Farewell, Sweet Prince

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What I’ve learned these past two weeks-

  1. Trust yourself. You know your dog better than any medical professional ever will.
  2. Make yourself HEARD and check for understanding multiple times. Make vet healthcare professionals repeat it back to you until you feel they understand the issue.
  3. Dogs have a crazytrain boatload of drive to survive. And even engulfed in that, they have an ever greater drive for connection.

In the end, Tipper became paralyzed in the back end. Maybe the cancer spread to his spinal cord. So, accupuncture did not help Tipper, but it did help me come to grips with Tipper’s time. I guess I never used the word “paralyzed”‘to describe Tipper being unable to move his back legsNfor the last several days and wound up getting him pain treatments thinking he had a pinched nerve that could be unlocked for him.

I don’t think it’s possible to see the end of our furbabies’ lives without second guessing. There’s always the matter of drawing a line with regard to pain – knowing that there is always more pain than a dog will ever show you. It just feels impossible to let them go while there is still such life left in there at a given moment.

Even though the end was unexpected and seemed to come on quick, we did have about a month-long process knowing the cancer had spread.

I’ve rescued Tipper a small handful of times during his decade as my baby. Even though it’s cliche’, we all know how they have rescued us. Having a “special needs”‘ (my euphemism for vicious on-leash) guy has given me a sense of purpose during hard times. The un-likelihood of someone else taking on the responsibility that is Tipper has kept me going many times! Parts of me thought I’d never

Parts of me have at times felt that I might never bond with Tipper the way I did with my heart dog Lexy. So not true. He’s insisted I spoon him under the covers for the past ten years. That gap with make it difficult to sleep!

Tripawds nation – God Bless you all for your support and celebrations along our journey.

Much Love,

Julie and Tipper


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Logan steps up

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*Edit / afterthought – always check the floor for yesterday’s 4:00 p.m. amantadine capsule on the kitchen floor before assuming the worst. Gargamel. No wonder it’s been a tough 16 hours or so. 

It’s been interesting seeing Sir Logan step up to the plate as Tipper winds down. Logan was “unsocialized” when I adopted him. Scared of every. thing. He spent the first three days here trying to find an escape out of the house. It took the next several months for him to trust me enough to lay down by my side. To be fair, Tipper has been somewhat of a jealous-type, which never made it easy for Logan. But, Logan has become the barker, the guard dog. (He will need major re-programming this summer!)

Tipper, my strong boy, is indeed winding down. The hardest times are between appointments -those flashes of hope. We see Dr. Petty for acupuncture tomorrow, thankfully. Last week, Dr. Petty told me that Tipper is not even close to an end in terms of pain management. Boy oh boy. What felt like relief a week ago is not so much so today.

Regret is a silent killer, I think. At the end of my furry children’s lives (I’ve lost two of my own fur babies during my adult life), I find myself looking back through the decade and change I’ve spent with them and see junctures when I might have made a different decision. I know in my heart I made the best decisions I could with the tools I had. But still.

I have zero regrets about Tipper’s amputation. It gave him seven months of full living. I do regret that I didn’t find the time or the money to look into rehabilitation for him early on. But, again, with his blistered pads, I didn’t think it was wise. I did the best I could with the tools I had. Hindsight is 20/20 and all that.

So, here’s an update on what I’ve learned.

  1. Dry needling is painful. Extremely painful. Excruciating.
  2. Timing with pain meds is everything. Everything.
  3. After some reading around, I’ve learned that pain management opinion on rest vs exercise has changed toward continuing to move rather than rest the sore spots. I figured Tipper should rest rather than overdo it. But I can see that his muscle mass has been devolving.
  4. Tramadol seems to help when everything else has failed. Dr. Petty told us to drop the tramadol because it didn’t really do anything that Tipper needed. But, I have given it to him the odd time during the past week when he’s restless and panting and has already had all of his other medication. Whether it’s pain control or more likely, a sedative effect, it seems to settle him.
  5. It sucks to have ancillary pain kick our butt before cancer does. I feel a little warped about that. Like I’d rather Tipper die from cancer than have to put him down from pain. But there it is. It feels a little bit like I was fighting the wrong war. I know better, of course. But still.
  6. It’s out of my hands. There is a higher power out there, whatever you want to call it. The what-ifs and the should haves don’t really mean anything. There’s no one thing that works for everyone.

So, we’ll see how acupuncture goes tomorrow. And ACIC on Wednesday. I think Dr. Petty is experienced enough with hospice care that he might be able to give me some feedback about Wednesday. I feel like I want to see an x-ray to know for sure what’s going on inside baby’s body, but I also feel like I know that mets are spreading. I’ve already decided that further treatment isn’t what Tipper wants. He’s tired of vet visits. Metronomics from home might be an option, but not if it requires us to go in for bloodwork too.

Right now, baby is panting in a whole new way I’ve never seen before – laying down and panting with his eyes closed. That can’t be good.

I think we’re drawing close. However, I’ve settled down from where I was a couple weeks ago thanks to the members of this lovely Tripawds group.

