Archive for the ‘Medical’ Category

h1

And we’re home!

December 18, 2013
Kevin is home!

Kevin is home!

And doing awesome!

This morning they called around 9AM to tell me that he had had a very rough night. Had to be on a sedation drip to keep him quiet. Had to be cathed because he was not urinating on his own. Had not eaten anything. They wanted to keep him another day.

I said, okay fine, let’s reevaluate around 1PM. So I called back in the afternoon and was told he still would not eat or pee, but that they were weaning him off his fentanyl and IV drip and he was keeping his oral meds down. His bruising was bad and they had started the aminocaprioc acid (which everybody tried to tell me he would not need because he is only half greyhound — I should have insisted, lesson learned) but it looked awful. She said she preferred to keep him another night but then said “What do you think?” So I knew I could get him home.

I went around 2:30 to ‘visit’ him. Brought him a ham and cheese Which Wich, and brought what I would need to take him home. A choice of 2 slings, and the biopsy form for UPenn. I sat with him in an exam room for about 2 hours, most of which was waiting for the surgeon to finish another surgery. But during that time he ate the ham and cheese out of the sandwich a tiny bit at a time, and fell asleep against my leg. I told them he was going home.

He did NOT want the assistance of a sling to get out to the car. He hopped out there all on his own and ALMOST jumped in on his own (got a back end boost).

Since he has been home, he has amazed me. His mobility is just excellent. Much better than either Whitey or Apollo the day after surgery. (Apollo walked on his own the next day, but not nearly this well. Whitey made no attempt to support his own weight for a good week or more.) It’s a good thing this is not my first amp or I would think it was always like this! He tires quickly, but can walk on any surface and can get up and down from either side. Unbelievable.

He peed a gallon as soon as he got into the kennel yard (insisting on walking way out there). Came in and plunked down on the kitchen bed. Since then he has eaten 2 bowls of chicken and rice and drank a bunch of water. He gets up and down at will. He’s tired, but he’s doing great.

He has a ton of bruising and swelling. Looks pretty awful. Still a bit of seepage from the wound as well, but no big deal. He’s got a Fentanyl patch on for another few days, plus Rimadyl, Tramadol and Gabapentin for pain, and Cephalexin for antibiotic. And of course the Amicar for bleeding. (Which apparently Walgreens wanted $2000 to produce, so the clinic just gave it to me in liquid form.)

So far so good. We might even sleep tonight. He does not seem agitated, and can rest. Hopefully this is not just a honeymoon period before the hard part starts, but I know that is a possibility. Still, feeling pretty lucky here.

Advertisements
h1

Surgery today

December 17, 2013

Kevin had his surgery this afternoon. We went in for our consultation with the surgeon this morning. She looked at his rads and they did bloodwork, and didn’t find any reason to not proceed. So that all is good news. He came through his anaesthesia fine, and woke up quiet. He stays at the hospital overnight, and they will let me know in the morning whether he will be allowed to come home tomorrow.

I have 12 other hounds in the house but it is strange without him. I hate it when they are away from me. I will feel much better when he is back where I can see/touch him.

The first few days are generally awful. I expect not to sleep for a couple nights, as he will be restless. The Fentanyl patch can make them anxious and dysphoric, but he really needs the pain control. He’ll be wobbly on his feet, but restless. It’s hard, and it makes you question over and over whether you did the right thing.

But he is young (by my standards) and energetic, and otherwise healthy. I believe we are doing the right thing for him.

