(photo credit: Geoffrey Tischman)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Three Amigos Together Again

Seven and a half months.  My beautiful, perfect, amazing Millie had seven and a half joyful, spoiled rotten, no-more-rules months after her diagnosis with osteosarcoma.  We made it a priority to celebrate every day, and I'm so happy I got that much good time with her.  Millie passed away at home yesterday afternoon via humane euthanasia.  I am so grateful that I got to be with her, hold her head in my lap & kiss her soft, velvet ears when she went.

The past two weeks have been very emotional.  On August 22nd, my brother and his family had to say goodbye to Maya.  

My brother and his family had fought extremely hard to keep her happy and healthy despite a diagnosis of Myasthenia Gravis and megaesophogus.  Up until the very end, they were successful.  In her last few days her body stopped responding to her medicine, making it difficult for her to walk, eat, etc.  I was able to see and say my goodbyes to her via Skype.  Maya was a huge part of my life.  I lived with my brother and sister-in-law when they adopted Maya.  She grew up with Sugar.  She was loved so much by our whole family & when they moved across the country -- Maya still came with them when they came to visit us.  I will always remember "B" and love her.  

A few days later, on August 31st, I was shocked and touched to see that Millie's former owner had responded to a Facebook message I had sent several months prior.  When I adopted Millie all of her previous vet records had her owner's name blacked out....except the very last page (I suspect they just missed it).  I have always remembered the owner's name.  Shortly after Millie was diagnosed, I sent a message to all of the people on Facebook with the name of her former owner.  I wasn't sure I'd get a response back, but I had to try.  I knew our interaction would likely be awkward, but I figured it was worth it for both of us.  After all, if I had been in their situation, and had to give my dog up, I would always wonder what happened to her.  I had almost given up hope that I would get a response back.  She wrote me, and was so excited to catch up on Millie's life.  We talked over the phone for maybe 30 or 40 minutes.  I got to hear all about young Millie.  She peed in her mom's purse on the way home from the breeder at 12 weeks old, she chewed everything in sight, she loved to sit with her booty on the couch and have her front feet on the ground (some things never change), and she was missed so much.  They loved Millie.  I can tell they really, really did.  I filled them in on the last couple of years & we became Facebook friends so that they could see updated Millie pictures.  Later that night, I got perhaps the best gift I could have hoped for - a Millie puppy picture!

I mean...I can hardly stand how cute she is.  She's 12 weeks old and 25 pounds.  Look at that naughty, mischievous face!  Those little puppy teeth are planted firmly on a thumb, and those feet!  I burst into tears upon seeing it.  I had wondered what her life had been like for so long, and now I knew.  She was loved so much by her first family, and they were heartbroken to have to give her up.  They had still kept all their pictures of her and frequently talked about her.  They also sent a few more pictures...

Here she is at 9 months old.  Check out the slob on her nose.  

Young adult.

So tolerant & letting their daughter investigate those big, drooly lips.

Snuggling with her Boxer brother and sister.

I will forever be grateful to them for choosing to relinquish her, and also to be willing to fill me in on Millie's first two years.  

After talking to her first family I started to notice Mil was slowing down a little.  She seemed...tired.  She was happy, bouncing around, eating like a champ, chewing bones...but something seemed off.  She was a little slow to get up and it took a second before her butt was all the way up and she was ready to roll.  She could still jump on the couch and bed with ease...but something was telling me that she wasn't quite right.  Late that night of the 31st I noticed a massive amount of vaginal discharge.  Ahh, I thought maybe it was just the vaginitis taking the pep out of her.  The next morning I made a trip to her vet and picked up antibiotics.  Over the weekend, she still seemed a little tired, but still the same happy Mil.  She was scheduled for a cancer recheck on September the 10th, but after talking to Evan we decided that I would move up the recheck to Tuesday, September 4th.  One week wasn't really going to make a difference in her cancer recheck, but if something was going on we'd know about it.

