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adventures of Manni the wonderdog

Tag: osteosarcoma

The Ghost of Christmas Past

I now only ever seem to write on December 10 and that makes it three years now. Three years or a lifetime. I feel like a completely different person with a whole other life – but then again the world around me has changed just as much.

I sometimes feel older than my years and when I imagine you, Manni, it feels like I am looking out of my Granny armchair, with a checkered woolen blanket over my knees, remembering the way the world was then, in Technicolor almost. That’s because it does not feel like the two of us together would ever fit into the world right now so it’s more like revelling in the memories of my youth.

Today, I look out from my armchair and in my mind’s eye I see the first gently falling snow of three years ago, I hear in my mind your quiet whimper early in the morning telling me that the pain is getting too much even for you to bear, I see the painful way I try to make smalltalk with the vet through my held-back tears, I see you hopping into your yard to feel the first snow and I see you, or what once was you, lying peacefully, head slightly sideways on your one front paw, having taken with you everything that defined me.

I let my mind wander back another two years, the two years that broke so much of me and all of you. I see you being taken in for an MRI, after a horrible night of morphine, to find out what was wrong with you and thinking that maybe you just had a thorn in your paw, like the little lion that you were. Two years back to when I had to make the decision in 15 minutes of whether or not to take the leg of an animal that was born to run;  to the nail-biting five days you spent at the clinic with me wondering how in the world I was to know what the right decision was for you and not for me. Getting you back in the sterile surroundings, out of your head on meds and missing a leg. Hearing you scream, loudly, for the first time when I try to get you in the car and then crying my eyes out.

My younger self is shaking a little, eyes getting moist. I tell my mind’s eye to get back to the present and shake off lingering ghosts and horrors. I open my eyes and I see Thilo, in whose eyes I can do no wrong and I am glad he doesn’t know. I see the latest addition to the household, little Erna, who is just so ridiculously cute that it’s almost absurd. I see our new house and am briefly reminded that I purposely left your dissolvable urn in the old yard because it was your yard, really, and you would have wanted to stay.

Scrooge slowly turned into a better person by being visited by his ghosts. What made me a better person, Manni, was you – whatever that makes me now.  And so I once more welcome both your front paws on my knees with the checkered blanket. I hold your head and bury my nose into the silken fur behind your ears and take in your scent. And then I let you go. Again.

Until next year, Baby,

Ich lieb’ dich.

everywhere you go.

 

Thank you Rene, Jim, Wyatt and Jerry! A new year, best wishes and some thoughts.

A very Happy New Year to each and every one of you!

Almost right on time for Christmas Manni got a package from overseas and is now the proud owner of Tripawds bandannas! Thanks again guys, we’ll spread the word!

While Manni is probably pretty much the coolest dog when it comes to New Year’s Eve and fireworks, all of us hate it. I have never seen the point in making so much unnecessary noise. Manni is not scared at all (although he does find the whole shenanigans at midnight strange), he would just REALLY like to go outside and KILL THE THINGS that make all that noise and the weird light… literally. He would go after them if he could. I told him that we don’t have another spare limb for him and kept him leashed. I, however, get even more annoyed with all the noise and decided that this year we are definitely going away to somewhere quiet. So. That’s decided.

On a more serious note:

Everybody these days writes and talks about how 2016 was pretty bad for them and the new year can only get better. After this whole ordeal with the surgery and the aftermath I am not all that positively inclined to be honest. I know we have a lot to be thankful for. And still having Manni here is definitely the biggest thing. However, and I am sure some of you feel the same way if your dog was amputated due to cancer: my hopes are just not all that high. I expect metastasis to pop up any day and I am convinced that 2017 will be the year that I lose my baby.

As always, however, there is nothing left for us but to carry on and on and create the most beautiful and best memories together so that they may last at least a lifetime.

All the best to everyone in this special community. May you have the best 2017 possible.

I love you, pooch.

Tina

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 🙂 this is Lilly, the amazing neighbordog and Manni, about 6 months post-amp:

 

 

Hello Folks, this is Manni’s story

This is Manni. He lost his leg a year ago due to cancer and inspite of his chances of survival not being all that high, he goes on adventures and enjoys life to the fullest.

I just try to keep up and do the same.

After surviving the first few months of his life in the streets of Greece, Manni came to Germany as a rescue. Being a healthy mix of who knows how many breeds he was never ill in the first 8 years of his life. Shortly before his ninth birthday, however, he all of a sudden could only walk on three legs and even when lying down held one leg up because he was in so much pain.

At the vet clinic he was taken into the MRI after no medication, not even opiates, helped with the pain. then came the horrible news: “Manni has bone cancer, osteosarcoma, and we did not even wake him up because he is just in too much pain. It’s either amputate or letting him go”.

Honestly? You want me to make that decision out of the blue in, like, ten minutes? Wow.

Give Manni a fighting chance on three legs, with risking a lot more pain, falls and possible trauma? Putting him down at the peak of his life but sparing him from further pain?

What is the right decision for the dog and not the owner??
To me, and to this day, it comes down to this question.

I decided to give it a try. Because you can only put an animal down once, can’t you?

But I also, in my mind, gave Manni four weeks to manage. Basically, if I felt after 4 weeks that he was not doing ok, I would have had him put down then.

And it was close, to be honest. The first 2 weeks were horrible. If I had known that before, well… but what really made all the difference was getting him motivated again. In Manni’s case motivation came in the form of his big doggy love Lilly, our neighbor’s dog. The poor man had to bring his dog over three times a day so mine would go outside. From then on, improvement was constant, except for the phantom pains that stayed with us for 6 months before slowly disappearing. Physical therapy and training made for additional improvement, balance and power.

We just had our 12-months x-rays taken. I expected the absolute worst, was entirely sure of it, BUT!!! so far, we are all clear!!!! 12 months!!! Going strong.

Today, we enjoy each other’s company more than ever before and cherish each moment together. While all the odds are against us and the likelihood of metastases is extremely high, the bond between us has never been stronger and our adventures together never more beautiful.

What I will ever do without him, I don’t know. But we are not there yet. Strive to survive.

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