Last chemo…clear lungs!

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Last week, Elgin had his last chemotherapy treatment.  The UC Davis vets and techs were thrilled to see him again and even more thrilled that his lung X-rays came back clear!  While reiterating that osteosarcomas ultimately claim their victims by metastacizing in the lungs until the dog is too lethargic to live a good-quality life, they were very enthusiastic at how well Elgin has coped with this whole ordeal.  His demeanor has been good, his side-effects minimal, and his recovery from the various procedures has been rapid.

We are looking forward to the year (give or take some) we have left with him.  He still barrels along on our “hops” and thinks he can take on other dogs.  I sincerely think he didn’t get the memo that he now has only 3 legs…. I giggle a little when he tries to lift his remaining leg to mark a bush or trash can…. or when he goes to get up on the couch and wants to put his missing back leg up first before the other one and just stands there moving his “bun” but not going anywhere.  Now, I am never laughing AT him, but rather sympatheticly chuckling, because Elgin seems to be emoting: “I meant to do that.”

Elgin's 5th birthday (7)We’ve adopted the YOLO (You Only Live Once) philosophy with him and are way more indulgent than with any dog we’ve ever had.  While his diet is going well and he’s trimmed down by 5-10lb so that his remaining legs aren’t under unneccessary stress, he’s enjoying a few treats from the table. He goes for a hop around the block darn near every day, whereas he used to only go 3 times a week. And we sometimes give up our spot on the couch for him, if he shows an inclination to be up there.  (I really hope Caesar Milan isn’t reading this blog).   Elgin is so sedate and has always had very good manners, and we are glad to see that  he isn’t turning into a bull-headed tyrant with all of these new privileges.  He’s a bit large for that kind of behavior to be overlooked.

His hygroma on his back leg is looking FABULOUS, and is completely healed since he began wearing the wool-lined leather “glove” over his joint on that back leg. The vet at UC Davis mentioned she has seen many patients who struggle with bad hygroma issues and she wishes they had this “glove” too.  I wonder if there is a market for it, and have toyed with the idea of contacting a saddle maker I know, to see if it would be feasible to produce them…

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Elgin’s next vet-check is due in March, when he will have his lungs X-rayed again to check for metastasis.  Until then, I will leave you all with this happy photo of Elgin and his boys, the day he came home from his last chemo.

 


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Elgin’s 5th birthday, persistent hygroma…padding necessary!

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Elgin tolerated his 4th chemo treatment very well, with no resulting leg-swelling.  In my previous post, I bemoaned the infected callous (hygroma) Elgin had developed on his only rear leg.  We had him on antibiotics and were doing laser treatments to the infected site.  All seemed well.

We celebrated his 5th birthday, and while I am not a pet-party-thrower, I made him a special cake and made him wear a silly hat.  I felt compelled to mark this birthday, as it had special significance; this summer we were in doubt if he would see this day.

I’ve been watching his hygroma.  It was apparently healed, but has begun looking pink and shiny and feels hot again.  The reason I doubted it was completely healed was that Elgin is pretty hard on this particular limb now, when he gets up from a laying position.  He drags his weight forward until it is more centered over his front legs and then he pops that back leg up under him.  As he does this, he drags his back hock along the ground with force, grinding that callous into the ground.  There’s no way I can see that he could ever build up enough callous to withstand this.  Because it’s in such an awkward area, it’s difficult to bandage.  I looked online and saw options for hygromas on front legs, but the only thing I found for rear legs was instructions on how to put children’s sweatpants on him.  I’m sure that’s effective, but I don’t want to have to put pants on him again… he wore shorts when he had a fresh incision, and it was a rather high-maintenance solution, they frequently fell off, came off, and looking silly.

So when I saw that his infection was back, and oozing, two nights ago, I used vetwrap and wrapped the area to try and protect it until we could get to the vet’s on  Monday.  As he dragged that leg to get up throughout the day, the vetwrap scraped off.  I feared that if I wrapped it any tighter, it would become uncomfortable and hinder his movement or inhibit healing.  So, in desperation and frustration, last night I set to work to invent something sturdy that would pad his hygroma and not inhibit movement or air circulation, AND stay put.

I took some soft leather and some velcro and some fake sheepskin material, and made a …thing.  I’m not sure what to call it, but it seems to work, and it will be something I can forsee him having to wear for a long time. I take it off him when we go for walks, but it goes back on the rest of the time.  It’s loose enough so it doesn’t squeeze his leg or hinder his movement, but the sturdy leather protects that hygroma from the grinding, scraping dragging that he does when he stands up. We will see what the vet thinks when I take him in tomorrow to have that hygroma looked at again.