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adventures of Manni the wonderdog

The cold, hard truth.

 

Hello all.

First of all: thanks for all the wonderful comments on my first post!

I was asked what we did for the phantom pains, if we did chemo, and so on. Let me start at the beginning. That being the day of my having to decide whether to put my dog to sleep or let them amputate a whole limb on an animal that has it in his nature and all instincts to, well, run. I tend to sound a little bitter on that topic, don’t I? Sorry.

So I decided I wanted to say I tried everything. However, I so feared that trying everything was not doing the dog justice but rather put him through hell. But it’s not like you can un-make that decision. The whole thing was actually a year ago yesterday. A Thursday. It was 9 (yes, in words, nine!) hours until I heard back from the clinic. 9 hours of devastation, pacing and crying. They failed to prepare me for how long the surgery takes. I have heard of quicker surgeries from other people by now but to be honest: it does make sense for it to take that long. I mean: you don’t just saw off the bone, do you?

So they finally called, late at night, when hours before I had already knocked on their door wanting to know if my dog made it. Then they told me I would “probably” get my dog back by Sunday, they wanted to keep him under observation and because he was still bleeding out of a drain. I was a wreck by Sunday, questioning my decision over and over, going in circles. The clinic offered me to visit him (offered, not advised) which I didn’t do because, well, he gets to see me and then I leave again? No.

On Sunday I was told he was still bleeding a little and that they wanted to keep him until Tuesday.

So on Tuesday I waited in one of the little rooms in the clinic, anxious and scared, and in hopped my little warrior. He still seemd a little dazed but I got him in the car and drove home. Yes, of course with different meds and advice and the next appointment in my purse.

When I got him out of the car he screamed for the first time. I almost dropped him and immediately started to tear up. I know I know: be strong for them. Carry on. Easy to say.

The worst sound I have heard in my entire life. Literally. That dog became my responsibility when I decided to give him a home. And he became a part of myself over the years. That scream (and the many more to come) broke my heart. And made me question my decision over and over again.

This was at home one of the first days:

 

 

 

It actually looked alright except for a big lump on the underside with fluid built-up. The suture was pretty good and the surgeons actually made an effort to close it in a way that wouldn’t mess up his coloring – which is a nice touch.

The first night, Manni actually went outside and peed. And screamed. twice. After that he refused to move pretty much. He did eat. Sort of. Little bits. But only if we brought it to him. Going outside would mean one would gently pull and one would gently push from behind. Forcing him. I HATED IT.

To make this shorter: along came Lilly and things got better.

BUT:

The phantom pains, the screaming, stayed with us for 6 months. Yes, six. And we did try different meds (I have not heard of Gabapenthin here in Germany but it might just be called differently).

The screaming turned into yelping and it got less over time.

As I said before I gave Manni four weeks to manage. He only just made it and I cursed myself for putting him through it every single minute of every single day. That’s how it really was. Not like I sugar-coat it almost every day when people stop, stare and then say how “well he manages, poor thing”.

I know I should be thankful I still have him, especially after 12 months and believe me when I say I AM! So much!

But the first weeks, and the diagnosis, and that decision: I don’t know about all of you who have been through similar things, but it was traumatic for me. And I hope, boy do I hope, less so for my dog.

To answer the question about chemo:

yes, we did do that. The way things were explained to me, especially the median survival rates with vs. without, I didn’t feel we had a choice. And so far, time has proven that to be the right thing. I have not mentioned chemo before and am not getting into it more because we really sailed through it. An upside, for once. From what I’ve read it’s the same ingredients here that they use in the U.S., carboplatinum and such.

We did physical therapy as soon as the suture allowed it and through the therapist found a group for handicapped and old dogs where they use different parcours and trails to build up muscles and balance. I will post a video of that later, I think. It is priceless for rehab and also a great way to spend quality time with my dog!

Let me finish with this: I do not regret the decision I made in the slightest. I am oh so thankful for every second more that I have with my dog. My beautiful miracle wonderdog. But, and that is a pretty big but: if I had chosen the other path it would have been ok, too. I truly believe that. But at least now both of us can say: we did it! We used all available resources and all our strength but we did it! and we made it this far!

If anyone is reading this who is still in the decision-making process: it is so easy to say “go with your heart”. I didn’t feel like my heart really knew, either. I just know you have to stand by your decisions and live with them. and, above all, do whatever you can for your pup – they are your responsibility.

