August – Just a blur

August was just kind of a blur. And I’m not sure if it’s because so much went on or it was just one of those non-event months. Raven went onto oral chemotherapy tablets that I could administer. Not many lymphoma dogs had been on this treatment because A. No more than ten dogs had reached this point of treatment (ie three chemo treatment rounds, bone marrow transplant, Lomustine) and B. It only had an extensive record of impact on soft tissue cancers. But there has been some evidence to suggest that it should work similarly on lymphoma as it should work on soft tissue cancer. So we were given 10mg capsules of Cyclophosphamide (complete with rubber gloves to give) plus an anti-inflammatory known as Piroxicam.

I remember emailing a friend around the beginning of August – just giving an update on how Raven was going. Her nodes were, by this stage extremely large – nearly baseball sized and they were clearly affecting her breathing and swallowing. Nothing distressing for her – just you could hear her when she was sleeping and sometimes when lying down awake she would be making this snuffling sound, like she had some sort of respiratory virus that made her breaths sound loud.

She was sticking to a very plain diet too as I really did not want any more stomach upsets. She’d like to come for a walk with us – but she didn’t really want to go too far, she seemed a little surprised at times about how quickly she got tired. But she didn’t want to miss her walks. Despite feeding her as many tidbits and treats from our plates she also didn’t put any weight on and I noticed that she was starting to feel pretty bony across the top of her spine. Yet the scales didn’t show much difference and this is because of the nodes I think.

Around mid August we had another Vet West visit. Raven had been doing okay apart from the weekend of the 15th and 16th. Friday evening she had a series of vomit incidences – nothing more than a small puddle of yellow bile each time but about five upchuck sessions in close succession. I held off on giving her both the cyclophosphamide and the piroxicam that evening. Saturday she seemed fine and well so gave her her usual dinner plus the chemo and anti inflamm. Sunday after lunchtime – around 4 ish she seemed quite unwell – I took her temp and she was 40.5 – took her down to Vet West and saw Cirsten who gave her clavulox injection subcutaneously plus put a catheter in to give her IV dose of cephalexin. She went on clavulox tablets and responded well – they took her bloods and her WBCs were at 18 with neutrophils at 16 – Cirsten said her RBCs were just under normal but her gum colour came good soon after arriving at the vet.

She seemed fine after that trip – her temp went down pretty quickly and he (Cirsten) was thinking it’s not chemo med or lymphoma related – just a gut infection of some sort perhaps. He did palpate her abdomen and noticed that she was a bit sore in there but he said the cyclophosphamide could cause that to happen. Of course at this stage you would be checking her abdomen for signs of enlarged liver or any suspicious lumps that could be lymphoma related.

In the last week of August, after I was convinced that she wasn’t having any stomach troubles again and she’d finished her course of Clavulox tablets I started her back on the cyclophosphamide and the piroxicam.

I booked in to see Amy for Raven on the Monday – just for a physical check up and also to discuss changing over her meds. That same day – in a bid to get the most out of my visit to the Osborne Park clinic on the other side of Perth I booked Spryte in for an ultrasound as she was just over four weeks by then and we didn’t have a clue, apart from a slight suspicion that she was looking a little thicker round the middle, about whether or not she was pregnant.

So we saw Amy first and really there wasn’t a lot to say. She felt Raven and did say that she thought her liver felt larger than usual. We changed from the Piroxicam to the Prednisolone and I took another bottle of cyclophosphamide tablets. Raven looked okay then – had blood taken again to check for indicators of abdominal lymphoma (the bloodwork showed signs of lymphoma involvement) and she seemed as well as could be expected. As Amy said – they really had no more rabbits to pull out of the hat when it came to slowing this disease down. I remember just feeling really blank at that stage, like I was some detached observer, dully going through the motions. She wasn’t going to beat this disease and we had done literally everything we could do.

I left Raven with the Oncology staff as I walked Spryte through for her ultrasound. If ever there was a day I was feeling a little bipolar in the way my emotions were rolling through me this was it. Because there on the table, in this darkened ultrasound imaging room, with nurses gathered round I watched the monitor as Nola found 7 little heartbeats thrumming away inside of Spryte’s little tummy. Yet there out the back was the canine love of my life sitting waiting for me with this disease inside her that we could no longer beat back. The world is just a strange place sometimes.

We got some hard copy images of the little Sprytelets and I was happy to email Robyn that good news. In the meantime I tried to get Raven back on her meds properly so we could start the prednisolone.

I guess the only other newsworthy mention of this month is that I’ve joined up for softball again and started training. This will be my second season and I’m looking forward to it. Managed to pick up the batting award for last season (how I really don’t know but I am assured that it is done on stats only from the games you’ve played) so that was cool. I guess my main weakness in this sport is accurate throwing. I have a tendency to overthrow a lot. Then when I try to not over throw the balls go short….it’s all still a bit of a mystery to me but I do like batting. A lot. Got myself a bat and everything. Nothing quite as satisfying at the end of a teaching day, as to go out and whack some balls as hard as I can. Make of that what you will. *g*