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Winston Update: Hemipelvictomy Surgery Soon
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Member Since:
5 March 2009
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7 March 2009 - 5:52 pm
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Well the CT scan gave some small hope.  The rear leg amputation can be completed, but half the pelvis will be coming off with it.  To boot, the implant is broken and they have to get it out of the abdomen.  The surgeon plans on using the hamstring muscle to protect the abdominal cavity to help seal up the very large removal. 

You ask what is the good news?  No signs in the lungs, spleen, lymph nodes, bladder or colon.  of course Chemo will be started 10 days following surgery.  I am absolutely terrified for my dog, but am also just in awe of his strength.  He is still wagging his tail with a large tumor eating away at his bone and spirit, plus his pelvis is shattered on on side as a result.  I do not think I would be as courageous. 

I am so nervous for when he gets home as i am 5 months pregnant and on restrictions for lifting.  It has been fine so far with the sling, I am just worried about the post surgery pain. Winston has been on tramadol since they realized the pelvis was broke and completed the biopsies.  He will stay with the vet at least for 3-4 days. 

How did you fur moms and dads handle your little one when they arrived home post surgery?  I can't imagine the pain is worse then it is now, and I pray I am right.  Thanks for your support, it is greatly appreciated!

Winston and Rhonda

Orlando, Florida
Member Since:
24 October 2008
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7 March 2009 - 11:31 pm
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Hi Rhonda and Winston,

Rene told me about your post and I wanted to write to you and let you know that I had a German Shepherd dog named, "Luna" who had a hemipelvectomy last year for her case of hemangiosarcoma.  This was done on her right hind leg.  The procedure certainly sounded "extreme" to me at first, but it was our only option for Luna.  I don't know what you may have posted elsewhere on this site, or other information that you have already talked about, so I'll just start from scratch so to speak and let you know the most important things that I can think of right off the bat.

First of all, it is vitallly important that you had a top notch veterinarian for this operation.  It sounds like you have some other issues to consider with the implant, too, so having a surgeon who is an oncology surgeon is very important if you can do that.  You'll need an oncology specialist and probably a teaching hospital at a university to find this caliber of surgeon, more than likely.  For Luna, we went to the University of Florida (UF) and the surgeon was Dr. Nick Bacon, just for the record, in case someone is reading this who might be in Florida/Georgia area and want him to do surgery on their dog.  I had complete confidence in Dr. Bacon after meeting and talking with him and I am not the kind of person to hand over "confidence" easily or readily. 

Secondly, if you haven't already, I urge you to read the book, "Without Regret ", about amputee dogs.  It has many photos in it which were very helpful to me when I read it.  You'll find that I have Luna's story posted on this site in another location under the title, "Without Regret " which is what I can say I feel about what we did for Luna.   Although the photos prepare you a bit for seeing your dog after the surgery, I would suggest trying to focus on the dog's face and eyes afterwards and not staring at the surgical site too much, as it is a "shock" the first time you see it, at least it was for me, and I tried to prepare myself in a number of ways.  Some vets, I have heard, cover this area for the first "presentaiton" to the petowner, but I don't know if that is just for front leg amputation or rear leg also.  In Luna's case, there was nothing covering the surgical area and it was very "raw" looking with lots of staples.  I was not allowed to see her for several days afterwards and they gave her an epidural in the spine to manage the pain and then switched to shots and then switched to oral medication for the pain management .  Winston sounds like a trooper and with your love and help, he can make it through this situation.  As far as pain management , I believe in keeping the patient (human or pet) medicated prior to the need for it, in other words, don't let the dog get into a situation of being in a lot of pain and then give the pill, give it as often as it is allowed at first, if it seems that the dog might need it, just to make sure that the dog is comfortable.  This is my own personal philosophy, so you will have to play this by your own rules.  When in doubt, call the vet and ask about what you should do.  I am not saying to give meds more often than prescribed, but to be alert to the signs of the dog being in pain.

I must emphasize to you that having help with him will be very important, especially since you are 5 months pregnant.  You shouldn't be doing heavy lifting, etc. so find someone who can help you out.   

