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Katy Did It

A vet tech, her dog, & an emo-cational experience.

Katy Did It

one week post-amp

November 11th, 2011 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

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Too early to celebrate an ampuversary?  🙂  One week sounds pretty good to me, but then I read about Rio celebrating 9 months and Queen Nova a whopping 3 YEARS…wow.  I’d say we’re in very good company!  🙂

Katy is doing just wonderfully.  A week ago Tuesday she went from 4 legs to 3, and I swear she doesn’t miss it much at all.  She still sleeps quite a bit, gets tired when she walks too far, but she doesn’t seem to be in any pain.  She’s on Cephalexin 500mg 3x a day, Tramadol 50 mg 2x a day (was 3x but we’re weaning her down now that it’s been a week), and Rimadyl 75mg 2x a day.  She’s going to the Doc to get her sutures out Monday, of course he’ll check her over.  Bruising has gone down tremendously over the past week, she’s just a little splotchy in her belly where gravity takes over.  Still eating and drinking and eliminating just fine.  I just wish her hair would grow back faster, she still looks so funny: half her left side, a ring around her right leg, and a little square on her left hip have peach fuzz.

I haven’t wanted to leave her alone since her surgery, and I’m very fortunate in that I haven’t really had to.  I’ve taken her to school with me every day (except Tuesday, we had animals at school for lab and we can’t bring in our own critters on those days), we have nice roomy kennels and I give her a blankie and she just chills out.  In fact, Wednesday she was so quiet, even while class was going on, that my professor didn’t even know she was there!  I love taking her to school, she’s so great with people, never met a stranger, and they’re just amazed when I tell them she only had surgery a week ago.  She’s already a fantastic Tripawd ambassador.  🙂

Really need to get more pictures of her, we’re having fun with her wardrobe.  That is to say, my husband and I have an excuse for pulling out every old T shirt we own.  Katy’s not a bad model really, pretty patient; she’s got a style all her own.  🙂

 


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post-amp checkup

November 5th, 2011 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

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Katy and I saw the Doc this morning for her post-surgical checkup.  We walked in the door and every staff member that saw us was just gushing over her, how great she looked and how well everything went, what a sweetheart she is and how they loved having her there.  *blush*  That’s my Katygirl!  If only she got along with dogs the way she gets along with people…

So Doc checked her out and said everything looks fantastic, the swelling and bruising have already gone down noticeably.  She’s getting around great (though she did trip on her T shirt and fall off the couch earlier-didn’t even faze her, she just rolled right to her feet), not in obvious pain, not even trying to mess with her incision.  Eating, drinking, peeing, and even pooping just fine (getting the fentanyl patch off made a serious difference in her bowel movements; opioids cause lessened intestinal motility, basically the stronger pain meds they’re on the less inclined they are to poop).  Doc says she has a great spirit and that will really make a difference in her recovery.  I like that.  🙂  We got a refill on her Rimadyl and then were on our way; Doc doesn’t expect to see her again until the sutures come out, 10-14 days.  I think I’ll let him have the pleasure rather than doing it myself, taking all those out would wreak havoc on my carpal tunnel.  🙂

The tech who first came into the exam room said something really cool.  After cooing over Katy and how sweet she is, she said, “Y’know, so many people are put in the position of making the decision whether or not to amputate a limb, and they’re really scared of the whole idea, they think it’s going to be awful.  I wish I could show them Katy and how amazingly resilient dogs and cats are after having a leg removed.”  I liked that, I like the idea of outreach and education, of show-and-telling people how awesome Tripawds are.  I was reading on the Tripawds.com news page about Mission 4 Hope and I think that’s just awesome; once Katy fully recovers I’m really going to look into something like that myself, getting a booth at events and whatnot.  Very cool.

It’s late and I’m very tired and sick, but I have to ask one thing before I sign off.  I have not yet mastered the art of T shirt tying and it frustrates me as well as Katy.  I pretty much bunch all the excess up around her back and wrap a hairband around it, and I have a hair barrette holding up the extra length of the sleeve in use so she doesn’t get caught up and trip.  It works, essentially, but it’s not at all aesthetically pleasing, and Katy can’t sleep on her back with the knob of shirt there.  Anybody got a tried and true method of getting a shirt on a Tripawd and making it look good?  🙂

 

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Katy’s home!

