2 years on 3 legs

It’s getting late here and I’m tired, been a very long day, but I couldn’t let it end without marking a very important milestone.  2 years ago today, Katy Sue became a tripawd.  Amazing.  She’s come so far in what feels like such a short time, and even though diabetes and blindness have been added to her list of challenges, her spirit is just as bright now as it was when we adopted her from the SPCA so very many years ago.

Happy 2-year ampuversary baby girl.  Mama loves you crazy lots.


progress report, & a wee brag

G’mornin!  This is the 12th anniversary of 9/11, a very tragic day in our country’s history.  Please remember to take a moment or two to recall all those who lost their lives, and pray for them and the loved ones they left behind.  And of course pray for our great nation to be healed.

Now for a bit of brighter news: Katy is doing amazing!  When am I going to learn never to doubt this dog of mine?  🙂  She’s getting around great, finding the food and water bowls with minimal issue, even getting better at going up and down the front steps.  She seems to be doing well with the insulin dose she’s on, once the glucometer gets here I’m going to do a blood glucose curve on her and make sure, because I HATE not knowing what’s going on inside her.  On the outside she’s just peachy, but we’re talking about a dog who showed no signs of being diabetic even when her blood glucose was in the 500s.  So I definitely need to know what her bloodwork shows.  Just trying to be a good mama and avoid any further complications.  🙂  Oh, and the wee brag?  My husband gave Katy her insulin injection this morning!  Yay!  I know it may not seem like much, but it’s actually a pretty huge thing.  I joined a local archery club that practices 2 evenings a week right when Katy’s supposed to get her insulin, and I was afraid I’d have to quit because hubby did not seem to be willing to help me out.  But last night he asked me to show him how to give the injection, and this morning I watched him do it (like a pro!).  So that means tonight I can go to practice!  Woohoo!  Turned a corner, that’s for sure.

I took some video of Katy this morning so you can see how she’s doing.  Squee and cheer to your heart’s content.  🙂

whole new ballgame

Something tells me I’m not going to get a good night’s sleep for a while.  😛  Katy however is passed out on the floor, snoring, blissfully unaware that her life (and consequently Mama’s life) has changed dramatically.  She just knows she’s loved and cared for, and that’s enough for her.

For me, well, it’s a whole nother story.  The journey for us from 4 legged to tripawd was really something.  It was a trying time, emotional and yet educational, and through it all it was Katy that kept me strong, not the other way around.  She kept saying, We can do this Mama, we got this.  I won’t give up if you won’t.  I don’t think anyone who doesn’t have the honor of a tripawd in their life would understand.  There’s really something special about these dogs (and cats!).  And I may be biased, but I’m not the only one who thinks so; anyone who meets Katy, even for a minute, walks away with a smile and a lighter heart.  I love taking her places because I love to see people’s faces light up when they see her hopping around with her yellow “tripawds rule” bandanna on.  And she smiles, loving life on 3 legs.  And I smile, loving her.

And now there’s this diabetes thing.  Katy’s not only 3 legged, she’s blind.  She’s going to be on insulin for the rest of her life.  My days from here on out will revolve around her eating and getting her injections at precise times.  Once I get a glucometer I’ll be doing at least monthly blood glucose curves to make sure her insulin dose is adequate.  When we leave the house I’m her seeing-eye human, guiding her and keeping her safe.  The rest of our pack don’t understand yet that she can’t see so there’s the occasional bump-and-growl/snap, and I have to play referee and run a bit of interference.  My husband is not being nearly as supportive as I’d hoped; since I’m the vet tech he leaves it all up to me and doesn’t even try to help.  This is just the way things are and will probably continue to be.  And people who are not lucky enough to have the love of a tripawd think I’m crazy.  “Why would you turn your life upside down for a dog?  It’s just a dog!”

No, SHE is not JUST a dog.  She is Katy, and this smile makes it all worth it.IMG_0359[1]

my poor special girl

A bit of upsetting news:  Katy has been diagnosed with diabetes, and is blind due to rapid cataract formation (we’re talking overnight).  She’s actually in the hospital as I write this, she’s been there over 24 hours now and I am as anxious as a mama can get.  They’re doing a blood glucose curve, where they draw her blood every couple hours and see what her blood sugar level is.  I of course have been in contact with the vets several times (it’s a big hospital, at least 3 vets have seen her so far) and they just can’t seem to get her regulated, they’re now doubling her insulin dose to see if that works.  Best estimate, she’ll be home this evening.  Worst case, tomorrow morning.

