Friday, May 27, 2011

Kayla's Recovery...2 Weeks Post-op!

I'll start off by saying Kayla is doing great 2 weeks after her emergency surgery! Her physical recovery was quick and her staples where taken out 10 days post-op. Her emotional recovery, however has taken a bit longer, poor gal. It's evident it was a traumatic experience. Probably not the surgery itself but most likely the events leading up to it. She is continuing to get back to her same 'old' self each day.
On a less cheerful note, the pathology report of the mass on her spleen has come back and it was a malignant tumor (Hemangiosarcoma) :( It was not the news we were hoping for but Dr. C prepared us that it was most likely going to be the outcome, so I guess you can say we were not too surprised. We have 3 months (or less) to continue to spoil her rotten and that we will!

Back to th subject of her emotional recovery. It was strange. 3 day post-op she seemed to be doing wonderfully but things started to decline. The only way to describe her behavior was doggy dementia. We were very concerned because she kept trying to "hide" in small areas, seemed confused, pacing, panting, not wanting to lay in her favorite spots. She pretty much had to be coaxed into laying down on her dog bed in wich she would immediately plop down and fall into a deep sleep. The only thing that was normal was her appetite and that was huge. When it was time to eat she would really perk up! We brought her to the vet and he checked her out and said because of all her blood loss prior to surgery and the fact that she is old, we just needed to give her more time, more rest and lots of TLC while her blood repairs itself.
One week after surgery, G was talking to a friend at work whose dog had gone through the same thing. He said "Give Kayla some steak to help boost her iron and her emotional spirits". Great idea! So, that is what we did, along with some canned liver dog food. Now considering G and I have been non-red-meat-eaters for 20+ years, this was a real treat for her to smell a steak cooking on our grill.

She has continued to enjoy steak each day along with a wonderful variety of canned food. She has only eaten dry dog food for 13 years (with a few table scraps mixed in over the last 6 months) so she is loving this new diet and eating with great gusto!

In between meals, she still seemed down and not herself. Call it doggy depression, post traumatic stress or a combination of the two. We just wanted her old happy self back. She didn't want to let us out of her sight but G thought she needed some good old fresh air. Despite my hesitation, he put her out in the backyard by herself to see what she would do. She doesn't prefer to be out in the yard by herself on her best day unless it's on her terms and if she chooses to lay on the deck so I thought it would make things worse. Well, I was wrong. After several minutes of pacing with her head hanging low, she started lifting her head, sniffing the air and eventually layed down on the deck and enjoyed the fresh air...eventually falling asleep out there. That was definitely a turning point in her emotional recovery!

Another thing she enjoyed prior to surgery was a daily 3/4 mile walk on the greenbelt. 9 days post-op I took her on half the distance of her favorite walk so she could get caught up on her neighborhood sniffs. It was slow going but went well. After her staples came out, Dr C said I could continue to walk her, letting her set the pace.

She has slowly started relaxing in all her favorite spots again (with a little help from us getting her on higher things like the ottoman, her favorite chair and the foot of our bed). She doesn't seem to pace as much and even did well being left by herself. Emotional recovery takes time...even for humans!
How am I doing? Actually, surprisingly well. It was rough going there through the surgery and such but I guess when you see your dog aging you start to prepare yourself for the end even if you don't think you are. It helps knowing that Kayla has lived a life of a doggy queen for 13.5 years so I guess you can say I'm at peace with it as much as one can be.
Do we regret putting her through the surgery? Not one bit! Seeing her sleeping on the grass, eating steak, getting more kisses than she ever thought possible has been worth it! I'm guessing if you could ask her, she would say she doesn't regret it either!

She is old, her body is failing and when she lets us know she's had enough...we will let her go...

