Thursday, November 15, 2012

Why we drive old cars

Well, things are actually going pretty well here. We hope it stays that way for a while. PG is home, she's got the stitches out, and she's pretty much back to her ol' biddy self. Jeannie took her down for her post-surgery appointment on Monday and had a pretty good report. The feeling in her leg is creeping's moved like a half-inch in the last 2 weeks or's now below the knee and on the move. THAT is a huge thing...of course, she will be wearing some kind of a wrap/brace until it eventually works it's way down to the tippy-toes (so that she doesn't hurt herself, such as breaking toes or something as they have no feeling and bending them backwards).

Here is the scar back AFTER she had licked out the first half (you can see the remaining half). It goes all the way from her knee almost to her tail. The black sharpie half-moon near the tail is the line of doom: it's the high-water line of where the giant blood-clot reached (that would have been contaminated with tumor cells, as all the leaking blood passed thru the tumor). The surgeon wants to keep this line available in case it suddenly becomes prudent to take the leg shows how high they have to go (it's clear up past her pelvis...they'd have to take some of that too). We don't intend to go this route unless there is NO other way.

Here you can see the entire 'splint' they have on the leg, protecting the area with no feeling. She can stand on this (in fact, we are under orders to get her to put weight on the leg multiple times a day to help strengthen the atrophied muscle, as she hasn't used this leg for over 3 weeks now). Of course, she doesn't really WANT to stand on this leg...we have to get her relaxed and standing (on 3 legs), put this foot to the ground, and gently raise the good leg. She fights this and you can tell that as we lift the good leg she is lifting herself even as the good leg is off the ground, putting almost no weight on the bad takes some work to get her to actually bear weight on it..and we do that a few times for 10-15 seconds at a time.

And here's our little angel (devil) snoozing. She jumps up/down of the couches with ease (even though she's not supposed to be doing that). We do our best to keep any moving around to a minimum. The Dr. is afraid too much movement could get the tumor bleeding again. That is indeed a scare, but at SOME point when she's healed, she will be running/jumping around per normal. I'm not sure we can live our (her) life in fear of that beginning again. You have to be able to LIVE. But for now as she heals we follow the directions as best we can.

She's eating good, and we don't have much left in the medication department (HOORAY!). We are off the 'get up in the middle of the night' routine for giving her meds..she now gets them morning and night, and I think we are down to two of six. She's eating good, and she should be happy about that part...she's getting chicken and broccoli (with cheese...we have to sprinkle cheese on top or she will turn her nose up at the broccoli). I'm hoping that someday she will eat the broccoli without the cheese sprinkled on top. But no matter...she's not getting any sugar foods (breads, etc)...just meat and veggies which is supposed to be good for fighting cancer/keeping her tumors in check.

And so...we are quite thankful that the recovery is going as well as it is. Her sisters treat her about the same as always (Sweet Pea will knock her down to get out the door first, or to the doggie food bowls first, or pretty much any other reason there is to knock PG around). So we are always on guard for this...sure don't want her to get hurt by her sisters, as they certainly don't understand the 'recovery' thing.

I will leave you with a post surgery picture of the entire pack. Jeannie has PG covered in a blanket as she has no hair on about a third of her body since they shaved her pretty well for the surgery. I had been sitting where the green pillow was, and amazingly they all stayed put when I got up. You can see PG is quite happy, as she's NOT wearing the cone of shame anymore, and she's getting LOTS of attention.

Jeannie and I fly to Virginia this Saturday, and will be spending the week at her brothers place (the farm). I'm hoping for a relaxing week for the both of us, and that we don't stress too bad about leaving the babies. We have two different doggie-sitters coming over to feed them while we are gone. I've also setup my 'doggie-cams' (webcams) in two main locations so we can peek in on them anytime to see what they are up to (lying around sleeping is pretty normal). They have doggie-doors so have total access to the fenced three sides of the house (so we never have to 'let them out to go'). Thanksgiving is right around the corner, can you BELIEVE IT? I am still in disbelief!

And with that, I wish you a nice weekend. I'll check back in and post something from Virginia most likely.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy Veterans Day!

Happy Veterans Day everybody! Time to reflect on the sacrifices that have been made throughout our country's history to get us this far.

If you came here expecting a big post about Veterans day, well, I'm afraid you've been gypped.

