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Archive for July, 2012

Odds Blog: Richard’s Olympic Experience (1)

Posted by indigodream on 23 July, 2012

Monday 23rd July

Richard has an exciting evening ahead – he has been offered a place as a volunteer to help with tonight’s dress rehearsal for the Olympic opening ceremony! He will also be working as a volunteer during the ceremony itself on Friday…

He’s having a day off on Wednesday – we’re going to watch the technical rehearsal for the opening ceremony – it was worth volunteering just to get the chance to attend these rehearsals 🙂

Richard and the rest of Paula’s  team – it all sounds fantastically organised – he tells me that his team has a good leader and is working on the “north side in the bowl by glastonbury tor” – I guess it will make more sense when we see the ceremony on Friday!

and here is a better photo, thanks Debbie

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Boat Blog: Calling for Crew…

Posted by indigodream on 21 July, 2012

The gargantuan flood barrier at Barking Creek Mouth – you simply have to see it for yourself!

Saturday 21st July

The St Pancras Cruising Club has given us another wonderful opportunity to explore the Thames tideway – this time on one of their occasional pilgrimages to Barking Creek on the 28th/29th July.

We only found out about this a week ago, so maybe it’s understandable that our regular guest crews can’t make it – they seem to have this misguided idea that they have a life outside of Indigo Dream and have other commitments – tsk!

Sadly, Richard has to skipper by himself – I can’t cruise because I’ve committed to work as an Olympic volunteer that weekend, though the likelihood is that I’d have had to stay behind anyway to look after the dogs. At Barking Creek, our convoy of tiny narrowboats moor up to the resident monster barges, which makes getting to/from the boat too much of an assault course for our variously clumsy and/or sickly hounds.

Richard has said that he is game to go it alone, but crew is pretty useful when tackling the large locks onto the tideway and to help with various other essential onboard tasks (like taking the helm while Richard makes the bacon sarnies!).

So we’re looking for up to four crew members to help us…

Here are the rough arrangements:

Saturday 28th July:

  • Indigo Dream and the convoy will leave Limehouse between 6am and 7am to reach whichever lock we will be using to get onto the Thames (yet to be disclosed!). BUT we won’t be able to accommodate guests on board on the Friday night – Richard is doing a brutally late shift as an Olympic volunteer on Friday (in the stadium, at the opening ceremony – can you believe it!!!) so if anyone stayed they would be woken up by him clambering over them at 2am (or later)
  • There will only be 7 boats in the convoy but as they have to punch the tide the organisers are trying to get permission for us to go out via City Mill Lock and Three Mills Lock as that way boats can go out onto the tideway together, Approval for this route has still not come through.
  • The convoy will cruise downstream past the delights of the O2, the Thames Barrier, the new cable crossing over the Thames, the Woolwich Ferry, the entrance to the Royal Docks (while being buzzed by the planes coming in to land at City Airport) before passing beneath the truly gargantuan Barking Creek Flood Barrier – it is awesome!
  • It is not a long cruise, but there may be some hanging around at the locks (whichever we use) and at Barking’s tidal barrage, however I anticipate that we’d be moored up in Barking Creek by lunchtime.
  • The good folk on the moorings at Barking Creek always give us a royal welcome and crews are welcome to join in the evening festivities – generally booze and barbecue laid on by our kind hosts.

Sunday 29th July

  • The convoy will aim to leave the moorings at Barking Creek at around 8am (depending on how quickly the tide reaches the tidal weir at Barking – all makes sense when you see it!)
  • The trip back is generally a bit quicker, but it will probably be early afternoon by the time we get back to Limehouse

We can take tideway veterans or virgins but you will be crew not passengers! Before you make any offers, here’s the “full disclosure”…… 🙂

  • There will be bumpy bits – even when the weather is fine and still
  • The advance weather forecast is thunderstorms….
  • The skipper’s word is law
  • Life-jackets (which we can provide) MUST be worn
  • Crew must be over 18
  • The river is half a mile wide at Barking Creek Mouth and the boat feels as insignificant as a hair in a bathtub! It is not for the faint-hearted..
  • I am not on board therefore catering will be incredibly sparse
  • This is an SPCC cruise so it will be incredibly well organised but a trip to Barking Creek is extreme narrowboating.
  • On the way back we may go past one of Her Majesty’s warships. They probably won’t shoot at us.
  • If anything goes wrong we may sink or end up in Belgium

BUT, it is an extraordinary trip – do come along, you’d be very welcome…

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Dog Blog: Living with canine cancer (2)…..

