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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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A fall and its consequence - Pofi could use good thoughts and prayers
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Los Angeles, CA
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19 October 2016 - 9:29 am
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My heart is breaking here …. Hugs and love your way. 

Shelby Lynne; Jack Russell/Shiba Inu mix. Proud member of the April Angels of 2014.

October 15, 2000 to April 8, 2014

Our story: Broke rear leg in June 2013 - non-conclusive results for cancer so leg was plated and pinned. Enlarged spleen in September 2013 and had it removed and was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma and started chemotherapy. Became a Tripawd January 8th, 2014 and definitive Hemangiosarcoma diagnosis. Three major surgeries in 7 months and Shelby took them all like a champ only to lose her battle to cancer in her brain. We had 8 amazing extra months together and no regrets. #shelbystrong #loveofmylife

Green Bay, WI


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19 October 2016 - 9:55 am
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My heart is also breaking for you guys! And I know its easy for all of us to say “stay positive”, but like others have said, we’re not living it day-to-day like you are. But here is my 2 cents worth…..first, if it were me, I would have to exhaust every avenue before saying enough’s enough….like you are, searching for someone to make a home visit for some therapy. Luckily you live in the metropolis of the Twin Cities, so hopefully you can find someone.
Next up, the penny jar…..I’ve recently started one for Nitro – not because of anything bad, but because it may come in handy someday. As I’ve started adding pennies, it occurred to me that he’s had probably 24 months of GOOD days….that’s a lot of pennies. So looking back on Pofi’s good days, I bet his “good” penny jar would be pretty full right now. Maybe I have the penny-jar-thing all wrong, but this is how I choose to do it. We seem to be very similar people, you and I, and I know you won’t quit until you feel there is NO option left, while always keeping his best interest at heart. 

Keeping you all in my prayers….

Paula and Nitro

Nitro 11 1/2  yr old Doberman; right front amp June 2014. Had 6 doses carboplatin, followed by metronomic therapy. Rocked it on 3 legs for over 3 years! My Warrior beat cancer, but couldn't beat old age. He crossed the Bridge peacefully on July 25, 2017, with dignity and on his terms.  Follow his blog entitled "Doberman's journey"

http://nitro.tripawds.com

"Be good, mama loves you".....run free my beautiful Warrior

Virginia




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19 October 2016 - 2:16 pm
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Sitto Paula!! As hard as this must be to watch, based on what the Vets have said, it seems like you are on the right path to turn this around.

And a “correction; abput the penny jar on my other post. I think I was thinking about the “how to measure quality of life”…or something like that. Of course, I searched for that as well as penny jar and found nothing (user error)!

Anyway, I think you have the penny jar thing figured out correctly!!! I guess I found the “quality” thing to be a little too general. A lot.of wiggle room needs to be allowed for each specific situation and each specific dog’s personality.

Let us know how the new harness is working. Of course, Pofi probably does not like you trying to help him at all!! He is, after all, POFI!!

We love you and Ppfi!!

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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19 October 2016 - 7:34 pm
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One of the things I prayed for when Otis was first diagnosed was that when the final decision had to be made, it would be obvious.  And for both of my dogs, as soon as I got them to the vet, it became medically clear.  When was your follow-up with the vet?  I seem to remember something about checking back in a week?  Would getting the (expensive) MRI help at all in terms of knowing anything?  Maybe the question just becomes whether he is in such pain and distress that it is outweighing his quality of life, with no reasonable hope of improvement?  Would your feelings about this situation be different if he did not also have cancer?  Wish I could say something that would make Pofi better.  Just know that we are all thinking of you.   

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.



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20 October 2016 - 4:38 am
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Hi Lisa 💗

I agree with Christine, an MRI would be an acurate way of assessing the damage and would give a clear view of how it could be improved maybe with physio or hydrotherapy? 

I am so worried about you and Pofi but I am also very, very hopeful he will recover because he is so, so resilient and enjoys life so much!

Please keep us updated as soon as you can.

Sending you a cloud of pawsitive energy, you and Pofi are in our thoughts 💕💕💕🐾🐾🐶

Eurydice 77kg/170lb Great Dane limping end of April 2016, amputation (right front leg/osteosarcoma) 4 May 2016 6 courses of carboplatin followed by metronomic therapy, lung mets found 30 Nov 2016. 3 courses of doxorubicin, PET scan 26 Jan 2017 showed more mets so stopped chemo. Holistic route April 2017. Lung X-ray 5 May 2017 showed several tennis ball size mets, started cortisone and diuretics. Miss Cow earned her XXL silver wings 12 June 2017, 13 months and 1 week after amputation and 6 1/2 months after lung mets, she was the goofiest dawg ever and is now happily flying from cloud to cloud woof woofing away :-) 

Minneapolis, MN
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20 October 2016 - 9:28 am
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Agreed on much in the last two posts and in many more and also, I want to express warm gratitude for the support and understanding and positivity from everyone.

