Wednesday, August 27, 2014
As you know, we recently had a journey to South East Veterinary Oncology (SEVO). Well, in order to quell some of our worries and also have Henry think this trip was "fun" we wanted to actually make it fun for him (since we anticipated 26 weekly visits---whoosh! ---narrowing that down to a mere 6 trips was a great relief). Anyway, we wanted to to make the trip exciting for Henry. We planned on going up to Jacksonville (about 90 miles from our home) the night before and we would stay in a hotel so that we would have a good night's sleep, avoid possible local rush hour traffic and in general dodge any of the Monday morning rush angst that would have likely ensued.
We looked high and low for a hotel that was not only pet friendly but also that was not near the meth labs of the city. We found a cute little place and it was not exactly next door to SEVO but much closer than our from home commute. To our surprise, none of the closest hotels were even pet friendly. We were shocked. What a market they are missing out on and not to mention, pets that have to come from far away would rather be closer to their doctor than further.
Henry is always one to but up for an adventure. He's always been the one to take the road less traveled and gone off the beaten path. So, this was right up his alley! (As we have been telling him 100 times a day lately, he's "such a good boy!"---said in a sweet but slightly gravely doggy styled loving voice.) This trip was no different. We set out to have a mission of fun and that is what we had! It started with a cool car ride where Henry started out wide awake but that faded fast. He knew that this was going to be a longer haul than most, so he just settled in and conserved his energy for the other end of the ride.
We landed at the hotel and there he was a well rested happy pug! There was a big grass area where we got to see him do something he had not really do in a while and that was run in an open field! He took time to strike a pose in front of the fountain in front of the hotel and being his ever nosy self, he spied every passer by that crossed his path. Always making vigilant attempts at getting a belly rub or at least a pat on the head. King Henry loves him some positive attention!
There was a lake nearby where we could enjoy a short walk. We spotted the lake but from afar we could not see the type of path. We will share more about that in another post! That is a whole other story! (Henry was slightly possessed by his inner Baby Benny. Yikes!)
We will also tell you about the elevator rides and the room service! There was so much fun had that we almost forgot we were there for chemo! As it should be! Stick with good stuff!
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Yesterday Henry had his initial consultation with the oncologist in Jacksonville. While not too far away, Jacksonville is not very close to us so we decided to stay in the area the night before. Our appointment was at 8:45 am and we figured we could get a jump on the Monday morning commute if we stayed nearby. Plus, an adventure to a new place is always something Henry is up for!
I'll tell you more about Henry's adventure at the hotel a little later, but first let's talk about the oncologist appointment.
We were a bundle of nerves when we pulled into the parking lot, bracing ourselves for potentially very bad news, but we were immediately put at ease when we started walking to the door and saw a sign with Henry's name on it welcoming the new patients of the day. What a way to start the visit! Instantly heartwarming. Everyone we met was exceptionally warm and caring.
When we met with our doctor we received some very good news. Yes, Henry had renal carcinoma. Yes, this cancer is very rare in dogs. Yes, this cancer is extremely aggressive and yes most dogs with renal carcinoma do not have much of a life expectancy. However, we caught Henry's very early! Most dogs with renal carcinoma don't present signs or symptoms until the cancer begins to spread to other places. But, we (us by bringing him and our vet by doing his due diligence) were lucky enough to spot Henry's tumor while doing a sonogram for his "gut" issues. And let me tell you, I have never felt luckier in life. The early detection greatly increases Henry's odds and gives him an above average chance of surviving longer than the median 16 months of most dogs with kidney cancer. It was so good to hear this news!
With that being said Henry will still need chemotherapy. Because with this type of cancer if just one cell managed to make its way into the bloodstream, there is a great risk of metastasis.
We reviewed all of our treatment options and decided to treat Henry with traditional systemic chemotherapy. The frontline chemotherapy would be adriamycin (doxorubicin).
The type of treatment is administered via a drip. So, Henry gets a catheter and gets to hang out with a tech that pets him while he receives treatment. It takes about 20 minutes for the IV drip to finish and then he is monitored for a while after to make sure there are no adverse reactions.
Assuming Henry responds well to the adriamycin (doxorubicin), he will have a total of 6 treatments. 1 treatment every 3 weeks. Yesterday, Henry received treatment #1 of 6.
In addition to the chemotherapy, Henry will have lots of other things going on to make sure treatment is going ok. He will have his blood tested in 7-10 days to see if his chemo dosages need to be tweaked. Sonograms and chest x-rays around treatments 3 and 6 to check for possible tumor growth. EKGs to make sure his heart is doing ok. Blood draws to monitor cell levels. The list goes on and on.
It is so very much, but the main thing I am taking away is that Henry received the very best possible news you could get considering his circumstances. We have a plan of action now and that helps me feel better.
I can't thank everyone enough for the positive vibes, prayers and good juju! So far they seem to be working!
Monday, August 25, 2014
We received a letter last week from ACVO Vision for Animals Foundation. We noticed the return address and were confused. We did not recognize the name or location. At first we thought it was from Henry's oncologist. They are SEVO (SouthEastern Veterinary Oncologists). But this was from somewhere entirely different.
Curious, we opened it and were so touched that it was a donation made to ACVO in Luna's name on behalf of her eye vet. This meant a lot to us. Her eye vet, Dr. Heidi Denis of Affiliated Veterinary Specialists (AVS) (aka: "Animal Eye & Skin") made the donation.
