a99kitten's Musings

I blog about a WHOLE LOT of stuff :)

Tomorrow it will be 2 months since I lost my big guy. I’m still not really any closer to being “over it” or much better.

I still think about him all the time, and think how unfair it is that he is missing out on more Mom time, Tahoe time, beach time. Our new house is on 5 acres which I basically wanted for him and Storm. He would have really loved to patrol his forest. He visited a few times during the remodel and had so much fun there and I was so excited to have the land for them.

I still cry almost every day. Although I don’t just break down and bawl every day or start tearing up when someone asks where he is so maybe that is getting “better”. But I still can’t look through his pictures. I still have his collar and tags in my purse from when we left the vet. It’s supposed to help to talk about it. But I still cry. Writing about it makes me cry a little less.

I still blame myself for not figuring it out. Maybe he did have more tumors or was riddled with cancer and maybe he would have not made it past a month or I would have had some horrible choice to make. But it all happened so quick and never got that far. And I’ll never know. And maybe that was better for him and me. He would have hated to be sick. His life was about having fun. And he would have been miserable sitting around. And having to make a choice regarding euthanasia was truly not something I could have handled. But I can’t stop thinking maybe he could have had his surgery and been OK. And here with us now.

He died from a hemoabdomen. A tumor on his spleen that ruptured and bled out. These tumors are likely due to hemangiosarcoma. According to the doctors and everything I read afterwards, there are no symptoms to watch for until it’s basically too late. All the doctors described it as the dog equivalent of a heart attack. You can be totally fine, no symptoms of anything, playing on the beach and bam. You get weak from the blood loss which is the first sign and unless it gets operated on right then, it’s probably too late.

They told me there was no way I would have ever known unless he got regular ultrasounds on his spleen and no one would ever do that unless their dog has had tumor issues in the past (like Storm has and does get ultrasounds.) His latest physical just 2 months prior showed once again he was perfectly healthy. His heart, ears, eyes, gums, all blood tests = perfect. No one could ever believe was 11 1/2 as he looked and acted so young. Even when they ran blood tests at the ER they were all perfect except that he was anemic due to the blood loss into his abdomen.

Best case scenario was they got in there and got the tumor and spleen out after stabilizing him. Then hope for finding no other tumors while they are in there. Apparently that is highly unlikely.

The ER doc and our regular vet said up to 85% of these cases end up being a super aggressive cancer (hemangiosarcoma) and that he would have 1-3 months at most and most of that recovering from his surgery. But that leaves at least a 15% chance that he would have been OK. Stormy wasn’t supposed to make it after his surgery and he’s here 1 1/2 years later still happily ah-rooing. So why not Angelus?

But they never got him stabilized. He started doing a little better after fluids and a blood transfusion but they said he was losing it too fast. And he just stopped breathing.

I know I am supposed to take some comfort that he did not suffer. Was not in pain. Played and had fun right up to his last few hours. And I am glad of that. He was the best dog in the world who brought so many people smiles and joy. He certainly deserved all the happiness and pain-free life he could have.

I took him to work pretty every day all of his life and there were some people who weren’t too happy with the idea of dogs in the workplace at first. But Angelus won them over. He was such a great ambassador for both his breed and dogs in general. So many people that met him at work (employees, guests, partners, etc.) would comment on how awesome the huskies were. How well behaved, sweet, etc. Everyone he met on walks or at the beach loved him.

Angelus only ever wanted to have fun. He was such a happy dog. But not in that slobbery lab kind of way. He was very chill. But could also be a spaz. His presence in my life was very calming. And I always had so much fun with him. Every day, every walk, all the time. Even when making me take him for a walk in the rain he would make me smile at his desire to sniff and want to see the world. He just wanted to walk and run and play on the beach and meet new buddies and walk and sniff and walk and pee on every tall stalk of grass he could find so every dog knew that Angelus was here.

He was never sick a day in his life which was why this was so sudden and painful. He had surgery for a torn ACL but never, ever sick. He was the one who was always there for me. When my mom died, when I had a miscarriage, when Stormy got sick and we almost lost him, when my little brother died. Angelus was the one always there to get me outside, get me out of my own head. And to just sit right next to me with his head on my feet while I cried.

I miss him staring at me when I wake up in the mornings saying with his eyes “get up!” Or sitting at my feet while I work. Or hanging out in the front yard staring out into the world waiting for his next adventure. Stormy and I still haven’t gone into the yard actually. Stormy is still sad, you can tell. He was with his brother every single day all of his life except the first 7.5 weeks.

