Archive for July, 2010

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Knowing and not knowing

July 30, 2010

I guess I’ve probably known the whole time that Apollo has spinal metastasis.  We probably both have, me and Dr M.  But until today I’ve been able to mostly convince myself that it could be something else.  We went through everything, and I mean everything.  Tickbourne disease, pulled muscle, pinched nerve, soft tissue damage, infection, abdominal pain, chiropractic misalignment, you name it.  And there’s nothing obvious on the rads, so that gave us some hope.

But by now we are pretty sure it is there.  Dr M told me initially that what she saw there on L3 may or may not be anything; that she was so worried about Apollo and spinal mets that she was probably talking herself into seeing things that weren’t really there.  Dr P didn’t see it.  The chiro vet didn’t see it.  But today, I saw those rads, and I saw it.  It’s there.  We’re sending them to a radiologist for confirmation, but if he says it’s not there, it’ll knock my socks off.  It’s there.

Nothing has made him better.  And in the past month we’ve been through everything we could think of.  If anything, he’s worse.  And that pretty much leaves us with mets that aren’t showing clearly in the rads yet.

Apollo isn’t Whitey.  Whitey was a bad-ass little tough-as-nails dude who was just so happy to be here that he ignored the pain.  That isn’t Apollo’s personality.  Delicate Apollo might be in a fraction of the pain that White was in, but he doesn’t have the attitude to manage it the way his brother-friend did.

So what do we do?  We make him as comfortable as we can, until we can’t.  Again.  We keep trying whatever might help, maybe we’ll find something that does – for a while.  But like I’ve always said, osteo is an evil bastard and it almost always gets you in the end.

Once again, I am just mad as hell.  For Apollo.  For Whitey.  Even for Sly, although it wasn’t osteo that took him.  These guys finally found their forever home, a place where they would be taken care of and loved forever, and they should all have gotten more time to enjoy it.

I’m mad as hell for me.  That I did every damn thing I could.  Early detection, amputation, chemo, supplements, diet change, and LOVE.  And yet once again we got mets at 5 months post-op.  It continues to piss me off that I can’t love them enough to make them well again.  It really ought to work that way.

Guess I’ve just been hoping that Apollo would catch a break here.  That I could fix him after all.  That he would get more joyful time –  to run in the yard, eat specially-prepared roast beef, lie on his soft bed by the window.  So I’ve been trying to pretend like the mets weren’t there, although in my heart I knew that they were.  Somewhere in there, I still hold out hope that I’m wrong.  But today I guess I have to stop pretending and start steeling myself for the next battle.

I’m much better at the part of osteo where I can DO something.  But this part of the battle is mostly about giving up.  I suck at giving up.  It’s about fighting against what I want, and listening hard to Apollo.  So I will fight for each good day, until I know I can’t give him any more good days.

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July

July 29, 2010

Seems like everytime I start a blog entry lately, I have to begin by noting how much time has passed since my last blog entry.  What can I say?  Summers around here are crazy.  We’ve made it through all the June and July events, including the long Highlandfest weekend.  Tonight is the last Thursday of Marketfest in White Bear Lake.  In August we have a bit of a break from festivals, but then we have the MN State Fair, Jesse James Days in Northfield, and a Como Zoo event piled up.  That should take us right up to the end of Minnesota’s decent weather season.

Adoptions have slowed down a bit.  Unfortunately we’ve had a bit of a run where people submit apps and then never respond to my emails back to schedule a time.  I always wonder why that happens.  Did they change their minds?  Seems strange that they’d bother to fill out our loooong app if they weren’t pretty darn sure they wanted a greyhound.  Did they get a dog elsewhere during the (generally short, but sometimes 7-10 day) lag between application and our trying to schedule them for a visit?  Wish people would at least let me know what happened so I wouldn’t wonder.

Anyway, on the upside, it looks like Blue has found a family via Highlandfest.  They met her there and hopefully will be taking her home next week or the following.  She’s sweet, but black, so has had to wait a bit longer.

We’ve gotten some new faces in, including a sweet guy named Edgar who was adopted within a week.  Check our Petfinder page to see pic of the shy but adorable Fisher, perky and funny Riser, and playful Gal.  All likely to be cat tolerant.

Poor Beaut still waits for a family.  He is not cat tolerant, but he is a love and a half.  Anyone want to give him a chance??

On the home front, things have been rough for our dear Apollo.  I mentioned in the last post that he was moving a bit more uncomfortably than usual.  Well, it didn’t seem to let up, so we decided to knock him out and do some xrays.  The pain seemed to be in his lower back or hips, so that’s what we shot.  Good news is, there are no obvious signs of metastasis at the time of the xrays.  Bad news is, of course, that it could just not be showing up on the xrays yet but still be there.

Anyway, we decided to operate under the hypothesis that he just tweaked his back somehow, and I took him for some chiropractic and acupuncture.  The chiro vet said he needed some “major adjustments” because he needs to carry his front end twisted in order to make his one front leg fall in the middle of his body.  So, she adjusted him.

The next day, he could not walk.  He was moving worse than he was the day after his leg amputation.  I was worried that the chiro vet had cracked a vertebrae or something.  We gave him some morphine for pain, and waited.  The next day, he still couldn’t walk, so I (unfortunately) gave him another dose of morphine, not wanting him to be in pain.  He was panting and whining (and he NEVER whines), and I was in a panic.

I called the chiro vet, but she was out that day.  They passed me off to another vet in the practice, who promptly told me about 30 seconds into the conversation that I ought to consider euthanasia.  WHAT???  So, I called the fabulous Dr. M at 8AM at home on her day off, nearly in tears.  I told her what that other vet had said, and her jaw dropped to the floor.  She was mad!  Went on about how she has never in her career said that to a client without seeing the dog in person, even if it was a dog she had known for 10 years.

