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She's Madeline, She's Madeline

Bravest of Them All

She's Madeline, She's Madeline

It’s been a very eventful month….

November 29th, 2017 · 5 Comments · Uncategorized

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It’s been a while since I posted here.  I’ve logged in and started several entries, but changed my mind.  I was not in the frame of mind to sound anything but discouraged and I do not want people contemplating amputation to think it’s not worth it.  It is worth it.  Relieving their pain, giving them more pain free time, it’s worth it, despite the bumps along the way.

It’s been six weeks since Mads had her surgery and she’s had some challenges, but she’s plowed thru them like the brave soul she is.  She had kennel cough (that’s why she was so winded) from her stay at the hospital.  She felt crappy and wouldn’t eat or drink much, so she was losing weight.  She ended up with a UTI and then she had a seroma which really took her down.  Normally that wouldn’t happen, but because it went undiagnosed and festered for 5 days she got worse and worse and worse, eventually getting to the point she would cry out when she tried to move her head or neck.

During all these ailments, the doctors blamed her cancer.  Every symptom, to them, meant the cancer had spread until eventually the seroma burst open at the weakest point of her incision.  Wow what a huge mess.  But almost immediately she was back to being Maddie.  Pain free, hoping around, tail wagging and giving big, sloppy Great Dane kisses!  She has more energy and wants to romp in the yard.  She even tried to dig!  We are still leash walking her because we have to deal with the leaking seroma and have to limit her activity.  But she sure seems to be  feeling GREAT!  She’s eating like a fiend and she’s making up for all those days when all I could get into her was cottage cheese and yogurt.  She also seems to be missing her brother! He’s learned to live his new normal, separated from his best doggie buddy.  Now, when she hears him, she whines instead of growls!  I think that makes him happy as he wags and wags when he hears her.

We did not start chemo because she hasn’t been well enough.   At this point, I’m leaning more toward treating her homeopathically.  I have not been able to schedule a time with Dr. Loops – partly because I am constantly running Maddie back and forth to the vet and partly because I’m financially tapped out.  The large diagnostic and surgery expenses were bad, but we’ve had another two weeks of daily vet bills.  I’m very hopeful though that I can have a phone appointment with him next week, provided Maddie doesn’t need another surgery to put in a drain.  I’ve lost a lot of confidence in most of the docs at the ER/surgery center and if a drain is necessary, I’m going to try to find someone else to do it.  They examined her incision, made a note that it was hot and swollen, and still insisted it was cancer and not the incision making her sick.  Even I knew there was something not right with her incision site, but the doctors didn’t want to hear it because they were convinced it was her “very aggressive cancer”.

If I could pass on advice to anyone considering amputation for cancer, it would be two things.  First, go with your gut.  I knew Maddie’s cancer hadn’t spread but believing the doctors were experts, I gave in (mostly). Because I didn’t say “you’re wrong, I’m right and I want you to check that incision and find out why it’s hot and swollen”, Maddie suffered for five days.

If you think your dog or cat needs pain meds, insist.  Insist, insist, insist.  If you think that something isn’t right, be pushy.   You know your dog or cat better than the doctors do.  You know what is normal behavior for them.  Don’t be afraid to stand up for them and for yourself.  I wish I had done this better.  I look back on the whole drama from day one and think “if only I’d…..”.  But you can bet, going forward I will not make those mistakes again.

Now for the pluses of the last month.  Maddie has been xrayed, blood and urine tested, poked and prodded and guess what – she is metastasis free!  That all by itself makes the entire journey worth it.  She is feeling good, hopping around exploring the yard.  She’s not fast, but she’s steady which is what I think matters most.  She enjoys all her favorite things again: frozen yogurt, smelling the fall air, playing with her stuffies and snoring the day away laying in the sun.   She is learning to enjoy car rides (they are so frequent now!) and is not nearly as frightened at the vet’s office as she used to be.

All in all, I think we’re well on our way to a happy winter, spring and summer for Mads.

 


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TWO WEEK (and one day) AMPUVERSARY

November 1st, 2017 · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

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Two weeks ago yesterday Maddie had her amputation surgery.  It seems like so much longer than that but then in some ways I can’t believe it’s been two weeks.  I am so proud of her and how well she’s doing.  When I think about what so many have went through, I am thankful that Maddie’s recovery has been pretty smooth.  She’s been off the pain meds for 5 days and other than an occasional bout of panting, she does not seem to have any discomfort.  She’s eating and drinking really well again and moving around a little more in her “area”.  I still haven’t given her free access to the house because I’m worried about her falling or hurting herself; she still struggles with walking and tires really quickly.   We are going out three or four short trips a day and each time we try to add another step or two, go just a little bit farther.  The real problem that we’re facing is she’s BORED!!!  At least when she was on pain meds, she slept a lot!!!  Now she just sort of sits there, staring out the back door. Someone is always sitting with her and we haven’t left her home alone at all yet.  We do leave her alone in the room for 10 or 15 minute intervals here and there because sooner or later, there will be a day where we all HAVE to work!

