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Lucy's Adventures (So far…)

A critter navigates life

An update for my sweet baby!

Filed under: Uncategorized — roseyferret at 1:42 am on Friday, January 5, 2018

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Hello All and I hope you are all off to a Happy New Year! I know we are delighted to bring in 2018 with our wonderful, sweet Lucy by our side. Life got away from us, but I’m posting an entry I wrote in December detailing some of Lucy’s further journeys and the beginnings of radiation therapy. I apologize for my lateness, but I will keep updating, because even though I’m a bit late on time, her radiation journey and healings has been its own journey. I want to share as much as I can, and hope to continue to update in the coming days.

(So here is a look in time to Ms. Lucy’s December Adventures!)

My sweet little love..
At the moment, our sweet baby girl is boarding at the vet hospital after undergoing her third radiation treatment today. Although it can be outpatient, Lucy’s over-excitability in cars, the fact that she still has stitches, and other contributing factors have resulted in the best plan for Ms. Luce being to board throughout the week for treatment, then come home for the weekends. We’re blessed that this is even an option, although it is painful to be apart from her. Due to this, I’m out of my mind missing a pup, so what better time to detail how we got from her surgery to radiation.

At the last post, we had just begun to navigate the post-surgery world with our baby girl. She was doing so well after her surgery, we were almost floored. She began hopping to get her water almost immediately, and after a month of Lucy eating while laying down (standing had become so difficult…), she eagerly stood up on her three legs to immediately gobble her food.

And gobble she did! As a baby pup, we had to feed her on a sheet pan to keep her from choking. As she got older, she managed to find a way to eat effectively AND voraciously. But after the tumor began degrading, her appetite completely disappeared. Now, she’s back to her little “nom-nom” self. The sound of her eating, kibbles rattling in the bowl, might be one of my favorite sounds. I may or may not have a video saved in my phone of her eating for this very reason…

Following her weekend surgery, We were instructed that Lucy’s bandage could come off that Monday evening. We cut it away, and her skin looked fine, sutures perfectly aligned to our eyes. We put a tee-shirt on her to keep her from scratching at the area, and were satisfied.
An hour or so later, Daddy noticed that the tee shirt had developed a small damp spot above her sutures. It was nothing like the discharge we’d been dealing with prior to surgery, merely the size of a dime, barely tinged. I had expected that maybe she would have had discharge as the wound healed, but her Daddy mentioned that he thought we were supposed to let them know about any discharge from the wound. I thought he was being overly cautious, but I promised to call them about it the next day. All I can say is thank goodness for Daddy.

When I spoke with the vet the next day, she was calm, seemed non-plused, but still asked us to come in that afternoon so they could examine her. We took her in, and with a big puppy grin, Lucy happily greeted her new friends. They examined her, then brought her back to us with another bandage. They’d found a small pocket of fluid and took a culture to identify any possible infections. As a precaution, we were given an antibiotic, and told to come back in two days for another check.

Lucy continued to improve, eating, figuring out the poo position, and generally getting used to her new mobility. She loved rolling onto her back, but struggled at times with rolling back over. Over the next few days, it was astounding to watch her mind work figuring it all out. She realized that she could lay down easier on the side she still had a leg than her other side. She began using pillows by her bed to balance her into the positions she wanted. She learned and adapted with grace.

One aspect we had not fully grasped at the time was that in addition to losing the limb, Lucy also lost her scapula. Without the shoulder, she ran more or less from head to neck to trunk. She is doing great regardless, but it was a unique aspect I wanted to include here for anyone undergoing something similar. Obviously, I have no experience with an amputated, yet shoulder-intact pup, so I can’t really compare. But I do notice that it does seem to alter some of her movements when it comes to laying from a standing position.

It also affects her wearing of tee shirts, etc. under her harness, which I’ll get to in a bit.
We heard back from the vet the next day (…this exemplifies the care and quality of treatment that they gave to Luce and to her nervous Mommy and Daddy), and it turned out that Lucy had a resistant bacteria strain in the liquid they’d tested. They were kind enough to send the prescription to our local vet, and Lucy started 1 1/2 tablets twice a day to combat it. She acted perfectly fine, and was still bandaged, so we hoped all was going according to plan. It feels silly in retrospect to describe the passage of two days with so much detail, but every moment has been so focused on her health, I could write 100 blogs about each day with her post-op. Thankfully, all would be happy stories.

Lucy went back for her bandage check, and to our happy surprise, they removed it for good. After checking her healing, they told us that they didn’t see any continuing drainage, and that she should be fine in just a shirt until her scheduled suture -removal that following Monday prior to radiation.