You see, for now I'm done on that topic (and no, I'm NOT going to rant on and on this year about how Jeannie gets to sleep in while I the VETERAN gets to get up and go to work like I usually do). You see, Jeannie WILL be getting up early herself this year. But for the details on that you need 'the rest of the story", and that involved PG (because EVERYTHING in our house right now involves PG).

THIS is the rest of the story. It's the 11-11-12 afternoon PG update.

All is well! (and right now that's as good as we can ask for!) She's still wearing "the cone of Shame" (and so am I for that matter). You see, last Thus night during my 2am medical wake-up, I had taken off the cone, dissolved the very last of the dreaded 'drink it' medications (med #4 in our list of 6) in the water, loaded the hypodermic and even managed to get most of it down her gullet. Then I thought I'd give her a break, figuring she will sleep the next 2 hours (I still had a 4am wake-up med to do).

SO..I left off the cone and went back to sleep. And you know the ol' saying: no good deed goes unpunished. I get up at 4am and lo and behold, she did not sleep. No, she started licking the sutures. And somehow, over half of them were now MIA. Just gone. The nice flat (perfect) suture line now was half-way inflamed, the cut skin edges looked like lasagne noodles (all wavy). I felt HORRIBLE! The surgeon is going to SKIN ME ALIVE! However, it's been going on 9 full days since her surgery, so the cut didn't open up. It just doesn't look so 'purty' now. Thankfully we didn't need to take her to the vet to be re-sewn.

So now I'm wearing a virtual cone of shame. Jeannie will take PG down to Ventura tomorrow for her post-surgical followup with the Surgeon. Why is Jeannie taking her instead of me you ask? IS Veterans Day as you know, and being as she has it off for no other reason than being a Govy worker (THUS ending her amazing string of SLEEPING IN on Veterans days), while I will be working. So the duty of being PG's limo falls to her this time around. And there is a bonus for me: at least I won't be there in person to get thrown under the bus about the missing stitches (as she most assuredly will fling the blame on me, and I don't blame her one bit cuz it was totally me). Also thankfully, in the last few days the ruffled edges have laid down pretty nice and it looks just like the rest, only with no stitches. I'm sure the remaining stitches will come out my verbal bashing won't be quite so bad I hope. I think her appt is at I'll see if I feel like my ears are burning around then.

Anyway, our little angel/devil is doing pretty good, though I have to say she is overall a lousy patient. We go thru a LOT to get her to take her 5 remaining usually starts out easy, and typically finishes hard (much like Ike and Tina Turner's version of Rolling on the River). If only she would just EAT the blasted fresh piece of chicken (with said pill tucked inside somewhere). But nooooo...she's gotta sniff it, and gently take it, then chew it a few times and BAM, the pill falls out and she finishes the chicken. She only gets one chance with me anymore...then I pick up the pill, PRY her jaws open, force the pill to the back of her throat while holding her head up high, then hold the jaws shut until she swallows it. We do this OVER and OVER and OVER. I'd have thought she'd figure it out and just EAT IT the first time. I think she's just REALLY stubborn.

But other than that it's all going well. We'll know more tomorrow after the followup with the surgeon. We also hope to have a sit-down with our local vet and develop the "plan" for what to do with the cancer. Jeannie's and my thoughts on that are that we will do our very best to treat it with diet...seeing if we can keep it at bay. The Surgeon even admitted it might have been in there for some time, and only due to the bleeding was it discovered. So if we cut out all the sugars (which we have) we will see how she does. We have no intention of putting her thru the radiation, nor letting them take the leg (unless that somehow becomes the prudent thing to do). She's 11 years old in just a few weeks, and we will go from here doing the very best we can. That is our basic plan. Subject to modification at any time of course.

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Life in the ICU

We are now running a little private doggie-ICU in our house. Let me back up a bit and fill you in.

Our little furry-angel came home on Monday as planned. I was able to pick her up in Ventura after work and make the 100 mile trip north with no problems. I had her 'placed' in the front passenger seat on a nice pile of blanket, knowing she would be rather 'needy'. It was about 60 miles into the trip before I could take my hand off her for more than a moment without her trying to get up and crawl into my lap. I gather she was somewhat traumatized by the preceding week.

