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Days 9-12 Post Op What’s Next?

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Posted by Aiden's Mom | Posted in The First Weeks | Posted on 24-12-2019

The last four days have been fairly easy.  Everything has pretty much gotten back to normal . . . until Sunday.

Before I left for church on Sunday, I put a t-shirt on Aiden, made sure it was tied so he couldn’t get his muzzle under it to lick on the sutures.  When I got home, he had gotten the t-shirt off his front leg and had worked it down below the sutures and had pulled out 3 stitches.  I’m still trying to figure out HOW he managed to do that.

So today (Tuesday) we are at the oncologist’s office to have the rest of the sutures removed.  The place where he pulled the stitches has opened up and is now infected, so we are looking at antibiotics and probably a return to surgery on Thursday to re-suture the open spot.  It has been a real battle trying to keep him from licking.  I’ve used a collar and a t-shirt, and he can still figure out a way to get to the sutures, and not just with his mouth but with his back leg–to scratch.

So we are going to try a hard Elizabethan collar, bandages, and a harness to cover the area until Thursday–and beyond–until the place heals.

In other news, the autologous vaccine protocol starts today.  This is all new to the staff at the clinic, so we are all going to learn a lot about this protocol over the next month.

I’ll keep you posted.  Merry Christmas to all the Tripawds out there . . . and their families!

Days 7 and 8 Post Op. The Light at the End of the Tunnel . . . It’s Not a Train!

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Posted by Aiden's Mom | Posted in The First Weeks | Posted on 21-12-2019

These last two days have been great for Aiden.  He’s spent more time with his pack mates which has made a difference in his behavior; it’s really been great for all of us since we’re getting closer to normalcy.  I left the gate open the last two days–as well as last night–and, as expected, Aiden stays pretty much where I am.

The surgery site looks really good, but I think it must be itching.  He has a big Y-shaped incision so he has a lot of stitching.  He’s either wearing a soft Elizabethan collar or a t-shirt to keep him from licking.  I think he likes the t-shirt more because it is definitely softer than the collar.  Whenever he’s wearing the collar he has figured out how to get his muzzle underneath and lick the lower end of the suture line–the bottom of the Y.  The t-shirt covers better and prevents the licking.  I know he’ll be glad to get the sutures out on Tuesday.

I’ve cut back on the Gabapentin to twice a day.  I did give him Tramadol before bedtime last night, but I’m not sure he needed it.  He still whines occasionally, but it doesn’t last but for a few minutes. . . and he still only does it when I’m in the room.

It’s been funny to watch Sydney.  She likes to lay next to Aiden and let him lick on her.  And today she brought him one of her toys and laid it next to him.  It’s like all of them sense that something is going on with him because they have been calmer when they are around him.

I believe we have reached a milestone these last two days.  The impish, goofy Aiden is re-emerging and his confidence is growing.  Curbing his activity level is going to be a challenge, but nothing we can’t handle.   We are about to hit 9 days after surgery—I’ll take these last 9 over the 9 before surgery with all of the uncertainty and stress.  We’ve come a long way these last 18 days.  Our biggest challenges are behind us, and we are facing a very bright and promising future.

Aren’t our Tripawds amazing!!

Day 6 Post Op –and Hitting a Speed Bump

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Posted by Aiden's Mom | Posted in The First Weeks | Posted on 19-12-2019

Day 6

Day 6 started out with unrelenting whining . . . at 1:00 AM.  For the next six hours I was on the floor next to Aiden trying to reassure him through the whining.  After speaking with the vet, it was decided to adjust his pain medication to Gabapentin three times a day and Tramadol before bedtime.

He slept most of the morning, but by the afternoon he seemed to be feeling like his old self again.  He sat in my lap for an hour watching landscapers put in new flowerbeds in the front of the house, barking every once and awhile to let them know he was watching.  He is also showing his dominance again–stealing a chew toy from Sydney with a bark and the snorting, bear-like growl he does.

