Not much news about Arwen is good news! The best news is that Arwen has one more chemotherapy treatment before she is finished. Hurrah! She has been very lucky and has had zero side effects from the chemo, except for a low platelet count every second week after chemo treatment. So she is at risk of her blood not clotting properly, but as long as she doesn’t get in any horrible accidents, the low platelets won’t affect her. The truly worst part about chemotherapy has been having to admit Arwen every 3 weeks. Arwen has never been a fan of the vet, but since her amputation surgery she has become even less of a fan, and understandably so. She starts shaking in the car the second we pull into the parking lot. In the lobby, she tries to hide under the chairs and tables. At the office’s recommendation, I have been giving her trazadone prior to every visit, but it has not made a large difference. Having to leave her while she’s scared at the vet is extremely hard for me, but is the standard process for chemo treatments. I have asked her vet to make an effort to keep Arwen for as short a time as possible. Sometimes I have been able to pick her up after about 3 hours, but the rest of the time Arwen is admitted for 4 hours or more. I have made a request that her last visit not last that long, and my vet is going to make a real effort to make it as quick a visit as possible (without compromising Arwen’s safety, of course). I have yet to discuss what recommended follow up will be for Arwen after chemo. (I actually have not spoken to the veterinarian overseeing Arwen’s care since October. I get emailed visit summaries from him, but every time I have a question or concern, a technician or receptionist relays the answer back to me. Not sure if this is standard for specialty practices.)
Nick and I have already decided that any further treatment that requires Arwen to be admitted for hours at vet offices is not going to be treatment we will pursue. It is my natural desire to want to pursue every avenue and treatment there is to keep Arwen well and give her as long a life as possible, but I have to check that desire to consider what Arwen would want. I wish she could tell me, but since she can’t, Nick and I have to rely on our parental instincts. And those are telling us that she doesn’t want to be admitted anymore.
I still take Arwen to a physical therapist once a month, and while she is a little wary at those visits, she’s not even half as bad as when she’s at the oncologist’s office. She gets to stay with me the whole time she does her PT, which keeps her confident, and she happily eats lot of treats with them (at her oncologist’s office she rarely accepts any treats). Her therapist ordered her a “hard” brace. They did the measurements and ordering about 3 weeks ago and the brace arrived yesterday. The brace is to help prevent further bowing in Arwen’s remaining front carpal area, and to help avoid the issue of carpal hyperextension. It is a lot stiffer than Arwen’s orange neoprene “soft” brace. We will slowly start using it every few days to get Arwen used to it.
Overall, we are so proud of how well Arwen is doing. I have started saying “Arwen’s Got 99 Problems But Missing A Leg Ain’t One of Them.” Here is a link to Arwen running with Nick 3 months post-op. The Ruffwear Webmaster harness with a brush guard comes in quite handy for them:
By comparison, here is Arwen just 8 days after amputation surgery:
We walk Arwen a half mile (with no assistance) every day and she gets to go up to the mountains every weekend to play in the snow at our local ski resort. Once chemo is done, we will feel more comfortable traveling with her again.
Kisses and hugs to all Arwen’s fellow tripawds and cancer patients!!