It actually feels really good to be writing this all down, venting. Thank you for bearing with me!

last, not least, by popular demand ๐Ÿ™‚ this is Lilly, the amazing neighbordog and Manni, about 6 months post-amp:

ย 

 

8 Comments

  1. Congrats to you and Manni on making the 1 year ampuversary! Beautiful photos by the way ๐Ÿ˜€
    I also have struggled since our the decision to amputate. Our beautiful 9 year old Greyhound has just reached 7 months post amp and I regularly say to my husband that despite the fact that we’ve been able to enjoy our boy for (so far,) at least another 7 months post OSA diagnosis, I do not know if I would do it all again (were we to get another dog and have the same thing happen). The initial 24 hours post op when he came home were horrendous. The second night home, he cried for 5 hours straight yet there was absolutely nothing we could do to help given he was as medicated as he could be without being unconscious. I spent the first 48 hours crying and convinced we’d made the wrong decision to amputate. We also had some issues with infection in the week following and he required a second procedure to deal with the infection/seroma/sinus tract and then a second sinus tract opened up less than a month later.
    Obviously, it got better, but I know I still carry A LOT of trauma surrounding the amputation and initial period afterwards, even though I am completely grateful that I have been able to enjoy all this extra time we never thought we’d have following the initial diagnosis. I’ve also had so many people be amazed when they met our boy up and about in the initial month after the op and they’d say “aren’t they amazing how quickly they adapt” etc etc. and I felt like say ing ‘you have no idea what he’s been through in order to be wandering over to you, having “adapted” ‘ but instead I just agree…
    It is an immensely difficult decision and I do agree when you say, either way, it would have been ok too. But, yes, as your dog’s friend and guardian you do have to decide what you think they, and you, can deal with and support them through whatever decision you make as either decision has a lot of emotion attached to it and I think either way, you would always wonder whether what you did was really right.
    Having said that, I do love that we’ve been able to give our boy extra time as we 100% believe that he definitely wasn’t ready to go when we got the diagnosis and still isn’t and we’re making the most of the time we have left. But seeing your precious pet in such pain, it really can’t help but make a big impact, no matter how positive it ends up.
    Enjoy whatever time you have with Manni as we do with our beautiful boy. I still cannot imagine life without our boy and I know when I see him do the funny little things he’s always done, and when he puts his head on my leg as I walk around, as he’s always done, that he still wants to be here as much as I want him to. And that’s why we put themselves, and us through it all. Likewise, we all used all our available resources to bring us to where we are now.
    Anyway, delete if my post is too much of a downer. I was just so surprised to read something that really mirrored a lot of what I felt during this, but that doesn’t seem to get touched upon as frequently. So thank you for that.

    • tinsch

      December 16, 2016 at 12:41 pm

      Oh Laura, never would I delete this! It is actually so good for once to not hear: I would do it again in a heartbeat; they adapt so quickly, and so on. Even after 12 months I still tear up thinking about the first weeks. And, what I didn’t even mention: the constant worry, the constant: oh gosh, is that a sign for cancer? will he live another month? and to be brutally honest: if I had known all that in advance, I am not certain my decision would have been the same. as hard as that is to say.

      • Thank you for your response – sorry it’s taken me so long to get back here! I definitely know everything you just replied with, esp. the constant worry – for the first few months after his amp I was on constant super high alert looking for signs he was constantly in pain etc etc – fortunately I’ve since backed that off (just) a bit, and despite still being on constant alert am actually able to also really enjoy him more.

        I still assess him every day and have constant internal dialogues of “is he panting because of the lung mets or because it’s currently so hot where we live that even the fish in the tank are sweating?” Every time he does something even slightly different or looks at me in a funny way my brain runs off on the usual tangent, and I also still cry when I think back to the op and immediate aftermath (and when I’m out and about driving around and happen to see other greyhounds walking around on their 4 legs and my inner 3 year-old starts yelling “It’s not fair!!!!!!!!!”) .

        BUT we are nearly at 8 months post amp and we had him for his 9th birthday in October AND for Christmas which, at his initial diagnosis and amp back in May we definitely were not expecting, so we try to take each day as it comes. It’s funny because you feel grateful with each month that passes, that you’ve been able to have another month with them, but at the same time, you know that the chance of things taking a turn for the worse gets higher.

        So…. Constant double edged sword. You just try to give them as much love as you can while you still have them, and perhaps more than most owners of other dogs, you’re more aware of the need to enjoy them while they’re still with you.