November 2nd, 2011 · 7 Comments · Uncategorized

Picked her up this afternoon on my lunch break and she was SO happy to see me!  She came hopping down the hall, so precious.  The bruising is pretty extreme, looks like someone spilled grape juice all over her chest, wow.  But I’m told it will go away, we have to ice it down 3 times a day.  Kinda reminds me of having my wisdom teeth pulled; my jaw was pretty purple but with ice and time it faded out.  She’s also on a couple painkillers (Tramadol and Rimadyl) and an antibiotic (Cephalexin), and her fentanyl patch comes off tomorrow evening, I hope that’s enough to ease her through the transition without too much discomfort.  We celebrated her homecoming with chicken mcnuggets and a vanilla shake, which she was kind enough to share with Mama and her sisters.  🙂

I’m just really amazed how well she’s getting around.  In one sense I guess she doesn’t have much choice; if she wants to walk she’s gotta do it with the 3 legs she has.  But on the other hand, she could just be refusing to walk at all just from the “weirdness” of it, the imbalance.  So I’m very proud and happy to see her up and moving, it’s a great sign that her recovery should be smooth and speedy.  🙂  I almost want to cry when I watch her.  Not because I feel sorry for her, no way!  Because I’m just so damn proud.  Is that weird?  I mean, is it odd to be proud of your dog?  She’s not my child or anything (well…), am I allowed to be proud of her?  I hope so, because how else do you feel when your babydog makes it through major surgery with no complications, has a leg removed, and starts walking 10 minutes later?  When she hops up in your car like nothing’s changed?  When she toddles into the kitchen because she heard you open the package of lunchmeat and she knows it’s for her (loves her pills in ham)?  When she’s laying on the floor in your husband’s old t shirt, you’re holding an ice pack on her chest, and she’s kissing you?  If it’s not pride I’m feeling, what is it?  …No, you know what?  I figured it out.  It’s not pride, nope, it’s nothing as simple as pride.  It’s that awesome combination of love and pride and respect and admiration known as Tripride!  And it only comes from being so blessed and honored as to have a Tripawd in your life.

I really thought it was gonna be kinda weird, y’know?  That having a three-legged dog was gonna be strange, a little scary, mostly difficult.  But seeing her at school this afternoon (I had to pick her up and run back to class) and how everyone admired her, even how all the staff at the vet’s office loved her and thought she was such a special trooper…I think kinda weird is gonna be kinda great.  🙂

 

 

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it’s official…

November 1st, 2011 · No Comments · Uncategorized

…Katy is now a Tripawd.  🙂

Surgery was this afternoon, Doc made the first incision about 1:30 pm.  It went pretty quick, only about 2 hours or so.  Katy did just great, smooth sailing all the way through, no crashes or anything like that.  It was just a bit jarring at first to see that shoulder blade come out-I mean, we study skeletons and all the bones in anatomy class, but c’mon, those are nice and white and clean!  A scapula in vivo is a whole nother kettle of fish.  And the whole procedure was VERY bloody, so I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with weak tummies.  Me, I took pictures.  🙂  I won’t post them though, out of respect for those weak-tummied folk; I need to figure out how to set up a photo album around here somewhere.

Afterward I got to sit with Katy in her kennel in recovery; within minutes she was standing up and walking around.  Not very steady, mind you, with all the drugs she had on board, but dang I was impressed.  She gave me kisses, always a good sign.  🙂  She’s got a train track of sutures running down what used to be her shoulder, don’t know if it will scar or not.  The surgeon did a pretty decent job cosmetically, left a good margin so it would stitch together well and not tear, so I think it’ll look fine.  As long as she does well overnight, I get to pick her up tomorrow morning.  I’m sure my professors are getting so damn irritated with me for missing class/being late, but it’s just this week has been so crazy and my schedule is more flexible than my husband’s, not to mention I’m the crazy vet tech student who craves any animal-related education she can get (which my professors really should respect).  I think my schedule’s clear from here till Christmas now, so they can stop bitching.  I do feel bad, but that’s just the way things have been for the past few days.  Can’t help it.

