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What a Difference a Week Makes!

April 5, 2010

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Last week at this time Mary and I were sitting with Nikki in Dr. Pyne’s office and had just finished a discussion asking the question, “Are we doing the right thing”. The question was of course related to the fact that Nikki seemed to be having more bad days than good since the surgery, and basically we were wondering if we were doing all of this for us as opposed to her.

We had already determined that Nikki had some sort of infection, and Antibiotics weren’t working very well (High fever, obvious pain and discomfort) so we weren’t sure what to do.

Dr. Pyne convinced us to let her treat the infection more aggressively, and by Wednesday of last week Nikki was showing signs of improvement, so Mary and I took a trip to Tucson, leaving the dogs in the care of our Son, with very specific instructions on what to do and how to care for them….

Well, all of the reports that we got while we were out of town was that Nikki was doing fine. When we arrived home last night, the proof was in the fact that this 3 legged 90 pound dog decided that she needed to tackle us when we came in the door. She was definitely the old Nikki, and that fact was proven to me once again today when I walked in after work and Nikki basically demanded that I get down on the floor and play with her. I have not seen her this happy and playful since well before the surgery!

Dr. Pyne had sent out a sample of the infected area (basically the lymph nodes near the surgery site were swollen badly) to the lab to try and culture some bacteria so she could determine exactly what she was fighting, but had prescribed a very high dose of Cipro antibiotics. (Tip for the unaware: If you ever need to obtain Cipro or other high-dose antibiotics, have your vet write a prescription and take that to YOUR pharmacist. What would have cost us almost $200 through the vet cost us less than $25 through our Safeway pharmacist, and no funny-business either. The script was clearly labeled for canine use) The results came back as Streptococcus, which is a very nasty bug, that just happens to respond well to high doses of Cipro…

One of Nikki’s pre-surgery habits was what we call the “Chicken Scratch”. After doing her business on the lawn she’d take a few steps forward and then cover the area by scratching up some grass. Obviously this is a bit harder when you only have 1 rear leg, but I do believe she’s gotten it figured out now, as you can see right at the start of this video (The video itself is rather boring, but I cannot even begin to describe how happy this makes me to be able to watch at this point)

In other news, Mary and I had the opportunity to meet some of our fellow Tripawd parents (Including the famous Wyatt and his parents!) at the get together in Phoenix on Saturday. Thank you all for making us feel welcome, and we really do hope to get together with anyone here in Colorado!

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I know I have already posted today . . .

March 28, 2010

But this picture just couldn’t be held… Sasha really does love Nikki..

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It Certainly is Up and Down

March 28, 2010

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I was out of town this week (left on Sunday and returned Friday night). When I left, Nikki was doing great (and even chasing a stick in the back yard), but by Friday she had taken a turn for the worse. Seems that the lymph node “issue” (We still don’t know what the problem is, but they are really swelling. One of them is larger than an Easter Egg at this point) had caused Nikki to catch a fever and she wouldn’t eat at all. Mary dropped her off with Dr. Pyne, and just before I was to get on the plane to come home Mary called me to say that it appeared Nikki was in worse shape than she thought. High fever, very high heart rate, and overall just doing badly. Dr. Pyne did a blood workup and chest X-Rays to see if she could learn any more…

Well, it turned out that it is an infection of some sort (no cancer detected in the blood work) so Dr. Pyne gave some antibiotics and fever reducers and sent her home. By the time I got home, Nikki was happy to see me and did her normal welcome, so it was hard to say.. Then yesterday Nikki wouldn’t eat again and you could just tell that she was in pain. Not a good sight or feeling. But, trooper that she is, she still drank water and would go outside when I asked her if she wanted to.

This morning, Nikki was feeling a little better, and as the day has progressed she’s gotten back to her normal self, looking good and “talking” as well.. So who knows, I  guess we just keep trying to figure out what the lump is and go from there.

