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Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

No swimming allowed

It’s a good 38 degrees here in Melbourne this afternoon. Not the hottest day we’ve had but the air is so thick and dry it’s really not a great day. Rambo handles the heat pretty well though. Better than me actually. Usually at home he splashes in his water bowl or jumps into his pool, does a circle and then lays down to cool off. If he’s in his pool after a good game of fetch you know you’ve tired him out.

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Since the surgery he hasn’t been allowed to get wet and this is the hottest day we’ve been out and about since his amputation. The second day he was home from surgery he was wobbling over to his pool and I had to chase after him (he was still quick!) He did look at me grudgingly as I tipped all the water out. Sorry Rams!

Today I’ve taken him to the gym (boyfriend owns a gym) and there is no air con here, only some big fans to keep the air moving. He LOVES the gym as he knows that there is ALWAYS someone who can’t say no to throwing his toy when he places it at their feet, but, today I have him tied up to rest so he’ll have to put up with lots of pats and supervise everyone instead.

I got him a cooling bandana that I keep in the fridge on hot days like today. It seems to be keeping him cool because he’s been sleeping for about half an hour now and he hasn’t tried to splash in his water bowl. I was going to use a towel or even a cooling vest but didn’t want to risk getting the amputation site wet.

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Once the sutures are out I’ll throw him a pool party.

 

Mel x

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

Don’t stop me now!

Well since my last blog post Rambo decided to prove that in fact, nothing had been bothering him.

He was walking around a bit more, playing with his toy and he was pretty stable on his back leg showing no signs of pain. For a few days he was back to his normal self again.

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He was trying to lick and bite at the wound last week too but it didn’t look like it was pain related and on closer inspection his skin was quite dry so I suspected that it had become itchy.

After speaking to a friend who suggested adding tumeric powder to his diet, I remembered that I had some paste in the fridge that had tumeric in it.  I’ve used it before on my other dog when she had cut her paw and it healed up really nicely, it’s also safe if the dogs end up licking it off so I applied some of the paste on the dry skin and put the cone on him for a half a day.
It’s been a few days now and he’s shown no signs of itchiness and has not looked around at that area yet so it looks like the paste has done its job. No signs of phantom pain either but I’m sure we’ll be having a few bad days again. I’m just hoping the worst is over.

We did a trip out to Mum’s new place too. The backyard is on a slope so there are quite a few steps. He needed help with a few but managed around the rest of the backyard pretty well by himself 🙂

I did notice two lumps appear around the amputation site yesterday, so today I took him back to the vet to have them checked out. They are seroma lumps which the vet suggested was most likely due to him running around that little bit more. Because fluid would have built up it made a couple of the sutures tight which has caused a small amount of inflammation. Both lumps were drained and the procedure was actually a pretty easy one. He made a small incision and used a syringe with saline to drain most of the fluid.

Rambo is always muzzled at the vet because he thinks the vet is shifty and doesn’t trust him but today he did rather well. He only struggled once and then slowly relaxed letting let the vet do his job.

If Rambo hates the vet again it’s a sign that he’s definitely on the road to recovery.

two red lumps near the end of the stitches. The yellow is from the paste

I still have to be rather careful with the amount of exercise he gets. We didn’t play too much over the weekend and he did nothing too strenuous but he is now instructed to have strict bed rest until the rest of the sutures come out. At the end of each day I need to massage the area to try and drain the rest of fluid out.

More couch time for this little man!

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Mel x

 

 

 

Friday, February 19th, 2016

It’s been a rough few days

We had our check up at the vet a few days ago and he’s been given another course of antibiotics and pain killers.
The site is looking really good, the swelling has gone down, it’s slightly red in a few places but hopefully next week the stitches can come out.
I did catch him licking the area yesterday when I left him alone for 5 minutes so the cone has gone back on, it was red where he had been licking it but this morning it was looking pretty good. It’s becoming dry now so no doubt it’s itchy. I think he’s starting to experience small amounts of phantom limb pain too. Yesterday he was asleep next to me and then he suddenly bolted up and was looking at the wound trying to lick it and became pretty stressed. That’s the second time it’s happened within a few days.

His cramps also came back  with a vengeance. They started off small and progressively became worse. I let him rest but the longer he rested the worse it would get to the point that he was yelping when he tried to get up.
When I got him moving he was fine hopping a long, but once he’s back on his back he is quite hesitant to get back up again.

I was looking through the forums last night and with some reading and suggestion from others I’ve tried a few different things.

