Friday, November 7, 2008

Up She Comes

Last night proved to be a huge turning point in Calamity's healing. She loves to lay on the sofa by me and have her head rubbed. She loves her head rubbed more than anything in the world. Rub her ears, rub her head, rub her muzzle, rub her chin, rub her neck, just rub her!

Old Fart & I have 5 dogs beds laying on the living room floor now as well as a well padded crate for her to go into to lay where no one can step on her or bump into her, but last night that wasn't good enough for her. She stood at the doorway looking into the bedroom wanting a place to be quiet. I invited her to come sit by me on the sofa, figuring I would lift her up. She came over and "scouted" the area she wanted & just popped right up! No cries, no yipes, no whimpers. She snuggled down by me and lay her head on my leg. I rubbed her head and praised her for being such a brave girl.

This also gave me a great opportunity to have a good look at her incision, which is healing nicely. I ran my fingers across it lightly, feeling for anything that might strike me as odd, but found nothing.

When she decided it was time to get down, I spoke softly and calmly to her, asking her to go slow & take it easy. I swear she understand me as she slowly dropped her front leg down and lifted her back legs off the sofa and onto the floor. Ever so gently.

Once that she figured out how to get on the sofa, she was back for three more visits during the evening. This is how she has always operated, up, down, up, down all night. She's back!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Erector Sets Are Fun

I'll be filling in this blog with some of the interesting & funny things that have happened throughout the past year. All stories will somehow relate to Calamity, I swear. What does this have to do with erector sets, you ask? Let me tell you......we'll go back to a month before the fateful first night.

On October 27, 2007 my son, Matt was in a bad motorcycle accident. Old Fart & I were phoned very early that Sunday morning by Matt's girlfriend telling me that he was at KU Medical Center & they would not release any information to her because she was not next of kin. Sheesh....I called the hospital & yes, he was there.

The doctor got on the phone and spoke to me of his injuries. He was stable & going to be ok but his leg was in very bad shape. There was a chance he could loose it. He had an open fracture of his femur head and his knee had been "sheared off", it was only being held by the lateral collateral ligament. This accident happened around 2AM and he had already been to surgery once to set the fracture. I told him we would be at the hospital shortly. While getting ready to go the phone rings again. It's the hospital and they need to take Matt into surgery again to check the blood flow in his leg. They may also need to do a vein graft. I give my permission over the phone. I called my daughter to come also & we were on our way.

Matt had another surgery on Thursday to reset his leg by a doctor who specializes in only knees. He thinks he can get it positioned to heal a little better. He also wants to add some dissoluble screws to the broken cartilage. After surgery, he has even more metal on his external fixator!!

Matt needed a place to recuperate that he can move in, a level surface. I have the only ranch home, so it is decided he'll come to my home until they remove the external fixator. Kids always come back home sometime or another.

So, Matt is at my home that fateful night. When she screamed in the yard, he came to the door to help me. He brought me wraps & gauze & things I needed to stabilize her just to move her into the house. He brought me a change of clothes. He kept a sane mind while I went insane. He hobbled around in pain, doing all he could for us.

When Calamity came home, she went to him when she wanted to go out. We laughed a lot at this, my two little cripples. Matt would get on the floor and let her lay her head in his lap.

In the slideshow on the right side, there is a photo of Matt in his erector set with Calamity. They made an awesome pair for a while!

Labs Suck

Well Georgia spoke to the lab in Arizona, the one who has the million dollar leg of Calamity's. They told her they have to take more sections of the leg before they send a report. Sheesh!

I guess this means they didn't find anything on the first try. I guess this means she had the infection in the bone that the doctors believed she had. I hope this means there is no cancer party going on in her beautiful body. If it doesn't, someone is going to pay for making us wait over 2 weeks before getting her cancer treatments! Apparently these lab rats do not understand the need for speedy treatment.

Ok, yes, once again I melted down and Old Fart got pissed at the world. Doesn't change anything, we still must wait.

As for Calamity....she's doing fine. Her incision is itchy & she's defiant. When she scratches it & I tell her to stop, she just looks at me & keeps on scratching. She's a pistol!