I feel marginally better today – we have been getting Pofi out to pee with a little more ease a few times last night and then again this morning thanks in good part to the Get A Grip harness (thanks, Jim & Rene, for managing the order) and perhaps the groin pull is really starting to be less painful; whatever the reason, there is definitely less squeaking getting him upright as soon as we started to use the Get a Grip yesterday.  We both slept well from 11:45 or so till 6:30 this morning.  He and I slept in the house last night instead of on the three season porch because it got colder – I have been sleeping on dog beds on the concrete there for several days as he seemed most comfortable there and also because it was so much more expedient to get him out the door to potty in a hurry when needed.

Also, I had a mobile vet highly recommended to me yesterday by a Greyhound friend for acupuncture and that vet will be here today at 2 pm.  Have prepped her on some of the circumstances and the FCE versus other cause questions.  Let her know this is not about end of life care or options yet.  Was worried she would be shocked – I worry that any of you would be, too.  This dog is simply horizontal all the time right now and, yes, I question if this is sufficient quality of life.

And I know MRI seems like it is what needs to happen to be a bit more definitive (we would know if this was another tumor that has reached the spine).  While the expense is daunting ($1,500 to $1,800), the bigger problem for me is once again putting him under GA.  GA number 9 in the last 14 months was just 3 weeks ago tomorrow and the last several times he has seemed to have a sore or injured trachea and has made throat clearing “gaaakk” noises (as in Bill the Cat in the Bloom County comic) for days after.  I was so committed to not doing anything with GA again for as long as possible and maybe never after the quick lump removal surgery…

So that is my update for now.  And actually, I still have PT sessions prepaid at the U from before the cancer diagnosis – but I did want to be sure the groin pull was past tense before I considered the tactics of getting him back in – the PT space is in the sub basement and a good distance from any doors.  It would be great if he would let us use one of their carts to get him there, but he was having NONE of it last Friday when we went for a final assessment on his incision healing and got the initial look at the situation with his back legs.

More after we see the vet / acupuncture today.

Lisa, Minneapolis

On October 27, 2016, nearly 6 months after amputation, and 18 months since his cancer likely started, we lost Pofi to a recurrence of Soft Tissue Sarcoma in his spine quite suddenly.  His Daddy and I miss him terribly along with his canine sister, Mia, and two feline siblings, Lucia and Cliff.

Blog: Pofi, Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor Amputation

Green Bay, WI


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20 October 2016 - 9:59 am
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Oh I’m so glad you found a mobile vet to come over! I was going to call my chiro vet today when they opened to see if she knew of anybody in your area.

Tripawd’s  is a judgement-free zone….you should never worry that anyone here would think less of you for any of your decisions! We have your back on whatever you decide, whenever you decide it. This is probably the only place I feel 100% confident of that!

Totally understand your concerns about the MRI/GA…..at some point, you may have to consider it if he doesn’t show improvement, but it doesn’t seem as if you are there quite yet. I’m glad the new harness is making your life a little easier, that has to be some comfort, anyway.

Take care, sure hope the mobile vet can make Pofi a little more comfortable as he heals.

Paula and Nitro

Nitro 11 1/2  yr old Doberman; right front amp June 2014. Had 6 doses carboplatin, followed by metronomic therapy. Rocked it on 3 legs for over 3 years! My Warrior beat cancer, but couldn't beat old age. He crossed the Bridge peacefully on July 25, 2017, with dignity and on his terms.  Follow his blog entitled "Doberman's journey"

http://nitro.tripawds.com

"Be good, mama loves you".....run free my beautiful Warrior

Virginia




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20 October 2016 - 12:06 pm
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QOh Lisa, under the circumstances, this IS good news! This is “incremental improvement”! I know these improvements aren’t coming fast though! And, as Christine alluded to, you may feel a little differently, or a little more patient, without the crap disease hanging over gour head. I guess it goes back to Pofi not worrying about those things that we do!!

You know your Ppfi so well and consistently have Pofi’s well being at the top of the list! It sounds like you and the Vet are on the right path. There doesn’t seem to be any reason to pursue any expensive and invasive tests that cause Pofi stress.

The emotions you are having to deal with, on top of the intense emotions from the “other” issues from diagnosis, to amputation, to recovery and on and on just sucks! We all are in awe of your courage and strength! You may not see it or feel it…but we do!