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I’m hoping that whatever this is has run it’s course and we can figure it all out. We see Dr. Pyne again on Monday, and then on Thursday Mary and I are supposed to leave for a few days in Tucson.


The 2 Month Apuversary

March 20, 2010

Yesterday marks 2 months since Nikki had the surgery, and almost 4 months since the initial diagnosis! Nikki is still doing quite well, and we expect her to be with us for many, many more months and years.

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The last couple of days has been hard on the dogs. Mary left Thursday night to travel to White Sands, NM. Where she is participating in the annual Bataan Death March memorial. That leaves me home to take care of the dogs (I would have actually gone with her, but I fly out to Seattle tomorrow) and they’re not quite adjusted to having me do that. (I am the “treat and play” guy, not the “take care of us” guy)

I have to take Nikki to the vet for a checkup today. Dr. Pyne is on vacation but we still want to monitor Nikki’s progress and the lymph nodes near the surgery site. I think she’s doing OK, and I haven’t noticed anything unusual there, but it’s best to have the professionals check as well.

Other than that, things with Nikki have been pretty good and I think the treatment plan we’re on is really working for us. Nikki has actually been running and playing in the back yard, and last night she was chasing after a stick in the snow, so I know she’s feeling a lot better. She still needs help getting up the stairs, and she still hasn’t quite figured out that she balances better inside if she puts all of her weight up front (she does this just fine outside, but for some reason inside she thinks is different), but all in all I think she’s happier now than she’s been in a LONG time.

Oh, take note of the badge to the right that says “Vote for my Dog”. Please take a moment and vote for Nikki. The winner has $5000 donated to the pet charity of their choice.

The Buddy Story

If you’ve read previous posts that I’ve made about Nikki, you know that we have 2 other Rottweilers in the house; Sasha and Buddy. Buddy was a rescue from one of the shelters here (9 Lives). We think he was abused, and was on his own for a long time before coming to the shelter. The docs estimate his age as anywhere from 3 to 6 years old. When he first arrived in our home, he was “skin and bones” and was very shy. Over the last few months he’s filled out and has become a truly integrated member of our family. He is a great dog who only wants to be loved. I have no idea how someone could ever abuse such a dog, but then again I don’t understand animal abuse in general.

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Anyway, you might be asking yourself what this has to do with anything…

Unfortunately, during a follow-up exam for Buddy last week, we found out that he too has bone cancer in his right-rear leg. We don’t know exactly what kind yet, and we’re going to get him up to CSU for an evaluation.. So, I’m going to need to create a new page here for Buddy… As I told Mary, everything happens for a reason, and I am pretty sure the reason that Buddy picked us (he really picked Mary, I was just there to provide the transportation) was so that he’d get the treatment he needs..


A Mixed Result

March 14, 2010

Mary and I took Nikki to see Dr. Pyne on Saturday. This was a follow-up visit from the earlier visit this week, plus we needed to hear the results of the lab tests on the “congealed seroma” fluid.

First the great news, NO CANCER DETECTED!!!

Both the lab work from the fluid and the chest X-rays are cancer free!

(Not sure I need to write anything else after that! It’s great to hear that the cells are not cancerous)

However, there is some worrisome activity going on. It’s pretty clear that Nikki’s lymph nodes are working overtime in that area, and we don’t really have an idea as to why. The lab results showed some high values for <insert technical name here for the Lymph cells, I can’t remember it> and some elevated white cell counts. This leads Dr. Pyne to wonder what exactly is going on, and we’re going to be keeping a close eye on the area for the next few weeks. We’ll be taking Nikki back for weekly visits, and hopefully whatever is going on will work it’s way through and be done.

Nikki seems none the worse for wear right now. She’s been pretty happy this week, and pretty much up to her old tricks.