Angelus taught me that the mornings are quiet, beautiful and awesome so sleeping in is for suckers.

He taught me to take every chance to get outside and enjoy it, even if it’s raining but especially if it’s snowing.

I miss him. And his handsome face and happy smile. And his presence. And hugging his big fluffiness.

I just miss him.

Storm got his ultrasound/liver check-up today. I am always a stress basket before he gets it. As we were in the waiting room, he was entertaining the other patients’ humans and staff with his howling. Cuts the tension in a doctor’s waiting room, that’s for sure :)

The nurse said they would likely have to shave his belly which made me sad. He finally got all of his fur back and had a GREAT time in the snow and I didn’t want him to have a cold, naked belly again right before winter :(

But turns out they didn’t have to! His oncologist said they just spread his fur apart and got the jelly on his skin and checked in 3 spots around the liver as well as straight on. And he is ALL CLEAR! No tumors, no nodules, no dark spots – nothing. YAY! The doc was in back telling all of the other doctors and nurses to come up and see Storm as she couldn’t believe how awesome he looked and how fast his fur came in.

I guess one of the doctor’s saw us at Mavericks and had told Storm’s doctor that he looked great WITH fur. She said she didn’t actually recognize that it was Storm until she saw Angelus with him and recognized him first. Our doctor said she was excited to see him coming in today but had no idea it would be with this much fur!

We spent about 10 minutes as doctors and nurses came up front to ooh and aah over Storm which he didn’t mind at all :) And we don’t have to go back for another check-up until February!

My little Stormtrooper :)

So Stormy’s biopsy finally came back from the University of Colorado. Davis already said the tumors were benign but since they were not acting benign, our doctor had them sent to “THE” doggie liver doctor at the University of Colorado. She came back and said it was a well differentiated carcinoma. That’s cancer. But it’s the “better” kind (ridiculous that cancer can have a better kind but ok I’ll take it.) What that means is the edges of the tumor are well defined and it can be removed – which they were. Not only were they removed but 2 of his liver nodes were removed.

I spent over 1.5 hours with the oncologist who did a good job of explaining a lot about Storm’s liver and this type of cancer. I’d prefer to never have to know anything about it, but that’s not the situation. Turns out Storm has actually had more than half of his liver removed over the past 2 surgeries. The doctor (and his surgeon) said his ability to bounce back and his demeanor are amazing and that he is an amazing little guy (he says “HEY! I’m not little!”)

Apparently, in people and animals, you need 10million cancer cells to show up as a tiny tumor. You or I or Storm can have 9million cancer cells somewhere in our body and there is no test in the world that would indicate that we had cancer. So currently, all tests show Storm is clear. The tumors are removed and his ultrasounds and bloodtests are all good. After his first tumor removal, he was all clear and we thought smooth sailing as it was benign. But then 5 weeks later he had 2 more tumors with a high fever and was super sick. So I will be getting him ultrasounds a lot. He’s had 2 since his surgery 3.5 weeks ago. But helps me sleep.

We discussed the different treatments for cancer. Standard chemo was ruled out as the doctor felt it was not beneficial for Storm and the side effects were potentially worse for Storm. There is a new medication that was approved 1.5 years ago specifically for dogs with cancer. The first one actually. All other meds are actually human drugs that are used off-label for dogs. But again, the side effects are stronger. We have to keep Storm’s Cushings in mind with any other treatment.

We decided on what is called metranomic therapy. This is basically using a couple different medications at a very low dosage daily (versus a chemo therapy where you blast the body with the chemicals for a set amount of time.) Basically, cancer cells gather together to create small tumors. As they do this, they use the blood supply from the organ they are on to survive and grow. Then when they get big enough, they need to start growing their blood supply to continue to grow. What this therapy is supposed to do is to kill the cells ability to grow their own blood supply. So in effect it is almost preventative to keep the tumor from ever growing its own blood supply so it can never get big versus trying to attack the tumor once it’s there. It’s obviously not quite that simple because if it was, we’d have a cure for cancer. But it’s hopeful anyway.

The oncologist said she has had some really great results with this therapy. She was quite honest and wanted to stay hopeful but obviously could not promise anything as Storm’s body reacted in a way that they had literally never seen before. And she said that she was very disappointed that the lab in Davis called it benign. And they were still standing by that she said. But she said with 2 top pathologists giving her differing results, she and I had to look at the whole picture – the dog, his symptoms and how his body was reacting – and not just tissue samples. So she felt the diagnosis of cancer was one that we should work with. But she also said that the U of Colorado doctor thought it was a very “good” thing how the tumor was so well defined. So it was treatable in her opinion as well.