I’ve been in touch with UPenn about their study. What they are doing is really cool. From Dr Mason’s email:
“To be eligible for the trial the patients have to have a confirmed diagnosis (by biopsy) of osteosarcoma and assessment of expression of the vaccine target within the tumor (her2/neu). The dogs also have to have undergone the current standard of care for OSA which includes limb amputation with follow up chemotherapy (4 doses of carboplatin – we are avoiding adriamycin, the other commonly used drug in our chemo protocol as it may cause heart damage when used with the vaccine). Following this treatment we vaccinate the patients with the vaccine (this is currently done at the University of Pennsylvania and the dogs stay in the hospital for 21-24 hours after vaccination to make sure they do not have any adverse effects)- once every 3 weeks for a total of 3 vaccines. We then follow their clinical response, stage them every 2 months to look for chest metastases, evaluate their immune responses and look for any unwanted side effects. The vaccine is a modified bacteria known as listeria. The bacteria has been genetically modified in 2 important ways: > > 1) it now expresses a bone cancer molecule that is the target of the immune system > 2) it has been highly modified so that it is very easy for the body (and antibiotics) to kill it – increasing its safety. > > The bacteria is given to the patient and this stimulates a potent immune response against the bacteria and against the tumor molecule it is carrying. The bacteria is cleared by the immune system and the immune cells then go off around the body to find any cancer cells and kill them, preventing metastasis and prolonging overall survival – that is what we hope will happen.”

It’s going to be a huge time commitment if we do it. Philadelphia is a 2-day drive (each way) and I would need to go a bunch of times with him. But the dogs in the study are doing really well. This could save his life. So we will need to figure it out. Having 4 young kids and 25 dogs makes life difficult sometimes! LOL But at least now we know what the steps are. They are going to pack the leg sample in formalin, and I will take them the biopsy form tomorrow when I pick him up so they can send it all off to UPenn.

I did get a response from OSU and there is a chance Kevin can get the free chemo even though he is not a purebred greyhound. Great news! Waiting to hear more.

That is all I know tonight. It’s going to be a long week. I will feel so much better when I can see him tomorrow.

h1

Here we go again

December 12, 2013

Since the “What to Expect with a Leg Amputation” still gets a very depressing number of hits and comments, I thought I would take y’all along with us as we go through it yet again.

Our black staghound, Kevin, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma of the distal femur (knee) this morning. I’ve known it for about a week and a half, so this was just confirmation. And in the vet’s words, “There is no doubt.”

He started limping about 2 weeks ago, but even though he is about 9 years old, he does careen around like a crazy man so I thought there was some chance of a soft tissue injury. But he gave me a definite pain response when I pressed on his knee so I pretty much knew. Gave him a week to get better, just in case, but instead he got worse. The past 2 days he has been carrying the leg entirely.

So off for x-rays we went this morning. He was scared and it was pretty unpleasant getting all the rads done. I wanted to be damn sure that he was a good candidate for an amp, so we shot all 4 legs, a few views of his lungs, and his spine. The vet thought everything else looked normal, but we will have the radiologist look at it too of course. His heart and lungs sounded okay.

We already have our appointment for Monday at the referral clinic for an oncology and surgery consult. Possibly surgery that same day.

OSU still does the free chemo drugs for ex-racers, but Kevin is not an ex-racer (he is half greyhound, half deerhound) so it probably does not apply to us but I am planning to check. (NOTE: Now that Dr Couto is no longer with OSU, we suspect that the Greyhound Wellness Program might not be long for this world, and funding for free chemo drugs is limited. If you have a greyhound in this situation, contact them ASAP.)

The University of Pennsylvania has been doing research on an osteosarcoma vaccine, and there are clinic trials going on, so we will also be checking to see if Kevin might qualify for that. They want a particular kind of tumor, so we won’t know for sure until the pathology report comes back after surgery. (Then we will need to see if it is feasible for me to drive Kevin to Penn for the treatment, given the other 20 dogs and 4 kids I have to take care of. I will do this if it is at all possible, because the vaccine results are very promising.) Here’s a link to the study website: http://www.vet.upenn.edu/research/centers-initiatives/canine-cancer-studies

Poor Kevs. He is one of my “young” dogs. (I currently have four 12-yr-olds and an almost-14-yr-old in my pack.) I thought he would be around for a long time. I hope he still will be. He’s tripawding really well right now, so I am hopeful that his mobility after surgery will be good. But unfortunately these things ALWAYS seem to happen during snow-and-ice season. I just hate it. I hate osteo.

