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14-year old black lab mix right leg amputation due to soft cell sarcoma; 5 days in, hanging in there but this is hard
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Sarah M
1
22 November 2021 - 10:32 am
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Thank you so much to the moderator who guided me on how to properly post so I can receive guidance. 

I'm new to this group and so relieved to have found you. My 14-year-old black lab mix, Angel, had her right front leg amputated 5 days ago due to a soft tissue sarcoma on her right elbow. There was just no way to get any kind of clean margins. She never had any pain or mobility limitations, but it was growing and - right before our consult for surgery - actually began to break open. Thankfully they could get her in for surgery the next day.

I'm feeling like I was underprepared for this, and I'm realizing as I write that I have some guilt about that. I'm adjusting and figuring things out, and I'm very glad to be connected to this group. I was surprised and grateful to find a thread specific to an older dog with a similar cancer.

She hasn't wanted to move much since we got home, and I'm worrying about it. She's also yelped out a few times in a way that's breaking my heart. I was reassured when I read here that this is not uncommon. I'm not sure if or how much to move her when it seems like the pain is still so acute. On the positive side, she is eating and giving the occasional tail wag. It feels like she's still in there. Right now I'm aiming for patience since it's still early, but man this is hard. I am aware how much she feels my energy, so I'm doing all I know to stay peaceful, or to settle down when I start to lose it. But also I'm really struggling. I welcome any guidance or insights. Thank you for being here. 

UPDATE: For pain management she is on Gabapentin 200mg every 8-12 hours; Trazodone 150mg every 8-12 hours for sedation; Carprofen 50mg each with morning and evening meals; and Cephalexin 500mg each with morning and evening meals.

When she's yelped out, it's been once each day, I believe it was when she rolled over a certain way. It's possible it was phantom pain , but there was movement precipitating it. The first couple times I felt like I got zapped with high voltage and I got very emotional. Yesterday I was able to respond more calmly. When it happens I help her into a better position and breathe with her (I use a heart rhythm meditation that has helped me a lot with my own anxiety). She shakes for a while then calms.

For better or worse I'm a single dog mom, but yes there are a couple people who have been coming by to help. My brother will be staying with me over Thanksgiving which will be a huge help. The first couple days I tried taking her out to use the restroom and she just laid down. She seemed so delicate and on the edge of pain. On the weekend she was inside on pee pads, and I realize I became a bit paralyzed from the yelping out. I became so skittish and didn't want to take her out or barely move her. Luckily I found this site and started to learn that it's part of the process. I called the vet this morning and they encouraged me to try to get her out at least to use the restroom so she can fully evacuate bladder/bowels. A friend has come and will be helping. The vet also reassured me that her age may make this a longer process, and to be patient.  

Any guidance and shared experiences are so welcome. THANK YOU to this group for being here. It feels like a lifeline right now.

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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22 November 2021 - 10:55 am
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Sarah thanks for starting a new topic! Were you having trouble logging in? You logged in as a guest instead of with your user account @sarahjmcc. Do that, and I won't need to approve every post after the first one.

Thanks for the extra information, it helps a lot. 

Yeah, you are describing some possible phantom leg pain , or it could be another type of pain signals that are not being addressed with her current pain meds. 200 mg of Gaba is pretty low for a Lab-sized dog. Ask your vet if you can get a bottle of 100 mg capsules so you can bump up the dosage incrementally until you see what works. Generally, Gabapentin post op pain control in a dog her size starts at 300 mg 3x daily. Also ask for Amantadine, a med that complements the Gaba by addressing other types of pain. Something is really bugging her and this is where the medication dosage tweaking often needs to happen. Give your vet a call and let us know what they say.

Yes, it's very early. Things DO get better! And congrats, You are doing a GREAT job trying to stay focused and calm. smiley_clap I know it's hard, especially when you're on your own. But you've got your Tripawds family here to lean on OK? Remember we have a Tripawds Helpline you can call too.

Keep us posted.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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22 November 2021 - 2:33 pm
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YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!  We are all here for you and for Angel and with help both navigate thru recovery.  We understand  the fear, the uncertainty,  the physical and emotional exhaustion.  It IS hard!!  And it's hard to be patient and hard to see that your amazing pup WILL adapt, WILL get thru recovery  and WILL be her sweet Lab self with all her sparkle  back soon!

I joined here on day six after amputation  in a complete state of panic.  I was sure I had made a horrible  decision and just could not get a grip that his recovery  stuff was temporary!  This community  threw me a lifeline and pulled me back to shore.  And hopefully we can do the same for you.

