Saturday, 30 June 2007

Rain, Rain, Rain....

When will it stop raining? It's driving me mad!

It doesn't seem to be dampening Princes spirits though. Despite his usual dislike of 'the wet stuff' he still trotted out quite happily for a walk this morning and has resumed his kitchen vigil. Displaying the typical terrier qualities of determination and a desire to get the job done - I'm sure he would spend six hours sitting next to his cupboard in the kitchen if it had the desired effect.

We're heading over to his grandparents house tonight for dinner, so he can have a change of scenery and torment my father in the kitchen instead of me. It will be interesting to see how he gets on. The last time we went was before his initial treatment and he was pretty tired and ill. It was sad to see him that way, as he usually loves visiting 'Grandma & Grandpa', so I'm looking forward to seeing him bounce through the house tonight!

Friday, 29 June 2007

Peace & Quiet


Prince has finally given in for the day and gone to sleep. However, if somebody was to drop a crisp packet six miles away, I'm certain he would hear it and be down the stairs in a flash....!

It's no wonder he's tired - he's barely closed his eyes all day. He had a good walk this afternoon, played with a couple of other dogs and had a paddle in the swollen stream. He then proceeded to supervise every element of the preparation of dinner.

His current food obession knows no bounds. It's a difficult situation, because I'm tempted to give him quite a lot because he's lost so much weight and must be burning a lot of calories with his energy levels being so high. On the other hand, he's always been a little overweight, and I'd like to avoid him gaining weight again. The last thing I want is for him to lose any more weight though.

I'll have to wake him up shortly for his last tablet and visit to the garden, so he probably won't go back to sleep until at least 4am......

STOP PRESS: I've just sneezed. That's all it takes. He's in the kitchen.....

Livewire

Prince remains as upbeat about the situation as ever, whilst I become progressively more exhausted! He's currently feeling on top of the world, and appears to have taken on super-canine properties - requiring no sleep, rest, or peace, whilst demanding food at every opportunity. I only have to move a muscle in my eye-lid and he's heading towards the kitchen at full speed in the hope that food may be offered......

The drugs he's been receiving are clearly making him feel great. Like so many of the drugs involved in his treatment, the Prednisolone is a 'human' drug and even has the patients information sheet in the box. There are pages of side effects, but one that amused me said, "You may feel very happy, or extremely depressed whilst taking this medication" - no prizes for guessing which emotion Prince is feeling right now!

Thankfully, the frequency of toilet visits has decreased now, so I've managed to have more than three hours sleep at a time. His outrageous energy levels are still taking their toll on me though. We went out for a walk yesterday afternoon, and I could bearly keep up with him - it's as though he's reverted back to being a three year old. The dosage of the Prednisolone will be reduced shortly I think, so I suspect that this may coincide with 'normal' levels of energy!

It's fantastic to see him like this though, and despite me being knackered I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm just wondering whether the hospital might be prepared to put me next to him on the table when he goes in for his next treatment, and give me a dose. Believe me, I need it to keep up!

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Buzzing...

I'm quite reluctant to say this, because it's so early in his treatment, but Prince seems to be responding really well. He spent all yesterday buzzing around the house, looking for trouble, and has been doing the same today. The improvement in such a short time has been remarkable. Thus far we've had no side-effects besides excessive drinking and the resulting visits to the garden, and an insatiable appetite. I'm still quite shocked at the amount of weight he's lost, but as long as he doesn't lose any more he's at quite a healthy weight now.

We went for a short walk yesterday afternoon, and I got the distinct impression that he was disappointed that it only lasted half an hour. We've also been for a short walk this morning, which he started off like a steam train. I don't want to do too much with him as I'm acutely aware that he's still very ill and there are a lot of demands on his body. Also, I think that because he's feeling so much better, he does tend to realise suddenly that he's actually tired - and tends to fall asleep wherever he may be.

I'm wandering around with a grin like a Cheshire cat - I really didn't expect him to be doing so well, so soon. I need to remain realistic though - there's a long journey ahead and although I hope we don't, I think we probably will have set-backs along the way. One drug that is adminstered as part of the chemotherapy does tend to cause some problems, and that one is yet to come, so I don't want to become complacent. However, I think it's important to live day by day, and therefore I'm happy that he's currently feeling good....

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Human (and Canine!) Kindness


The amount of kind comments, support and help I've had from readers of this blog and various forums (Pet Friendly World, Horse & Hound, The Idler and D for Dog especially) has been amazing. It really makes a difference, so thank you very much.

As you can see from the picture above, Prince has had a good day so far and felt it necessary to demonstrate this with a bout of high-octane bullying, followed by a period of face-licking. Considering his usual 'excretions' are considered quite hazardous, due to the metabolism of the chemotherapy drugs, I'm not sure I should have allowed the face-licking - but didn't have the heart to stop him....