Kevin caught stealing an apple and lying on it.

Kevin caught stealing an apple and lying on it.

Kevin loves frosting containers.

Kevin loves frosting containers.

Kevin, right after we got him in Summer 2012.

Kevin, right after we got him in Summer 2012.

h1

Well, hello!

August 2, 2011

Long time, no blog. Summers get crazy around here…It’s MNGR’s busiest time both for events and for adoptions. We’ve checked off most of our major Summer gigs, including Marketfest, Highlandfest, and Pride. Still to come are the State Fair and Jesse James Days in Northfield.

We’ve also been busy on the home front. Our kidlets go to Montessori over the Summer, where they (hopefully) learn stuff and go on field trips and play soccer. They’re also in a kiddie taekwondo program called Little Ninjas, and we spend a ton of time at the martial arts school. But the biggest news is that sometime this month we’ll be adding two more humans to our pack – a little guy and a little gal, both 4-ish years old. We are battening down the hatches. This includes preparing for Lloyd to go on a 3-week trip to China, and then come home to an undoubtedly chaotic adjustment period. We may be slow to process adoptions during this time, or be forgetful about responding to emails. But keep bugging us and we’ll get to it. Excuse the brain mush — it’ll pass. At least until we have 4 teenagers…

We’ve gotten a number of dogs from Kansas this summer, and we really appreciate the Kansas-area connections that we’ve been making. They are sending us 5 new pups on Thursday; 3 boys and 2 girls. One of the girls is 7, and might be a brood momma. 7 is a great age to adopt a hound – they are still young enough to act like puppies now and again, but also settled.

There will be one boy in the bunch that we are reserving ONLY for our past adopters or past greyhound owners with references from another group. He is a special boy and unfortunately boys like him generate interest just based on appearance.  He deserves someone who wants him for who he is, not for his beautiful baby blue coat. If any of our members are interested, shoot me an email asap.

Some of our longest-term residents still wait for families because they aren’t cat-tolerant. If you are a catless home, please do consider one of these guys. Beaut and Dudley have both been living in the main house with our family dogs. They are perfect dogs. Very different personalities from one another, but both perfect just the same. I’m going to have a very hard time parting with them, and they need truly special forever families after this long wait. Anyone who adopts either of them will be getting a priceless gift.

Maker (who we’ve decided to call Jake, since Maker is really kind of a no-name name) still waits as well. He’s just a nice guy all around. Kind of a klutz, kind of a goofball, with nothing but good intentions. Unless you are a cat. We’re looking into a urinary issue with him, but it should be fixable. He’s such a pretty boy and so good-natured, he really ought to have a family by now. He’s been living part-time in our main house (he’d be in full-time if there weren’t already 9 dogs in here), and gets along with everyone including the 2-legged kids. He is SO excited to be allowed in here that he’s just beside himself. He wants a family so badly.

Then there is Gal. Can’t believe she has waited so long. Beautiful, photogenic fawn girl – but alas, a cat eater. She’s an alpha girl, so needs to be an only female. But she has personality to spare. She would be a true companion for someone. When we show her, she comes roaring out like a freight train, so excited to meet whoever it is. But give her a few minutes and she calms right down. When she’s in the house, she lays on the couch just like all the others, like she owns the place.

Of course we also have Gina (cute little black girl), Jilly (silly fawn brindle), and Fisher (SWEET black boy, slightly timid). Is that everyone?  Feel like I’m forgetting somebody…

Anyway! Now that we have our remodeled kennel, we will generally have a bit more room for boarders (unless a new haul has just come in). Depending on the population here at the time, boarding dogs either stay in the main house with our personal pets or in their own pen in the kennel (with turnout playtimes, etc). We’ve never set a price before, and have always left the donation up to the owner. However, with increased interest, we have decided to set a Suggested Donation of $15/day for the 1st dog, $12/day for the 2nd dog, 3rd dog and up $10/day depending on space. It is ALWAYS limited space and first-come-first-reserved. We only take greyhounds. Other dogs are on an extremely limited case-by-case basis, as we sometimes have greyhounds here who are not good with other breeds. Of course you are welcome to make an extra donation to the rescue if you wish, including material donations such as Kirkland dog food, large beds, etc.

