I’ll be drinking all the coffee my stomach can handle today. I’m SO tired, and it’s all Riley’s fault. He woke up at 3:30 this morning and wouldn’t settle back down, so John kicked him out (it was his turn). The damage was already done, though – both of us had checked the time. It’s hard to go back to sleep when your brain is chanting, “The alarm will go off in an hour and fifteen minutes. The alarm will go off in an hour and ten minutes. The alarm will go off in an hour.” (It’s Tuesday – John has a boxing class at 5:30, so we wake up at 4:45.) I did manage to go back to sleep (and to start snoring, judging by the oh-so-gentle nudging I got from John), but I dreamed of waking up the whole time. I kept dreaming that the alarm was going off and I was getting up. In one dream, I got up at 4:15 and started getting ready, then realized it was 4:15 and went back to bed. That didn’t actually happen (I think). Then when the alarm finally did go off, my eyes were cemented shut. It was horrible, and all I wanted to do was go back to sleep. I’m going to a Moulin Rouge sing-along at a local movie theater with some friends tonight – I’ve been looking forward to it, but I was seriously considering backing out this morning so I wouldn’t have as many hours between right then and my next chance to sleep. We already rearrange our lives with our sleep schedule in mind (early mornings mean early bedtimes mean early dinners and son on) – I shouldn’t be canceling social plans, too. I’m the idiot for agreeing to go out on a school night, but come on – it’s a Moulin Rouge sing-along! So I’m going. But I’m about to have a third cup of coffee (or, as my coworkers like to call it, cream and sugar with coffee).
So, yeah, it snowed. A lot (we got between 13 and 16 inches). I’m having a hard time getting too excited about it. Can spring just get here already?
And here’s a video of Riley in the snow (proof that I’ve gone over the edge):
You know when there are things you want to talk about but you’re just not ready to? They’re not necessarily bad things, but maybe there’s been too much discussion already, and even though you want to tell someone, you’re also tired of talking and thinking about it? I feel kind of like that about the house, the (non-existent) job search, and Riley. There aren’t really any updates about the house and the (non-existent) job search, but I still feel like they’re both talked out. Still uppermost in my mind, but talked into the ground. And Riley – maybe tomorrow. Today, I’m really tired. Early bedtime tonight.
How they survive is beyond me. It doesn’t seem like they could get enough to eat.
Riley just ate a giant bowl of dog food and chicken fried rice (with gravy on top, HEATED UP – I’ll get his weight back up if it’s the last thing I do) and then tried to climb into my lap while I sat here at the desk. First, it’s all “oh, how sweet, my darling dog loves me and appreciates the delicious dinner I put together for him,” and then it was more, “whoa dog, you can’t actually get into my lap, but sure I’ll scratch your head and pet you and hug you and love you,” and then, “OH. Right. You just wanted to burp in my face.” And then he walked away. This is not the first time he’s done that, but I fall for the “I love you so much, pet me, pet me” routine EVERY DAMN TIME.
He knows I’m talking about him. He’s curled up on his new dog bed giving me the Stare of Death. Hey, man, this is what you get. Being down one leg and having cancer does not excuse the in-your-face-burp.
Oh, who am I kidding? Of course it does.
Check it out! I updated my book list (for the first time in over 8 months). I knew I could do something productive today. And then I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the floor with Riley (while watching more Supernatural) because I miss Roxy and I can’t stand thinking that I’m not spending enough time with Riley while I can.
House update: Still on the market. No offers. We have another open house planned for Saturday (tomorrow). I bet John Stamos will stand us up again.
Dog update: Doing well. He had his third round of chemo yesterday morning. So far, so good.
Hair update: Still long, still brown.
Riley keeping watch for squirrels:
Riley saying hi:
Right this very minute, he’s curled up in a ray of sunshine on the floor, feet twitching while he dreams.
He’s doing really well. Still not eating enough, but he does eat and he’s keeping it all down. He gets tired easily, but he starts out with lots of energy, so that doesn’t seem too worrisome, either. (Hopping everywhere you go takes a lot out of you. I know. I tried.) He’s having blood drawn this evening to check on his cell counts, and the next round of chemo is next week. I’ll keep you posted.
I’d been hoping this would happen, and it finally has! Kind of. Keeping the house clean is easier than emptying it, rearranging it, and cleaning it, so after what feels like forever (and what was probably only a little over a month), I’m enjoying some time to myself. Well, restful time with John, but when we’re both happily ensconced in our own activities, that’s basically the same thing. We spent all of Saturday hanging out together – the morning (pre-open house) cleaning, the afternoon (during the open house) having a family photo taken, and then having a cupcake and coffee at a little cupcake place with outdoor seating, so Riley could drape himself over our feet and enjoy all the attention he got from passers-by. What’s this about a family photo, you say? We donated to our local volunteer fire department, and as a thank you, they brought in a photographer and gave all donors the opportunity to get a free family portrait taken. They do it every year, and even though we’ve donated every year, we’ve never remembered/bothered to go. They allow pets, so we took Riley. It’ll be interesting to see how it turns out.
