Thursday, May 21, 2009

Prednisone working SO much better!

Riley feels SO much better today!!! Yesterday we noticed a marked difference, and today even more so! He is doing so well, he wanted to try to come down the stairs himself this morning! Of course I didnt let him and carried him as usual. Anyways, you can just tell that he is so happy to have some relief and be feeling better than he was a few days ago. The Prednisone is working waaaaay better than the chemo did! (One drawback-he is 100% incontinent now, but, small price to pay!)

Several days ago: (before Prednisone, and after 2 doses of chemo)

After 3 days of Prednisone:

And a pic. of Riley...
(he's panting cause temps are mid 70's and we need to get AC in downstairs)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Discont'ing Chemo

Hello everyone, I had been waiting until things were more official before I updated on Riley. Riley received another dose of chemo on friday, May 15th. When I handed Riley over to the vet tech, I made it very clear that Riley needed to be watched closely with the tumor, as he tends to lick/pick at it. I assumed he would go straight to chemo. 3 hours later, they came out to say Riley had just finished his chemo. Chemo takes 40 minutes. We stayed in the waiting room the whole time, so why didnt they have Riley stay out in the waiting room with us? Fortunately, they offered to let Riley spend the 2 hour post observation period with us in the waiting room. To my horror, the tumor looked much worse. I dont mean to bash the people conducting the study, but I really think they could have gven Riley better care.

(Taken the day after)

They just blew this off like it was no big deal. Riley was panting in pain, his leg was shaking. It's a big deal! We went home and gave him Tramadol. We took him to our own regular vet yesterday, and our regular vet agreed with us that it was time to discontinue chemo. Not just cause the care he received was not the best, but because the chemo doesnt seem to be doing anything for Riley. So today my husband called MSU, and talked with the lady connected with the study, to tell her we had decided to discontinue Riley's participation in the study. She tried to talk us out of it and suggested we bring Riley in so we could get an opinion from a vet there. My husband explained that we had already been to our own vet, and that it had been agreed upon between the two of us that the best thing to do for Riley was to discontinue chemo, and that we Riley would get all future care from our own vet from here on out.

I will share what I have learned from the experience and some of my observations and what I would do differntly in the future.

First of all, though our experience was a negative one, I am not against studies. It is how they come up with new ways to help our furbabies. However if I could do this over again, I would have INSISTED that I be allowed to stay with Riley all the way through, due to the tumor being open, and it was so important that he be watched and to guard the tumor from potential bumps and etc.

Also, I have noticed each time Riley got chemo, I myself got a terrible case of aches. This has given me a window into what this must be like for Riley. Riley likes to kiss me, on the face, on the lips, my hands, my legs, etc. Chemo is excreted through body fuids, saliva included. I am only just over 100 lbs, so this would make me more vulnerable. While I did not get *sick*, I was fatigued and achy. The first couple nights after his chemo, I laid in bed, literally in too much pain to sleep, just from plain old ache. I assumed the first time it was not related to Riley's chemo, but when it happened with Riley's second round too, I realized it must be connected, which made me think, how is *Riley* feeling from the chemo???? He is the one that got it straight up in an IV! For the first 2-3 days after each round of chemo, Riley sleeps heavily and is quite motionless. I realize now, how he was feeling. I have no doubt he was feeling that terrible ache I was feeling, only probably much stronger. So while he did not get *obviously* ill in a more visible way, the chemo still did tax him. If the chemo would have been much more effective in combating the cancer, then maybe it would have been worth it. Otherwise, no, it is just adding to his suffering.

I realize this means we are giving up hope on Riley ever going in remission. We are now taking the supportive care approach in doing all we can to keep his pain level as low as possible, and I realize Riley's days are numbered now. I have been trying very hard to stay strong emotionally for Riley. Nothing in the world makes Riley happiest than to know he makes me happy. And if I spend his last days weepy over him, it will break his heart and he will feel like he is failing me. So when I blog about Riley matter of factly, please know that it does not mean that I am not in a tremendous amount of pain over the thought of losing Riley. I just simply for the most part package up that pain into a box, and put it aside for now. When Riley passes on, then it's all gonna break loose. I will deal with the pain then. My plan is to stay in denial about Riley's time here coming to an end, right up until his final hour comes. Then I will remind myself I only need to stay strong for Riley for a short while longer. Riley cannot know how much I hurt. My good loyal faithful friend of 14 years...I wish he could live much longer. Me and Riley have been through so much together. I gotta stop now cause the tears are starting to flow and I am afraid they will never stop.

Friday, May 15, 2009


I have posted a couple times about our experience with Valium. Valium has most definately saved Henry's life. I have read on the EPIL-K9 list, that some find Valium suppositories take too long to kick in.