We had thought about a Thundershirt for our chill, yet paradoxically neurotic pup for a while now. We asked if it would be a good option for her, and the vet agreed that it works for many pups, and as a puppy-designed garment, might provide a better fit. So, long story short, that night, Lucy wore her first Thundershirt. ……And LOVED it! For her, with the lack of a right shoulder blade, tee-shirts rotated awkwardly towards her front. The over-the-chest plate, under-the-ribcage design fit her like a glove, and except for one attempt to scratch her with back legs, she completely left her stitches alone, no cone required. This is not an advertisement, but it worked wonders for her, and also seems to help insulate her during this recent cold spell while so much of her trunk is still regrowing shaved fur from her operation. (So, I just need to say, THANK YOU Thundershirt!)

We kept up with her meds (God bless pill pouches) and she continued to grow more adventurous, startling her Daddy and I one night by running headlong for a toy and throwing down into enthusiastic gnawing, while we both freaked out about whether she’d jostled herself too much. But she kept getting more and more energetic, liberated from the tumor that had kept her captive these past months.

She’d happily jump up and trot towards us to put on her harness for bathroom-time (leash-laws are leash-laws in an apartment complex). She snarfed and wiggled and generally seemed like she de-aged everyday, as we realized that she was back to who she’d been before. How bad it had gotten so slowly that we hadn’t seen how the tumor had been taking her from us minutely, day by day.

In the next post, I’ll detail her radiation appointment and the follow-through. As I said at the beginning, she’s on treatment 3/16 and is so far, so good.

Thank you again to the amazing vet hospital who has changed my baby’s life for the better, and created a miracle that I never thought possible. It’s one thing to treat a sick animal; it is another thing to communicate, care, and renew. They are remarkable and we hope someday to give back to the fund which saved our baby girl’s life.

Thank you again to anyone who is following my Lucy’s story. I’m proud to be able to share how incredible she is, and I hope that the information enclosed thus far might be of help to another family dealing with this issue. Again, Tripawds made me feel so much that we were not alone, and that Lucy still had a bright future ahead of her. Thanks to the multitudes of kindness she has been shown; I fully believe that her future is brighter than its ever been.
Love to you all!

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An Answer to Our Prayers!

Filed under: Uncategorized — roseyferret at 4:41 am on Friday, November 17, 2017  Tagged , ,

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What a difference a month makes…

When I last posted, we were disheartened and hopeless. Amputation was Lucy’s only option to ease the suffering and sickness brought on by her sarcoma. The tumor was enormous, constantly oozing, and necrotic.

My poor baby….

Her appetite began to wane, and she struggled standing for even 15 minutes so that we could bandage her. She would just whimper and begin to drop down, unable to put weight on her right leg, as it began swelling due to edema brought on by the tumor slowly choking her shoulder.

We could see that although she was sweet, and still had that precious sparkle in her that we loved, the tumor was draining the life out of her. Her strong muscular legs were wasting as she lost protein through the tumor. We were so worried. We felt helpless.

Then, we had a miracle.

A relative discovered a grant available at a nearby vet school. We cautiously hoped. To even be considered, Lucy’s prognosis and cancer staging would have to be determined. We went in for Lucy’s first formal diagnostics (prior to this, all we had was a sarcoma diagnosis from a fine needle aspirant). We waited nervously as she underwent chest radiographs, blood work, and a biopsy of the tissue. We took our groggy girl home, and waited even more nervously for the results. Would it have metasticized? Were we past the point of no return?

Thankfully, no. Joyfully, remarkably, amazingly, despite the enormity of the tumor, nothing indicated that it had metasticized! We were beyond joyful. We couldn’t believe it.

…Then, just as a casual aside, the veterinarian mentioned that the board had agreed to cover her procedures through the grant, and that they needed to schedule Lucy’s CT and amputation for the next week.

I burst into happy tears. I never in my wildest dreams could have believed we’d get the grant. I knew she was worth it, but it was too much to hope for. But there it was. Our miracle. My baby was going to get better.

With an anxious, thankful, and joyful heart, we loaded her in the car this past Thursday morning. We left her in capable hands, and awaited to hear the results of the CT scan. We prayed that the scan wouldn’t reveal anything new that could cast a shadow on her otherwise bright prognosis. We knew that the tumor was so massive, it could possibly be blocking something in her chest that the radiographs were unable to see.

The plan had been to have the CT on Thursday, and the surgery Friday (assuming there were no surprises). We waited by the phone, and when we answered Thursday afternoon, we expected to get news on the CT’s results. Instead, we were told that the doctors had made the decision to hold off on the CT until Friday, so that she would only have to go under anesthesia once and could proceed straight from the CT into surgery. We were happy with the decision and trusted that it was in her best interest. We were still anxious for the CT results, but knew she would be in good hands overnight.

