I’ve mentioned in previous posts that Chie is dying of a frighteningly fast-growing sarcoma. I discovered it in October 2015 & it was about the size of my palm of my hand. It was probably operable then. By the time the aspiration & then biopsy came back, proper excision would have involved removing practically most of Chie’s right abdominal wall, rendering it basically inoperable without extensive chemo which I couldn’t afford (surgery $4500, chemo $600 every 3 weeks, indefinitely).
We tried 2 different kinds of chemo, but neither had much effect. So we’ve just been focusing on her quality of life. The sarcoma has grown prodigiously; she is grossly deformed around her mid section & I can imagine in constant discomfort. Lying down & getting back up is a struggle for her. Often I have to help boost her up. She has Rimadyl for the aches, but lately her nausea has been the main issue, so I have discontinued the Rimadyl. I want her eat.
She’d begun refusing meals a week ago. The sarcoma must be pressing up against her innards, making everything difficult. Can’t be helped. And she was nauseous all the time. Constantly her mouth would be wet with drool while she panted.
On October 15 I was petting Chie & found a large bump on her side. The next day we saw the vet & had an aspiration done, which came back as “low grade soft tissue sarcoma.” Our vet then did a biopsy of said sarcoma, which yielded results of “low grade soft tissue sarcoma.” I’m a little pissed about this because we wasted 2 weeks on that biopsy, which involved Chie not getting to eat for 23 hours, being held at the vet’s for over 9 hours, a 3 inch, 12 stitch incision to get a rice grain-sized biopsy specimen, & all the extra sedatives (& therefore, cost) that went along with an apparently very extensive biopsy procedure.
When my dad saw the size of the incision, he looked at me sadly & said, “I guess he’s just not a very good surgeon.” On the bright side, the incision healed up with no problems & I removed the stitches myself. On the crappy side, Chie’s sarcoma continued to grow.
The surgeon 2 people had recommended was off island & it also took a few calls to get his office to call me back. When we finally got our appointment on November 20, he took one look at the mass & said it was too large & beyond his abilities/equipment. Fair enough. I had also booked a consultation with another veterinary facility for today (Veterinary Emergency & Referral Center of Hawaii) because I could feel us running out of time.
This was Boomer on the way home from the vet today. It was a really long visit, & he was pooped.Boomer’s been losing weight for, I would guess, a year. I didn’t really become aware of it as a problem until a few months ago. I guess seeing him every day kind of blinded me to how different he looks from a few years ago. But I can see his hip bones. I know I’m not supposed to be able to see them.
It started with a bad week of vog while the mango trees were blooming. Both Madeline & Boomer (& me, & a number of my human friends!) get itchy eyes when the mango trees bloom, & the vog can just get really terrible. Everyone gets sick. Madeline’s eyes swelled up from the double whammy & she exacerbated it by scratching. I stop her when I see her rubbing her face on the grass or carpet, but I wasn’t super vigilant. Now I know better. Stop her from doing that, always. I don’t let her out of my sight any more.
At right, Madeline sleeping against me while I held a paper towel over her eye. We fell asleep that way. She seemed to feel better with that towel over her eye.
After a week her eye was still irritated, which was longer than expected. I tried cold compresses, but she didn’t like that. So I did warm compresses, & I started giving her warm eye baths.
After a few days of that, she opened her right eye again & I saw that her cornea was cloudy & there was red (blood?) within it. I freaked out. I Googled “dog cloudy eye” & read about how canine keratitis can lead to blindness. But mostly I was horrified that I’d let her suffer that long.
Boomer had a slightly stressful vet visit today; I took him to a new vet, whose vet techs basically bear hug the dogs on the exam table while the vet does his exam. Boomer was friendly to everyone including the vet until the vet leaned over him & patted his head. Boomer then growled, & they put a muzzle on him (rather, let me put the muzzle on him since I think he scared the vet tech… Boomer has a hair raising growl). The exam went smoothly, & Boomer seemed fine with the vet afterward, although I don’t think it was 100% fine. Too much eye contact.
We got home, I gave Boomer a bath, with which he cooperated better than usual, & then later after dinner I had to give him a pill. Normally if I just toss the pill in his dinner, he eats it along with the kibble, but these pills are slightly big & he left it in there.
As I reached for him he growled & ducked away.
With the hair on the back of my neck standing up, I put the girls in the house. I then approached him again. He growled & ducked 4-5 more times. I stopped, took a breath, & hugged him, reassuring him that it was just a little pill. In my arms, he growled. I let him go & thought for a second.
I didn’t want to get angry, although my currently almost overwhelming fear (Boomer’s growls are scary) made that easy. Fuggit. I decided that even if he bit me, he was going to take the damn pill. I was not going to be angry; I was going to be patient. Tenacious. My entire training style with my dogs is tenacity; they know that if they don’t do it now, they’re gonna do it later, even if I have to stand here & say it 100 times. They are well familiar with the words “I can do this all day.”
Boomer was NOT going to learn to control me with a fucking growl.
This morning I noticed a few drops of blood on the sheet right by Madeline’s privates. She didn’t seem to be in discomfort, but then dogs don’t really make much of a display that way.
It’s Saturday. The vet (we are now back at Aina Haina Pet Hospital; it’s a longer drive, but they are nice) closes at noon & Saturday is the worst day to make a last minute appointment because Saturdays everywhere are always booked. However, if Madeline had a bladder infection, I didn’t want her to have to suffer until Monday. I’ve had bladder infections & they are pretty painful. I called the vet & they said to come on down.
I got a urine sample from Madeline, which was easier than expected. I just followed her around the yard, knowing she’d pee soon since it was her first pee of the day. The moment she squatted, I stuck the intended urine container under the stream. I did have to lift her tail. Once committed, though, she had to finish, so she didn’t move & it was no problem getting a sample.
Boomer, after five days of cephalexin & hot compresses.
Last Tuesday he was in pain & swollen to the point where he was drooling constantly. I was calling him Elephant Boy. On Wednesday we had our horrible experience with Warren Sakamoto, who wanted to charge me $1003 to cut Boomer open to drain an abscess that wasn’t even ready to be drained.
Instead, on my dad’s advice, I gave Boomer daily antibiotics & applied a hot compress for 15 seconds at a time to the swelling for a period of 10 minutes, 4 times a day (it was sort of like 15 seconds on, 15 seconds off, over & over again for 10 minutes). After the very first hot compress, the hardened area of cellulitis changed from a rectangular area of 8″x3″ to 6″x3″ & softened considerably.