Happy Chappy

Prince seems really quite happy today - and has already indulged in some bullying, begging for food and his requisite 337 trips to the garden to go to the loo. I'm of course, exhausted, after having been up every three hours overnight to let him out for a wee.

It's a small price to pay though, and I'm really pleased that he's not feeling too bad today. I've noticed that he has lost quite a lot of weight over the past couple of weeks, but as he has always carried more than he needed, I don't think it's anything to worry about too much at the moment.

All in all, the mood is optimistic today!

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Sweet Dreams


Whilst I was warned to expect Prince to drink excessively, and as a result need to go to the toilet more often, I had underestimated the extent of this. It's like living with one of those perpetual fountains, where the little boy stands in the fountain peeing constantly! My goodness, I can see us having to get up every two hours to visit the garden....

It's a small price to pay though, and I'm really pleased that he seems generally well and quite happy. He's had his Prednisolone, Antepsin and Zantac (yes, that one!) this evening and is now napping peacefully on my bed. I'm keeping an eye on him from downstairs and caught the picture above on the webcam.

Home Sweet Home

Thank goodness for that - Prince is home, safe and sound. He was far brighter than I expected, which was a relief and I'd been worried that he might be really quite ill. I think he's thawing now, but I was in seriously bad books for having left him overnight - he went to see everyone in the waiting room before even acknowledging me, and then promptly peed on the water cooler.

Since we've been home, he's drunk mountains of water, and been to the toilet several times - one of the side effects of the Prednisolone that he's been given. He's also happily chewed a rawhide bone on the rug, and spent some time begging for food in the kitchen. I'm used to his insatiable appetite, but I'm told it's likely to increase further, again as a side-effect of the drugs he's getting.

All in all - he's looking in pretty good form, and aside from having a bald tummy from the ultrasound and samples taken from his liver and spleen, seems quite unscathed by his ordeal.

As I write, he's eyeing up the oven, as he has a strong suspicion that here may be something in it that requires his attention....

Relief...

I've had an update from the hospital, and Prince was fine overnight. I wouldn't imagine he had much sleep, but to know he's OK is good enough for me. He's going to have some more treatment late this morning, and then I can go and collect him late this afternoon. Subject to immediate 'caring' requirements, I'll post again later today when he's home.....

Worrying

Worrying, worrying, worrying.....

I hope he's OK. I can ring after 9.30 to see how he is. Tick, tock, tick, tock....

Monday, 25 June 2007

Telephone Addiction

After having spent the last couple of hours with every phone I have within reaching distance, I've just had a call from Sophia at the hospital. Prince is OK. His blood test results were as they expected, but he is a little anaemic. His white blood cell count is good, but his platelet count is slightly low. The aspirates have shown that both his liver and spleen are affected by the lymphoma, which means that his first chemotherapy dose has been reduced slightly. It's unlikely that his bone marrow is heavily affected, as the blood test results weren't too bad. He's had the first dose of chemotherapy drugs, and subject to all going well he should have another drug tomorrow before I can collect him.

He's on a drip tonight, and I'll bet the poor little chap is as miserable as sin. My only hope is that he's so woozy from the sedation and general fatigue that he won't be terribly aware of the pickle he's in. On a positive note, I believe that he's had a small snack, and a treat (I'll be amazed if the donor left with his/her fingers intact!), and they think he's in a pretty good position to start the treatment.

I suspect I won't sleep particularly well tonight, and in some ways I hope not - why should I sleep comfortably when my 'baby' might be having an awful night.....?

Friends


My best friend of many years is coming up from London to stay tonight. This is a pleasant coincidence rather than a planned visit whilst Prince is at the hospital. Prince will be very disappointed when he gets home to find that he's missed a visit from 'Uncle David'. David's great with Prince - he even allows him to bully him intensively whenever he comes to vist, and likes to 'settle him into the spare bedroom' by leaping on his back just as he gets into bed. I hear all this from my room at the end of the house, and it never fails to make me laugh. I'll miss hearing Prince 'settling him in' tonight, but I'm sure I'll hear it again in the future!

As there won't be any webcam images today, I've included a past picture of Prince, showing the usual level of respect to 'Uncle David'!

Separated - Thankfully For a Short Time....

I've had to leave Prince at the hospital until tomorrow afternoon - I'm not happy.

They want to start his chemotherapy as soon as possible, and also want to carry out some further tests before they do. The poor little cherub is currently undergoing blood tests, fine needle aspirates of his spleen and liver, and ultrasound scans, to get a full picture of what we're dealing with. Subject to all these being as expected and within safe parameters, he'll have a high dose of chemotherapy drugs today, and a further dose tomorrow before I bring him home.