I’m really just in shock.  I feel like a terrible vet tech and an awful mama.  How on earth did I not see this?  Her blood glucose right now is crazy high, like 400s-500s; how is it I didn’t notice any symptoms?  I took her in about a month ago because she had blood in her urine; they did a urinalysis and found glucose and ketones, neither of which is good and both of which can indicate diabetes.  So they did bloodwork and her blood glucose was very high, in the 400s as I recall.  But the vet we saw was not convinced it was diabetes.  He knew I was a tech, so he sent us home with antibiotics for the UTI and subq fluids to give for a few days to see if that would bring her glucose down.  He said he would call to check on her in a couple days, never did.  I should have called him, I know, should have brought her back in for repeat bloodwork.  If I had things would probably be under control now and she wouldn’t be blind.  (The vet did see some cloudiness in her eyes at that time, but he said it was just from aging.  He gave no indication it was cataracts.)  But I suppose I shouldn’t second-guess myself, what’s done is done and now we need to deal with it.

One of the hard things is how expensive this is getting so fast.  Between the vet visit and hospitalization, all the meds, the insulin, it sure ain’t cheap.  And unless I get my own glucometer and do curves at home, Katy will be going back like once a week.  Sheesh!  My husband is not real pleased, he knows Katy means the world to me, but he’s the only one working right now and we do have bills to pay.  She’s turning out to be a very pricy pup, for certain.  The vets know we’re not made of money, that we want to get Katy home as soon as we can, we just can’t help feeling like they’re milking us for as much as they can get.  It’s just exhausting and emotionally chaotic.

It sounds odd, I know, but the easy part for me will be taking care of her once she’s home.  It just comes naturally to me, I was very hands-on caring for her before, during, and after her amputation.  I don’t like leaving her in the care of other people, I like doing as much as I can for her myself (and being a vet tech, that’s a fair bit).  Not to mention it’s cheaper 🙂  Planning my schedule around her, when she needs to eat and have her insulin, pfft, it’s nothing.  She’s my girl, y’know?  I used to take this dog to school with me just so I could keep an eye on her while she was healing, so she wouldn’t be home alone and run the risk of hurting herself.  I’m her mama, it’s my job to take care of her, simple as that.

Prayers and advice and support would be much appreciated, for Katy and myself.  It’s a new chapter in the exciting “tail” of her life, one I’ve certainly never read before, and we’re both hoping for a happy ending.  🙂


tripawd in training

Hi all!  Man, I have REALLY neglected this blog, sorry about that.  Life got very crazy for a good while: I graduated from school (yay!), we moved from FL back to WV (double yay!), I studied like mad and finally passed my national vet tech exam (HUGE yay!), we moved from the crappy little apartment we started in to a lovely house in the country (yay for the house, boo that the yard would be perfect if only it were fenced), and now I’m going back to school in the spring to work on a bachelors degree and hopefully become a wildlife rehabilitator.  Whew!  But I’m starting something now that Katy is involved in, so I wanted to share it on her blog with all you great folks.

I am not kidding when I tell you I am grossly overweight.  I’m also nearly 36 years old and pre-diabetic.  For these and other reasons I’ve started a bit of a fitness program.  Nothing exceptional, just eating better and getting out and walking a few miles a couple days a week.  I’m horribly out of shape so I’m starting slow.  Well, my husband thought it would be fun to do a couch to 5k program together.  Bear in mind he’s MUCH thinner than me, though he’s got bad knees, and he has previous running experience.  I generally do not run because way too much of me jiggles and it gets painful.  But I thought, eh, I can at least try, right?  So I was looking for a “target” 5k, something to aim for when our program would be about done, and I came across a local 5k run/walk in October called the Canine Classic.  Of course I was intrigued.  It’s put on every year (this will be the 6th) by a young adult professionals’ group and people are encouraged to bring their four-legged friends.  Hmm, well how about 3-legged?  🙂  Suffice it to say, I think it would be just fantastic to bring Katy for this 5k, show em what tripawds can do!

So Katy and I are in training.  I’ve been a bit neglectful about keeping her in shape, so I took her for a “baseline” walk this morning just to see how she handled things.  As usual she amazed me.  We ended up walking a bit over a mile, took it nice and slow with plenty of pauses and a longer water break at the halfway point.  She would have gone farther for my sake, she’s mama’s girl, but I didn’t want to push her.  In fact I didn’t intend to walk as far as we did, I didn’t even realize the distance until we got back to the car and I checked my MapMyWalk app.  But she did great.  I’m just a bit concerned about the muscles in her remaining front leg, her hind legs are very strong but her front leg less so, so I’ll need to do strengthening exercises with her in addition to walks.  She is 10 years old, I don’t expect her to be the ultimate canine athlete any more than I expect to look like Kate Moss.  But we can both be better than we are now, and we’re going to get better together.  🙂  Wish us luck!


don’t panic, Barney’s fine!