I’ve been massaging him and he’s taken that pretty well, the back leg I try to massage as much as he can take. He doesn’t show any significant reaction when I touch it but I can feel the muscles tensing. He will still twist his foot slightly when he stands and almost lets that leg collapse due to it still getting tired and he’s front leg extends out a bit to compensate. The vet reassured me that this was normal and that in a few months once his strength is back he’ll walk and stand normally again. There are a few exercises that I want to try with him but won’t be starting them just yet.

I’ve also tried a heat pack but he’s really not interested. He’ll sit there for a couple of minutes with it then almost slide off his bed not wanting anything to do with it.

As of last night I’ve been given him a little bit more of his vitamins to help his body receive extra nutrition, he’s been drinking plenty of water and I’ve been adding bone broth to his meals to help his overall health and to keep him hydrated.

This morning when he got up he was a little stiff and he cramped for maybe around 30 seconds, but there was no yelping and he came over willingly to eat his food. He even grabbed his toy to play so we played a small amount of fetch.

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Today I’ve been getting him up to walk around that little bit more. Every hour and a half to two hours i’ll help him up to walk around for about 10 minutes. Its the afternoon now and he’s just gotten up by himself to see what i’m eating. No cramps! So that’s good!

I know the cramps can be normal but I think I may have pushed him a little too quickly last week. Even though there are times he really wants to play I still have to be mindful of how much he’s gone through and how much his body needs to recover. I’ve come to the realistation that all this is going to take longer than I anticipated. And so it should. He’s really been knocked around!

I’m just so use to doing daily activities with him and watching him bounce back so quickly because of he’s high drive that I’m already expecting him to be back to his normal self.

It’s all still very hard.

Lot’s of small steps for the both of us!

Mel x

 

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

Almost two weeks after surgery

So far so good, Rams has been doing very well considering all things. A few days after the surgery when he was getting back to his normal self, the cramps/spasms had started in the back leg. This went on for a few days and it happened every time he would have to get up from a long nap. I would have to hold his back end still as it would lift up and he would almost tip over. It’s slowly subsiding now, with cramps happening once or twice every few days. I placed two beds on top of each other which he found more comfortable, so I found a decent thick memory foam bed and ordered the Farabloc as recommended on the Tripawd site, so hopefully that will help with his progress.

He was also in the cone of shame for about three days. He had a strong pain killer patch on his leg that he was not to get too, but the cone actually helped guide him around a bit, as he was still bumping into a few things from being groggy. He now only wears it when I go out and when it’s his bed time as the stitches are still in.

Finally no cone of shame

Finally no cone of shame

For the first 5-6 days I fed him 6 meals a day. This was because a) he was on a lot of medication,  b) he’s stomach was still very sensitive  and c) he had lost a significant amount of weight due to losing a lot of blood and fluid through the amputation. He’s usually around the 18-19kg mark but looked like he dropped to about 14-15kgs.

He’s now onto 4 meals a day, with added vitamins and a joint supplement. Once he’s off all his antibiotics, i’ll add in probiotics to help his digestive and immune system.

He does have his good days and his bad days. His good days consist of walking around a little more than usual and playing small amounts of tug of war and picking up his toy and throwing it around. He’s pretty confident on his good days, with his balance being pretty stable.

His bad days are his painful days. He pants and finds it very difficult to find a comfortable position on his bed. He also doesn’t want to get up from his bed so it takes some coaxing and help to get him moving. I purchased the Ruffwear Webmaster Harness and it’s been such tremendous help for the both of us. It’s much easier to help him up and maneuver him around and even picking him up has been an easier task.

Today however is one of his bad days. He’s been quite reluctant to get up from his bed and needs some help. He also limps a little on the back leg when he gets up but then seems ok once he gets moving. Because the leg is pretty tired as well he tends to lean on it, so I stand pretty close to him to hold him by the harness to relieve that pressure. A few days of good rest and he should be feeling better again.

 

Mel x

 

 

 

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

Rambo, now a tripawd

On February 4th 2016, Rambo underwent an operation to have his back right leg amputated.

A week and a half prior to that, he had undergone a surgery to have a lump removed from his leg.

The surgery to remove the lump went well, and samples were sent off to conclude what it was.  Part of the wound was left open because of the location (ankle) it was quite difficult to stitch up. With that in mind he was bandaged and sent home.

A few days later we went back to the vet for a check up and the samples had come back as cancerous and it was diagnosed as a tumour sarcoma. 