Posted by indigodream on 19 July, 2012

This diary starts just over a month after Lou first started snoring – what a ridiculously innocuous start to such a difficult journey….

Week Commencing 4th June

Lou now has so many shaved bits that she looks like frankenstein’s monster hound – but lying on her side with her tongue hanging out is normal greyhound behaviour!

Lou was being lovingly cared for by Sally and Kevin from Greyhound Homer  while we were taking part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant – I was very worried about her (and the other hounds!) , but I did enjoy the brief respite from her care. This week I was impatient to start the radiotherapy, though Lou was now swallowing and breathing normally – and no more snoring! We are getting used to the fact that Lou is low after the Vincristine but she does recover within 24 hours.

Between them, Poppy and Lou continued to have the odd urinary accident, the odd bout of diarrhoea and Lou, once, managed to catch three dogs beds in a spectacular bout of vomiting. Although I grumble (a lot) about the constant washing of dogs beds, carpets and of the dogs themselves, it is a willing service – no different for sick, elderly dogs than for their human equivalents.

I spent the weekend preparing a meticulous care package for Lou’s stay in hospital the next week  – clearly labelled drugs, a detailed drug administration chart, detailed notes from me on her care, comprehensive medical notes from our local vet and her chemotherapy protocol from the RVC. I was absolutely determined that she was going to get the best care while in hospital (the VRCC this time).

What I learnt:

  • Not to panic the second time I see an expected reaction to a drug e.g. Vincristine (I still worry the first time!).
  • I am an OCD control freak geek when it comes to other people looking after my hounds!

Week Commencing 11th June

I dropped Lou off in vet hospital in Essex – I felt like a criminal – it’s bad enough feeling like a poisoner every time I administer her chemotherapy tablets!

Lou got on well during the week, though I worried about her, and rang for updates every day. I remember that Poppy was delighted to have unchallenged top-girl status for a week!

Lou did well in hospital, but when I picked her up on Friday she wasn’t well at all – even the radiation oncologist seemed worried, though Lou had had a dose of Vincristine along with the radiotherapy that morning. Once again I fretted over whether we had made the right decision to treat. I got Lou home and she immediately tottered upstairs and slept for the rest of the day. I was very worried, but amazingly, by 10pm she got up for her dinner and had perked up considerably. She was on top form over the weekend – we were so relieved.

What I learnt:

  • the house is very quiet without Lou!
  • Giving the specialists detailed written instructions is a good thing – even if Jerome the oncologist thought I was a bit eccentric!

Week Commencing 18th June

If Lou is well enough to roach (lie on her back with feet in the air like a dead cockroach!) then we have some hope…

Truly terrible week – Poppy died on Wednesday morning, then on Wednesday afternoon Lou started having difficulty swallowing – this was the start of a horrendous delayed reaction to the radiotherapy (the delay between treatment and reaction is normal). We had been warned that she might develop mucositis – “when the gums, tongue, cheeks, throat or other mucus membrane-lined tissue in the radiation treatment field become inflamed…. The mucosa will get very red, and may ulcerate or blister during the second week of full course radiation therapy. Bad smell to the breath (halitosis), drooling, and difficulty eating can occur”. Yes, that would be what Lou’s got then…

Lou got steadily worse for the rest of the week, with excessive (and I mean EXCESSIVE) salivation mainly in the form of large amounts of frothy, sticky drool which impaired her breathing and her swallowing. She continued to deteriorate, despite doubling the dose of steroid and giving her precautionary antibiotics. The steroids made her obsessively hungry but she couldn’t swallow, so each bowl of food took around 40 minutes of patient feeding, a spoonful at a time, so that she wouldn’t choke while trying to take in too much for in one go. The action of lapping water was obviously very painful for her – she stopped drinking – so her food had to provide calories AND fluid. We had to delay her chemotherapy and the radiotherapy that was due the following week. I was frantic with worry, despite reassurances from the vets that her cancer had not returned and that the reaction would subside soon – huh, not soon enough for me!

What I learnt:

Week Commencing 25th June

Lou was still very unwell at the beginning of the week but then, very slowly, she started to improve – the drooling stopped and finally, on Thursday, she started swallowing properly again. We decided to re-instate her chemotherapy and booked her in for radiotherapy next week. I have worked really hard to keep her fed and hydrated since she developed mucositis – she has been steadily losing weight since she first had cancer but I felt my hard work had been rewarded when Lou had gained a little weight – from 34.1kg to 35.7kg – nowhere near her pre-cancer podgy self (38kg) but there’s no harm in that.

