Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Week Five

Tank's Lab-prance is back. If you have a Labrador retriever, you know what I'm talking about. If you don't, off lead and roaming Labs don't walk. Ever. Just going from Point A to B even if the lay of the land (like our yard) is well known, there's too much to pay attention to and so much to do. Why waste of time walking! Labs trot. They . . . prance. It's effortless motion that embodies their enjoyment of all things around them. That's just the way they are, and Tank's is back.

He's back on his normal feed, too, although I still haven't finished weaning him completely off the chicken and rice mixed into it. Close, but not quite there yet, and I don't think it's going to happen any time soon. I could try to force the issue but I'm not going to.

When I tried plain feed one morning Tank ate a bite or two, then walked away. He scoffed it down a few minutes later after I mixed into it one tablespoon of chicken and rice and dribbled some canned chicken broth over it. Is it that he needed the encouragement to eat, or that what I'd given him was (gasp) DOG FOOD and he's become accustomed to finer fare. I don't know the answer and I'm not going to worry about it.

Unlike so many other dogs Tank's never known hunger. For the first time — now that we're not feeding him all the wrong things trying to get him to eat and he's no longer queasy — I've seen how the Prednisone Dr. LaDue prescribed makes him feel like we're starving him to death. The temptation is strong to give in to what he's saying with his frying-pan eyes. But, no.

"Pred" — a steroid — was prescribed to reduce inflamation, and each week after the dosage has been decreased to wean him off it to (as I understand it) let his system begin generating its own cortisone again. Something it stopped doing on its own because of the Prednisone. Tank may have to go back on it again but that's later. This is now and I've figured out that it's best to think of it. Just the now.

I've been ignoring the Wonderdog. Not in real life but here. Whether I said in here at ACC or elsewhere, I wrote a long time ago that we couldn't have chosen a better companion for Tank. These last few weeks are only an extension of what I wrote, somewhere, years ago. When things were bad for Tank, Starbuck stayed close to him. On his road back, Tank began following him. And now that Tank's feeling doing better, without missing a beat and without challenge Starbuck has resumed his Beta to Tank's Alpha.

Although sorely tempted I know, not once has "Hoover" tried to raid Tank's feed bowl no matter how many times a day we've been feeding him. He sits there, watching and waiting, knowing that when Tank's done he'll get ear scritches and treats.

That doesn't mean it's all fine and dandy, but it's more not knowing why Tank is doing some things because . . . well, he's never done it before. A week ago he started lying on his back from time to time with his legs splayed open. That's not an unusual position for some dogs. Lucky, Tank's father, used to do that . . . under an air conditioning vent. But Tank never did before. And, he's been acting anxious in the morning. Trying to hide behind a chair or a table.

I mentioned it to Dr. LaDue today and she doesn't have any answers. The latter might be the Pred, she suggested, and since he's off of it . . . but, it's going to take a little while for it to completely clear his system. As for the on-his-back sprawl, perhaps I was just noticing what he did more.

That kinda ticked me off. I KNOW this dog. I may not have her expertise or knowledge but I do know this dog, and part of what I'm supposed to do is report things that are out of the ordinary. And this is.

It wasn't until we got home that what might be the reason clicked.

Tank has a basic physical every time he goes in for a treatment to make sure that he can tolerate it. Someone noticed a little drip of off-color urine on the floor where he'd been standing. It was a little pinkish? Blood? A bladder infection?

One of the "be-on-the-lookouts-for" has been blood in Tank's urine, but I haven't seen any sign. More probably I wouldn't have noticed any because there's such a small amount of blood in it.

I've had a bladder infection or two over these many years. At best and at first, it's nagging, constant irritation.

Irritation: Tank lying on his back, back legs splayed open?

Anxiety: Only in the morning ‘cause it bothered him more after he's held "it" during the night?


Anyway, a urine sample was taken and sent off to find out if Tank DOES have a bladder infection and if so, the best way to treat it. The results of the culture should be back by Friday.

The last of the staples closing the incision where the lymph node was removed was taken out. There was only one left because Tank had taken the rest out himself. The site is still swollen but Dr. LaDue said it's doing well, aspirated out several cc's of fluid and said I don't need to hot pack it anymore.

A new chemical today. (I really need start to start providing their names, don't I.) But since it can cause heart damage, in addition to the standard "basics," Tank had to have an EKG to make sure his heart was in good enough shape to withstand it. And, of course, it was.

I say "of course" because Tank's always been in top health. Always. Until this.

Tank's still in remission but has slipped from "full remission" to partial. Different chemicals each week and some may be more effective than others. Then there's different dosages of each trying to find the right levels and mix.

This is Tank's fourth week of treatment, but it's our Week Five in this journey. I don't know when or how it will end. I don't know the answers nor will I pretend I do. Heck, I'm still trying to figure out the questions.

Like so many others who've suddenly found themselves facing something like this, I hit the Internet trying to try to find out a much as I could. Anything.

And find information I did. Some of it, written in Vet Speak, was totally incomprehensible to someone like me. Other sites were filled with opinion but lacked much of anything else. One, however, I book marked and although I still haven't read everything there yet or followed all of the links in it . . .

I refer to it in my sidebar as Berry's Story.

If you've been smashed in the face like we have and in your search for information on canine lymphoma you've found me, please go there.

I recommend it highly. It's helped me a lot.

Previously:

Week Four

Week Three

Week Two -- Part Three.

Week Two -- Part Two (We begin).

Week Two -- Part One.

Week One.

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