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Handsome Henry

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Handsome Henry

Henry’s first days as a tripawd…

July 6th, 2016 · 6 Comments · Uncategorized

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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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Making the decision to amputate…

July 1st, 2016 · 5 Comments · Uncategorized

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Henry was diagnosed with cancer on May 31st, two days before his 10th birthday.  My vet advised that Henry’s case would have to be transferred to an oncologist and surgeon, the sarcoma was too large to remove it all.  If I elected to try and remove the tumor he would need radiation to shrink the rest of it.  So I have to put my totally healthy on the outside dog through surgery and 20 days of radiation and we’re not even removing all the cancer?  He’s not sick.  He’s eating.   He’s not in pain.  I don’t understand how I can do this to him.  She was kind, she said she wasn’t an expert in this area and to make an appointment with an oncologist asap and they could go over treatment plans and options.  She gave me a referral but said it was up to me and I could go wherever I wanted and she’d get his records where ever I decided to go.  I took to social media to see if anyone had any info on a dog oncologist.  I’d never heard of the place she referred me to and knew there was a place close to home that dealt with this sort of thing.  Then the messages started.  Is Henry ok?  I ignored them.  Others posted names, a few close friends had gone to ORVS and had good things to say.  But for some reason I was paralyzed.  I couldn’t make the decision which oncologist to go to.  I couldn’t make any decisions at all. I can’t even say out loud that he has cancer without falling apart.  I’m not strong enough for this.  He is fine.  He’s eating, he is not showing any signs that he is sick.  He’s happy.  Now I’m supposed to take him somewhere and he’s going to need surgery, radiation and maybe chemo.

Finally I got it together and made an appointment.  The soonest I could get in was Saturday the 4th.  Even after I made the appointment I struggled with, am I going to the right place?  Should I take him  to more than one place.  I just want to do the very best I can for him.  The waiting was driving me crazy.  The not knowing was agonizing.

Saturday finally came and my parents went with Henry and I to the oncologist.  My parents wanted to be there to support me and because they love my baby too and they were not going to let us go through this alone.  I am so blessed that they have not let me go through this alone.

The oncology team was awesome.  They loved Henry and explained every option and answered every question. I had no idea that radiation required them to be put under anesthesia.  I mean it makes sense but anesthesia is a risk on a good day, but everyday?  As I mentioned in my previous post, Henry had surgery in October of 2015 and he did not do well when he came off the anesthesia.  He became very aggressive and wouldn’t let anyone touch him.  Hours later he barely recognized me and was miserable.  How could I do that to him?  He’s 10 years old, I don’t know if his overweight body can take it.  Of course the other option was amputation but if the cancer had spread, he still may need chemo and/or radiation.  I had a lot to think about and they had to run tests on him.

I discussed with my parents but until I knew if the cancer was contained or not, I didn’t know what I’d do.  It did seem like his best odds would be if there was no spreading of the cancer, amputation would give him the best chance.

We got the test back and ultrasound, x-rays, blood work, everything else… all looked good and pointed to the tumor being contained to the foot/leg area.  So now my joke that I should just cut off his leg since he’s had so many problems has come true and I feel like an idiot for ever having said it.  The only concern the oncologist and eventually the surgeon we met with, was that Henry was over weight and his remaining front leg already had a bit of a patellar luxation and he would have to lose weight.

Now we had to check out and schedule the surgery.  The woman at the desk said she could get him in Monday morning.  I almost fainted.  Monday.  In 2 days.  She said she had openings on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, into the next week.  Again, totally paralyzed.  I paid the bill and the very nice woman advised that they were open 24 hours a day and when I was ready I could give them a call.  By the time we got home and I pulled my big girl panties up, I called and scheduled his surgery for Wednesday the 8th.  Monday seemed just too soon.  I needed more 4 legged dog time, but didn’t want to let this tumor spread anymore.

In the days before the surgery we took walks, he had visitors, I made a mold of his left paw and I worried.  I worried about his future.  Was I being selfish.  I worried how our life would be moving forward.  I still at times feel like I’m in a constant state of worry.  I mean it’s only been 3 weeks, 2 days and 1 hour since his surgery, so…

 

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He has cancer?

July 1st, 2016 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

I took Henry to the vet on May 27th for a lump on his left leg/foot area.  This was not a new occurrence for us, Henry has numerous fatty cysts and has even had two previous surgeries to remove lumps on his left leg in 12/2012 and 10/2015.  Even though the previous lumps were not cancer, my vet wanted them removed because if they were to get too big there isn’t much skin on the leg and there can be problems.  When the new lump showed up between his dewclaw and his bottom foot pad I was a little annoyed.  I mean, he just had surgery in October.  I even joked, the next surgery is going to be to remove this leg because it is causing us nothing but problems.  It was small.  About the size of a grape.  Like all his other fatty cysts, I went into the “Lets keep an eye on this mode.”  Nothing changed for weeks.  I knew I had to get him in and I know how much he hates the vet so I figured, I’ll wait for his September check up and have her poke it then and she can tell me, it’s another fatty cyst and tell me if he should have surgery or not.  Nothing appeared wrong with Henry.  Always hungry, check.  Loves car rides, check.  Long walks, check.  Follows me around the house, check.  Everything was in check.  He was fine.  Happy.  Perfect to me.

The weekend after Mother’s day arrived and as I was petting Henry it seemed like his lump had gotten bigger.  Was it bigger?  I check it everyday, convinced myself that I’m a crazy paranoid dog lady and we carried on with life.  A decision that still haunts me.  By the next week, I was sure, I’m not crazy.  This thing is getting bigger.  Darn it Henry.  As if somehow this is his fault.  I decided to make an appointment to get him in to have it looked at.  I’ll take Friday the 27th off and get a long weekend in.  And literally everyday that week it got bigger.

We got to the vet.  She poked him and put the sample on the slide.  I wait to hear it looks clear, let me take it in back and I’ll know for sure.  Instead I hear, there’s a lot of blood here.  I don’t remember everything after that.  Except the wait.  I’ve had at least 10+ of these cysts looked at and it doesn’t take this long.

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When she came back she said something about abnormal spindle cells, but still a lot of good cells.  She couldn’t make a determination so she wanted to send the sample out and she wouldn’t charge me for the histology.  Determination about what?  What kind of fatty cyst this is, because… it’s a fatty cyst.  You know him.  He has a bunch of them.  I don’t care what kind of fat it is.  She said she’d have the results in a week.

I made it to the parking lot without crying and that’s the furthest I made it.  I cried the whole way home.  I cried until I was physically exhausted and had no more energy to cry.  I held him, wiped my nose on his lush soft curls.  We took a nap.  He nuzzled his head in my neck and I said we would never get up from the couch and we would spend the rest of our lives cuddled together where nothing bad would happen to either of us.

I was at work on Tuesday the 31st when my cell phone rang.  It was the vets office.  I don’t know why I thought the fact that I was hearing from them sooner than expected would mean good news.  I answered, there was a conversation.  He has a soft tissue sarcoma…

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