Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Chemo Session #4 (and a new job)

Sedated but always aware.......
Today was Chemo Session #4 for Blue, which has become a routine that Blue finds quite relaxing, but that is on Blue's scale. Any other dog you may feel Blue is far from relaxed, but trust us when we say "he is relaxed".

Blue began the day the evening before, let me explain. Ahead of Chemo, Blue is required to take anti-sickness tablets, these were lovingly crushed in a pestle and mortar, sprinkled and mixed in with a tin of sardines. Once sniffed, for any nasties, Blue wolfs it down, and proceeds to clean the bowl of all evidence that it was ever used to dish up food.

So back to today, we all had a lie in, and Blue went and done his business in the park, before coming home and having a hearty breakfast, unaware of what lay ahead, until 10 minutes before we left, he spotted the muzzle on the stairs. But there was no fuss, that might be in part to the sedatives that he was given at 8:20 am
The previous session the sedatives did not seem to kick in within the prescribed 2 hours, so we gave him them a little earlier so they would be in his system and working before his 10:30 appointment.

We left home shortly after 9:00am needing to get fuel for the car and a minor diversion to Asda to exchange a DVD, a completely different story.

 Reading to Guilford is just over 30+ miles and at this time of the day, very little traffic was encountered meaning we were there at 10:20am As we opened the car door, Blue was not up and alert ready to go, so a bit of coaxing was required, but once his paws were on the pavement we were heading for the door, well Blue was heading for the door, we did well to keep up. The push button on the sliding doors activated before Blue could ram it with his snout, and the same with the inner door. We made our way to a waiting pod in reception, where Blue quickly settled, to await our turn.

Once in the pod with Sue and me, Blue quickly settles, and is very relaxed, although he has been here before many times, he accepts it as a safe place, that is a credit to the Staff, team and designers of this state of the art unit. 

Bliss was disturbed with the arrival of Dr Kelvin Kow, and his assistant Nurse Emma. Moments later Blue settled back down, giving us the chance to recall how Blue has been since his last visit.

We told how Blue had been improving to the point that he had gone for two swim sessions and an hour plus walk at Queen Elizabeth Country Park in Hampshire. Also he retained a healthy appetite and was on minimum pain relief.

There was some concerns about Blue that we had agreed to share, it would be in Blue's interest long term. That concern was since Blue had undergone the major surgery to remove the mass from his abdomen, to date we had seen improvement in various different ways. That changed on Sunday, Blue was being playful and boisterous, and rolled over on his back, and gave a yelp. We then noticed he was "hovering" his back leg. From there on in we have tailored back his walks and avoided getting him too excited.

Dr Kelvin suggested we did not jump to any conclusions, let's see how he is. With a bit less than usual handling Blue went with me and Dr Kelvin to the door through to the business part of the building, where Nurse Emma and Dr Kelvin took Blue for his session and checks.

Sue and me sat in our Pod, accepting the offer of coffee while we waited, the 30-45minutes.

Sue recognised Blue was approaching, before he had turned the corner and come into view, Blue was coming straight back to us, with Dr Kelvin on the other end of the lead, doing well to keep up.

Blue quickly settled down enabling us to be updated; Dr Kelvin Kow was pleased on a number of counts, blood tests were normal for Blue, based on previous tests. Although there would be concern for blood results returned in a healthy dog, these were causing no concern in Blue. His weight has gone up about 300grams. 

There was a twist though, not only was the Dr pleased with what he had seen, but was taken aback at how well Blue was walking, and his strength, we joked and said "Blue knows where Blue wants to go" and he said he started to protect me like I was one of the family, when a Nurse approached them.

Sue said, welcome to an exclusive club, fancy that Blue protecting the vet, which made us all smile.

In three weeks time Blue will return to the Oncology and Soft Tissue Centre of Fitzpatrick referrals where he will have a CT scan, this will determine the next stage.

Blue is not following a well defined path, his treatment is bespoke to him. The permutations are endless, even as we were consulting with the Doctor, you could see he was working out options that would best suit Blue and his condition. 

Blue has gained a new friend in this process, one he is keen to protect, and that is Blue's new job.

Blue was even presented with his own file box, to keep his paperwork up together..........

