Sunday, 8 November 2015

Surgery, fear, anxiety, support all in a week.

Today Blue sits safely at home after a traumatic week, that has been who knows how long in the making.

First and foremost it has been without doubt a rollercoaster ride of emotions for all of us, just a couple of days ago, Blue was on the operating table, where a potentially life threatening decision was made, and some of Blues greatest battles for life began.

What every pet owner, has to do is what is right for their pet and them, what every pet owner may not have is the opportunity to take that ultimate decision.

How the week unfolded:
Blue had been on medication, which was increased following a rapid decline in his mobility

Blue was taken to Fitzpatrick Referral's in Eashing, Surrey. He was to have a further assessment with Ricardo, after a brief assessment which culminated in Blue being walked down a corridor crying in pain, as he was assessed by the Staff confirmed a rapid deterioration in Blue's health. We sat in the consulting room where we could hear his cries, he was in absolute agony.
Ricardo moved many things, most of which were behind the scenes, but somehow, he had arranged for Blue to be visited by an Oncologist, at the same time as he would undergo further scans. The rapid deterioration could only be the mass in his abdomen. As the practice was so busy, there were no large kennels available. We took Blue out to the car to wait, the wait was not long, Blue would have to be admitted, but co-operation is not there even if the help was in his best interest.
As Blue could no longer support his own hind legs, we used a support sling, buster collar, and sedatives to prepare him for his entry into the kennels. For all of that he stood stock still refusing to move, my wife Sue suggested I walked ahead so Blue would follow, which he duly did.
We left Blue in the hands of the experts, who were going to carry out the scan and take a biopsy of the mass.
Initially the mass was an incidental find, but spinal surgery would not proceed until the dynamics of the mass had been established.

Blues results were that the mass had grown, and there was a concern a biopsy may cause significant issues. The decision was that the Senior consultants would discuss Blues complex case the next day, as these exploratory tests had gone late into the evening, and all present wanted to review Blues case with others and without fatigue. This was confirmed to us at 10:15 pm 12hrs after he had been taken for his consultation.

Sue received a call to say that a decision was made that Blue needed to attend the Oncology and Soft Tissue Centre in Guilford. Because Blue was not co-operating, they asked if we could transfer Blue, for him to be assessed on Thursday morning first thing. We obviously said yes.

Blue was brought out of the kennels across the waiting room, bounding eagerly with his front legs while the nurses were trying to support and restrain him, he was pleased to see us.

We needed to travel along back roads due to major traffic jam heading up the A3 into Guilford, but we arrived at a brand spanking new state of the art building.

Welcomed, booked in, admiring comments of Blue, a cup of coffee, and we waited to be called.

One of the team called us into the consultation room; where all aspects relating to Blue were discussed ahead of the consultation with the Surgical Consultant, Laurent Findji examined the notes and Blue. Blue still not co-operating even with sedation, but  Laurent found enough for him to make his prognosis, surgery was required, and required today.
Blue was taken to the prep room for surgery, but not without christening the reception area, he started to wee, and not until he reached the other end did he finally stop weeing. Everyone was amazed that amount of fluid could come from one dog. The Staff were brilliant, it was no problem, they just cleared up behind him, no fuss, no bother.

We arrived home and sat and waited for the phone call, because even with all the scans carried out, they were still unaware of what the situation would be once Blue was opened up.

We got that call, late in the afternoon, the mass was significant and was attached to muscle and pressing on his spine and vital organs. Laurent gave us the options, close Blue back up and try to treat with Chemo and radio therapy, or remove as much as possible.
We advised Laurent our decision was for him to proceed to remove the mass, even though he could lose Blue on the operating table. Without doubt that decision could only come from the heart, but we owed Blue the chance for quality of life, we made our decision and began the long wait.

Neither of us are truly religious but in our own way we prayed for Blue to come through. All the moisture left our throats and formed tracks of tears down our faces, very few breaths were taken, we were in suspended animation in the darkest of tunnels, pressure pushing in from all around.

The phone call came; Blue had survived surgery, but had significant blood loss due to the tumour being removed from his abdomen, he was having a blood transfusion, he was not out of the woods yet.

At ten that evening, we were informed that Blue was stable and comfortable and the next twelve hours were crucial, to ensure that there is no internal bleeding.

Sue called the practice, and was informed Blue was fine, recovering post surgery. Our prayers were answered, Blue had overcome life threatening surgery, a blood transfusion, he now needed to rest, take on fluids and nutrition.

Blue had gone into lock down, he was being difficult and unco-operative. He would not allow staff to get close, he was weeing on his bed, but worst of all refusing to take food.
We had previously said that if we were needed we were only an hours drive away, and would assist in any way possible. They said perhaps a visit by us would encourage Blue to eat, so we set off for a 12:30 appointment.

We were ushered into a consultation room where we would wait for them to fetch Blue. They came back empty handed, Blue was refusing to move, could his Mum and Dad go to him?

As we approached a concern was that he would get over excited and do himself some harm. Blue came out of his area, not excitedly, but some recognition was there.

Well we sat with Blue,  our Blue, who had overcome some huge hurdles, what could we do. The best thing we could do was comfort him, through this comfort and acceptance, he eat his first morsel of food since 8:00pm on Wednesday; cooked turkey pieces were offered and accepted, sausage pieces were offered and declined, we stuck with the turkey.

Blues best interests were paramount and the decision was agreed, Blue would come home with us where we could give him the care and comfort to help him, the Nurse talked us all through the medication Blue required, restrictions and expectations.

The next challenge was to remove the lines and canulars attached to his front paws.

These were not removed without a struggle, Blue fought us all the way on removing these, the room looked like a murder scene before we were done.

Blue was taken to the car, and enjoyed an incident free journey home.

Last night was great to have Blue back home, and our joy was shared on Twitter;

This is a new chapter in Blues life, which we will continue to share his progress, he has a long road to recovery, as there are still lots of unknowns;

  • Is the tumour Benign or malignant
  • Is Chemo required
  • Are wounds going to heal without infection
  • Is spinal surgery still required
  • Will he use his back leg unaided
None of the above can be answered now, some may take weeks or months to be answered, we only know that those who prayed for Blue, helped him through these first vital steps.

Our special dog, has become a bit more special.

I can not end this blog without a big thank you to all those that have cared for or cared about Blue
but today I want to give some special thanks to all the staff at

and for the vital blood; 

Blue awaits his "Blue badge" to share that he is a recipient of blood from the PetBloodBank and would like to make others aware of this vital service.