Bad News

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Here is my follow-up post in the forum about precious Nesta.  To save from another re-hash, I have just copied and pasted it.

Well….I’m back.  Been avoiding writing this for a day.  My heart is shattered; I’m at a loss and I don’t know what to do.  Nesta is in bad shape.  How in the world this happened so quickly, I will never understand!  All a sudden, he has two large tumors on his spleen, and several smaller ones on his liver.  He has loose fluid and blood in his abdomen, which shows he has been bleeding internally.  I knew something was happening, and actually I think I can even say that I know the bleeding must have occurred last Thursday night, when I could tell something was happening with him. The oncologist says she does not recommend any treatments from here, like chemo or even surgery.  Damn it!  What happened?  We were doing so well.  She says he has anywhere from a day to a month left in him.  But how and when am I supposed to decide that?  What is going to happen?  She says this is very uncharacteristic of osteosarcoma to redevelop in the abdomen, but she has seen it before.  She mentioned it could also be hemangiosarcoma.  But we will never know without doing surgery.  How can it be that such a healthy vibrant dog could get two different kinds of terrible cancer?  She said in all her years, she has only seen about 6 cases of osteosarcoma moving into the abdomen.  But maybe we are in that small percent.

Right now he is very dumpy.  Being very picky about what he eats, just wants to lie around.  Goes outside only to pee and then wants to come right back in.  His belly is swollen and looks heavy.  But it wasn’t like that last week!!  I can’t believe this.   How do you know when it’s time?  I am still hung up on some miracle happening.  I don’t want to just give up.  But maybe Nesta wouldn’t mind that?  Ugh. This is the hardest thing (besides loosing my mom when I was 19) that I have ever had to go through.  I have regrets.  Maybe I should have done chemo. Or maybe he would still be battling this anyway.  I feel like I should have/could have done more. I know, I know, don’t feel that way.  But its so damn hard not too!  He is my soul mate, my best friend, the love of my LIFE.  this hurts so bad. – See more at: http://tripawds.com/forums/treatment-and-recovery/need-advice-quick/#sthash.gpZ4WE49.dpuf


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11th Birthday Blues

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Here is my post from the Forum today:

I am going stir crazy in the house today…..trying to decide what to do for Nesta.  Of course, it’s Sunday, and I can’t do anything without taking him to Emergency Vet which will double the cost, and I can’t really tell if this is an emergency or not!   He has not been eating normally since Thursday.  And usually he is drooling for his food at meal time, with a huge appetite.  He eats delicious food, I would eat it (if I ate meat).  At meal time, he turns his head away from his food, the only thing I have gotten him to eat the past few days is scrambled eggs and sardines, and this equals about 1/2 cup at each meal.  He has been very tired, not wanting to go for walks, and also has been drinking A LOT more water than he usually does.  His belly seems really bloated and taut (but I don’t think it’s bloat), and he seems to be having a difficult time standing on his one back leg.

What has happened??  We just celebrated his 11th birthday on Friday, and he didn’t even show interest in the frosty paws I made for him.

Can someone tell me if they would take their dog to the emergency vet over this?  Or should I wait until first thing in the morning and call my regular vet?  I feel like I’ve waited long enough, hoping he would get better, but he hasn’t.  And now it’s Sunday!!  Ugh. There are so many thoughts and worries going through my head about what this could be.   I’m ready to find out what it is.  But I really hate going to the emergency vet, it’s so sterile, and we have lots of sad memories there.  But what if I wait and something really bad is going on inside Nesta, and then it’s too late by the morning? – See more at: http://tripawds.com/forums/treatment-and-recovery/need-advice-quick/#p109328

Now, a little while after writing this, I have been doing research, and am starting to wonder if it is pancreatitis.  They say it is more common in dogs with hypothyroidism, which he has had for about half his life.  I think I might stick it out for another night, and take him to our regular vet in the morning.  Pancreatitis does not look like a fun thing to contend with….this is just a wild guess in the sea of a million other possibilities of what it could be.

 

9 Months and Going Strong

We missed our month 8 update, and it’s because Nesta and I have been too busy enjoying the summer together and celebrating the good news we found out in late July.  But today I realized I had not shared the news yet on his blog, so here it is:

After a few weeks of going back and forth about whether or not I should comply to the advice of our oncologist and come back every 6 months for a chest xray, I decided that indeed it would be a good idea to know whether or not Nesta’s body was dealing with metastasis.  So right around his 8 month anniversary, we went back to the oncologist for the first time since his amputation.  They gave him an exam, took x-rays, and then our oncologist came back into the room to share the exciting news that Nesta’s  chest looks beautiful – meaning no metastasis!!  AAAHH sweet sigh of relief!!

