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just over 2 years
Monday November 27th 2017, 4:28 am
Filed under: Uncategorized  |  2 Comments

It’s been 2 whole, entire, complete years… soo much has happened.

But not a single day has not passed without thinking about Jersey, missing Jersey and wishing he were still here. It’s still not easy … and I think that piece of my heart is gone, forever.

 

 



4 weeks + 3 days post surgery
Sunday July 26th 2015, 1:18 am
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Time flies … apparently when you aren’t even having a good time.  But, i’m ready for time to slow down now.

Please?

Soooo … at week 4 i’ve seen many of Jersey’s normal behaviors return.  He routinely greets me  when I get home each day (at the stop of the stairs, behind the gate).  He has even brought me toys/’presents’ to welcome me home.  Today he came to me whining … I got a little nervous and thought he wasn’t feeling well.  And when I got up … he got up and ran straight to his food IMG_1158bowl.  Ahhh … yes, dinner was late… and he was reminding me. Kool!
Jersey has also developed this incredibly stubborn streak… I’m not sure if he was always this stubborn, or if he’s being stubborn because he’s a little less independent than he was before surgery (I don’t let him do stairs by himself… and often times I have to push him to get him out to potty before work… and the pull him back inside after we’ve sat outside for 90mins, every morning! Ugh!). It’s been a while since i’ve allowed him to do things on his own … but he’s definitely rebelling.  It’s kool though, he only weighs 80-ish pounds = not heavy.
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I have also been cooking for him, trying to incorporate veggies into his diet.  I made a super fancy beef stew a few days ago and a chicken stew too.  He slurps the sauce… but refuses to eat the vegetables.  Hmmmm … i guess you’re allowed to do this when you’re a 13 yr old rottweiler (90+ in human years).

As far as getting around, his speed, stamina, balance, ability to turn, ability to ‘squat’ have all improved tremendously.  Only time will tell if we’ve reached the maximal mobility … but he certainly gets around well enough and is ‘following me around’ like he has always done.  I have been trying to get a video of him running around for 30 seconds… this is the best I could do:

Sooo … i’m going to need to start planning our recreation for the coming weeks …

The short list:
1.) Visit his fan club in Providence, RI.
2.) Go “camping” … jersey likes to camp.  I hate bugs … but I suppose we can go somewhere for a weekend.
3.) Visit tillinghast beach … or Newport, RI beaches
4.) Visit with a few friends who have wanted to see him again.
5.) Make a suggestion ????

I am also baby sitting 2 dogs… we’ll call them “Devil Dog Jr.” and “Devil Dog II” (Emerson is the original “Devil Dog”)
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21 Days … and on social media
Wednesday July 15th 2015, 9:00 pm
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I have been called a “prolific facebook-er” in the past.  I spend a considerable amount of time on social media each day … although i’m not always posting/writing/commenting.  I have very strong beliefs and convictions which can be bristling to those who disagree with my vantage point.

but you know what … I don’t care!  I like to talk, I enjoy debate … I enjoy learning… even if I vehemently disagree (nuance is good, it’s a way to really ‘understand’ the way that you feel).

At the same time, I did not post anything about Jersey … because I did not want to debate what was appropriate for him.  I didn’t want to talk about it … and I certainly didn’t want any unsolicited opinions from my ACTUAL friends nor rando-FB friends. Quite frankly, I was having a really hard time getting my family to join me on the same page as far as the amputation.  Some folks claimed that I was being selfish … others did not believe that he’d survive surgery; and, that he wouldn’t be able to adapt/walk IF he survived. So I selectively excluded any direct commentary about what we were going through on Facebook.

yet… in general, I often post about my pets, and pictures and my crazy-fitness-journey/shenanigans.  I have moved around a lot but have attended larger/prestigous schools in the northeast region (UConn), Graduate School (Brown University) and Fellowship (Yale University). The beauty of this? I’ve met a lot of people… from all over the world. And Jersey (and Emerson) has been a fixture in my life for a very long time.  I don’t know what it is about Jersey, but people just gravitate to him and he ADORES new people and has always be super friendly… so my friends ALWAYS talk about Jersey.  After we’ve all graduated, we’ve moved on to hungrily-pursue our dreams.  The best part of that is I get to see my friends go on to do truly amazing things… the worst part… very few of my close friends live within a 5 hour drive of my house.  So… I have used Facebook as a way to take a glimpse my friends and their wonderful lives.

