Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ginger updates Thurs Jan 14through Saturday Jan 16

Ginger meets Mary Lou 7-08

Sat 16th: my husband and i went to Greenville this AM (left at 6 AM, got back 1130) to visit Ginger. She is stable, but the calcium level is the same. She is 'clinically' much improved . she is eating some now, we got to walk outside and she alerted to birds.ears up, in 'setter stance', straining on leash. She is still my Ginger, wagging her tail, kissing my face, sitting for treats (and she now takes treats
again)but this is an outside hunting dog she does not belong in a
hospital but she is being very brave and stoic. Her kidney function is improved as the IV fluid is working. But if the calcium level doesnt drop that means the cancer isnt responding, this happens quicker in dogs than people. I will know more from tomorrows bloodwork.

I no longer feel Ginger may think I've abandoned her, she made that
perfectly clear. The staff at the hospital are very knowledgeable and
good with animals, I dont think she is in any pain or discomfort
(except of course the IV tubes bother her and she has to wear an
ecollar when not monitored. she is not apparently bothered by that, as some of my other dogs would be.)

Your continued prayers and support are appreciated. I believe in
miracles and the power of prayer

---Friday 15
This morning's bloodwork showed a slight improvement in the calcium level and creatinine (kidney), no improvement in BUN. She had eaten a few spoonfuls of food late last night, none this AM. This afternoon (530) the vet said she had eaten a whole bowl of food, was brighter, he did an ultrasound and the swollen lymph nodes had gone down a 'fraction'. She is still wagging her tail whenever someone comes in the room, he said she seemed more alert and 'brighter'. . Of course, sick as she was when we got there Wed, she walked into the clinic (well, not her normal proud strut, head up, tail up, more of a shamble, but she was walking... greeted an elderly guy in the waiting room (at least walked over to him and stood there waiting to be petted), wagged her tail at each new person, licked me in the face when I said goodbye, etc. He said some dogs with not as bad bloodwork and cancer wont even get up and walk and have to be carried in, so its
hard to tell from 'clinical signs'. . Ginger is a very friendly and
loving dog (though very polite about it, not 'in your face' friendly
like my DB) and apparently that is still with her no matter how sick
she is.

 He said basically she is improving, very slowly, she still needs to
be on the IV fluids because of her kidney failure. He said if her CA
level continues to drop the swelling should go down, and we'll be able to tell if there is underlying kidney disease (or permanent kidney damage).

thursday 14

Called oncologist Today in AM, talked to vet tech, said they'd done
blood work and the calcium level was down a little bit but all other
labs the same, including kidney and liver. So she is still in renal
failure. Tech said she had eaten a little last night and in AM, has
had 1 course of chemo, said they walked her outside and she was a
little 'brighter' (shes been on IV fluid since I left her there
yesterday). Called again around 530, talked to vet. She has stopped
eating. She still 'alerts' wags her tail when people come in the room
her kennel is in. He is now saying she  may have some kind of
underlying kidney disease, since she is so small for an Irish setter
and we know nothing of her parentage it may be congenital. He said
wait and see how the bloodwork is tomorrow.  I got the impression that dogs usually respond to the chemo faster, my recollection of what he originally said was often within a few hours, at the latest within 2 days, the calcium going down shows some response but I gathered (you know how doctors are) that he is very worried about the renal function and mainly worried that she is not eating (as an indicator that she doesnt feel better) My heart is aching thinking of leaving her alone up there, I wish I could tell her somehow I havent abandoned her. Poor Ginger has been abandoned by her guardians so many times, and here it must look like to her I've gone and done it too.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ginger is very ill

