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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is the place to learn how to care for a three legged dog or cat, with answers about dog leg amputation, and cat amputation recovery from many years of member experiences.
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SENIOR CAT PITTENS
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Forum Posts: 170
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25 July 2020 - 6:20 pm
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Hi Everyone,

 

I need help. I called the helpline and met the most beautiful person who helped me calm my heart and panic. My cat is 18 years olf. She was diagnosed with soft sarcoma on her front paw . The rec has been full leg amputation or let her live life out till the decision comes. She is fully alive and alert. She cuddles with me and loves to be outside and loves food

She is showing signs of early kidney disease and is hyperthyroid I currently give her methimozole and gabapentin. She has tremendous anxiety around others.

I feel split on this decision. I wonder how she will recover and make it. And will her final time be in adjustment? Is it more ethical to have her feel full in body and not adjust? Right now, time is running out. Her paw has swollen the size of a golf ball and has an access that is about to rupture. I am also moving this Sunday and I am totally freakign out I know when I move I will be able to have her in her own room if I got for surgery, which I do not have now.

My vert moved and during covidI have been to several vets and surgeons. I get different stories- I found vet that has a good reputation now. And I am speaking with a surgeon she highly recommends 

What is everyones experience?

I just spoke to the surgeon who said that I should seriously think about what I am trying to achieve with amputation and he feels I will regret it. 
He stated
1. If her kidney levels are slightly elevated anesthesia could lead to renal failure or serious kidney disease o speed up
2. The grade of her tumour wasn’t on the biopsy. I am trying to get that info and may not be able to.Ig its high grade- she won’t pull through chemo- I know this because she can’t be without me. She has anxiety and gets flustered every time  around others especially vet type places. I can’t have her sit through chemo after amputation- and that’s how she goes???? But is this worse?????

3. I felt that if I know the grade then I can make a better decision- because I will not amputate and then find out while she is healing that she is dying. 

Im so distraught I have been crying I- she has been my whole life- I went through an abusive marriage and family gobe- and she has been my family. I never had children and by the time I felt my marriage I got sick and was told I probably could never have children. But I went through a process with Pittens and my others that we were home. us. 
I am so distraught. Im trying to get on the forum I thought this was that. 
I am besides myself and her paw is so bad.
 


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25 July 2020 - 7:20 pm
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I’m glad to see you have posted here. I think more see the posts here on the forums than the blogs.

What is your name?

It’s obvious you love Pittens very much and have taken good care of her. Many cats don’t live to 18 years old and even if they don’t they aren’t always as alert and cuddly as Pittens. You’ve done a great job loving Pittens!!!

It sounds like you have had a bit of a challenge with vets/surgeons/covid but now you have and vet and surgeons who you like. That’s good the surgeon has expressed a concern about the anesthesia so you know this is something to consider. I think it generally takes a couple of weeks for a cat to heal from an amputation but the healing may be longer for an older cat with some conditions.

It’s a very good question the surgeon asked – what are you trying to achieve? Generally, we want to just save our cat’s life; to take the pain away; to give us more time together. I sure would like them to live forever but we haven’t been able to achieve that yet.

Have you talked to Pittens primary vet about the risk of surgery? It may be a gamble you can take and Pittens can pull through. Perhaps you can also ask about the grade of the tumour and if it even makes any difference. I think they are suggesting a leg amputation because they wouldn’t be able to get a good margin by trying to remove the tumour. My cat also had a sarcoma which quickly grew to golf ball size and the skin started splitting so her leg was amputated immediately. I did not have a biopsy done because it was clear the tumour was aggressive.

Sometimes, due to the risks of surgery or the prognosis, some people choose palliative care where the pet is given pain medication for comfort. Pittens may even need antibiotics and bandaging for the abscess. 

I hope you can discuss this further with the vet to help you make the best decision based on the information you can gather.

Let us know if you have more questions. We aren’t vets but all of us have gone through the grief of making a decision about amputation.

Hugs,

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

Virginia




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25 July 2020 - 9:28 pm
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Can only”ditto” what Kerren said.

You love for Pittens comes shiny through.  Your bond is truly beautiful  to read about.  No matter what, that bond will never be broken, okay?

How we al wish we had a crystal  ball sometimes.  We know what an agonizing  decision  this is. You are doing EVERYTHING  you can to get as much information  as you can from the professionals.

We often say “age is just a number” arou d here and that attit and zest for life speak volumes.  

That said, we also have to give ourselves  a reality check when we know the natural life span of our beloved Soul Mate is in the last season. 

And to make things more complicated  for your Pittens, the kidney  values and thyroid issues cannot be ignored during  this chapter of her life.

