I had to record Athena’s pre-dinner routine, just because it’s so darn cute. Her favorite time of day is dinner time. She would never miss a meal, and won’t let you forget that it’s time for her dinner. Usually, she will hop over to her food storage bin and stab at it a couple times with her nose. Then she will hop into the middle of the room and stare at me as she wags her tail. If I don’t get the hint by then, she will start to “oughh” and thrash her head around. (The sound she makes is hard to describe, which is why I had to record it.) If it looks like I am ignoring her, she might get really impatient with me and bark.
Athena is feeling good, looking good, and powering through chemo like a champ! The first week of September will be treatment #5. This means that after October (and treatment #6), there will be no more monthly vet visits.
Another big update is that Athena had her first post amp chest radiographs yesterday. It was recommended by the oncologist before doing the last two chemo treatments. Can I tell you how much of a bundle of nerves I was sitting in the waiting room?! It felt like torture, because I would have been devastated if I learned the chemo wasn’t keeping the cancer at bay. But, what a relief that her lungs are clear!
I do a lot of thinking when I go running, and this afternoon I had some thoughts pop into my head that I just wanted to share (in no particular order) because this is as much of a journal for myself to reflect back on as it is a way to share information with other people in the same situation:
I am so happy that I found a vet in the beginning that believed in Athena and her strong will to survive.
I hate cancer, yet am fascinated by the biology of it at the same time.
I hate surprises, and there is not a single day that goes by that I have not given a thought to Athena’s cancer and wondered when it will rear it’s ugly head again.
About 20% of OSA dogs survive 2 years or more…. could Athena be one?? There’s a reason I don’t play the lottery.
Will Athena get to see her 8th birthday?
I hope we get snow this winter because Athena looooovvvvves playing in the snow! <3 <3 <3
I am so happy to report that things have been uneventful around here, recently. (No news is good news, right?) Athena did have a high enough WBC to get chemo #2 last Friday after being delayed for a week. Another CBC this Friday and we won’t have any more appointments for 2 weeks.
Watch a video of Athena running and playing:
Another video of Athena scratching the dirt and hopping around:
I wanted to start by saying Sally and Happy Hannah, here’s your sketch:
I really hope that you approve!! I will mail it to you next week, email me your address! 🙂
I titled this post Our Inspawration, because as I drew Happy Hannah, I was thinking about how much of an inspiration she was to me in this journey. *[I also can’t forget to add that Sassy, another big Rottie girl, was an inspiration.] My first vet told me that she did not recommend amputation for Athena, and when I asked her if she was your dog, would you amputate? She said ‘NO’. Yes, Athena has arthritis everywhere (on her chest xray, you could even see a big arthritic spot on her spine), and hip displasia, and has damaged cartilidge in her back knees. She was also considered overweight and was 108 pounds at the time of diagnosis. I was so devastated wondering just how would Athena be able to cope after amputation… everything seemed stacked against her. But, I didn’t give up on Athena, and seeing that OTHER big dogs could do it, gave me a bit of hope. (And, I found another vet!) Well little did I know!!! Less than ONE WEEK after amputation, she was going up and down the three steps to get to the backyard all by herself! She heard a delivery truck go down the neighbors driveway and she RAN across the yard, barking like crazy. I thought, well Athena won’t be able to scratch on the door anymore to let me know that she wants to come back in the house. Imagine my surprize just a few days ago when I hear a loud scratch on the door! I still don’t know how she does it, but she will give a scratch at the door when she wants to come back inside.
I guess what I want to say is that I hope that one day, Athena can be an inspiration for someone else the way that so many others around the Tripawds community have been for me.
I got Athena’s cancer diagnosis one month before the end of Spring semester (I am a full time college student.) Her amputation happened in the middle of our last week of classes, with finals shortly after. Talk about a balancing act! I aced all of my classes, and it was a big relief to be done with such a full course load… so, now I am able to spend more time with Athena and attempt to relax a little. Okay, so I’m still taking a class over the summer which is condensed for time and we have a test every week (Starting with today!) But, it’s still easier to focus on just ONE class.
Okay, enough with my rambling, you’re thinking, what’s the point?
Well, to destress I do “crafty” things. Knitting, crocheting, writing, painting, and drawing. I impulsively bought some packs of Artist Trading Cards that were on sale, thinking it would be good to practice little sketches and drawings.
Of course, my first subject was my “Tripawd Goddess,” Athena. 🙂
It’s only 2.5″ x 3.5″, and so much fun to finish in just a few hours because it’s small and not as detailed as I would make a large drawing. Well, if you’ve read this far, keep reading…. I’ve thought about it, and I decided that I would like to offer these cards to members of the Tripawds community. If any registered members want to take me up on this, please private message me leave a comment below. (I will need at least one good photo of your special pet.) I am going to limit it to the first 5 responders for now, and I can’t guarantee a delivery date, since this is just something I am doing free of charge and for fun.