We were so excited to hear those words; I squealed with excitement and Nesta responded with an approving tail thumping against the floor and big kiss across my face!  I took this to mean that Nesta is cancer-free, and quickly posted something on FaceBook about it, and had 140 of my friends respond to our celebration!  But then I realized the doctor never actually used those words, “cancer-free” because there is no way to tell that for sure.  But it was good to have that celebration experience with him!  And I can tell that over the past month, we have both been a little more relaxed.

Nesta’s breathing continues to sound odd at times, which is what originally made me nervous about potential lung mets, but I was assured at the vet, this was not the case.  I have come to learn it could be a number of things, from natural aging, to possible larynx paralysis (which occurs commonly in older labs), or from his arthritis and/or phantom limb pain.   For the pain, the doctor prescribed Gabapentin for Nesta to take every 12 hours, and reluctantly  we are doing this.  It seems to be helping, but I don’t like the idea of having him on pain meds all the time.  I am looking into other possible options to help with this mysterious pain and discomfort, including acupuncture.

We have beet the odds and estimations of Nesta’s lifespan thus far with no chemotherapy, so it is clear we are doing something right.  I wanted to update the blog with Nesta’s food and supplement regimen in case it can help anyone else going the “No Chemo” route.   But I should also say this has been a work in progress, and every situation and dog is different.  I get tremendous help by reading other people’s suggestions and experiences, and I have also had the input of three different holistic vets, all with varying backgrounds and traditions of practice.  From that information, I have been able to formulate what I “believe and hope” will work for Nesta.

Food: (twice daily, once in AM and once in PM)
1/4 cup EarthBorn Holistic dry kibble (grain free)
3/4 – 1 cup The Honest Kitchen rehydrated food – Zeal (grain free)
Top with blended fresh veggies like kale or steamed broccoli and/or meat like chicken or turkey livers, or sardines
I will also occasionally add seaweed or any other nutritious food I think he needs more of.
*He drools for his food at meal time, and has never been a drooler before!
*If I run out of The Honest Kitchen’s Zeal, and it is a few days before we get the next shipment, then I prepare a crock-pot meal.  (I have recipes from vet if you are interested)
Supplements:
1 Tbsp. Nordic Naturals Cod liver oil – daily
40-50,000 IU Vit. A – SolarRay Food Carotene – 3 times per week, mon, wed, fri.
2-3 ml Hoxsey-like formula with Boneset
100 mg Artemisinin – given late night, 5 days on, two days off (although not been regular with this lately mainly because I added a Chinese herbal called Stasis Breaker, per recommendation from another holistic vet.)
I give him 2-3 K9 Immunity wafers per day as treats, along with other regular treats.
And he now gets his pain pill, and of course his thyroid pill which he has been taking for hypothyroidism for past 5 years.
This is what has pulled him through thus far, and now I am communicating with veterinarian in TN about beginning to cut back on this supplement regimen since he seems to be doing so well.
That’s all for now.  It is time to go lay on the floor with my tired pup and snuggle.  We just got back from a weekend in Mt. Pleasant visiting a friend.   The beach (Sullivan’s Island) allows dogs off leash from 6am-10am, and Nesta and I had a WONDERFUL time walking, playing with the ball and swimming!  He continues to amaze me on a daily basis!

 

Quick Update

 

Well, it has now been about a week past Nesta’s 7 month ampuversary.   We got back a few weeks ago from an exciting camping vacation in the Outer Banks with him.  He had a great time, and was extra sleepy for about a week after we got back.  Seems he needed a vacation after the vacation.   Nesta visited the famous sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge in Kill Devil Hills, the Ocracoke lighthouse, took his first ferry boat ride (twice), played tirelessly on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and slept under the stars for four nights.  Although he doesn’t sleep as well as we do, because he is scared of anything that flies.  Yep, he is scared of flies, bees, beetles, mosquitos, etc, and there was no lack of these in the Outer Banks – especially at night.  So he kept watch most nights.

His health seems to be well, although still bothered by some pain, my intuition says.  I cannot quite decide what it is and where it is, but we are guessing it’s phantom limb as he’s been dealing with it ever since the amputation.

After our  visit to a local holistic vet in the area (I have also been consulting over the phone with one in TN) we came home with a new supplement in hand called Stasis Breaker.  She wanted us to try this for a while, but I am not sure how I feel it.  This vet also did not seem as enthusiastic about the artemisinin as my other vet….  I’m guessing it could be that she doesn’t know much about it since she practices mainly in the chinese medicine lineage.   Either way, we are trying something new for now….not sure why though, as it wasn’t really my intention to rock the boat with a new regimen.  More on that later.  In the mean time, here are some photos of our trip to the Outer Banks!