Hi all!  I do apologize for being out of touch for so long; between being crazy stressed about my last semester of school, knocked flat on my behind by some awful stomach bug, and just now recovering from oral surgery, Katy’s blog has not been on the top of my priorities list.  I know though that all you guys are anxious to see what Barney’s been up to here in the Sunshine State.  He’s quite overstayed his welcome actually 🙂  I’d love to get him back on the road, I’m waiting for my husband to bring home a box from work because his original got a bit beat up in transit.  I’m going to try to get his purple butt outta here by the end of the week, and of course get his vacation pictures posted here.  Thanks so much for your patience, my painkillers are kicking in so I’m afraid that’s all for now  🙂


keeping busy

Hi all!  I do apologize for not posting in awhile, I started back to school on January 9th and that’s been the extent of my life, studying and working (I work part-time at school, so even when I’m not in class, I’m still in the classrooms *sigh*).  Thankfully the finish line is in sight; as long as all goes well this semester I graduate in May!  Hallelujah!  🙂

Miss Katy Sue is doing just fantastic still, she never fails to amaze me.  It’s been a shade over 3 months now since her amputation and you’d think she was born a tripawd, she’s taken to it so well.  When she goes streaking around the yard I forget for a minute how many legs she has.  We went to a pet festival today at a local dog park and she made a lot of new friends, human and furry, and everyone was just really impressed by her.  And of course they loved her stylin Tripawds bandanna.  🙂  I love days like today, I love taking her out and showing people that a dog with 3 legs is not to be pitied but rather admired and of course loved.  Katy loves days like today too, she had a lot of fun meeting people and getting spoiled.  🙂

I really need to get the pictures and video off my phone, a week or so ago we went for a walk/hike in a “scrub park” near our house, we’re talking totally unpaved trails, nothing but sand and scrub brush.  It was hard going, sand was pretty deep in some places, but Katy did so great.  We did stop and rest a few times, and my husband and I took turns carrying her for a little bit, but overall I was really TriProud of her.  🙂


happy new year & 2 month ampuversary!

Happy 2012 to the Tripawd community!  I was out of town visiting family for most of the holiday and I’m just now getting a chance to catch up with things.  Hope everyone had a very nice Christmas with their loved ones, be they 2-, 3-, 4- or more legged.  🙂

January 1st marked Katy’s 2-month ampuversary, really hard to believe.  We boarded all 3 girls at our vet’s kennel while we were gone, and when I brought them back home the first thing I noted was how well Katy’s hair had grown back.  It hasn’t completely caught up, but you can barely tell where the edges of the shave job were.  Her hair has even grown right over the incision site; I was expecting at the very least a mild scar.  She really looks great.  I need to take more pictures of her, just about all the pics I have of her are 4-legged.  She’s such a ham though, it shouldn’t be a problem getting her in front of a camera.  She’s even lost a little weight (I think she and her sisters got a lot of exercise at the kennel) which is great incentive for me to keep her moving, and get myself moving as well.  🙂

Alright, time for puppy supper.  Later!


the results are in

So Katy’s been a tripawd for a month now, hard to believe.  She’s off all pain meds and is back to her spoiled babydog self, even playing with her sisters in the backyard.  She has yelped a couple times when Annie, our yellow Lab, has wrestled her down and kinda rolled her the wrong way, but it hasn’t had any lasting effect.  She’s doing just fantastic.  It may sound stupid, but this dog is my hero.  *sillygrin*

Ah yes, the results.  I believe I mentioned that when Katy’s leg was amputated, my vet disarticulated it at the elbow (he removed the entire leg, scapula and all) and sent the lower part off for histopathology.  Well it only took 3 BLASTED WEEKS, but the results finally came back.  You better believe I was an absolute nag about it too.  Evidently they would have been back sooner, but the pathologist wasn’t satisfied with the first set of samples that the lab techs prepared for him so he had them go back to the leg and chop off some more 😛  Guess I should be glad he was happy with the second set, otherwise I’d still be waiting most likely.  At any rate, I have myself a copy of the report, let me quote a couple chunks of it for you:

“Sections of tissue from an amputated thoracic limb are examined.  There is a subcuticular mass which is composed of cells arranged in sheets subdivided by a few thin fibrous trabeculae.  These cells are round with highly vacuolated cytoplasm and flat nuclei with condensed chromatin and a low (<1 mitotic figures per 10 hpf) mitotic index.  There is an encapsulated are of necrosis.

