Hospitalization after first chemo treatment

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Darby stopped eating the second day after her carboplatin treatment.  On day Chemo Plus 5, after vomiting six times in 24 hours, my husband had had enough and drove Darby back up to the hospital.  (We tried Cerenia and Mirtazapine, neither of which did anything.)  She was admitted and spent the night getting IV fluids and medication.

The diagnosis was gastroenteritis.  Two doctors basically admitted to being very surprised, and that her problem was probably a reaction to the chemo.  (The admitting vet yesterday told us her condition was not consistent with a   carboplatin reaction.)  So we may never know exactly whether this was chemo-related, or whether there was some other extenuating circumstance.

I just brought her home about lunchtime, and she had a decent afternoon at home.  Gobbled down a cup and a half of the chicken & rice mixture I made.  Her energy level seems okay.  We had two contractors come to scope out an interior job on the house, and Darby investigated each one to make sure they were “okay.”  So it looks like she’s on the mend!

Her oncologist is still in favor of her next chemo round on the 21st.  I asked whether another chemo drug might be better suited for Darby, but he said for her type of cancer, not really.  Normally they decrease the dose for Round 2 anyway.  If Darby has a similar problem a second time, he said he may consider stopping the chemo altogether.  We shall see!

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Reaction to first chemo treatment

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Surgery Day Plus 17 (yesterday) dawned pretty promising.  Darby and I went for a walk TWO times around the cul-de-sac.  That was noticeably more taxing on her than once around, so we quit after two.  Our normal routine was about 1.5 miles every morning.  Wonder if we’ll ever do that again?

My husband dropped her off at 1:30 yesterday for her first carboplatin treatment; he was called to pick her up about 3:30.  He was told that she was over-excited in her holding crate after the treatment was over (Darby hates crates), so they gave her a sedative.  (Name of the drug escapes me — starts with a p.)  She seemed okay right when she came home, but over the course of the next few hours, she really slowed down.  Her balance was way off and when it looked like she might fall over, I got her to lay down.  Soon she started tensing and quivering all over — this was almost constant.  It didn’t look like she could even get up.  We didn’t try to get her to eat her dinner.  After a couple hours, we called the vet hospital back.  They recommended she be seen by the overnight vet, so back we went.

Her blood pressure and temperature were fine.  They really didn’t have an explanation for the quivering, but agreed that it could be the sedative, as that was effective for about 6 hours.  (Recall that Darby was so lethargic 15 days after surgery, while on gabapentin, that we took the vet’s suggestion to cut her off that cold turkey. She rallied then.)

Her oncologist called this morning.  By that time, I had gotten Darby to eat a normal-sized dry food meal.  (She was mostly on canned food before the surgery, but wasn’t interested in that at all this morning.)  I’m still a little confused about how long the reaction to the carboplatin will go on — I think we should probably expect a decreased appetite for 3-4 days?  The oncologist reminded me that he wants a CBC blood test done one week after the chemo treatment, and the next treatment should be two weeks after that.  He said there will be no sedative next time, and suggested that I stay with her during the treatment to keep her calmer.  I am totally on board with that!

This afternoon Darby appeared to get a little more energy, and we took a one-lap walk around the cul-de-sac.  I like it when she perks up!  She’s resting peacefully now.

And so it goes, on this roller coaster.  Poor Darby!  All these nasty drugs!

Stitches out, starting chemo today (Surgery Day Plus 17)

Darby got her stitches out two days ago.  We had kept an inflatable collar on her for most of the past two weeks, so she didn’t irritate the incision site, and it had healed very nicely.  We took it off that morning, and the site doesn’t seem to bother Darby at all.

The oncologist wanted to start chemo that day, but I was skittish.  I wasn’t impressed with Darby’s behavior then, and thought it might be better to start chemo when she was more “normal.”  The vet said that, at that point, 15 days after surgery, she shouldn’t be in pain anymore.  I guess a lot of healing can happen in that second week after surgery!  We discussed the unusual behavior I noted in my previous post, and agreed that her lethargy and trouble walking could be  due to being over-medicated on the gabapentin.  The vet suggested we could stop that cold turkey.  So we did that yesterday, and Darby is much better!  I even took her for a couple of short walks yesterday around our cul-de-sac.  She seemed raring to go; the only puzzling thing I saw was that she wanted to run the whole way, straining at the leash a little.  I wasn’t sure if this was exhilaration, or if it’s just easier for her to run than walk.  But she’s sleeping less, and doing more normal things like barking at passersby, so we’re encouraged.

My husband and I disagreed over when to start chemo.  I wanted to wait a week, to get the gabapentin out of her system and allow her to normalize a little.  My husband agreed with the vet, who was concerned that any delay in  starting chemo was an increased risk of cancer spreading.  I relented, since Darby seemed to have such a good day yesterday.  All systems ahead!

Rough times — Surgery Day Plus 12

I was out of state from Surgery Day Plus 3 to Surgery Day Plus 8.  During my absence, my husband reported some “lethargy.”  I have to say I was scared by Darby’s behavior when I returned.  Gone was the dog with a prance in her gait, even the 3-legged variation she was rocking the first couple of days after surgery.  She doesn’t walk much at all — when she does, it’s very labored.   She spends most of the time sleeping on the couch, and when she’s not doing that, she’s demanding to be petted.  Last night I had to do quite a sales pitch to get her off the couch and over to her food bowl.

Are these the rough patches I was warned about, after the hospital meds are stopped?  Darby is not a complainer, but I even heard her whine a little bit when she stopped before the one step up from our sunken living room, as if just making that one step up was too much for her.  Because of this behavior and the labored gait, my husband and I took her in to be seen on Surgery Day Plus 10.  Her incision looks terrific, and we were relieved to find out that her temperature is normal.  The on call vet suggested we increase the gabapentin slightly, and then just keep on keeping on until we see the vet on Tuesday to get her stitches out.  He wants to discuss starting chemo, but I really don’t want to deal with that while Darby is still so down.

Good news – morning of Surgery Day Plus 3

Just got back from the trip to the hospital to have the catheter (for the local pain med) removed. Darby is doing great – lies down & pops back up pretty sprightly!  Plus, she must have felt well enough to “climb the hill” in our back yard. We let her out this morning, in the dark, to relieve herself, and my husband heard her on the hill. In her younger days, Darby would launch over the 2 -2.5  foot retaining wall without a thought.  Of course, she’s not SUPPOSED to do said launching now – I guess we’ll have to keep the leash closer! Nice to know that she’s still totally willing to keep our yard safe from turkeys or ground squirrels on the hill who venture too close to the wire fence!

We were a little concerned about her licking her remaining front paw a lot, and she coughed a couple times in the 10 or so minutes we were at the hospital.  Nothing to be concerned about at this time, we were told.

The good news came from the oncologist, who called last evening. Darby’s bad leg had never been biopsied, so the confirmation of osteosarcoma indicated in post-surgery lab work told us we’re doing the right thing.  Also, her lymph nodes were clear! The oncologist is recommending starting chemo.

So all seems well at this point in Darbyland. I’m going to be out of town for 5 days, so my husband gets to handle any withdrawal issues from the local medication. Other folks on this site have warned us that this may be the hardest thing for us – I’m sure my husband and Darby are up to the challenge!

Thank you to tripawds members for all the kind words and helpful advice! It is so appreciated!