Tuesday, August 7, 2012

An Update and a New Blog

Justin and I found a way to ease the pain of grieving our Lexie (or, at the very least, distract us from it).  Everyone, meet Margot.  :)

We bought her all kinds of new toys, but her favorite toys are by far Lexie's old stuffed animals.  (This photo brings me to tears every time I look at it.)

If you'd like to see LOTS of cute Dobe puppy pictures and hear about the ups and downs of raising Margot, I welcome you to follow my new blog.  Take care, everyone.  :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

I Miss Her So Much

Last night, I told Justin that, over the years, I have randomly wondered which of my girls would be the first to go.  It's something that I have been naturally dreading and trying to prepare myself for ever since I first got Jocie 11 years ago.  I told Justin that I would try to imagine what life would be like without Sam, or what life would be like without Jocie, but any time I would start to think about what my life would be like without Lou, I just couldn't.  I literally could not imagine my life without Lexie in it.  I still can't.  I'm still in...not denial...but total disbelief. 

I pulled up some old videos last night because I wanted to replace the memories I have from these last couple of months with those from much happier times:

I would be lying if I said that Justin and I haven't already talked about getting a Doberman puppy sometime in the near future.  I wish I could tell you that I can't even bear the thought of "replacing" Lexie, but that's not true.  There is a huge void in my life now.  While I love Sam and Jocie with all my heart, they just have very different personalities. 

Jocie's a goofball and cracks me up sometimes with her weirdo behaviors (she has this whole OCD routine she performs before she eats sometimes that you just wouldn't believe), but for the most part, she's kind of a loner.  I call her my "cat-dog" because she generally likes to just keep to herself and hang out behind the couch most of the time, and she only comes out whenever she decides she wants a little attention. 

Sam is SUCH a sweetheart.  I have often referred to her as my "human dog" because I swear she feels emotions just like a human.  In fact, ever since we took Lexie yesterday, Sam's been sleeping in the laundry room, which is where she usually hides whenever there's a thunderstorm.  She also refuses to sleep on the doggy bed where Lexie last slept.  She just feels every emotion SO deeply, and she wears her heart on her little doggy sleeve.  In general, though, Sam is one of the laziest creatures you'll ever meet.  Maybe it's the coonhound in her, but all she wants to do is sprawl out on the couch, sleep, and eat.

It's Lexie's GIANT, active personality that has left such a void in my heart.  She's what made this house feel alive.  Dobermans are notorious for being demanding for affection and attention, and that's exactly what I miss about Lou.  Again, I love my Sam and my Jocie, please do not get me wrong about that, but, well, for example, when I got home from work yesterday, no one came running up to greet me.  Sam kind of lifted her head up and wagged her tail at me, and Jocie finally came out from behind the couch when I asked the girls if they had to go pee, but I missed having my Lou right there at the door waiting for me with one of her stuffed animals in her mouth, with her little nubble (tail) going a million miles a minute (we called that "nubble trouble").  Also, for some reason I prefer to sit on my living room floor whenever I watch TV sometimes and lean back against the couch, and when I did that last night I really missed how Lexie used to come over and lay down on the floor right beside me.  I will especially miss her in the winter because we used to snuggle on the floor by the fire together.

So, again, I'm not even going to pretend that my heart isn't aching for Lexie's void to be filled.  No dog will ever "replace" my Lou, of course, and part of me feels very guilty for even considering adopting another Doberman puppy so soon after Lexie's passing, but I just don't know how long my heart can survive with this huge hole in it.  I'm definitely not going to get a new pup before September, though, because I have a vacation coming up at the end of August.  So, I have over a month to really think about it, but Justin seems to agree with my reasons for wanting another Dobe and is all for the idea.

No matter what, Lexie will always be my first true Dobe love.  She stole my heart from the minute I laid eyes on her.  I'll never forget that day, either.  Chris answered an ad in the local paper for a Doberman puppy and brought her with him to pick me up from work.  As soon as he walked around the side of the car with that adorable little baby girl, I completely melted right there in the parking lot.  I even remember saying, "Oh my GOD," and my hands grasped at my heart the moment I saw her.  Yeah, she definitely had me completely wrapped around her little paw from Day One. 