 

 

Relief – At Last. And Dr. Petty

So, I ditched my standing Monday appointment with one of my students and rushed off to take Tipper to Arbor Point / Animal Pain Center to see Dr. Petty.  Did I mention that Dr. Petty emailed us back within 24 hours of our desperate contact via his website? He got us in at 4:00 TODAY!

My contact form, my email, and this morning trying to explain to the kind woman on the phone: “I don’t know what we need. Arthritis? Pinched nerves? Euthanasia? Hospice? I just don’t know. I’m sorry I’m crying.”

DER.

DR. PETTY: “Well, obviously there’s a lot going on from what you’ve described and what I can feel. Myofacial, hip, spine, yadda yadda, yadda.”

ME: “Dr. Obradovich doesn’t think the cancer is killing him right away and there’s lots we can do for that and Dr. Rogerson thinks the cancer isn’t causing this specific pain, and Tipper still wants to eat and play and love, and I don’t want to kill a perfectly fine dog over a stubbed toe…but he’s in so much pain. How do I know when he’s in too much pain?”

DR. PETTY: “Oh, he’s nowhere near that.”

With that, they swept Tipper away for some sedation, some x-rays, and a bit of acupuncture.

We’ll go back next week. Sounds like we’ll have some acupuncture treatments, which are far more affordable than I would have expected.

LESSON LEARNED: Actually find out how much rehab sessions / training really cost before you assume that you can’t afford them. Cancer treatment (especially with surgery involved) is beyond pricey. I think if I hadn’t been so freaked out about that, I might have gotten off my tookus and headed for rehab. Admittedly, time was a factor as well. Tipper did have some unique issues with the pads of his feet that I thought might preclude us from rehab, but I’d bet that Dr. Petty would have had some advice for us on that as well. Because of all the foot wounds in the past several months, Tipper has had a real balancing act – literally – moreso than your everyday tripawd, which have worn out muscles in all sorts of places.

Dr. Petty told me to expect possibly 36 hours of muscular pain following this dry needling appointment – BUT NOT TO FREAK OUT! 🙂

Logan was beyond thrilled when we got home today. Too many trips out of the house with Tipper sans Logan in the past few days had him a little rattled. He flew laps around the house and the yard when we got back home tonight.

 

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Sir Logan says, “Hi! I’m pretty cute! All this stuff with my brother has me a little freaked out, but since he’s been in pain, I’ve gotten very, very brave and a little bit pushy!” 

Tennis Balls!

Tipper here. We’ve had a good day. Mom seems to have figured out what meds to give when! I think I’ll sleep through the night. Last night was a doozy! Then, Mom almost fell off the couch when I woke her up this morning! I don’t think she expected me to get back up again once I finally settled down last night (or 3:45 am, really).

Even though I’m not allowed to run the back fence barking and growling at my girlfriend, it’s been a decent day. I am still super duper ouch, even with all this medicine, but I still keep wanting to do what Tippers do. Ball, treat, belly rub, neck massage, beg for (and get) a piece of anything Mom eats, whine until she lets me outside, whine until she gets me more treats, and scare off my little brother with my crazy-eyes look whenever he gets Mom’s attention for too long.

Dr Petty emailed us today and said he will probably be able to see us tomorrow afternoon!! Woohooo! I would love to not feel so ouch and wobbly. And Mom can’t take it – watching me hurt. And she doesn’t even know the half of it! We hear great things about Dr. Petty. Fingers crossed that he can help us.

 

Here’s me, just a little while ago. I know chewing on tennis balls is bad for my teeth, but it makes my brain feel so, so happy!!

Kickin' out endorphins with my favorite vice.
Kickin’ out endorphins with my favorite vice.

How it went down. And what we learned.

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Lesson learned: ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF.

Yesterday was rough. Because THE GATEKEEPER wouldn’t give us access to our beloved Dr. Rogerson yesterday, we (I’m lying, it was just me) fretted ALL DAY. Thank God for ACIC, all of whom worked on our behalf to find us some form of relief by the end of the day: Amantadine.

For much of the day yesterday, I was coming to terms with saying goodbye. Both dogs had appointments this afternoon, and I figured I’d go ahead and let Tipper go.

When I talked to Dr. Rog about yesterday and not being able to get past THE GATEKEEPER, he was very upset. He told me he would have stayed late or even just run out to the car to pull some blood and see Tipper.

From now on, I’m supposed to tell her that Dr. Rog asked me to call.

Mean people should not be allowed to work with pets and their pawrents.

UPDATE:

Today, Logan got his heartworm test and nails trimmed. Tipper got a head to toe physical. Of course, Tipper didn’t show any pain at all, no matter how we lifted, twisted, or bent hm, so that’s still a mystery. But, the doctor doesn’t think the pain is coming from either met site.

Amantadine seems to have helped gobs and gobs. We are going to taper off some of the tramadol. The trouble with all this pain medication is that I don’t know what combination of what is working. Tipper could stay on them all, but then we’ve already maxed out and have nowhere else to turn.

Tipster does have significant spondylitis at both ends of his spine, and it’s possible there’s some nerve pinching going on. So, back to thinking about what Dr. Petty’s clinic has to offer.

THE BEST: This morning we went for a walk, had a good breakfast, played ball, and snuggled to our heart’s content.