Day 10 status update

Not a whimper of pain since starting on the Gabapentin 300mg the evening of day 7! (Velveeta worked like a charm for the second evening in a row – what a relief!) One thing we just thought about today – it sounds like some dogs have experienced leaking and oozing from their incision sites.  Lucky’s incision was closed with sutures (versus staples) and he has experienced no leaking at all!  The incision looks great, and the sutures are scheduled to come out on day 14 (when he goes in for his first chemo treatment).  He went out for a couple of short walks today which he really seemed to enjoy, and went up the stairs (12 steps) to the second floor  tonight without any trouble!  Lucky is still sleeping a fair amount and not quite back to his happy-go-lucky personality, but we are thankful he is now comfortable and making progress each day.  It is so helpful and reassuring to read through everyone’s experiences!  Thank you to everyone!

Day Nine is Fine!

(Title courtesy of daisy2010).  Another pain free day today.  Looking forward to getting out and about more this weekend!  We are officially in a clinical trial of chemo with the first dose of carboplatin scheduled for 3/2.  Continuing on daily dose of Gabapentin 300 mg every night.  Thanks also to daisy2010 for the Velveeta cheese suggestion!  We’ve worked our way through a variety of “sneaky disguises” for the pills and the cheese worked like a charm tonight!  Keeping our fingers crossed we can get a few days out of this method!!!

Day Eight is Great!

Two good days in a row – hopefully we’re starting a streak!  That gabapentin is some powerful stuff.  Made it through an entire 24 hour period in comfort – with no Tramadol added in!  Ate “old fashioned dog food” for the second day.  Lucky took a few outdoor adventures around the yard with a little more stamina, and settled in to his favorite spot in front of the glass front door to “talk” to the other dogs and people as they strolled by.  He seems to be following a pattern similar to what others have experienced – when he is not out and about for his short adventures he is sleeping and rejuvinating!  And as a bonus we even received 2 calls from his “new” oncologist’s office today – one from the staff and one from the vet checking up to make sure Lucky was doing OK and letting us know the status of the clinical trial enrollment.  A great day!

A brand new day!

Today was SO MUCH BETTER than yesterday! Lucky was energetic, playful, and ready to go! We got fed up with being unable to get ahold of his oncology people, so we took Jerry’s advice and changed to VCG. We called them yesterday and they had talked to the vet, called back, and made an appointment for us for the next day within an hour or so (in contrast to the other people we were using who we called at 9:00AM and didn’t hear back from the entire day). We met with the oncologist today and he took a long time with us to explain everything. He really seemed to care about Lucky, so that was awesome. I think Lucky’s going to participate in a clinical trial where he does 4 doses of carboplatin, followed by piroxicam, cyclophosphamide, and palladia. The palladia is the “trial” part, and from what I’ve read it sounds pretty promising, so we’re excited about that.

Another thing that got us excited today was that Lucky ate dog food for the first time since his surgery!!! He ate an entire scoop out of his dog bowl (his normal dinner is 1 1/2 scoops)! And he was running around at the vet and outside for a little bit, so that was nice to see, although I made sure he didn’t go too hard. Also, Lucky and I have a routine now where I take him to sit out in the front yard with me for a couple of hours every day and watch the people go by. He really seems to enjoy it a lot, I think because he’s sick of being cooped up in the house all day. As a matter of fact, it’s really hard to convince him to come back in the house. Today I had to carry him in, because he did not want to budge (he actually pulled back on his leash to keep me from moving him!).

Anyway, Lucky is pooped now. He’s laying down at my feet sleeping like a baby. It’s very cute! Thanks again for all of your help. I know I say it every time, but I can’t express my gratitude enough!

Lucky's knocked out from his action-filled day!

What goes up, must come down

Yesterday Lucky was feeling very well, and was even able to blog about it. Today, not so much. It’s been a very rough day 6 for him so far. Before he went to bed last night we gave Lucky his first dose of gabapentin (100mg 1x per day) Last night was the first time he’s had middle of the night outbursts, and it happened twice (although not nearly as intense as his most intense sessions). In the morning we gave him 100mg tramadol instead of his usual dose of 150 (the surgeon said we should try to start weaning him off of tramadol). He’s been moping around all day and crying whenever he gets up at all. He also wasn’t interested in eating or drinking all day until lunchtime when we gave him his second dose of tramadol (this time we gave him 150mg because his morning was so bad). That was not too long ago, so we’ll see if things improve at all.

