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Archive for August 7th, 2012

Dog Blog: Living with canine cancer (4)

Posted by indigodream on 7 August, 2012

Rewind to Friday 3rd August

Lou went in for an endoscopy, having been very up and down for the last month, ending with a dramatic bout of the dire rear this week…..

When I got to the vet, he was worried about the dire rear as he thought it was caused by an infection and may be a sign that immune system is too flat. That’s such a shame – I hadn’t been worried about it because I didn’t think it was that serious – “sigh”….

We got some preliminary results from the endoscopy this afternoon:

  • The good news: the site of Lou’s primary tumour on her soft palate is totally normal – We are so relieved about this 🙂
  • The bad news: Lou has a BIG (around 2″ x 1″) red plaque of inflammatory tissue right at the back of her throat  – the vet says it is raw enough to bleed – this is likely to be the cause of her recent swallowing and breathing problems – it must be horribly painful. The vet doesn’t know what the plaque is, but he thinks it is likely to be an infection rather than a new patch of cancer. However, he has taken samples and has ordered every biopsy and culture possible – we’ll get the results next week. He has also tested her poo for infection (results next week also) and has started her on a course of antibiotics.

I had been very worried about Lou being so unwell; but now that I know how sore her throat is, I’m a bit amazed at how stoic she’s been – it must be awful. I am a little bit proud that I’ve been able to maintain her weight and hydration through careful feeding – makes it all worthwhile.

We now have to suspend her maintenance chemotherapy until the diarrhoea has stopped – we should get the results of her white cell count soon – this will tell us how her immune system is doing.

What I learnt:

  • I don’t like waiting for test results!
  • Diarrhoea may be an indicator of something more serious in a dog with a suppressed immune system – I really didn’t know this and it’s IMPORTANT.

I am a bit concerned that Lou only finished a “just in case” course of antibiotics last week – it made no difference to her condition whatsoever. This raises the alarming possibility that the inflammation in her throat is being caused by MRSA – which she had in a wound in March, but then was declared clear (via nose and wound swabs) in early May. I do hope that’s not what’s in her throat – the vet was sanguine that it could be treated. But I remember that it took 6 weeks of antibiotics to get rid of the MRSA from her foot – and that’s a long time when you’re potentially measuring your dog’s life in months rather than years….

Fast Forward to Monday 6th

Lou has had some trouble with walking over the weekend, so we went back to the vet this afternoon. My head was full of doomsday scenarios, but it turns out that she has strained her groin muscles – partly from sliding on the tile floor at the bottom of the stairs and partly from being manhandled around the operating/scanning table at the vet’s on Friday. Now, a groin strain is painful and it affects odd things, like her ability squat comfortably for weeing and pooing (her legs slide out from under her until she’s almost collapsed), but I was ridiculously relieved that it wasn’t more serious.

However, the simple remedy a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory is not an option – she can’t take them because of her cancer drugs. We are going to try some diazepam as a muscle relaxant and see if that helps, and we have got the option of upping her opiate (morphine-like) painkillers if needed. Of course, the slippery floor needs sorting, so cue an emergency visit to Ikea for a few of their excellent washable wool rugs and some anti-slip underlay – what we do for these hounds!!

On the positive, Lou’s dire rear was cured after an injection of antibiotic. As a result of this, she has gained 2kg over the weekend – most of that will be fluid, but I’ll take a win where I can!

What I learnt:

  • Lou was prone to muscle injuries before she had cancer so there’s no reason why she shouldn’t be prone to them now – it’s easy to forget that “ordinary” ailments need attention as well as the BIG stuff!

On the test results front, Lou’s white cell count and her kidney function are both ok – this means that we can re-start her maintenance chemotherapy today – this is important! One of her liver enzyme tests is abnormal, but consistent with the effects of the steroid that she is taking as part of her chemotherapy.

The vet had suggested that the big patch of inflammation in her throat might be a fungal infection, like thrush – that would make perfect sense if her immune system is a bit depressed and she’s taking antibiotics. I liked that theory….. 🙂 Alas, the results came back negative, so whatever is going on in her throat is not fungal. We’re waiting for the results of the bacterial cultures and of the biopsies – they take a bit of time – hopefully we’ll know by Wednesday…

I’ve had some sound support in response to the last cancer post – it’s much appreciated and really helped me to get my head around things. When it comes to “what ifs” there is one definite – if we hadn’t treated, she would have died two months ago – simple! On that basis, I can’t regret our attempts to buy her some time….

When we came out of the vet’s room today, the people in the waiting room had brought their ancient and tumour-ridden boxer to be put down – oh how my heart went out to them. Yet I couldn’t help but feel a surge of hope – one day we will say goodbye to Lou – but it’s not today, and for that I’m thankful…..

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