It may be cliché to say that, but I honestly can’t think of a better way to describe how I felt letting Daisy go yesterday. People said she’d let us know when she was ready, and she sure did. She was a dog with so much spirit, and it was just gone.
This is how we will forever remember our girl…
I can’t say enough good things about Charleston Veterinary Referral Center. From when we took Daisy for a late night ER visit, to the oncology department who helped evaluate her and keep her comfortable and deal with my incessant canine cancer questions, and finally to the evening ER visit last night…they were absolutely wonderful. I honestly don’t think Brad and I would have made it through last night if it wasn’t for them. It was different from any other veterinary experience I’ve ever had with her or any other pet. Hell, they were better than a lot of human doctors I’ve met. They are compassion, plain and simple.
Brad and I got to hold her and rock her, and she fell asleep in our arms. We were the last thing she saw before she closed her eyes. She was snoring peacefully and looked like the little snoozing baby dog we remembered. The doctor took her to the back to put her fully at rest; we weren’t sure we could handle that. I mean we’re pretty strong people, but we’re not that strong.
As difficult as it was to make that decision, we knew it’s what she needed and, among the emptiness in our hearts, we feel an odd sense of peace, too, because we know she’s at rest. She’s probably playing with her friends and fur-siblings on the other side. She was always a happy dog, and she always bounced back, and I have no doubt she’s causing some trouble as we speak.
She was the best girl and she’ll forever be in our hearts, and the hearts of those who knew her and loved her. Thanks for all the kind words. ❤
I realize I sort of left everyone hanging about Daisy, and for that I apologize. It was a busy week dealing with the start of a new semester at work and an ailing dog.
So we’re doing supportive care and she’s hanging in there. She has meds similar to what I had when I had cancer: steroid, pain killer, anti-nausea, and anti-diarrheal.
She hasn’t been eating voluntarily, so we’ve been using our NutriBullet to grind up some food and vitamins into mush that we can put in a small medicine syringe and squirt in her mouth. She’s been drinking a lot of water, and when she’s a bit doped up, we use the syringe for that as well. She mostly sleeps and chills out, checking things out.
We had a ultrasound guided aspirate done (biopsy) and the pathology came back with her tumors most likely being hemangiosarcoma. It’s not what we wanted to hear as we were hoping for a lymphoma that could be quickly treated with chemotherapy.
Hemangiosarcoma can be a hit or miss with chemotherapy as sometimes it responds well and quickly, and sometimes it does not. The other difficult part is that the fine needle aspirate is only able to sample a small part of her liver, so it’s not representative of the entire thing.
We’ve decided to try one round of chemotherapy to see if there are any positive changes. Her oncologist said we would definitely be able to tell after one round of chemotherapy, maybe two weeks time, if the chemotherapy is helping. She’ll be going in on Wednesday morning, so please keep her (and us) in your thoughts.
Chemotherapy for dogs is much different than chemotherapy for humans. According to the vet, dogs handle the drugs much better than humans do, and the side effects are usually just nausea and diarrhea, which we are already treating her for. So hopefully she’ll feel minimal changes/ discomfort there. She also may have metabolites in her feces, so for the first few days following chemotherapy, we will need to use gloves when cleaning up after her number twos.
This is sort of our “Hail Mary,” last ditch effort to see if she can be treated before we make the decision to rely solely on supportive care. Every day she shows a little bit of the feisty personality we know and love, so we want to give her a chance to kick this, even if that chance is small.
You know, they don’t tell you about this part of being a pet parent. You may be well-versed in the concept of life and death, but when you spot that tiny black and white blob of fur and ears, you don’t think about how she’s gonna go.
I’ll skip the details and just share the specifics.
We took her back to the emergency vet last night, this time a different one. Her abdomen was still distended and hard, and she hadn’t had a bowel movement in over 24 hours.
