Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The new chapter begins

Today was the first day in the new chapter of Blue, he had received all of his chemotherapy injections, and returned from a two week stay in the Highlands of Scotland, more on the holiday to follow.

After his final injection of chemotherapy, with agreement of his clinical team at Fitzpatrick referrals Oncology and Soft Tissue (FROST), this visit was the first in a new chapter.

Blue was only ever going to be permitted a number of Chemo injections, between 4-8, that number would be influenced by how he responded to the treatment, and how effective it was on the cancer.

To achieve this visit today is a milestone none of us could foresee back in November, where his life was being counted in terms of coming out of major surgery, to the next hour, the next day, the weekend, the next week, and to this day no further ahead, we choose to treat each and every day now as if it were his last.

We are now living with Blue, who lives with cancer, we have all learnt a lot about ourselves, but more importantly about Blue.

Blues new treatment is now to be in tablet form only, there are a variety of cocktails which will help him live with the cancer, how long for is still unknown, we would like that to be forever, but each day is welcomed and blessed on its arrival.

The medication Blue will be on will consist of 6 tablets a day, this in itself is a game of wits, one that can allow Blue to win the odd battle, but we need to ensure that the days he refuses his medication does not become a habit.

The tablets Blue has taken in the past, have been given in many forms, mixed in with fluids, solutions, foodstuffs and even via a syringe. While we were on holiday Blue had gone from somehow getting the tablet out of the food to under the plate, and when that didn't work, he began storing them in his jowls, as if he was some sort of hamster. Needless to say, a way of giving the tablets is ongoing work in progress, just like a game of chess.

Blue will have to be monitored for side effects, and return in two weeks time for a checkup.

Today was the consultation to discuss the next chapter with Senior Consultant Dr Kelvin Kow, who has been an absolute marvel with Blue, and with us also, we can not sing his praises enough, a credit to his profession.

Blue enjoys a short break, a quick wander out into the carpark

A visit to "FROST" is always an event, and today was no different, this is how it went:-

  • Blue was lifted into the car at 9:45 feeling slightly lighter, but with no sedatives
  • A journey of just under an hour see us arrive at "FROST" 
  • Wearing  his Halti and a muzzle Blue Sue and me were welcomed at reception
  • We were directed to the consultation room to await Dr Kelvin Kow
  • A number of attempts to weigh Blue confirmed he was around 49 - 50 kg
  • Minimal fuss as we discussed the options available for Blue
  • Urine sample required for a baseline, this would be fun, out we ventured into the car park.
  • Armed with a kidney shaped bowl we sought to gain a sample from Blue
  • On command Blue obliged, and Dr Kelvin expertly collected the valuable sample
  • We returned into reception, Dr Kelvin carrying said sample, took Blue from us.
At this point it was a terrific feat achieved by Dr Kelvin, walking along with said sample, and an un-sedated Blue, all was going well until Blue realised we were no longer with him. How the good Dr managed to hold Blue, who was making his best efforts to return to us, and not spill a drop amazed all onlookers, eventually he handed the sample to a nurse, and him and Blue disappeared through the doors to the treatment area. 

Sue and I waited for about 40 minutes, until we recognised those familiar sounds of paws on tiles, pulling a heavy load, sure enough, it was Blue coming back with Dr Kelvin, and his assistant.

The reports were good, he was no longer anaemic, and all other counts were where they needed to be.

Blue had become stressed, this was a concern of Dr Kelvin, and said that for Blues next visit, perhaps he should have sedatives, but only 5 not 10 as previous visits. Blue when anxious will not settle and his breathing is very rapid, while we waited for his meds to be prepared, I took Blue on a tour of the reception area, this helped calm him a little but not a lot.

Blue is a beautiful dog, and often receives admiring looks and comments, today was no different, but there were two special ones today.

Blue exchanges tweets with @PawsomeErik, who's Mum works as a Nurse at "FROST"  she popped out to say hi, passed comment that Blue was doing well, and gave Sue some gravy bones for Blue.

The other was from Laurent, the surgeon who removed the mass, which filled Blue's abdomen, Laurent commented on how well Blue was looking, we thanked him for the major part he played in helping Blue.

Dr Kelvin returned with Blue's meds, and was very complimentary, even though it sounds he may have pulled a muscle in his shoulder while holding Blue earlier. We all said that we could do with a rest this afternoon, wished each other well and said good bye until the next time.