In other news… If you are new to the blog, or new to dog adoption, please check out this article. It was featured this week on Yahoo!’s Lifestyles homepage. Feel free to pass it around to anyone who is thinking of getting a dog. Just a few things to keep in mind when making that decision, based on the many “bouncebacks” we’ve seen in our 10 years of adoption and rescue:

10 Reasons NOT to Get a Dog

OOH! I almost forgot the most exciting new news! Well, for me anyway – haha. A very nice, generous family has donated a 1998 Chevy Astro (that we affectionately call Astrid) to MNGR. Yes – out of the blue. We were floored. We just got her on Friday, and are still amazed that someone just gave her to us. So now MNGR has a “fleet”! We can pick up dogs from the vet AND do a home visit! We can have one van at an event, and transport hounds to and from with the other van. It is just too cool. THANK YOU SO MUCH – if you are reading this!

One last note before I close…

We are deeply sorry for the passing of one of our adoptees, Deja Vu, in July. She was lost to heat stroke, and her family misses her very much. She was only 3 years old. You were loved, Deja!

Please let Deja’s story save a life, and review the signs of heat stroke. It has been downright nasty weather, so please be careful and keep your pups inside as much as possible.

h1

Tomorrow’s Meet n Greet and other catch-up

October 15, 2010

Tomorrow (Saturday) there will probably be no Meet n Greet at the Richfield Petsmart.  We have our kiddo’s Christmas card photos, and I haven’t been able to find anyone else to do it for us.  So unless I get a taker at the last minute, assume cancellation.

Things have been on the crazy side around here as usual.  Last weekend we received 4 new dogs from Daytona.  Poor Daytona has over 250 dogs waiting to be adopted or moved outside of Florida to other groups, and around 70 of those have broken legs.  The 4 that MNGR received have repaired broken hocks.  All are in good shape, though, and healing well.  My personal favorite is a little dark brindle boy named Horton.  I hope to get them up on Petfinder soon.

We also received two “bounceback” dogs: Sady and Boots.  Their family had to relinquish them due to the economy.  Sady is a small white female who is very shy but has a lot of potential.  Boots is a dark brindle playful girl.  They too should be up on Petfinder pretty soon.  Right now they are being fostered in Rochester.

On the homefront, we’ve had a couple sickies here.  Eyore went in to have 9 teeth extracted, and did very well.  Until the next day when his head swelled up like a football, making him look like a Bull Terrier/Greyhound mix.  Then the following night around 10:30pm, he popped a clot in his mouth and gushed blood like a fountain for about 2 hours.  So that was fun!

On the same day, I had Tobey in for a swollen wrist.  Thought he had a slipped pin from a 2007 break.  The x-ray showed nothing, but we noticed that he had some bruising on his belly.  Did some bloodwork, and Dr M said something that gave me a nice big shock: “He needs a blood transfusion!”  She had on her serious face, so I had Lloyd come over and take Tobey to the specialty clinic in Blaine.  He had 1000 platelets (normal for a greyhound is about 125,000) and was at a huge bleeding risk.

After a bunch of tests, including a bone marrow biopsy, a lymph node aspiration, tick titers, ultrasounds and more x-rays, we have decided to call it immune-mediated thrombocytopenia.  Basically, his immune system went nuts and started attacking his platelets, but we don’t know why.  He’s been on prednisone and doxycycline, and they are slowly climbing again.  He had 31,000 on Tuesday, and will be tested again this afternoon.  Strangely, Tobey has felt totally fine through all of this.  Somehow his body has been compensating, but we were watching carefully for seizures or other symptoms that could indicate internal bleeding into his brain or organs.  Scary stuff!

