December 12th, 2007
Background: Dot had four bumps on her. Because she's a boxer and boxers are prone to cancer, I decided to have them all four removed and bipsied at the recommendation of Dr. Kingus, her vet. Three of the four turned out to be benign, but the one on her back leg was a stage I mast cell tumor (i.e. cancer). And it didn't have clean enough margins, leading Dr. Kingus to want to take more to be safe.
During the ten days healing time before we got the original stitches removed, I noticed that her back leg never healed. It stayed just as red and raw as it had the day she came home from the surgery. I kept it clean and disinfected, but obviously it was worrisome. So back in she went for more surgery to try to get the rest of it and clean margins on December 11th. Because of an ice storm, she actually was dropped off the evening of the 10th, and then picked up again on the 12th. She was VERY happy to see me!
Larger margins were taken this time....and there was a lymph node rearing its ugly head right in the thick of things. Not knowing whether it had gotten into the lymph node or not, they took it as well and sent it in for biopsy. And now we wait....
December 14th, 2007
I took Dot back for her first checkup today with great trepidation. You see, her stitches have started to pull out and I wasn't sure what could be done about it. And I was right. Dr. Kingus looked at her leg, took her into the back to clean it all up and got second, third, and fourth opinions from the other vets on staff at the hospital. All of them agreed that there wasn't anything we could do about it other than keep it clean and keep her settled. The skin was just way too tight on the back of her leg and there wasn't enough to keep it closed. Although Dr. Kingus had warned me about that, the full implication just hadn't hit me yet. Now I know what it means. It has to heal from the inside out. Yep - she's just plain old gonna have a hole in the back of her leg for a while unti lit all heals up and she grows new skin. OUCHIE!
But there is good news to be had throughout all of this. Her histocytology came back and we have fully clean margins and the lymph node was clear! That means that all of the cancer was removed this time and she doesn't have to go through any chemotherapy. Hooray! The downside is that, according to all the sites I've read, there's now a 50% chance that more will show up on her body....probably in a different spot. But I'm going to cross that bridge when I come to it.
In the meantime, Dot absolutely hated that plastic cone e-collar the doctor sent her home in. So I got her a different kind. Dot is now stylin' in a new kind of e-collar that seconds as a comfy pillow! Although she's still panting with anxiety, it's more from being stuck in the kennel now than it is from being stuck in the old cone. She can eat and drink and chew on her chewies in this one. And when she gets tired, she can lay down to sleep.
December 15th, 2007
Okay, OUCH! I had class this morning and afternoon so Dot was in her kennel at home all morning. I got home around 1:30 or so, and went to let her out to potty only to discover that almost all of her stitches had come out and her wound was wide open! I panicked and called our vet's office - they were closed for the weekend. Crap. So out to the emergency vet's we went and everyone there said, "Oh, yuck. Ouch!" After a full exam, the vet decided the best course of action would be to remove all but the top-most and bottom-most stitches (which were the only ones still holding), pack it all with wet/dry bandages and wrap her entire leg up for my own vet to see on Monday morning when I was originally going to take her back in.
The possibilities for Monday's diagnosis were: 1) continue packing the wound every day or every other day, rebandaging, and wait for it all to scar over, or 2) skin graft. I am interested in whatever will have the shortest recovery time. We will see on Monday. In the meantime, she's sporting a "Pretty in Pink" bandage on her leg, laying next to her Mamma on the futon, and happily chewing on a pig's ear. For the first time in a week....This bandage thing might just work out! It helps that I can drop her off at 7:00 am, and then pick her up after work - she'd be at the vet's getting hugs and kisses and plenty of attention all day *rolling my eyes* Yep, it's still "All About Dot."
December 21st, 2007
Dot had to stay on Monday. So she's been at the vet's and not home with me and it's been really hard. I had an appointment with Dr. Kingus this morning to take a look at how her leg was healing. She warned me that it still looked really horrible, but that it was clean and it was starting to heal. And then I saw her. She came out of the back room just a wiggling away with a big ole grin on her face and I, being the sentimental ass that I am, burst into tears upon seeing her happy face.
Okay, so we spent a good five minutes saying, "Hi" to each other and then we got down to business. This picture may look absolutely disgustingly horrible, but if you'll notice the rough edges around the wound (if you can look that closely), and the "bubbly" parts on the inside, those are what they call "granulation." It is the beginning stages of healing - scar tissue and scabbing over. Which is a Good Thing (tm). They've been changing her bandages two or three times per day and, if all continues to go well, Dr. Kingus said we might be able to bring her home on Friday, the 29th. Maybe. The thing is, I don't want her to come home until she's able to be without a bandage change every day. Why? Because of a couple of reasons: 1) I discovered that I simply wasn't capable of it. Maybe because she's my baby girl, maybe because I'm too much of a softie and can't handle seeing that wound all the time. And 2) because of the puppy. She will be still and simply lay down next to her Mamma and be happy chewing on a chewie, but Elwood wouldn't leave her alone long enough for her to do so, so she had to be kenneled nearly 24/7 even though she wasn't moving! But once her leg is healed enough to not need a bandage, we won't have to worry about Elwood worrying at the colorful bandage and trying to chew it off of her. And hopefully, I won't have to worry about him licking it too much. If it bothers her, she'll let him know. So we're hoping and praying to anyone who may be listening that she's healed up in time for the New Year.
After my chat with Dr. Kingus, I played some more with Dot and her stuffed squeaky elephant until just after 8:00. Then I had to do the really horrible part and tell her I had to go away again, but that I would be back. I was pretty good. I didn't have any tears until I walked out of the room and told the staff "Thank you." Then I broke down again. I miss her so much!. And that afternoon I got a series of pictures from Frey's staff of Dot "hanging out" with them. The email said, "We just thought we would send you some pics of Dot hanging out with us today. She loved being a bum and lounging around (and eating treats of course). Here is pretty much what she did all day." It helps. Made me cry some more but it helps knowing she's being as spoiled rotten there as she would be at home....
December 27th, 2007
Dot's home!!!!! I called this morning to get Dot's status and Dr. Kingus was busy with another patient. So I asked her assistant to have her call me when she got a minute. She called and said, "Dot's been telling us she's ready to go home." Hooray!!! I took another picture of her wound before Dr. Kingus showed me how to wrap it up. Wow, what a difference! It is definitely healing and looking really good! I just have to keep the pad on it and wrap it up after cleaning it with a wet cloth or paper towel. She'll go back in on Monday for a re-check after the weekend and new wrappings, but it may be that she'll only have to go in about twice a week since it's healing so well now. Elwood, of course, thinks it's a great thing to sniff and bother at. Dot just wants to be with her mamma and won't leave my side. She's lost quite a bit of weight (she needed to lose some of it!) but we're guessing it's mostly from the stress of the kennel and the healing process because the vet techs all said she's been eating well. I'm just glad she's home.
Three pictures side-by-side. From the 15th, then the 21st,the 27th...and the final picture was taken on February 25, 2009:
February 25, 2009
Dot's leg has been completely and totally healed since approximately this time last year, as evidenced by the final picture in the row above.
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