In my various visits to this doctor/vet, I have run across dogs in the waiting room who have been receiving chemo treatments for 2 years and are still doing well. So there are reasons for me to be hopeful besides just me wanting to will Storm to be OK.

Storm started his first medication on Friday. It is part of the NSAID family so it’s actually beneficial for his soreness, recovery, etc from his surgery. And ever since he finished his antibiotics on Monday, he has been doing better and better every day. He’s wanted to go on longer walks, he has initiated playing with Angelus again, wanted to go see our neighbor dog and hang out in the snow and just generally looks brighter. I think the 2 rounds of antibiotics were just knocking him out. So these are all great things. He stays on this medication for 10 days, and then assuming all is fine, we add his 2nd medication to the routine. Then he just stays on those. We will do blood tests and ultrasounds regularly to make sure he is staying fine.

I know Storm won’t be with me forever. And I do not want him unhappy or sick or in pain. My husband was/is worried that I would do anything to keep Storm alive, even if his quality of life is not good. I feel over the past few years of my life I have shown that I can make the hard decisions when I do have to. I’ve signed DNRs, I’ve taken the DNR phone call, I’ve let my brother go. But I do feel that Storm has a lot of life and fight in him and no – I do not give up easily. And frankly, he’s doing pretty darn good right now so I think I’ve made the right decisions. He said that the people he recently talked to about it said that we probably shouldn’t have done that 2nd surgery. Well – those people can kiss my ass. I didn’t ask who said that because I don’t want to know as I would probably just not want to talk to them anymore, although I do have my guesses as to who it is. F them. It’s real easy to say things like that when you have no emotional investment or attachment. Or an empathy chip in your body. Or a soul.

So I view every day I have with him is a gift. And there is no reason in the world for me to give up on him. Since I got the diagnosis from the doctor on Monday, it was still November. Monday night was terribly sad for me. November 2010 has been the worst month of my entire life. Hands down. That month ended Tuesday. I met with the oncologist on Tuesday afternoon and Storm started his treatment on Friday – December. So I am putting November behind us. And we are going to finish 2010 on a better note and stay positive into 2011. Storm’s ah-rooooos and dinner dances show me this is the right mindset. Storm deserves a positive and happy Mom as this helps him too. So I am not going to be sad. I am going to be happy that I have the resources to help him and enjoy every single day with him. And can’t forget Angelus! And if I add a few more treats into their days – oh well :)

Funny. People have asked me in my life how I’ve done something, put up with something, dealt with something, whatever…

My answer is typically the same: whatever, deal with it, suck it up, rub some dirt on it, etc, etc.

Separately, completely…there is always this:

Cancer and Independence:
Cancer is the astrology sign that is packed full of contradictions so when it comes to independence, they possibly can or can not be independent. On one side, they have the perseverance and drive to do what needs to be done, they are self-sufficient and do not need to depend on other people for the material and physical things in life. On the other hand, they depend on people for emotional support and encouragement. A Cancer that is not fully self-actualized will need the constant support of others and will not be very independent but the Cancer that is ‘evolved’ and has properly harnessed their emotional issues will be wildly successful as an independent human being. They crave attention and comfort from other people and they are happiest when they have a small, close knit group of friends or family.

Cancer and Friendship:
Cancer is extremely loyal to those who appreciate and support them, they are the nurturer of the zodiac and will protect and cherish the person for a long time. One of the greatest things about Cancer is their ability to make others feel good about themselves and loved. This is because instead of doing this for themselves, they project this onto other people. This is a positive cycle because in making others feel nurtured, wanted and loved, they in return feel good for making someone feel good. Other people can lean on and depend on cancer, they will listen to people’s problems and help them however they will rarely express their own deep feelings to anyone. People who want to share deep emotional thoughts and opinions with a Cancer might feel that the scales are tipped on one side for cancer will rarely reveal it’s true deep feelings. A friend of Cancer is usually a lifelong devoted friend that can be trusted.