I learnt that:

  • Dogs do recover from radiation “sickness”
  • Mucositis is very unpleasant but there are practical things that can be done to make the dog more comfortable
  • You can keep a dog hydrated with liquid food, even when they’re not drinking water
  • It is a good thing to keep asking questions and to nag the vets for answers

Week Commencing 2nd July

Lou had her second and final course of radiotherapy this week. As we might have predicted, she was not well when I picked her up on Friday having had radiotherapy and chemotherapy in the morning. She is showing early signs of mucositis (reluctance to swallow, lip-smacking) so we’re probably in for a difficult week. But I am prepared, having learnt so much from the last episode! I was disappointed to find that she’s lost 2.5kg this week and is now 33.4kg – this is a healthy weight for her, though she looks very skinny compared to what she was. Because lymphoma dogs are prone to rapid weight loss I’ll need to do my best to ensure that she doesn’t lose any more.

She has the dire rear again – predictable with all she’s been through. She is not eating very well so I feel as if she’s losing weight before my very eyes! After a week of amazing peace and quiet with the lazy boys (I’d forgotten what it was like), the mantle of care soon settled heavily onto my shoulders again…..

I learn that:

  • I like to be prepared – I have anticipated that Lou might have mucositis and feel much more confident that I know what to do and that it will get better with time and tea!
  • Ty is hopeless without a top girl around to motivate him – this was his first week without Poppy or Lou – he has moped throughout! Ollie is fine – nothing bothers Ollie!
  • New symptoms still make me panic!

Skinny Lou! She’s 33kg here – it’s the right weight but for the wrong reasons – the red marks on her neck define the radiotherapy field..

Week Commencing 9th July

Last Saturday night Lou was showing some of her old spirit – demanding fuss and shamelessly lying on her back with legs akimbo – the sign of a happy hound; but by Tuesday she was starting to show signs of more severe mucositis – but in a different way. She was pacing, restless and swallowing convulsively – water, food and any plant in the garden that she could chew. I locked her indoors and she started chewing Richard’s armchair then went for a power cable – cue an emergency visit to the vet on Tuesday, plus a follow-up on Wednesday, and another on Thursday and Friday. There is some debate as to whether this compulsive looking for something to chew/eat is being caused by nausea (looking for something to make her sick) or by pain/discomfort in her throat (looking for something soothing). It’s very hard to judge, but the consensus is that we are doing all that we can and we just have to let the radiation reaction run its course – which includes it getting worse before it get better. We’ve a tough 7 – 10 days ahead of us – well, Lou has….

On Friday, Lou’s mucositis was still developing but it is not as severe as last time. Although she’s a bit unwell, we decided to push ahead with the last dose of Vincristine – this means that the intensive phase of her cancer treatment is over. She can then go onto maintenance therapy and will finally have a chance to recover from the rigours of the intensive treatment – at times it’s been rough but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a long remission. The radiation oncologist, and our local vet, are convinced that she is now in remission and that the cancer in her mouth/throat is dead. Sadly, though, it is certain that she has dormant cancer cells elsewhere in her lymphatic system which will express themselves at some point. Lymphoma is common in dogs, but Lou, of course, has an exceptionally rare form! One of the few studies done in dogs with this type of cancer, treated with chemo- and radio- therapy, found that the mean survival was around 3 years; the median was around 2 years. If Lou has a happy life for that long then these 10 weeks of intensive treatment and associated side-effects will have been well worth it.

Week Commencing 16th July

Although Lou’s mucositis is not as obviously severe as last time, it seems to be taking ages for her to perk up. Her throat is obviously sore and she’s just not herself. I was determined not to panic but by Monday afternoon Lou was flat out and her gums/tongue were so pale they were almost white! Cue an emergency visit to the vets, who found that she was dehydrated – Lou was admitted for IV fluids – they kept her in for 6 hours. Lou was much happier when she came home and she was a bit more perky by Tuesday. I’m not exactly feeling guilty, but I can’t help thinking that her getting dehydrated is down to poor nursing on my part.   She is quite enjoying having water syringed into her mouth at regular intervals; her food now floats in meat stock – yum yum!

But overall she is just not recovering from the side-effects of her last round of radiotherapy – back to the vet on Thursday for more investigations – watch this space…

What I learnt:

  • “Constant vigilance” as they say in the Harry Potter books!

Looking forward..