As far as acupuncture, and others can chime in with more first hand experience, I think it takes several treatments to see a difference. Also, I “think”‘that sometimes there’s a bit of a “feel worse” before better after the first treatment. Could be ccompletely wrong (which is a pretty normal occurrence!).

We’ll look forward to hearing about more improvements!! 🙂

Lots of love!

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!

Green Bay, WI


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20 October 2016 - 12:46 pm
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Hi Lisa,  I just heard back from Nitro’s holestic vet (who I adore); her best friend is it the St. Paul/Minneapolis area at a clinic called Synergy Animal Health. Her name is Dr Gaylene Giesler, I tagged her Facebook page to you. Just in case you want/need another option,  you can keep this in mind. The phone number I was given is 651-245-5610. Keeping our paws cross the visit this afernoon is a good one.

Paula and Nitro

Nitro 11 1/2  yr old Doberman; right front amp June 2014. Had 6 doses carboplatin, followed by metronomic therapy. Rocked it on 3 legs for over 3 years! My Warrior beat cancer, but couldn't beat old age. He crossed the Bridge peacefully on July 25, 2017, with dignity and on his terms.  Follow his blog entitled "Doberman's journey"

http://nitro.tripawds.com

"Be good, mama loves you".....run free my beautiful Warrior

London, UK


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21 October 2016 - 2:31 pm
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As far as acupuncture, and others can chime in with more first hand experience, I think it takes several treatments to see a difference. Also, I “think”‘that sometimes there’s a bit of a “feel worse” before better after the first treatment.

I’m sure this varies, as everything does, but for us the acupuncture had an immediate and obvious positive effect. I hope and pray that this will be the same for Pofi.

C&M (&EP)xxx

Meg, Mutt, aged around 10, adopted 31/12/2009. Sudden explosive right elbow fracture 06/12 (caused by IOHC), diagnosed with End Stage Arthritis 03/15, Total Elbow Replacement 08/15, problems with healing leading to skin graft & skin flap surgery, Chronic Infection leading to implant breakdown. Became a Tripawd 9th March 2016. 
Lives with Mum, Clare, watched over by Angel Pie and Angel Billie
My life as a MEG-A-STAR 


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21 October 2016 - 6:35 pm
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Hi Lisa,

I’m glad to see your update – I’ve been wondering every day how Pofi is.  I don’t blame you for not wanting to put him under again and totally get how he would be flat out with the type of injury he has.  You know him better than anyone and YOU are making the sacrifices to take care of him and ensure that he’s doing well – trust yourself.  A groin injury is going to take a long time to heal.  I think in a human it is very painful and takes a long time but a dog has an entirely different stance and I feel like it will take longer.  I’m so sorry you and Pofi are going through this but am glad to hear there is a little improvement.  I think it will continue each day.  you must be exhausted….  I am thinking of you both every day.

w

Minneapolis, MN
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21 October 2016 - 7:03 pm
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The roller coaster continues.  He really is no better.  And I think his spirits are a little down.  Will sneak him an anti-depressant tomorrow. 

Just going to copy from e-mail exchange with surgeon to cover where we are.

From me:

Hello:

 

It has been a rocky few days for us.  On Tuesday, I ended up stuck in office much longer than intended so he was alone 8 hours.  When Ken got home he was whining and I was already on my way home.  He really needed a potty trip to urinate and once we took care of that he was a little improved, but it was also meds time.  He still always desperately wants to be helped outside to urinate, but while he seems to have some sense he needs to defecate, I think he has less control.  That definitely was not the case before we started on the muscle relaxant (Methocarbamol_, but I don’t see that as a side effect in any online info.

 

I was trying to stagger the meds more and we sometimes weren’t giving Tramadol at all or perhaps just at night to ensure a bit more restful night.  But it does feel like he really needs Gabapentin every 8 hours and same with Methocarbamol.  Today and yesterday afternoon I even pushed Gabapentin to 400mg (which is close to the 5 mg per pound dosage for him – 375 mg).

 

Yesterday, we had for a vet visit in house for acupuncture – I wanted to see if acupuncture would help as another pain relief modality and wanted to do it without the trauma of a trip in to U of MN as he hated riding in the cart and yet I know he can’t walk as well even supported as he did when you saw him.  Potty trips are very challenging (though still up and down – one time he seems stronger and leg motion seems better, the next he has no ability to support himself at all).  We worked with Dr. Raeyna Longtin of True Companions VetVan service.  She made some observations and echoed much of what you have said.  FCE would not typically getting worse.  Clear neuro deficits, but he has feeling in both legs all the way down to his toes  – he contracts and stretches legs.  Can move them.  Just not well.  She only worked with him on his dog bed – we did not force him up, but I was pretty clear on his current abilities there.