Monday, May 16, 2011

3 days post-op update

Kayla has been taking it easy over the weekend and we have all been taking it easy right along with her. It's been rainy and chilly so that made it even easier to be lazy. As I write this, it's 7 am, 3 days post-op and Kayla is doing great. She woke me up at 6:15 whining to start her day as she usually does so she is getting back to her old self. I let her out to do her duty and then she ate a great breakfast laced with all her meds so she is good to go. She is back to following me everywhere I go however I do have the stairs blocked for now so if I have to go upstairs or downstairs, she just waits patiently for my return. After 1 week of recovery I can start taking her on her daily walks on the greenbelt again, a therapy we have both missed terribly.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Kayla's Emergency Vet Surgery

I've had so many things I've been wanting to blog about but this was not one of them :(
Yesterday, Friday (the 13th....but who pays attention to that!) Kayla went to the vet for a routine check-up/vaccines and ended up on the surgical table for a spleen-ectomy. She is home now, one day later but is still very week from blood loss. We are giving here plenty of rest, pain meds and major amounts of TLC!!! The photo above was taken with my iphone right before they whisked her away for a blood transfusion, chest x-ray and surgery. My heart was in my feet for she is old (13 1/2) the vet had a grim outlook and we had decided that if during surgery there was indication of cancer we would not bring her back out of it. I had to say my goodbyes in this sterile room by myself...just in case she didn't return to us. Heart-wrenching to say the least.
But, I'm thrilled to say she did come out of it and if you want to know more details leading up to the surgery, you can read all the details below.
I had noticed for about a week she wasn't herself but she's old, has bad hips and a few other minor issues that come with age so I was concerned but not enough to make a special trip to the vet. I had made her an appt about a week prior (just coincidence) for yesterday (Friday) at 4 for her yearly checkup and shots. Despite seeming a bit under the weather for a week, yesterday(Friday) she was acting stranger than usual when she woke up. I told G she seemed to be acting like she was drunk..really wobbly and wouldn't eat. Rewind to a couple of nights prior she seemed restless in the night so I let her lie on the deck for awhile to cool off. Upon coming in she seemed to lose her footing going up the stairs and was limping a bit the next day. She has terrible arthritis so this is not unusual for her to have days of more pain in her hips so I figured she was just down because of that. I gave her some pain meds on Thursday and she seemed to get better. Back to yesterday morning, I just decided that I would keep an eye on her since she already had an appt set for 4 pm I would mention her behavior to the vet, then.
When I got there they asked how she was doing and I, nonchalantly told them she had been acting lethargic all day. Katie, the tech took one look at her gums saw they were pure white and she said "Ooh, this is a problem, she's bleeding out somewhere". Gulp! She told Dr C and they whisked her into the back to do an ultrasound of her belly. I felt so bad that I didn't take her in earlier in the day :( Long story short he said there was a large mass on her spleen and part of it had ruptured causing blood loss and she was in shock. He said there was a good chance the mass could be malignant but he wouldn't know unless he went in, surgically. He also said it could be as simple as a hematoma(large bruise) but since he is not an x-ray technician and we would be hard pressed to find one nearby that hasn't gone home for the night, he just couldn't be sure. He said there were a few options but none were very good.
1. Euthanize her.
2.Take her home and keep her comfortable until she dies which could be that night or in a week, no way to know for sure.
3. Do a chest x-ray to see if the cancer has spread the lungs and if so, then no point in doing surgery. If lungs are clear, go in and take a look at her spleen. He said he would know right away if there was a problem because there would be lesions everywhere in her abdomen, liver etc. and if that was the case he would not revive her, but if it was localized to her spleen he would just remove her spleen and bring her back to recover.
I was unable to make the decision so I called G at work and handed my phone to the Dr C so he could explain it all again to G who is always more level-headed when it comes to making heart-wrenching decisions like these.
He chose option 3. He simply said he couldn't euthanize Kayla based on what 'might' be cancer and unless he knew for sure he couldn't live with that decision.
I was given some time alone with her to say my goodbyes and take her picture. Then I went home to wait. Dr C held off putting her under anesthesia until G could get there and see her before surgery. Have I mentioned how much I love my vet and his assistant? They are the best and have known Kayla since she was 8 weeks old!
He started with a blood transfusion (from blood donated by one of Dr C's dogs!) Chest x-ray was clear so he proceeded with surgery. We sat at home and waited.....absolutely nerve-wracking! Would we see Kayla again or would she journey to Rainbow Bridge...
We finally got the call and the vet said she was coming out of anesthesia. Other than the masses on her spleen (the small one had ruptured but the large one hadn't yet), he didn't see anything else so he just removed her spleen and said she could come home the next day.
He will still send her spleen off to have it biopsied just so we will know what to expect as far as her health in the coming months but for now, we get to take her home and spoil her for a while longer :) Updates to follow!