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The day after the first surgery

The small lump, located on his ankle on the back leg

The small lump, located on his ankle on the back leg

 

He did really well over the past week, although he never applied pressure to the foot. We had three vet appointments in one week to check up on the wound. By the fourth bandage change he was yelping quite a lot, which was a sign that something was not quite right. When the vet checked the wound the next time round it wasn’t healing as good as it was before. His toes were quite cold and for a staffy that hates  loathes getting his feet touched, he was not reacting to anything. The vet informed me that he was certain the circulation in his foot had been cut off due to the tumour. This cancer had been more aggressive than we all thought.

I was referred to a specialist the next day for a second opinion and he confirmed that the circulation had indeed been cut off and that a high amputation needed to be done to ‘cure’ the tumour. Even if the leg was amputated from the ankle down, there still was a great risk that it could come back. So two days later he was booked in for surgery.

I was nervous and relieved come surgery day. This was the best decision we could make for Rams, at least this amputation would get rid of the cancer all together. He was dropped off at the vet, early morning with high hopes I would be picking him up the next morning.

It was about 2pm that day the surgeon had called me. “I’ve got good news and bad news”…. The good news was that the chest x-ray had come back clear – the cancer had not spread (thank god) but the bad news was that he became very flat once he was sedated and his vital signs were showing very low results “I do have to inform you that there may be a chance he will not make it through this surgery”. The toxins from his wound had reached his bloodstream and Rambo had become septic.

I don’t remember a whole lot at this point.  It’s a very surreal feeling. I was trying to comprehend what was just said. I wasn’t too too sure what to do or say. I actually told the vet that I would give him a call in 5 minutes and hung up. I couldn’t even say ‘continue with the surgery’. After I managed to get my shit together, I called the vet back then called my boyfriend and cried my eyes out.

What seemed like the longest three and a half hours ever, I got the call back from the vet. “He’s pulled through! He’s doing OK, but we are keeping him overnight” Thank, fricken christ.

I went down to visit him straight away. He was very drugged and half asleep, but he propped his ears up and sat up when I spoke to him, so that was a small indication that he was still aware of what was going on around him. The surgeon advised that the next two nights would prove to be hardest considering he was still very sick. He was fighting for his life.

After the most sleepless night I called the vet in the morning who told me that he made it through and was doing surprisingly well :D!  I was at the vet that afternoon to take him home.

When I got him home, I had the help of my boyfriend and his parents to help settle him in. We carried him inside on a blanket so he didn’t have to move so much and placed him on his bed. He had been vomiting that afternoon and so was given an anti-nausea injection. That seemed to kick in once he settled down, only vomiting twice that night, 5 hours apart. Because he had been through so much and was fed a lot of medication, he was still very out of it. We fed him water through a syringe to keep him hydrated. I also made him bone broth that he would drink willingly, only letting him have a small amount every hour to help ease his stomach.

At 4:20am I called the emergency vet for some advice on what to look out for in case there was any changes to his well-being. Other then behaviour, she told me to keep on eye on his gums, which were a very pale pink. “If they turn white, bring him straight down”. He fell asleep again when I was on the phone, so I managed to get a few hours of sleep in myself.

The next morning he was looking much better! His eyes were the first thing I noticed. They looked like…he was back. His gums were still a pale pink, and he was still wobbly, however he got up by himself, went to the toilet, came back inside and had some water. For breakfast I fed him a tiny amount of kangaroo with bone broth and throughout the day he started to become more of himself, eating, drinking and going to the toilet as normal.

Each day he bounced back and the next couple of vet appointments proved that he was in fact becoming healthier and stronger.

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doing much better now 🙂

Conclusion

To be honest, I am not sure why I decided to wrote this blog. I think its a mix between getting everything out and perhaps helping someone through something similar. Especially if things have not gone to plan.

Everything seemed to be ‘just on time’ with rams. If he had the amputation a few days later, he probably would not have made it. If I had not made a vet appointment so soon, he probably would not have made it. He has had that many bumps and cuts and bruises because he is such a highly active staffy that I didn’t really think that this lump would be cancerous. And never in a million years did I think that he would lose his leg. I was always the person to think “that would never happen to me”. However that thought was purely fear based. We are just so lucky that he pulled through so much and that everything was done as quick as it was.

The tripawd website really helped me understand how to help rams after the surgery. Even though the amputation was the best thing it can be very daunting, and you have a thousand questions running through your head and on what to do next and how to make your pet as comfortable as possible. However you also forget how resilient they can be. He chases his toy and walks around like he didn’t need four legs in the first place.

But the most important thing is that he made it through all of it. He’s still got the strong fighting spirit!

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2014 when he was a little ball of muscle

Reading other people’s story really relived me of some stress and helped me figure out what to do next.

I hope my blogs will help someone that needs it.

Thanks for reading.

Mel x

 

 

 

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