Diagnosis: she has a 6cm mass on her spleen and an 8cm mass on her liver, as well as multiple other masses throughout all lobes of her liver.
The options suck.
Surgery is no good because while they can remove the spleen, they can’t do anything with the liver since it’s all over the liver. I even asked about liver transplants, but that’s not an option for dogs.
Chemotherapy may not improve her quality of life since she’s already feeling bad and side effects can be miserable. It would also depend on the type of mass as some are not responsive to chemo, including the type they suspect she has.
So supportive care is the best option in terms of doing something…and that’s basically like hospice for dogs. The other option, of course, is putting her down, which is in unfathomable right now.
I hate this so much. I wasn’t this emotionally wrecked at any point during my cancer diagnosis and treatment. No lie. I dove into all that head first, but this? I want to run away to a land where cancer in dogs doesn’t exist.
I don’t know what to do. Logically, I know what the most humane thing to do is. Illogically, I’m wondering if she’d want the opportunity to kick cancer’s ass like her momma did. I’m wanting to selfishly eke out more time with her because I’m not ready for this.
Some may be thinking, “She’s just a dog!” Then stop reading. She may be a dog, but to two people who can’t have children, she’s their child. We’ve raised her for more than 12 years. She’s our baby.
Having to make a choice regarding the life or death of a loved one is absolutely agonizing. I would rather go through everything I went through with breast cancer again than have to go through this. I’m not even kidding. This is so hard.
Anyway, she’s pretty lethargic from the comfort meds. She’s not the same Daisy right now, and she probably won’t be again, I know that. Brad’s been at work all day, so he hasn’t seen her yet today. Just keep us in your thoughts as we make literally the most awful decision of our lives.
2019. It’s gonna be a great year. Lots of good things.
However, it’s off to a rough start.
First of all, Merry Christmas! I hope you had a wonderful holiday, I did. Brad and I spent the holiday with his family, and we went to the Festival of Lights, too. Here’s one of my faves this year.
After Christmas, I ended up with a stomach bug that lasted straight through Friday. It was glorious.
We went to the South Carolina Gamecocks bowl game in Charlotte over the weekend. Our seats were in the sky and the team lost miserably, but it was an experience I can cross off our 101 list, so that was pretty cool.
See that concrete wall a few rows behind us, behind that girl? That’s the back of the stadium. That’s how high up we were. I had about 15 minutes of vertigo/anxiety when we first arrived because I felt like I was going to fall the heck down.
Also, there was a little excitement in the nosebleeds. I didn’t see all of it, but from what I heard, some UVA fans were celebrating an interception and spilled some beer on some people in front of them, including some kids, and the father said something, and the UVA fan lady dumped her drink over his head. That I did see. Needless to say, security came and threw the UVA fans out.
On the way back from Charlotte, I ended up with a sore throat and fever. Body aches were insane. Being stuck in the car three hours was pure torture.
The sore throat stuck with me through New Year’s Eve, which was really fun since I had some great drinking games planned. I sat sober on the couch while everyone else partied, which is fine but it still sucked. For me anyway.
And guess what? I still have a fever. And guess what else? I’m pretty sure it might possibly be strep due to the white spots on my tonsils. Hooray!
Oh, and I can’t forget the other New Year doozy. We had to take Daisy to the emergency vet because she has had diarrhea and a distended stomach and was also very lethargic. Turns out it’s nothing serious, thank God, and she’ll be on some antibiotics and a special diet for a few days.
So tomorrow I’ll be heading to the doc. I should have figured it was more than a cold when days passed and I still had a fever a horrible sore throat. I mean, I can barely swallow solid food and it’s not getting any better. Boo!
So that was the end of my 2018 and the beginning of my 2019. It can only get better!
Yeah, so I’m just warning you, it’s a little bit gross. I’m including this adorable picture of Daisy from the Fourth of July so that it will be the preview picture, rather than my busted gut, in case anyone doesn’t want to see it. I don’t want to just toss it in your face (unless you’re my sister, Tracy, in which case I live to gross you out!). Actually, before I show my busted gut, I’ll share a modest image of my flap.
