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Daphne's journey

Chronicling Daphne's fight against bone cancer

Daphne's journey

Step 3: Chemotherapy

December 29th, 2016 · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

There is a lot of controversy about Chemotherapy.   I  have to say that it doesn’t scare me as it does some people.   I have an almost religious awesome of the resilience of life.  If you can survive it, you can heal it.  I think she had the stereotypical chemo called carboplatin.  It attacks and kills fast growing cells like cancer.   Alas, the body makes other fast growing cells like every cell that lines your digestive tract from your mouth to your pooper, hence why digestive upset like nausea and diarrhea are so bad during chemo.  Another group of fast growing cells: your immune system, especially when an invading microbe horde is attacking your body and if you are wondering how often that happens?  Pretty much always.

Anyway, as we were driving back to the OVC in Guelph, I was curious about Daphne’s reaction when we returned to the place where she had suffered so much trauma.  She was all happy to be out and about until we turned off for Guelph and then she tried to hide.  Unfortunately for Daphne the only thing in the back with her was a Kleenex box.  I won’t keep you in suspense.  I found her.  As I pulled her out of the van, I realised that I had forgotten her leash.   Oh well, I thought, I have to hold up her bumper and when her collar is 4 feet in front of you, how helpful can a leash be.

Very.

Especially when your dog really, really, REALLY doesn’t want to go through the doors of the OVC.  We kept doing circles.  I  would go to the door throw it open, run quickly to her backend, help her balance and try to herd her through the door.  She would then say, “Oh hell NO!” and circle.  Finally, I spy one of those door opener buttons.   (I don’t know who invented them but YOU ROCK !!!)  So on our 4th or 5th circle, I hit the button just in time to head off her 5th or 6th circle and we were in.

So Daphne and I were in the waiting room  and she was freaking out.  Now this is where I answer the question I have been asked since buying my 1st Dane.  Why such a big dog? Most Dane owners will tell you that whatever brought them to discover the breed, what turns Dane owners into fanatics is their personalities.   Daphne was freaking out.  I could tell by the expression on her face but her actions?  She was lying down as quietly and as sweetly as ever.  When the oncology technician came to collect her she even commented on how calm she was.   I said “wait until you take her pulse.  She’s freaking.   I’ll bet you her heart rate is easily 170-180 beats per minute.”  The technician looked doubtful but when she brought her back, she said I was right.   She also told me that normally it takes two technicians to administer the chemo – even with the little guys.  But Daphne was so quiet and well behaved that only one technician was required.

And if I may be a proud mama for a moment, it’s one thing for a dog to be quiet and  well behaved when there are no distractions and they are in a familiar environment.   But Daphne was terrified, away from me, away from home, with a strange person who was doing strange things to her that probably made her feel sick and yet, she was a model citizen!

That is why I own a Dane!

And I am so darn proud of her.   She has endured so much and has done it with grace and patience and a trust so deep, so true and so unshakeable that it leaves me dumbstruck.  I know 999 out of 1000 humans couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t do it.  She hasn’t even whimpered.  She hasn’t growled or barked.  I mean she’s not perfect.   She’s not good at taking pills … or doors but she’s shown me a whole new definition of the word warrior.   A kind and non-violent warrior who’s courage and strength is undeniable.

She may be “just a dog” to the rest of the world but for me, she has been a teacher of everything that really matters.

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Home again!

December 12th, 2016 · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

Daphne is home!!

She came home on Saturday morning. I brought my Mom with me so she could sit in the back of the van with Daphne.  She likes to stand up any time I stop or turn a corner.  I don’t think she trusts my sense of direction.  For the record, no one should trust my sense of direction. I can get lost in a trailer.  Any how, I wanted Mom to keep her at least seated during the trip.  I bought her a tripod harness and when she saw that she was finally going home, she took off like a shot.  Hopped up into the van without a thought.  The vet, Dr. Vendervente, gave us a treat bag of drugs to go home with.  I thought please let her be as easy to medicate as my old Dane, Diesel.  I just threw his into his food – didn’t even attempt to hide them.  I think he just assumed they were marshmallow bits.  Mmmmm… Lucky Charms again!  Oh Boy!  No such luck with Daphne!  I’ve tried to hide them in pill pockets, cheese, hamburger, bread and chicken wieners.  She delicately eats everything but the dang pill!  So I just shove pills down her throat and then apologize with a chicken wiener.  Unfortunately for Daphne and my hand, she takes 26 pills/day.  That’s a heck of a lot of apologizing and wieners.  Thank God! This is only for a short time.  She takes Tramadol, Gabapentin and Meloxicam for pain.  She takes Aminocaproic Acid to help clear up all the bruising.  She takes Cephalexin as an antibiotic and she takes Omeprazole as a stomach stabilizer.  Holy crap eh?  Many of these will be all done in 5 days time.  I end up stopping the Meloxicam.  Dr. Vendevente wasn’t sure that Daphne would be able to tolerate the drug with her tender belly and new gastropexy and told me that if I thought she seemed sore to quit this drug.  I gave her a first dose Saturday and within a few hours went off her food.  Wouldn’t even eat peanut butter cookies for me. That’s a bad sign.  So no more Meloxicam for her and she wouldn’t eat anything on Sunday but is back on her food today.  Now she won’t share the peanut butter cookies.