I hadn't expected to have to leave him there, especially overnight, so I'm enormously worried. Of course, most of my worries are fairly irrational and trivial - he'll be hungry as he hasn't eaten today, he won't like the food they have at the hospital, he won't want to go to the toilet under those circumstances, etc, etc.... However, I'm sure these are the sort of worries that all us crazy dog people have at times like this!

I'm expecting a call from the vet late this afternoon to let me know how he is, and what the results of all todays tests are. I'll report back when I hear....

Tired Pooch


Poor Prince hasn't had a great day today. I don't think he's felt absolutely dreadful, and I'm pretty sure he hasn't been in pain, but he's barely been able to keep his eyes open. I hate it when he has days like this - it just reminds me how fragile and ill he is. Some dogs sleep all the time anyway, so the difference might not be so stark, but Prince is usually buzzing around, helping with everything and getting into all sorts of mischief.

On a positive note, it does mean that I get the opportunity to cuddle him a lot, as todays webcam image shows!

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Dog-Blogs

I can't for the life of me find any good dog or pet blogs out there. I'm sure there must be some but I can't find them! There are quite a few in the US, and a few in the UK, but none of them seem to be updated regularly. If you know of any good 'dogs blogs', or even have one yourself, please let Prince know as he's feeling a little isolated in the blogosphere at the moment!

You can email him via prince (at) equicomms.co.uk - not written in the correct format in case of spammers!. Thanks!

Countdown....

Less than twenty four hours to go until Prince heads of to the hospital, and in some respects I can't wait for the treatment to start and on the other hand I'm petrified.

Having said that, I'm not even sure if he will have his first dose of chemotherapy tomorrow. It's his first appointment at the hospital and although we've had all the tests and biopsies done at my local vets to confirm the diagnosis, I'm worried that all they'll do tomorrow is examine him to decide exactly what they want to do.

The average life expectancy of a dog with Lymphoma if untreated is two months. It's been three weeks since Prince was first diagnosed, with all the waiting for various sets of results and the delay in actually getting an appointment at the hospital. Surely, we need to start the chemo immediately? I do hope they don't just poke and prod him tomorrow and then ask me to take him in a week later for the first treatment session. Whilst I'm dreading the chemo starting, because I don't know how it will effect him, I'm also keen for it to start straight away as I'm very aware that the clock is ticking.

I'm also not looking forward to the pantomime that is Prince visiting any vet. The poor little chap absolutely hates it - and can rarely be persuaded to enter on his feet. Usually I have to pick him up and carry him in. He's a real drama-queen and squeals whener the vet goes near him, even if he hasn't actually done anything. He then spends the whole time clambering up my front and trying to get onto my shoulder like a parrot. Tough terriers eh?!

On an infinately more important note, he can't have anything to eat from eight o'clock tonight. Good god, how will he survive? I fear he may fade away due to a serious case of malnutrition.... How will he make it through the night? Hmmmmm, despite his protestations, I think he'll make it!

Big Brother


I do have a webcam that I used to keep an eye out for Prince scratching his stitches a few weeks ago, and still keep running so that I can check all's well whilst I'm on the computer.

Unfortunately, it will only accept so many connections, so I can't make it public. I'm also not sure I'd want everybody seeing my 'morning hair' and ugly mug every day!

Anyway, it does capture some funny pictures every now and again, so I'll post a few up as we go.

This is the first - showing Prince loafing around in bed this morning......

Positive Signs....

Prince has had another good day today. How do I know this? Because he's been causing trouble all day....

Toys have been produced and waved jauntily in front of me, rawhide bones demanded, I've been bullied liberally on a couple of occasions and he's now in the process of 'making' my bed. That is, pulling the duvet around until it's in a position of his liking.

I'm very pleased, it's funny how such trivial things can be so welcome at times like this!

Talking of times like this, I've had lots of really supportive, helpful and kind comments on the Pet Friendly World, Horse & Hound and D for Dog forums today. It really does make a difference - thanks!

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Chemotherapy & Lymphoma Links

Whilst looking for information about Lymphoma and chemotherapy I came across surprisingly little that was specific to dogs. The following links provide a little information though, in addition to the links at the bottom of the page on the right.

Pet Screen

The Blue Cross - Coping with Cancer

Davies Veterinary Specialists - Lymphoma Factsheet

Pet Cancer Vet

US Labrador Site

Morning Frivolity

Prince woke up in good form this morning - within half an hour of wolfing down his breakfast he was rolling on his back and presenting me with his 'puddy-cat' hand puppet! I think we're in for a good day......

Grandparents...

Princes 'grandparents', or my parents to be precise, have been over to see him this evening. He loves it when they come to visit - invariably, a bag of freshly-cooked meat is produced when they arrive, followed by much cuddling and spoiling. At times you could almost forget he's ill, but unfortunately his lack of energy gives it away at the moment. Usually, when we have visitors, Prince is on hand the whole time to ensure that all needs are dealt with, and just in case he misses something. However, tonight he had passed out after an hour - something that would never happen under normal circumstances. I hope he responds well to the chemotherapy.