Anyway, I feel like I'm just rambling now.  I guess there isn't much else to really add to this blog, I just feel almost panicked at the thought of ending it.  It's the same feeling I got last night when I purchased Lexie's urn online.  Justin and I spent a good hour or so shopping for an urn in which to keep Lexie's ashes.  (I paid to have a private cremation for her so that I could keep her ashes.  I plan to put some of her cremains with Chris' ashes, which I will be scattering someday, per Chris' wishes.)  We chose an urn that basically looks like a double picture frame, but there is a box behind the main frame for her ashes.  We were happy with our choice and I added it to the online shopping cart, but just before I clicked "Purchase," I had a moment of panic.  I looked at Justin and said tearfully, "I don't want to buy Lexie an urn."  What I meant, of course, was just that I wanted her to still be alive, but Justin understood exactly what I meant.

So, as I said, that's the way I'm feeling right now in regard to ending this blog.  In a way, this feels like another big, heartbreaking good-bye.  I have "met" so many wonderful, caring, and amazing people because of this experience, and it warms my heart that so many of you have told me that you feel like you knew Lexie, despite having never met her, because of this blog.  It saddens me in ways that I can't even express in words that this is all now coming to an end.  I hope you all know how much your support and encouragement have meant to me.  Your kindness and generosity have changed my life forever. 

In fact, after I post this final blog, I will be heading over to the Special Needs Dobermans website to set up a monthly donation.  It won't be much right now, as I am currently thousands of dollars in debt over Lexie's medical expenses, but I know from personal experience that even a $5 donation can help save a Dobe in need.  So, for the rest of my life, I will be donating at least $5 per month (more when or if I ever have more to give) in Lexie's name to this and possibly other organizations who help people in need pay for their beloved pet's medical expenses.  I highly encourage everyone who is reading this blog to do the same.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.  I know that Lexie appreciates all of your love and support, as well.  Please take care, and give all of your fur babies a kiss on the nose for me.  :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Saying Good-Bye

When I got up this morning, I found that Lexie's mammary wounds had bled through her doggy bed during the night.  I can't believe she even found the strength to get up, go down the front steps, and walk into the yard to pee, but she did.  She did it for me.  She fought so hard for me for so long, but she collapsed on the sidewalk before she could make it back into the house, and I knew at that moment that I wasn't going to make Lexie fight any longer. 

Justin sat with her and said his good-byes while I got ready to take her to Dr. Ellis.  Then, before I left, we held each other and cried as I thanked Justin for taking such good care of my Lou.  I told him how much she loved him.  It broke my heart to see him crying so hard for her, and for me, but it also made me realize just how lucky I and my girls are to have him in our lives. 

Unfortunately, Dr. Ellis wasn't at Animal Care Clinic today, so they sent us to Dr. Mark Ayers' office.  All of the staff and Dr. Ayers were so kind to me and Lou.  I'm glad that she was surrounded by so many kind, happy voices in her final hour.  I'm also so glad that I decided to stay and be with her while she was euthanized.  I put my forehead against hers and held her face in my hands as I thanked her for loving me and told her what a good girl she was.  She was peaceful, and I also felt at peace as I finally let her go.  I made her promise to find me again someday, though.  I have a feeling she will. 

Oh, Moomie.  I'm going to miss you so very, very much.  You'll always be my little turd, and I'll love you until my last breath.  Thank you for making me so happy for so many years. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lexie's Still with Us

I'm exhausted from getting so little sleep last night, but I just wanted to give a quick update before I completely pass out to let you guys know that today was not the day for us to say good-bye to Lexie. Dr. Ellis said Lou's symptoms last night could be related to cancer pain, or they could have been withdrawal symptoms from stopping her Tramadol cold turkey on Monday.

Therefore, the plan now is to start her back on regular doses of pain medication for a few days, then wean her off very slowly after that. If her symptoms improve, awesome. If they don't, at least we'll know they're definitely cancer-related, and I'll feel much more at peace letting her go at that point.