The kind I use is liquid, here is a pic.~

The liquid apparently absorbs right away, as opposed to the suppositories. I havent actually used the suppositories myself, so I can't give an actual comparison based on my own experience. But I can certainly tell you the kind of Valium pictured above has been very helpful and that Henry responds well to it. He is dopey for awhile of course, but the Valium certainly ends clusters for Henry. Different dogs respond differently. If your dog is not doing well with the suppository form of Valium, I highly reccomend you ask your vet for the liquid kind. It still goes in the bum, just like the suppository.

While liquid absorbs fast, it does still take 8-10 minutes to kick in.

While on the topic of Valium, I want to show you my emergency seizure kit that I keep in my purse. This is a rigid zip close type deal, that came with my hearing aid. I took all the hearing aid accesories out of it, and put in Henry's seizure stuff instead. In it I have, 3 full doses Phenobarbital in small ziploc bag. (Just in case we get stranded away from home for whatever reason) peanut butter in small ziploc bag, and a fork for administering the Pheno. (Spoon would probably be more ideal) And then the Valium.

p.s. I would love to have comments from people relating what their pet's Valium experience was and which kind was used and etc.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pictures Galore

Hello everyone! Gonna share an update with lots of pictures.

The first few nights after Riley got his chemo, we had the boys sleep on opposite sides of the bedroom. A couple nights ago we gave them back their freedom to sleep wherever they wish (in our room). It was obvious they were thrilled to have this freedom back. Me and my husband sat up in bed, and enjoyed watching the boys happily going back and forth to each others beds, following each other. They were so cute, lol. They do love each other. =)


I posted previously about how I suspect Henry is sensitive to chemo being excreted from other dogs at MSU. Henry also gets very uncharacteristically stressed at MSU. We have been spending many long days at MSU. MSU is where Riley is getting his treatment for his cancer, and it is a 2 hour drive away. We decided to give leaving Henry at home alone a try. Henry had never been home alone without at least having Riley to visit him through the gate. (we separate dogs when we are not home because of Henry's epilepsy)

We hired a licensed and insured pet sitter to come check on Henry half way through our absence. This is a pet sitter we have used for many years and we know her well. She has cared for many of our special needs pets in the past, including a diabetic dog that needed insulin shots.

Anyways, normally Henry stands at the gate and barks in protest to us leaving. On this day, he instead jumped up on the bed, sat down, and looked out the window. There I was, all nervous about leaving, and Henry was handling it better than I!
Henry says, "You go on Mommy and take Riley to the veterbanareeyun. My friend Jill is coming to visit and I am going sit here and watch for her through the window." =D
Henry did absolutely just fine, no problems at all!

In my last blog entry, I told you about how Riley bumped his tumor and it was very painful. This is a picture I took a couple days after and it was looking it's worst. =(

(Instead of Elizabethean collar, I had Riley wear an inside out (to keep pillies and lint off wound) sweatshirt, with one arm deliberately left too long. It worked well.

Today it both looks and feels better. Here is a picture taken just an hour ago:

It is less red, no longer bleeding, and it even looks a little smaller too doesn't it? I'm really hoping the chemo shrinks it lots more. next chemo will be May 15th.
By the way, I figured out dairy might be making Riley more prone to ear infections. He has always been prone to ear infections with those hairy ears. I had been checking his ears every day since the chemo, just to stay on top of it in case. (Chemo suppresses immune system) And his ears were looking perfectly fine, until one day, WHAM! Raging ear infection. I couldnt figure out why it hit so FAST. Then I realized I had been mixing in yogurt with his food instead of the usual canned stuff, and the ear infection hit about 24 hrs after this change. And now that I look back, I do see a pattern connected to the dairy. So I'm gonna go back to the canned stuff. Tomorrow we will likely go to the vet for his ear infection. Normally I can get rid of his ear infections on my own by carefully swabbing *OUTwards* the gunk, and trimming the ear fur, being very careful that no fur falls into the ear canal. I do this for a few days, and then it goes away. Usually there is improvement right away. This time though Riley's immune system is suppressed, so I am not counting on him being able to get past this ear infection without antibiotics.

I am so glad the weather is nice right now. I think nice weather makes it more bearable when one does not feel their best. I remember Alfalfa in his last days, he still enjoyed basking in the warm sun.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Update on both Henry and Riley

Hi everyone! Just giving a quick update. Riley had his first Chemotherapy last Friday. (April 24th) All went very well. Riley never lost his appetite, never vomited or had diarhea. Continues to promptly clean his food bowl at all meals. He did have some fatigue for the first 48 hours. Unfortunately, on Sunday, while Riley and Henry were both in a big hurry to get out of the rain, they tripped on each other coming in the back door, and Riley bumped his tumor. This is causing Riley great pain. =( The tumor has been lightly bleeding. Really hope this heals soon. For now we have been keeping him on Tramadol to help with the pain, and it does help.

As for Henry, he had another Grand-Mal, on the 26th. This time he had made it only 11 days which is not the norm.

I have a theory, that it's the chemotherapy being excreted by other dogs in the oncologist unit at MSU that is bothering Henry. Last time Henry had a Grand-Mal 4 days after the visit to MSU. This time, he had a Grand-Mal only a day and a half later. I think this one was sooner cause his own brother is excreting the chemo, so therefore Henry was exposed more.