So, we know that Lou will be living with cancer for a while yet  – even the worse case scenario gives her 2 months – though we’re obviously hoping for much longer. Every day we have asked ourselves whether we’re doing the right thing in putting her through treatment – what has kept us going is the prospect of a long remission, during which, we hope, she will be well and happy. Richard’s perspective here: The sore throat has troubled Lou and was not good, the Vincristine injections knock her back for a few hours, it does take her time to recover from being knocked out (it always has) but otherwise she has tolerated the treatment very well, at times she has been really really bright.  The other night when her sore throat was troubling her I let her out at 3am, she tottered outside, saw a beastie intruding in the garden, wheel spun on the pavement, leapt down the steps, thundered down the garden and came back really pleased with herself. Without treatment, Lou would have been dead by now, that is not easy to write and does affect our viewpoint but we have tried very hard to consider her quality of life and put that first.

One of the articles that we read said that it was very important to remember to “LIVE” with cancer – I never realised how much of a challenge that could be. Lou has been acutely unwell since the 19th March, when she cut her foot and subsequently got MRSA before developing cancer at the end of April. I’ve become so used to nursing her, to her being unwell, to looking out for and dealing with new symptoms, that I’ve forgotten what it is like to relax and just enjoy the company of a well and happy Lou.

I will have to remind myself to have a good time with her every day from now on….

Ty wondering whether he can get away with licking the last dregs of Lou’s liver ice-cream from that pot…

It’s ok Ty, Lou’s not looking! Make sure you get every last bit now…

Ollie has heard that hounds can be affected by human stress but has decided that he wants no part of it – he is easily the laziest, most laid-back greyhound ever born!

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Dog Blog: Living with canine cancer (1)…

Posted by indigodream on 18 July, 2012

As I may have mentioned before, looking after Lou, who has cancer, has been an incredibly intense experience; losing Poppy in the middle of it hasn’t helped!

It’s also been a tremendous learning experience, one I’d rather not have had, but here we are –  so, for the future and for other dog owners, here’s my diary – listing what happened and what I learnt from it…

Lou enjoying a bit of sunshine at the beginning of March – little did we know then what was ahead of us…

Week Commencing 23rd April

I noticed over the weekend that Lou was snoring, especially when lying on her left side. This was a new thing, so I mentioned it the vet on Wednesday 25th April. Lou was not very co-operative when the vet was trying to look down her throat so we didn’t have a very meaningful consultation. The vet thought we should just keep an eye on her and, if the symptom persisted, we should do an endoscopy of her throat.

I learnt that:

  • It is very important to observe my dogs and to get new signs/symptoms checked out. I can make observations, but only the vet has the expertise to interpret what I’ve seen! We’re very lucky that I absolutely trust Lou’s vet (the senior partner) and feel that we are in partnership in maintaining Lou’s health.

Week Commencing 30th April

Lou’s symptoms persisted and were getting worse – more snoring when asleep and now she was breathing noisily when awake. I made an appointment to see the vet on the Monday evening – unfortunately we missed the appointment because of car breakdown. The breakdown also meant a forced march – me and the four hounds – to get help. The walk made Lou very ill with raspy excessive panting, urinary incontinence and general malaise. I saw a vet on Tuesday – she thought that Lou was suffering with exhaustion and joint pain. We thought about doing an endoscopy then, but decided to leave it a day to see how Lou recovered. On Wednesday morning Lou was much worse and was now having trouble swallowing as well as breathing problems. We admitted her for an emergency endoscopy – we got the worrying news that there was a “mass” at the back of her mouth – it was so big that they couldn’t get the scope any further down her throat. Our vet made an immediate referral to the internal medicine specialists at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) Hospital in Potters Bar. I picked Lou up from our vets and took her to the RVC that evening – they admitted her for investigations – physical examination, blood tests and a CT scan.

Lou stayed in hospital for 2 nights – by Friday we knew that the mass was a large tumour on the right hand side of her soft palate (rather than something simple like an embedded chicken bone) but we had to wait for the biopsy results. The tumour was friable and very unlike the surrounding tissue – this was not a good sign! Part of the tumour broke off during the biospy – this gave Lou a bit of symptomatic relief.

At the time, Lou was still recovering from MRSA, so she was nursed in isolation – she was not well cared for – when we got her back the fur around her bottom and thighs was matted where she had leaked urine and some faeces but hadn’t been cleaned up – we were not impressed.