It kind of looks like a baseball from this angle, which is sort of appropriate considering baseball is on nearly 24/7 in my house.
Ok, so the flap (my belly skin) is the part in the middle, inside the circle of stitches. The far left and far right (other sides of the stitch scars) is my actual breast skin. The next surgery I have, the one in September-ish, will take that flap out and re-join the breast skin. There will be a cleaner scar line there once that is complete, right down the middle.
Just to reiterate, that flap is there because it’s connected to the fat tissue they transplanted from my belly. When they transplant the fat and flap, they connect blood vessels and hope it takes. If it doesn’t, the tissue will not survive. It’s done that way so that, through the flap, they can monitor whether the fat tissue underneath is still alive. If the flap begins to show signs of necrosis, then it’s likely the fat tissue inside is dying as well.
Enough about that! On to the nasty…
So here it goes…keep in mind that even though it looks nasty, it is healing well and actually looks “good” in the eyes of the surgeons, and my live-in nurse, aka Mom. Often these types of incisions can’t handle the pressure of being pulled so tightly together, so they pop open, hence the gaping holes. Then they’ll heal from the inside out. So inside the holes, they are healing, and the yellowish stuff that’s there is sort of like a scab, it’s just moist because it’s inside and not drying out like a scab would do on the outside.
Also, pardon the irritation above and below. My skin is super sensitive as it is, and me swapping out bandaids every so often isn’t helping it one bit. I’m actually supposed to leave it uncovered, or covered with Vaseline on it, but Vaseline gets on everything and leaving it uncovered just feels like I’m asking for an infection.
So that’s what I’ve been dealing with for the last two months. Ignore the blood on the left side…I thought I was pulling off a piece of dead skin and clearly I was not. I’m such a picker, and I can’t leave well enough alone.
Anyway, it’s not as bad as it looks. Truly. It’s healing quite well, and hopefully will be completely closed very soon! I’m kind of glad the scab fell off because, believe it or not, it looked worse with the scab! Yuck.
And, for the record, it does not hurt. It looks like it should, but it doesn’t. Not one bit. The nerves in that area were knocked out of commission during the surgery and have yet to fully heal back. I am slowly regaining feelings around the surgical areas (breast and tummy), but it’ll probably be a while before it’s 100%. Which is fine by me, because I don’t want to know what that feels like!
Let me start by saying I’m using that lyric in reference to the original song, not the remake. Mmmkay?
So yeah, it’s that part of the cycle again.
I feel cruddy. My body is sore, my throat is a little sore and tight, my head hurts, I’m tired, etc. Waa waa waa. I don’t want to read or write, so I’m just laying in my bed and occasionally listening to books on tape. I’m bored, but don’t really have enough strength or brain power to do anything productive, which sucks because there’s a lot I could be doing for school and around the house. I finally reconciled my bank account yesterday after about a week, that was fun. I hate falling behind.
I’m hungry, and so far I’ve been able to eat. I get nauseated, but that’s what the Zofran is for. I learned what I could tolerate last cycle, so we stocked up this time. I had Campbell’s chicken and dumpling soup yesterday, the kind in the plastic microwaveable bowl, and it was wonderful. Today I had oatmeal, this time the fruit and cream variety, not the plain cardboard type. It was good. Then I had macaroni and cheese for lunch – a Kraft microwaveable bowl. Not all the healthiest of selections, I know, but I’m managing with what I can. I had a sandwich yesterday with meat, veggies and avocados, so my system seems to be allowing some variety, I just don’t always have the umf to make it fresh. I can also tolerate water better this time around, more so than the Crystal Light that was my saving grace last time. It’s so weird how things flip and flop like that.
