November 7, 2010

Home Alone (& A Classic 4-Limbed Video)

Today Mike and I decided to go for a little hike, since the weather is so nice. I felt guilty about leaving the pupster home alone, but needed to get some exercise in since I haven't been walking/running ever since my little cardio partner came up lame. She really wanted to go along when she saw us getting ready, and dashed out to the car to try and hop in. Poor pup! We had to coax her back inside with treats.

We decided since we didn't have her along to go to Torrey Pines State Park. Since dogs aren't allowed, we hardly ever go there. We did some hiking and a bit of running (to test Mike's post-surgery knee out), and went down to the beach where we saw a seal bobbing in the water. Should have taken the camera because it was gorgeous down there today. We weren't gone too long, so luckily Abby wasn't too irritated with us when we got home. In fact, we even got a few welcome home kisses. Only, not as many kisses as she gives to visitors these days. (I think she's annoyed with us, not because she realizes we are the ones responsible for the absence of her limb, but because we never take her out beyond the confines of our yard anymore!)

Anyway, speaking of visitors, my brother, Jim, and sis-in-law, Denise, came by for a little visit with Abby yesterday. She was very happy to see them - especially since they brought her a new toy, seen here. Was trying to get a pic of her playing with it but none of them came out well. Instead, she is kinda crashed with it here. I'm trying to give her less pain meds today and see how that goes, since they are hard on her system, so to make up for the decrease in pain pills, I gave her 1/2 of a sedative. You can see she's looking verrrrrry sleeeepy in this picture. Got a little of that "third eyelid" action going on. 

Last night she was a wee bit standoffish again - slept most of the night out in the hall, but she did come in this morning and hop in bed with us. (We are still sleeping with our mattress on the floor. It feels mildly reminiscent of camping, although way more comfortable!)

Due to popular demand (okay, really only one person asked), I'm including below a video from a couple of months back before all her troubles started. She'd gone to Terry's for the day as a 'practice' dog-sitting session since she'd never been away from home before. She was so busy pestering her cousin, Corgi Lou, all day long that she came home exhausted! I'd made some popcorn - one of her favorite foods, even though she is not much of a chow hound - and thought for sure she'd wake up to share some with me. Here's what happened:

November 6, 2010

A Night Out (!) & A Hoppy Video

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we went out last night to a fundraiser at The Farm House restaurant. The charity is called "World Bicycle Relief" and last night they were specifically raising money to give bikes to kids, especially girls, in Africa so they can get to school. (I think that is kind of a funny name for the group - sort of sounds like they are trying to relieve the world of the scourge of bicycles.) Anyway, it was a fun night and lots of nice people. There was only room for 40 but even in that small group there was an interesting mix of folks--or at least a mix of ages, from probably 20s to 80s. The food was incredible: lobster tortellini starter, delicious butternut squash soup, truffle-crusted black cod on a bed of pumpkin and chestnut risotto (to die for), and beef cheeks for the main course. We had never eaten beef cheeks before. Mike asked which cheeks they were... Wherever they came from they were darn tasty - a lot like short ribs. Then there was a cheese course with these heavenly bits of cheese; one of them was baked into this little cloud of pastry. Yum! Then for dessert, a little cake made with stout ale and served with maple ice cream and candied bacon. I love this restaurant. They candy bacon. So yummy with the maple ice cream! AND we each got a little box of homemade chocolates to bring home. 

And here's the horror part: I FORGOT to bring my box of chocolates when we left!!! I didn't realize it until we'd driven away. What the heck???? I blame it on the lack of sleep for two weeks running. Anyway, my hubby says he will share his box with me. He is a good hubby.

For most of dinner we were seated with this very nice couple who are also dog people and who like to travel, so we had a good chat with them. Then halfway through the meal, Mike's acupuncturist - who was seated next to Chris Horner (top 10 (!) in this year's Tour de France and teammate of Lance Armstrong) - came over and said he and his wife would change seats with us so we could talk to Chris. We were a little shy to do it, but switched with them - and Chris was super nice and easy to talk to. It was fun to get some inside stories about this year's Tour, especially Stage 2 which was so rainy and slippery that guys were crashing everywhere. Chris said he was actually passed by two riderless bicycles at one point!