I finally decided to write a post about what we were going through.  I reads as follows:

“… This past month has been rather challenging and I’ve been completely cryptic about it on social media. About 7 weeks ago, I noticed that Jersey’s rear paw seemed swollen. He went from being ‘fine’, 10 weeks ago to being on very high doses of narcotic-pain medication less than 4 weeks later. I took him to the vet several times… and after a series of tests, it was determined that he has a really aggressive form of Osteosarcoma on June 16th. There is no cure for this cancer and only palliative care. 

We were faced with the option of managing his pain with strong pain killers (which wasn’t working) or removing the pain. After lots of reading, talking to close friends and family … I decided that the best option for Jersey was to remove his pain and allow his last days to be as pain-free as possible. So, I decided to have his leg amputated on June 19th and he underwent surgery on June 23. There is no easy way to put it… the next 2 weeks were incredibly hard. Jersey was restless, in pain, refusing to eat… refusing to walk. When he was weak, it required us to be strong. We carried him, we hand fed him we loved him.

Today marks 21 days post surgery and he’s thriving. His incision healed quickly and beautifully …He had his stitches removed last wednesday … he is getting around really well as a ‪#‎tripawd‬ ( https://youtu.be/OWE50fH35_A )… his eating has improved … some of his happy behaviors have returned (happy howling, kisses, demanding belly rubs, tiny tail wags) …. he has become much stronger physically and he is taking ZERO pain drugs. He has hopped up unto the couch and is currently mastering navigating the stairs. 2 Days ago, we walked around the entire block, for the first time in over 2 months.

Yep, not so bad for 12/13 year old Rottweiler.

Life goes on … and I am learning the definition of living in the moment and how to cherish each day.

‪#‎sooooproud‬

‪#‎TheLoveofMyLife‬

‪#‎tripawds‬

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… this post reminded me of how awesome my awesome friends are.  I am completely moved to tears.

I’ve received  40 FB comments, phone calls, text messages, gChat messages, FB chat messages from friends and even some random FB people… all of which, have expressed their concern and sadness for Jersey’s situation … were happy to hear that he was feeling better… and some even went as far as saying that I made the absolute correct decision.

I would have never expected soo many people to care… empathize and show love.

… a number of them have also expressed interest in “meeting up” to see Jersey…  So yeah, I need to put together a calendar… Jersey needs to see his other people.

… such of a journey…



14 Days … and a return to normalcy.
Wednesday July 08th 2015, 2:33 am
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Has it really been 2 weeks??

Wow, not only was it a few weeks filled with worry, stress and anxiety … it has also been a few weeks to recognize how amazing Mr. Jersey truly is. He went from being weak, unsteady and unable to walk… to someone that clumsily navigates around the house on 3 legs.  You know?  No big deal .. at all

I am beyond proud of him.

I brought him to visit my Grandmothers over the weekend (77 and 100yrs old).  They were very worried about him … almost as worried as my mother. My grandmother was elated when we stopped by (I didn’t tell her that we were visiting, just showed up with him).  This was our first trip where Jersey got out of the car (I had taken him for a few rides, in the car).  Jersey slept the entire time that we were there… it was an exhausting trip (lots of walking, lots of stairs).

Some of Jersey’s normal, happy behaviors have also returned.  I’ve seen him happy how, demand belly rubs, give unsolicited kisses and even saw his nub wag (in the first time in since… forever?) yesterday.

On top of that, he’s moving around really well:

And, my mom caught him snoozing on the couch today.  (I would have payed to see him get on the couch… I can bet that it was not very graceful!)

I have more to tell… but I didn’t want day 14 to pass without me acknowledging that it has been 2 weeks!