Next Wednesday is her first chemo treatment and they told me it will only take about 30 minutes!  I was surprised as I expected it to be a couple hours.   Of course now this is something new for me to worry about – will it make her sick?  Will this impede her recovery from surgery?  Can I afford this after the surgery (that’s a big one).  I am so fortunate in that my daughter paid for the actual surgery and I paid for all the rest – so we basically split it 50/50.  But that’s still close to $4k each and we’re both now feeling it financially.   This also couldn’t come at a worse time because we’re planning her wedding for next August – which is another big nut.  It is just me and my two daughters and my youngest daughter just finished college and is still looking for full time employment.  So the money part is hard.  The chemo is supposed to be another $4000.  But none of us have even considered NOT doing it.  My mother always said that things work out.  So that’s what I’m counting on, financially anyway!  I’m counting on the doctors to get Maddie well!

She still will not even tolerate seeing her brother.  He’s so confused and upset and I feel so sorry for him.  He just had eye surgery over the summer for a cancerous tumor so we have his battles to fight too.  And the fact that he can’t be with his best friend is just torturing him.  For the first time in years he had an accident in the house.  I really believe this is just because he’s so confused with his life being turned upside down.  I am hoping that once Maddie starts moving around better, she’ll be friendlier to him but I do not think I’ll ever leave them alone together again.  She has about 100 lbs on him and even with just three legs, I know she could seriously hurt him if she wanted to.  So they’re destined to have to spend at least part of their lives apart.  This makes me sad for both of them.

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Post Surgery Follow Up Visit

October 28th, 2017 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

Yesterday afternoon we took Maniac Mads in for her follow up and for what I thought was suture removal.  Turns out there were no stitches to remove (she was released by the ER team, not her surgeon and I guess they just assumed there were stitches to be removed).  The surgeon is very pleased with her progress.  Told us what a great patient she was and that we needed to get her off all the pain meds and “let Maddie be Maddie”.  She takes anti-anxiety meds before the visits and she is still half drugged almost 24 hours later.  But she did really well, walked really far and generally was good-natured about the whole experience.  She’s still reluctant to drink and has suddenly become picky with her food.  She ate and drank like a champ up until about Day 9, then suddenly decided she didn’t want water, just ice.  The doctor wasn’t concerned and said he thought it was the pain meds.  So she’s off them now, hasn’t had any since yesterday morning.  We got confirmation via biopsy that it was indeed Osteosarcoma.  I had no doubt though,  because Maddie’s vet, the oncologist and the surgeon all had no doubts.  The good news is the lymph nodes they biopsied were clear, so that is a positive!!!   Also, she slept solid all night – no getting up and changing positions, no trying to find a good spot.   Now we are going to schedule her first chemo and I’m going to start reading the forums for supplements, etc. to get her on.  I’m a bit of a foodie, especially with my doggies and the oncologist told me that most vets feed their dogs purina and that’s what I should give Maddie, not the fancy stuff.  She told me this when she asked what Maddie ate.  I told her and she gave me a bit of a lecture about feeding her the store-bought (instinct, stella & chewy, primal) raw food.  This is not her entire diet, she also gets Orijen or Acana kibble (which she won’t eat now lol).  She told me if I wanted to feed her “people food” I should cook it.  I’ve struggled a bit with this, but decided to keep her on the food she’s been on.  I don’t see what the benefit would be switching her.  If there is one, I’m sure I’ll find it on the forums here when I move on to supplements and food!

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Relaxing Day 8

October 25th, 2017 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

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One Week Ampuversary!

October 24th, 2017 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

Today has been one week since Maddie’s surgery!!  Overall I think she is doing great.  We have had a few hiccups but those were mostly because we’ve had to rearrange our house to keep Maddie and her brother Chimmy separated.  She still will not even tolerate the sight of him and now, when she hears him bark, she growls.  I have no idea what is up with that – they’ve been best friends since she was a puppy.  But I’m taking it as a que from her that she needs space.  I’m hopeful that when she is fully healed and has her energy back again, she will at least be able to spend some time with him.  If not, we will adapt.  If she can adapt to life on three legs, we can surely adapt to dividing up the house!  Thank goodness I have two back doors lol and that there are four of us here, so someone is usually around for both dogs.  Maddie is now only taking the antibiotic, Tramadol and Gabapentin.  She only has a couple days of Gabapentin left and I’m a little worried because the doctor just said to stop cold turkey.  Everything I’ve read says wean them off, so I think I will just wean her off with what remains.  Instead of two pills twice a day, I’m going to pull back to one and see how that goes.  We have plenty of tramadol which does seem to work for her.  Her pain seems well controlled.  The biggest issue we seem to have is that she gets so winded so quickly.  We have not been able to increase the distance of her potty breaks at all.  If anything, she cannot go as far now as she did when she first came home.  So we just hop out the back door (which is about 2 feet from her beds), hop over the patio and onto the grass then back again, so maybe a total of 20 feet each way.  The first day or two she seemed a lot more energetic.  I am going to call the vet today to make an appointment for her stitch removal and I will ask them about this.  Of course, now that I type this I’m wondering if that is because she is in pain?  She’s not showing any other pain symptoms, she’s not panting, she’s resting very comfortably, she lays on both sides equally and she doesn’t mind at all when we ice her incision which we’ve continued to do regularly.  I really wish she could tell us how she feels!

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