Things that are particularly annoying: sounds. Phone ringing, door bell, text tones, dog barking, etc. It’s making me quite irritable, which I’m sure is just pleasant given all my charming characteristics as of late.
Brad has been a real trooper. He’s always been super tolerant of me, but he should get an award after this, even though he’d deny deserving it. “Can you get me this?” “Never mind, not this, that.” “I realize you worked all week and weekend, but I want popsicles.” “I left my puzzle book in the other room.” “Has Daisy been outside?” “I want a popsicle, but a good flavor.” His personal assistant job description does include criteria about mind reading, FYI. And he does it all without whining about it AND giving me compliments, which I’m not so sure I’d manage if the roles were reversed. I’m tired from doing nothing, so I’m sure he’s exhausted.
So kudos to the cancer spouses, caregivers, parents, children, siblings, etc. Your job is hard, too. Really hard.
What else is new? Well, the diarrhea is back. That started around 1:00am last night and continued every couple hours throughout the night. It stopped around 11:00am, I think. Then happened once again since, but it at least seems to have slowed down. I’m taking in fluids and took Pepto, so hopefully we’re on the upside of that, though after last cycle it’s anybody’s guess. I’m doing my best to stay horizontal and not jostle anything.
I mentioned nausea…that’s been pretty persistent, and I wonder if it’s because I’m eating more and trying to be a little more active? The medicine helps, so I can’t complain, but it’s definitely more present this cycle than last.
My tastes haven’t completely become shot just yet, and I’ve been able to taste what I eat, but I do have that horrible taste in my mouth. Yuck. I need some peppermints, the red and white ones, you know? Those seem to help. (*cough*Brad*cough*) The blue and green ones are too close to mouthwash right now, and my gag reflex is ready!
Daisy has had enough of my boring self. She keeps looking at me and sighing these big huffy sighs. Like, “Come on, ma. Get up. Watch me roll on the floor. Watch me chew my foot. Watch me scratch.” She’s just not used to me being home and doesn’t know what to do with herself, or me.
Whoa is her.
But anyway, I’m on the flip side! I should be feeling pretty good by the weekend, so I’m looking forward.
Tomorrow I have labs, so we’ll see how I’m doing, and maybe if I’m feeling like garbage I’ll get some fluids while I’m there. Next Friday, the 27th, I have my six week echocardiogram to see how my heart is doing with all the poison. Then, after that, I’ll have an ultrasound of JP to see what’s happening there.
I think I’m going to crawl out of bed and get a popsicle. 🙃
So this was a tad bit different than the first. Of course, I had the port, so it was easy access. It was much cooler having everything go through my chest than my arm, I could flail all I wanted and no tubes were disrupted…not that I flailed. Who me??
Started with vitals and blood. Everything was good. Everything is doing its job. Score! I talked with the doc and he was pleased with everything. Asked me about the mass, and I admitted it was less apparent than it had been in the beginning. He said, “Yeah! And that’s only after one round.”
So yeah, JP is less apparent. He’s still there. But he’s not as firm and close to the surface as he was, at least he doesn’t feel that way. It’s so hard to tell through all the fluffy tissue, but there’s absolutely a change.
Also, there was a lady there getting chemo today. She was across the room so we didn’t chat, but I overheard her saying that this was her last round, and on her last ultrasound the doctor couldn’t even find the mass! I don’t know what type of cancer she has (or had?!), but how awesome is that? That’s exactly what I want to happen. It would be an epically awesome Christmas present. My next ultrasound is scheduled for October 27th, the same day as my next echocardiogram. Then my next chemo cycle will be that following Monday.
Back to today. I was there from about 8:30 until 2:00. It was much shorter since there wasn’t a loading dose and they shorten the administration of some of the drugs since I showed tolerance to them the last time. Maybe tolerance isn’t the right word, maybe it’s durability? Ha! I don’t know, but basically I didn’t have any reactions or immediate side effects, so instead of administering the dose over an hour, they did thirty minutes or forty-five. That was nice!