I have perused many blogs… read soo many nicely outlined and precisely chronicled depictions of the days immediately following amputation.  For Jersey and I, recovery just didn’t come as easily … we’ve had a week fraught with, worry, fear and second guessing.

… he wouldn’t get up unassisted

… he wasn’t walking at all (days 1-3)

… he couldn’t walk independently, without the towel sling (days 1-6)

… he wasn’t eating

… he wasn’t sleeping well

… he seemed really sad

Sooo … Let me start off with the important details. Jersey is a 12-13 yr old rottweiler that I adopted (about 12 years ago). A healthy weight for him is around 90-95lbs and he had previously been diagnosed with hypothyroidism which is controlled by soloxine.

His left-rear leg was amputated 7 days after the osteosarcoma diagnosis….

Day 0: Surgery Day
Jersey arrived at the hospital and had an immediate chest x-ray that revealed no obvious lung lesions. (He had other X-rays the prior week to evaluate his other leg/knee/hip which looked healthy). He was then prepared for surgery… and everything went as well as expected. Dr. W. told me that he’d prefer if I NOT visit so that Jersey can concentrate on resting… and wouldn’t be sad after I left.  I was told that he’d most likely be ready for pickup the following afternoon … although Dr. W wouldn’t be there to discharge him.  I told Dr. W., that I preferred to pick him up after he was seen by him.

Day 1 (post op):

Dr. W. called at 2pm and said that there was still quite a bit of drainage, but said that I could pick him up at 4:30pm.  I came home early, finished up my house preparations and sat, watching the clock.. My heart sank when the phone rang at 3:30. It was Dr. W who said that he had just gone back to check on Jersey, to watch the techs take him outside to potty…. he said that there really was a lot of drainage. Not a completely abnormal amount… but he thought that I’d be alarmed if I saw it.  So, he asked if Jersey could stay over one more night.  I agreed… I was a wreck …. I just wanted to see him.

I raced down to the vet to drop off more food.. and I was a wreck.. all of the receptionists at the the front desk were a wreck because of me.  Which didn’t help.  One of the techs came out… and assured me that he was actually doing really well and that I shouldn’t worry.

Day 2 (post op):  

I got up at 6am, so that I could be at work early for a meeting. The vet office opened at 7:30am and I stopped in on my drive to work. The woman at the front desk said that he looked great and offered to let me see him (I declined… soo hard not to see his face)  I called the vet office as soon as my meeting was over, and Dr. W came to the phone.  He said that Jersey looked great, and I could pick him up as soon as I was ready … I left work and picked him up.  Jersey didn’t come out bounding… he wasn’t happy to see me…. (He was happy to see the other vet as he ran past her in the hallway)… he just ran past me and DIRECTLY to the door.  3 of us helped get him into my car.  I could  definitely tell he was happy to be back in the car.  We drove 20 mins back home.

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Freedom ride (from the vet!)

My house has a lot of stairs … like, way more stairs than I had ever remembered.

I tried to get him to walk up the stairs.  We got halfway up and he froze and collapsed.  I caught him, and carried him up the last few stairs and placed him on his bed (he weighs about 85lbs). He was completely wired, would fall asleep for 12 minutes and wake up and be restless for an hour.  This cycle continued for about 14 hours until he finally fell into a very restless sleep.

I had tried to get him outside at some point… but as soon as I moved him, he peed on the floor (he also got up in the middle of they night and peed on the floor… I woke up as soon as he started to stir… but he stepped off his bed and peed right there).

Day3 (post op):

He was pretty restless all day.  I was able to carry him outside twice… I had to use the towel sling to prop him up to go potty.  He came in and FINALLY fell asleep.  When he woke up, I noticed that his gums looked pale… I called the vet.  A tech. asked me a series of questions and told me that she wasn’t concerned… but I could bring him in for a hematocrit if I wanted to.  I prefer NOT to worry…so I brought him in for a blood check.  The test revealed what his RBC were slightly below where they needed to be, but not to the point that he was in danger. (He lost a bit of blood during surgery, and it takes some time for the numbers to “rebuild”).