Again, Dr M talked me down off my ledge.  She told me that it was completely plausible that the chiropractic had knocked him on his ass like that.  But, she listened to him over the phone breathing, and told me that his panting and whining was a classic morphine side effect.  So!  Unfortunately I had just given him more morphine a half hour before, so all we could do was wait it out and see how he was moving once the morphine was out of his system.  I now have this valuable piece of information about Apollo: He does NOT metabolize narcotics well!  It took over 24 hours to get that 12-hr extended release morphine tablet out of his system.  And once he was no longer in la-la land, he actually was doing a lot better.  There was a point during the night when we tried to wake him up to go potty, thinking the morphine should have worn off by then, when he simply could not control his legs.  I thought I had paralyzed my dog.  So come the next evening, when he was able to get up and move around, I was completely and totally relieved.

That all happened about a week ago.  He’s back up and about again, around the level he was at prior to the chiro appointment.  We still feel like there is something going on with him, but don’t know what it is.  He had a massage last night (yes, they have  doggie massage therapists) and the gal who did it said all his muscles were really tight and spasming.  So!  We basically don’t know whether he really does have underlying spinal mets, or whether he just tweaked his back and now his muscles are all cramped up.  Clearly, we are hoping the massage makes a difference.  I’m sending his rads off to a radiologist anyhow, hoping for good news.

Everyone else at home is doing fine.  I’ve been missing my Old Guard lately, though.  Had a dream one night that my Crisco was alive again, and I just held him and held him.  It was a very vivid and realistic dream.  Wonderful to be with him again, even if only for that ethereal time.  I’ve also been back to work on the portrait of Sly that I started so long ago (but went months without working on), so that has put him in my thoughts a lot as well.  I’ve been so lucky to have all these guys in my life.

Well, I have a lot more to say, but not the time to say it today.  Hopefully soon!

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Mini update

July 7, 2010

Things are rolling along here.  It has been a busy time for adoptions, which is great.  We’ve recently found families for Tamborine, Holliston, Dash, and Hammie!  Hammie went to his forever family on Saturday, and boy do we miss him.  He is such a good boy; I just can’t fathom why it took him so long to get adopted.  He’s been living in the main house for the past couple months while his leg has been healing, and he’s a favorite of my girls.  Sunny would take him by the collar and lead him from one end of the house to the other.  She’d put him at the bottom of the ramp into the kennel, stand at the top, and pontificate at him in her semi-English complete with hand gestures.  He’d look at her, wag his stumpy tail a bit, and wait to be led back to the other end of the house.  What a good boy.

Anyway!  We haven’t been totally without incident, unfortunately.  Last week, I was standing in the kitchen and Tigger came in hanging his head.  Very uncharacteristic of my tail-wagging happy boy.  I went to him and he cowered a bit.  So I started to give him a hug and he fell flat on the floor on his side.  He got to his feet right away, but was off-balance and “weird.”  So, we pulled the girls away from dinner, chucked everyone in the car, and ran him to our “close” vet.  But they couldn’t find a thing wrong with him.  I called Dr Meg, and she said perhaps he had a heart arrhythmia, since we know he has a heart murmur.  Annoyingly, the close vet’s EKG machine was broken, so all we could get was a blood pressure (fine) and some blood chemistry (fine).  In the meantime, Tigger was gradually returning to normal.  Our second guess was a petit mal seizure.

We had an appointment with Dr Ralph, the ultrasound guy, for Apollo that week anyway, so we brought Tigger along to have him checked for cardiomyopathy.  Both boys got a good report from Dr Ralph, so we are pretty sure it wasn’t his heart.  But I described the scenario to Ralph, and the first thing he thought was anaphylactic shock!  Which I had not thought of.  So, now the working theory is that he was either stung by or ingested a bee or some other insect that he has an allergy to.  And in fact, for the next day after the incident, Tiggs was obsessively licking his feet, so an allergic reaction seems increasingly plausible.  The upshot is, he is fine, but I am now keeping syringes of epinepherine and benadryl on hand.

Apollo had his last chemo treatment yesterday, which is good news.  The bad news is that he has not been doing that well the past couple days.  His appetite and spirits are fine, but he seems to be in some pain someplace that we cannot locate.  Dr Meg palpated his spine and legs, and couldn’t get any pain response from him, so we’re not sure where it is.  But he’s not walking as well as he normally does, which caused him to fall twice on the vet’s slippery floor.  At this point, I can only hope that he has a minor injury that is going to right itself soon, and not something worse.  I am nervous, of course, because we are about to hit the 5-month post-amp mark with him, which is when we discovered Whitey’s metastases.  sigh.

What else?  Well, a couple weeks ago, we did the Twin Cities Pride Festival in Loring Park.  Right behind our tent space, they had a lure course set up.  We were horrified!  All day long, the dogs were going bananas.  We had to put the sides down on our tent, even though it was sweltering outside, to keep them from making a break for the lure every time it ran.  We did decide to let a few of the dogs take a shot at it, hoping they would wear themselves out.  They had a photographer there, and you can see a few of the photos from that day here:

Just Pawsitive

Nellie is on page 1.  Tigger is on page 5.  And on the last page, you can see a photo of Champ.  Champ was such a good lure courser that he thought he could run straight through the fence!  In the photo, you see him hit the fence.  Immediately following that shot, he rolled right over the top of the fence, got up, and kept chasing the lure on the OUTSIDE of the fence.  I was in a panic, holding dogs and yelling, “He’s out!  Get him!”  But fortuntely, all Champ could see was that lure running, so the operator ran it back around to the side we were on, and Champ chased the lure right into our waiting arms.  That was our excitement for the day.