I read what the Surgeon said several times over.  There was a lot of wisdom and expertise in the comments, and a lot of focus on what’s  best for Pittens.

None of is can tell you what to do.  We can tell you that it is clear how devoted  you are to Pittens and you will make a decision  out of love❤  We are here with you no matter what path you take.

Kerren made some good points about checking out some things that can be done if amputation  is off the table.  Definitely  ask about pain management ,  antibiotics,  maybe a wrap, etc, etc.  Anything that can be done to continue to give Pittens quality  time.  I know those tumors can look nasty and scary,  but that doesn’t  mean their  pain can’t be controlled and does mean infection  can’t  be minimized.

Thete was something  you said that was quite profound.

    You didn’t  want Pittens to be healing  while dying.

That was such a selfless “self awareness”  way to process.

Another thing that stood out was that you mentioned  several times how anxious Pittens is whenever away from you…especially  at the Vet.  On top of everything else, you are in the process of moving  and adjusting to new surroundings will prob cause some stress too.

What do you think Pittens would want?  We all know our companions  don’t  care about days on a calendar.  They only want to be loved and spoiled  and to qapend quality time with their hoomans. Animals know they are more than their “earth clothes “.  They know their Spirit energy lives on in a different form when their earthly body no longer serves them. 

We are here for you in anyway we can help.  We would love to see some pics of your precious Pittens.  

Extra hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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26 July 2020 - 10:47 am
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Hello

Warmest of hugs to you and Pittens as you are in a situation that has no one right and no wrong answers.  Please try to remember that no matter what you decide, any choice made out of love is the right choice!

While I have no experience with pets to have had cancer, I have lost several friends to it.  Cancer is a very wicked disease who is unpredictable, no one can say for sure how long one has, no matter what path is taken.  In the past I had one cat live to 23, Magic finally passed due to pneumonia.  But before that he had a host of medical problems.  His survival and resilience amazed all including the vet.  I also currently have Tuxedo, who lost his rear leg and partial pelvis due to a dog attack 3+ years ago.  He is 13 now.  So I do have a perspective from owning an adorable creature.  When I have to make a difficult and emotional decision, I often ask a friend to help me weigh the pros and cons of each.  Usually by involving another I feel more secure in going forward.  Indirectly I think that is what you are doing here.

From my knot hole you have the following options (remember there is no wrong choice)

1.  Immediate euthanasia (not recommending this, just listing it) 

2.  Continuing as is with pain medication and wound dressing until Pittens can no longer live as Pittens would want. This could be weeks to months. – As others have said definitely talk with your vet about this as considerable pain meds will be necessary for Pittens to be comfortable as the cancer progresses.  With the current “War on Opiods” many doctors and vets are more hesitant to prescribe than previously.  Since the cancer seemed to bloom rapidly based on your description, even if not graded it probably is aggressive.  No matter what choice you make I am certain you do not want Pittens to be in pain.

3.  Amputate without chemo – Given Pittens’ anxiety issues, no chemo might be an excellent option if you decide on amputation. Many survive a very long while without it, especially if good margins are obtained.  Good margins are very likely with cancer in the paw and full leg amputation. Tuxedo, my cat,  had an extremely tough recovery period almost 2 months and he had no major underlying health conditions.  Though to be fair, he also had numerous other injuries so did not enter surgery in the “ideal” condition.  In the same situation I would choose the same for him though even knowing how rough the next two months were going to be.  Most other cat recovery stories on here seem to indicate a two to three week recovery  period of time while on pain meds.  At that point they are getting around very well, even elderly cats.  I remember reading of several senior cats on here (16-18 years).  In Pittens’ case there are other health issues.  Only you and your vet know how serious those are and how they might impact going this route.  

4.  Amputation with chemo/radiation – Same as above but with the most concerns, both due to the surgery and side effects of chemo/radiation.  Note you can always elect to do chemo if the amputation surgery and recovery go smoothly later.  So this chemo choice is not necessarily an immediate one.

5.  Chemo/radiation alone – Here the chemo/radiation would likely be palative, not curative.  There would still be side effects (mild?) Would the benefits outweigh the stress Pitten’s would go through with the visits?   Definitely talk with your vet on this option especially to get some idea on the additional longevity this option might offer.  

Lastly maybe put yourself in Pitten’s situation best as you can.  Imagine you are elderly (say 80) and you have kidney issues, not to the point of needing dyalisis.  You also have aggressive cancer which is causing you pain and mobility issues.  Would you want to spend the rest of your days in bed on increasing doses of pain medication or take a gamble on a surgery which has risks and even if successful would cause considerable pain and force you to relearn how to get around and almost everything you do.