Cancer and Business:
Once cancer resolved their emotional issues such as shyness and insecurity, the powerful character will shine though, there is practically nothing they can’t do. They have incredible perseverance and will stand up for what they believe in. With their strong intuition, sensitivity, powers of observation and intelligence, they will have great success in anything they undertake. They are excellent business people and investors because of their intuitive and psychic ability and their creative forward thinking mind, they are able to predict future trends. They attract wealth very well and know where to invest. Money and financial well being is very important to Cancer and this can help their drive in business. They need financial security and if they allow themselves to properly focus their energy and do not allow their emotions to over take them, they are more then capable of obtaining their financial goals and being incredibly successful business people.

Cancer Temperament:
They are complex, fragile, unpredictable and temperamental and need constant support and encouragement, more then any other astrology signs, Cancer needs to be needed. Even when all needs are satisfied, they can be irritable and cranky. They have an uneasy, delicate temperament. The contradictory nature of Cancer gives their temperament the wild mood swings and possible temper tantrums. They are easily offended and will sulk and wallow in self pity for a long time when they get hurt.

Cancer Deep Inside:
It is difficult for cancer to open up and have a close emotionally fulfilled relationship with someone because they are so closed off emotionally and physically to the world. This is driven by their fear of trust, Cancer has a difficult time trusting people. In addition to lack of trust for people, Cancer is deeply sensitive and easily hurt, this is other reason why they have their defense shell in place, to avoid being hurt by others. Cancer has a lot of emotional issues to deal with but once they overcome this large hump of shyness and insecurity, there is practically nothing they can’t do. With their strong intuition, sensitivity, powers of observation and intelligence, they will have great success in anything they undertake. Cancer is constantly feeling, feelings and emotions are hallmarks of this sign and this is the root of their problems, human beings are not as evolved in the emotional area and this is where cancer gets the brunt of their problems. They are the ones who have to cope with their strong feelings more so then any other sign. Once properly harnessed, there is nothing that is this powerful astrology sign can not accomplish. Harmony is very important to Cancer, it keeps them happy. Conflict of any kind causes great distress. Deep inside, Cancer is a very powerful sign, they have the ability to stand up for what they think is right and they have lots of perseverance and can be fine on their own provided they don’t let their emotions get the better of them and have the stability they need. They are not fond of change but they have the ability to do what needs to be done, they are not pushovers or lazy people.

Cancer in a Nutshell:
Cancer is a mysterious sign, filled with contradictions. They want security and comfort yet seek new adventure. They are very helpful to others yet sometimes can be cranky and indifferent. Cancer has a driving, forceful personality that can be easily hidden beneath a calm, and cool exterior. The crab is Cancer’s ruling animal and it suits them well, they can come out of their shell and fight but they can also hide in their shell of skitter away back into the depths of the ocean. They are very unpredictable. With cancer, there is always something more that meets the eye, for they are always partially hidden behind the shell. They are a have a deep psyche and intuitive mind that is hidden from the world. Cancer is deeply sensitive and easily hurt, this might be why they have their defense shell in place, to avoids being hurt by others. They are nurturers so they surround themselves with people, whom after a while can offend or hurt a cancer without even knowing they did so, therefore Cancer’s protective shell keeps them safe from hurt. They are complex, fragile, unpredictable and temperamental and need constant support and encouragement, more then any other astrology signs, Cancer needs to be needed. When cancer gets the support it needs, it has a tremendous amount to offer in return. When cancer gets offended, they tend to sulk instead of confronting the persons face to face. This needlessly prolongs the pain and suffering. Cancer is very possessive, not just with material possessions but with people as well. Cancer will always want to stay in touch with old friends and anyone who has ever been close to them, because it is easier to maintain a friendship then attempt to learn to trust a new person. It is easier this way for them emotionally. If you befriend a Cancer, you will stay friends for a long time. Cancer makes the perfect mother, this is the sign that represents motherhood. They have unconditional love and caring more so then any other astrology sign. Cancer are very intuitive. Most of the psychics of the world are Cancer astrology signs. They have an excellent memory and are very observant and can read people very well. They can usually tell of other people’s intentions are good or not. Never dupe a Cancer, they can see your motives. Cancer has a lot of emotional issues to deal with but once they overcome this large hump of shyness and insecurity, there is practically nothing they can’t do. With their strong intuition, sensitivity, powers of observation and intelligence, they will have great success in anything they undertake.

Now, do I believe in astrology? Nope, not really, I do not. Can I deny this describes me pretty darn well? No, I cannot. Generalities tend to work pretty well – religion figured this out pretty early on. Sucks people in for sure.

But do I know for sure it’s crap? No. Like all belief systems, I have no idea for sure. No one does. That’s why hokey religion and ancient weapons are genius. They are needed. But no match for a good blaster at your side…