Remember,  it is MAJOR surgery all while learning  to adapt to three and all while on pain meds.  As Jerry said, her pain meds do sound a bit on the light side.  Make note of her pain seems to kick in before the next dose.  It may indeed be that she needs doses closer together, or a bit larger dose.  It does take some good observation and tweaking  of meds for a time or two to get the right balance.

And yes. every recovery is different and every dog is different.  And usually  with "mature" pups they need a little extra time to recover and get their sea legs.

You are doing an excellent job of mastering  your energy and staying  pawsitive.  That's  not easy to do, but it will help give her confidence. 

Guessing g uoi've read enough about phantom  pain by now.  It does sound  like she has experienced  that.  Hopefully with med adjustment  wupu will see that fade away.

Are you still having  to give her the sedation Trazedone?  That definitely  can make her ....well...."sedated".  She won't  have any motivation  to get up on her own if she's too zapped.  Obviously  not a Vet and not giving  Vet advice, but she doesn't  sound like she needs something to "keep her calm" at this point.  Sounds like she's pretty chill.

How is her appetite?  How bout drinking  plenty of water?  Is she peeing, even if on peed pads, that's  okay.  Poop may be delayed  a bit because  of meds.

STAY CONNECTED !!   Recovery  doesn't  last furever, just feels like it!  Remember,  you are doing this FOR your sweet Angel, not to her!

(((((((((((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!

Oregon
Member Since:
21 November 2021
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22 November 2021 - 3:04 pm
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I'm still getting the hang of posting - feels like brain fog - thank you for helping me along.

Such relief reading these responses and suggestions. I will call the vet first thing tomorrow and see about tweaking pain meds. It also helps to know that I might be able to time Gabapentin dosages slightly closer together. Yes she's drinking water - thank goodness - and peeing on the pads. Small poops very occasionally, I thought it might be connected to surgery meds - or meds in general - so thank you for mentioning that. I got her outside twice today, no restroom, but I'll keep trying every day. Her mood is improved today over yesterday. 

And I appreciate your point about the Trazedone, I already cut the dose by 1/3 - I'll experiment to see if it's still needed at all. Indeed she is pretty chill right now. 

Thank you SO MUCH everyone. I feel hopeful for the first time in this process. I'll post an update soon.  

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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22 November 2021 - 3:51 pm
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It's okay to celebrate  pee on pee pads and small poopicon!  We call those big victories  around here!!  And YAY for noticing a mood improvement.   Again, every "little" improvement is a HUGE improvement during recovery,

Yeah, it may be that Angel doesn't  need the Trazedone, or only a reduced amount or only at night.  Of course, only after discussing  with Vet as we are not Vets.

And absolutely, you have every reason to feel  "hopeful "!  I vet when your brother comes for a visit that will perk both you and Angel up👍

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!

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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22 November 2021 - 4:47 pm
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Heck yeah those are big victories! She's fourteen and this is a very big deal. I love that you are seeing improvements, it says so much about your attitude and hers.

Hang in there with the pawsitivity and this will be behind you soon!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Oregon
Member Since:
21 November 2021
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23 November 2021 - 9:57 am
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Wow - thank you to everyone who takes time to read and witness the the stories of us new in this process. Angel had another victory last night as she sat up for the first time (briefly, then let herself back down). And she also was moving more and experimenting with trying to get up. I noticed her looking at me with "that look" of needing the restroom. I took a chance and carried her outside... and she pooped!! I have been nervous to lift her but we did it and I have never been so glad to see her poop in my life. I'm learning about meds and talked to my vet this morning - they weren't familiar with Amantadine but they are providing me with additional Gaba as we head into the holiday weekend (no yelping out at all yesterday which also feels hopeful). I gave her an additional 100mg last night, and will be tweaking to see if I can find a good balance. 

These small victories are so meaningful, and I thank you all for reminding me about that. A friend also came to watch her yesterday so I could get out for the first time since I brought her home. I can't believe what a difference it made to clear my head - just by running a few errands on a sunny day. I was able to return to Angel with cleared energy and renewed hope. I'm experiencing the power of support, including and especially  from this group. THANK YOU. I'll be reading your stories and will post another update soon. 

-Sarah and Angel

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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23 November 2021 - 10:15 am
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Got a few Happy tears flowing.  This is such a beau update on so many levels!

We have poopicon!  And we love doing the hoppy.poopicon  dance around here!

To know Angel sat up on her own and also was working on figuring things out her own way...SPECTACULAR!!!!

I'm sure it helped Angel to have a visitor, as well as giving  you a mich needed reprieve.   So glad it put back some pep in your step.  And Angel will be getting her pep in her step back soon too!!!

Keep on keeping on.  Angel's navigating  her way thru recovery and figuring  it all out....and so are you!  Good job!!!

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!