In the early evening, we received another call. Lucy had eaten her supper well and been to the bathroom. The vet had taken time to play fetch with her. But as they played, she noticed that Lucy’s gums, which had been pale pink that morning at check in, were now even paler. As a precaution, Lucy would spend the night in ICU.

Understandably, no one wants to hear that their baby will be in ICU. And the night before her surgery, no less. We were still so grateful she was in the safest place possible, but there was a lingering fear. What if we’d gotten this far and something happened? What if she was too sick for surgery? Could she be this close and not make it through the night? Despite reassurances from the vet that her vitals and panels looked fine, and that ICU was largely precautionary, we still spent a restless night waiting to hear from the vet in the morning.

Morning came, and just like clockwork we received a call from the vet hospital. Lucy had experienced no problems during the previous night, and her color was much better. Privately, her daddy and I wondered if maybe she had just been worn down from the day and the stress of a new environment. Nevertheless, she was doing well, and scheduled for CT at 11 AM, with surgery to follow soon thereafter.

Time never moved so slow. We kept track of the time out of necessity, while also trying not to think too hard about exactly where Lucy was and what was occurring at any given time. We updated family members on Lucy’s status from the night before and her upcoming procedures. We waited.

The phone rang around 12:30. Lucy’s CT scan hadn’t revealed any new growths. When they called, they were still combing through her scans with a fine tooth comb, but her lungs looked clear! The surgeon asked if we were still on board; if so, they could wheel her into OR and begin the amputation. We consented. It was her only chance. They promised to call as soon as she was out of surgery.

Time moved even slower. I must have googled “how long does dog leg amputation take?” a half-dozen times before realizing I probably wouldn’t get any helpful information. Besides, I knew that knowing wouldn’t help. The tumor was massive, and what mattered was that the surgery was happening, not how long it took. We just kept praying she’d make it through alright. The previous day, the surgeon had (in the kindness and most professional way possible) reviewed with us all the possible risks associated with the procedure. We had a good idea of what could go wrong. Yet, we had an even more certain idea of what would happen to Lucy without the surgery. Her life was more important than our fears. We waited.

The phone rang again several hours later. It was the surgeon. The surgery had gone well. They’d cut out all the tumor they could see. We already knew radiation was planned for the microscopic bits that were certain to remain. They’d been able to close the wound (a concern due to the damage on the skin that had covered the tumor). Lucy was even breathing on her own. Our girl had done it. She now had three beautiful, healthy legs, and was no longer burdened with one wrought with disease!

We thanked the surgeons, the vets, anyone who would listen. They had been our walking, talking, healing miracles. Each person who had interacted with Lucy was a miracle in the flesh. The had saved our baby girl.

We were told to come in Saturday morning; we could visit her in ICU and if she was able to take oral medications instead of relying on IV, we could take her home! We were cautiously optimistic and set the car up to transport her home, although such quick turn-around seemed too good to be true. But make no mistake, we were going to see her! Even if she still needed to stay a bit longer, we hadn’t seen our baby in almost 48 hours. We hadn’t been away from Lucy that long in the entire time we’ve been her family, since she was a few months old. (And I kid you not, we were practically sniffing her blankets, we missed her so much.)

On Saturday morning, we were given the miraculous news that we could take her home. The vet went to get her, and we waited, desperate to see her, and each imaging how our new, three-legged puppy would look. They wheeled her into the small room in a contraption that looked like a wagon. I took my first look at my baby post-op.

She was beautiful. Ray of sunshine, dew in the morning, mountain vista after the rain beautiful. She was half shaved, and had a Frankenstein scar running from a pointed tip above where her shoulder used to be, down to under her armpit. As I gazed at her, I couldn’t help but be more focused that the horrible tumor was finally gone, than focus on the loss of her limb. In some ways, it is probably selfish to feel that way. But if it gave her back her life, even temporarily, I consider a leg a small price to pay, and I pray that Lucy felt and continues to feel the same way.

She was on her side, and seemed a bit subdued, but began to lick and wriggle when she saw us. As we gently pet her, we tried to take turns listening to the vet explain various aspects of her treatment and the surgery, although we were both so enamored with Lucy, it was hard to look away. (Thankfully, we did get some one-on-one time to review all aspects of her wound care, treatment, and follow up with the vet while they got Lucy fully ready to go home with us.) The wonderful personnel at the hospital helped get her strapped into her harness, and after a quick word at the desk, and a reminder to schedule a follow-up appointment, daddy carried Lucy to the car for the ride home.

Lucy on the ride home….beautiful, serene, and much healthier!