We arrived home safe and sound around about 12:30 and once again found it difficult to scoop Blue out of the car, I said to Sue, we could do with one of them tipper trucks.
Blues medicine for the next three weeks.......

 If you have found this blog interesting, enlightening especially the progress of Blue and his fight against cancer, you can learn more of what this practice does on 4th February 2016

World Cancer Day is the subject of a forum from 6-7pm


Blue stayed awake for one more picture before getting his head down,the eyes say it all!!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Active Blue

No it's not a new after shave, but a collection / playlist of Blue having fun in many ways.

Decided to share this playlist after hearing how much a friend of Sue's had commented on watching and enjoying all 17 clips.

Today it was confirmed when Blue goes to his Chemo #4 session next week, he will not be having a CT scan, it will now likely be booked in for another day, 16th February 2016

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Taking a trip out.

This week we broke our own golden rule, not to plan ahead. Well I say broke it, is not exactly true, let me explain.

At the beginning of the week I suggested to Sue, we took Blue out on Saturday morning for a walk somewhere a little more exciting for him. The place I had in mind was Queen Elizabeth Country Park set in Hampshire. A place we have visited in the past, and had many an enjoyable walk.

Before we share our walk, a little more on events this week;

Blue has now decided that pain relief tablets are no longer digestible, no matter how they are masked wrapped, disguised they are off the menu. Consulting with the Vet it has been agreed, Blue can go without them. We need to make sure he does not suffer pain, but Blue does not hide pain very well. To this end we feel we could tell if he was suffering in a detrimental way. The tablets he was taking remain in the cupboard, and we would find a way if needed to re-introduce them to him.

Blue remains active and walks have increased in length, but only marginally.  He rests well, and is now accustomed to coming into our bedroom and sleeping on his bed, most nights without a murmur, occasionally an excursion in the wee small hours, if you get my drift.

Wednesday was swim night. Two things were different, first and foremost for this occasion the camera was left at home. We already own a huge amount of pictures of Blue swimming, more would never be enough, but for all the right reasons, tonight was camera free.

The second and greatest challenge, Blue would go swimming without a buoyancy aid/jacket. We all agreed it was best that Blue wore a walking harness with a tethered line, which would not impede his swim, but would aid a rescue should one be required. I gallantly suggested "if he got in trouble Sue and Carol could rescue him first and I would help if they struggled", women first, as they say in the movies. I think they got the joke.

Blue did not need rescuing and was in and out of the pool chasing his trusty ball, having a shower and blow dry at the end. Cautiously he only had 12 minutes, but he was content.

Friday night came and we looked at the weather forecast, cold and dry, ideal walking conditions, tomorrow was on, we were going to go to the Park in Hampshire.

Queen Elizabeth Country Park

As you may of guessed already, from the picture at the top of this blog, we went to the park.

Located just over an hour from our home in Berkshire, it would be far enough to travel, but not much more than Blue has travelled recently, certainly less than our recent journey to Milford on Sea.

We set out at about 10:00am and entered the postcode, obtained from their website,  into the satnav.

11:15 we were parked up in the "Juniper" Car Park all day cost of £3 a bargain, as there is no other cost to go walking to your hearts content.

As always Blue had been impeccable on  the journey, not a murmur just popping up each time the indicator was activated, if the car remains in motion he settles back down, if it stops, he begins to get excited and looking at where we have arrived at.

We obtained a map from the gift shop, and decided our route. We agreed it would be a gentle walk of about an hour. In fact it lasted one hour and twelve minutes. Sue has always kept a log of the duration of Blue's walks since his spinal surgery when he was a pup.

As we began our walk we passed some children playing with their parents and were overheard saying "Wow, look a German Shepherd" said with excitement and glee, and followed it up with "He's huge"
This made both me and Sue smile, as we have heard many times throughout Blue's life.

Blue makes an impact wherever he goes, not always for the right reasons, today was no different. The previous comments were not said direct to us, but as one person said what a beautiful dog, Blue replied with his customary bark, defending us. Strange sometimes what goes through his mind.

The walk was great, and ended up with a picnic on a bench, alfresco, we had a great time, good fun, good exercise and our own great company.