We’re really discouraged by this downturn. I know that everyone says the first couple of weeks are up and down, but it’s so hard to watch Lucky suffer. We’re trying to figure out if we can do something for him by changing his meds. I’ve seen lots of recommendations online (including Tazziedog’s reccomendation) for 300mg of gabapentin 2-3x per day, but I’m not sure if that’s right for Lucky, since our surgeon only prescribed 100mg. I also want to make sure I’m not just completely knocking him out all day every day, which I’ve heard gabapentin can do. He’s not on any NSAIDs, since he was on meloxicam pre-op and it upset his stomach. People seem to have good things to say about the efficacy of NSAIDs in curbing Lucky’s kind of pain, so we’re trying to decide whether or not its worth it to try a different one, like rimadyl. The really frustrating thing is that it’s impossible to get ahold of the oncologists or the surgeons who can help us out. We keep getting “they’ll call you back” from the front desks, and then no response.

Everyone has said that it gets better, so we’re trying to remain optimistic. It’s just hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now. I just want my best friend to feel better.

Who let the dogs out?

Happy Presidents’ Day! It’s Lucky here, and today’s the first day since my surgery that I’ve been feeling well enough to blog (but Jeff’s been doing a good job filling in for me!). Jeff told you about my phantom limb pains which were awful, and I’ve had a few more of those since the last post. I’ve also had a couple of whining episodes after standing up and walking around for awhile. BUT, overall I’ve been doing much much better! My fentanyl patch came off yesterday (about 24 hours ago right now), and I’m just starting to feel a little bit more like normal. Of course, I’m still on 150 mg of Tramadol every 8 hours, so my appetite isn’t quite back to normal yet and I’m a little bit lethargic sometimes, but I’ve gotten back my desire to go outside and explore the world! As a matter of fact, today for the first time Jeff took me out to sit in the front yard and watch the people go by! Thank God, I’m so sick of just sitting in the house all day! As a matter of fact, right now I’m laying out front with Jeff, just relaxing and enjoying my life and the beautiful weather. Sometime soon I hope I get back the energy to actually go for a walk!

Enjoying the beautiful weather in San Diego on day 5!

Today, I had my first post-op checkup. It was a lot of fun seeing the doctors, but the car ride was awful. It made me realize that although I’m getting better, I still have a ways to go. For starters, when Mom and Jeff went to pick me up to put me in and take me out of the car, it hurt like hell. The vet prescribed gabapentin for my phantom limb pain (finally!), so my family was really happy about that and I’m hoping it will make me feel better like Jeff says it will. When we got home from the vet, I didn’t want to get out of the car. I managed to avoid letting Mom and Jeff pick me up and get me out of the car for about a half hour. They tried to lure me with food, but I was not about to fall for that one! Finally they were able to get me out, and it wasn’t so bad after all. And the best part? They fed me lunchmeat and let me go straight out to lay in the front yard afterward!

In other news, my parents are really really weird. I pooped for the first time today since coming home, and they were really excited about it. Who knew humans could get so excited over poop?

It’s nice to be back on Tripawds. You guys have been awesome in helping my pawrents deal with me in the really difficult last 5 days. I’m hoping to go uphill from here, but you never know! I’ll keep you all updated, and I’m hoping to be able to play with some of the other San Diego tripawds when I get better!

P.S. – Jeff uploaded a video of the tail end of one of my phantom limb pain episodes this morning. He spent the worst part of the episode comforting me, so this video shows after the worst screaming part is over. I wanted to post a video for other tripawd pawrents to be able to see what it looks like, since my pawrents couldn’t find any examples online. Here’s the link:

Trying really hard not to worry

Sorry for n0-show on the blog yesterday. I’ll try to give a whirlwind two day update.