Thanks to a tip from another owner of a Tripawd Dane, I had bought a lot of yoga mats to put down on my hardwood floors.  They work great!  They don’t slip even when they have a hopping giant going full tilt on them.  Saturday and Sunday, Daph was pretty lethargic but she did all of her business outside and had the biggest poop EVER!  She hadn’t gone in 6 days.  She must have been soooo relieved.

However, Today she feels a heck of a lot better.  For the 1st 2 days, she was all business.  Go outside, do her business and then back to bed.  Now, She wants to hang out and eat snow, check out the neighbours, eat more snow, flirt with Oscar, my backdoor neighbour’s dog, eat more snow.  Meanwhile I’m in my pj’s, freezing to death.   “Daphne Go PEE, PLEASSSE!”  She also likes to walk into a corner to mark her territory and then the two of us suddenly realize, we can’t back out very well.

Also today she got up all by herself TWICE and walked into the kitchen by herself.  Alas, I didn’t have any yoga mats in the kitchen so she slid down to a sit and had to wait for a rescue from my Mom.  We’re not sure where she was trying to go or why.  I was outside shovelling both times.  Maybe she was trying to find me.  (She got lost again!)  Maybe she was having a hankering for more snow.

Her stump looks really good.  No weeping or oozing.

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Complications

December 8th, 2016 · 8 Comments · Uncategorized

What a terrible day this has been!  A few days ago, our washing machine blew its transmission and we had to order a new one.  At the time I thought what a disaster!  My definition of a disaster has changed since that thought.

I have a beloved uncle in Brampton who suffered a stroke early last week and of course, my Mom and I have been trying to find time to go visit him but all this running back and forth to Guelph has made it very difficult.  But we had a plan for today.  Mom and I would drive straight to Brampton and I would visit my uncle in the morning. My Mom would stay in Brampton with my aunt and I would go onto Guelph, visit Daphne and stay in Guelph with my best friend, Jen.  The next morning we were hoping Daphne could come home.  I would pick up Mom in Brampton and she could sit in the back of the van with Daphne and we would all go home.

That was a great plan.  And like all great plans, it didn’t happen.

The phone rings at 7 am.  It’s my aunt. My uncle passed away during the night.  We obviously are super distraught because we never got a chance to say good-bye.  My Mom was crying so hard and I felt terrible, like it was my fault that she never got to see her brother one more time.  It IS my fault.

Now Mom is staying home and just as I’m getting my boots on, my sister-in-law calls.  My nephew was fired from his job and I have this deep feeling of dread come over me.  Sometimes, you just know this is going to be an epically  bad day.  I’m almost afraid to go see Daphne.

I drive to Guelph and the 1st thing they tell me is they are worried about Daphne because she hasn’t peed yet.  Not outside.  Not inside either.  They have drained her bladder with a catheter but they were hoping I could accompany them outside and she would pee for me.  So I met them outside and I was in shock.  She looked much weaker than the day before.  It was hard to explain.  She was dry retching which immediately alarmed me because Daphne is not a puker.  If this had been my 1st dog, Zhul, I would have thought nothing of it.  He was always eating grass and throwing up.  It almost seemed to be a hobby for him but not Daphne.  She doesn’t even puke when she eats grass.  It all ends up in her poop. So seeing her heaving made me very worried and specifically very worried about bloat.  I felt her stomach and did notice a fluid buildup which I pointed out to the vet student who texted Daphne’s vet about it but she was in surgery at that time.

So anyway, I try to get Daphne to pee but she could only hop a few steps before collapsing but God bless her, she was trying so hard to obey.  I finally said, nope this isn’t going to happen.  She’s in too much pain.  So the student got a cart and we carried her back inside.  They let me stay in the run with her because they were hoping my presence would bring down her heart rate. Normal heart rate for a Dane – around 80 beats/minute.  Daphne’s heart rate – around 170-180 beats/ minute.  Daphne was in severe distress and I felt that she was in severe pain and she continued to retch and retch.  And I felt that I needed to be her health advocate.  So I began a very gentle and polite campaign of asking questions and nicely telling them how unusual her behaviour was.  I really think screaming at either doctors or vets is a dumb thing to do – never put the back up of someone who might be saving your life (or your dog’s).  It’s counter-productive.  You want people to pay attention not shut down on you and thank heavens this is exactly what happened.

They ultra sounded her abdomen and found fluid in her stomach.  I had to leave at that point because they had to do a medical procedure to remove the fluid.   During the course of this procedure, they realized that her stomach had twisted and bloated.  They phoned me immediately to get permission to do emergency abdominal surgery.  I believe my reply was something like, “Hang up and go save my dog!!!”