I had gone over the directions down in Ventura with the discharging Dr, but when I got home Jeannie and I both went thru everything. She is to be 'incarcerated' with the cone of shame at least until the drain comes out. The drain is a tiny tube coming out the end of the sutures near her tail. It has a sharp needle at the end and that goes into one of those small vacuum tubes they use to do blood samples in. I brought home about 200 of those (the drain is in for at least thru next Monday). That tube needs to be changed every 2 hours.

Here's our little darling in her 'daytime' sequestration zone. You can see how happy 
she is wearing the cone of shame.

She also has SIX medications to be taken at various times. So Jeannie made a list of all the meds and their frequency, then we made a chart of time starting at 6am, and every 2 hours it lists what meds are to be taken (the dosage I wrote on the pill-bottles with a sharpie so I can see it in the middle of the night). Also she is to eat small amounts several times a day, so we scheduled that in for every 6 hours. We stopped at Wallyworld and bought a battery-operated alarm clock (you know...the round kind that is SUPER easy to set? Those are getting harder to find).

So....Jeannie and I put our heads together and here is the daily schedule we came up with:

6am: replace drain tube, medication 2, 4 and 5
8am: drain tube, medication 3 (dissolve in water)
10am: drain tube, medication 6, small meal
noon: drain tube, no meds
2pm: drain tube, med 3
4pm: drain tube, med 4, small meal
6pm: drain tube, med 1,2,and 5
8pm: drain tube, med 3
10pm: drain tube, med 6, small meal
midnight: drain tube, med 4
2am: drain tube, med 3
4am: drain tube, no meds, small meal

I have been taking the 'night shift' wake-ups (Jeannie wouldn't do very well at this getting up and doing stuff, then going back to sleep). So I take it thru the night starting with 10pm, thru 4am, and Jeannie has been working at home so she takes over @ 6am (I leave for work around 5:15am) and I pick it back up (or we share) after I come home from work. Sure glad there are two of us...this would be BRUTAL if you were alone trying to manage this amount of care.

PG's in good spirits though, other than wearing the cone of shame I mean. I sneak it off during the night and at eating times, but any time I catch her licking the sutures or going ANYWHERE near the drain it's back to cone. And Jeannie wants me to have it on her when I leave because she's working and can't be watching her all the time.

At night I have her sequestered next to the bed....I used our awesome doggie-gate (variable length to fit in doorways, etc) and have the area on my side of the bed blocked in, and she has a nice bed in there. This way I can get up when the alarm goes off I can turn on the closet light which shines right where she is laying. I go get a new tube (I numbered a whole bunch 1 thru 50 I think, and on a piece of paper I went down the list writing the day/times in 2 hour intervals...thus later on I can see that tube # 15 was from which day and 2 hour time period...this might be important later). So I grab the next numbered tube and go swap it out with the current one. Then I look at our handy job chart and see what needs to be done...pills, meals. One of the pills needs to be dissolved in 10ml of water, then have 10 more ml added (this is the directions, I don't understand it either). Then I suck it into a turkey-baster hypodermic (without the needle, but I do have a piece of my aquarium airline tubing on the end). Then I have to get her to sit-up (hard to do in the middle of the night actually) and stick the tube inside her cheek (no way she will unclench and let me put it in her mouth). If I hold her nose up and gently squeeze, she will start swallowing the water/med. Though last night she sat there (at the 2am shift) NOT swallowing until it ran out her mouth...she had an evil look on her face saying "you can't make me drink this!". Jeannie heard me having troubles and came over and helped hold she eventually capitulated and drank the remaining fluid (what wasn't on me or the floor).

Giving her pills has been relatively easy...we just wrap it in a piece or 2 of chicken, squish it together like a little chicken patty and she has been pretty good at NOT playing the "I can smell the pill and get it out of there yet eat the chicken" game she usually plays. Not sure how long this stroke of luck will hold, but we are enjoying it while it lasts (she's not a very good patient).

And here you see some of the damage. You can see the suture lines running across (up?) the thigh. You can also see the vacuum tube holster (in the white gauze) up above the hip. The gauze wraps up over the tube after you stick it with the needle and then put it back into the holster...that keeps it from falling out when she is lying down or moving around. You can also see just how happy the poor baby is wearing the cone of shame (not to mention having her leg cut wide open).

