Friday, December 27, 2013

Vet Oncology Visit # 1

December 11, 2013

Our first visit to a Veterinarian Oncology Specialist.

It is about a 35 mile drive to their office.  Holding back tears the whole way, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  The waiting room was the worst.  A very nice woman with a cat took to Audrey right away and engaged me in a, it was difficult to say the words out loud.  Audrey looks so completely vibrant and healthy.

The Vet profiled what they needed to do in the way of testing and then a technician came in with the cost estimate of that day's visit if I agreed to the testing:

Exam                                                            $112.50
Radiograph Thorax                                          $142.00
Radiograph Interpretation                                 $ 75.50
Ultrasound Abdomen                                       $284.00
Ultrasound Interpretation                                  $113.50
Flow Cytometry                                               $358.05
Catheterization IV                                            $ 62.32
Catheter Supplies T-port                                   $ 21.63
Bone Marrow Aspirate                                      $165.50
Bone Marrow Aspirate Supplies                          $  69.50
Bone Marrow Cytology                                      $254.05
CBC + Retic                                                   $  71.00
Hospitalization (outpatient)                               $  49.50
Sedation                                                       $  94.00
L - Asparaginase inj per vial                             $235.26
Prednisone 20 mg. (53 tablets)                         $ 33.90    

Results from these tests:
The thoracic radiographs were normal. The abdominal ultrasound showed enlarged lymph nodes, but the liver and spleen were normal.

The bone marrow was normal.

The type of Lymphoma is MULTICENTRIC

AUDREY is to start on Prednisone - Two tablets by mouth every morning for 14 days, then 1,5 tablets for 14 days, then 1/2 tablet every morning for 7 days.

Side effects of the Prednisone...EXTREME THIRST, did I say EXTREME, I really mean E X T R E M E!!!  That then translates into lots of potty breaks---including during the night....I feel like the mom of a newborn!! AT LEAST twice during the night I have to take her outside.....BTW, I really hate winter....

One of the other Prednisone side all the dog food, steal the cat food, beg in front of the frig...HUNGER....this also translates into MORE POTTY BREAKS....of the very stinky variety!

An appointment was made for December 19, 2013 for Vincristine chemotherapy via IV.

What I have learned is that dogs respond to chemo differently than a human. The side effects are not as noticeable; little or no hair loss, little or no vomiting---most of this is related to the fact that the dosage given to a dog is significantly less than that given to a human ... mostly because the drugs are so very expensive and the life of an animal is not valued like a human.  

Cancer Has No Prejudice.....

.... I just never dreamed it would choose my dog; especially THIS DOG.


My Heart Is Broken Into A Million Pieces...

Yes, that is my sweet little Redbone Coonhound, Audrey.  We learned right after Thanksgiving that she has cancer; lymphoma.  She will be five years old on January 16.  Unusually young to contract this type of cancer.

It is an aggressive form of cancer and it is NOT curable. Left untreated she would be gone in a matter of a few short weeks.  From what I've read and been told by Vets, this is one of the most common cancers in dogs. Because we love this dog so much and she is so young, we have opted to treat her.  The treatments have the potential to prolong her life one year, maybe two with the very remote chance of more time.  

If you want to follow this blog, I will share what is happening with our dog and if you are ever faced with these decisions, perhaps you will gain insight into what it involves.  This certainly will not be a "happily ever after" ending...we are only prolonging the inevitable - a much too early death.

If you know me, you know that I have always loved my animals "to the moon and back"... Audrey captured my heart long before I got her.  I wanted a Redbone. My grandparents always had this breed of dog - and I said if I ever got to a place where I could have one, I wanted to get one.  That time came after we moved out onto acreage.  Both kids were grown and moved out so Audrey came into my life at a time I really needed something to take care of. I got her when she was six weeks old.  

Right from the start she has been my shadow; every step I take, she takes. She passes up everyone else and comes straight to me... if I'm gone, she waits in her bed by the front window until I come home. 

The Elephant in the Room----Friends - I know you want to ask about Audrey, but it is an awkward thing to do because you know it isn't easy for me...another reason to create this blog.  If you want an update, you can check in here and learn how things are going. It will be an outlet for me too.

I'm sure there will be times where I'm very emotional....sometimes just factional and sometimes just plain silly and sometimes completely random having nothing to do with dogs!! Like, just now, I took Audrey out for a potty break and saw a Sun Dog in the sky!!

Feel free to share the blog - if you want to make comments, feel free to do so....I'm looking for positive energy...ONLY.  

A start on how I found something was wrong....

The day after Thanksgiving I was putting on Audrey's walking collar and noticed the collar was unusually we walked up the street I kept looking at her neck and finally realized it was considerably swollen. I felt of the area and could feel the enlarged lymph nodes; actually felt like a mass.  On the spot I called our local Vet and got an appointment.  As soon as we got back down the street I loaded her up and headed to the Vet.  The Vet took aspirations of the lymph nodes in her neck and buttocks; I think she knew on the spot.  A few days and $300 + later we got the news.  Some part of me is still in denial. Earlier that day I had commented that I did not think she felt good...she was either tired from too much going on Thanksgiving Day or she truly didn't feel well.  She had been to the Vet for her yearly appointment on August this must have just developed.

OK---IMPORTANT TO ME....I LOVE MY DOG....I NEVER NEVER NEVER WANT TO COMPARE WHAT IS GOING ON HERE WITH ANYONE THAT HAS EVER LOST A CHILD----THAT IS THE ULTIMATE HURT---I know that and while I love this dog, I do know the difference and I do not want to insult those that have lost a child.

I am planning to post a few more things in the next days until I get caught up to where we are right now.  I want to include costs involved, etc., so that I profile a complete picture of what is involved in choosing to do this.