Any choice you make is the right choice because it is being done out of love and concern for your baby.  No one wants to cause their pet unnecessary suffering.  And I suspect it hurts us almost as much as it hurts them.  Try to hug and cherish Pitten’s as much as you can.  Also and I know it is impossible, but try to be positive and cheerful around him as pets pick up out emotions.  If you are worried and anxious, it will impact him too.

I am an not on here often, so your best bet for a timely response should you wish to talk with me further concerning anything, is to send me a private message.

Warmest of wishes and tightest of hugs as you and Pittens move forward on whatever path you choose

-Dawna, Tuxedo, Lilly, and Angel Dazzle

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26 July 2020 - 2:21 pm
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I’m so glad we had the chance to chat last night. This is not an easy situation and you are such an excellent advocate for Pittens. Know that whatever you decide, it will be a choice made with love and no stone unturned. Please let us know how your conversation with Dr. Kennedy at AMC goes OK? 

Sending you lots of love and pawsitivity …. sp_hearticon2

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6 August 2020 - 1:53 pm
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HI Everyone,

Thank you so much for all of this. I apologize for my delay in response. I just moved. Pittens was so excited and walked to the back- now that I have a backyard and was like a little kitten in her happiness. She remembered the outdoors from when we lived in a house and I am so thankful; to have brought her to this new home. Since then though, she has been sleeping a lot. I feel so upset. I am seeing Dr. Kennedy at AMC tmrw morning. 

The surgeon I met here was not nice. During covid, he did not respond to emails for 3 weeks so I wrote a rather an email stating I needed help and was disturbed with the lack of response. He reacted with an ego when we spoke and He told me that if I was doing research (on Tripawds) about amputation that I was not ready- and he thinks I will regret amputation since “She is going to dies anyway”.He also said that he doesn’t know when he would be available for surgery- he pretty much told me to F off. My vet here is useless as well- I have met no-one face to face. and she seems very “whatever” about everything. When I tried to find out the grade of the tumour- I was told by the vet who did it-“It aggressive and you did not do anything in 2 months- that’s on you”. 

Im besides myself with these disgraceful professionals. As a psychologist, I have had difficult patients- but I understood the context and I allowed it- after all isn’t that part of being a doctor?I was not offensive_ I was pleading for help. 

So I am going to a new surgeon who is also an oncologist tmrw. Im am just going to follow what she says. Do you have suggestions of questions I can ask?

I feel amputation can help and also I feel I don’t know what Pittens current health status is. I have no clue as no-one has really told me much here. 

Thank you all for these responses- I will be back tmrw and let you know what happens. 

Virginia




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6 August 2020 - 9:13 pm
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Oh my gosh!  So sorry you have been treated so disrespectfully and in such a dismissive way. You needed information and compassion and guidance and apparently  got none of that.

I hope you find a more pawsitive  interaction  with the Onco and get the answers you need to determine how to proceed in Pitten’s best interest.

I guess the main question would center around the current health of Pittens and if she is a good candidate for this major surgery.   You can ask about prognosis with or without ampu, etc.

Also you can ask about maintenance  pain meds if they are needed at this point.  This would be regard of whether you do surgery or not.

It’s wonderful  to hear  how happy she is in her new home and how much she is enjoying  his yard.😊  It has to make you feel good to see her having a good time in her new home.

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

The Rainbow Bridge



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7 August 2020 - 11:35 am
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I’m so sorry you had such negative encounters with the vets. That is not what anyone needs at a time like this. It’s so understandable why the decision to amputate would be so hard under these circumstances, I feel for you. I hope that the onco visit goes well. I hope it’s not too late but here are Questions to Ask Your Vet Oncologist that you can take with you. Keep us posted OK? 

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8 August 2020 - 9:00 am
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HI,

Thank you so much Jerry. It was so useful to see the questions and it helped structure my dialogue yesterday.

I found out that Pittens is in good health- pending radiology reports. 

The Dr. stated that I can see the prognosis as a couple of months without amputation and growing pain which eventually will lead me to make the decision to let her go. 

She said it would be totally fair to not amputate given Pittens age due to the course for adjustment and then the remaining life which may never become normal. Had she been younger- of course this would be a different scenario. She stated that Pittens kidney values  are not alarming- they show an elderly cat- but nothing significant that would bar anesthesia.She stated the prognosis with amputation is maybe 6 months to a year more.

This made me pause. Is this proper then to do? Or shouldl I let her live her life fully as she is now. Would those remaining 6 months- be in adjustment? What do you all think? and does that even make sense?