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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9
23 November 2021 - 11:03 am
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Sarah this made my day! smiley_clapI'm so glad things are looking better. Little by little, Angel is getting her sparkle back. Decreased pain signals , better pain control, is wonderful. And her first poopicon is a BIG DEAL! YAY! And your friend coming over is just what you both needed. Please thank them for us, they did a lot of good there.

You are both on the path to recovery. This is GREAT NEWS!!!! Please let us know if you need anything at all. We are here for you.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Oregon
Member Since:
21 November 2021
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10
1 December 2021 - 12:23 pm
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Hi all - a quick update to share that Angel has been steadily improving. We're at 2 weeks since surgery and - as many suggested - it's getting easier every day. We are off pain meds since the weekend (day 10/11), and she got her sutures out yesterday (day 13); this also involved our first car ride since bringing her home. She has been using the restroom outside regularly since about 5 days in, and it gets easier all the time. She started drinking from her own water dish on Sunday (day 11). Since she's an older pup at 14 1/2 we're taking things slow, but she's building her walking strength and learning her new formation. It's amazing how intelligent their bodies/systems are in adapting. She's also continuing to sleep and rest a lot as her body heals. 

The intense anxiety I had in the first week has eased significantly - for a few days there I felt like I was on another planet. Thank goodness for this group and the incredible (and specific) support available here. Truly a life and sanity saver. My brother came for the Thanksgiving holiday and he was an invaluable help. Doing this alone was intense those first few days. It's true what some have suggested about becoming closer to our canine companions - I feel closer to Angel than ever. 

For anyone heading into this experience, or in the first week/two weeks of it - I send you love and encouragement. Just hold on, it DOES get better. 

-Sarah & Angel

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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11
1 December 2021 - 3:55 pm
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WHEEEE! Sarah thank you so much for updating, we are doing a crazy hoppy dance here for you and Angel! It makes all of us so happy that things are working out and she's doing well. Now it's time to pawty!

Also, not sure if I mentioned it, but Tripawds Foundation can pay for your first rehab visit for Angel. It's a great way to know exactly how to help her keep getting stronger and stay injury free.

Funny that you updated today. A new member, Jen, just posted about her 14 year old pup Koba getting diagnosed. See:

https://tripawd.....diagnosed/

I'll point her over here so she can see Angel's story too 🙂

Super duper great news! Thanks for sharing.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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12
1 December 2021 - 9:07 pm
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And yet another big grin in my mug😊   Reading  this makes me so happy!

To see how well Angel is doing and to "hear" the relief in your voice as you see Angel improving is a beautiful  thing.  I love seeing dogs recover at their own pace and I  their own way.  She knows she needs rest, she knows to take it slow and she knows how to be the cutest tripawd ever so she can be more spoiled  than any other four legger ever could be!!

So happy for the update...and equally  as Happy seeing  you relax into   the  new norm and celebrate  all her victories. 

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!

Oregon
Member Since:
21 November 2021
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13
15 December 2021 - 12:20 pm
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Hi all - another quick update: today we are one month from surgery and Angel continues to heal and learn and return more and more to her normal self. I've got a ramp coming (found a beautiful one on Etsy) so she can get up and down from the bed which is one of her favorite spots. I notice her becoming more free with her movements, like more enthusiastic tail wagging, shaking off water after being in the rain, and even small moments of almost running. Her incision has healed very well - I feel grateful that was one area that went smoothly. 

Thank you again Tripawds community for all the incredible support. It DOES get better - just hang on for those first couple weeks. 

-Sarah & Angel

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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15 December 2021 - 9:23 pm
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Got a few Happy tears welling up over here!  So many wonderful things stand out in this  update!  You are spot on for recognizing how glorious it is to see these things like you ment below

I notice her becoming more free with her movements, like more enthusiastic tail wagging, shaking off water after being in the rain, and even small moments of almost running

Angel is a true inspawration  for all newbies, but especially  senior newbies.  Angel ris the perfect example of recovering  at her own pace and reclaiming  all her little normal routines that make her be Angel♥️

I know she'll be so hapoy to get backnup and down off her ged.  Yes, HER bed that she let's you sleep in!  And having her back in bed will be theraputic  for both of you.

Thanks so much for taking the time om update. You and Angel are such a great team and offer great support to others on this journey 

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!

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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15
15 December 2021 - 10:41 pm
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Wheeeee! Thanks for stopping by with this great news smiley_clap We all cheer when we know that a Tripawd is doing so well. We are especially filled with joy when it's a senior Tripawd!

And you sound pretty good too!

Be sure to check out these ramp training tips to help her get used to it. We would love to see it when you get a chance. Sounds like it was hand crafted?

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

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