Thank you to everyone who has thought about, prayed for, and wished well for Lucy. Thank you to anyone who offered advice, and thank you especially for the encouragement. The Tripawds community has been wonderful, and all of the tips, gear reviews, and especially the photos of post-op pets have been invaluable as we have planned and mentally prepared for our baby’s operation.
I would like to share the name of the amazing institute which saved my baby’s life, as well as the human angels who have gotten her this far. I have shared neither out of respect for the privacy of all involved, but if I get permission, you can bet it’s going on a Good Year blimp!

I’ll update on the next part of this journey (recovery, healing, and radiation therapy), shortly. For now, I leave you again with my gratitude, joy, and this beautiful picture I took of my baby girl just now. She’s slept next to me the entire time I’ve been writing this. I can’t think of a better or more beautiful ending to this post.

Well earned rest….

Love to you all!

So you can see.

Filed under: Uncategorized — roseyferret at 3:53 am on Sunday, October 22, 2017

I’ve been hesitant to share photos of my baby while sick, because it seems so personal. But if you know her story, you should see her face. And see how resolved and strong she is despite this all.

My baby in the Tardis blanket- she loves it and is always trying to steal it from Mommy!

This was a few weeks ago, before it started to bleed. She’s been a trooper with this mass for a while.

Lucy in her current bandage style dress. For a pup who hates clothes, she’s been so tolerant for it all.
I think she knows it’s this or a cone.

Sorry for the wonky nature of the most recent photo. Yet I’m sure you can still see her spirit. She’s an amazing girl.

Most of my photos are on my phone and take some travel to get to the iPad I’m posting from( my phone’s a pre-Siri 4, so it doesn’t always work the best.)  But I’ll try to post as many of my sweet girl’s photos as I can.

Love to all and goodnight.

So it’s been a while….

Filed under: Uncategorized — roseyferret at 3:20 am on Sunday, October 22, 2017

We’re struggling with the funds for Ms. Lucy’s operation. What we had planned is not an option. She’s doing okay right now, feeling okay with pain medicine, taking antibiotics twice a day to keep the tumor clean. It’s oozing dramatically now, and we are remarkable grateful for large surgical pads and athletic tape. Add a tee shirt, and she seems comfortable. Her happiness is the most important.

We continue to follow leads to get her treatment. She deserves whatever is best for her. It’s what we want to be able to give her. At times, as we can see her sicker day by day, we’re scared of what that might mean.

But tonight she rolled into her back for a belly rub (and/or back relief.) She sniffed, gulped, and skittered in her dreams. She drank water. She ate kibble. She took her antibiotics in a pill pocket like a champ. She got excited when we mixed her food with wet food pouches (an exotic treat.)

She’s remarkable and unpredictable. It’s how she’s always been. There could never have been a more amazing blessing than to know and love her.

So for anyone wondering about how Lucy is, she is laying comfortably at her Daddy’s feet, being petted, with a soft pillow underneath. She’s soft, and sweet, and seems content.

This is our Saturday night blessing. Love to you all.

24 hours later…

Filed under: Uncategorized — roseyferret at 3:05 am on Wednesday, October 18, 2017

So by now, you’ve met my dear sweet Lucy.

She’s so fluffy! (…couldn’t help the Despicable Me reference…)

We were counting on a combination of CareCredit and family support to get Ms. Lucy’s treatment (I.e., the amputation) paid for. We discovered today that we were denied the CareCredit funds, and the family support we were anticipating is not sufficient to cover her operation.

In short, we have no way to pay for her treatment.

I find myself in the place beyond sadness, because although I was stressed and concerned for her welfare yesterday, today I feel at an utter, abjectly powerfully loss of ability to fix any of this. We intend to explore as many financial avenues as possible at this time.

I refuse to believe in a world where my baby, who has done nothing wrong, is forced to die due to a non-connected issue regarding her parents past credit issues. I am torn to bits at this real possibility. Lucy is only 6, and as the young pup she is, deserves to live out her life. I rue my inhibitions in the past 24 hours- a limb lost is huge. A life lost is horrific beyond comparison.

I apologize for delving into this. This is about Lucy’s journey, not her father’s and mine. I just felt the need to be honest with anyone who see’s this, that if there are no more posts, this is why. I will try and continue to document Lucy’s story, because she sure as all hell deserves it. My baby girl is a phenomenal fighter, and if we can’t beat cancer, we will sure give it a run for our money, with love, support for her, and the grace with which she conducts herself. Always grateful, never demanding, my Lucy puts her future in our hands. And if an option exists, we intend to see that future promised.

A deep thank you goes out to anyone who has read and/or commented on her story so far. Lucy is amazing and I’m so glad so many others, near or far, have gotten to see that.

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