May 27, 2011

Our Visitor

We have a small visitor for the long weekend: Abby's cousin, Lou the corgi. He looks something like this:
Sleeping Lou
Although he actually looks a lot more like this: 

Because he is older and so handsome, Abby LOVES him. He . . .  tolerates her. Here she is lying across his path, trying to tempt him with her cuteness. He was not buying what she was selling.

He is very short. He fits under things... our bathroom sink/cupboard
Last night, we put his bed in our room and closed the doors so he'd be in with us and we'd know where he was all night. In the night, Mike heard him get in the shower. (Not like actually turning on the water and taking a shower, but just walking in there. Our shower is attached to our bedroom, you just kinda walk right into it, go down two steps and turn a little corner and you're in the shower; no door, no curtain, nuthin'.) I guess it was cool in there; not sure. Anyway, later in the night, Mike hears him trying to get back out of the shower--which involves nothing more than walking up two steps. Guess there was not enough room in there to get any momentum going, so eventually Mike had to get up and go boost him up unto the steps and outta there. (These are not deep steps; in fact they're pretty shallow. I didn't even have to boost my 85-year-old mother with her bad knee outta there!) Maybe tonight we'll leave the bedroom door open and let him sleep wherever he wants. Wonder if he'll choose the shower again...

Here are a few more pics, since he (and Abby) are so cute:
He is good motivation for her to eat!

Abby -- sad because Lou doesn't love her

Lou figures out where Ab's treats are stashed
Ab figures out where Lou's treats are stashed

Ready for his close up!
Must go - Hubby just got home. Time for him to make me a cocktail! Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! Thanks for reading.

May 21, 2011

Going Halflistic

...which is not the same as going ballistic... "Halflistic" is the word I made up for our new not-wholly-holistic approach with Abby. We are going to blend conventional/Western meds with some Eastern supplements. Yes, we are going East-meets-Westy on her. Here is my illustration of that:
East Meets Westie
[This is my first attempt at a "Brushes" sketch - Brushes being an app for my new iPad. I'm not very good at "painting" with my fingertip yet... as you can see, since that doesn't really look like a Westie at all, but it's an approximation of a Westie anyway...]

Sprinkling in some pouncing pics...
I discussed all this with Abby's oncologist, Dr. V. at the Vet Cancer Group yesterday. I told him about how I'd thought she was not doing well on the Palladia, which led to a bunch of panic-stricken research. He was very open to everything I brought up. Of course, he does think some folks out there are just trying to make a buck off your fear of the cancer in your dog, so he doesn't recommend trying just any old thing, but all the supplements I discussed with him he was OK with. He said if it were his dog, he'd have him on "everything but rollerskates" to try to make him better. show she's her usual nutty self
We are going to start with upping her fish oil, since the Omega 3s are supposed to be very good for cancer patients. We'll be doing that slowly, since we don't want it to lead to GI troubles. After that, we are going to add in K9 Immunity, which some of the folks on the Tripawds site say they seemed to have good results with. It's made from mushrooms, which apparently turn your white blood cells into little cancer-cell-fighting Ninjas. (Sorry, I don't have an illustration for that. Maybe that will be my next Brushes sketch...)
Major Action-shot!
I won't go into all the details of the other stuff, unless we have some great success with things and folks want to know what we used. Hopefully... months and months - maybe even years - from now, we can share our secrets of success and Abby's longevity with folks. If anyone does want details of stuff now, just let me know. I could email you info. (Oh, and, at least for now, Abby is back on the Palladia and her stomach seems to be fine.)

In other photo-journalistic news, some of you will have seen this already on my Facebook page, but I captured a photo of the Rapture. (Luckily I captured it before the naked believers started getting sucked up in there...)
Cue the heavenly angels...

And I snitched this post-Rapture pic from here.
Apparently dogs are not part of the Rapture, which I think is ridiculous since they are probably the most Rapture-worthy creatures out there... Anyway, we have not been, nor will we be, raptured, so no worries about Abby being left behind to fend for herself. There are some very thoughtful Christian folk whose heathen friends will take care of your pets post-Rapture for the low low price of only $10. (And, what... I guess you must also need to send them a key to your house Or else how will they get in and get your dog? Plus a duplicate car key, just in case you are raptured right out of your sedan and Fido is left locked in the back seat...) If I see a bunch of dogs running loose, I plan to bring them home for a big party where we'll cook all the meat in the freezer and await the final apawcalypse.

Thanks for reading. Hope your day is rapturous. 