Anyway, it was a very fun night - and just so nice to get dressed up and go out. I realized while I was getting ready that I hadn't gone out for a fun reason since we found out about Abby's cancer. My sister, Terry, came and stayed with Abby until bed time (bed time for both Abby and Terry that is...), so it was nice to go out and not worry about the pooch being home alone. And Abby was also only too happy for a little change of pace. She's clearly sick of hanging out around here with me, as evidenced by the disgusting display of over-the-top kissing and tail wagging that went on when Terry arrived!

Also yesterday, my other sis, Kath, came by to visit Abby. Again, Kath got way more kisses than Mike or I have been getting lately. Kath brought Abby some cookies, like this one that says "Superdog," which were a big hit. (And kinda tasty, I might add...)

Some of you asked how Abby's getting around, so here is a very short video of her. The oncologist said the getting around part would be easy for her, but the hardest thing for her would be re-learning how to sit and lie down, so in the video: she hops! She sits! She lays down! (Riveting stuff... I should really get this up on YouTube so it can go viral.)

November 5, 2010

A Short Update

Abby seems more like her old self today, just an amazing 7 days post-op. She wags her tail more and gives kisses. She even hopped over and begged a little yesterday when my friend Michelle came over and we were enjoying our Rubio's burritos. Was never so happy to see her beg. She was very happy to see Michelle. She loves visitors. 

We actually slept pretty well too. Only got up once in the night and she even curled up in bed with us for a bit. I think we are getting there.
Here she is loving on her daddy when he came home from work.

Tonight we are going out so my sister, Terry, is coming to babysit, at least until Abby is settled in for the night. We are going to a fund raising dinner for World Bicycle Relief at The Farm House restaurant. The money raised will go to buy bikes for kids in Africa who have to travel ridiculous distances on foot to get to school. And the menu sounds amazing! It's like 7 courses. Plus Chris Horner, who was 10th in this year's Tour de France, will be there. We are such cycling geek-fans. I hope we (referring only to myself, really) don't act totally goofy in front of him. 

Oh - and to follow up on yesterday's post, that strange fruit - the sapote - was indeed a little strange. It was very soft and smooth and had a very mild flavor. It was like eating vanilla pudding, but someone forgot to put the vanilla flavor in.
And, now, for your enjoyment, here is a beautiful flower - with three stems:

November 4, 2010

Needless Worrying

As is my usual way, I did some worrying for nothing yesterday. You'll recall from yesterday's post I was worried about how I was going to get Abby up to go to the vet appointment. I was also worried about getting her in and out of the car. I decided we'd start leaving for the vet extra early, in case I had any troubles with her. But that was all for naught. All I had to do to get her up was pick up my car keys and open the garage door. From her many trips to the park and dog beach, Abby loves to ride in the car. She was more than ready to get the heck out of this boring place and head somewhere else. 

Well, then I thought she might be extremely bummed to see that the "somewhere else" we were heading was the place where she wound up sans-limb. But no, as soon as we pulled into the vet's parking lot she was ready to jump out of the car. With the help of my little handmade sling, I got her out of the car, and then had to trot alongside as she hopped happily to the front door. Personally, if it had been me, I would not have gone so willingly into that house of horrible things. You'd have had to drag me in kicking and screaming. But not sweet Abby. She went in, all smiles and wagging tail. Everyone there was SO happy to see her. And she was so happy to see them. She's such a love. They all thought she was doing great! 
Hurry up, Hair - grow back!

It turned out the surgeon who performed her update-to-tripawd procedure just happened to be there, so they asked me if I could leave her with them until he had time to see her. They wanted him to have a look at her and do the drain removal. She was happy to stay and I was happy to leave her for a bit, since it gave me a chance to run back to the grocery store for a few things I forgot (like cheese! How could i forget cheese??!) the other day while Terry was dog-sitting. When I went back to get her the drain was gone (again, Hoorah! No more towels and rags laid out on all our furniture!) and they told me the surgeon was very pleased with her progress. Here's a new pic of her incision. It's healing up pretty nicely. Just can't wait til the staples are gone, which will mean no more cone. (Hopefully they'll come out next Wed. at her chemo appt.) 