U of I on Tuesday is like a cancer ward.  Almost all of the animals in the waiting room are in for some sort of cancer treatment.  I saw a familiar face - a woman and her friend, both easily in their mid 80's - were in with one of their Boxers.  He has had 17 rounds of chemo, so we've gotten to know each other over Tuesday mornings in the waiting room.  Millie had bloodwork, chest x-rays and an orthopedic consult.  The bloodwork came back stellar and her orthopedic consult was normal (no pain found at all in her rear or back).  Her chest x-rays showed that the mets in her lungs were about 50% larger than they were in early July (it was also at this time that I found out she had actually had 3 or 4 mets in her lungs -- even back in July -- when I was told she only had 2).  They concluded that her chest mets weren't large enough to really be causing her any distress or weakness.  They suspected she was overusing her rear leg and advised I give her some pain meds and rest her for a week.  We talked about treatment alternatives since the metronomic + Palladia had "failed" (they use that term if there is any growth whatsoever, even if the drugs are slowing the growth).  They talked about doing a trial, trying the metronomic (even though they thought it was a waste), or keeping her comfortable while she lived out her last days.  The trial involved an experimental combination of chemotherapy and an oral drug that they hope "breaks down the barrier and allows the chemo to penetrate the cancer."  She would have had to go in 1-2 times per week for the next six weeks, have draining meds, multiple blood draws, etc.  I knew in my heart I couldn't do that to her.  In regular chemo, she had three off weeks between injections to allow her body to get back to "normal" before having another dose.  This trail would mean chemo every other week.  Her body was tired, and I knew it.  I wasn't going to force her last days into frequent, no-fun visits to the university.  I had decided that I would give her a week without drugs to see if she could bounce back before deciding if I would continue to treat with metronomic & Palladia, or just "keep her comfortable."  

In the meantime, my fantastic friends, Josephine & Lorenzo (Millie's godparents), found out that their yellow Lab had cancer.  Vegas was diagnosed with a rare type of carcinoma in his lungs.  This type of cancer is often mistaken for bronchitis or pneumonia due to its symptoms and how it looks on x-ray.  He wasn't improving after a million types of antibiotics, so they took him to a specialist for a lung biopsy.  The diagnosis was not only that it was cancer, but that it was an untreatable type of cancer.  He was given a very poor prognosis, but his mom and dad fought with every ounce to keep him comfortable & give him a chance to get back on his feet.

Handsome Baby Vegas.

Thurday, September 6th started out like any other day at my house.  Millie happily ate her food, had a normal potty walk, we had a good cuddle in bed, she tried to eat Sugar's food, hopped into the crate & ate the treat I gave her.  When I arrived back home on my lunch break I knew something was wrong.  Normally I am greeted by Sugar at the door & by the clanging noise of Millie hitting the crate with her tail.  Sugar was there, but the house was quiet.  I found Mil in her crate, laying on her bed like she was asleep.  I called her name, and when she didn't respond, I thought she was dead.  I picked up her head & put it in my lap...and she was snoring.  My perfect Stink looked just like she did when she slept next to me.  A coworker of mine, an amazing veterinarian, immediately answered my call and came right over to my house.  She suspected that the cancer had gone to Millie's brain (unpenetrable  and untreatable by chemo).  My parents arrived shortly after and we all got the chance to cuddle her, kiss her, and tell her what a perfect girl she was.  Poor Evan was out of state for business, but was thankfully reachable by phone.  She looked so content and comfortable.  Her breathing was steady.  I am so grateful that I had the chance to be with her and say goodbye.  Her body was tired, and I was able to make the decision to give her a peaceful end.

Later that evening Josephine and Lorenzo made the tough decision to euthanize Vegas.  He was slowly declining and they did not want him to suffer.

In two weeks I have lost three of the most amazing dogs in my life.  They were the best of friends and played together, cuddled together, had barking contests...  My heart hurts with the loss of these three wonderful dogs, but I take comfort in knowing that they are all together again.  Maya is squeaking her basketball in that way that drives you crazy, but that you miss when you don't hear it....Millie is eating piles after piles of fitted sheets & never having to have a drooly mouth wiped again....and Vegas is humping all the pillows in sight and eating crusts off of freshly made apple pies.

Last night as I was turning off the lights, I noticed a dried drool singer on my wall.  It made me smile and remember my baby girl for who she was.  I have no plans in cleaning that part of the wall.  

Hug the ones you love a little tighter today.

As Josephine says...."here is the first image from heaven's nanny cam"

Rest in peace Maya, Vegas & Millie.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Millie's Adoption Story

Before I start this post, I'd like to share a wee bit of good news.  Millie doesn't have a UTI.  Hooray!  After yesterday's "free catch" of urine, I took her in to U of I this morning for a cyctocentesis.  Turns out the sediment from the first sample was from the outside of her lady bits, and not actually a sign of an infection.  At least her immune system can focus on fighting growing cancer instead of fighting two things at once.  A small victory!

