Sunday, April 17, 2011

Not Arthritis...

The last week and a half has been pretty stressful.  First, we were rocked with the news that a horse barn in Cincinnati had a bad fire on Tuesday, April 5th.  It was Oasis Farms, the barn that Lynette spent a lot of years, working, riding, and becoming friends with the owners and horses.  It was an emotional day.  We went down that night and were out at the barn first thing on Wednesday morning to do what we could to help out.  We both, reluctantly came back to Columbus that night for work on Thursday and Friday, but were right back down on Friday night.  

Saturday morning started off with Gracie trying to hop up in bed with us, but when she failed to make it up, and fell back on her butt, she whined.  I hopped out of bed and help her stand up, and she didn't put any weight on her rear left leg.  We figured we'd give her an hour to see if she would "walk it off," but when she didn't we made an appointment with the vet they used to take Cissy to, and took her in at 11am.  After some time, and some x-rays they came back with this:

She has a bone tumor in the upper part of her rear left femur.  It had pretty well eaten away a lot of the bone.  When she jumped up and came back down on the leg, the bone essentially collapsed in on itself because of the loss of integrity.  Even writing this now, I'm in disbelief that she'll never walk on 4 legs again.  

They gave her some pain meds and we took her back to Lynette's parents, and headed out to the barn.  We knew that we weren't going to make any decisions until we got back to Columbus, and that she'd be "fine" until Sunday night.  We had friends to help.

The weekend went by and Sunday came quickly.  We were on our way home and the closer we got, the harder it became to hold back the emotions.  Finally, we got inside and I think we both lost it.  We had successfully stayed focused enough on helping out at the barn, that we were able to keep our minds off of Gracie.  It was a hard start to the week - little sleep, little food, little happiness.  

It was no surprise to us when Gracie started doing better.  She's still getting used to life on 3 legs, but she's now able to get around the house, go up 3-4 stairs on her own, go down a full flight of stairs with absolute grace (even more so than she did on 4 legs!), and just today showed that she could hop up in her favorite recliner by herself!  Seeing her progressively doing better on three legs is really helping Lynette and I cope.  There is no doubt that it's been hard, but we're trying to be as optimistic as possible. If she's not giving up, we're not giving up on her.

The vet in Cincinnati mailed us a CD of the x-rays so we could consult our vet here.  We made an appointment and went in on Friday.  We basically went in for a second opinion and/or to see what they think since they're familiar with her, and her first surgery.  We didn't really come out of the appointment with a lot more information, but we did end up and have the x-rays from Cincinnati and the x-rays that our vet took post-op sent to some specialists at OSU to look at.  

Right now, we looking to see if she is a candidate for amputation.  The main reason being that it's that between the cancer and the break, it's the one thing that is causing her pain.  There are many things to consider as to why not to do it, but unfortunately they are less...precise, lets say.  It basically comes down to quality of life vs. quantity of life.  We don't want to put her through a major surgery if she'll then spend the remainder of her life recovering, but if the major surgery means she has a better quality life, then it might be worth it.  This might also depend on the type of cancer.  The vet in Cincinnati told us that the cancer was most likely osteosarcoma, but our vet here isn't necessarily convinced that it is.

Osteosarcoma is the most common bone tumor in dogs.  It's also highly aggressive.  We've concluded that this is most likely the primary site of the cancer, that was previously removed from Gracie's neck.  The vet also did some chest x-rays that didn't show any major concerns as far as metastasis.  There were definitely some areas of concern, but based on the fact that the survival time isn't very long because of the aggressiveness of the cancer, there is hope that it's something less aggressive.  I'm trying to stay optimistic that this is the case, and that the specialists at OSU will hopefully be able to provide some more insight.  

All in all, Gracie is doing well on her pain meds.  She's adapted to life on 3 legs and can do just about everything she did before.  I'm still carrying her upstairs at night because she doesn't yet have the strength for all of those stairs, and we're gating off the upstairs while we're gone.  I'm sure she's not happy that she can't come upstairs when she wants, but with the rate she's going now, I'm sure she'll be able to climb the stairs by herself in a week or two!

We'll keep you all up-to-date as things change.

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