        My boy is as much of an idiot as he always was and still a sneaky, cheeky little brat! And I’m thankful for that. He makes me laugh on a daily basis and absolutely loves his cuddles with Mum!

        Thank you so much for your posts. They really resonate with our experience.

        • Laura, thank you for your comments! It seems like you’re speaking for me actually.
          You know: your inner 3-year old and mine should get together and have a party. They would get along great! ๐Ÿ™‚
          I know exactly what you mean. I look at other dogs Manni’s age and while I would like to say I don’t wish this on anyone (I don’t really), I also don’t think it’s fair that my active, not-looking-his-age, boisterous dog had to lose a leg while others, well…
          I do the assessing bit as well. I even take videos of his breathing if you believe it… and yes, I am so glad we’ve had all these months, especially when I read some other stories, BUT (that is one big but) you’re right: time seems to be running out…

  2. I am a Veterinary technician that works in critical care and have cared for hundreds of amputations. When my dog was diagnosed with osteosarcoma I decided to go the palliative route and have the source of pain removed, her right front limb. It is different when it is your own dog! The first few days were emotionally draining and very difficult. I have access to the best Vets, oncologists and technicians, AND it was still difficult! Tripawds is a wonderful resource that has helped me many times and the support of all the wonderful members who are going through the same thing! I think medical professionals who are wonderful and skilled with our beloved pets, sometimes forget to care for the owners…thanks for sharing your story…kim

    • tinsch

      December 16, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      thank you Kim! I live here in Germany and vet care here is equally good and moral support equally bad. Sadly, there is no literature on this in German. I only came across the Dog Cancer Survival Guide 2 months ago (and showed it to my vet immediately, telling him to READ it) and this site only a little earlier. Moral support would have been great in the first weeks.

  3. Oh Manni!!! You are such a handsome boy!!! And your girl pal Lilly is beautiful!!

    I love that picture of you standing in the water with yiur beae fluffy tail held high enjoying just being you!!!

    Everyone,
    ‘S comments are so honest a d heartfelt. Thank you all for expressing yiur feelings and I hope, in some small way, it’s cathartic.

    I didn’t join this community until day six…and I’m sooo glad I found them! I was devastated seeing what I had done TO my dog! As you each know, it’s THE worse feeling ever! Without the support here and the invaluable information of what was “normal”, my fears started ro subside. Finally around the three week mark I coukd say I did this FOR my Happy Hannah! A d gosh, not to jave had Gabapentin for Mannie’s phantom pain…ugh!

    And yes, those first several weeks are so intense and the exhaustion and the second guessing and the fear a d panic and helplessness..just awful. It is traumatic and it does stay with you. Everyone handles this journeynin their own way and there are certainly no right or wrong ways!! Thankfully though, the happier we see our dogs become all those scary times get pushed further and further into the background. They are soooo glad ro be alive!! Seeing their sparkle come back and their zest for life come back…pure bliss!

    But for me, and this is just me, I KNOW my Happy Hannah wanted me to try!! And I KNOW each of your dogs did too!! And to know they moved past recovery, left all that behind them and were able ro get on with extended time for loving and spoiling and tummy rubs and treats and ice cream and pizza…yeah, as far as my dog was concerned, it was worth every second!

    And we are all here to support each without judgey, just with care and compassion, because we understand like nomotbers can! So feel free to share feeling and emotio s, happy times, not happy times…we get it!!

    And right now we have a SPECTACULAR dog to celebrate!!! Manni is not only adorable and smoochable, he is such an inspawration!!! And his human is too!! You stayed the course with no support, with phantom pain going on, and you are finally able to embrace the Miracle Dog Manni is as you see him happy and pain free! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Manni, like all of our dogs, teach us to stay in the now, to live life in the moment without ever looking back! The present is all they care about and they never let anything rob them of our time together :-)! :-)! Ahhh…the bliss of being dog!

    Manni, I look forward to following you on all your adventures AND more great photos!!! You are absolutely the cutest pup ever!!!! And give Miss Lilly a smooch for us too!

    Great job TEAM MANNI! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Love and hugs to all!

    Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

    • tinsch

      December 19, 2016 at 7:33 am

      Thank you Sally! It is so invaluable to have people who understand. I mean, people are sympathetic, mostly, but only the ones that have been through this can really comprehend. I teared up again reading your comment and that’s a good thing ๐Ÿ™‚
      Thank you for your support!
      tina and Manni

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