So yesterday I was at an interview during the day, and my mom was in charge of babysitting for Lucky. The good news: he started eating and drinking a fair amount! My mom discovered that although he’s more picky about food than usual, he’s willing to eat roast beef lunchmeat, so we’ve been giving him some of that (we’ve tried fancy dog foods with no luck). For the water, we had to put chicken broth in his water at first, and he drank it up like crazy, but then we were able to get him to drink pure water by switching the bowl he was drinking out of. For some reason, he developed some aversion to his normal water bowl. Anyway, yesterday went great, and Lucky also went potty a couple of times, which was great! The only problem was his refusal to take pills, no matter what they were disguised in. My mom couldn’t shove pills down his throat either, so he didn’t take his Tramadol, but he seemed to do fine with the pain (no whimpering or anything).

Today was a little bit more eventful. The day was going fine until the early afternoon, when Lucky all of a sudden jumped up and started yelping/screaming, which lasted for about 15 seconds. As I’m sure many of you know, seeing him go through this was AWFUL. We freaked out, and then after we did some searching on the tripawds forum, we thought that maybe he had phantom limb pains. After this incident, we went back and figured out how to force Lucky to take his Tramadol with success. We’re working on getting a prescription for gabapentin also.

A few hours later, it happened again. This time it was right as he was standing up to see a visitor come in. Again, he freaked out and yelped for about 15 seconds. He’s been fine since then (for about three hours), except now I’m reading into his droopy lethargic Fentanyl behavior probably more than I should be. Partially I’m concerned because I hate to see my best friend suffer. I’m also worried because before Lucky got his surgery, his first symptoms of his osteosarcoma was a similar kind of yelping associated with leg pain. I’m really hoping I’m reading into this too much, and his problem is “just” the phantom limb pain that will (hopefully) go away completely within a couple of weeks. But I can’t help but worry. Ugh.

My second, much less imminent concern, is Lucky’s remaining front paw (I know, I know, I’m just a worry wart). They shaved a small area of hair to put his IV in while he was in the hospital, and it seems like that shaved area is getting a little bit red. Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but it would be awesome to get some validation of what people think from the picture I took of this area.

In summary, constant worrying can be difficult. I’m really looking forward to Lucky’s fentanyl patch coming off on Monday, and I’m hoping that will bring more of his old personality and energy back, so I can worry less about him suffering and moping.

Redness on Lucky's leg

Sleep-Sleepin’ Away

Lucky’s home from the hospital! He had quite a bit of trouble getting to the car, but I think that was because of the drugs he’s been on. They had him on a Fentanyl drip up until this morning, so he’s pretty drugged out. When we got him home he immediately wanted to go out and pee, and so we helped him out with that. It took a lot of effort to get over to the grass to pee. His back legs were shaking a lot and he kept looking like he was about to lay down and rest, but eventually after stopping to rest after almost every step, he got to the grass and peed for longer than I’ve ever seen him pee before (I guess that’s a good sign).

Now he’s laying down in the house, and he’s been pretty still. He’s sleeping on and off, but I’m not really seeing much of the restlessness or obvious discomfort that people have described as side effects of the Fentanyl patch. Maybe I’m speaking too soon though. The doctors said that he was up whining and acting anxious all night (he often does that when we’re away), so maybe he’s just showing the extra fatigue from that. We did manage to get him to stand up and take feeble a hop or two a little bit ago, just to try to keep him moving a tiny bit, but it sure winded him.

The one thing that I’m not sure whether or not I should be worried about yet is his lack of desire to drink anything. He also won’t take his pills when we smother them in PB, but I was expecting a lower appetite (Tramadol time is coming up soon, so I need to figure out how to get it to him). His response to water is almost as if he’s hydrophobic. He wants nothing to do with it, and he wasn’t very happy when we tried to drip a little bit into his mouth. I just don’t want him to get dehydrated. Is this typical? Any advice on how to get him drinking a little bit?

Overall, Lucky’s doing well. We took a look at his scar, and I’m posting a picture below. There’s a little bit of bruising, but I think it looks pretty good at this point. We’re giving him lots of love and cuddles, and we’ve even gotten a little bit of tail wagging out of him! I’ll keep you updated. Thank you so much for your advice and support!

So happy to have Lucky home!

