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The Unexpected Results

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

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The pathology results from Roxy’s leg came back. Good news: Roxy doesn’t have cancer! Bad news: Apparently she never did. We removed her leg because of what turned out to be osteophytes (outgrowths of bone) in her knee. I regret more than ever not doing the biopsy before her surgery. But at the very least, she no longer has a painful leg. We are getting around great! Staples came out yesterday and we hope to hear from the vet by the end of the week regarding treatments and further tests for her diagnosis: osteoporosis. 

I was frustrated, angry, and confused upon receiving the news that Roxy did not have cancer. The vet had been so certain that this was what the X-ray showed and I trusted her. Of course, it was a huge relief hearing that I would be able to keep my dog for many years to come, but it also came with a lot of guilt for not digging deeper before amputating her leg. It’s hard to say if it still would have needed to be removed regardless if I had done the biopsy or not. But to keep myself from throwing a personal pity party, I’ve been focusing on the good news: she doesn’t have cancer!

What she does have is osteoporosis. But we don’t know why. She’s only 4 years old and a pretty active girl. Our fear now is that whatever caused the weakness of bone in her leg might make something weak somewhere else. The vet is doing some research and I will too. And I will be seeking a second opinion before any other major operations or treatments.

In addition to potential causes of osteoporosis in young dogs, I will be researching for some things to do at home to build strength in her bones. Diet, supplements, exercises, if anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear them!

In the meantime, we are just enjoying being pain-free. Sometime it’s still a little awkward on three legs. I notice her back legs occasionally briefly gives out on uneven terrain, but she quickly regains balance and keeps walking as if she hadn’t noticed. Now that I know the potential condition of her bones, every stumble gives me a mini heart attack and I visualize bones breaking if she falls or twists a leg wrong.


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Throwback Thursday

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

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Roxy has pretty much mastered the stairs! She never liked the towel sling, so I would have to hold my arm under her belly to move her up the stairs. Now she can climb them without the support and is able to catch herself when she occasionally slips. Our next challenge is getting in and out of the car. I’m thinking a step would give her the boost up she needs.

I wanted to throwback to Roxy’s puppy pictures today! And reminisce on the four-legged days. I’ll miss the leg-kicking belly rubs.  Maybe they will come back soon…

1/13 Our first meeting! Right before the adoption.

2/13 Coming home with mom.

2/13 The most adorable puppy butt. Playing with cousin Otto <3

2/13 This sweet little face grew up…

1/17 …into the prettiest girl in the whole wide world!

Back at Home!

Saturday, February 4th, 2017

Hooray! Roxy is home again and I couldn’t be happier. I’m so proud of how well she is getting around. Stairs are still a challenge, though.

I was able to get her at 4:30 yesterday and before we left, I finally got answers to my page and a half of questions. The tech showed me how to do a towel sling (which we still haven’t got the hang of) and talked me through all of the medicine coming home with us. There’s a lot of it! An antibiotic and a few for pain. The first time the vet gave us medicine, we tried Greenies Pill Pockets. She loves the duck and pea flavor! We haven’t had any problems giving her meds this way. It’s like a special twice a day treat for her.

She is still figuring out how to sit down, but she walks around like a champ. Stairs are especially challenging as our basement apartment has 12 steps. Coming down isn’t so hard, but going up seems to be much scarier or more uncomfortable for her. And she doesn’t like the towel sling at all. I’m wondering if some kind of temporary ramp can be put in place so we can just walk right out of our sunken patio.

I still feel badly about taking her leg away, even though I keep reminding myself it’s for the better. It’s going to be a long 10-14 days waiting for the incision to heal but we will take it one step–or hop–at a time!

Riding home from the vet! Glad I had the hammock seat cover. It kept most of the leaking off of the seat and kept her from falling into the floor every turn.

The Surgery

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

Roxy didn’t get to come home yesterday evening as planned. Her surgery was longer and more challenging than the vet expected; however, it was successful and she is OK. They hope to be able to send her home this evening at the earliest or tomorrow some time.

8:00 pm: Resting comfortably, probably seeing pink elephants.

I dropped Roxy off at the vet yesterday feeling nervous but confident everything would go smoothly. I was told I would get the call to pick her up right after my last class for the day. But when 3:00 pm came, and I hadn’t heard anything, I started to get worried. At 3:30 pm I called the office dreading the worst, but the tech I spoke with assured me everything was fine, the vet had only just finished the surgery and Roxy came through like a champ. I felt better, but something in her voice suggested there was more to the story. She promised the vet would call soon to talk to me and answer my questions, but they “will definitely be keeping Roxy overnight.”