Then she needs to go outside every now and then for business...she hops around quite well, even with the hurt leg all bandaged up (they wrapped up from just above the knee to just the tip of the paw...this is because she has no feeling down there and will hurt the foot, so the wrapping holds it in a 'standing' position so she can put it down and us it. Above the knee has feeling.....we are waiting to see if the feeling comes back...the surgeon said if it doesn't they will likely want to take the leg. So we are praying on that first.

THEN there is the matter of the malignant cancer inside her thigh. The surgeon said it's a low-grade tumor, but right now it's still releasing fluid (part of the stuff that gets sucked out of the drain). The rest of the fluid is from the leg healing after the damage done by being so pressurized for 7 or 8 days from the bleeding tumor. It has been slowing down in quantity...last week at the surgical center they were changing the tube every hour. Sooner or later we will have to address the cancer...for now we have changed her diet to NO sugars of any kind (all the online info says that's what tumors feed on, so you can starve them). She's getting chicken right now, and I hope to add in broccoli, cauliflower, and maybe some other veggies..maybe some sweet-potatoes. The problem is she's a finicky eater. VERY finicky. I tried to get her to eat some strawberry pieces last night, no luck. However the other two (Sweet Pea and Sydney) will eat them! The surgeon did say the tumors might have been there some time (they are not very big) and only the bleeding got them discovered. But she did talk of radiation down the road (IF she gets feeling in the foot back).

And so we take it day by day. Today Jeannie got her into our local vet as the last few night-shift tubes didn't get any appreciable they could be clogged. It's now the end of the day and she's still there...and there is some misunderstanding over the 'clogged tubing' directions the vet has from the surgical center...they are working on that right now. This is not good, and I might be taking her back down to Venture tonight if this isn't resolved quite soon (as the vet closes in less than an hour). Scary stuff...stay tuned.


Sheesh...I hadn't even gotten this published yet when the phone was Jeannie at the vet...problems. She wanted me to zoom down there...turns out the vet hadn't done anything all day on PG...Jeannie had called the surgeon down in Ventura to ask what was going on as the Vet said they were waiting for some info from Ventura...our surgeon was LIVID and called the vet asking what was going on, and WHY hadn't anybody called her? The drain hadn't been working since around midnight, Jeannie got her in as soon as they opened, and now at 5pm they are looking into it...then the Vet (not actually OUR vet..she had the day off and couldn't be reached, so this was the 'other' vet in the office) got onto Jeannie's case about what to do if the drain is clogged...for her to come back and show the tech's what to do (like WE know??). So it was a huge blowup scene, and Jeannie is WAY TICKED at the vet, swearing never to return.

So...the end result: I zoomed down there, picked PG up and brought her home. Then we called the surgical center for info, and it turns out they were expecting PG down there TONIGHT (the vet forgot to tell me that part, she said they'd want to see her TOMORROW). So...I loaded up the car and moved to Beverly...Hills that gold, movie stars...(sorry, Beverly Hillbillies flashback...always loved to watch Jethro eat an entire box of Corn Flakes in that GIGANTIC bowl). OK, it was just me and PG on a SPEED run down to Ventura...again. Got her down there around 8:30 and they were expecting her...checked her back in (don't think they gave her room away's only been 2 days)....they will verify the drain is working, and if it IS clogged will have to get a new one in there (hope that doesn't mean surgery again) they'll be keeping her at least overnight...poor thing...we had just gotten her home!

All I know is that I'm beat...but at least I don't need to get up every 2 hours there is that. But I'd take it to have her home where she belongs.

And that's the story THUS far. Stay tuned...there's lots more to come I'm sure! I"m beat...time for bed. I might just get up at midnight, 2am and 4am just for kicks....NOT!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The woods are deep and dark

Not really sure where to start today...things seem to be happening fast and it's hard to keep up.

Let's recap...We took PG to the surgical center last Monday evening, on Tuesday they did a CT scan among other things, and determined she had a huge mass in her thigh. I came home from work that evening and found one of our two large goldfish (Thelma) dead on the bottom of the acquarium. Not much later we get the call from the surgeon giving us a complete doom and gloom prognosis for PG's surgery on Wednesday, we were scared to death.