For now, Lexie's stitches are out and her eyes look really good. She hasn't been trembling or moaning since she's been home, either. She's going to be sleeping a lot due to her pain medication, and I don't think she ate today, but Dr. Ellis gave us some anti-nausea medicine to hopefully help improve her appetite. So, we'll try that tomorrow.

Regression and a Big Decision Today

Despite having a really good Sunday evening, Monday, and Tuesday morning, when I got home from work yesterday evening, Lexie had regressed.  She didn't want to eat anything, not even hot dogs, and she was very weak.  A little later in the evening, she finally went into the kitchen to drink some water.  She drank a TON of water, actually, but then she staggered into the living room and threw up all the water she had just drank.  Justin tried to tell me that she probably threw it up simply because she drank so much so quickly, but there was no consoling me.  I knew that none of this was good.

We decided to sleep in the living room with Lexie last night because she had started moaning and groaning a bit.  Mind you, Dobermans are known to be big whiney babies, especially when they're wanting some attention, and this is definitely true with Lexie.  However, Justin and I didn't sleep all night because we each took turns laying in the floor, spooning Lou and trying to comfort her.  No matter how much we cuddled her, though, she continued to moan and groan all night long. 

Finally, around 5:00 a.m., I tried to give her two Tramadol pills for pain.  She wouldn't open her mouth for me, but I managed to pry her jaws open just enough to slip the tablets into her mouth.  A few minutes later, she spit them out.  We did this a couple more times before she finally swallowed them.  I thought that the pain medication would at least knock Lexie out so that maybe Justin and I could sleep for a half-hour before we had to get up for work, but she still continued to moan and groan.

At that point, I felt that it was probably time to end Lexie's suffering.  It just so happens that she already had an appointment with Dr. Ellis this morning because she's supposed to have her stitches removed today (such cruel irony).  So, I texted Zach, Kristy, and my mother to give them all the heads up that Lexie may not be coming home from the vet today.  Zach and Kristy both came over to say their potential good-byes.  I asked Justin if he would be willing to help me take Lexie to the vet because I wasn't even sure at that point if she was able to walk.  She had barely moved a muscle all night long.  However, when I asked Lexie if she had to go pee, she actually sat up.  She even managed to stand up, although she was very unsteady, probably due to a combination of the pain medication making her loopy and half of her body being asleep from not moving all night.  Regardless, she managed to find her way onto the porch, then down the front steps and into the yard to pee.  She even got into the car all by herself.

Normally, I'd be very happy about those things, especially with Lexie getting into the car independently, but all it did was make me even more confused about what I should do.  On one hand, I know I'm going to have to euthanize her eventually, no matter what, and I certainly don't want her to suffer if she's in pain.  On the other hand (and I realize I'm probably just trying to convince myself of this), I keep wondering if her backslide yesterday evening and all the moaning last night were reactions to stopping her pain medication cold turkey.  (We stopped giving her the Tramadol after her Monday morning dose.) 

The reason I'm having such a hard time just "letting go" right now is because I want SO BADLY to be able to give her at least a few happy days after being fully recovered from her surgeries before it's time to finally say good-bye.  When I told this to Kristy this morning, she said, "But you have given her a LOT of good days.  She's lived a very happy life."  I know this is true, and Kristy makes a good point, but I just hate with all my heart the thought of Lexie going through all this pain and misery, all those trips to Ohio, those long, overnight stays at MedVet, and THREE surgeries, only to finally come home and be euthanized before her stitches are even removed.  I mean, what was the point of any of this?!?

People also keep telling me not to beat myself up and that I made the best decisions with the information that I was given at the time.  I know this is also true; however, that doesn't make any of this easier for me to accept.  It doesn't stop me from being SO ANGRY over the fact that I was told Lexie's abdominal ultrasound showed no signs of cancer, which was the reason why I decided to let her have the enucleation surgery in the first place.