May 17, 2011

The Cancer Tour de France

I've decided I prefer to think of this as the Cancer Tour de France, rather than the Cancer Iditarod. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy the Iditarod. We used to love it when they televised it, back a few years ago. Love the dogs and their over-the-top tongue-wagging joy as they pull those sleds through that crazy-harsh countryside in their little bootied feet. Both the Iditarod and the TdF are hard slogs through the countryside; both are serious tests of physical endurance; both have made idols of cancer-butt-kicking Lances (Mackey for one and Armstrong for the other). But... the Iditarod mainly brings up images of scenes that are generally cold and dark and for the most part seem pretty inhospitable. On the other hand, the Tour de France, which is my favorite sporting event of all, brings with it lots of beautiful imagery: the hillsides covered with lavender, fields of sun-worshiping sunflowers, the rainbow colors of the peloton streaming by.
So, the Cancer Tour de France... it's got mad-dash sprints, gut-wrenching climbs up towering mountains, and beautiful days in gorgeous countryside. And last week while I was having a meltdown, that was sort of like one of those hard mountain stages. But I've mellowed out and hopefully we are in for a long stretch of beautiful days. Although... today wasn't exactly one of those. At least it didn't start out that way.

It was spitting here this morning at the house. Kept waiting for a break in the weather to take Abby for a quick walk, but it wouldn't let up. I figured if she was going to get wet we might as well go to Fiesta Island since she gets wet there anyway running in the water. Well, it was not just spitting at FI; it was raining pretty good and being driven by plant-your-feet-&-hold-onto-your-hat wind. As soon as I opened the car door, I knew I was in trouble, but by then there was no turning back. Abby had already jumped out of the car and ran down to the beach, looking back like "What's keeping you??" It was cold, it was windy, I was not at all dressed warmly enough. There are usually dozens of folks/dogs down there, but there were only 3 or 4 other crazy souls down there today. But the dogs were all quite happy. They don't care. Abby had a great time. She ran, she romped, she chased seaguls. What's a little rain?

My toes are still not quite warmed up again, but at least Abby had fun. (And I got some exercise, so that was a bonus.) I was thinking that if one of us is to be blissfully unaware and happy, and one of us has to be painfully aware, I'm glad I'm the one who knows she is sick and she doesn't, and not the other way around.

Oh, and that diarrhea the other day ... that started my whole freak out session... (sorry to bring up her poop again...) anyway, I'm not really sure it was caused by the Palladia now. The other day we caught her in the yard tossing around and nibbling on something small, clumpy and brown. The hubster and I both looked at each other and said at the same time, "Is that...poop?" Thank god it wasn't! On closer inspection -- but not THAT close cuz we were afraid it really was poop -- we realized it was an oxidized plum off one of our trees. We are new to this whole fruit tree thing, not having had any at our old house. Well, that got us wondering if the fruit was ripe enough to pick and we went around to the side of the house where the trees are hiding, and Abby came along and did this:

Yep, she's standing on her back legs, trying to help herself to the not-so-low-hanging not-fully-ripened fruit. So... I'm thinking that could be the cause of the diarrhea, and I went ahead and re-started the Palladia. We'll see how it goes. 

I'll let you know how the follow-up appointment goes with Dr. V. on Friday. Plan to ask him about making her diet more starch-free (instead of just mostly grain-free, like it is now) and about adding in some of the more holistic supplements suggested in Dr. Dressler's book. Hoping he'll be cool with the idea of being a bit more East-meets-West-esque.

The Cancer Iditarod

I know I sounded all optimistic about Abby and how she's doing in yesterday's post... but then this morning (after only being back on the Palladia for one dose) her diarrhea troubles were back. Damn. So I started worrying about having to take her off the Palladia (we are definitely not taking it again - at least until I talk to Dr. V. at her next appointment Friday the 20th) and then I started to worry that The Lone Met would turn into a big ol' bad-ass tumor without Captian Palladia there to keep it bay. Worrying worrying worrying.

Then, also today, some holistic options came up via various channels... and then I started freaking out that maybe we never should have been giving her the Palladia/Cytoxan in the first place! Saw some info online (not the actual research but comments on research) that chemo can do more harm than good because basically, whatever cancer cells survive the chemo become even more aggressive and actually end up promoting metastasis. [Also found what seemed to be the original research about that later on on WebMD. It said, yes, the cancer that survives becomes a "healthier" form of the cancer - but it also said it doesn't mean chemo doesn't work - just that you need new, additional treatment options. But...who knows, maybe the drug companies that makes the chemo paid for that article.] I also saw online that supposedly 80% of oncologists in a survey said they would not choose chemo for themselves, even though they recommend it to their patients. No clue if that is really true.