The battle was won! Now for the rest of the war…

Hello everyone,

This is Lucky’s brother Jeff. Lucky’s surgery went very well today, and now he’s in the hospital getting loopy on all kinds of drugs. We’re anxiously awaiting his return home tomorrow, and bracing ourselves for the recovery ahead. Thank you all so much for your kind words and thoughts today. The support on this site, including everyone’s stories, has really meant a lot to us through this journey. We’ll keep you updated!

My last day on four legs

Hi everyone! My name is Lucky. I’m a 5 year old yellow lab (my brother Jeff tells me that no matter how old I get, I’ll always be his puppy). My family tells me that I am the best doggy in the world, but I think they’re the best humans ever!

Me playing with my favorite plush ball! (blue is my favorite color)

I’ve had a rocky road leading up to today. Let me start from the beginning. Towards the end of last summer (August), I had an incident where my family came home and I was limping on my right front leg. Nobody knew why, but before too long I was back to normal. Then, a couple of weeks later, I woke up in the middle of the night and my right paw hurt really bad, so I held it out in front of me and howled for a little bit. Again, the pain got better before too long and I went back to sleep. My humans took me in to see the doctor, because Jeff had done some online reading and was worried about osteosarcoma. But the doctor told us that she thought I didn’t have osteosarcoma, since I was young and there was no swelling or tenderness in my leg. Instead, she said that maybe I had something neurological going on with my discs, so she sent me to a specialist. This doctor said he didn’t feel any tenderness in my leg but thought maybe there was some discomfort with my shoulder (Doctors are silly, my paw was all that ever hurt!). My humans asked him to do an x-ray, so they did, and said that there was no osteosarcoma. Whew! But they did send me over to ANOTHER specialist to get an MRI done to check for neurological signs. I got an MRI done on my shoulder and spinal column, and the doctor said he didn’t see anything and it wasn’t worth going into my leg with the MRI. So my family was back to square one.

Long story short, when my limping started to become a little more consistent about a month ago, my family took me back in to see the x-ray doctor and found out that he had just x-rayed my shoulder and not my entire leg! What kind of a doctor wouldn’t x-ray the entire leg for limping problems with no obvious cause!!! My mom and Jeff weren’t too happy (and I was sick of getting all these needles stuck in me and procedures done!). They asked for the doctor to x-ray my leg. He did, and the results came back as a bone cancer.

My x-rays of my right paw... The doctors say it's osteosarcoma.

From there, it’s all been a whirlwind. I got an FNA of the bone tissue sent to the lab and the report came back reading something like “moderately atypical bone tumor”. My family hasn’t really been able to explain to me what that means, because I’m not sure if they’re positive of what it means themselves. Jeff is telling me that we’re trying to be very optimistic in hoping that it means the cancer cells aren’t that high grade yet. If anyone can help interpret this wording, that would be great.

In terms of optimism, they did my chest x-rays and nothing showed up abnormal, and my alkaline phosphatase levels are on the low end of the normal range, at 22, so supposedly those are very good things.

I’m getting my leg amputation surgery tomorrow. I’m not too worried about it, because I’ll be happy to be getting rid of my booboo that I’m just dragging along with me now. Besides, I’m already basically getting along pretty well on three legs! Jeffrey says he’s going to take me on all kinds of adventures on three legs, so I’m excited about that too! I’ve never seen the snow before, so I really hope we can go there!

Although I’m not so worried about the leg amputation, I am very worried about my family. They seem really worried. I think the idea of me losing a leg tomorrow is a lot harder for them than it is for me! They’ve been spending all kinds of time on tripawds watching videos and reading stories about all the other amazing tripawds out there, so I think that’s definitely been making them feel better. And I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve. I’m going to try really hard to amaze them with how much I’m going to be able to do with my three good legs! I pride myself in being the happiest dog around, so maybe I’ll be the one bringing some cheer into my recovery process for my family! Here are some more pictures of me and my family!

This was me getting caught red handed digging in the trash can when the trash can lid got stuck on my head!
This is me and my family at my first trip to the beach when I was a puppy!
I've never been one to stand still and pose for pictures when there's exciting things to explore around me!

Well, that’s all for now. Tomorrow’s the big day! Please keep me and my family in your thoughts, and wish us luck!