 

She also said the can often feel a temperature difference on one side of the spine versus the other if it is FCE and sees a difference in in motion/reflex in one leg versus the other and she feels like he is pretty equally incapacitated on both sides.  She still did get some pain reflex from groin.  She he might be showing some reaction to touching lower spine.  So her inclination, without MRI of course, as that there was more likely disc issue or the cancer.  She thought his neck muscles were also very, very tight and that might be from being a tripod or from straining to pick his head and body up and look around.  She did an acupuncture session with him using current in the pins around the neck and front shoulders to try to relieve some of that tension and pain.  He was a bit restless and resistant at first but seemed to relax into it about ½ through application of current.

 

She thought we should employ all pain meds through that evening as he had been so painful.  So he had the full complement of Rimadyl, Gabapentin, Methocarbamol and Tramadol last night and again this morning.  He slept really well all night last night and the night before, but seems distressed pretty soon after waking.

 

I was so certain we weren’t going to do any more procedures that require GA after the lump removal – he was doing so well and so strong and the addition of the brace seemed like the last puzzle piece we needed. That we might pursue some PT to work on his core strength, but not major rehab.  And I know we aren’t THAT far into a rest and recovery period from the assumed point of injury, but I feel anxious about needing to diagnose.  Though I suppose, as you have pointed out, short of deciding to euthanize, we would be doing much the same course of medical management of pain with any diagnosis.  And so what would I do with information from MRI?  Back surgery is just not a route I think we can go.  I just can’t see putting him through that. But right now, his quality of life is pretty far below anything I would want for any length of time.  So wanting to know if he CAN improve is what is pressing to me.

 

  1. If it was a disc issue,herniated, compressed or ruptured, is there any chance chiropractic, acupuncture and PT could give him back some quality of life? It seems like you answered that below, but would it be weeks?  Months?  I just wonder if we are doing any more damage – are we
  2. Is the only diagnostic tool really MRI or could an x-ray – perhaps without GA since he is fairly immobile  – reveal anything?  I take it x-ray would not show a tumor, but would it show disc damage?

Response:

I’m so sorry to hear its been a rough week for you all.
I’m glad he has seemed more comfortable at times, and that maybe the acupuncture helped him feel more comfortable as well. I think acupuncture can definitely help a lot of dogs with pain management .

To answer your questions:
– IF the cause of his signs is due toe a disc herniation/rupture, etc- as long as he maintains the ability to move his back legs, the prognosis for return to walking or essentially normal is 85% or greater, both with and without surgery. One he loses the ability to move his legs, the chances of improvement without surgery drop to 60% or so while surgery is still 85%, and once he loses feeling in his toes, without surgery is less than 10% improvement, while surgery may still help 50% of the  time. So if this is all due to a disc, his chances for improving are very good, but it can take some time- weeks typically, not months. Usually recommendation for conservative management of disc disease is 4-6 weeks of STRICT activity restriction- confined to a very small space, with good flooring, and outside briefly just to urinate or defecate, and right back inside to that confined area. Acupuncture is ok during that time, but nothing else. After 3-4 weeks, more aggressive PT may help. I dont have too much experience with chiropractic treatments. During the first month, too much activity- whether his activity, or chiropractic/rehab can worsen it. If its a partially herniated disc, it can herniate more and cause worse signs, etc. So during the first month, pretty minimal activity, and we can ramp it up after that. Recovery is expected in 6-8 weeks for most dogs.

-Unfortunately, the only diagnostic tool is truly an MRI. A CT maybe, but a CT does not give us the detail of the spinal cord, only the discs and the bone. It would not tell us a spinal cord tumor. X-rays unfortunately rarely show us disc lesions. Very rarely, they can show us obvious herniated disc material, but most commonly, they show us a “narrowed disc space” which mayor may not indicate a site of disc herniation, but is extremely nonspecific, and not definitive. X-rays may show us a tumor in the bone, but not in the spinal cord. Its a relatively inexpensive ($200) test if you wanted to do it at some point to rule out an obvious disc herniation or bone tumor before you consider something like an MRI. He would probably need some type of sedation for the x-rays though- not GA, but at least some mild sedation to keep him still.