Sunday we had NO plans. It was wonderful. There was an afternoon showing, so we disappeared to the park for half an hour, but other than that, our time was our own. Actually, since it was John’s birthday, our time was his to do with as he wished. And he mostly wished for free time, so I call this birthday a success.
It’s time for an update. Riley is doing really well. His surgery was three weeks ago today, and he had his first round of chemotherapy last Thursday. He’s got his old energy back, even if it doesn’t last as long as it used to. He goes on daily walks (twice a day, most days), and he romps around. I’ll get video of him in action soon, I promise.
When we took him in for chemo last week (which doesn’t affect dogs the same way it does humans – much lower doses, so most dogs don’t even get sick), the oncologist looked at him, hesitated, and asked if he’s a border collie. Shrugs from us. Maybe? Partly? Could be a problem. The plan is to give him two different drugs, one each visit. The first one is not an issue, but the second one is often toxic to border collies, Australian shepherds, collies, and other dogs of similar breeds. Toxic like could actually kill him, not just make him sick. So we’re doing a genetic test. If it turns out he’s part border collie, our chemo plan will change. The test results are due back in another week and a half to two weeks, and the next chemo visit (when we start that second drug) is two weeks from tomorrow. The timing should be just about right.
The other thing we’re working on with him is his appetite. While recovering from surgery, he didn’t really want to eat at all. Four of his six pills (antibiotics and painkillers) had to be given with food, though, so we were quite literally shoving pills and food down his throat. Pills that had to be stuffed into round meatballs of wet dog food so he would take food at the same time. It was awful. For everyone. But he’s gotten much better about taking pills since then. J He still isn’t eating normally – actually, he is eating normally now, which was never all that much. He was kind of a picky eater, and he only ate when he felt like it. That sounds perfectly healthy (he’s not the kind of dog who will eat until he gets sick), but it’s not enough when he’s underweight. He isn’t eating enough. So now, we’re buying samples of all kinds of delicious wet dog food to see what he likes, and we’re adding some of that and some plain chicken to his dry food twice a day. He eats the good stuff and leaves the dry food. Sometimes he comes back to finish the dry food. Mostly, though, he knows it’s going to get covered with the good stuff again at the next meal time. I don’t care as long as the end result is that I can’t count his ribs just by looking.
Riley’s surgery was today. This afternoon. I’ve since heard from the vet, the surgeon, and a vet tech, and they all say he’s doing fine. He just can’t come home yet. When he does come home, he’ll be a tripod. (One of the vet people said that to me the other day. “One of my dogs is a tripod.” Caught me off guard. It’s obvious, but it never occurred to me to call a three-legged dog a tripod.) I feel a ton better now that the surgery is over, but now I’m going to worry about how he does overnight. What if he manages to pull out the IV and doesn’t get his fluids or his medicine? He’ll be fine, I know, but what if he isn’t?
We met with the oncologist today. We’re waiting on results of bloodwork now (should get it Monday, which probably means Tuesday, since Monday is a holiday – didn’t realize that until just now. Yay for a three-day weekend, but not so much yay for waiting an extra day for results.), but we don’t expect it to change the plan. And the plan is essentially the same as what we googled last week. Amputation, then chemo, both of which we expect him to handle okay. There’s no guarantee he’ll be cancer free, but he has a 50% chance. We’ll spend the weekend figuring out how to pay for it, and then hopefully get started next week. Probably. It’s not as scary as it was.
We have an appointment with the doggie oncologist on Thursday.
Riley’s been limping lately. He’s limped before, usually when he lands badly after guiltily jumping off the bed or the couch, and with a couple of days of rest, everything’s fine. We took him to the vet the first time – nothing to be done for him except keep him quiet. This time, he limped for three weeks straight. Our gentle prodding never resulted in any pain (that we could see), so it didn’t seem urgent. John took him to the vet Friday evening (we decided that three weeks was excessive and were feeling guilty for not getting him there sooner). We expected to hear that his ankle was sprained. Worst case, maybe a small fracture. That would have been great news.
Our vet, who we really like, took four x-rays, all showing the same thing. She doesn’t want to say for sure until she gets a second opinion from the specialist, but it looks like bone cancer (osteosarcoma). She did a chest x-ray, and his chest looks clear, so she doesn’t think it has spread. John asked what this means for treatment, and the vet wasn’t willing to get into it until we have a definite diagnosis. He turned to Google, of course, and found that we might (probably will?) have to amputate his leg (it’s his front left leg) and then follow that with chemotherapy. We have absolutely no idea what this means for him long-term, or even what long-term means now. He’s only 10 and a half.
It’s been a rough weekend. We’d hoped that the vet could get in touch with the specialist yesterday, but apparently she couldn’t. We’ll hear something tomorrow, but I’m sure there will be more appointments, more discussions.
It hasn’t even been four months – we got rid of Roxy’s old toys and medicines today. We’re keeping her bowl and her pillow and her leash and collar. It’s too soon to go through this again.
Life sucks sometimes.
I am now the proud owner of a pair of jazz shoes and a pair of tap shoes because I have signed up for a contemporary jazz class and a tap class (both for beginners because, well, I’m a beginner). I’m very excited. The first class is a week from tomorrow.
While I was out shopping for these shoes, John spent the afternoon upstairs with Riley, who still isn’t allowed on the furniture. The last time we allowed him to sleep on a piece of furniture on a regular basis (a wicker loveseat we kept on the sun porch in our last house almost TEN years ago), he ate it. Chewed it all to bits ATE it. So now, Riley isn’t allowed on the furniture, and he knows it. We know he knows because he never tries to get on the couch or the bed when we’re at home (only when we’re away and he thinks he can get away with it). Usually. He’s getting bolder. Today, with John just across the hall in the office, Riley got on the bed twice. I guess his dog bed with an old cushy comforter on it isn’t soft enough anymore. I’ll know he’s made the next logical leap when he tries to get on the bed while we’re still in it.
Riley hasn’t been eating well. He was eating intermittently before we went on vacation, and we didn’t really ask a lot of questions at the kennel. They said he did well while we were gone, but I didn’t think to ask how often he ate. He didn’t eat when we came home. We took him for a run this morning, and we noticed we could feel his ribs. Prominently. So I asked John to get something delicious for him when he stopped at the store on his way home from today. He came home with a jar of beef gravy. I filled Riley’s bowl with the usual dry food, doused it with gravy, and wouldn’t you know? He scarfed it down. I’m not sure it even took him a full minute. I will do whatever it takes to get Riley back to fighting weight.
(No dogs were starved in the making of this post. He didn’t seem to be suffering or starving (or he would have eaten the dry food in his bowl these last couple of days), and he’s never been one to beg for food (unless it’s steak or something). Not eating regularly isn’t all that unusual, but able to count his ribs is.)
We’re back home from a wonderful week in France. We had two days of beautiful weather, then lots of rainy days in a row (COLD rainy days), and then the day we flew out (which I think is still yesterday) was lovely. Tease. Pictures soon. We slept about 10 hours last night. Went to bed around 7:30, lights out at 8. It wasn’t even dark outside yet, but to us, 8pm felt like 2am. Now I’m good. Riley is happy to be home, and so are we. (He was a little confused about why we were all going to bed before the sun, but he went with it.)
Thank you, everyone, for your comments, notes, flowers, thoughts, texts, and phone calls. It was really sweet of you, and we appreciate it. We’re doing better. Fewer tearful breakdowns (although we had one yesterday – the vet sent us some of her fur wrapped in a bow and her paw prints on cards, along with personal notes from most of the staff who knew her), more funny memories. In the aftermath, we’ve found that we’re transferring all of our attentions and worries to Riley, with lots of running and walks, and constant concern over how he’s doing (“Does he look sad?” “He always looks sad.”) and whether he’s eating enough. He sleeps upstairs now, on his dog bed, and we (maybe a little more me than we) keep finding excuses to take him places with us.
We’ve put away her stuff, for the most part, but we still have it all. Her dog bed stays downstairs for Riley during the day. Her toys are still scattered all over the first floor. Her leash and collar are still hanging in the hall closet. Her food bowl is with her medicine in the cabinet. We will eventually throw out the medicine and the plastic food bowl and the chewed up toys, and we’ll box up her leash and collar. I don’t know when. I’m not in any hurry.
Roxy died today. It’s blunt, but it’s true, and it sucks. It was this morning. It’s only been a few hours, but they’ve been the longest hours I can remember. How is it possible that it’s still today?
I should stop telling people when Roxy is doing well. That only lasted about two weeks. Around the middle of last week, she started to slide back into her lethargic wobbly Roxy personality, and by the weekend, she was having accidents in the house every few hours. She was really thirsty, so she’d drink a ton, and then she wouldn’t tell us she needed to go out. Annoying and worrying. We called the vet – turns out the thirst (and subsequent constant peeing) is a side effect of the wonder drug she started three weeks ago. But that led us to another question: if this is just a side effect, why didn’t it start three weeks ago, when she started that drug? So tonight I called the vet again and asked if there’s any way we can tell if she has an infection or if this is just a side effect. They wanted a sample (of course), so I chased after Roxy with an old flat tupperware container and raced the sample out to the vet this afternoon.
They just called with the results. Good news: no infection. Bad news: there’s glucose in her urine, which is a sign of diabetes. We have an appointment Saturday morning now to have bloodwork done to see if she really has diabetes on top of her liver issues (hepatocutaneous syndrome is what’s going on with her paws – all related to the liver) on top of her epilepsy. If she has diabetes, we’ll have to give her insulin injections twice a day on top of all her other medicine. That’s going to be tough. Of course, the vet said that when there are other diseases involved, dogs often become insulin-resistant. I don’t know what happens then. I’ll know more on Saturday.