The Dr. stated in reposnse- she will be pain free. I stated I didn’t want her to be dying while adjusting. She said its a tough call and the benefits may outweigh the risks here. But to me, its not the whole scenario- I have read on here many every cats take even 6 months to reacclimatize. 

When she was in the hospital yesterday- I stayed in the garage from 8 am to about 6 pm yesterday waiting because I felt her getting scared. She was given a sedative because she was so worked up there- The dr. said she was anxious but also showed such a high level of resilience in that she adjusted eventually. When I got her she didn’t leave my side and I had her on my lap for the full hour and a half to get home. She has been stuck to me like glue since. 

I have complete faith in this doctor and hospital. it is so top notch. However, this decision is based on life meaning- and what is ethically right- 6 months to a year after an amputation.. makes me pause a bit. 

Im thankful;l to have found this and thankful to Jerry- for telling me to go. Thank you Jerry. 

I have her surgery tentatively planned for next Saturday. I am still going back and forth with this. 

Thank you for helping me

Virginia




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8 August 2020 - 5:59 pm
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So glad you were able to have such an honest  conversation with this Vet.  She clearly listened and gave feedback, not only based on her professional  knowledge of the situation, but also based on the struggles  you are dealing  with in tis difficult  decision.  And it is difficult.  At least it would be for me

I’m sure you know by now none of us would ever tell you what to  do.  Duch a personal decision based on what YOU think is in Pittens best interest. 

You are doing a good job trying to balance the pros and cons of each scenario. Certainly when a pet is in the “sunset” of their natural  life span, decisions involving major surgery (or any surgery for that matter).are really hard.

I know we’ve  said this before, but what would Pittens want?  Try and get in a quiet and still place with Pittens by your side.  See if you can “sende” what Pittens is trying to tell you.  One thing I think you can count on, based the way Pittens is clinging to you, all he cares about is being  by your side.  Not the days on a calendar…..just being  by your side💖

We support you and salute you for the efforts you are going through to figure out the best path forward.

Extra hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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9 August 2020 - 7:49 am
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Wow… what an awful road you have been on. I am so sorry that “professionals” treated you so unprofessionally. I am not sure I can add anything that all of these wonderful people haven’t already stated, but when I read your story I needed to post for support if nothing else.

How DARE a doctor of all people tell you that if you are looking to Tripawds for suggestions, advise, wisdom, that you are not ready. I absolutely ROAR that is so not true! I myself came here for advise, support, empathy when Huckleberry was approaching his amputation and I cannot tell you how much the support meant to, and always will mean to our family. And going through his recovery, this tripawds family helped tremendously with advice from the people that had already been there/done that. That is how pretty much all of us have ended up here. That is why we all give back as we can because knowledge, support, and empathy is the power that most of us need to get through such a tumultuous road in our lives. 

Pittens is a very lucky kitty. It sounds like that doctor yesterday really chunked things down more for you. Normal senior kidneys, that is a huge plus. Her ability to stop the panic, another huge plus. She didn’t run and hide under the bed after she came home, she is resilient. 

What I can say… life has no guarantees. Young pets do well with amputation, some have also passed away. Same thing for seniors. Same thing for people too if you want to go full circle. From what I have seen here, seniors can indeed take a bit longer to adjust and recover, but there are a few of them that kicked cancer’s ass and recovered like they were ageless. I would tend to err on the side of caution and expect it to take a few weeks for her to recover. If you decide to move forward, she may even need help using the kitty box and may need pee pads until she can find her balance to get up.. and she might not, but this is some of what we have seen. 

Finding a safe room for her to recover in will also be important. Making the room so that she can get around safely is important. I would expect you to probably be spending a lot of time together, so I would stock up on things so that you don’t have to leave her for long lengths of time in the beginning. Stock up on a variety of smelly, tempting foods because the anesthesia and meds can make their appetite off. Tuna, tuna juice, low sodium bone broth, boullion, smelly yummy canned cat food variety because she will need her fluids. Especially for her kidneys. 

Proper pain management is of the utmost importance. Dosing schedules are just as important. They are usually on gabapentin, pain reliever like buprenorfin, and sometimes antibiotics. 

I am not in any way assuming that you will move forward with amputation, however I am trying to fill in some of the blanks for you so that you can continue to weigh your pros and cons and have a fuller picture either way. 

I wish you well in your journey, and although I am not on as often as I used to be I have subscribed to this topic and will look to follow you to help in any way that I can. You are also welcome to PM me any time.

Your decision is not an easy one, but like everyone else has already said and I totally ditto… no decision made out of love will be the wrong one. You have full support no matter what you decide.