The chemo is excreted through saliva, urine, feces,blood and vomit. Henry is such a sensitive hound, I really dont think it takes much for him to be affected. I have been washing all the bedding every day, and seperating the dogs at night. I scoop all feces immediately. The vet said sunshine kills chemo in urine.

Anyways, at the oncolgist unit, I think it is just too high a concentration of dogs who have had chemo. We will not be bringing Henry with us to MSU anymore. We have hired a licensed and insured pet sitter for those days.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pray For Riley

Tomorrow Riley will have his first dose of Chemotherapy. Prayers would be much appreciated!

(Video was taken April 19th, 4 days ago)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stress is such a trigger

Henry had a Grand-mal about 40 minutes ago. Stress was the trigger, I know it. He knows Riley is sick and has been so worried about him.

Henry is a bit of a spook and really relies on Riley in order to help him be more brave. If we lose Riley to this cancer, it's going to be awfully rough on Henry. =(

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mast Cell Tumor

Sorry I have been away so long. My computer started behaving very badly, and I had to take it in to be repaired, which took three weeks. I just got my computer back today and am very glad to be back!!!!

I had a hard time deciding wether or not to put this here or on my other blog (The BARF Blog). Due to the large number of greyhounds affected by cancer, and this blog being read by many greyhound people, I have decided to put news on Riley's cancer here on this blog. Riley however is not a greyhound, he is an American Eskimo. The kind of cancer Riley has (mast cell tumor) is considered one of the most treatable kinds there is. He was diagnosed March 30th (2 weeks ago) with a carpal mast cell tumor. Riley is not my first dog to have mast cell tumors. We had a chihuahua that had a few show up on her mammary glands, and we caught it in time, and they were removed and she did just fine after that, not even needing chemo.

Riley is a trickier situation though, because the only way to remove his mast cell tumor on his wrist, is to fully amputate that leg. At 14 years old, with some moderate arthritis and mild blindness, and a low pain threshold, we have opted not to do this, especially as front legs bear more weight than back legs.

Originally this tumor was diagnosed as a soft tissue injury. When it grew instead of gettng better, we went back to the vet and that was when we found out it was a mast cell tumor. We were very upset at first, as it is inoperable except by amputation, and Riley is already in pain. I feared euthanasia may not be too far off. I did not have my computer, so I couldn't research as in depth as I wanted to. I still have not done alot of research on this yet. Anyways, our vet called us a couple days after the diagnosis, and referred us to MSU. MSU has a whole section of their veterinary hospital devoted to treating pets with cancer. They have all the most advanced treatments there. So we went to MSU last Friday. (April 10th)

Riley at MSU, waiting to be seen by vet. (Note tumor on wrist, on your right)

A series of tests were done on Riley at MSU, including an ultrasound. Good news is the cancer has not spread to the organs. Even more good news, there is a new chemotherapy drug specifically for mast cell tumors. It is still in research stages though. Riley will be getting this chemotherapy drug that is under research. He will get 4 doses, three weeks apart, and then we will see how he is doing and figure out the rest of the plan after that. Riley's case will be closely watched by the makers of the new chemo drug. They are always researching and trying to come up with more ways to help pets with cancer, which is an exciting thing. The chemo will be free of charge due to Riley being part of the study/research.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Henry Made It 118 Days Of No Grand-Mals

Henry had a Grand-Mal about at about 1 AM today. I knew it was coming. We were upstairs, and he started to cry in a very urgent way. I ran downstairs and got an extra grain of Phenobarbital, I noticed Henry was acting blind and thought oh no.... He did take the Pheno. He really wanted to go downstairs. With me guiding him he started to go down the stairs, and at the third step from the bottom went into full blown Grand-mal and landed on his back/left side in seizuring position at the bottom of the steps.

I made sure he was reasonably safe at the bottom of the steps on the kitchen floor with a rug by his face, then went to the freezer that was only a few feet away and grabbed the ice bag. Unfortunately the ice bag was in one big huge clump and was useless. I tried, but no effect. I hated to have to bang up the ice bag to get it loose while he was seizuring, as noise and light is terribly aggravating during seizure. But the seizure kept going on, and I decided to go for it and proceeded to break up the ice, but it was just too hard, Finally the seizure did end. I didn't time it. The violent part was probably a couple minutes, then the other part was about 5 minutes. Felt like an eternity.

Note to self, ALWAYS make sure the ice in the bag is loose and on the ready!

I was very glad he was wearing the kind of jammies that have a velcro strip all the way down the back. I was able to very quickly unvelcro it. Light dimmer switches or soft lighting are very nice to have too during Grand-Mals.

118 days is very, very, very good. A few more days (Feb. 5th) he would have made it to 4 months which in all of his recorded seizure history he had never made it that long. With 118 days Grand-Mal free, he did beat any previous record he had.