Speaking of that, I sent Dr. Kennedy an email full of questions yesterday, to which he replied yesterday evening....from his iPhone.  I am now going to copy and paste the questions I emailed to him and his answers for you to read (I have not altered this text in any way, other than highlighting his responses):

  1. Could you please tell me again exactly what Lexie’s cancer diagnosis is?  I tried to take notes while we were on the phone, but all I wrote down was “vascular and lymphatics,” “inflammatory mammary carcinoma, “Stage III,” and “50/50 it will return in 12-15 months.”  Obviously, I should have taken better notes, but I was in a combined state of shock and devastation at the time.
Mammary carcinoma

  1. You mentioned on the phone that the size of the two mammary tumors removed during Lexie’s surgery were quite large, and you said this was “concerning.”  I actually have a few questions regarding this:
    1. How big were the tumors? Over five cm
    2. Why is the size of the tumors still concerning if they were removed? Because we could not take the amount of normal tissue desired to be sure all cancer was removed
    3. When you first mentioned the possibility of removing Lexie’s swollen mammary glands on July 7, 2012, because you said the tumors could be cancerous, I informed you that Lexie had just recently had an abdominal ultrasound, which I was told showed no cancerous tumors.  At that time, you explained that it takes billions of cells to form even a small tumor that is visible enough to be seen on an ultrasound.  If that is the case, and the two tumors removed during Lexie’s surgery were so large that you find them to be concerning, why weren’t they visible on her abdominal ultrasound performed June 20, 2012? The statement about the cells refers to x-rays. I do not know what to say about the presence of the masses at the time of the ultrasound. There is always some mixed inflammation. In these rumors and that might be why they were so obvious to me.

  1. When you said that there is a 50% chance that another tumor will appear within 12-15 months, does that mean that the two tumors that were removed during Lexie’s mastectomy were the only cancerous tumors she had?
The only ones we could detect. It is likely that more will form in others glands or within our surgery site

  1. You mentioned something about further tests being done on the tumors to see if any lymph nodes were also removed during surgery.  Could you please re-explain the reason for this?  Also, when do you expect to have the results of these additional tests? We submitted a mass of tissue. The lymph node should be in that mind of tissue. If the pathologist finds it he can assess any sites for metastasis (spread) as this will worsen her prognosis if found.
I do not know when to expect it back but hopefully by the end of this week

  1. Does Lexie have a life expectancy given her recent diagnosis?
 Potentially as little as 5-7 months

  1. Do you know of any current clinical trials for canine cancer treatments for which Lexie might be eligible?
 not that I'm aware of

I'm a little infuriated by his response to question #2c.  Why would he have answered my question about Lexie's abdominal ultrasound with information that pertained to X-rays?  I am 100% certain that I did not ask him about Lexie's X-rays because 1) her X-rays were not performed at MedVet; they were done at Animal Care Clinic in Huntington, and 2) When Dr. Kennedy called on July 7 to discuss Lexie's swollen mammary glands, I mentioned her abdominal ultrasound to him because it had just been performed at MedVet two weeks prior, and I was told that the ultrasound did not show any cancer.  I didn't mention Lexie's X-rays to him because they were X-rays of her chest, not her abdomen.

Anyway, I know that what's done is done and that going over all the shoulda, woulda, coulda's isn't going to change anything, but I just feel so...wronged.  While I can accept that Lexie has cancer and will eventually need to be euthanized, possibly even today, I simply cannot accept the fact that the veterinarians at MedVet missed two Stage III mammary carcinoma tumors that were both over 5 cm in size, nor do I find Dr. Kennedy's reply of "I do not know what to say about the presence of the masses at the time of the ultrasound..." to be acceptable in the least.  I plan to call MedVet today to request a copy of Lexie's medical records, including her ultrasound images.  If another veterinarian looks at Lou's ultrasound and tells me that they do not see cancer, then maybe I will stop feeling so angry. 

In the meantime, Lexie is currently at Animal Care Clinic, and I am waiting for a phone call from Dr. Ellis so we can discuss Lexie's current condition and whether or not she should be euthanized today.  If Dr. Ellis tells me that Lexie's behavior yesterday evening and last night were a result of the sudden medication withdrawal or possibly some other explanation, and if she thinks that Lexie's still got a few good, pain-free months left in her, I will probably choose to bring her home.  If Dr. Ellis tells me that Lexie is in pain due to the cancer, I will not make my Lou suffer any longer.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

So, What Now?