She let me know that she doesn’t like the blanket that I threw in the back of the Tahoe for her to lay on while we ride to/from the Dr. Office… She did this while we were driving to the office…

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She was much happier with just the regular carpet on the ride home! (Thank goodness)


A Bit of a Scare

March 12, 2010

Things have been going quite well with Nikki’s recovery. I’ve been on the road quite a bit over the last 3 weeks (was home all this week for a change) so I’ve been missing out on the day to day stuff with Nikki, but when I’d come home she would be very happy to see me, and last weekend she was really clinging to me and giving me the worried look until she realized that I wasn’t leaving again.. Funny how dogs really know these things..

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Anyway.. Tuesday night Nikki was very restless. She just couldn’t get comfortable at all. We weren’t really sure what to make of it, and when she didn’t seem to get better by Wednesday, we called Dr. Pyne and got her in for a look-see. We had to drop Nikki off, and when we arrived back to pick her up, Dr. Pyne had “that look” about her. She was really worried about a couple of lumps that she found near the amputation area. She told us that it looked like lymph nodes being aggravated, and we needed to do a biopsy to determine what it is… You can probably imagine the thoughts that were going through our heads at this point, because we’d just gotten finished talking about how Nikki’s recovery has been progressing quite well.

Dr. Pyne went ahead and did the needle biopsy, and then came back in the room with a smile on her face…As it turned out, the lumps that she had noticed were simply some left over seroma fluid that had congealed a bit. We had figured that the seroma was completely healed, but apparently not.. We’re sending the fluid out to the lab anyway as a precaution, but for now we’ve breathed a HUGE sigh of relief..

Nikki slept much better Wednesday and Thursday nights, and we have to drop her off with Dr. Pyne again tomorrow for a follow-up exam…

Meanwhile, Nikki is back to her old self playing with her toys and just being a dog…

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Let’s continue to hope for more “normal” days….


A Pretty Normal Week

February 26, 2010

First the good news, Nikki had appointments with both Dr. Pyne and Dr. Friedly this week, and in both cases the results were fantastic!! Dr. Pyne declared the seroma as completely healed, and said that Nikki is doing very well for this stage of the game. Dr. Friedly said that Nikki is doing great, and that there is absolutely no evidence of any type of metastasis. This is all FANTASTIC news from my perspective. (To put it into perspective, had we not taken the amputation and treatment route, Nikki would likely no longer be with us at this point)

Nikki continues to improve and get back to her “normal” self. I have noticed though that she is really enjoying being the center of attention and gives you “the look” when she’s not being properly attended to. (Which of course is defined by her rules and subject to change without notice)

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I was on the road for the first part of the week, but came home Wednesday night. Nikki was the first to greet me when I walked in, and she’s been by my side for the most part non-stop since I’ve been home. Of course this causes issues with the other dogs, since they seem to want to be part of the action as well:

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There’s actually not much more to report this week. Nikki continues to amaze us with her spirit and the fact that she’s just enjoying her life, even if it does mean some adjustments to her normal routines. Sasha and Buddy seem to be figuring out that she needs space when she walks, but otherwise she’s just “Normal Nikki”.

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Tonight when I got home from work Mary was holding Nikki back, because the other dogs were going nuts at the door. Nikki didn’t really like being held back so she was barking.. All in all you can tell that each day she seems to take one step towards being her old self.


A Fun Day

February 20, 2010

It’s a typical Saturday here at the household. We’ve had a couple of days of snow, so the roads are horrible and the yard is covered. Mary and I had some errands to run this morning so we left early and got it all done. When we got back home, the dogs were typically irritated with us for having left them here (How dare we!), including Nikki, although she just seemed happy that we came back.

I took the dogs outside (We have a dog door that used to be left open, but since Nikki still isn’t quite ready for the up portion of the stairs, the door has to be closed when we are gone) and Nikki shot across the yard and started barking at something on the other side of the fence. I pulled out the video camera and got some video of her barking and protecting her space. As usual, she’s a great guard dog!

