get up and move around after surgery, especially since he’s a big dog.

They walked him out to our vehicle, and I was shocked at how well he hopped along!  He did have to sit and rest 3 times, because that back leg is not used to bearing all his weight back there like that. They supported his abdomen with a rolled-up sheet.  The ramp we got worked well, and he used it well, once we planted his front paws on it.

When we got home we put the Ruff Wear harness on him before he came out of the vehicle, and helped him down the ramp.  He went right to the grass and peed for a loooooooooooonnnnnng time.  As of tonight, he still hasn’t poo-ed. We are a little concerned, even though they assured us he may go as long as 5 days without poo-ing.

Once inside the house, he went right to his bed in front of the sliding glass door.  Then he appeared to want to go outside, so we helped him out.  He didn’t seem to have an agenda, just aimless wandering, or maybe he was just checking out his yard. Either way, we were growing concerned that he was overdoing it. The instructions they sent home with us specified he was to remain as quiet as possible, only getting up to go potty or eat/drink.  This is for two weeks.  We need to get a large pen like they use at dogshows, and set it up in the livingroom so he doesn’t attempt to wander around the house (as he’s done since he was a little puppy; he’s always “patrolled” ).

There is no dressing to change, but we do have to watch for oozing. The bruising is pretty impressive, and looks horrible.  But his eyes are bright and alert, and he doesn’t appear to be in pain. His meds have been reduced from what he was on pre-amp. Now it’s just Tramadol and Rimadyl.

It has been so nice, the support from friends, family, and strangers…. in addition to texts, emails, and FaceBook postings asking for updates on his progress, one neighbor brought us wine, and another met us in the driveway tonight with doggie treats.  We feel really surrounded by good stuff.

Elgin’s surgery went very well…

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

We left the house this morning at 6am to get to UC Davis for his pre-surgery appointment.  Elgin was quite hungy and begged for my toast.  I took a picture and will post it below.  He has an odd way of begging.

We met with the surgeon and she very thoroughly went over how the procedure would go.  He was pretty anxious, panting and blushing (he gets pink around his eyes when he’s all agitated). But he did really well, and handled it like a trooper. I discovered at the oncology appointment that if I have them take Elgin out of the room first, instead of us leaving him in there with the staff, it goes much better for both of us.  We left him last time, and he strained against his collar a bit and wanted to come with us.  I felt so awful.  This time, he was fine leaving with them, going for a “walk”.  I felt much better too.  Not to say I didn’t cry on the drive home, though.

We got the hallway runners today and I laid them out on the hardwood floors so he’ll have more grip when he learns to walk with 3 legs.  I think tomorrow we will recieve the baby gate to block off the stairs, and a better pad for his crate (he likes to spend time in there frequently, and opens the door with his nose.) We should also be getting the Ruff Wear Webmaster harness on Thursday.  It should be interesting, helping him learn to get around. I also took the time to vacuum and sweep…I should enjoy this brief respite from dog hair!  I was going to do “slobber patrol” but I ran out of time.  As other DDB owners can attest, slobber patrol is essential…I’ve even scrubbed slobber off the ceiling before! Another good thing (if there can be in this situation) is that his snoring isn’t rattling the whole house…. I am an audiobook narrator and frequently have to leave the booth to stomp downstairs and wake him up because his snoring is coming through on the recording.  But is was actually sad, the silence.

UC Davis has been great, calling us twice tonight to update us.  They will call again in the morning, and we’ve asked them to email us the post-op care instructions so we can be sure we have everything he’ll need and we are not scrambling to get to the pharmacy or whatever.

We had an interesting discussion at dinner tonight… how much did the leg weigh?  Joseph guessed 5lbs, Gary guessed 15-20, I am going to say 10.  When the vet assistant/nurse called to update us tonight I asked her and she said she didn’t know but was curious about that herself.  The leg was wisked away to pathology for further testing, and she said she thought they’d weigh it there.  Are we mobid or what!?

On a happier note, our neighborhood is just fantastic.  We have had so many emails, calls, texts and visits (they even brought a bottle of wine!) to see how Elgin is doing and how we are holding up.  These people are the tops!  They’ve offered their assistance, should we need to go do something and need help caring for Elgin.

We are profoundly grateful for everyone’s prayers and warm-wishes.