He's had a pretty good day though, and even had a short wander around in the rain - something he's not a great fan of even when he's feeling 100%!

Friday, 22 June 2007

Pictures

I haven't quite figured out how to add additional photographs to this blog yet, so in the meantime feel free to have a look at some additional pictures of Prince here.

Sleeeeepy.....

Prince has been asleep all morning - I'm going to wake him up shortly, as he'll be terribly disappointed if he misses lunch!

Pet Insurance

Pet insurance - boring isn't it? Make damned sure you've got it though! When I was trying to decide whether to have Prince put to sleep, or try chemotherapy, it was the worst week of my life. I never wanted to have to make such a decision. However, at least I had the option of trying chemo, because my pet insurance would cover the cost. I can't imagine how I would have felt if I'd had to have him put to sleep because I couldn't afford the treatment. No one should be in that position.

Pet insurance is the only type of insurance that I have no problem paying for - even before the Lymphoma was detected, I'd had my premiums back many times over through not having to pay for Princes arthritis treatments. Lifetime cover is important - I use Petplan and they provide this, and lots of other benefits. Dogs Today Magazine has a good article on insurance in it this month - go out and buy it, and then get your pets insured!!!

The Story So Far.....

Where do I start? Probably with a little bit of background. Prince is about ten years old, I say 'about' because he was a rescue dog and I know virtually nothing about his background. I've had him for about eight years now and he means eveything to me. Non-dog owners will probably find it hard to understand, but I would literally do anything for him. He's beautiful, fun, loving, loyal and kind. Unfortunately, he's also just been diagnosed with Canine Lymphoma.

Lymphoma is in simple terms, cancer of the lymphatic system. There's no cure as such, and the only option other that to put him to sleep, is chemotherapy. Whilst I was waiting for confirmation that it was Lymphoma we were dealing with I was adamant that I would have him put to sleep if it did turn out to be cancer. My reasoning behind this was that I couldn't bear the idea of him suffering. As far as I was concerned, chemotherapy would make him very ill, require very regular vists to the vet (who he's terrified of, through no fault of my vet) and simply extend a life that may well not be worth living. We've enjoyed eight years of fun and love and I didn't want to put him through months of illness just for my own selfish purposes.

However, when Lymphoma was confirmed I began to change my view. Lots of people and sources were telling me that chemotherapy in dogs didn't generally leave them terribly ill as it can in humans. In fact, I'm told that many dogs enjoy a perfectly happy and normal quality of life. My vet has treated a dog of his own with chemotherapy and assured me that he would do it again if one of his current dogs was unfortunate enough to need it. Although constantly tired and fed up, I got the distinct impression that Prince wasn't ready to go yet - he still 'bullied' me when he felt up to it (ie. playfully attacked me in a very faux viscious way!), and had an obsession with food as yet unmatched in the canine world. All in all, I decided that if there was a chance of enjoying a further six months or more of being with Prince, and as long as he was happy and reasonably well, it had to be worth a go.

So that's really where we are. I'm still worried that the regular trip to the vet will be too much for him, and that the chemo will make him ill, but I think we have to try. As much as I don't like to think about it, we can always revert back to plan A if I think that he is suffering in any way.

The treatment schedule is quite intensive for this type of chemotherapy, and I don't know how well he'll be between treatments, so I've given up my full-time job to look after him. A major factor in this was also that if I have the opportunity to give Prince an extra six months of happy life - I'm certainly not going to spend it at my desk. I want to be with him all the time, and ensure he knows he's the most loved, cared for and appreciated little pooch on earth.

Giving up work has been frightening. I have no 'reserve' funds as such and really have no idea how I'm going to survive. To be perfectly frank, I don't really care though - as Prince is the only thing that matters at the moment. I'm very fortunate in many ways though, as I have a very supportive family, who feel the same way about Prince that I do. My previous employer was also very understanding, and has given me the opportunity to do bits of freelance work for them as and when I can. Dogs Today magazine also commissioned me to write a short article for them about Prince, which they'll pay me for, so this helps too.

My vet has referred Prince to the Liverpool University Small Animal Teaching Hospital for his chemotherapy, as they have the experience and facilities to deal with the treatment better. I'm pleased about this, as they are a European Centre of Excellence for oncology and are clearly experts at what they do, but a little disappointed as my usual vet has been fantastic up to this point and I would have liked to have him look after Prince if possible. Oh well, it says a lot about the professionalism of my local vets that they recognise when better treatment can be found elsewhere.

Anyway, we're due for our first appointment at the hospital on Monday at midday, so the journey starts here.......