We both took Wednesday off and drove down to Ventura to see her before she went under the knife (in case it was the last time we see her). Her surgery isn't scheduled until sometime after noon, so we drive back home and wait. About 3:30pm we get the call....she came thru surgery fine, and they sucked out almost half a liter of blood clot from a bleeding tumor, (which had now stopped bleeding thankfully). So they stitched her back together after taking a few biopsies of the tumor (and some other items of interest). We are relieved beyond words, the surgeon thought the tumor might have been a 'fatty' tumor (PG had a large fatty blob tumor removed about a year ago..benign).

Thursday comes and goes, she is recovering fine, no news is good news.

Friday I come home from work and Louise (the other large goldfish) is also now dead on the bottom of the aquarium. VERY strange. Not much later we get another call from the surgeon, TOTAL doom and gloom. The biopsies are back, all a malignant something sarcoma, no sense taking the leg at this point as the blood clot was all the way up into the pelvis (and all the blood that leaked out the tumor could very likely have tumor cells in it, thus spreading it wherever it went). She talked about us seeing the oncologist on Monday, discussed 2 possible radiation treatment plans (both expensive and both almost impossible for us to do, being as we live 100 miles away from the oncologist, and we both have jobs). We are seemed like she had no chance...

Saturday morning I go for a bike ride to clear my brain...the surgeon calls back and talks to Jeannie...wanted to make sure we understood some points: there is no sense doing anything (radiation or otherwise) until after we see if she gets the use of her leg/foot back (she has lost feeling due to the pressure on the nerve from the huge blood-clot). If the feeling doesn't come back then taking the leg is still a possibility. Also she discussed that the tumors are "low grade"...and most likely had been there for some time (they were small) and we would have never known about them except one started bleeding. So the best course of action is to bring her home and let her recover, and see where things go. I come home from my ride, having been working out how to possibly do the radiation treatments, as we have to give her a chance. Jeannie gives me this news...and wow! Talk about a totally different phone call than the one the night before! I was stunned!

So....hopefully I will be able to bring her home tomorrow (Monday) afternoon...and we will just take it from there. We will be looking into changing her diet...I know there are lots of homeopathic treatments and such for cancers, depending on the type. Overall I recall reading that most tumors live on the if you cut those out you can help starve carbs....thankfully PG won't have any problem with that diet...we start giving her chicken and turkey and she will be in HEAVEN!

What a roller-coaster ride this has been. I can only imagine how bad this would feel if it were one of US with this's bad enough that it's one of our fur-babies let me tell you. And yet people all over the world get this kind of news every single day. It would be crushing, can't imagine how you wake up and move forward.

And so...if things continue with her recovery I will bring her home tomorrow...we drove down yesterday afternoon and visited...she is doing well, and made a HUGE fuss that we were there (she is in a very large 'room', and both Jeannie and I were able to crawl in there with her and just sit and touch her...she really loved that, always has. We stayed with her for a while and then had to leave, she was very sad (as were we, you know it's heartbreaking to leave when they don't understand). It will be great to pick her up though...she will be SO happy! To get our little family all back together again. And we will just keep putting one foot in front of the other and take it from there, doing what we can when we can. I guess that's all anybody can do.

As the old saying goes, it can always be worse.

One thing that has been bothering me...why did my 2 fish suddenly die, each on a night we get a terrible phone call? Those fish were the survivors of the 'turtles' (remember those from a year ago?)....these fish survived a ton of stuff..and were quite large...I'm guessing about a half pound or more each. Their water was immaculate (I have the Binford 350 super duper external 350gallon per hour filter that I had for the turtles....the water is PRISTINE I can tell you!)...can't for the life of me figure out why they suddenly died 2 days apart. There's no ammonia, nor anything else that I've tested for in the water...(and they are goldfish for crying out loud...cold water fish who can live in a stupid fish-bowl with no bubbling air, water filtration, etc for a long time). I just think it's very odd....and now it's so quiet in my office without the bubbles running....(I only ran the super filter at night for about 2's only a 20 gal tank...@ 350gph,  run it for an hour and the water has been cycled MANY times thru a HUGE heap of carbon).

And so...the dreaded time change has happened once again. Winter is officially here in my book. My riding time has taken a huge hit in the last 3 weeks or always does in the fall/winter...right now I've just lost interest I'm afraid. Hopefully things will look up when PG is back home. I sure hope so...the other 2 are getting lazy without the Alpha telling them what to do, and lording everything over them.

Have a great week, and I hope we shall do the same.