Just to recap, the following is a fictitional representation of the actual conversations I've had with veterinarians regarding Lexie since the beginning of June, 2012:

June 5, 2012 - Dr. Corbett:  "Lexie has an eye condition called anterior uveitis, but the good news is that she's not going blind!  Just give her these medications and follow-up in a couple of weeks.  That'll be $300."

June 18, 2012 [Lexie's eyes are worse] - Dr. Lilly:  "Lexie has glaucoma and she could go blind any minute!  Quick, you must rush her to MedVet!  Oh....wait....nevermind.  Dr. Corbett said to just give her these $100 eye drops, and then take her back to MedVet in two days."

June 20, 2012 - Dr. Corbett:  "Remember when I said that Lexie wasn't going blind?  Well, I forgot to mention that she could develop secondary glaucoma and potentially go blind within hours, which is what has happened.  So, we need to figure out what's causing her anterior uveitis because then we can possibly get rid of the glaucoma, too.  Cancer is one of the things that causes anterior uveitis, so let's rule that out.  That'll be another $700 for a chest X-ray, abdominal ultrasound, and blood work, please."  [An hour later.]  "Good news!  Lexie doesn't have cancer!  Therefore, this must be an autoimmune condition.  Give her these new meds and I'll see her again in two weeks."

June 21, 2012 - Lexie officially loses her sight. 

June 25, 2012 - Dr. Ellis:  "I've consulted with Dr. Corbett, and becuase Lexie's eyes haven't reponded to treatment and just keep getting worse, we both recommend enucleation."

June 29, 2012 - Dr. Ellis:  "There has been a surgical complication.  Lexie's blood won't clot.  She must have developed Von Willebrand's disease.  We're going to do a transfusion, but she's in critical condition."  [Two hours later.]  "The only way we could get the bleeding to stop was to pack Lexie's wounds with gauze, but she's now bleeding through those.  Therefore, you need to rush her back to MedVet tonight and pray she doesn't die on the way there.  You'll also need to pay a $1250 deposit when you get there."

July 2, 2012 - Dr. Corbett:  "Good news!  Lexie's surgery to remove the gauze was a success!  We're not really sure if she has Von Willebrand's disease, though, and we noticed an infection has started in her wounds, but we cultured the infection so we'll know exactly what kind of antibiotic to give her when she goes home."

July 3, 2012 - Dr. Corbett:  "Good news!  Lexie is stable and is cleared to go home!  That'll be $2300."

July 4, 2012 (14 hours later) - Lexie's stitches burst in her right eye, and she has to be rushed to the local Animal ER for an overnight stay.

July 5, 2012 - Dr. Lilly:  "Sorry I waited until fifteen minutes before we close to tell you this, but I don't want to stitch Lexie back up, so you're going to have to take her back to MedVet."

July 6, 2012 - Dr. Webb:  "We just got Lexie's cultures back and it turns out that she has TWO different bacterial infections, which are pretty extensive.  No wonder her incision pulled open!   I guess she wasn't "stable" when we sent her home the day after surgery, after all.  Anyway, we're going to need to keep her for another few days and then perform another surgery, but don't worry, we're going to do everything we can to keep the costs as low as possible for you."

July 7, 2012 - Dr. Kennedy:  "How long has Lexie had these swollen mammary glands?  There's a 50/50 chance that those are canerous.  Those are going to need to come off, too.  I don't have a cost estimate for you yet, but don't worry!  We're going to do everything we can to keep the costs as low as possible for you."  (I mentioned that Lexie JUST had an abdominal ultrasound and I was told that they did not show any cancer.)  "Well, it takes billions of cells for even the smallest tumor to show up on imaging, so even though it's GOOD that her ultrasound didn't show any tumors, that doesn't necessarily mean she's cancer-free."

July 8, 2012 - Dr. Sawyer:  "Lexie is responding really well to her new antibiotics, so we're going to push the surgery back until Wednesday.  I don't have a cost estimate for you yet, and I know we just tacked on another three-night stay to your bill, but don't worry!  We're going to do everything we can to keep the costs as low as possible for you."

July 10, 2012 (the day before surgery) - Dr. Sawyer:  "Dr. Kennedy told me to tell you that he was given permission to discount your services, and the cost of Lexie's surgery is going to be ONLY $1800!  That doesn't include the cost of her seven-night stay, though, which will be an additional $1400.  Don't worry, though!  We may still be able to get you more discounts!"

