Goodboy Norman Featherstone

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Second Semester

We took Norman to the University of Tennessee last week for his first radiation treatment.  They were very concerned that he would bloat again, so they took many precautions to guard against it.  His treatment started at 10am and he was ready for release at 3pm.  Everything looked good - no bloat, no oxygen tent required.  Ian wanted to see the new Batman movie on the imax at 3:20pm, so we didn't pick Norman up until 6:30pm. 

When they brought him out, he looked like a giant Butterball turkey - he was severely bloated - he could barely walk.  I chastised the girl for not noticing, and she got the Doctor on call.  The Doctor said they had checked him an hour before, and that he was fine.  Two hours later they decided to do nothing and send us home with a noticeably uncomfortable dog.

The two hour car ride home was horrible.  Norman was moaning and whining.  He was very uncomfortable.  It was dark out, and the road between Knoxville and Asheville is really curvy.  I was freaking out, because I couldn't make him feel any better - I felt so helpless.  An hour and a half later on the road, he vomited all over me, and his bloat immediately relieved.  I was grateful that I had a towel on my lap, and very happy that the bloat incident was over.  We got home around 11pm, and he's been doing fine ever since.

His breathing is completely better.  He no longer pants like he did before his treatment, and he can breathe through his nose.  The Oncologist said it would take 4-6 weeks to shrink the tumor, but I am confident that the first treatment has already been effective.

We go back tomorrow for round two of four.  They are going to try to sedate him lighter than last time, and we are going to take him home as soon as possible.  I think they are also going to administer his first round of chemotherapy tomorrow, which scares me.  Paws crossed that he doesn't bloat this time and that the chemo doesn't cause further complications.  He's a strong little fella, and he's been through a lot over the past month, but I think he's still got a lot of life left in him.  I'm doing all that I can to help him live it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Back to School

Norman is headed back to the University of Tennessee tomorrow morning to give his BS in radiation treatment another go.  His last attempt resulted in a failing grade, but the veterinary team thinks they've put together a solid curriculum this time; there will be a team of anesthesiologists with him for the duration, he will be given a medication intravenously to help keep his bowels moving while he is under anesthesia (to prevent bloating), and he will have a tube run from his nose to his stomach to deal with any bloating.

His appointment is at 9am.  They will be keeping him in ICU for the rest of the day, and we will hopefully be able to take him home by the end of the day.

Paws crossed that all goes as planned this time!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

One Tough Pug

Woman here, posting for Norman.

If you're friends with me on Facebook, you already know that Norman has been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma on his upper palate.  Norman hasn't been keeping up with his blog over the past year, and I don't want to be one of those people who posts the long, painful details of our dog's struggle with cancer, so if you want to get updates on Norman, please leave your Facebook username in the comments of this post, and I'll friend you.  I will delete the comment after I friend you, so it isn't hanging around the Internet indefinitely.

The quick and the dirty facts - his cancer is not curable, but we are going to do all we can to push it back for as long as possible. 

The more detailed facts - We suspected there was something wrong with him 4 weeks ago when he started breathing very oddly, as though his right nostril was blocked.  There was also a mucous discharge so we thought he just had a cold.  When the mucous didn't improve a week later, we had the Vet examine him more closely, at which time she found a lesion on his upper palate.  She biopsied it and learned about the cancer. 

He had a CT scan at the University of Tennessee last week that revealed the cancer is far more invasive than they would have imagined, and has begun to break down the bone under his eye socket.  The Oncologist recommended chemo and radiation, which would extend his life by 8-10 months.  Without treatment, his prognosis is a heart breaking 3 months.  The first treatment was supposed to start the next day.  Unfortunately, after the CT, Norman's stomach began to bloat.  The Vet put a tube down his nose to relieve the bloat and inadvertently punctured his stomach leading to an emergency operation to flush out the abdomen and repair the tear.  They couldn't find a tear and suspect it was very small.  He was put on antibiotics and sent home with the hope that he would not develop an infection.  Five days later there is no sign of infection.

Due to his reaction to anesthesia, the Vet is now apprehensive to do the radiation.  I, of course will push for that treatment option.  We cannot start chemo until the foot-long incision in his abdomen heals, so we're in a holding pattern.  I will call the Oncologist tomorrow to discuss our radiation options - I'm not giving up on that possibility.

I am a wreck, of course, but I am trying to hold it together as best as possible so I can enjoy the time I have left with my big man.  Your prayers are always appreciated.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Prickly Pug

As I have been getting older, I've noticed more and more pain in my hips and have been less able to jump up on the couch and the deck.  It's really embarrassing, but Woman has to pick me up onto the couch and carry me back into the house after I do my outside business.  I've been on Dasuquin (a joint supplement) and Metacam (a pain medicine) since January, but those meds aren't working as well as they used to, so Woman decided to take the next step toward my hip health.

For the past three weeks, I have been going to physical therapy where I am forced to walk on an underwater treadmill and do other unnatural things like balance on a wobbly board and traverse an obstacle course.  Due to unforeseen circumstances, I am having trouble breathing under heavy exertion, so we are thankfully stopping physical therapy.  Did I mention that I really hated physical therapy?  Puggy don't like to be underwater!  So, Woman started searching for other options to keep me mobile, and decided to try acupuncture.

Here I am yesterday at my first trip to the Acupuncturist.

I have needles sticking out of my butt and my head!  Pretty cool, eh?  Those wires that you see are sending an electric pulse through the needles.  Freaky, indeed, but it has helped tremendously!  I was able to jump up onto the deck today all by myself, and Woman said I am walking much better this morning!

Woman was impressed with how good a boy I was during my session.  I told her I was just trying to hold still, because I was afraid of where else they might try to stick those needles if I wiggled around too much!

I have to go to the Acupuncturist once a week for the next four weeks, and then we will evaluate my progress to determine if we can cut back to every other week.  If you are a puggy with hip problems, I encourage you to give acupuncture a try!