Anyway, after all the crud and sadness of yesterday's post, I thought it might be nice to have a fun, feel-good post.  So, I thought I'd share Millie's adoption story.

I first met Millie in September of 2007.  She came into the clinic I was working at as a new rescue for Midwest Mastiff Rescue.  She had literally just been surrendered by her owners.  Since she was surrendered for medical concerns she was immediately brought into the vet.  She had been living in Ohio, but her new foster home was going to be in Illinois.  The clinic I was working in provided discounted care to dogs that came in through this rescue.  I had seen at least 15 Mastiffs come through and had fallen in love with the breed all over again.  Growing up I was always fascinated with Mastiffs and knew I wanted to have one some day.  I mean, how could you not?!  Anyway, Millie...who at the time was named Winnie, came in to have her knees evaluated.  A veterinarian in Ohio had diagnosed her with torn cruciates in both rear legs.  Her former owners were giving her NSAIDS, but felt like the best choice for them was to relinquish her to a rescue.  Thank goodness they contacted Midwest Mastiff Rescue.  Their policy is to provide the best possible care they can to their dogs, and to try to take care of all fixable medical concerns before adopting their dogs out.  Soon, they developed a plan.  Millie would have TPLO's - one on each knee, 12 weeks apart - and reside in a foster home in Springfield.  Her foster dad was a gentleman 50+ years old.  God bless him.

I was working the day Millie came in for her evaluation.  She was adorable.  She was almost two (her birthday is in December).  She had literally been plucked from everything she knew, was incredibly painful, had a difficult time getting up, but yet was still so happy to be in a room full of people fawning over her.  Her first surgery was scheduled right away, and she set up camp in one of the kennel runs.  I remember being so blown away by how great of a disposition she had, despite being is such a crummy circumstance.

During her surgery, I was the surgical assistant.  I was telling my boss about what a good girl this dog was.  He casually suggested that I adopt her.  "No way." was my response.  I was living with my brother & sister-in-law, had Sugar & Piper, and knew there was no way I could take on this kind of responsibility, let alone expense.  My boss suggested I reconsider.  After all, he knew I had always wanted a Mastiff.  This dog had a great personality despite being in pain, had already been vaccinated and spayed, and her knee issues were only temporary.  Why wouldn't I do this?  Again, I said "No."

Millie recovered from her surgery like a champ.  She was excellent for her pills & just begged you to cuddle her.  She was irresistible.  I still said no.  Millie was due to spend two weeks at the clinic.  Her foster dad as on vacation, so she needed to recover in a place comfortable with providing the care she needed.  Every morning I looked forward to walking her.  She was perfect around all the other dogs, could care less about the clinic cat, and was doing so well recovering.  I began to quietly consider adopting her.  I arrived to work the following morning, expecting big, slobbery kisses...but Millie's kennel was empty.  I freaked.  Her foster dad had come home early & she was sent home yesterday afternoon after my shift had ended.  It was at that moment I realized exactly how attached I was.  I needed this dog.

I started calling apartments for rent.  Let me tell you, finding a place that I could afford...who allowed two big dogs (one big, one BIG), and a cat...that also had no steps (for her recovery) was like finding a needle in a haystack.  Believe it or not, I was able to find a place.  I needed to get special renter insurance to have a Mastiff in this particular place.  The stars lined up, and I found a great insurance company.  The last step was convincing MMR that I was the best home for Millie.  I called one of the contacts there and pleaded my case.  Since I worked for the clinic & was able to do physical therapy with her (and also offered to pay for her 2nd knee surgery), they agreed to let me adopt her.

My family wasn't over the moon excited about this development.  They are all very pro rescue, but adopting a dog with known medical issues...a dog who required special insurance...a dog who would likely make it impossible for me to find future apartments to rent...a dog who was going to require a $2,000 surgery in 12 weeks...was not really their idea of a "good" decision.  It didn't matter.  I knew Millie was meant to be my girl.