After being home for an hour or so, a friend called and needed me to meet him. Nikki must’ve read my mind that I was heading out again, because she let me know in no uncertain terms that she was going with me. So I loaded her into the Tahoe and away we went. She wanted the wind in her face, so even though it’s 18 degrees outside, I rolled the window down a bit for her. She just sat there and enjoyed the wind. When I met up with my friend Jim, he made a comment, “Hey, did you know that you had a 3-legged dog in the back”? While my answer was yes, I actually thought about it for a minute because I’m not sure that Nikki knows that she’s three-legged. She only knows that some things take a bit more effort than they used to, but she’s bound and determined to get them done.

All in all a good day! Unfortunately my travel schedule has really picked up, so I’ll be leaving tomorrow afternoon and back Wednesday. I’m missing out on a lot of the day to day recovery things with Nikki, but I’m also trying to make the best of the time I am spending with her, and I think it’s working out pretty well for the time being..


The One Month Anni er Ampuversary

February 19, 2010

Today marks one month since Nikki had her surgery! If you had asked me back then how I thought things were going to be one month later, I certainly don’t think that I would have imagined how well she’s done.

I spent the week away from home in Seattle (Actually between Bellevue and Redmond, but who’s counting) and came home last night. When I left on Monday morning, Nikki was mad because I’d only been home a couple of days from my last trip. All was forgotten though when I walked in. She greeted me like she hadn’t seen me in ages, and was just soooo happy.

Today when I got home from the office, I was of course mobbed by dogs. Nikki was held back (Mary felt it best if Nikki waited while the others did the mobbing) but when Mary let her go, I swear she literally FLEW down the hall to see me, with her nub going about 100 miles per second. It’s such a good sight to see. I also notice that she moves VERY FAST when she hop/walks now. She’s learned to balance more on her front, and thus she’s picked up speed when she moves.. She still has a bit of a problem getting up, but once she’s up, man she flies!

Kind of a strange feeling.. I was in WA with over 1200 of my peers in the technical world for the “Microsoft MVP Summit”. It’s one of those things where the best of the best (geeky of the geek?) get together for a week of learning and social networking. I can’t tell you the number of times someone stopped me to ask how Nikki was doing. Seems as if there’s a lot more people reading what I write here than I thought!

I had a package arrive while I was gone, and opened it tonight. Nikki was watching me open, and asked me for the box when I was done.. Here’s all that’s left:

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So now I think the nail-biting on my part begins. We’ve gotten to this point post surgery and there’s no indication whatsoever of any type of metastasis or issues with recurring cancer. This is about the time that should start showing up…. Dr. Pyne is very pleased with the progress Nikki has made, and we’re soon going to be having our next appointment with Dr. Friedly for the 1 month checkup there. Fingers, toes, paws and everything else crossed!

I’ll try to get some good video of Nikki tomorrow (I took some video when she was tearing the box up, but it honestly isn’t very good) to post so you can see the vast improvement.


Valentines Day!

February 14, 2010

We are coming upon the 1 month anniversary of the amputation, and Nikki continues to get better.

I was in Boston for most of this week, so I missed out on a lot of the day to day stuff, but when I got home Friday night, Nikki was right there to greet me and you could most certainly tell that she was doing better.

Mary and I took Nikki to see Dr. Pyne yesterday and we were all relieved that the seroma is pretty much dried up. Nikki was pretty happy with the ride to and from, and all in all she’s just getting on with being as normal as she can be on 3 legs. Her remaining rear leg is still weak, but at least she’s figured out to scoot around when she doesn’t want to go too far. (I think that’s less work than actually getting up and moving)

Today is a lazy day for Nikki. She’s spent most of the day under my desk as I’ve been sitting here in the office working. I was going to take her for a ride today on our normal “dog route”, but I’m thinking that I may not do that after all. I think the more rest Nikki gets today the better off she’ll be. (That remaining hind-leg is still weak, and I don’t like to see her struggling on it)

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In other news, I had to get under the desk myself this morning and tie some things down. Good thing that I have lots of helpers:

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