A Day Of Freedoms


Today Calamity got her staples removed. I'm sure she feels free now. There are a couple of these weird gathered bubbly looking spots that they say will smooth out once the staples are no longer holding the skin tight.

She has some pretty runny poop so they told me to discontinue her cephalaxin for the last 3 doses she has left. This should stop the diarrhea.

They still have not received the histopathology report back from the lab in Arizona. They once again say that they feel her leg broke again from the infection, not osteosarcoma. But there is still that chance, however so small. I need to know. Dogs that have had amputations due to cancer are getting their first chemo treatments at this point, if she has cancer the cells are just having a party in her body. This frightens me. Georgia will call the lab to see where they are on it.

When we were walking out of VSEC, a standard poodle was walking in with his right front leg in a splint like the kind Calamity used to sport. His owner & I chatted a bit about our dogs, I told him Calamity's story, quite abbreviated. He told me his pet had been hit by a car, an open fracture also, plate & screws also. I walked a way, saying a prayer for that dog.....a BIG prayer. God please keep him safe & heal him quickly.

She has another good day & now gets to sleep where ever she chooses now that the staples are out. She choose to sleep in the bedroom with us like she used to.

Brighter Days Ahead


It’s been a few days since I posted anything about Calamity so thought I’d share her progress.

She’s been getting around a lot better & becoming more active.

I removed her second fentanyl patch on Saturday & reduced her tramadol to one tablet twice daily. She still gets one gabapentin in the morning and metacam in the evening. This seems to keep the edge off of the pain and she only has a few little yipes daily now. This are nothing like the gut wrenching cries she had before.

At 11 days post op-her meds schedule goes like this:
Breakfast: 1 gabapentin, 1 cephalaxin, 1 tramadol
Dinner: 1 tramadol, 1 cephalixin, 1 dose metacam, 1/2t GLC (her glucosomine)

We have a crate set up in the living room for her to go into with the door opened always so she can come & go at will. Yesterday & this morning, she has not wanted to even be in there, now I find the others taking turns laying in it!

Last night she "cockroached" for the first time since her surgery! A true sign, to me, that she is beginning to get back to her old self.

At bedtime last night, she fought the Old Fart & myself to not go into the crate room for the night! She played every trick she knew! We will keep her in there nightly until her staples come Out so she can not get hurt by the others while we sleep. She was sure a pistol, I tell ya!

Her staples come out Wednesday morning (she has 44 of them). I think that will make a big difference in a lot of her movement.

A friend told us to hang in there & take it one day at a time….we did. Some of the days were very hard & I cried many times. If anyone ever thinks this is a breeze, they are only kidding themselves, it’s tough & emotional, but it is a short time in the big picture of their lives.

Now things we are looking at for the future is how we will deal with her when/if she develops LS (as most greyhounds do). I have found a very good vet who advocates chiropractics, acupuncture & homeopathic medicine, I believe we will start taking Calamity to her to make sure she is getting the best care we can give her to insure she will have a wonderful life.

I’m so relieved we seem to be out of the woods.

Happy Halloween


This morning - WOW - what a difference than the past week. She got up without any pain and then outside - no pain! She went potty and walked the entire yard. This is the most she has walked since her surgery. I watched her and waited to see her rear up when her pain hit, but no. No morning pain at all!

Back inside, one of the young ones bumped into to her & she let out a yelp, but it was not the intense, rear-up pain that she has been having.

I’m excited at the good morning we have had. I hope today continues just like it has started.

Dinner Date


Today was a pretty quiet day. We think she's getting better step by step.

Old Fart has taken a little vacation, so we decide to go out to eat for a quick meal. I finally feel Calamity can stay alone for a short period of time. We go to the Pizza Shoppe which is a couple of blocks from the house. They make good pizza & are very quick. We have salads, my favorite pizza & a pitcher of beer. If feels good to be out and I'm sure it will make a difference in the stress she feels from me.

Later, she has a pretty bad spell with her "pain", rearing up 4 or 5 times in a couple of minutes. I have a meltdown. Old Fart gets mad at the world for his little girl hurting so bad. I think we both wonder if this was the right decision. We get her into her bedroom and we all go to bed.

