Party time!

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Here’s our girl the day of her last carboplatin treatment!  It’s cute, the way the whole staff at the clinic comes out to celebrate her achievement.  Her bandanna says “Cancer Survivor.”  Love that!

So, after the few days of post-chemo recuperation, I’m happy to report that we have our old dog back!  We’ve plateaued at about 2/3 mile on our daily walks.  A week or so after the last treatment, the squirrels were calling to her and I thought “Dang!  Gonna have to get the pinch collar back out!”  It was great to see that old tugging-on-the-leash strength was back.  So the next day I got out the other collar and boom!  Perfect dog on a leash.  So here’s a photo of our daily jaunt outside.  Our pace is much brisker than it used to be, but that’s probably a good thing for both of us.  (And, a GREAT way to deal with shelter-in-place!)

Once again, thanks to the Tripawds community for helping us get through a bumpy couple of months.  I hope Darby’s story helps show some anxious owners out there that there is light at the end of the tunnel!

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Second treatment better than the first!

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Darby went in for her second carboplatin treatment 3 days ago.  She hasn’t missed a meal since, and in spite of seeming a little less energetic than normal, I think it’s safe to say that we’re past the danger point with this treatment.  We may even venture out for a walk around the cul-de-sac after I finish this.

So, what worked?  There was no sedative this time — we were actually in and out of the vet hospital in an hour.  I wasn’t exactly with her during the treatment, but I did remain in the waiting room.  She wasn’t prescribed any medication before the treatment, but went home with some Cerenia and Metronidazole, which we’ve given her even though we haven’t experienced any vomiting this time.  (Yay!!)  The carboplatin dosage was also reduced from 28 units to 22.5.  So maybe we’ve reached the magic formula!

Darby used to like to go out into the back yard and scratch her back by rolling around in the grass, yawing back and forth on her back, and stretching her legs in the air.  I wasn’t sure if she could still do that.  Here’s proof she’s still getting relief!

Hospitalization after first chemo treatment

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!

Reaction to first chemo treatment

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!