July 11, 2012 - Some random surgical tech:  "Ms. Bell, I'm just calling to let you know that we're getting ready to perform Lexie's incision repair and mastectomies now."  (I hadn't approved the mastectomies yet because I was told "there may be more discounts," which would be the deciding factor as to whether or not I could afford the mastectomies.  I raised a fuss, and they finally agreed to charge me "only" $1800 for all of Lexie's services over the last seven days, including the mastectomies.)

July 13, 2012 - Lexie comes home.

July 23, 2012 - Dr. Kennedy:  "I just got Lexie's biopsy results.  She has Stage III mammary cancer.  The size of the tumors worries me, though, because they were both pretty large.  There is a 50/50 chance that in 12-15 months another tumor will appear.  You can speak to Oncology about chemo options if you'd like, but they will charge you for the consultation."

In summary, I guess that cancer was the cause of Lexie's anterior uveitis after all, but here's my main question:  If Lexie's TWO mammary tumors were "so large" that Dr. Kennedy is concerned about metastases, then why didn't those two large tumors show up on her abominal ultrasound?  If I had been told on June 20 that her ultrasound revealed Stage III mammary carcinoma and that there was a 50/50 chance that I would have to euthanize her in 12-15 months, I'm not so sure that I would have chosen to have her eyes surgically removed, which would have saved her from having to go through THREE different surgeries and a very difficult recovery (not to mention the thousands of dollars for which I am now in debt).  It also would have saved her the stress and depression that has resulted from her sudden blindness. 

However, I also cannot say for certain that I would have chosen to put Lexie down instead of going through with the enucleation if I had known she had cancer.  It definitely would have been a very difficult decision, but you also have to keep in mind that, at that point, I wouldn't have known that so many other complications were going to result from the initial enucleation surgery (blood clotting issues, infections, two more surgeries, etc.). 

With all of that said, I strongly doubt that I would have chosen to spend so much money just so Lexie could spend her final days adjusting to sudden blindness.  If I had chosen to euthanize her a month ago, I would have at least been at peace knowing that Lexie lived a very full, VERY happy life up until that point.  As it stands right now, I simply don't know how well Lexie is going to adjust to being blind, or how much time she has left.  So far, she's had a difficult time with both recovery and adjusting to blindness.  Her appetite is poor, she's weak, she rarely looks happy, and she has no energy.  If these things don't improve before the time comes when I have to make the decision to put her down (whenever that may be), I will always regret with all my heart that Lexie spent her final days being scared, sad, depressed, weak, in pain, and blind. 

So, what do I do?  I have had several people ask how much her chemotherapy treatments would cost and suggest that I try to do another fundraiser to pay for it, but my heart and my gut are both telling me not to do that.  For one, it took everything I had in me to swallow my pride and ask for donations the last time, and now I just feel horrible that so many people gave so generously to help save Lexie's life, only to find out later that she has cancer.  Besides, Lexie has already been through SO much, and I'm not sure how much fight she's got left in her to go through chemotherapy treatments.  For that reason, I feel like I'd rather just try to make her as happy as possible for as long as I possibly can, rather than keep driving her six hours back and forth to MedVet for however often she needs chemo treatments.

The travel that would be involved is actually another reason why I don't feel like chemotherapy is the best option.  I have already put a TON of miles on my little Prius, and I even had to buy new front tires before our last trip to Ohio because the ones I had been driving on were so bald.  Not only that, but traveling that far that often is just grueling for both us and Lou. I'm not saying that it wouldn't be worth it if it meant saving Lexie's life, but the fact of the matter is that there is no guarantee that her treatments would be a success.  I'm also not even sure that Lexie would be able to receive her treatments on the weekends, as most of the specialists at MedVet only work Monday through Friday.  If that's the case, I definitely couldn't take off work that often. 

Pretty much the only way I would be able to even consider putting Lexie through chemotherapy would be if I won the lottery, or if some other lottery winner came to our rescue, because it would require Justin and I quitting our jobs so that we could move closer to MedVet, finding a place to live that would allow us to have three big dogs, and also being able to afford Lexie's cancer treatments, which I'm sure are very expensive.  Unfortunately, I don't foresee any of that happening, so I feel like the best option is to try to make Lexie as comfortable and happy as possible for the rest of her days here with us. 