Back To The Doctor


Calamity was put back on the patch today and given a morphene injection. The patch and tramadol seems to work best for her. These horrible pains started after the patch was removed, so we are going to go back to basics with her. The morphiene is to help tide her over until the patch kicks in.

Dr Desch feels this is her way of presenting phantom pain. When she has an "episode" she shrieks in pain, rears her body up on her rear legs & contorts her body in a strange shape. These only last a few seconds then she is ok. We all felt she just needed a little more pain relief for a while longer.

Overall, she is doing wonderful. She’s eating great (we’ve not had any eating issues), going outdoors to potty, wanting water and her treats. Her incision is looking real good and had quite a bit of visible healing. Her seromas have almost totally re-absorbed.

Tonight, I put all the other dogs away so she could just sit out by herself. I was passing out pig ears to the crated ones & found her behind me asking for one herself! She took her piggy ear, laid on one of our many pillows & happily ate her piggy’s ear.

Everything is actually going great except for her pain episodes which I’m sure will pass with some time.

She has done well most of the day, having a few of her "episodes" and they have not been as intense. She still seeks the comfort of her crate and pretty much stays there.
I’m trying to keep heat on her as much as I can.

Everyday really is better, it's just getting better very slowly.

A New Drug


After 2 days of these "phantom pain?" episodes, Shelley I decided to try gabapentin for nerve pain. She is having these episodes more frequently. Old Fart stays home with her while I drive to Shelley's to get the drug she has at her house.

She got her dose of gabapentin at 2PM today and I have kept her crated all day to help with this pain that only happens when she is standing. She has only had 2 of her "episodes" since the gabapentin was added, one pretty mild and the last one was what I’d call a normal one. But this is so much better than it had been. Whether the new drug or the crate rest is what helped…who knows?

Georgia wants her back in to see Dr Desch tomorrow morning, so he can see how she is himself. We may decide to put the fentanyl patch back on her. She did the best when her pain was managed by the patch & small doses of tramadol. Each dog is different and this is what seemed to help her the best.

Her incision looks marvelous! No swelling, very, very little bruising, basically no redness. The healing is happening outwardly.

I just hope we can find something that makes her comfortable…we’re all stressed out here.

Overall, I feel she had a good day, it was just good at the cost of being crated. She’s going to see Dr Desch tomorrow.

Bad Day


Calamity has just not had a good day today. Not sure if she is experiencing the "phantom pain" or what, but she will rear up on her hind legs, contort her body and shriek in pain. These episodes only last a few seconds, but they are very scary. You can tell the pain is almost more than she can bare.

She has tramadol on board and did so good with that yesterday. She’s taken tramadol before, so I do not think it is that. Lot's think the tramadol will mess with their minds. I take tramadol & don't find that with my experience. Everyone's different though, I know this.

When I take her out, she does not want to go in the yard, but stands at the gate like we are going somewhere. I thought maybe she needed to just "get away", so we walked to the end of the driveway to get the mail. She did not want to come back in the house. Not sure what that is all about.

She is eating good and peeing & pooping good.

We just seem to be on the uphill part of this roller coaster.

After Old Fart goes to work, I blocked the young ones & Trigger off from the living room & she is resting now with only her brother in the room with her & myself. I tried placing a bag of frozen corn at her chest area to see if that will help.

I lay down beside her & rub her head. She loves to have her head rubbed! Imagine this, she hates her belly rubbed! Don't touch this girl's belly. Occasionally, Old Fart can rest his hand there, not often & he is the only one who can.

We’ll just hang in here & know that tomorrow will be a better day.

Here are some photos we have taken of her:

Easy Like A Sunday Morning


Calamity is still moving quite slow and we are all ok with that. Today she gets her pretty pink "pull over" off and her patch can come off too. We'll do that at some point when she is up, no need to get her up just for that reason.

She is staying in the crate I have set up in the living room/kitchen area where she can be with all of us. We have the door fixed open and I have it well padded with extra crate pads a quilt & a fleece spread. I looks comfy.

We keep everything calm & quiet here so she can rest & heal. Even the others sense this.