Hugs,

Jackie and Huck  sp_hearticon2sp_hearticon2sp_hearticon2

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Bo, Andy, Oscar, Angel Mitchell, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

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10 August 2020 - 11:03 am
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HI,

Thank you so much for your kindness and taking the time to really understand… I sometimes feel we don’t cross paths often with the souls that I have met on here….I feel fortunate for this. Thank you to all of you and thank you paws 120. Paws120 I had actually read everything about your little one and so it is nice to meet. Thank you for being so in sync with the feelings and emotions and the decision this is. 

My mother sat down in India and researched cat amputation and through the lens of Pittens( we sometimes make her name Indian and call her Pittu or make her a flower and call her Pitulia or when she was walking she would have a little gait and we would call her Pitti Patter- or Pitti).

The post operative care is what is the most troubling. The amount of time given after amputation roughly and max of 1 year feels is true but makes me head hang low and yet her little paw is quite big and gruesome now…..Despite this, she moves around and walks up the steps to my bed every night.  She is indeed resilient – a quiet silent introverted warrior girl often misunderstood. My worry is that there is no adequate help if something goes wrong. I wish I knew a good vet in Brooklyn. I have not found anyone who is invested and truly cares one bit. It makes me hold my head low about humanity…. but then I come here and see all of you and I remember there is good- and love in this world. So, thank you. 

Pittens aftercare worries me tremendously and I am leaning towards letting nature play its course and bring her outside to the patio everyday and feed her and love her and sit with her and sleep next to her ( though she always finds her way to me).

Amputation and the recovery and then the life expectancy after does not feel like a calm ending to this life. I know she will be pain free- but will she really- with the trial and tribulations of post op- and no emergency services or vet that is truly invested?

AMC is an hour and a half away also. Aside from all of this emergency care services- and even if they were existent – is it even fair by this little girl who has grown with me for almost 20 years- a dairy of my life and her life intertwined- growing together- to confine her to a room- for her to be in pain also with amputation post op- to go through enormous adjustment and anxiety and possible depression- for many more months and to somehow have hopes that she will feel normalized to enjoy the 6 months  to 1 year she has left. 

My heart and soul and mind are being pulled in ways that are not natural… I want to do the right thing. I sit with her and I feel both ways. She doesn’t know what surgery is going to be- but I know she will suffer greatly- and would need a good amount of time to normalize again. and she will feel tormented mentally- If there is time for her to adjust and overcome this- Iw oddly be on board- but within 6 months/1 year to achieve all fo this….I don’t know.  I also know she isn’t ready to go in her mind because she perseveres always. 

I am focused on her end of life stage being the fullest and richest it can be- with the least amount of emotional mental turmoil. Both ways I cut this- I feel I have failed in finding the right path….. My little girl will also go away fighting- and that breaks me. 

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10 August 2020 - 11:27 am
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(((hugs)))) 

I’m so glad your visit at AMC went well. Yes, they are extremely competent of giving her excellent care. At least now you can check that factor off the list, right? 

But, after reading your update, it does sound to me like your heart is telling you not to amputate. That is OK, and understandable. I’m honestly not sure what I would do if I was in your situation. It’s a very difficult one, I’m so sorry you are facing it. Should you decide not to amputate, the palliative care route is perfectly acceptable as long as you can control her pain from that tumor. Pain meds won’t prevent the tumor from rupturing, but they can help her feel better. Is she on anything now? I can’t recall if you mentioned.

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10 August 2020 - 11:38 am
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HI Jerry,

Thank you for making me go to AMC. They really are extremely good. I suppose I am learning towards palliative care…. It feels wrong in every which way- no decision here feels right. Right now she is on Gabapentin .6 xls 2x a day ( concentration is 50mg/ml).

If it ruptures, what happens?

Do you think there should be more meds?

Jerry- I can’t tell you how amazing you are for starting this community. I really admire this. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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10 August 2020 - 12:00 pm
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Oh gosh silly, you made yourself go to AMC, I just recommended them. Yep, they’re great!

I’m not a vet but my guess is that she may need more than Gabapentin in time, if not now. I would talk to Dr. Kennedy about adding pain medications if you do decide not to amputate. When you do ask, be sure to go over how to handle the ruptured tumor. Unfortunately, to be honest my guess is it’s not a matter of if but when, so you want to be prepared to manage the aftermath. My assumption is in that situation, you will need to be prepared to set her spirit free as well. But again, talk to the vet about it. Dr. Kennedy is not a hospice vet specifically, but can probably refer you to one to manage care during this time.

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