Blue waited patiently at the reception desk while Sue paid for todays visit and set the appointment for a fortnights time.

Since we have been home Blue has enjoyed a play in the garden, a bit of rest and then a 30 minute walk.

At the start of this blog I mentioned we had gone to Scotland for a two week break, below are a few pictures of our holiday with Blue, I will follow this up soon with a blog dedicated solely to our holiday.

Blue says "Thank you for caring".

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Chemo #6

Blue today attended his sixth session of chemotherapy.

Those three week intervals come and go, we greet each one with apprehension, fingers crossed, clinging to any positive vibes we can.

Each visit we are 100% focused on Blue's well being and welfare, if this is his world, we share it together and live it each and every moment.

Complacency, granted, planning and many similar words have long since been removed from our vocabulary.

They are now replaced with today, hope, medicine, chemotherapy and admiration.

Straight to todays appointment, this is Blue's sixth and final Chemo session. We have now got this off to a fine art. The night before Blue gets a good play session in the garden, slightly longer than other nights, he has his anti-sickness tablets, and enjoys a good nights sleep on his own duvet, in the bedroom, where sometimes a contented, gentle snore will be our lullaby to sleep.

In the morning after an extended walk of about 20 minutes, we returned home for breakfast, mixed in are the daily tablets of gabapentine and yunnan baiyao which Blue shows no interest in until, he is spoon fed.

Blue was given 10 sedatives around 8:45 in preparation of his 11:00 appointment.

We set off around 9:50 and were confident as we lifted Blue into the car, that the sedatives were already having an effect and he was not feeling any lighter.

When we arrived at Fitzpatrick Referrals Oncology and Soft Tissue Centre (Affectionally referred to as "FROST"), reception was a busier place, but we confidently walked through to our waiting pod, Blue quickly settled.

As we waited we realised that something was missing, oh dear, Blue was muzzleless, this was soon remedied it was on the back seat of the car, no one noticed our error. Walking Blue into an occupied area without his muzzle to wait for a vet is unheard of.

Dr Kelvin Kow came out to see Blue and us, and introduced us to a new member of the team, his new right hand man, although she is actually a woman.

Dr Kelvin now feels confident to take Blue's lead and with his now, three assistants walks away with Blue, who spares a couple of concerned glances our way as he is lead off for his treatment, as they were yards away from the door, Blue goes to ground, but is soon persuaded to stand up and carry on. At least he didn't resort to his crocodile death roll, which he has perfected over the years with us.

Time for a coffee and people / dog watch as others come and go, some we have seen before most are new, but a much busier place than when we first attended this new unit in November last year.

The wait was just over an hour, Blue with his entourage returned back to us, although heavily sedated, walking without his support sling.

They reported that Blue has been unsettled today, slightly agitated, but co-operative, for Blue.

His chemo was administered without a problem, his blood levels were where they needed to be and he had gained weight, now up to 50.7kg

Blue has now had his final session of chemo, we have been told that only one in five dogs can handle what Blue has gone through, and we appreciate all that has got him through to this stage, much more than words could share.

Blue will have a three week rest before he begins a new chapter in his life, this will be though medicine administered by tablets, chemo, but in tablet form.

Those tablets will be measured through a specific formula to suit his weight and needs, they will be required daily for the rest of his life, how he will respond, we will have to wait and see.

Blue lives for today, and in the moment, and we look forward to sharing each and everyone of those days with him, ensuring all his needs are catered for, as best we can.

As I write this blog, Blue lays behind the sofa, contently sleeping off the sedatives, what he is unaware of is that on Sunday we will travel to the Highlands of Scotland, for a two week holiday.

We had not considered a holiday, since this all began, but it is now the right time, we all need some quality time together.

If it works, here is a short video of Blue out walking on a frosty Sunday morning.

Blue has continued with his swimming and extended walks, playing with footballs in the garden, his jollyball is unrecognisable as a ball these days, not bad considering he has had it for six years.

Blue has started to look for something to carry while out walking, I used to give him a bottle to carry, Sue now gives him something to carry when he wishes, recently it was his own extending lead.

Time to go and give Sue and our furry friend a huge cuddle, we all need it...............

You can always keep up to date on twitter look-up @BluetheGSD & @Bluesmummy