For those of you who do not know already, my Irish setter Ginnger is very ill. Last Thursday, she was fine, running,playing,energetic.
Friday she didnt want to eat but did. (she is normally very
enthusiastic about food) Saturday she refused to eat, stopped pooping and started losing energy. I then noticed a small swollen area in her abdomen by her back leg, by this time it was afternoon and all vets closed. Her temp was normal, she still hadnt pooped, I thought perhaps an obstruction, anyway I took her to emergency vet in Augusta Sunday after church, by this time the swelling was much more pronounced, xrays and bloodwork showed possible cancer (lymphoma) Finally got referral to Upstate oncologist for Wednesday (due to the ER vet not referring and instead sending me back to my regular vet Monday who said (rightly) the ER vet needed to do the referral, I didnt get appt til Wed as I couldnt go Tuesday due to a hearing). Mon and Tues she got weaker and weaker, I managed to get her to eat a little pureed raw
chicken livers mixed with water and thats about it

Ginger update Wed Jan 13
Last night was a bad night. Ginger could no longer get up on 'her
couch' without help. She woke us every 2 hours (by shambling into the bedroom and sticking her nose in my face) to go outside to potty. About 4 AM she also vomited and pooped (first poop since Friday). In the AM it took everything she had to get up, get into the car and make the long drive to Greenville (normally 2 hrs, road work and a detour added another half hour). She had her appointment at 11, they did an ultrasound (had to shave her abdomen) more Xrays, bloodwork and aspirated the by now hugely swollen lymph nodes. Around 3 PM we were called in to talk to the vet. Basic diagnosis lymphoma, the nodes so swollen were pressing on her kidneys and uretha which is why she is in renal failure and colon compressed. No tumors on liver (as the ER dr had thought possible). The mass is the swollen lymph nodes not a tumor  Her blood work was basically the same as on Sunday. I left her there to be hospitalized as they need to give her IV fluids to try to help the
kidney failure, we'll know by AM if this works sufficiently for chemo to be possible. He said her prognosis (because of the multiple nodes involved) was probably 6 mo if the weekly chemo sends cancer into remission. (I was hoping for a year, but OK///) He assured me that we'd know fairly quickly if the cancer went into remission and her quality of life would be back to normal, until the cancer recurred, (in 6 mo or whenever) and it would probably recur in the same fashion it started (fine one day, wont eat and slight swelling the next, listless etc,near death in 3 days) At least I would KNOW the next time what was going on and could act quickly to help her over the bridge before she got this sick again. I would probably NOT opt for a second round of chemo (as
its my understanding the success rate is smaller and the time shorter) or radiation. But we'll see when that happens. So, basically, I said go for it, if I can buy her 6 good months, I will (and it looks like it'll cost about $10,000 if we make it thru the whole treatment, as of now its around $5,000.)  I feel so stupid for not getting health
insurance on my dogs, I now have it on the other 3.

One good thing, he put my mind at rest about my not spotting this
earlier, he said that lymph nodes  can do this, swell up that
quickly, what was unusual about Ginger is the 'normal' lymph nodes you think would be affected are not, and these in the groin area usually are only affected AFTER the others. He actually said that a vet could have examined her Wednesday (before she got sick) and seen nothing wrong unless for some reason they did bloodwork.

I will know in AM if her renal failure resolved and they can do chemo. When we saw her after the appt, they'd given her sub-c fluid and she was quite a bit livelier, we walked outside, etc. Everyone commented on how unusual it was for a dog with this bad  bloodwork and this bad Xrays to be still walking at all, and relatively alert, and commented on how sweet she is and how much she loves people (tail wagging etc). (I told them she's my therapy dogs for children, as she is so sweet and gentle with them.) The nurse (or vet tech) was crying right along with me. Ginger is indeed a sweet soul, and has affected many lives, not just mine. I'm grateful for the year and a half I have had her, and God willing, another few months

Keep us in your prayers.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Walkin' the Bark: Excellent Natural dog treats help fund rescue

Walkin' the Bark
For the past several years, we have been heavily involved in dog rescue. Drawn more recently towards those deemed harder-to-adopt, we care for them for however long it takes whether it be months or years, providing the medical and physical necessities along with warmth, patience, and security, until they are matched with the right Forever Home.

Walkin' the Bark Store was opened in part to help raise funds for our rescue efforts.

Natural treats, bullies, moo tubes, dried tripe, dried gullet ....