MICROSCOPIC FINDINGS:  Suspicious of infiltrating lipoma

COMMENT:  Numerous sections of bone were examined.  No periosteal reactive changes were seen but there is an area suspicious of infiltration of periosteal collagen by neoplastic cells.  This finding is suggestive of an infiltrating lipoma.  Infiltrating lipomas are characterized by slow invasion of muscle and other connective tissue.  These neoplasms do not metastasize.”

Mmkay, so in English?  In the research, admittedly limited, that I’ve done on the subject, infiltrating lipomas are basically a few very weird cells shy of liposarcoma.  So Katy did not have cancer, per se.  What she had was a very aggressive growth of fatty cells that was invading her muscle and even bone to some extent.  Infiltrating lipomas do not normally “turn into” liposarcoma, but in and of themselves they’re a pain in the butt and can cause a multitude of problems, and surgery is the only treatment for them, either excision with VERY clean margins (because the damn things will grow back with a vengeance) or full-on amputation, depending on the location.  I have to admit, looking at pictures, that histopath sections of infiltrating lipomas and liposarcomas look very similar to me on gross examination (with the naked eye).  I suppose that’s the reason they can only be differentiated microscopically; they’re both made of fat cells but the cells have distinct characteristics that set them apart.

I was rather surprised to read this report and not see the word “sarcoma” anywhere.  My immediate thought was, Oh great, I took my dog’s leg off and she didn’t even have cancer.  And my vet knew I would feel that way, he was very quick to confirm that I made the right decision to amputate Katy’s leg.  He said that normally if you told people you had your dog’s leg removed because of a lipoma they’d look at you sideways, BUT this was not your ordinary innocent little fatty growth lipoma.  This bugger was mean and there was just nothing else to do, Katy was lame with it and in considerable pain, amputation was the absolute best option we had.  I am convinced I did the right thing by her.

The question becomes, what do I tell other people?  Like I’ve said before, I like taking Katy out with me as my lil tripawd ambassador, and of course people ask what happened.  Up til now I’ve been saying “cancer” because that’s pretty much what we thought it was, and it’s an easy answer that doesn’t require a whole lot of complicated medical explanation.  But what now?  I suppose I can say it was a tumor, that’s pretty straightforward, just a big nasty tumor that couldn’t be removed by itself, they had to take the leg.  I just don’t want to say it was cancer anymore because it wasn’t, and because I don’t want to jinx anything  🙂  But most people understand what a benign tumor is, right?  I have just way too much medical knowledge, too much terminology, and I’m with people all the time who speak the same language; I take it for granted that people know what I’m talking about and forget to “dial it back” when I’m not among vet tech folk.  So I figure I can tell people Katy had a benign tumor that grew out of control and could not be removed without taking the leg.  Easy enough?  Anybody else got a tripawd in the same boat?


2 weeks post-amp

The stitches are out, the T shirt is off, and Katy is gonna have one bee-yoo-tee-ful scar when all is said and done.  But I really think the worst is over, we’re out of the woods as far as pain and phantom limb issues.  We saw the Doc yesterday for suture removal; it was quite funny, when Katy heard him in the hallway her ears perked up, and when he came into the exam room she got so excited.  Pretty good reaction to the fella who stole her leg.  🙂  Doc says she looks just fantastic (I think he’s pretty proud of his handiwork as well), we’re going to do one more week of just Tramadol and then one week after that of just Rimadyl, just to cover our bases, because she’s still a bit sensitive around her incision.  After that, free and clear.

The only unfinished thread in all of this is the biopsy result.  I’m supposed to call tomorrow and if the report’s still not in (c’mon, it’s been 2 weeks now) they will call the lab and see what’s taking so long.  I mean, I understand it was a big sample, and I do want them to be thorough of course, but 2 weeks is still a long time for lab results.  I’m not particularly patient, especially about something like this, so I do hope the report comes ASAP.

I need to start doing some PT with Katy as well, she lays around and sleeps so much (probably due to the drugs) and I hate to think of her muscles going flabby.  Think I’ll start slow, just some gentle walks down our street, only as far as she can manage.  I’m also looking for a BOSU to help strengthen her core and build up her other leg muscles to compensate; I was bidding on one on Ebay but I seem to have lost.  🙁  Ah well.  Probably be a Christmas present.  My husband’s on board with it because humans can use it too!  🙂  Once we get the BOSU and Katy gets good at it, we may look into a balance disc for more of a challenge (also useful for humans, nice).  But one step/hop at a time.  🙂