Mid-afternoon we remove the bandages and take a few photos of her incision. Her seroma hangs from her chest like a little boobie. If I had to guess, there is probably a 1/2 cup of fluid in it. The redness & bruising seems not as bad as I thought it would be.

In the evening we remove the patch and wash her rear leg of whatever medication might remain and the adhesive.

She cries out in pain every now & then & my heart breaks for her. She sure doesn't deserve all the stuff that has happened to her the past year, that's for sure.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Time To Heal

She rested pretty good throughout the night, only getting up to go out to potty once. We went out alone, the others slept.

Today she is very restless and will not lay for more than a few minutes. I imagine she is having some pain. She still has her patch on and had a dose of deramaxx before she left the hospital. Wonder why they gave her deramaxx, it upsets her GI tract. She’s on cephalaxin (antibiotic) too. I give her a tramadol for the restlessness which I'm sure is pain.

We’re managing to keep the others out of her way. The young ones - 2 year olds - are the real pains, but those of you who know greyhounds know they don’t GET a brain until the reach 2!

Mid afternoon, I see her poop and there is a small amount of blood in it. Darn that deramaxx!! Shelley calls in a prescription of carafate for her, that will calm her gut. We'll get back on Metacam tonight.

As the day goes on, I notice a pool of blood at the base of her chest. This is a seroma and will be re-absorbed into her body with time. There is also one on her lower neck, smaller than a ping pong ball.

All in all, I thing the first day home has been ok.

Home Again


Georgia calls me very early, I am still in bed when I hear my phone ring. It rings 3 times before I hear the voice mail notification. I know it has to be VSEC, so I get out of bed & get the hounds out to potty & make their breakfast before I check the phone. Just a message asking me to call, so I do.

Georgia sounds THRILLED. She says that when her & Dr. Desch went to look in on her, she jumped up and shook her body. They were both excited to let me know. She can come home whenever I want to come get her.

Shelley is at work today, she said we'd go get her as soon as she gets off work, probably around 5:30. I can barely wait!

When we go get her, we speak to Beth. She is the coordinator for the blood donor program which Calamity, and my others, are part of. She says everyone has been spoiling her all day with pets & treats! Did I tell you that everyone there knows her & loves her like a part of family?

I pay our bill and we sit down to go over the instructions. Four sheets of all sorts of things! She is to remain quiet for 2 weeks. Staple removal in 2 weeks. Remove her bandage in 2 days. Remove her patch in 2 days, wash the area with soap and water thoroughly. Give the medications, as prescribed. Make sure she does not scratch, chew, bite her staples. Leash walking in the yard for potty. The list goes on & on.

She sports a hot pink wrap that resembles a tank top or some sort of a pull over. It matches her Mrs. Bones Skully collar . She looks so happy to be going home.

Shelley gently lifts her into the back of her Fit & I crawl in the back to assist her. She got up & down 3 times on the ride home & never cried a bit.

We get her home & the others smell her. They don't care much, they are used to that smell when she comes home now. We take her in the house. She wanted on the sofa & tried to get up by putting her leg up. Shelley lifted her so she could lay with her head on my lap - her favorite position - and stayed there for about an hour. She yelped a bit when I helped her down, to be expected.

The rest of the night was calm. She was happy to see the Old Fart when he came home.

Amputation Day


Today is the day. I'm so sad.

I don't go to see her in the morning. I want her calm for her surgery. I can go see her tonight. I call to remind them to ship her leg off for histopathology. I need to be sure this is not cancer. Ship her leg off, that sounds so crude to me. This is the leg that Old Fart & I have spent a fortune on. This leg represents a portion of Old Fart's retirement. And it's not so much the money, but the time & emotion and tears we have already shed.

Georgia calls me a around 10:30 to let me know they are prepping her for her amputation. It's too late to change my mind now. It has to be done.

Did I tell you it's been 11 months - to the day - since her first surgery on this beautiful leg. We had such high hopes that day. No sadness, no crying, just hopes for a bright future.

Around 3:30, I got word that she is out of surgery & resting now after a bit of crying. They told me to come on up to see her at dinnertime. Shelley (who is a vet) and I will go together as she is my support.