"Wish this e-collar thing came in 'camouflage'!"
While I was there, I asked about her aloofness (which continues, as shown in this photo of her "hiding" in the jasmine again this morning). They said it's normal after surgery and is most likely due to some continuing discomfort. As some friends and family theorized (you guys are so smart!), it is believed to go back to their wolfy instincts, where, in the wild, a hurt animal will go off on its own in an attempt to hide its weakness. Along those lines, I'd heard before that it is a dog's instinct to hide its pain, not wanting to be the weak one in the pack and all that. So if your dog shows signs of pain, he/she is probably in some fairly serious discomfort. Or just a great actor, like our childhood family beagle Barney who, when put out back while the family was inside, would sit at the sliding glass door and pathetically raise one paw. "Hey, I'm hurt out here. Doesn't anyone care?" Of course we cared! So, open door; enter beagle. Job done; pain magically all gone!

Strange fruit
In a bit of non-dog-related news, our box of veggies that arrived Monday included these strange green blobs. (We get a box of produce each week straight from an organic farmer. It's fun because we get new things I never would have bought.) Well, this week, we didn't even know what these things were. The farmer emailed the next day to say they are sapote - a fruit common to Mexico. He said we needed to let them ripen a few days. I think they look like muppets or little pucker-faced alien babies. They seem soft enough, so we'll try one tonight. That will likely be the highlight of the day. I'll let you know if they are any good.

Thank you to everyone (e.g. Kath) who resisted the urge to make fun of yesterday's post where I said the dog food looked like chocolate "mouse" instead of "mousse" - luckily I noticed later and fixed it.

Is it just me, or does this remind you of those John the Baptist Head on a Platter paintings?

November 3, 2010

"I vant to be alone..."

Abby is continuing her aloofness and spent a good part of yesterday and this morning channeling Greta Garbo in "Grand Hotel".
Where's Abby?

I'm pretty convinced it's a side effect of feeling funky on her pain meds, but plan to talk to the vet about it when we go see him today to have her drain taken out. (Hoorah! That thing is just icky. I realize it's there for a good reason - but it's still icky and it bugs her.) 

The worst thing about the aloofness is that once she plants herself somewhere, it's next to impossible to get her up again. (Hopefully I'll be able to get her up for today's vet appointment!)

There she is! Under the fern.
For example, last night was no fun at all. It started when Mike came home from work. Normally they run to the sofa together and she wiggles and kisses him and then flops over on her back so he can rub her tummy. Last night, I heard him pull in and she was sound asleep on the sofa. I started trying to wake her up, so she'd be ready and not overly excited out of a sound sleep. Well, she wasn't quite awake yet when he came in, so I guess she forgot about the mess she's in. She tried to flop over onto her back when she saw him and started yelping. So awful. (And not at all a good greeting for poor Mike.) We managed to calm her down with a good helping of Newman's Own organic canned dog food. (More on this below.) But then she wanted out, so Mike took her out on the leash. Several minutes later, dinner was ready and still no sign of them, so I went to investigate. 

Abby had flopped down in the jasmine in the yard with the stick-to-itiveness of a speed bump. She wasn't going anywhere. And Mike, on the other end of her leash, was also stuck out in the yard. It was dark and starting to get a bit chilly, so we didn't want to just leave her out there, but no amount of coaxing, begging, or gentle tugging on the leash would budge her. I brought out some of the Newman's Own; I brought out cheddar cheese; I brought out some of the plain ground turkey I'd cooked up for her while making our dinner. She would eat any and all of it if we held it down to where she was planted, but wouldn't even lift her head to take a bite as soon as we tried to use it as a "carrot." Eventually, we had to just leave her there and keep the front door open so we could keep an eye on her. After about 2 hours she finally got up and we got her inside and up to bed, where we spent another not-great night, up every few hours checking on her and giving her more pain meds. But at least she stayed in the room all night and even got in bed with us for a bit this morning.  

Here she is this morning, hanging out in the backyard. 

