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

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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!


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Rough times — Surgery Day Plus 12

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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!

Made it through the first night

While I was out last evening, my husband reported hearing some licking sounds from Darby.  Oops!  Removing the cone was premature!  She was grooming the bottom part of her incision.  So lesson learned for us:  the cone went back on.  🙁

Our bedroom is upstairs, and Darby usually sleeps either on her bed or on a couch downstairs.  (Fortunately, she’s tall enough to just kind of slide onto the couch — no jumping required.  We noticed last night that she’d already crossed that bridge on her own!)  For her first night home, I elected to sleep on a different couch downstairs — if she needed anything, I’d be nearby and could hear better.  This is where humans and dogs are different.  Humans actually SLEEP at night, and dogs sleep a lot during the day.  I think Darby was pretty excited to have company, and visited me quite a lot last night.  Cone in my face.  Lots of petting.  “You’re a good dog, Darby!”  So the quality of my sleep was pretty bad, but Darby seemed be fine during the night, in spite of all the interrupted sleep.  At least I didn’t have to get up and inject more of the bupivacaine.  She got that first thing this morning, and seems to be in good shape.  She’ll get the catheter for the bupivacaine removed tomorrow morning.

By the way, she’s sleeping now.

Home!

I spent the day laying down a room-sized rug we had in the attic, gripper carpet pads, and a yoga mat to give Darby traction when she came home. Picked her up at 3 pm. Doc says she’s doing well: getting up and down from sitting/lying down by herself. Actually walking quite well! Her incision is not covered — the vet said it heals better/faster when exposed to air. She also has a catheter for local pain medication. We got a tutorial on how to administer that.

I learned that dogs have lymph nodes! The vet said both her limb and the lymph nodes were sent to the lab for analysis. This will help determine her care from here on. I was a little scared about how we’d get her in and out of our Camry’s back seat. The vet helped at the hospital, and between the two of us, I think we can handle this. It’s awkward, but doable.

Darby was sent home with a hard, transparent cone. She doesn’t have it on now — the vet said it’s to prevent her from messing with her incision. If she’s not tempted to do that, no need for the cone. We’ll get an inflatable one from our local vet tomorrow. I think Darby’s local pain medication still has the incision site pretty numb, so I suspect she might be more tempted to try to scratch in days to come.

We anchored her dishes on a box to make the height a little easier for her. I don’t have the entire kitchen lined with gripper pads, and what do you know: Darby was walking fine on the bare floor. Oh well! If it works for her, I’m happy!