The Old Fart & I moved things around in the "dog room" to make a larger space for her when she comes home. We can baby gate that room off from the rest of the pack. I have a futon mattress we’ll throw on the floor for either of us to lay on. Calamity does not like to sleep with anyone, so I will just try to sleep close to her.

I have tramadol here, as well as metacam, rimadyl & many antibiotics. I’ll be good to go on whatever they want her on at home. They did say she will still have her patch on.
My biggest hope & prayer is that the histopathology comes back negative for osteo. I would have never put her through this if I knew it was osteo. We have lost 2 greyhounds in the past year to broken bones from cancer, one was hemangio that metted to the leg & the other was "the monster". I hate the monster.

We go to visit her after having some dinner ans she is groggy, as expected. I see her leg gone & I break down. She has her IV attached and is getting morphine & lidocaine through it. It keeps her somewhat sedated. She knows we are there & seems to get comfort from getting her head rubbed. They have her entire chest wrapped but you can see some of the incision. it's huge. On her blue wrap, they have written "Here's Woody" - "Here comes Woody" is what they call as the lure comes around the racetrack - Shelley & I think this is cute. We leave her to get the rest she needs.

Decisions, Decisions


I call in the morning and get to speak with Dr. Desch. He's a good guy, we like him.

I mention amputation. He says he can try to repair it again and he doesn't think the lytic spot is cancer. it's probably that damned infection that never wanted to heal. He says he can try with a plate & screws like the last time. But that will be a long heal like before with the infection in there won't it, I ask. He concurs. He could splint it and give her antibiotics until the bone heals & then repair it....another option for a long heal. He could do a bone graft. Again, how will that take if it isn't attached to healthy bone? It won't.

All I want is for her to be a happy, playful girl once again. I want her quality of life to be so free that I don't have to constantly ask her to settle down, always worried about when the next fracture will happen. I want her to run & play with her brother.

Dr. Desch agrees that only an amputation would give that all back to her. We are both sickened over this.

I hold her for a long time, he will not do the surgery today. He has too many other cases & he is the only surgeon there. It's ok, I need time to digest this. Time to come to grips with the fact that I have to make the decision to mutilate my beautiful girl. She is so beautiful.

I cry all the way home. I wish there was another way. I would do anything for her.

I go to visit her around 7PM to be there when she eats her dinner. I take her out to potty. I spend time holding her & crying my eyes out. I take my last look at her beautiful leg, what I can see of it. I rub her muscle. The strong muscle that helped propel her to may victories when she raced. I let her know that I am so sorry that we have to do this to her. I really want her to know that I want her to be free to run and play again. I know she will do that again as soon as she heals.

I go home to have another restless night.

Oh My God, Not Again!!!


I just got home from VSEC and I'm totally shocked & worn out.

Shelley had just dropped me off from a dinner with her & another friend. It was such a nice dinner with such good friends. It's dinnertime & the dogs are bouncing around. I let the "oldsters" out while I go to the crate room to let out the "youngsters". I hear Morgan & Calamity playing hard like they usually do, I yell for them to "knock it off". Then I hear it.....the scream.....I know that scream......

I carry her inside & call Shelley to get back here right away. She turns around & comes back. It seems like it takes her forever.

Calamity has broken her leg again! Same spot as before. Not really sure what we will do this time. Shelley was with me & we discussed amputation if it looks like a long rough heal like the last time. Dr. Layton was there & suggested a bone graft. The area above her "wrist" looks lytic, but we all think it's the bone infection that never really healed. Could be osteo though, not probably according to the opinions of the vets.

We had them take x-rays of her chest to be sure there was no osteo that had metted there & her lungs are clear as can be. That's good *sigh*

They have given her morphine and have put a fentanyl patch on her rear leg. They have splinted her broken leg and she sports a bright pink wrap to match her breast cancer collar . She is panting, mostly from the morphine. She knows this splint routine, she wants to come home with me.

I'll sleep on it & then discuss it with the Old Fart when he gets home from work tonight.

I'm just sick....I tried so hard to do everything needed to heal her & look what happened. I want to scream.