To access the port, they clean the area with alcohol, then there’s a little scrub brush with some cleaner, it kind of looks like one or those sponges on the end of a tube that you fill with soap to clean inside glasses? Anyway, they do that. Now, approximately thirty minutes before my appointment, I put some lidocaine cream on the site to numb it a little bit. Yeah…I still felt the initial prick. I mean, it’s a needle going through some decently thick skin, into the port. It stung a teensy bit. I have a decent pain tolerance though, I think it comes from having a nurse mother who wouldn’t cut us any slack unless we were severely bleeding or broken, like, say…we swing into a table and break our collar bone, fall off a ladder, slam a finger shutting a window, or slice the tip of a finger off in a meat slicer. Not that any of those things have ever happened before, they’re just very specific examples. *ahem* Growing up, just about everything could be treated with ice, bacitracin, or gargling salt water. However, if I watch the insertion of a needle into my skin, it’s probably game over. I’ll probably face plant. Same with a tube filling with my blood. Yep, I’d rather not!!
So all in all, that part was pretty easy. I thought I’d feel differently during the chemo since the port goes to my jugular, which goes directly to my heart, but nada. I might have felt tired from the Benadryl quicker, like almost instantly, but that’s about it. Oh, and the metallic taste from the saline flush, that was pretty instant, too. But nothing adverse, nothing strong.
I was solo today. My dad dropped me off in the AM and both ‘rents picked me up in the afternoon because Brad had to work. My sister-in-law, Michele, brought me lunch! She was seriously the hero of the day…because food…and my dad did give me a mini bag of Chips Ahoy and peanut M&Ms. I ate the cookies for a morning snack. Yummy. I occupied myself well and the time seriously flew by! I read for a little bit, a fun book by R.S. Grey, The Foxe and the Hound. I did some crossword puzzles, and decided I need more puzzle books! Chemo really effs with your head, so I’ve read that games and stuff that engage your mind and keep you thinking are good for you. I play the heck out of Sporcle trivia on my phone, too. I tried to write a little, but by the time I started, I had about twenty minutes before the Benadryl drip started and it was pretty much game over for my attention span. So I shut down my computer, and resumed my crossword puzzles. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it was enough to occupy me from beginning to end! I probably spaced out a bit, too. Not gonna lie. Ha.
So here’s an interesting side effect/reaction I had. It goes to show just how toxic the chemo can be. It popped up right before my port surgery last week. If you remember from an earlier image, a little to the upper right of the scab on my arm in that image is where my first chemo went in. That stuff is rough on veins, kind of makes more sense why they want to use stronger veins to administer it. So the reaction doesn’t hurt and there’s no numbness or bad feelings. It itched a little, but I’m not sure if it actually itched or if I was psychosomatically inclined to itch it because it was there. I don’t even know if that makes sense on paper, but it does in my head. And the scab was a little blister. So they checked it today and it’ll heal and fade, and I obviously shouldn’t use that vein for anything in the meantime to give it time to recover.
And because I couldn’t not share this pic. Why is my dog so weird? It’s like she can’t gather the strength to hold her head up, so she’s resting on her nose. Either that or something smells really good inside the couch. Somehow, I think it’s the former and not the latter.
So that was my day! Missed two sessions today, and fortunately class was canceled so I didn’t have to miss that, too. But I’ll be working tomorrow, and I’ll do my Neulasta shot at 3:30, missing only one session.
Oh! And if anyone knows of any good, reputable, work from home gigs that are on the freelance side, let me know! Due to treatment and getting sick, I am missing some work (I’m an independent contractor all around, no work = no money!), so I’d love to pick something up to try to make up some of the difference in income, but I’d need to have some flexibility. I have signed up with UpWork, just haven’t checked in routinely enough to snag any good gigs, but I will.
Until next time! Maybe I’ll show off my wigs and more hats. 😉😘