We got good news from the vet.  The biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of osteosarcoma (which we expected) but the lymph node they removed from the shoulder showed no obvious signs of cancer.  Of course we know that there are cells wandering around his body, but we are going to begin the attack on those cells next Tuesday.  The sutures will be removed two days earlier than we anticipated and we will begin the immunotherapy on Christmas Eve.  What a great Christmas present for both of us!!

I let Riley in the “infirmary” with Aiden this evening just to see how she would react. She wagged her tail and walked carefully by then lay down about 6 feet behind him.  I don’t think she was too sure of what to think about it all.  When I went to the gate about ten minutes later she wanted out.  Cooper is dying to get behind the gate, but he and Aiden–although they never fight–do a lot of growling and posturing with each other. . . they have ever since they were puppies.  I think they both can do without all of that until next week.

Aiden seemed comfortable all afternoon.  He went out several times, making it look so easy maneuvering on 3 legs.  His appetite continues to be normal.  I’ve given him two doses of Gabapentin and will give him a 3rd before bedtime along with the Tramadol.  Hopefully he will sleep through the night.

Observations on the Whining

About 6:30 tonight Aiden started whining again.  I was sitting in the study and he was laying in the hallway about 8 feet away.  The vet said she was surprised by the whining five days after surgery, so it got me to thinking that there might be another reason for the vocalization–Aiden has always been a vocalizer when he wants something and either can’t have it or can’t get to it.  Tonight I noticed that he was only whining when I was nearby.  When I went into the kitchen, he quit whining–something I don’t think he’d do if he was really in pain. He’s been isolated from the pack for 5 days now so I wondered if he was showing his frustration.

Tonight when he started the whining, I whined back.  The more he talked, the more I talked back.  In a few minutes he got up and hopped into the study and started wagging his tail and butting me with his nose–things he always does when he’s in a playful mood.  After some snuggle time, he curled up beside my chair and went to sleep.  He’s been quiet for the last three hours.

I think pain probably was part of the reason for the whining early this morning, but I think maybe he’s getting just a bit tired of the isolation and the lack of freedom. I may try some more socializing over the next few days to help him out.

Six more days, Aiden, and things will start to look up for you!

Days 4 and 5 Post Op–Turning Corners

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Posted by Aiden's Mom | Posted in The First Weeks | Posted on 17-12-2019

Day 4

At 1:00 yesterday the Fentanyl patch came off.  It must have been itchy because Aiden really licked where the patch had been!  His appetite was still great.  He was even back to his old self when it comes to to his love of tissues and paper towels. . . and his predilection for toilet water :-/.  It’s so absolutely true what they say about Goldens….everything goes in the mouth!

He was still peeing a lot yesterday.  The area of visible bruising had gotten bigger, but that was expected.  The swelling has gone down which is great!

Day 5

Today is the fifth day post-op and I have seen a noticeable uptick in Aiden’s activity level.  The Gabapentin still makes him sleepy, but he seems more alert than he has been. He’s not having to pee near as much either.  The tape and bandages that were covering his sutures have all disappeared so he is now sporting a new green t-shirt to help keep the area clean and to keep him from licking.  He and Sydney are spending more time together, and we’ve all gotten used to the new routine.

I’m keeping a close eye out for any signs that his pain level is going up because of the absence of the Fentanyl.  So far he doesn’t seem to be in any pain. . . no whining, no heavy panting, no restlessness.  That could change, so I have a supply of Tramadol just in case he needs it.  I have to give a shout out to the oncologist and our vet who have both been way ahead of the game on this.   Couldn’t have asked for a better team!