Around 6:00 or 7:00 pm, I got a call from the vet herself who proceeded to tell me about the surgery and answered some of the questions I had dropped off on a sheet a few days earlier. As I listened to her describe the surgery, tears began welling in my eyes and I paced back and forth mumbling the occasional, “Okay….” Roxy’s surgery had been a real challenge that took up almost the entire day. The large amount of fluids it took to compensate for all the blood she lost brought her temperature very low, despite having two heating pads.

The vet also made a last-minute decision about the surgery that I had assumed was the plan to begin with. Unbeknownst to me, her original plan was only to take about 2/3 of her leg, leaving a nub to help her balance when walking. But because we didn’t know exactly what kind of cancer we were dealing with (I immediately regretted not doing the biopsy), she feared leaving any part of the cancerous bone and decided to take the leg all the way up to the hip. I had assumed this was the plan from the start, so hearing that it wasn’t was more of a shock than learning that it had been done.

She told me Roxy woke up from surgery very vocal. I couldn’t stop myself from imagining what that probably sounded like, how scared my sweet girl must be feeling, and I sobbed. She wasn’t interested in moving to go outside or eat, which were the requirements for sending her home. After describing the surgery and letting me know Roxy was resting nice and doped up in a crate, the vet told me her techs had made a mistake when prepping Roxy for the surgery–my heart sank to my feet. The techs had prepped her left leg and the vet made a several inch skin incision before realizing the mistake. So Roxy’s entire rear is shaved and she has some stitches on her left leg. She apologized for the mistake and assured me it wouldn’t effect Roxy’s healing.

Roxy’s leg is being sent to a pathologist to get more information about the cancer. Depending on what they find out, she may need to go to NC State University’s vet school to look into the spots in her chest. Regardless, the vet would like to do another X-ray in a month to check on them.

Getting off the phone with the vet, I was filled with so much guilt and regret. Why didn’t I do the biopsy first? What have I just put my dog through? They almost took off the wrong leg! Was all the trauma she experienced even worth it? How will she feel about me after doing this to her? I cried.

I shared my grievances with friends last night, and today I feel a little better. What’s done is done, there’s no use regretting it and Roxy is strong and full of love. She will heal and her love for me won’t change. I can’t wait to bring her home.

9:00 pm Update: She went trotting around the yard with the vet last night!

The Shocking News and a Hard Decision

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Hi, everyone!

This past weekend turned my world upside down and I just want to thank everyone for being so understanding and willing to give a hug or shoulder to cry on. Your support is so appreciated and in return, I’d like to use this blog as a way to keep everyone updated on Roxy’s progress in our newest journey. 

 

Roxy has had some problems in the past with her hip but it usually works itself out with exercise. This time, she had been limping for about a week before I finally decided to take her to the vet. The vet looked at her legs and expressed great concern about Roxy’s right rear knee, not her hip. The vet did some X-rays and returned to confirm the worst: Roxy has cancer.

Specifically, she has osteosarcoma in her right knee which is quickly deteriorating the bones in her entire right leg. Additional X-ray images of Roxy’s hips and chest revealed signs of hip dysplasia in her left hip and three suspicious white spots around her heart and lugs.

Devastated and overwhelmed by the news, I was presented with a few options:

  1. Do nothing and try to manage Roxy’s pain with meds–something the vet warned was extremely hard to do and would never stop her limping–until her quality of life deteriorated to the point we needed to euthanize.
  2. Pay a pretty penny for a biopsy of the cancer in her knee to find out more information and possibly have more options.
  3. Pay an even prettier penny to amputate the cancerous leg which would relieve her from the immense pain, but probably wouldn’t stop the cancer which has likely already metastasized to other places. This would also put more strain on her bad hip.

What is a scared pawrent to do? Of course I didn’t want my baby to limp forever, so option 1 was out. We could do the biopsy, but ultimately what would that really do? Confirm that the leg needed to go or open up the possibility of expensive chemo treatments? But would Roxy ever forgive me for dropping her off in a strange place and waking up one leg short?

It was a hard decision and I deliberated over it for a few days. Deep down, I knew the most reasonable option for us was amputation, but I really struggled emotionally with that idea. Roxy has always been a rambunctious, active dog. She loves to run and jump and play hard, wouldn’t amputation take that away from her?

After doing some research online, I found Tripawds, a whole community of loving pawrents of amputee pets. I read about other families’ situations, explored the blogs and resources, and browsed the recommended gear. The more I read, the more I came to be at peace with the decision to amputate Roxy’s leg. This would give her greater quality of life, she wouldn’t hate me for going forward with the surgery, and she would still have fun and be my happy girl when she healed. I realized I could even picture Roxy hopping around with a bit of humor. So the decision was made.

I drop her off for the surgery at 6:45 am tomorrow and then I’ll get breakfast with a friend gracious enough to wake up so early and be with me when I won’t want to be alone.