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Hi there, mom again. My intention for this blog was to have Fionn and I document his journey from diagnosis through the first 2 weeks post op in detail. Not that our experiences would necessarily be the same as any other’s, but to perhaps alleviate any concerns, answer questions or simply give hope that there IS a light at the end of this awful tunnel.

I am going to list some highlights and our main recommendations for those of you just starting or already going through this process. But first, I will update everyone on how Fionn is doing today, 3 days post chemo #1.

When I got home from work yesterday, I found a frantically wagging tail attached to a dog who looked to be stuck on the couch! My bad, I forgot to put boxes on the couch to keep him from getting up there. He lays on his incision side and slides into the back of the couch and just can’t get purchase in the front end to get up easily. If he would only lay facing the other direction he would be better off, but no, he has to do it the way he always used to do it dammit! He got excited enough when he saw me to manage getting up and off and my neighbors were outside enjoying the afternoon, so I let him out front to see them. He ran straight for the truck on the other side of the house instead. Going for a ride??? Eventually I convinced him to go the other way to the grassy area and everyone was amazed how well he gets along. There was lots of peeing and pooping (he definitely hadn’t pooped all day- no sign of it in the yard). He seemed to struggle a bit with pooping and I noticed it got runnier every time (he pooped 4 times). Not frank diarrhea, but not solid like it has been. On our way back to the house my neighbors mentioned they heard him earlier yelping inside the house. He is only getting 50mg tramadol and 200mg gabapentin twice a day now, but he seemed pain free to me when I got home. I told them it might have been caused by being stuck on the couch and really needing to go potty.

Since his poop was runny, I gave him the meds for that, metronidazole (Flagyl). He ate well and I gave him his evening pain meds. He slept for a bit, then became restless as I went to bed. Very needy and wanting attention. He was licking and swallowing a lot which are signs of nausea, so I gave him those meds -ondansetron (Zofran). He really didn’t settle until I suggested he go outside around 2 am. He slept outside on the concrete until 7:30am when he barreled through the dog door and into my room to ask for breakfast. Certainly NOT nauseous this morning! Finished his food and asked for more! My Fionn with the smiling face (goldens have the best smiles) and wagging tail is back!  During week 1, I thought I had made a huge mistake in doing the surgery. Fionn was not present, he was struggling and I felt terrible. Others have said the 2 week mark is where “normal” returns and they were RIGHT. Trust it, believe it and do not doubt your decision. It is a useless exercise anyway. What’s done is done and we will more forward from here.

My recommendations for someone setting off on a similar journey:

  1. Read everything on Tripawds- download the books, read the forums and blogs. Look at the gross incision pictures if you are squeamish.
  2. Educate yourself on your pet’s particular cancer and average outcomes
  3. Seek specialty vet care/second opinions- use a vet school if there is one near enough. Clinical trials may be an option
  4. Write down all your questions. This is overwhelming and you WILL forget
  5. If you don’t have pet insurance, get a Care Credit card. Most vets use it and have brochures. 0% interest for 18 months
  6. There is no wrong decision- whether you go forward with amputation or not, add chemo or not- no one has a magic 8 ball that works for this.
  7. If you do decide on amputation- get prepared in advance if you can.
  8. Buy a harness and buy or craft a sling if you have a big dog, get help if you have a big dog and are not                   physically able to manage doing some lifting
  9. cover all hard floors with rubber backed rugs or mats. I prefer yoga mats. Non slip and all the same                       height so tripping is reduced.
  10. Buy some canned pumpkin, peanut butter, wet food if you don’t already use it or any food that will                         encourage your dog to eat if they lose their appetite (roast chicken was Fionn’s favorite) and to get them               to take their meds. If your dog is finicky, get pill pockets. If your dog is big, buy raised bowls. I brought                water and meds to Fionn wherever he was all during the day until he was more mobile. I made him get up and eat his meals from his dish.
  11. Be prepared to stay home or have someone home with your pet at least for a few days. A week at least in my experience. Sleep will be a luxury.
  12. Listen to your pet. If they are hungry they will let you know. If they need to go out, they will let you know.
  13. Use baby gates to block off  stairs if you can and try to contain dogs in small areas near you at first.
  14. Have t shirts on hand for front amps that can be used to cover the incision both to keep it clean and to keep your pet from messing with it. I hear boxer shorts work well for hind amps.  Make sure it doesn’t drag or inhibit peeing or pooping. Use a hair tie to snug it up. Back amps will likely need an e collar (cone of shame), but Fionn was unable to reach his incision with his mouth. He did scratch it with a back leg occasionally as it healed , but the t shirt helped.  Small pets can be covered with a sock.
  15. Have cold and hot packs on hand. A bag of frozen peas works well and I bought a clay hot pack that can be heated in the microwave and molds well. I used the cold only in the beginning and added the hot after about 5 days

Our journey is not over by any means and I will still post blog updates- just not every day. Now that Fionn is cleared for normal activities we have a horse to go see, horse poop to eat and roll in (Fionn not me, lol) and LIFE to live. If you have any questions, I will keep an eye on the comment section. Best wishes to everyone. Tripawds RULE!

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