May 13th was our first trip to see the Oncologist and we were able to start her chemotherapy treatment that same day! We will be doing a regimen of Carboplatin (intravenous) every 3 weeks for a total of 4-6 treatments. Also, 1 week after each treatment, we have to go to our vet to get a CBC (complete blood count) and check the WBC (white blood cell) count. Her bloodwork the next week came back great, and her WBC is on the high end of normal. Friday is her next chemo.
May 23 was another big milestone- It was her 1 month Ampuversary!!! I can’t believe it has been 1 month already. It makes me sad that time seems to be going by so fast, and we don’t know how much time we will have together. But, since the diagnosis, our time spent together has been more precious. I appreciate our little moments together so much more, and I take more time to go out of my way to go see where she is napping during the day and give her a scratch and kiss on the head. It has made me reflect on our mortality a little more, and really none of us know how much time we have on this Earth. Make the most of it.
Athena and I would like to thank Dakota Dawg (aka Shari) for the doggie life vest we got from the Angel Swap message board! We are also thinking of Spirit Sadie and Spirit Dakota, who must surely be looking down from doggie heaven.
Today is May 09, 2013- It’s 16 days post amputation surgery and just a few days ago, Athena started feeling like her old self again. I am so happy that we have finally made it through those rough beginning days and that the pain seems to be gone completely. She isn’t taking pain meds any more. I am happy to report that she is feeling good and getting around great! We had built a ramp for the two steps at the back door that go to the fenced in part of the yard for the dogs. She refused to use it! So we took it out and just carried her down and back when she had to go potty. Well, just 5 days post amp, Athena decides that she’s not waiting, she’s going up the steps herself. And the next day, she was going up and down the steps all by herself. Her diet is going great as well. Pre surgery she was 104 lbs… at the last check up on Tuesday, she was 93 lbs! Yes, I know part of that is the leg, but she looks visibly more trim and leaner. Monday is her first appointment with the Veterinary Oncologist, so I am very much looking forward to learning about the chemo options and getting the treatments started! Well, the last thing I forgot to mention is that we also got the official biopsy results back which confirms osteosarcoma. I left the vet office completely forgetting to ask for a copy of the biopsy results so that I could read the details, but I will be seeing the vet again in a week. Overall, it’s been great seeing her happy and hopping around and just feeling better. It makes the rough first few days and almost sleepless nights worth it.
April 23, 2013- I dropped off Athena at 8 am this morning on my way to school. I was so anxious all day waiting for the phone call that surgery was over and all was well. The vet called and relayed that everything went great! We decided that the best thing to do would be to leave her at the vet office overnight. Our experience from the day before when she was sedated to get chest x-rays convinced us that she would be impossible to handle still recovering from anesthesia and without the front leg.
April 24- The day after her amputation- What a shock to see her like this. I spent the first night sleeping next to her on the living room floor.
She is very restless, and I’ve learned that she’s not really happy until she gets to lay outside all day in this cooler weather.
Yes, tomorrow is the day that my dog becomes a tripawd. So nervous and praying that the surgery goes well. This afternoon I took her dog bed outside and we sat outside enjoying the nice weather- so she got to enjoy her last day before surgery relaxing and she even got one of her favorite treats. A piggy ear!
Took Athena to her appointment to see the new vet late Monday afternoon. I picked up the x-rays & last blood test from my regular vet and brought them with me, also. The biggest reason I needed a second opinion was that I did not feel comfortable with the interpretation of the chest x-rays from the previous vet and her overall attitude towards the situation. I left with a not comfortable feeling, so I looked up some local vets online and got the appointment with this new vet. I am so glad that I did. He gave Athena an entire exam, from nose to tail. He listened to each lobe of her lungs and felt/manipulated all of her joints & watched her gait to assess how she would adapt to the forelimb amputation. He believed that she would adapt well, and that being stocky and shaped like a barrel was actually a good thing. [That’s my girl! ;)] He went over the x-rays from the last vet, and said that the three suspicious areas that my regular vet had pointed out- he believed were calcifications (I can’t remember exactly what he called them…) He also shared a lot of information and seemed to very knowledgeable about osteosarcoma as well.
Well, I left with an estimate for the surgery and feeling a lot more confident and comfortable overall, so I called this morning (Tuesday) and scheduled her amputation surgery for my new vet’s next available time, Monday, April 22. He is still going to take his own chest x-rays before the surgery, while she is sedated, on his digital machine to get a clearer picture and confirm that he did not see any metastasis in her lungs. Fingers crossed he was correct the first time!
Her limp gets really bad sometimes, even with her pain meds. Of course I wish the amputation was sooner than 6 days from now… I want the cancerous tumor off her body ASAP and get rid of her pain, but I feel a lot more comfortable and confident with my new vet.