While at the vet… the entire office ended up in his exam room… like EVERYONE in the building.  They were really worried when they heard that I was bringing him back.  But, as soon as they saw him, the remarked on how good he looked and how happy he was.  (We were sitting on the floor and he was nudging me non-stop and flinging himself on my lap… pretty funny, actually)

He finally pooped when we came home from the vet.

… another night of very restless sleep.  (I don’t have any kids, but I think this is what it would feel like to have a newborn?)

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He’s rather demanding when it comes to belly rubs… I am complying.

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Bedtime, with the lampshade…. (I ended up removing it in the middle of the night… it CAUSED a lot of restlessness)

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Day4 (post op):

My family… my family was less than supportive of amputating Jersey’s leg. I am grateful for this community and for my friends who supported my decision.  Well, by day 4, my entire neighborhood knew that Jersey was sick and that his leg had been amputated… One of our  neighbors, Lori, who I do not know very well came over to check on us.  During her visit, she told me that her dog had the same diagnosis and she also had her dogs’ leg amputated… she told me that it was the best decision she had ever made… and her only regret was not being able to do is sooner. I needed that … I needed someone to come to my house and tell me that….

She ran home and came back with a harness and a better baby gate to loan me.

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Jersey with his #1 Fan and doggy brother, Emerson.

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I made him sleep on my bed, while I washed the cover to his bed.

 

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Daily “hang out” in the front yard!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jersey’s cousin “Rocky” and his aunt (they’re neighbors… we babysit puppy-Rocky … who adores jersey)

Day5 (Post op):
This was the day that I started to worry that he wasn’t moving around independently enough.  I then went to the forums (here) and saw videos of dog hopping/running/playing and reading about how much trouble pet parents were having with making their dogs rest.

.. Jersey was not even attempting to stand on his own.

I was really afraid at this point… scared that he’d never walk again… and that I had made the wrong decision.  I talked to my veterinarian friend who assured me that he would be fine and that it was too early to worry.  At this point, my mom said that she wasn’t worried because he would get up for water… and that he would get up to reposition himself when he was uncomfortable…

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Jersey and I!

Day 6 (Post op):
I chatted with Rene … about being terrified about jerseys lack of progress.  I was reminded that I shouldn’t compare Jersey’s journey with others… she told me that I need to go back to treating him like a normal dog… she reminded me that he isn’t young … and compared him to a 90yr old person and reminded me that his mobility is probably on par with what would be expected of an elderly person going through the same situation.

I also called the vet because he was oozing from the incision. I talked to Dr. W. who extended the antibiotics… I also expressed my concerns about Jersey’s lack of mobility.  Dr. W. responded by saying that Jersey should be able to do everything as he had before.. just more slowly.  I told Dr. W., that he wasn’t quite there yet.  He said, “why don’t we give it a few more day and just schedule your recheck for thursday (3 days later).”

Day 7 (Post op):
I took him outside that evening… and sat on the lawn for a while.  Another neighbor stopped by … and for the first time, He hopped up and ran over to greet her…  I was overcome with both delight and fear.

He was also getting stronger and better on the stairs.

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Sooo… the only way I could get jersey to take his pills was by hiding them in McDonalds chicken nuggets. So… we’re here, sitting in the drive thru, waiting for some fresh nugs!

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Day 8 (Post op):

He had markedly improved mobility… he could do half of his hopping walk around the yard without the towel sling and I would help him as he went potty, or when he became fatigued.

Day 9 (Post op): Recheck #1

Recheck day went really  well… I helped him get out of the car and he happily hopped right to the door of the hospital … Once inside, he decided that he didn’t want to be there and plopped himself down on the floor and refused to get up. LOL!

He saw Dr. W. who was very pleased with his his mostly-healed incision and mobility/progress.  Dr.  W watched us as we left and said that “[he wasn’t] worried at all”.  We will go back next tuesday to remove stitches. I also slept in my OWN bed, for the first time since he came home 7 days ago.

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