A few days later, great family friends of mine - Josephine & Lorenzo - were driving me to Springfield to pick Millie up.  Did I forget to mention that I only had a Ford Focus at this time...and a dog whose leg can't really be crunched up doesn't really easily fit in a Focus?  My parents drove behind us in their car to meet their new, unexpected, grandpuppy.

Minutes after meeting her, my parents could understand how this dog sucked me in.  She was (and still is) a-freaking-dorable.

 Jowls.  Look at those jowls!

Meeting her Nampa for the first time.

That underbite gets me every time.

On our way back home.

Checking out her new yard.

Released to take very short walks.

Spending most of her time in the crate, recovering.

10 minutes after meeting Sugar for the first time.  

Since bringing this girl into my life, she's become a Canine Good Citizen, a Delta certified therapy dog, a two-time ASPCA model, and one of the loves of my life.  She certainly keeps me on my toes, but I wouldn't trade the thousands of dollars spent on medical care, 20+ eaten sheets, chewed open couch cushions, crazy guard dog behavior of my car, or any of the other challenges I've had with her for the world.  She is perfect just the way she is.
ASPCA calendar models.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Kicking Us While We're Down

Today should have been Millie's 8th round of chemo.  It wasn't.  Before chemo was administered U of I did another met check.  A met check is basically a chest x-ray to see if she had developed more nodules, or if the ones she already has have grown.  I dropped Millie off at 8:30am, and was told to pick her up at 2pm.  True to form, U of I called at 1pm to let me know the bad news.  The IV chemo appears to have stopped working.  The two nodules in her lungs have grown since the last x-ray (6 weeks ago).  They are roughly 1.5 cms now, up from 1cm that they were then.  One bit of good news is that she doesn't seem to have any more.  So...while that IS good news...it's hard to really see that it IS good news.  I suppose it is also good news that the nodules have not grown much more than what they were, but they have grown some...ugh.

Millie will no longer be receiving IV chemo.  She will still be taking metronomic chemo and possibly another oral chemo drug, Palladia.  These drugs help slow the growth of soft tissue tumors.  Palladia can have some pretty nasty side effects, so we'll see how that goes.  I'm willing to try it if it gives her more good time, but I'm not willing to force it on her if it gives her nasty side effects.  Before trying it U of I wanted to have baseline values for her bloodwork and also a urinalysis.  As it turns out, the Big Stink looks like she also is developing another urinary tract infection.  Ugh.  Her poor body.

The one thing that I am proud to say is that she is happy.  So, so, soooo happy.  She is loving her life and as far as I can tell, is in no pain whatsoever.  This, by far, is the best news.  She still does all the things she enjoys doing (eating, barking at strange dogs, helping to separate the cats when Hallie attacks Piper, eating, taking over the bed, cuddling, eating, swimming, car rides, special treats, going to work with me, chewing bones, eating, etc).  If a stranger saw her today, they would never know that Millie is sick.  She's the same nerd she has always been.  I'm not ready for this to not be the case.  I want a million more good days with her.  There will never be enough cuddles or enough slobbery kisses.  There are times where I worry so much it makes me sick.  I worry about what it will be like to see her start to decline.  Will I be able to recognize it, or will I be too wrapped up in all of this?  I think I'll know, but it is hard to realize that is our future.  I try so hard to focus on today.  To make the best of each day, but it is hard not to be overcome with worry sometimes.  Evan calls Millie a giant baby all the time.  Not in a mean way, just that she's so innocent & unaware in a big body.  I love this big blonde baby.

Friday, June 22, 2012

7th Round of Chemo, Maya!! and General Updates

Things have been quite busy here for the last few weeks.  Millie made good on a few of her bucket list items (eating all of Sugar's food) and created a new one (she ate about three cups of super rich cat food & the baggie it came in -- still have yet to see the baggie come out the other end).  We also had our pictures taken at a nearby lake.  I've seen the slideshow & there were more than a few tears.  Ugh, it is going to be so difficult to only choose a few.  She still seems to be quite happy & is getting around really well.  She's a huge fan of the air conditioning, but hey...so am I!  