"Perhaps a swim, since I've got my life preserver handy..."
At least through all this, her appetite almost never fails her. We're taking that as a good sign that the pain is not unbearable. As I said above, the Newman's Own is a huge hit. The other day when Terry dogsat her, I didn't want to take the time to go all the way to the pet store for more of the Blue Buffalo Backyard BBQ or Turducken (yes, turducken!), so instead figured I'd just get some food at Vons. Well, the selection was not great - everything was "meat by-products" (gross) and grains, and I read that dogs with cancer need a low-grain diet. But then, I found a brand that I love anyway: Newman's Own. Got her a few cans of the organic beef and beef & liver flavors. The ingredients are: organic beef, org. beef broth, org. liver and some added minerals + vitamins. That's it! Well, she totally loves it and gives it a "dew-claws up!" rating. But it's SO gross looking. I was expecting it to look chunky, like the Blue Buffalo canned foods, but no. If you saw it from a distance, you might mistake it for chocolate mousse - it's so . . . fluffy and light. Seriously, you could probably add some seasonings, pack it into a little terrine and then pass it off at a party as paté. (Note to self: never serve paté at a family party, so as to avoid cloud of suspicion.)

Gotta go. Daddy's coming home to visit at lunch and then it's off to the vet to have the drain removed! Yah!

November 2, 2010

Ups and Downs and an Omen

I can't believe we are only on Day 4, post surgery. It seems a lot longer. Probably because of the lack of sleep. I think, on the whole, we are having more ups than downs, but still, the downs are not fun. 
On the "up" side:
  • She gets around pretty well (except for the stairs - see "downs" below!);
  • Mostly doing OK with sitting and laying down (as evidenced by yesterday's cute pic of her sitting);
  • Her appetite (which has never been great her whole young life) is surprisingly good - at least most of the time (probably due to the fact that she is being hand-fed canned dog food, cottage cheese, provolone, peanut butter, dog-jerky treats, salmon patties and Flying Dutchmen, instead of her usual same-stuff-different-day dry kibble);
  • Her incision looks like it's healing up OK;
  • We had our first post-op poop (although it was a fiasco...) and she seems fine with the whole 3-legged squatting thing.
 On the "down" side:
  • She has screamed or cried a couple of times (which is so horrid and pitiful), like yesterday when I wrote about trying to help her off the bed. Because of that, we put our mattress on the floor last night, so that we could be next to her bed. (Crazy, huh? Unfortunately, it also had pluses and minuses: the pluses being she got in and out of bed with us very easily; the minus being she got out of bed at 1 and wandered off. More on that below.)
  • Getting up and down the stairs is literally a pain. Last night when we were trying to go up to bed, she started crying after the first step. We can't pick her up, but I used my little sling I made and we took it very slowly, with lots of resting in the landing of the stairwell, and eventually made it up. Can't wait til she can cruise up and down more easily!
  • The last 24 hours or so she's been very aloof, e.g. instead of cuddling on the sofa with us last night, she went and flopped down on the tile floor in the other room, which is kind of crazy because it had to be very cold. But then, maybe it felt good on her boo-boo. (She sleeps on it a lot, which I find surprising. I mean, if you had your arm cut off, do you think you'd be laying on that side right after surgery? Yowzaa. I think not.) Then there was the whole thing last night with her getting out of bed at 1 and sleeping at the farthest possible corner of the hall. Couldn't coax her back to bed (we ran out of provolone!) so had to just leave her there. Checked on her at 4:30 and still no go. Finally I think about 6 I was able to get her to come back in bed with us, and she laid there shivering like crazy, poor silly little thing. I'm assuming the aloofness is from the pain and/or the meds. There's a discussion board on the Tripawds site, so I posted a question to see if others had the same issue. 
To end on a good note, I forgot to mention earlier the good omen we had the night of her surgery. When we moved her from the vet's office to the ER for the night and were waiting to talk to the vet there, this woman came in with a little tripawd dog. It was very wiggly and happy and ran up to us (ignoring other folks who were there) to say hi. We took it as a good sign that Abby will soon be wiggly and happy. 

The little Tripawd was wearing a T-shirt that said: "Missing Leg 1-800-CALLME!" We are thinking of having one made for Abby that says: "It tasted like chicken." I know the other day Patricia suggested a "Bad to the Bone" shirt. Any other suggestions for custom made T-shirts?

Tomorrow: the drain comes out!

November 1, 2010

A Rough Night, Chaotic Morning, But Great News!