That all prompted a little melt down/freak out. Spent hours on end in front of the computer researching/reading and continuing to freak out. Posted a comment on the Tripawds site and some folks there tried to talk me down from my nuttiness. Tripawds recommends the "Dog Cancer Survival Guide" from Dr. Dressler - who funnily enough works out of Kihei in Maui - which is exactly where we just were... So, I downloaded that and need to start speed reading through it. Seems like there is a lot of good advice in there. I'm also considering doing a phone consult with a holistic vet that comes highly recommended by some of the Tripawds' folks... Adding to my freak out was the thought that we should have been doing more holistic stuff (diet and supplements) from the get-go. Trying not to think "We wasted 6 months when we could have been doing more!!" Trying...

Anyway, not sure where all this will lead - most likely to: dropping the Palladia, rethinking the Cytoxan (although I'm kinda afraid to go wholly holistic - maybe we'll go "halflistic"), maybe to adding some new supplements to her diet, and getting very strict about the grain free/low carb stuff. (She's on a kibble, Blue Buffalo Wilderness formula, that is supposed to be good, but I need to research it more.)

Ugh. I reread this post and it's just a big jumbled mess, but that is how my brain has been all afternoon. This stuff is all so confusing and its hard to know what info you read is right and what is just hype. Thought about not even posting it, but, well, this is the roller-coaster ride we are on. (Dr. Dressler calls it the Cancer Iditarod, which I've stolen for the title of this post.) Will keep you posted on what changes we make to her routine. I just want her to be around as long as possible -- as long as her quality of life remains as good as it's been. (She has a pretty darn awesome life at the moment...)

Speaking of her awesome life, we went to Fiesta Island this morning, as we've done every morning now since we got back from Maui, and she ran like crazy on the beach with Dakota. Then this afternoon, while I was freaking out and doing research on the computer, she was happily napping, oblivious, in the other room.  

For today's photo, here's an update on her new toys: (The 7-rated shark has an even bigger hole in his head; the squeaky dog has lost all of its limbs - but it keeps on smiling.)

Trying to keep smiling and have a called a moratorium on freaking out.

May 10, 2011

And... We're Back

Sorry about the lack of blog update last week, but we were away on vacation. While we were away, Abby stayed with my sis, Terry, and her hubby and their corgi, Abby's cousin Lou. She had a good time there, and even learned to master their doggy door - which is pretty amazing since she is all legs and he is height challenged, as you may remember from the classic "Stubs & Stilts" photo. It's a bit blurry, being an action shot, but below is a pic of her coming in through the doggy door. There's also a pic of her cramming herself into a tiny space in their kitchen behind their table. Not sure what that was about, but she does seem to enjoy tight cozy spaces, as evidenced back when she was a pup and climbed into the kitchen cupboard. (Yes, if you linked to the pic, those ARE her dirty feet in my frying pans. I promise I washed them after... Then again, maybe I didn't...)

 Speaking of feet, here are my pink-toe-nailed feet on a gorgeous black sand beach we went to in Maui, plus a bunch more Maui pics (muy Maui pics, you might say):

Black sand

The black sand beach from afar

Two of the many pretty beaches we visited:

One of the MANY shave ices we ate...
A gorgeous sunset (love how the hubster's shoes are glowing)

Hiking the crater -- sorry, "erosional depression;" it's NOT a crater -- at Haleakala National Park

But enough about us... back to the dog, which is why we're all here. Back home, we gave Abby the shark we bought her as a sort of sorry-we-went-away-but-we-know-you-didn't-really-miss-us,-hanging-out-with-your-aunt-and-uncle-and-tormenting-Lou-and-going-on-your-three-walks-per-day! gift.

Dog Bites Shark
We thought a shark had a sort of Maui-esqueness to it (even though the only scary sea creature we saw was an eel... oh, and that naked old man at Po'olenalena Beach.... Don't go over the lava rock to the far right end of Po'olenalena... Just a warning. I mean, unless you're into that sorta thing...) We also bought her the shark because it sported a little tag saying it was rated a "7 on the Tuff scale" (a regular ol' store bought stuffed squeaky dog toy gets only a "2" rating). We knew she probably really needed a "10", but they didn't have any, and we thought the thing was SOLID. It's HARD - you could hurt someone with it, and it's triple stitched. it is a mere 15 minutes later. She did exactly what you are supposed to do when confronted with a shark - went for it's vulnerable part: it's nose. (We probably should have suspected that anything that rates toughness on a "tuff" scale was not actually going to be all that hard of a nut to crack...)
 Spoiled little girl ALSO got a pink stuffed doggy from her aunt Terry.
Here is what that doggy looks like two-days after: It's missing an ear, and two of it's legs have been gutted and de-squeakerized, but it keeps on smiling.
Actually looks pretty good for a 2 on the Tuff Scale (think the shark has deflected some of the chewing...)
In a final bit of news, Abby started back yesterday on her full metronomic protocol of Palladia/Cytoxan on alternate days. Yes, she's a solid citizen again. Hopefully she stays that way and continues to benefit from the meds. Take that, Lone Met! 

Keep smiling!