Henry went in for surgery on Wednesday, June 8th. I found out about the tripawds website from the oncologist’s assistant/tech a few days before his surgery and I read up on everything I could and what to expect. Reading everyone’s stories helped me so much. I still had an abundance of anxiety because until it’s your dog, you just won’t know. I hope detailing Henry’s month long process can help others feel a little more secure and a little less alone.
Henry stayed one night at the hospital and I brought him home Thursday evening. First we met with the surgical tech who went over the details of Henry’s aftercare. I was trying to pay as close attention as I could but I wanted to see him so bad. Have him back in my arms, on my lap, just physically back with me. The tech mentioned two things about his behavior. First, he had been consistently whining since he got out of surgery. At the time this didn’t surprise me. He hates to be away from home and basically I’m used to him whining when he begs so, I assumed he would stop once he was with me. The other was that Henry was falling in the middle on the checklist of should he go home or stay another night. They had determined due to the level of discomfort he was feeling, he would probably do better being in his own home. When you want your dog home these seem like very small things. Of course he’ll feel better at home. Right? Just get him so we can start this process.
When I heard the familiar sound of his pant and his nails hitting the tile as he scurried to the room I was waiting in my heart was overjoyed. He hopped in and was so happy to see me and my parents. I sat on the floor with him as the vet tech answered the rest of our questions. I still couldn’t believe he was walking and coming home. He went home wearing a Fentanyl patch, tramadol and metacam. He continued to whine/cry during the ride home. He sat on the seat and leaned on my lap while I pet him and gave him tons of love. When we got up to get out my leg was wet. He hadn’t really peed it was more like a leak.
That first night he continued to leak. When I took him outside and he wouldn’t pee. He wouldn’t eat. He wouldn’t drink. I had already bought a small package of potty pads, but my parents went to the store and picked up some diapers. He cried that entire night. He maybe stopped for 5 minutes here or there. He wandered around. Every time he got up and walked around, I changed a diaper. I laid down puppy pads around the house and on my lap in hopes he would sleep but never for more than a few minutes.
By Friday afternoon it was nearly 24 hours home and he would not eat or drink, and he was still whining. The dog who would grab food out of your mouth if given the chance would turn his head like he was nauseous when I set my plate of food in front of him. I tried giving him every favorite food, treat, you name it. He wouldn’t look at anything and would actually try to scoot away from food. I called the surgical tech and he thought he may be on too much medication and I should remove the patch and if he wasn’t eating and drinking by the morning I’d have to bring him in. I took the patch off around 4pm and by 9pm he drank an entire bowl of water. He also started peeing outside and I was able to pick up all the potty pads and put the diapers away. By morning he ate his breakfast, stopped the whining and wanted me to share my breakfast with him. Once he was eating it was so much easier to give him his meds.
The first couple of nights were the hardest. I knew they would be. It’s funny, I know there were lots of ups and downs the first weeks. Nothing major seems to come to mind. For every bad moment there were 4 or 5 more positive memories that are making them disappear to the back of my mind and allowing me to stay focused on the future. Henry’s biopsy results came back fairly quickly. The sarcoma was a stage 2 out of 3 and the lymph node they took was clear. Henry’s only follow up would need to be with his regular vet for chest x-rays every 3-4 months. Amputation, which some considered extreme cured him of his cancer. I am so lucky. I pray and think about all the tripawds I read about going through chemo/radiation or those having complications. I will stay here supporting you and looking to those who have surpassed the one month, the one year, all the precious ampuversaries because it doesn’t end. Everyday is a new chapter filled with blessings, worries, heartbreak, happiness and grief. No one gets it more than this tripawd family and I thank you so much for your support.
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