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Katy Did It

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

Katy Did It

T-minus 6 days & counting…

October 27th, 2011 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

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…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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3 Comments so far ↓

  • admin

    Thanks for sharing Katy’s stories. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. We look forward to following her progress.

  • etgayle

    beautiful girl!! get some rest now, first two weeks can be tough.

    charon & gayle

  • jerry

    Awww good luck to you and Katy. We hope that everything goes great. Also, it would be really interesting to hear your perspective after seeing the surgery, so don’t hold back there!

    You’re all in our thoughts.

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