Late on the evening of the 12th my sister-in-law, human and dog niece arrived from Virginia.  My family was going on a vacation we started planning about a year ago.  I had planned to go, but when Millie got diagnosed I knew I wouldn't go.  My brother and sister-in-law's dog, Maya, has also had a rough start to 2012.  Shortly after turning 8, she was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis (MG) and megaesophogus.  For the most part, she's been doing fairly well considering the diagnosis.  She now gets medication several times a day, eats a special diet, and can only drink or eat when she is in her special Bailey chair.  She has gotten used to the routine & is still a very happy dog - so, it makes taking care of her much easier.  Anyway, since Maya requires a lot of extra care and fairly strict monitoring (oh, forgot to mention she had major spine surgery about a year and a half ago...on Christmas Eve no less), the cost of a pet sitter would be astronomical.  I offered to watch Maya if they brought her to Illinois.  Maya and my girlies love each other, and she basically is like my 3rd dog, except she lives in Virginia most of the year.  Right before they were going to leave Illinois for the vacation destination Maya regurged & developed aspiration pneumonia (an unfortunate fairly common side effect of  megaesophogus).  Almost immediately she developed labored breathing.  My sister-in-law rushed her to U of I for emergency care.  She was given a poor prognosis & placed in an oxygen chamber.  Thankfully, she did well with treatment (though was also diagnosed with a urinary tract infection), and got to come home to my house on June 18th - my birthday!   

Here is Maya greeting Sugar after not seeing each other for over a year.  

Millie and Maya silently struggle to be the dominant dog.  Neither mind when Sugar goes in their crate, steals their bone, lays on them, eats their food, etc.  However, they resource guard from each other.  When Millie saw Maya for the first time, Millie instantly starting barking at her like she had never seen her before.  Maya, still recovering from her stay at the hospital, was too tired to really care.  So, after the first 5 minutes of naughtiness from Millie, we were good to go.  

Here is Maya relaxing in her Bailey chair after eating dinner (she has to stay in this position for 30 minutes after eating or drinking something).  Shugs and Millie are there for moral support.  Also, Hallie (the sluttiest cat you'll ever meet) will lay down and flop over Maya's feet.  She had never met Maya, but that didn't seem to bother her one bit.  

Maya's favorite thing in the whole world?  Kitties!  She loooooooves cats.  She loves to smell them, watch them, follow them, kiss them, cuddle them, etc.  Anything to do with cats, and Maya's there.  This is Maya craning her neck around to follow Hallie as she walks into the kitchen.

On June 19th, Millie had her 7th round of chemo.  (Yes, I felt like I lived at U of I by that point)  She was a rockstar.  When we were heading back to our room, we walked past a giant Dogue de Bordeaux.  He was an intact male that had to weigh at least 220lbs.  Though I am disgusted that he is intact, he was actually in decent shape and not a morbidly obese 220lbs.  He did, however, have one nasty skin infection that covered most of his body.  Millie did not know what to make of him.  They both gave each other the evil eye as we passed one another.  So, I guess technically we can cross off the "Meet an animal larger than I am" off her bucket list, though I really hope to make good on a coworker's offer to let her bark at her horses!

This new chemo drug seems to agree with her system a little better than the first one.  She hasn't had any nausea (though that may be the anti-nausea medicine I give her), has had at worst maybe some soft stool once or twice, but doesn't seem tired or worn out at all.  Her body is also not objecting to the metronomic chemo at all.  In fact, that might be her favorite time of day.  I shake the pill vial and she comes running.  She promptly sits, takes the meds and waits (as drool accumulates) for her treat.  Usually I'm very fair with treats.  If one dog gets one, the other must.  This, however, is a special time where only she gets a treat - and she knows it!

Here is a picture of Millie's front leg.  U of I did an awesome hack job of a shave.  Really?  I know she sits still, and she's there for 6 or so hours...take 15 seconds to make it look like a person with sight clipped her.  

And finally...the doggie crew has taken over my bed.  :)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pictures & Paw Painting

Millie and the rest of the crew have all been doing quite well as of late.  She seems to be handling metronomic chemo beautifully & is really enjoying life.  On Thursday the girls (dog girls, not cat girls), myself, Evan and my mom all headed out to Homer Lake to meet a local photographer.  She took pictures of me and the girlies while Evan and my mom did most of the off camera dog handling.  Millie was fairly excited, but Sugar was PUMPED.  She loved sniffing around the lake & thoroughly enjoyed off leash crazy dog time.  I see the proofs on Thursday and can hardly wait!  After 90% of the pictures were done, I let the girls off leash and let them have the opportunity to jump in the lake.  I fully expected Sugar to jump in while Millie stood at the edge and drank her share of giardia water...but surprisingly Millie was all for it.  She waded in like a hippo (of course still drinking the giardia water) & had a fantastic time ignoring the sticks I threw her to "fetch."