This came on the heels of the very nice card that AVS had sent. They had sent one for Benjamin, too but Benny was not a "frequent flyer" there and the card was sweet but not necessary special. (I don't mean that in a bad way. We still appreciated it but it was not personalized in the way that Luna's was.) The card they sent for Luna was very personal and reflected that they truly had a relationship with Luna and now this donation backed that up. It was incredibly sweet and touching as it is an ever lasting reminder of the good she brought to people and pets.
When Sol and Luna died, our general vet also made donations in the girls' names to the University of Florida School of Veterinary Medicine (his alma mater). I am not sure if they do this for all "rescue" dogs, but it was very meaningful to receive that notification, too.
This also reminds us of Solsey's fund for Central Florida Pug Rescue. It has been a long time since we have talked about the fund that benefits senior pugs, but it is still very much in use. If you have anything to offer, please consider making a donation. Every little bit helps. We thank you and we hope Solsey can continue to help other aging pugs have a wonderful retirement.
Friday, August 22, 2014
We were given a few simple rules that Henry is to follow post surgery. Most of them are pretty easy and things naturally do anyway. But some of them are just asking to be broken.
The easy ones to follow are that he is to be crated when we are not home (which we already do). No walks for a week (only go out to potty, and come back in). That one is easy for now since we are not going to push him beyond any limits just so he can go to the mailbox with us to get the mail and we are definitely not taking him on a long walk (the boy just had his kidney out! we are amazed he CAN even walk!).
After this, the rules get a little harder. He is not supposed to jump up on anything (i.e. the sofa, a chair, etc). This means that if we are not right next to him he may get a wild hair and take measures into his own paws. So, this has actually happened twice already. Grr! Turn your back for one second and he's got a stubborn mind of his own.
Then the rules get impossible! He is not allowed to have any "sun" time. The vet is concerned that if he is out in the heat too long he could be at risk for dehydration. (And that his wound could get infected by laying on his belly.) It is crazy to me that this is the hardest of all the rules to follow. And, of course, we have to confess, that this rule, too, has been broken two times. Each time, around midday after a little snackie and relieving his bladder, his routine is to spend a few minutes catching some rays. So, we have permitted him to have 3 minutes of sun time a day. We set a timer. The bonus is that Henry is such a good boy that he always comes in right before the alarm actually goes off. And so far as his wound...well, he lays on his side or back usually, so his stitches are not even in the grass or dirt. We know that these are reasonable precautions and of course we want to do all the right things but to deprive him of his favorite thing: refilling his vitamin D supply by soaking up the sun for 3 minutes just doesn't seem right. It really is the one thing that makes him the most happy. Especially as of late. So, we've been "flexible" with the rules. He's been sticking to the time limit, so i think we are good.
#HenryStrong all day long! #TeamHenry
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Henry has always been the tortoise (in comparison to Benjamin being the Hare in the infamous fable). So, in his healing we expect no different. He is simply pacing himself and taking each day as it comes.
We will see the oncologist on Monday and since they are 90 miles away, we are going to stay up there in a hotel the night before. This will not be routine or habit and we are bit concerned about this working him up into a frenzy since it will be new and exciting but we hope to stay relaxed and mellow so that it seems natural. The first appointment will be a big one for us. They said plan between 2 and 5 hours for the appointment. And we don't even have the full results back yet from the kidney biopsy from this Monday yet. OBP people stress is starting to spike, but calm, cool, collected Hank is his ever even keeled self. He truly never ceases to amaze us.
We are all playing on Team Henry. He is for real #HenryStrong. And maybe some day we will think of some quirky challenge to raise awareness for dog cancer (like the ice bucket challenge that's going on now for ALS). Maybe it would be something like lifting your leg to pee on a tree. Just kidding. Gotta laugh to keep from crying, right?
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Yesterday was Henry's first full day at home and I think he did remarkably well!
He spent most of the day sleeping, but that was to be expected. And we were happy that he was able to find comfortable positions to sleep in. In addition to sleeping, he also ate a few small meals and kept hydrated with some small sips of water throughout the day. He was most lively for a few hours in the evening, when he hung out with us in the living room while we ate dinner and he walked through the house for a bit while we were doing some chores. Then it was back to bed for some much needed rest.
All in all, I think Henry had an awesome first day of recovery. Here's to a great second day of recovery.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Henry is home and is doing remarkably well. When we picked him up from the vet we certainly did not expect him to have as good of a night as he did. In fact, he almost didn't get to come home with us yesterday.
When we went to pick Henry up, he was quite frantic and pretty worked up. The vet said around 3pm he started to howl and whine in his crate. The howling got so bad that they let him out of his crate (thinking that that would calm him down). Not only did that not calm him down, it almost made things worse. He started pacing around the room. Fresh from surgery, he was getting himself very worked up.
When we got there, our vet expressed his concerns, but could see that our mere presence started to calm him down. So we decided it would be best that he goes home with us. Of course, we had a list of things we needed to monitor and strict advice to take him to the emergency vet if we had the slightest of doubts about how he was doing.
Henry was calmer, but still a tad worked up on the drive home from the vet. But, after about an hour of being home, he was a completely different dog. He was no longer panting, his breathing was no longer labored and he was much more relaxed.
We took turns sitting with him, trying to keep him comfortable, but you could tell that Henry wanted to get back to his normal routine as quickly as possible. When we sat down to scarf down a quick bite to eat, Henry wanted to lay in the spot that he always lays in when we eat dinner. He was ready for things to get back to normal.
He slept well through the night. There were a few times he was awake and sitting up, but his pain seemed to be under control. As I write this now, he is snoring away, getting some much needed rest.
Thank you for the well wishes yesterday! They were much needed and worked!
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