 

Sunrise shadows
Sunrise shadows
Day on the beach, camping at Cape Hatteras National Seashore - June 2013
Day on the beach, camping at Cape Hatteras National Seashore – June 2013
aaahh the life!
aaahh the life!
The sweetest face ever!
The sweetest face ever!
Checking out the lighthouse
Checking out the lighthouse
Under the shade, provided by my human umbrella holder.
Under the shade, provided by my human umbrella holder.

 

 

6 Month Anniversary

This week marks the 6 month anniversary that Nesta has been a tri-pod.  He is still doing amazingly well!  His vigor and zest for life remains high, despite the missing hind leg.  He seems to sleep more these days, and I really hope this is only a result of his age and not the cancer.  I’m sure it has very little to do with his lack of the extra leg.  Of course, there are things he can no longer do as well or as quickly as before, such as chase skateboarders down the street, or neighborhood bunnies out of the yard, or even jump up into his dad’s Nissan Pathfinder.   Thank goodness I drive a lower to the ground Subaru Imprezza; which he thoroughly enjoys, as more often than not it means we are driving on to our next outdoor adventure.  Overall, the past 6 months of Nesta as a tripawd has been a remarkable journey.  Nesta’s entire life has been a remarkable journey, and such is the point of this blog.  So from now on, I hope to create more consistency around telling his story.

He is going to a new holistic vet in Charlotte this week for a check up.  It will be his first trip back to see a vet since his amputation.  We have had many consultations with other holistic vets over the phone and email, but something is telling me it’s time for a physical check-up.  Fingers crossed for an informative visit with positive feedback.  More to come soon…

 

Where To Begin…

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Hello,

My name is Kassi and my dog’s name is Nesta.  We’re the best of  friends, together almost everyday for 10 1/2 years, just us for the most part – doing it all together, the way best friends do.  We have quite a story, actually.   But instead of delving into our entire history from the get-go, I will start with where we are today.  Today he and I are living together in my home state of North Carolina, after moving away from his home state of Colorado.  We have been living here for almost a year, and I’m very glad that we were already here when his cancer story began to unfold.  We miss Colorado every day, but we know that it will always be a huge part of our story and we will always have those amazing memories.  It’s the experiences in life that have shaped who we have become and we are so thankful for them.  After all, what really matters is the present moment – and home is where my dog is.

It has been almost 8 weeks since we got the horrifying news that he has osteosarcoma.  On Nov. 16th the vet came back into the room after taking x-rays of Nesta’s leg, which my boyfriend and I were convinced had a torn ACL, but the Dr. had some surprisingly worse news to share.  We were then referred to an oncology department in Matthews, NC.  After confirming the prognosis there, I ended up making a quick decision to have his leg (and the awful bone tumor) removed that next Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving.  This was such a difficult week for me, the worst that I can remember in a long time.  I am so thankful I had the support of the wonderful man in my life and of my family and friends.  There were so many emotions and so many hard decisions to make in a matter of a few days.  Still this continues, but this journey has begun, and Nesta and I are enjoying each day as it comes.

It has been about two months post surgery and he acts as if he never needed that leg anyway.   He is adjusting to life on three legs remarkably well.  This comes as no surprise, because he has always been an athlete – a mountain climber, ball catcher, bike companion, etc.  However, now that we have been going on some longer walks, I am starting to notice he gets tired quicker.   I now am realizing after reading some info here on Tripawds that it is important to do some post amputation PT with him.  He is showing a few signs of weakness in his one hind leg, it dips down sometimes when we are walking.  I need to start some core strengthening with him.

Getting his diet figured out has been a challenge lately – Do I make homemade meals from scratch or mix a little bit of good quality kibble with fresh meat and veggies?  I’ve mostly been doing the later, but I’m starting to feel I need a set regimen for his meals  – a program to stick to.  I need to find a good source for meat, that’s not breaking my bank account and I need to get used to a recipe I feel good about feeding him.  Until then, I am a little worried I am not getting him what he needs in his diet.

I’ve been working with a holistic vet in my area who has helped me tremendously with supplements and alternative therapies, but second opinions are in need, so I have made contact with Dr. Cheryl Cross in Knoxville, TN who practices integrative veterinary medicine.  She was a referral from Brian Douglas who owned Shiva – the famous golden retriever who survived osteosarcoma for 3.5 years after her initial diagnosis, with no chemo.

For the record, I have chosen not to put Nesta through chemotherapy.  A decision I did not come by easily, yet deep inside I knew it was not the right path for us.  This is why I feel it to be critically important that I do everything else in my power to aid Nesta in his fight against this awful bone cancer.  He has been a God-send in my life – a miracle dog, and healer, peace-maker and my soul mate.  I owe it to him to help him fight this awful disease.  I know there is a beginning and an end to everything in life – but I’m not convinced that this is his time yet.  He is only 10 years old and otherwise in great shape, and I feel he still has a reason to be here on the Earth.  His wonderful story is not done.