OK - let's start with the great news. During the surgery on Friday, the surgeon took one of Abby's lymph nodes and they sent it to the lab for a biopsy. Got the news back already this a.m. that there is no sign of cancer in the lymph nodes!! Hoorah! 

Last night, however, was a bit of a rough night. She started out in her cozy deep-dish-deluxe-pizza bed, but at midnight Mike heard her up and walking around. We let her get up in the bed with us, but that didn't last very long. She normally comes into our bed anytime during the night once she gets cold, and then she'll sleep curled up by our feet the rest of the night. Well, last night in the wee hours, suddenly she wanted down. We can't let her jump off our bed as it very high up and would be too much stress on the incision and on her good leg. So, I tried to pick her up and help her down. I would swear I wasn't even touching her gigantic boo-boo, but she started screaming! Oh - it was so awful. She sat there trembling for a minute, then hot-footed it down the hall and curled up in a ball. We didn't know why she got up in the first place - we thought maybe to go out and potty, but she wouldn't get up to go outside, and wouldn't come back to bed with us. Finally Mike got some provolone, and with that we were able to coax her back to her cozy bed. What a friend we have in cheeses! Anyway, when I talked to the vet about the lab report I told him about the screaming, and he said it may just be emotional and from the drugs as well. He said it's possible I didn't even touch it, but she was just kinda screaming "don't touch me there!"

Then this a.m., Mike went off to work and I was left alone to take care of her. Around 8:30 she wanted to go outside again - after already going out for a potty at 6:30 - so I thought, OK, this could be the big moment - the first post-op, three-legged poop! Success. A big ol' poop! But then... what with all the hopping to get turned around to head back in the house, she stepped in it! Gooshed it really well all in between her toes. Fabulous! Then she starts hopping back to the front door, leaving little poopy-paw-prints along the front walk. 

I remembered I had a rag right next to the front door for drying off her feet after Saturday's rain, so I thought, OK, I'll grab that and clean her off before she goes inside. But, no, the front door is locked! So I tell her to stay, and run around to the back. Of course she doesn't stay, she follows me, leaving little poopy-paw-prints across the back patio. I run inside, slide the door shut in her pathetic little face and run to get some rags and wet one of them. Now, wiping her feet is usually not a problem. We started touching her feet as a little pup, so she wouldn't mind them being handled. But, the poor kid's already down one leg, so she didn't want me picking up her foot and leaving her with only two to stand on, even though I was supporting her. I'd pick her foot up, and she'd stamp it back down. Of course, one of those stamps-back-down was right on my foot, so my shoe got all poopy. Oy! Finally got her cleaned up and back in the house. We were both exhausted after that and she crashed. 

Also this morning she had a visit from her aunt Terry. Terry stayed with her while I went for my chiro appointment (threw my back out yesterday taking care of the dog). She brought Abby the little Charger-colored blue & yellow stuffed man in the picture.

You can see in the pic she's really bundled up. She was shivering this morning, which I'd never seen her do before. I'm so dumb, I thought maybe it was from the drugs or maybe a sign of pain. I asked the vet about it, and he said, "Is it cold in your house this morning?" Anyone who's been in my house in the late fall/winter, knows how frickin' freezing it always is in here, so I sheepishly said, "yes." He said, "She's just cold." I put a blankie over her and she's been fine.   

Wanted to also throw in this pic of her sitting up, in her cute little tripawd stance. The oncologist said she'd be fine with walking and running, but would have the hardest time with sitting/laying down. But she seems to be doing great with everything! The only hesitancy is going downstairs, but I use my little homemade sling and help her down and that seems to work OK. (She's back in the cone of shame here, rather than the big blue daisy, because I think it's actually more comfortable for sleeping. The daisy is too stiff.)

Next steps: 
  1. Get drain removed from her big ol' boo-boo, probably Wednesday. In case anyone out there reading this would ever be going through the same thing, the drain is pretty gross. I guess they have to put it in, or else the fluid would build up in her body, but every time she gets up and hops around or gets excited, it starts to ooze a thin bloody fluid. That's partly why we have her in the T-shirts all the time. We have towels and old raggedy blankets laid out all over the place. The vet said it will gradually be less everyday. Can't wait til the thing comes out!
  2. Schedule first round of chemo - possibly as soon as Friday.