I learnt that:

  • I should be more decisive – I dithered, along with the vet, about whether/when to do an endoscopy – not that there was a clinically significant delay…..this time!
  • I took basic nursing care in hound hospital as a given, but I was wrong – I need to very explicit about what I expect from the vets and put it in writing.
  • I don’t like irrelevant phone calls – the specialist, Tom, was very sweet and rang me several times a day to reassure me and tell me what he was about to do – I just needed to know what he’d actually done and what the results were!
  • There is an uneasy relationship between specialists and generalists – the specialists tend not to believe anything they’re told by the local vet so repeat costly tests in order to satisfy themselves of the veracity of the results. This seems to be endemic/cultural (apart from Poppy’s excellent neurologist, Clare Rusbridge, who has none of these pretensions).
  • Annoyingly they only did a part CT instead of a whole body CT as agreed. It is a frustrating thing with specialists.

W/C 7th May

The Bank Holiday delayed the biopsy results but by Tuesday we knew that Lou had cancer – an unusual presentation of a lymphoma – not at all what the specialists were expecting. Lou’s case was referred to the RVC’s oncology team, who ordered more tests on the biopsy samples. By Thursday we knew that she had an “intermediate high grade B-cell lymphoma”.

Lou and Poppy getting to know each other – both were is their best health here!

“High Grade” means that the cells are very abnormal and is an indication of how aggressive the cancer is; a “B-cell lymphoma” is a cancer of the B-cells which are present throughout the lymphatic system and are responsible for manufacturing antibodies to fight infection.

We were devastated when we got the news – lymphoma seems to come from nowhere, develops quickly, and, untreated, generally kills dogs 4 – 6 weeks after diagnosis. However, unlike some canine cancers, lymphomas respond well to treatment (the cells are very sensitive to chemotherapy).

I learnt that:

  1. Lymphoma needs FAST action – they grow fast and kill quickly – we’re so lucky that we spotted Lou’s so early (hard to miss in her throat though!)
  2. Lymphoma is treatable, with a good chance of a meaningful remission
  3. This is a useful information site: http://www.caninelymphoma.net/ – from the descriptions given, Lou, of course, seems to have the rarest form – extranodal lymphoma
  4. Chemotherapy is not used to cure cancer in dogs – they cannot use doses high enough because the side-effects would be prohibitive – the aim is a meaningful remission

Week Commencing 14th May

Last week, the RVC oncologists gave us an appointment on Thursday 17th May – it was a very long week – Lou’s tumour was growing at an alarming rate. By the time we got to the oncologist her breathing was rasping and laboured; swallowing was very difficult and it was an effort to mince her food finely enough to tempt her appetite and keep her hydrated. Lymphoma dogs apparently lose weight rapidly – Lou had already lost over 3kg. By the time we got to the oncologist we felt that she only had days to live – we would have had to call it a day because we were so frightened that the tumour would suffocate her to death – we simply could not allow that to happen.

Knowing that we had an appointment with the oncologist, we asked our local vet earlier in the week whether he thought Lou was well enough for the rigours of cancer treatment. He thought that part of her long-standing malaise might have been caused by the cancer and that treatment would make a significant difference to her wellbeing. Our local vet was very pro- chemotherapy.

On Thursday morning, Lou was admitted for more tests and an ultrasound scan – we saw the oncologist for the results later that day.

The results confirmed that Lou had a very unusual form of lymphoma and, miraculously, it was isolated in her throat neck and was not active in any other lymph nodes or body organs e.g. spleen/liver. This meant that her chances of a meaningful remission was greater than with generalised disease. The oncologist recommended an intensive 8-week course of chemotherapy and referred us to a radiation oncologist for radiotherapy. We had given consent for the chemotherapy to be started immediately. The chemotherapy includes regular steroids – this meant that Lou would need to come off the anti-inflammatories that she was taking for her arthritis. I was very worried about this – the last time we withdrew her anti-inflammatories she was in screaming pain within 36 hours. We started her on an alternative painkiller (Gabapentin), that was, at the time, working well for Poppy – the vet also reassured us that the steroid would also act as an anti-inflammatory.

Lou’s chemotherapy regime involves a weekly injection of Vincristine with Cyclophosphamide and steroid tablets every other day.

What I learnt:

  1. Steroids are used to reduce the body’s immune reaction when it is flooded with cancer cells that have been killed by the cytotoxic drugs
  2. If Lou did not respond to treatment, or suffered from unacceptably severe side-effects, then we could call it a day at any time
  3. Chemotherapy injections are very expensive – as well as the drugs and administration, there is also the associated, essential, blood tests

Week Commencing 21st May

When this photo was taken we knew that Lou had a tumour in her mouth but hadn’t had the definitive diagnosis..