Friday evening Millie gave me a bit of a scare.  A few days prior one of the cats had peed on her bed (yes, thank you Hallie or Piper...much appreciated), so her nice big, comfy bed was out of the crate drying.  Instead, she had two blankets as her "bed."  The blankets slide around some, so she isn't incredibly stable in the crate when she's jumping around excitedly.  Well, anyway, Evan let her out & (we think she slipped on the blankets) she came out clearly favoring her rear leg.  I am terrified that the osteosarcoma will spread to that leg.  So, when I saw her I almost instantly burst into tears.  She greeted me, then went to my room and immediately laid down on my bed, clearly unsure of herself.  After a bit of a rest and me alternating between feeling her leg and hugging the daylights out of her, I had her get up.  She walked just fine, so I think she was just taken aback by her slip & lost a little bit of confidence (and maybe pulled something or bruised herself). 

This afternoon the dogs, Evan & I headed over to St. Joseph to celebrate my birthday early & Father's Day since my parents will be going out of town later this week.  I brought along some canvas & paint and the girlies did a little paw painting.  Check it out...

The artist needed a break to search for inspiration.

Millie's finished piece.

Sugar's turn!

Sugar's finished piece!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Swimming...AND...6th Round of Chemo & Recheck Chest X-rays (written two days late)

On Memorial Day Evan and I took the girls to my parent's house in St. Joseph.  We took them swimming for the first time this season before our big dinner feast.  Sugar loves to jump in the pool & float -- not so much a fan of the actual swimming though.  Millie...well...Millie isn't a huge fan of swimming, but she likes to be included.  

Check out this shake -- only front feet on the ground! (Sugar has a case of the zoomies in the background)

Something about this one makes me think Millie looks like a seal.  

Tongue out.

Fun in the sun.

Jumping in.

Oh. My. Goodness.  That bottom lip gets me every single time.

Beautiful Shugs.

Somebody is getting quite the furry booty...

Millie had her 6th round of chemo and recheck chest x-rays on Tuesday the 29th.  To backtrack a little, I had restarted her on metronomic chemo a few days prior...and so far...things were looking good (minus another round of vaginitis).  U of I was swamped.  As we were waiting, we made friends with two very nice older (mid to late 70s) ladies.  I had seen them in there before, but we had never spoken.  They complemented Millie on her adorable bandanna (Nana made Millie -- and Sugar too! -- a very cute, pink bandanna.  We can cross that one off her bucket list!!).  They started asking questions about why we were there, her amputated leg, etc.  When I told them Millie was there for chemo, one of the older ladies replied, "My dog too.  He's a 5 year old Boxer."  I felt so bad for her.  Her poor boy was only five.  On another note, I hope to be as bad ass as that lady.  I want to be in my late seventies with a big dog.  Not only that, but she was driving 2.5 hours every Tuesday to come to U of I for treatment.  The other lady was a friend of hers who came along to keep the owner company.  Tuesday marked their eighth Tuesday in a row.  Wowzers.  She said he was handling treatment well, but had recently become a picky eater, though she thought that was because she was hiding medications in his food and treats.  When they asked how Millie was doing with treatment, and if the disease was treatable, I answered them honestly.  The owner of the Boxer said that she hoped for the best for us while her friend got teary eyed and just kept saying that it wasn't fair.  I have to say I agree.

Most of their "regulars" were taking their board exam, so Oncology only had one veterinarian, a resident, working.  Our chemo tech checked us in & I let her know that the one of the staff oncologists had asked for repeat chest x-rays in addition to chemo.  They gave us our pick up time as 2 or 2:30 since they were short staffed with a jam packed schedule.

I arrived at 2:15 and took a seat in a very crowded waiting room.  Shortly after, a woman arrived with a cardboard box.  After five minutes, she apparently grew tired of waiting and literally dumped the box at the front desk and said she had to leave.  The box contained an injured turtle.  One of the confused receptionists (who was on the phone with a client when this happened) had the best page of the day..."Umm, any available vet student please call ####.  We have....a...turtle...in a box?"