I do have a souvenir for my professor though.  Doc cut into Katy’s leg after he took it off and gave me a lil piece of the lipoma, stuck it in a formalin jar.  Yummy.  He’s sending out her entire lower leg, from elbow down, for histopathology; there’s got to be neoplastic tissue in there somewhere and I refuse to believe they’ll miss it with a sample that big.  What’s funny is, they didn’t have a biopsy container big enough for the leg, so last I saw they had put it in one of those Ziploc tupperware containers.  🙂  Hey, whatever works.  Results should be back a week from tomorrow, give or take.  Doc even said when he cut into it that the fat and soft tissue did not look normal at all, so we’ll see what the lab finds.

My poor brave Katydid, I’m so proud of her.

 

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patch day

October 31st, 2011 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

(Sorry, bit of an inside joke for anyone who plays online games.)

Katy had her fentanyl patch placed today, it’s on her left hip-ish.  It was quite eventful; our original appointment was at 9 am, but apparently there was some error with the pharmacy and the patch had not been ordered, so it wasn’t there when we showed up.  We waited around for about half an hour until finally Doc said “I hate to make you wait here any longer (and basically it’s a pretty busy morning and we need the exam room), come back in an hour and we should have it by then.”  Sheesh.  Thankfully I only live 15 minutes away, but it still felt like a waste of time.  Pouring rain all morning, I hate driving in it and Katy hates being in it period, but we managed.  So 10:30 am, we’re back in the vet’s waiting room, and guess what! patch still ain’t there.  We sat and waited for, no kidding, an hour before the person showed up with it.  Went in the room, tech came in 5 minutes later, found the spot, clipped it, stuck the patch on, taped it down, voila.  At this point I was damn near late for class so I didn’t even have time to take Katy home, just sped straight to school.  Which is fine by her, she likes school; she’s kind of our program mascot, we’ve been talking about her case in class a good bit.  When we got into the classroom today everyone was like, “Oh, this is THE Katy!  The one we’ve been talking about!”  Pretty funny.  And she does very well in the car, just lays down on the seat with her head on my leg.  🙂

So tomorrow’s the big day.  I have to drop her off between 7:30 and 8 am, then I get to come back probably around 11 to observe the surgery.  Hope they let me take pictures.  I’d also like to get a little sample of the lipoma and take it to school so we can poke at it, test it, stain it, whatever.  We’ll see what happens.  So many people are wishing her well, praying and thinking good thoughts, it really means a lot to me.  Dog owners are so great, so supportive, it’s awesome.  Especially when something this huge happens, it’s just really comforting to know that all these people care.  🙂

 

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T-minus 6 days & counting…

October 27th, 2011 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

…until Katy is minus one leg.

 

Meet Katy.

Katy Sue, to be precise, though she answers to just about anything, including Dopey, Hey You, Goober, and more recently Gimpy, as well as the sound of lunchmeat being removed from its packaging.  Well she is a Lab, after all.  🙂

My husband and I adopted Katy from a local SPCA.  I’m almost ashamed to admit she was a “rebound” dog; unfortunately we had just surrendered a young dog, my baby boy, to the pound because he was a lil meanie and didn’t like anyone but his mama and got out of our yard and bit a neighbor.  So I was pretty shaken up emotionally; thankfully my husband took pity on me.  He’s not quite the animal person I am, but he understands.  At the time we had 2 other dogs and 3 cats at home, and yet my husband let me go to the SPCA and find this precious chocolate swirl of a Lab.  “Coco,” her cage tag said.  About 6 months old, pregnant, and irresistably eager to please.  I brought her home, spayed, the next day.  The cats were unimpressed; the other dogs were curious, and it didn’t take long for them to arrange their pack.  Hasn’t changed to this day, they know they belong together and they do NOT like being apart.