The next 2 hours were pure hell and I prayed and prayed.  Made deals with God by the dozen.  Now a broken washer really didn’t seem like a big deal.

Finally I got the call that Daphne was out of surgery. It went well. They untwisted the stomach and tacked it down. As soon as the stomach untwisted, colour returned to it and there appeared to be no stomach death. For friends who might not understand what bloat is, the stomach actually flips over and it ends up creating a tourniquet around the stomach causing parts or all of the stomach to die. As the stomach continues to twist, it can rip the arteries between the stomach and the spleen causing the dog to bleed to death. And lastly, as the gas from normal digestion builds and cannot escape, it can cause the stomach to split open and the dog dies from shock and blood loss. There is little scarier to a dog owner than bloat.
However, NONE of that happened to Daphne because we caught it very early. Partly because I kept telling them during my visit that something was very wrong with my dog. So remember no one knows your dog better than you do. You see that your dog isn’t “right”, say something. But say it nicely, constructively and with respect.
Anyways, Daphne has pulled through and back on the road to recovery! Thank you Facebookers and family and friends for all the prayers! Some One listened. [Read more →]

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My Hero

December 8th, 2016 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized


I just returned home from visiting Daphne for the 1st time after her amputation.  My Mom came with me because I thought it important for Daphne to know how much her entire family missed her.  Thanks to some advice from here, I had checked out some recent amputation pics so I would know what to expect but I never thought to also prep my Mom.  As soon as she saw Daphne she burst into tears.  It took a split second for me to find my centre because it’s not really possible to prepare yourself to see your dog like this.

image

Or this.image image

I’m actually surprised that it looks so … tidy.  I guess I watch too much of The Walking Dead where all amputations are done by axe.  I was also surprised at how strong she was.  The vets had told me that we were a couple of weeks ahead of the time when they typically see these cancer patients.  Thanks to neither myself nor my vets in Aylmer “waiting and seeing”.  For the most part this is a very, very good thing.  The only small down side  is Daphne was still weight-bearing on her leg at the time of amputation.  So she didn’t get a chance to practice nor did the remaining leg get a chance to beef up a bit to prepare for the work of two.  So seeing her up and standing and walking was very heartening.  Yay Daphne!  My hero!

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Step 2: Amputation

December 6th, 2016 · 8 Comments · Uncategorized

Amputation.  It’s a terrifying word.  Over the last 3 weeks, I have watched other people react to the word as I tell them this is the next step in Daphne’s treatment.  You can literally watch their eyes widen in shock and their jaw drop in horror.  Tears often spring to their eyes.  Because it’s terrifying.  The thing we wouldn’t want to see happen to our worst enemy.

And I signed my best friend and the biggest fan I’ll ever have up for it.

How do I deal with this?  I know you’re thinking what about poor Daphne, how’s she going to deal with it?  But I know the answer to that one.  Just fine.  It is the humbling miracle of a dog’s love that they will forgive you anything and everything – right up to and including amputation.  She will simply trust that this strange action was the right one because I allowed it.

I’m not worried about Daphne at all but I have no idea how I will ever learn to forgive myself for this decision.  And don’t get me wrong, on an intellectual and logical level, I absolutely know I made the right decision.  Both the length of her life and the quality of her life has been extended.  She now has a snowball’s chance in hell of beating osteosarcoma.  I know you’re now thinking “a snowball’s chance in hell” means no chance!  But it doesn’t mean no chance, it means almost no chance and in that tiny distance dwells my only chance of salvation.  Because even though I know logically this was a good decision, my heart screams against any thought of someone harming my girl.  Especially on purpose.  I have always had a Momma-bear personality.  I have a hard getting mad and an even harder time staying mad – unless you hurt someone I love and then watch out.  I totally Hulk out.  But where should I direct my protective rage, worry and fear?  Certainly not at the wonderful team of vets caring for her nor at God.  He’s the only entity that loves Daphne as much as I do.  Is it the Devil?  Is cancer a demon?  Then let me at them!  I will rip Hell apart and teach the Devil to cringe!  Such is my outrage at this moment!   You made me hurt my dog!  My beautiful, trusting, loving spirit animal.  How dare you!

How dare I.

Please know that I absolutely encourage any other pet guardians to make the same decision.

To amputate.

To give your snowball a chance to fight.  A chance to be brave.  A chance to give the Demon called cancer, the finger.  But know that the decision may be more tortuous to you than your dog.  Maybe that’s the way it should be.  Some decisions should be torture to make.

In a few hours, I will get to visit Daphne for the first time since her amputation.  I’ll have to try to bury all the guilt and show her only a proud and confident Momma.

I know I asked for prayers for Daphne but just this once, could you say one for me too?

Because I feel a great need for forgiveness.

Last picture of Daphne as a quadruped.

image [Read more →]

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