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It has been awhile since my last post so this might be a little long. I definitely feel like I have been on a roller coaster ride and I do not like roller coasters! They are scary, unpredictable and just when you think its over it does one more crazy flip! This is exactly what has been going on with Honeybear. Recovery was and is a lot tougher than I had thought it would be. I knew that she would have some pain and it would take a couple weeks before she acted any better but I wasn’t prepared for the whimpers with the phantom pain, the edema in her belly, the side effects of the pain meds, the soreness and stiffness their bodies feel adjusting to their new walk, the muscle wasting from just laying around, and the gut wrenching feeling I get when I see her struggle in any way. Between her pain med schedule and listening to her switch positions or whimper in the middle of the night sleep had been non existent until the last couple nights. I am writing this blog to #1 document Honeybear’s journey and #2 to help someone who is going through this also or thinking about going through this, so I think its important I not only talk about the positives but the negatives as well.
Honeybear is 3 weeks post op tomorrow! She is completely off tramadol and is only taking one Gabepentin twice per day along with her previcox once a day. I tried the last couple days to get the Gabepentin down to once a day but as soon as I skip that morning dose she can’t get comfortable and will start panting. On day 17 I came home for lunch and she was actually standing waiting for me and wiggling her little booty! I was so happy!! 🙂 Prior to this she would be on her bed when I would come home and lift her head. I was also bringing her food to her at this time. She now gets up to greet us and to eat her food! She loves being outside, anytime she hears the door open she is up! This is great to see but very frustrating because we live in Texas and it is already a scorching summer! We can only be outside 5-10 minutes unless it’s after the sun has gone down. We are close to the beach which she loves but right now they have been reporting a flesh eating bacteria in our water!! I think we’ve been through enough lately so scratch that for now! 🙁 I have seen where people ask if tripawds get depressed and in my opinion I think for Honeybear she is happy doing something she loves but just cooped up inside the house definitely gets her down.
Don’t get me wrong we have definitely been doing anything we can with her. The other night we took her to a walking trail and she got a little ride in her cart! She loved it! Last night we took her to our neighborhood park that we used to walk to every morning, she also loved this! Today I took her to the bank and a quick stop at Petco to see the guinea pigs. Of course she loved this also but I discovered no more Petco unless she has her rubber pawz shoes on! She was slipping all over the place! Thank you Ruffwear for the harness, I was able to hold her up. I have noticed even though she loves all these activities they wear her out quickly and make her sore and stiff. So I think baby steps is the best way to go. I do want to get her into some physical therapy soon. I think this will help with her strength and stamina.
Honeybear’s blood test last week was good so we have one more to do this week and back to the specialist next week for chemo #2! As far as I know she is handling the first chemo very well. It is hard to tell since she is still on some meds and is still recovering. I have read so many stories where dogs have bounced back to their old selves at 2 weeks post op. This is great and amazing for these dogs but it is not true for all dogs. Honeybear definitely has her sweet personality back but as far as activity level she is still working on it. She was an extremely active dog pre op and was still using her right arm (bad arm) so I think that is why it is taking her a little longer than some.
We are so blessed to be able to proceed with the treatment for Honeybear and I pray for her healing and strength everyday. Every day is better than the last and every week I see leaps of improvement! Patience is a necessity going through recovery and I am working on that! I am also working on not worrying so much, I know she feels it. I wish I had a switch “worry off!” Since I don’t I will work on that and Honeybear will work on healing and I will have an update soon! Got to go prep Honeybear’s salmon and spinach dinner now!
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Today was a big and exhausting day for Honeybear! We saw her surgeon for her suture removal and she is healing perfectly! Honeybear even sat on her back legs and gave the surgeon a high five!! 🙂 We then had our oncology consultation and proceeded with her first chemo treatment. They did an exam and blood work prior to the treatment and all was good. The exam, blood work and treatment took only an hour! I think the consultation was longer because of all of my questions! This was one treatment of five that she will need. We will take her every week for blood work and every three weeks for treatment. I just have to say although this specialty hospital is a drive for us they are totally worth it! I couldn’t be more pleased with the professionalism, compassion and knowledge that the staff has at South Texas Veterinary Specialists.
Honeybear in the car after chemo, her happy little face is starting to come back!!
As you can see we decided to have a little fun with all this to keep our spirits up so we made Honeybear a shirt for her trip today. 🙂 She has to wear shirts right now so she doesn’t lick her incision. Everyone loved it and I have to say I think yellow is her color. 🙂 She is still on low dose pain killers for her muscle spasms (phantom pains) but I think they might be getting a little better. The surgeon said they might last for 4-6 weeks. I have been researching cancer diets for dogs and decided to keep her on her specialty food for her joints but also supplement with some lean meats, vegetables, turmeric and hemp oil, etc. The oncologist said all this would be fine to do with the chemo and since she will be doing so much blood work they will notice if a problem does arise with her diet.