At 3:30 I was finally called back to the room.  They had good news (well, as good as I could have hoped for) with regards to the chest x-ray.  The cancer was "stable."  There were no new mets in the lungs and the two they saw three weeks ago had not changed.  When I mentioned a possible sighting of a third met from last time they said they couldn't see one today.  So, YAY no visible spread!  Our resident said that news may mean that Millie has a slightly longer life expectancy -- more like 3-4 months rather than 2-3.  We'll take it!  She also suggested to alternating the metronomic drugs & stopping Lasix.  She said that alternating the drugs does not have change efficacy, but it should help with reducing the chances of side effects.  She suggested stopping Lasix to prevent any long-term kidney damage.  If we are at a place where we are considering long-term effects, I'll take that.  Oh, and she gave the go-ahead to restart Baytril to combat the vaginitis.  I swear...this dog and her troublesome vagina.  In our house, Baytril is more like an expensive Flintstones vitamin as opposed to an antibiotic.

So far, so good.  She seems to be handling this round of IV chemo & metronomic quite well (knock on wood).

What a good girl to let the kitty have some bed time.  
Everybody loves to have a turn on the newest dog bed.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Shitty Day - Pun Intended

What a shitty day.  Seriously.

I left Millie at home today (rather than taking her to work) & half contemplated going to pick up some marrow bones for the girls this evening.  As I got in my car at the end of the day I decided to skip out.  I have been fighting a cold for a few days, was up late last night, and my allergies were killing me.  I needed a nap.  The bones could wait.

I walked in the door and...smelled it.  Without hesitating I assumed it was Sugar.  She has the world's most sensitive stomach.  If she gets anything out her normal food groups, she gets sick.  As luck would have it, and because Sugar is an amazing dog - when she does get sick, she will vomit/poop on the linoleum right next to the door.  I walked over to the usual...um...lucky spot? and nothing.  A handful of times she's actually gotten sick in the bathtub, so I go check there.  Nothing.  My room?  Nothing.  Living room?  Nothing.  The only room left was Millie's room.  Holy mother of diarrhea.  This was not the worst I have ever seen her (my friend Kara got to see that in action when she was petsitting for me a few years ago), but this was easily a close second. She wasn't exactly a chocolate Lab, but she was close.  Her bed was destroyed.  Thankfully (although what I'm about to say usually isn't prefaced with thankfully) the diarrhea was mostly blasted on the wall, and not on the carpet.  Thanks to the paint, the wall is much easier to clean than the carpet.  I knew she needed to go out immediately, and then get a bath....but how was I going to spare the carpet on the way?  

I was mostly done with her second shampoo when Evan called to see how my afternoon went.  He was on his way home from work and offered to come over to help.  I mean, seriously, this guy is amazing.  He walked 5 miles to come help clean diarrhea.  This guy is good stuff.

Millie had another few potty breaks outside & not much was improving.  She was super drooly, so I could tell she was nauseous too.  To top it off we had another "string cheese" incident of sorts.  I gave her a dose of metronidazole.  Again, this stuff is basically magic!

We cleaned the crate, walls & bathroom, and we also did laundry.  I carried the poo filled bed to the dumpster...oh those poor garbage men...  Four hours later and the house was mostly back together.  I went out to buy chicken and rice and also grab a new bed for Mil while Evan had diarrhea watch.  On the way I called U of I and spoke to one of the staff oncologists.  I had never met her personally, but she absolutely knew Millie.  She said she was concerned that the metronomic chemo was too much for her (on top of the IV chemo), and that was what made her sick.  However, she couldn't be sure.  She suggested I not give the metronomic chemo for a few days and then give it another try.  In the meantime, feed a bland diet, continue with metronidazole, and try Cerenia (Wismer, thank goodness you gave me some today) to help settle her stomach.  As we are on the phone Millie vomited all over her new bed.  At that point I want to say the bed had been on the floor for all of four minutes.  Mother!

For now, it is a wait & see.  Her temp is normal, she hasn't vomited in several hours, and has also not had any emergency trips outside.  She clearly feels pretty crappy, but I can't blame her.  She was trapped with nowhere to poop but on herself for three hours.  

Her chicken and rice is cooked and cooling - ready for her breakfast tomorrow.  Only time will tell if the metronomic caused this.  I certainly want to give her every treatment I can, but I will not do that if this is the result.  

...and with that said, a certain adorable Mastiff is ready for some cuddles.