Unlike the swimming we decided to capture the day on camera, and loaded up the footage on Youtube last night

and a few pictures taken of the picnic

That is all for now, only one thing left to say, when we went to bed last night, Blue slept on our bed.

We had spent the day together, and then the night together, we all slept content and soundly.

Thank you to all, for the tremendous support for Blue on this amazing journey.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Chemo Session #3

Some pictures we take, can mean so much, but for others to see, what you see, it is necessary to share the journey that led to that picture.

Blue has today been to Fitzpatrick Referrals for his 3rd session of Chemotherapy, although still drowsy from the sedatives, he is now at home with a bag of treats from the kind Nurse, who has a dog called Erik, that Blue shares tweets with, @PawsomeErik on twitter.

It has been a few weeks since news of Blue has been blogged, there is good reason, Christmas was one and the other, time was better spent enjoying his company.

Back to today, at 10.00am Blue was given his usual 10 tablets of Acepromazine (10mg) we were all ready to go for 10.30 for the trip to Guildford for a noon appointment.

As we walked out of the house the tablets were already having an effect, Blue leaning on anything that came close, walls, radiator, legs anything. We got him to the back of the car, and as we jointly lifted him up into the car, I commented that he has had some Christmas excess.

We arrived in good time, the journey just over an hour, meaning we were a bit early, but decided to take Blue in and await our appointment in one of the receptive pods, ingenious idea. Blue settled quickly, which was good. But as it came to his turn, the sedatives seemed not to be so effective as in the past, keeping the muzzle on was a good idea.

The next part is some on the hoof choreography, this was because Dr Kelvin Kow and PawsomeErik's mum approached and Blue was vocal and alert, suspicious at what was going on. The idea was that Blue would be taken to the treatment room for his Chemo session.

So leading off Sue supported Blue's wobbly back end with a sling, as I lead him out of the pod and in the direction of the door.

It was a cross between a dance and a relay race, seamlessly the Doctor and the Nurse took the reins in mid flow, and guided Blue to the transfer door, and gave little resistance as he walked off with his new dancing/relay race partners.

We waited back at the pod, for about half hour, until Blue returned, with the Nurse and his bag of treats. The Nurse had said that Blue had done well, and was nice and calm throughout his session, the Doctor was soon with us to explain the results.

His 3rd Chemo session was administered without any problems, his blood tests had shown a small improvement in the red blood cell count, lower than normal but better. Blue's weight had gone back up to 49kg.

Dr Kelvin spent a further 10 minutes talking through how Blue was getting on with the chemotherapy, gaining weight, and an appetite to interact and be more mobile were all positives. For Blue there can only be today, but we have to discuss what is on the horizon. Blue is booked in for session #4 in three weeks time.

Dependant on how Blue is, a week before that session, we have to call and advise the Doctor, he will then make a decision about whether Blue will need a CT scan at his next appointment. The scan will determine if there is a return of any masses or tumours, that will then be a crossroads to decide what the next stage is for Blue.

The treatment he is receiving is limited, to 4-6 sessions only, and they normally cease to be less effective beyond the 5th or 6th treatment. Continued usage risks damaging the heart irreversibly, but there is an antidote. There could be a change of treatments, to tablet medication, which attacks the cancer cells in a different way. But to make that decision the CT scan is required, we have said that we will follow the advice and be guided by their expertise judgement.

We shook hands, and it was time to transport the little fella back home. Traffic was light and the return journey was only an hour.

How do you lift a 49 kilo ball of fur out of a car, we tried several ways, each time his head was lolloping out the back of the car door further and further, we both got the giggles, but finally somehow using the sling and kinetics we got him out, good job we weren't being filmed, that would have been a sight.

Since our last blog, Blue has got to walk a little further each week, and last weekend he got to walk a whole circuit of the local park, so for a special treat for all of us we went to the seaside.

Words not needed, you can tell how much Blue enjoyed his trip to Milford on Sea.


Christmas was fun, especially the quality time we had together.

But the one thing that has always been special to Blue, was being able to go swimming.

Thank you for reading.

The time spent with Blue is worth more than money.

The lessons learnt with Blue are invaluable.

Special Thanks to all those who have supported the three of us: