Friday, June 28, 2013

The Chemotherapy Whirlwind

AP here and it has been exactly one month since we started down the road of chemo. It has been a crazy time and one that has kept me busy trying to figure out the best recourse for my boy. It has also been very stressful and I felt the need to shut everything down while we were trying to get back to some sense of normalcy. A lot has happened and not all of is related to the cancer. I am going to try to catch the blog up with the events of the last month with the next several posts so please bear with me.

Palladia the chemo drug recommended for Tonka - nice enough sounding drug, the name kind of rolls off the tongue, sounds sorta harmless, like a vacation spot or something. As with all new things and my boy I did my research and joined a few canine cancer groups online and started asking for any feedback from those that had used it. I came up with a mixed bag or reactions, some people loved it, others hated it and due to some rare side effects feel it ended their dogs time early. I was still battling with Tonka's inability to breathe very well and the various medication he was on for that so I was not sure if I wanted to jump in right away. I decided to wait a week and try to get his allergies under control and get him off some of the meds before beginning. Everyone was OK with that and so we went back to our normal routine of therapy and underwater treadmill for the week.

Lately he had been not wanting to lie down on his left hip and seemed to be having a hard time rolling up on his side without help so I was hopeful that he just had rib out again and therapy would help. He did seem better after his therapy session and so we kept up our routine and had a treadmill session a few days later.

He did really well in the treadmill and I know he enjoys it because he can actually run and move his legs like nothing is wrong. It was nice to get back to our routine and everything seemed to be getting back on track except his sense of smell. He was still so congested that I wanted to postpone chemo one more week but was advised that I needed to start immediately as the tumors were an aggressive type. The weekend came and went and his sense of smell was no better but it was now Chemo week so the Tuesday morning of May 28th we headed to therapy with an oncology appointment right afterwards.

Therapy did not seem to help much and he was still in pain while we were waiting in the lobby. Dr. Roa came through and he did a quick check of him but couldn't find anything. Then Dr. Klaser arrived for his chemo consult and we discussed that he seemed to be in pain lately and she suggested an ultrasound of his belly as well as the blood work he was already there for. We hung out for awhile till they were ready for him and all his friends came by to say hi and to give him attention. When they took him back for his blood work and to check his abdomen I sat in the lobby and semi successfully tried to keep it together.Dr. Klaser returned after his exam and we talked about the fact that he is just not himself and seems in pain. She did not see anything on the ultrasound and his blood work was fine so the only thing left was to pick up the chemo meds that afternoon and start them the next day.

I took him home and made him comfortable and put some ice packs on his neck and ribs and he was soon fast asleep. That afternoon I drove back to CVRC and picked up his meds and received the instructions on what to give him and when. The biggest 2 things to look for were diarrhea and vomiting and anything more than once was a red flag.I drove home with his little blue bag of pills and a lump in my throat.

The thing about chemo meds is that the medication can be present in the urine, feces and saliva so anyone handling those things should wear gloves. Since Tonka is incontinent and has to be expressed manually that meant that Caitlin and I had to wear gloves and dispose of his pee pads and poop bags in sealed plastic baggies. I put boxes of gloves in strategic locations and covered the carpet with contractors sticky back plastic to make sure if there were any accidents the mess would be minimized.

Of course the next morning (the first day of chemo) Tonka decided to not eat anything for breakfast.When I say anything I mean anything - nothing would entice him not even his favorite treat. I ended up scrambling a couple of eggs and he did eat some of that but I was not happy giving him all that medicine on a partially full stomach.

the list of meds...
4 pepcid AC's twice a day - before meals
Metocloprimide - 3 a day
Palladia -90Mg on Mon/Wed/Fri

At this point he was already on Hydroxyzine and Amoxicllian for his stuffy nose and his daily thyroid med. If you follow the blog you know he is a sensitive moose when it comes to medications so I was worried that this was all too much. He was doing really well and other than not wanting to eat much everything seemed normal. Then I went and jinxed us by saying that out loud to a few people. The rapid descent started on June 3rd at 12:30am when I heard him whining. Tonka has never whined a day in his life. Barked yes but whined-no. The poor guy had pooped all over his bedding and in trying to get away from it he had literally dragged his back end through it. I cleaned him up enough to stand him up and he immediately pulled me towards the shower. The only thing Tonka hates more than  water is being dirty. I got him into the shower and cleaned up the best I could with no rubber mats on the bottom to keep him from slipping. Usually I have time to setup the shower to bathe him with mats and his shampoo and towels close by. I got him out and had to lay him on the floor to go get towels and pick up his soiled bedding, he was not happy about that but I had no choice. I got down clean bedding  and towels and then lifted him and maneuvered him back onto them. the instant I started to lower him he had another episode of diarrhea It was now 1:20am I managed to get a pee pad under his hind end and lay him down on the plastic covered carpet while I picked up the bedding and put down clean stuff once again. I knew neither of us had the strength for the shower again so I put a towel over the pee pad and got a bucket of warm soapy water and a washcloth and set about cleaning him up. Once that was done I moved him back to his bedding and put a fresh pee pad under him and used the blow dryer to get him semi dry. He went again at 3:00am and at 4:15 and each time I repeated the clean up process. I emailed the oncology group as this was a chemo med day and I wanted them to know what was happening. His Dr. responded at 5:00 to withhold the chemo for the day and they would call me a little later.

Dr. Peterson called at 8:00 and I started him on metronidazole with instructions to not give him his Palladia and to see if he improved. We were good until 10:30 when the poor boy went yet again. It was my belief that there could not be anything left in him and I had to go to work for a few hours so I headed out. It wasn't long until that theory was proven wrong when my mom stopped in at 12:30 to check on him he went again but this time he also vomited. By the time Caitlin came for the day he was in bad shape. She sent me a text that his gums were tacky and he would not open his eyes for her so I rushed home. We put him in his stroller minus the wheels and handle and loaded him in the truck. I called the ER and told them we were coming in. His therapist Diana from CVSS met me at the truck and helped me carry him in. The next time I saw him they had drawn blood to test and had him on IV fluids.

Not a good start to our Chemotherapy experience...


Anonymous said...

Praying for you guys...

liparifam said...

OMG, not sure I would have survived that :( Very glad you posted as I've been wondering how y'all are...

Robbin said...

Continuing our prayers for Tonka & his Mom! So glad to see an update, but so very sorry that you all have to go through this! xox