So, on that note, I do have some good news in regard to Lexie's recovery.  Since she enjoyed her solo adventure to Justin's parents' house and the car ride home so much on Sunday, we decided to take her on another little adventure yesterday evening.  She got in the car all by herself, which made me happy, although she wasn't as interested in looking out the window this time.  She just laid in the back seat as Justin drove us down to Camden Park, which is on the other side of town, so that I could scout shooting locations for a photo session I've got coming up.  Then, we drove to Kroger's so that Justin could buy Lexie some hot dogs and baby carrots (she gobbled up a hot dog that morning, and baby carrots have always been one of her favorite treats).  While Justin was in the store, Lexie and I took a walk along the grassy edge of the parking lot.  It was a hot evening and she was panting, but I really felt like Lexie was enjoying her "adventure walk."  When we returned home, Lexie ate not one, but TWO hot dogs!  Justin had bought some vitamins for senior dogs while he was at the store, and he managed to get her to eat a couple of those,  and since we were on a roll, I decided to also give Lexie her "hippy medicine," AgariGold and mangosteen juice, which Dr. Wagner from the Integrative Medicine department at MedVet had given Lexie to help boost her immune system and energy levels.  (I'm going to seriously start looking into holistic cancer treatments for dogs, by the way.)

By the end of the day, Lexie was pretty tired, but she had a full belly and seemed happy, which is all I can ask for.  This morning, I was also very pleased because she seemed a little bit stronger than she had the day before.  She was more steady on her feet, seemed more alert, and even had a decent poop!  (It's hilarious how excited we get over Lexie's bowel movements these days.)  We've decided to try weening her off her pain medication again, too.  She didn't have any last night and seems okay so far, so I didn't give her any this morning, either.  Justin will check on her during his lunch break today, and if he thinks she could use some pain medication he's going to give her one pill instead of two.

So, basically, I'm going to try to stay focused on the positive things that happen day-to-day, rather than stay focussed on the fact that, oh my God, Lexie has cancer!  I'm still angry and heartbroken about it, and I probably always will be, but wallowing in sorrow isn't going to help either of us.  So, for Lou's sake, and for the sake of all the kind people who have been so supportive and encouraging, Justin and I are now going to do everything we possibly can to help Lexie fully recover from her surgeries so that she can continue to live the happiest life possible from here on out, even if it means feeding her hot dogs for every meal and driving her around the neighborhood for a couple of hours every evening.  :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Horrible News

I just got a call from Dr. Kennedy at MedVet.  Lexie's biopsies came back from her double-mastectomy.  She has Stage III mammary carcinoma.  All of the details are a blur to me right now, but Dr. Kennedy said something about her type of cancer affecting the vascular and lymphatic systems.  He also said there is a 50/50 chance that another tumor will either come back in her mammary glands or appear elsewhere within 12-15 months. 

He said that I could speak to someone in their Oncology department about possibly starting chemotherapy, but I know there is no possible way I could afford to give her chemotherapy treatments after already spending thousands of dollars on her eye treatments and surgeries.  Not only that, but there is a consultation charge just to speak with Oncology about chemo options for Lou. 

I'm too shaken up to really talk any more about this.  All I can tell you is that right now I'm heartbroken and angry.  I'm angry that they weren't able to see a Stage III carcinoma on her X-rays, abdominal ultrasound, or any blood work.  If they had, I probably wouldn't have put her through all of these surgeries and racked up another $2000 in debt on my brother's Care Credit account.  I don't mean that to sound cold or sound like all I'm thinking about is money, because it absolutely isn't.  It's just one of the things I'm so angry about right now.  Mainly, I'm feeling horrible for putting Lexie through all of this.  Recovery has not been easy on her, or any of us, and now it doesn't even feel like "recovery."  It feels more like I'm putting us all through torture.  I thought that this tough recovery period would be 100% worth it once she was all better and was able to adjust to her new life as a blind Dobe, but now....