Awww-Moment Side Note

I have a recliner in the room where Aiden is staying.  I’ve been sleeping there because the only bed with mattress and box springs is upstairs.  I had just finished renovating my house when Aiden was diagnosed, so the house is still is in a bit of a chaotic state, and the bed downstairs is just a frame. . . mattress won’t be delivered until January 7.  The weather has been cold the last few nights so I am using a heated throw as cover.  After I had barely gone to sleep I felt one foot . . . then two. . . then three.  For the next hour or so I shared the recliner with Aiden.  I think he really enjoyed that heated throw!

Days 2 and 3 Post Op–He’s Home!

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Posted by Aiden's Mom | Posted in The First Weeks | Posted on 16-12-2019

Pick Up Day

What a sight it was to see Aiden walking into the room!!–or maybe hopping would be a better description.  He was so excited to see us when we went to take him home–and we were sure excited to see him up and moving with such confidence.  I took my 6’4″ nephew with me because I wasn’t going to be able to get Aiden in and out of the SUV by myself.  It was a good thing I did because when we got to the car, Aiden thought he would go ahead and jump in the back seat like normal.  It took a team effort to curb his enthusiasm for the ride home!

They had taken off the big bandage that been wrapped around the surgery site because he had been moving around so much it was looking more like a turtleneck than a surgical bandage.  He came home on a Fentanyl patch which comes off Monday, some Gabapentin for the nerve pain, and the anti-inflammatory Carprofen. He will take the oral meds every 12 hours for the next two weeks.  Stitches comes out the day after Christmas.

I had read that some dogs do not want to eat or will have bowel issues because of the drugs.  Neither has been the case with Aiden.  His appetite is really good and he’s taking care of business as usual.  For his first dinner at home I supplemented his usual dry food with a little canned food just in case he might not be interested in eating.  Didn’t have to worry–he’s enjoying his breakfast and dinner as much as he did before. He needs to be on a weight management diet but for now, while he is healing, I will keep him on his regular food.

His chest is quite bruised and swollen, but he doesn’t seemed to be bothered by it.  He is sleeping on the amputation side even though it makes it more difficult for him to get up.  He is peeing a lot, probably because of the fluids he was given and all the water he is drinking because of the meds.

I’m not a real fan of the long-term use of pain meds–human or dog– because of the side effects.  I don’t want Aiden to experience any pain, but I also don’t want him on pain meds for any longer than necessary.  The rehab vet that has been recommended also uses acupuncture to help with pain.  Tripawds.com has some good information about acupuncture for dogs which has convinced me that if Aiden needs help with his pain after the sutures come out, acupuncture will be the choice.  Combined with physical therapy to help strengthen his other legs and help him to lose weight, this alternative should help him feel like his old self a lot quicker than being drugged up on the pain meds.

Dealing with the Pack

With the three other dogs in the house, I knew I had to work out a plan to keep Aiden isolated from the rest of the pack.  I have a small study where I set up a bed and a water bowl for Aiden.  It’s off a back hallway that can be gated off from the living room.  After he got home, I put Aiden in the study and closed the door so he could have some quiet time alone.  Today I have kept the door open so he can go into the hallway but still be separated from the other dogs by the gate.  When I need to take him out I put the other three dogs in another room or in the garage.  So far this has worked out.

The vet tech at the surgical center suggested that I not let any of the other dogs around him for the next two weeks since they might try to usurp his dominant position in the pack.  This is probably really good advice to follow as long as Aiden is on the drugs because he is not fully himself.  Of course if you know your own dogs well enough you might not see this as a problem.  I know all of my dogs really well and I don’t think this would be an issue, but I prefer to err on the side of caution.  Of the three other dogs in the house, my Sydney is the quietest and calmest.  Today I let her stay out in the living when I let Aiden out.  Of course there was a lot of smelling of going on!  She followed him around for a little while then went about her business.    I may gradually let her spend more time with Aiden as he recovers.  Cooper and Riley are a little more rambunctious, so I think they will get to do their smelling through the gate for awhile.

We’ve made it through two days but we have twelve more recovery days to go.  With the progress he has made already, I have no doubt Aiden is going to make it look easy.  We will keep you posted.