Lou responded well to chemotherapy – no vomiting or diarrhoea – the usual side-effects. The combination of steroids and gabapentin and tramadol (strong morphine-like painkiller) have been much more effective at controlling her arthritis pain than I expected. However she was very “up and down” – the local vet reckoned that this was being caused by spikes of fever caused by the massive release of pyrogens (fragments of dead cancer cells which trigger an immune response) – we couldn’t treat this with drugs, though the vet suggested a fan to cool her down. Predictably, Lou decided that she didn’t like the fan, so the intermittent fevers were just something she, and we, would have to live with. She was panting a lot – we found out later that this is a common side-effect of steroids.

We were amazed to find that Lou’s swallowing was back to pre-tumour normal and that her snoring had stopped by Monday – within days the chemotherapy had shrunk her tumour to a sub-clinical size. We quizzed the oncologist about it – we couldn’t believe it! She confirmed that it was a positive sign – around 10% of lymphomas do not respond to chemotherapy – if Lou’s tumour had not been sensitive to the drugs regime she would have been much worse.

When Lou had her second dose of Vincristine on Friday our local vet gave us the unwelcome news that chemotherapy would make Lou’s wee and poo quite toxic – we’d need to be very careful handling any accidents in the house and double bag the poo that we picked up when we were out and about. Fortunately the drugs/metabolites are apparently neutralised by soil so we didn’t worry too much about the garden.

What I learnt:

  • The right chemotherapy can work much faster than I expected
  • Oral steroids are much more effective at controlling arthritis than I expected
  • Lou needs a weekly blood test  (white blood cell count) 12 hours before her Vincristine injection – this means at least two vet visits per week – hard work for me and for Lou.
  • Chemotherapy makes dog wee and poo quite toxic – though they’re not that nice to start off with!!!
  • I’m glad that we gave Lou a chance at life
  • We are lucky to have the resources (financial, emotional and practical) to sustain Lou
  • Check the RVC’s bills, they double charged us for 3 items, it took weeks to resolve – this did not help ambient stress levels!

Week Commencing 28th May

Lou was still doing well, but Friday’s Vincristine injection seemed to knock her back for several hours after administration. The vet had said that normally you couldn’t tell a chemotherapy dog from any other dogs in the surgery , but it seems

By this stage, Lou has had lots of scans (hence the shaved bits!) and has started her chemotherapy but not her radiotherapy – she’s having a good day here…

that Lou is quite sensitive to treatment. There’s nothing obvious – she was just low and lethargic after the injection, but she seemed to recover within 24 hours.

I lose track of the time but it was around now that Poppy developed urinary incontinence – Lou was to join her a week or so later! It was understandable (and nothing to do with poor house-training) – Poppy was drinking excessively because of kidney disease; Lou was drinking excessively because of steroid treatment – It’s hard to measure their intake but I had to put two x 1 litre water bowls down if I needed to go out at all, and I was refilling them at least twice a day. Boots (the chemist!) do a useful range of absorbent bed pads, which were useful, but washing wet dog beds became something of a morning ritual. Luckily the incontinence was treatable using a drug called “Propalin” – this worked amazingly well and instead of having two old ladies constantly (and unconsciously) leaking urine we were down to the odd accident now and then.

Richard went to see the radiation oncologist, Jerome, this week – he made a convincing case for radiotherapy – we discussed it, asked some more questions, then booked Lou in for the first of a two week course of radiotherapy on 11th June (after the jubilee!).

What I learnt:

  • Sod’s law dictates that if a rare reaction is possible then Lou will probably get it – she certainly didn’t have the common effects! This was to become relevant after radiotherapy!
  • Lou’s cancer is so localised that radiotherapy might achieve a local cure so that the cancer would not recur in her throat
  • There is some evidence that radiotherapy combined with chemotherapy can give an extended remission – 12 to 18 months minimum for this type of lymphoma – of course that evidence comes from cats because it’s so rare in dogs!
  • Dog nappies are cheap/easy to buy on the internet – we’ve not had to use them yet but it’s good to have them

I’ll continue the story in the next post – it must sound like a tale of woe and hard work so far, but the good hours pay for the bad days – in the fullness of time the good days will pay for the bad hours! Every time there was a new situation/symptom we have learnt from it and used that experience to deal with the next new thing!

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