My big concern for the past couple days has been my greyhound “crush,” Larry.  He’s a 12.5 boy who is not mine, but whom I love and adore.  He was attacked by a cat and is having a very hard time of it.  His family almost lost him yesterday, but today he seems to be making some gains.  So, please send all good thoughts to my sweetheart Larry!!

That’s all the update I have time for today, but hoping to write more soon.

h1

Odds and Endings (and Odd Beginnings)

August 18, 2010

Here I am again, still alive it seems. Missing my Apollo terribly. My girls don’t really understand, which is a blessing and a curse. They are 4 and 5, and both relatively recently adopted from China. Since Sunny has been home, we have lost 6 dogs. Since Maisy has been home, we have lost 3. But they also see the adoptable dogs come and go all the time, and at first I think Sunny was assuming that it was normal for all the dogs to suddenly disappear one day. Now I think they understand that the “house” dogs have a different status, and that when they go away it has something to do with being sick. But I think they may assume that the dog goes to live at the vet. I’m not sure. On the one hand, I am glad they have not had to grieve each dog with me. And on the other hand, it’s like a knife in my heart when one comes up and announces, “Apollo and Whitey and Palu die!”

Apollo was somehow significant for them, probably because they saw the way I protected and worried about him. This morning, Maisy was pulling a plastic balloon weight around on a string (like a leash), calling it “her Apollo” and talking to it softly.

Well, since many of you followed his journey, I’m sure a lot of you are wondering what happened. The last post before he died was a hopeful one. And in fact, it was not the osteo that killed him. He did NOT have osteo in his spine. We did new x-rays the day before we lost him. His spine was clear as day. His lungs were full of mets, though. Which is not even something I was thinking about, since he had no symptoms of that (except, perhaps, gooey eyes). He could have gone on for another couple months with those lung mets, though, and probably felt relatively good. But we could not get him out of pain from the herniated disc. He couldn’t tolerate the pain meds, and he was miserable.

At the vet appointment, we thought long and hard about whether to let him go that day, or to try one more pain med (Tramadol). After a lot of discussion, Dr M said that if it were her dog, she’d try the Tramadol for a day or two. I know she wouldn’t say that lightly, because I’ve seen the decisions she has made for her own hounds. We had gotten to a similar point with Whitey, where it was let him go or try the Tramadol, and the Tramadol bought him another couple good weeks. So we decided to try it.

It was a mistake. Apollo never recovered at all, and had a very rough final night. They say it’s better a day too soon than a day too late, and I think we were probably a good 12 hours too late on this one. But it was a herniated disc! It just seemed to me like that was something we ought to be able to fix. Especially since the prednisone had gotten us 3 really good days. But we couldn’t fix it. My poor sweet guy. Such a good guy.

The vet came to the house to let him go on Tuesday at 2pm. (As an annoying aside, you should really have to say more than “Hi Bob, it’s Lloyd,” when you make a call to the pet crematory.)

Two hours after Apollo left us, a new boy arrived from St Louis, MO, to join our pack. It wasn’t planned; it just happened that way.

The new boy is Eyore (yes, I know that Eeyore is supposed to have 2 E’s, but his does not). He is just about 9 years old. When we heard that Rescued Racers (Whitey’s group) had an Eyore, we knew he belonged here, with Tigger. Tigger was losing his Meet n Greet buddy.

Eyore is sweet as pie. He lost his old mom because she needed to take a job where she would be traveling all the time. He likes cheese, does not like thunder, and is ridiculously tolerant of the girls (who cannot pronounce his name and call him E-whore).

This is where the “odd beginnings” part comes in. Within a half hour of his arrival, I was convinced that he had osteosarcoma. Yes, you heard me correctly. He was limping on his right front leg, and the nature of the limp was just too familiar. Way too familiar. No one had noticed him limping before, although he had slipped and fallen on the hardwood floor at his temporary foster home in St Louis a couple days earlier. The first thing Lloyd said when he saw Eyore was, “He’s walking funny.” It was a subtle limp, but it was decidedly there.

