I thought I would write a quick update on my boy Leroy! It's been a really hard few days. We started the Lomustine last Tuesday with no real results. Friday he was very sluggish and in a lot of pain so we brought him in for fluids in which after he practically pranced out of the vet clinic. His pain was making it hard for him to eat or drink. For some reason the pain had localized around his neck and spine area so he could not put his head down, probably some weird side effect from the chemo. He did pretty well throughout the weekend, Monday was a beautiful sunny day and he spent it outside all day chasing shadows, bugs, and just sunbathing. Tuesday we woke up to a different dog, his lung sounds were harsh and crackly, his energy was back to lethargic and his eyes were depressed. All he wanted to do was press against me and followed Jeff and I everywhere around the house. Wed. I took him to the vet, we gave him Tramadol for the pain, some accupuncture on some energy points and it seemed to help just a little bit. Still very little appetite throughout the entire week. We decided on Wed. that if he deteriorated throughout the night, that we would re x-ray on Thursday.
Thursday AM rolled around and he wouldn't move. His lungs sounded terrible, Jeff and I layed on the bed with him and cried thinking this was maybe his last day. I was still trying to be optimistic. We took him in to the clinic, he wanted nothing to do with going back with Dr. Emily, which has NEVER happened, usually he trots back there without even a glance back at me, ready to torture the clinic cat with his staring, shaking, and whining. This time he shrunk to the floor and looked at me as if it was the last time he would see me. It was heartbreaking to see this unusual behavior. The other thing that occured since the day before was his veins were popping up all along his sides. Being a shorthair with thin skin you could see his vein network enlarged and raised along his rib cage and sides of abdomen, this was cause for alarm for all of us. I got the call from Dr. Emily, while in the middle of the appointment with our accountant for the dreaded tax season (which we were so late on, due to all that has been going one) I could hear it in her voice it wasn't good. Leroy's tumor burden had increased to about 7-8 quarter sized masses throughout both lung lobes, NOT good. The fluid in his chest had increased as well. We went to get him, and had the hard conversation about when "the time" would be. She thought without treatment of some sort he would not make it through the weekend. We discussed tearfully, her coming out to the farm to let him go, making plans now rather than when we have to in an emergency. We gave him a dose of Dex. as one last ditch effort to make him comfortable and give him a few good days. We were all unsure rather the Dex would even work at that point. We took him home, I layed on the couch with him all day, I cancelled going to the local dressage club social, which was so hard to do as on one level I knew I should continue life as normal, but who wants to be social with puffy eyes, a migraine, and a "dying dog" at home, so I stayed with him. At about 4pm I had to teach a lesson, when I got done and came into the house, Leroy jumped off the couch, grabbed his new dragon that he picked out at Petsmart, and did the "wiggle-butt" for the first time in days. He even went over to his bowl that had been full for a day or two, and devoured his food, he looked at me proud as ever at how strong he can be. It made me so happy to see the Dex working. We discussed the option of trying a new chemo called Elspar, that is an enzyme that will break down the lymphoma cells and masses. It has been used with great results, giving the animals a little more time in remission. I made the appointment for Friday at 11:30, but the techs were so understanding and said I could cancel if I needed more time to think about it. The cost is 450-500.00 and remission time, if any, is a gamble.
The next day, yesterday, he looked great. He slept pressed against me all night, his breathing was noise-free, regular and even. He had a great day yesterday, lots of energy, and ate well. We went to Sage Vet for his first dose of Iscador, Dr. Steve showed me how to give the injection, what to watch for, which is a red circle at the injection site. When you see this it means the body is reacting as it should to the Iscador, he said it may happen on the first injection or the 29th injection, every dog, and every immune system is different. Last night, I saw a small red circle appear, so that is good news. The Iscador may not "cure" the lymphoma, but at least we are doing everything we can to boost the immune system. I cancelled the appt. at the specialist, as I wanted to get the Iscador on board and get the immune system the kick in the pants it needed before adding more toxin to his body. I can go to the emergency clinic and get the Elspar done if I decide over the weekend that is the route we should take. The thing is, I am happy with any decision I make. It's amazing how rational one can really be when faced with these situations. I have never gone through anything like this in my life, and when my dog was healthy I never thought I would be able to cope with what is going on. What has helped me immensely is the complete, 100% immersion I have in committing to educate myself, experiment with options some conventional, some unconventional, I know in my heart and I know Leroy knows as well, that we are doing everything we can possibly do, within our means, to make him happy. I never thought my bond could be stronger with my pup, but this has brought the meaning of love to a whole new level. I guess that's the beautiful, yet bittersweet reality about death and being faced with it, it allows you and gives you the time to connect deeper in ways that you won't when in good health. I always thought maybe it would be easier for my dog to die a sudden death, but I cherish this time that I have to be with him, soak him in, and him soak me in, during his last days. I am ready for life to move on, whether it is in sickness or health, it's been hard to schedule meetings, lessons, etc. as I have to tell everyone "I am planning on being there, but..." I am not trying to write as if he is no longer around, he is, MORE than ever, his presence is the big it has ever been in his life, he is the brightest spot in my life, and when he is no longer with us, which will eventually be, given the way the cycle of life works, be it 3 days or 3 years, he will always be with me. Live strong is not just for the cancer fighter, it is for the survivors that hold and support those fighting with cancer or any disease. I have found my weakest moments in life through this time, but I have also found my strongest moments in life. And for this I thank my pup, my greatest teacher. Hug your pups, ponies, kitties, rabbits, hamsters, children, husband, parent, sibling..whatever/whoever it may be that gives you that feeling of undying love and commitment, then love yourself for having the ability to love so freely and deeply another living creature.