As soon as she is off her pain meds and completely healed I plan on visiting a local canine rehab clinic for some water therapy. Honeybear loves to swim and it is supposed to be the best therapy for amputees. I am still trying to convince my husband that we just need to get a pool for the backyard!! 😉 So far no luck but I will keep you posted! It sure would be nice for our hot Texas summer………Anyways back to work tomorrow so I will update as soon as I can. 🙂
So a lot has happened since my last post! Yesterday was a big day, Honeybear got to get her bandage off! I felt so relieved for her as that bandage looked so uncomfortable! The incision looked great! I’m attaching a photo of it below so if you have a weak stomach don’t scroll any further! I mean like I said it looks great from a medical stand point but is still a little overwhelming if you don’t know what to expect.
You see, it looks great!! 😉
I definitely woke up in a great mood today and let me tell you I am NOT a morning person. I had an email waiting from the specialist and I was a little nervous to read it knowing it was probably going over the histopathology results. She said “We got complete excision and they did not see obvious metastasis to the lymph node.” Yay!! Woohoo! 🙂 🙂 Now I know even though they didn’t see obvious metastasis that doesn’t mean microscopic cells haven’t already spread but it is definitely a step in the right direction! That is what the chemo is for to kill any cells we cannot see. Anyways that is good news #1!!!
Good news #2……Honeybear’s new Ruffwear harness came in today!! I know as soon as she is healed it will be such a benefit to help her around when she needs it. She seemed to like it but I think she thought it was a pillow 🙂
She still has that depressed look on her face from the medicine but I started to lower her dose just a little today. She still needs it. The last 3 days or so she will cry out of nowhere and the specialist says it is muscle spasms from the muscles healing together. She has still been lying around a lot but I think all that will change when meds are completely gone. I think she is also getting super spoiled with her food, tonight was organic salmon with roasted green beans and brown rice! I am just adding a portion of this in with her regular food so she doesn’t lack certain nutrients. Other than that we are just waiting to take her for her first chemo treatment on Thursday!! I will update then 🙂
Ok so I am still remaining positive even though the pain meds are making Honeybear, well……..not Honeybear! She is on tramadol, gabepentin, previcox and her antibiotic. We know she handles the previcox well but the other two make her very sedated and at times anxious. It is very frustrating to us because she was getting around perfectly at first and now with all the meds she is wobbly and weak when walking and doesn’t want to move a lot. I talked to a doctor on call the other night and we discussed dropping down the gabepentin a little to see if that would help but then literally an hour after I talked to her Honeybear experienced “phantom pain.” She cried out while she was calmly laying down. I am not an expert on this but my understanding is the nerve still feels the pain the arm would feel if it was still there. It will take a couple weeks to heal this nerve (thank goodness its not a permanent side effect) but gabepentin is the one drug to help with this. So we have to keep her “drugged up” for a couple more days. I definitely don’t want her to be in pain but I want to see that full of life Honeybear that I know!
On a positive note when she does get around she does great! She has mastered going to the restroom, she handles the ramp to the back deck like a champ, and she is still eating and drinking. Tomorrow we go back to our local vet to remove her bandage and if she is healing well she will start her first chemo on Thursday. I am excited to meet the oncologist and get on with healing Honeybear!
I read over and over the first two weeks are the hardest and at this point almost a week out I would hope to agree as we don’t know what the next few weeks will be like. From what I’ve been told chemo has very little to no side effects on dogs, let’s pray this is the case for Honeybear. My birthday is next month and the perfect present would to be able to take her to the beach! That’s 4 weeks away so come on Honeybear you can do it!
The last two days have had ups and downs but Honeybear is still doing great on her recovery! Our sweet neighbors dropped by the other night to give Honeybear some tasty treats and a card. To our surprise she got up and ran/hopped to them! The good in this is she ran! The bad in this is it caused her bandage to slip and she really shouldn’t be moving like that quite yet. So the next morning we took her to our vet and she got a new bandage. She loved the car ride there even getting up several times to look out the window! While we were changing her bandage we got to take a peak at her incision and it looked great! Well it looked like an incision with staples but no signs of swelling, redness or infection. 🙂 She also stood up on her back legs to give the tech a kiss!!
I also had to call the specialist because I was concerned about her abdomen. She has been eating/drinking great and even had her first bowel movement since surgery this morning. It may sound weird but I was so happy! It takes a few days to get that going after surgery in her case 3 days so I felt relieved for her. Anyways back to her abdomen, it looked heavy and distended. I tend to worry and freak out about every little thing so I immediately thought internal bleeding or stomach bloat but the specialist reassured me it was edema and is common after surgery. It is an accumulation of tissue fluid and with gravity sat in her stomach. She told me to put some heat on it so I did and this morning it already looks more normal.
I love to cook and learn about nutrition so yesterday I decided to make Honeybear some super healthy dog treats. She loved them 🙂 These had a pumpkin and apple base to help move things along restroom wise and this morning I found out they did the trick 😉 I plan on doing some blueberry ones next.
At this point I think the hardest part is her being on all the pain meds. I already cut her tramadol back a little (they said this was ok). She is so sleepy and when she does walk wants to take breaks. I know side effects to these painkillers are drowsiness, weakness and dizziness which must be frustrating to her since she is already learning her new balance. I can’t wait until she is off of them and acts a little more like herself. She should be done by next week. We are excited to take her to her favorite places as soon as we can. One thing about Honeybear is that she is not a homebody! She loves to be out and about!
That’s pretty much all that has been going on the last couple days. Tomorrow my husband takes over the nurse role since I have to go to work. I’m going to miss her!!