I knew in my bones that this dog had osteo. And I had fallen in love with him already. I was sick to my stomach over it. Wednesday was Dr M’s day off, and I was hoping that if it was in fact just a soft-tissue injury, I would be seeing improvement by Thursday and not have to go in. Nope. So we went in on Thursday, me with my heart all soggy in my socks. I made Lloyd come with me, because I was so sure I would be getting bad news.

Dr M palpated him, and I could tell she was worried too. The first glimmer of hope was when she noted that he was a little painful (not as much) on the other shoulder in the same spot. So we marched down to the x-ray machine. Did one of each shoulder. When the first one came up, Dr M held it up to the flourescent ceiling light and said, “It actually looks pretty good.” I said, “Gimme that! I don’t believe you!” So we put it up on the light box and scrutinized it. Even though I was trying as hard as I could to see something there, there was nothing. We looked at the other shoulder, and it looked the same. We shot it again to be sure.

I asked Dr M about 10,000 questions to make sure she wasn’t going to change her answer. But Eyore does not have osteo. He subluxated his shoulder when he fell. She showed me on his body and on the rads where the scapula on the right side isn’t sitting as nicely against the humerus as the one on the left. And the bone pain I thought I was finding was actually an “insertion point” for a tendon, and the tendon was what was causing the pain.

I have never been so relieved in all my life. I could barely drive myself home. Legs of jell-o. So, thankfully, this boy should be with us for quite a while!

h1

Climbing again

August 3, 2010

Osteosarcoma is a roller coaster of hope and grieving.  You rise higher with each little bit of progress, each tail wag, each mini-jaunt in the yard that tells you your beloved pup is feeling good.  You rise higher with each clear x-ray film, each month of no metastasis, each pain med that you gradually wean away.  Almost inevitably, the day comes when you know that something is wrong; you feel the descent in the pit of your stomach.  Sometimes it’s just a little dip.  And sometimes, like spinal metastasis, it’s a crash that leaves you with a matter of weeks or days, and all you can do is hang on.

Today, we are slowly climbing again.  Or at least, we are level.  Holding on tight to hope, but bracing for disappointment.

Dr M called me today, and told me that the radiologist had looked at Apollo’s rads.  I saw the vet’s number on the caller ID and took a deep breath before picking up the phone, thinking I was about to hear the final and firm confirmation that he has bone lesions visible in his vetebrae.

But that’s not what I heard.  Dr F, the radiologist (who Dr M calls “a genius”) said that he doesn’t see evidence of bone lesions.  He said that he believes Apollo’s problem is a slipped disc.  (The only way to diagnose this with certainty is to do an MRI.)

Wait, what?  Totally not the news I expected to get.  And to be perfectly honest, I don’t really believe it in my heart.  I still “feel” like it is spinal mets.  I’m no radiologist, but what *I* saw on the rads looks to me like spinal mets.  Hell, given our doggie family history this past year, it’s just plain bound to be spinal mets.

However.  Maybe it’s not.

So!  If Apollo has a slipped disc, there are 2 things we could do.  We could do surgery (yeah, right – there’s no way I would put him through that… Imagine a 10.5-yr-old tripawd recovering from spine surgery), or we could try steroids.  Obviously, we are trying the steroids.  Once I wean him off the NSAID that he is on, I will start him on some prednisone and methocarbamol, and we will see if we get any improvement.

The mere possibility that we might get improvement is good news.  Better than any news I thought I was going to get from here on out.  And so it goes, downhill and uphill again.  By the end of the week, we should be getting a sense of which direction we are headed.  Hang on.

In other news, a couple weeks ago I got a necklace in the mail that means a lot to me.  Beth Wade of Beth Wade Design custom made it for me.  It has the names of all of our dogs, past and present.  From Abby Schnauzer to Tigger Greyhound.  It’s just exactly what I had in mind when I first spoke with Beth about it, and I’ve been wearing it every day.