As long as hes static- not worsening, I think its ok to continue. I would recommend a recheck at some point in the next 1-2 weeks, again, only if he’s static or improving. The reason I would recommend bringing him in is because I know and I agree with you on your thoughts of his quality of life, and I dont want you to keep struggling with this if he’s not improving, so that we can see if there’s anything different we can do. And I think the best person to discuss those would be our neurologist. So it might not be a bad idea to try to book an appointment from now since he books out a little bit.  If he worsens at any point (decreased movement in his back legs, worsening discomfort, etc), I would bring him in sooner. Also, if you feel you are not able to keep him comfortable, bring him in sooner.

Right now:

It is just really hard to watch your dog be completely immobile for days and days. To struggle to get him out to pee and have to be holding him upright the entire time. I swear he is using his legs less when we move him about, but he is able to move them and feel.  I fear there is a tumor recurrence.  I think I may have to get him in for an MRI because not knowing is just making me a wreck.

Thank you all for your continued good thoughts.

Lisa, Minneapolis

On October 27, 2016, nearly 6 months after amputation, and 18 months since his cancer likely started, we lost Pofi to a recurrence of Soft Tissue Sarcoma in his spine quite suddenly.  His Daddy and I miss him terribly along with his canine sister, Mia, and two feline siblings, Lucia and Cliff.

Blog: Pofi, Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor Amputation

Los Angeles, CA
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21 October 2016 - 7:07 pm
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Oh Lisa … my heart breaks to read this …. it is SO hard… so, so hard… I remember going through some of this with Shelby and wondering what if and begging for better “signs”. 

I wish I could do more but I am sending you a virtual HUG and still keeping Pofi close to my heart and in my thoughts!!!!

Love to you!!!
alison with spirit shelby in her heart (and little jasper too) heart

Shelby Lynne; Jack Russell/Shiba Inu mix. Proud member of the April Angels of 2014.

October 15, 2000 to April 8, 2014

Our story: Broke rear leg in June 2013 - non-conclusive results for cancer so leg was plated and pinned. Enlarged spleen in September 2013 and had it removed and was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma and started chemotherapy. Became a Tripawd January 8th, 2014 and definitive Hemangiosarcoma diagnosis. Three major surgeries in 7 months and Shelby took them all like a champ only to lose her battle to cancer in her brain. We had 8 amazing extra months together and no regrets. #shelbystrong #loveofmylife

Schofield, WI
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21 October 2016 - 7:47 pm
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Lisa I was afraid all day to message you for fear that you would not know much more than you did yesterday and I see that unfortunately is the case.  I hate that you and Ken are going through this.   I agree that somehow someway you need to get the MRI done for your sanity.  I do have the feeling that this is not spine mets though.  I think it is going to turn out to be a disc issue in conjunction with the groin pull.  Just a feeling I have.  I know what a toll this is taking watching and not being able to fix him but realistically the MRI is the only tool left to get an absolute answer with.  It may well show you’ve been doing the right thing all along.  Prayers for Pofi here and love and hugs to you all!

Virginia




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21 October 2016 - 9:05 pm
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Such a rough, rough spot to be in. Rotten.

I’ve re-read your letter to the Vet and the Vet’s response several times, as I’m sure you have! And BTW, you have a WONDERFUL Vet who clearly is committed to doing everything lossibke for Pofi!

Trying to chunk thing down, this is what I “think” I “heard” him say:

…..This still “appears” to be a disc issue…evidenced by leg movement, etc. The recovery time is arduous and very strict regarding movement, etc.

…..Recovery rate is pretty high even without surgery.

…..The “treatment” plan you are on now would pretty much be the same, unless ayou tumor.

…..It sounds like the Vet believes it’s okay to continue doing what you are doing based on the fact he is moving his legs.

…..And the MRI is the only way to be sure about any of this. Xrays may narrow things down, but not give a definite answer.

Obviously, if it is a tumor, you would know wjat needs to be done.

If it’s the disc issue (‘and I agree with LINDA…that seems to most logical based on how everything happened leading up to this), then you know it is highly likely Pofi can heal without surgery. Of course, no guarantees though. Healing takes a long time, but it is doable!

Of, of course, add in that Pofi has a pulled groin and is a tripawd!!! And even though an MRI “apparently” would be conclusive, it still subjects Pofi to stress and GA risks! You are dealing with soooo much!!

I guess it really boils down to, if it is a tumor you need to know because you would never allow Pofi to suffer needlessly. And that’s what’s eating you up…seeing him be miserable not knowing if there is a light at the end of the tunnel or not.

You know what? All I’ve done is ramble aimlessly as if somehow I could find something to say that would be helpful…and clearly I haven’t!

Whatever you need to do, or can do, to bring you peace of mind (if that’s even possible!) to yourself is what Pofi would want for you. That may be where your answer is.

Sooo….all I can do is send love and the wish for clarity and peace of mind.

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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