I’m a vet tech student, due to graduate in the spring, so I take the health of my kiddos very seriously.  Imagine my surprise when almost 2 months ago, my husband said, “Have you seen the lump on Katy’s leg?”  No, actually I hadn’t; a small raised area just north of her left carpus.  My first guess was a bite or sting; we’d been dealing with fire ants in the backyard, and down here in the South skeeters might as well be the state bird.  Still, to be safe, I took her to school with me the next day.  I have 2 professors, one’s a vet and one’s a CVT, and they never want us to miss the opportunity to learn something.  I figured perhaps if this bump was a cyst I could aspirate it, check it out under the scope.  Well, my professor the vet took one look at Katy’s leg and said, “We should get some x-rays.”  Mmkay, not my first guess, but sure.  Let me tell you, getting a 68-lb dog to lay on an x-ray table in a certain way is not easy; Kate was stressing out so bad I thought her eyes would pop out.  But we got some decent pictures.  Decent enough for my professor to look at them and shake his head.  “I think it might be osteosarcoma.”  Periosteal reaction of the distal ulna, to be medically precise; the outside of her bone was reacting to something, and not in a good way.  Given the location of the lump and the x-rays, my prof was not optimistic.  He wrote up the case, burned the x-rays to disc, and sent me to my vet, insisting I get a biopsy to know for sure.  This was the first week of September.

I got in to see my vet the next day, luckily enough.  He knows I’m a vet tech student, so he doesn’t usually treat me as just another owner.  I like that.  My prof had actually recommended this guy to me, they went to vet school together and were friends.  So I was a bit shocked when he looked at the x-rays and writeup and said, “Nah, I really don’t think it’s osteosarc.  I think it’s just a lipoma.  Let’s start with an aspirate and go from there.”  Oookay.  The results came back a week later: normal looking fat cells, new bone cells, nothing suspicious.  Hmm.  My prof wasn’t convinced and neither was I.  Katy’s swelling was getting a lil bigger in the meantime.  I called and got another appointment with my clinic; I don’t know if my first vet was upset with me or what, but I ended up seeing the other doctor in the practice, older gentleman.  He looked at Katy, the writeup, the x-rays, the aspirate results, and said, “Oh yeah, we definitely should get a biopsy of this.  It very well could be osteosarc.”  I like this man!  He did the biopsy the next day, took two samples of her ulna and one of the soft tissue.  Results were back a week later: no neoplastic tissue seen.  Hallelujah!  So then what is it?  Doc said he really wasn’t sure, probably a lipoma that was just aggravating her bone.  I really didn’t like that explanation.  It was going on a month now, Katy’s leg was swelling more, and worse yet she’d started to limp on it badly.  Doc put her on Rimadyl right after the biopsy, I got a refill of that, and he added Tramadol to the mix.  After another week, he upgraded the Tramadol to hydrocodone.  I took Katy back to school a month after she’d originally presented and we took another set of x-rays, and much to our chagrin the periosteal reaction on the bone had changed.  It seemed to have increased, spread a bit farther out.  Not a good sign.  Back to Doc I went.  God bless him, he admitted that it was getting out of his field of expertise, and he sent the x-rays to a radiologist.  One week later, her report comes back; according to her, it doesn’t look like osteosarcoma because there’s no actual lysis (destruction) of the bone.  Obviously there’s a lot of reactive soft tissue though, so her best guess was a soft tissue sarcoma, most likely liposarcoma.  Doc concurred and sent me to a surgeon for a consult; his idea was exploratory surgery to remove the lipoma and as much suspicious tissue as possible, only he didn’t feel comfortable doing it.  So I drove an hour through awful inner-city traffic with poor Katy for a 20-minute consult with a very nice lady surgeon, and she and I pretty much came to the same conclusion:  amputation would be a much better option.  She gave me her estimate for doing the surgery, I picked my jaw up off the floor, and we went home.  I called Doc, told him what the lady surgeon said, and scheduled the amputation with him for half the price.  (Hey, full time college kid here.)  God bless him and his staff, they’re so tolerant of me.

So here we are to present day.  It’ll be 2 months minus a week on the day of Katy’s surgery that the lump first showed up; currently her lower leg from the elbow down is swollen, with the most significant areas being the original bump and the other biopsy incision site along the side of her leg.  She’s still on hydrocodone and Rimadyl 2x day, and I don’t know if it’s the drugs or the pain but she’s definitely not her happy-go-stoopy self these days.  She’ll be 9 in February, best we can figure, but she hasn’t slowed down all these years we’ve had her.  Only in this past month.  I really hope the amputation helps her.  What’s wild is, my vet gave me permission to observe the surgery.  Rather exciting, and in a way I think it will really help me, give me some sort of control over the situation, to see it from the medical point of view.  Then it won’t be so hard for me to see her afterward when it’s time to go home.  My husband, on the other hand…now that should be interesting.  🙂

 

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