I would advise not to try to get your dog "back to normal" too fast.  Seeing your dog doing things that he has always done, will certainly be a comfort, but don't "force" that behavior.  Let's face it, the operation is a big one, and your dog will need some time to adjust, but you will be amazed how quickly Winston will adjust.  Try to be calm in your dealings Winston, and understand that he will be drugged to a degree and may act a bit differently for  a while as he is recovering, especially during that first week. 

We did use a "tummy sling" as I called it, under her tummy, which helped her to walk around the first few weeks.  I was very cautious about walking her and worried I was going to accidentally hurt her by walking her, but she was doing just fine.  Once I got my confidence up about walking her with the sling, I was just fine, and then I could walk her and give her support by pulling up on the sling, and after a few days, we were walking along with the sling in place, but dangling a bit and letting her put more and more balance and weight on her three legs each day. 

One thing that I tried to do for Luna was  to be "upbeat" as much as possible, I had to tap into my "acting" talents  on that one, as I was very concerned and worried, but I forced myself to be confident with her and to praise her and tell her how well she was doing.  My boyfriend,David, and I watched her around the clock, we never left her alone during those initial two weeks.  She slept right next to me by the bed and I could reach out and touch her at any time during the night.

Luna didn't want to eat a lot at first, and certainly didn't want to play with toys that first week, but day by day, she returned to her old, playful self and it was such a joy to see. 

You are right, you did have good news with no signs of the cancer being anywhere else.  Regarding post op pain, Luna had tremendous pain prior to the surgery, it was very, very extreme.  Her bone had fractured and something had to be done in just a few days, we had to find someone to assess her, and do an operation or put her to sleep. There was no inbetween.  Our prayers were answered as everything fell into place that week.   Try to keep your dog sedated and calm, that would be my advice.  After two weeks, Luna was really getting the hang of everything, the sling was no more needed and she was returning to normal again.  Four weeks later she was truly back to normal and not in pain anymore, that was the best thing of all.

Have someone in the car to hold Winston and steady him, or have him in a crate, or have a flat surface in the back of a van, or something like that for him.  I witnessed one woman picking up her new "tripawd" from UF and she put him in the back seat of her car and then got in the front seat and started to drive off.  The dog was excited, and jumped/fell/slid off the back seat and onto the floor, then it tried to hop into the front seat through the armrest area, she slammed on the brakes and was trying to put him back on the back seat again and then the entire thing repeated itself.  I shuttered to watch this scene, as I knew the lady hadn't wanted to harm her dog in any way, but she probably just didn't think about how the dog was going to be in the car.  There should have been someone else in the back seat, holding and restraining the dog, in my opinion, to keep it from hurting itself, it was just being discharged and had all the staples in, etc.  The poor lady looked so upset and flustered about what was going on and finally drove off.  I wondered how many more times this scene repeated itself before she got home.

Another thing that happened to Luna is that after the surgery and when we got her back to the motel was that she was so strong and wanted to walk so fast that I was trying to restrain her and pull back on the leash to slow her down, as I didn't want her to hurt herself. She was going so fast and so strongly, that this created a situation where our counter pulling made her fall down.  You can imagine how I felt!  I was so upset, and from then on, let her have more leeway and let her go faster, so that didn't happen again!

Although I lost Luna in the long run, I want to say that this operation gave Luna another six months of quality life; life filled with love and toys and fun.  Looking back, would I do it again, and the answer is yes.

I hope my comments haven't upset you or overwhelmed you.  I'm just trying to give some ideas that might help you avoid problems in the future.  Winston will do well and you will get lots of good tips from folks on this web site.  Remember to use common sense and do what seems right to you.   You can always ask questions here, there are so many people who will help you out. 

Please keep us posted on how Winston is doing;  you and he will be in my prayers.


Sandra Thomas & "Angel" Luna

Member Since:
5 March 2009
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10 March 2009 - 9:20 pm
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Winston had his surgery today, it took 5 hours.  The surgeon said he thought it all went well, and Winston is resting comfortably at the moment.  They gave him an epidural block to help with pain management .  Let the healing begin!  He is scheduled for his first Chemo in 10 days.  It's been a long day, I will update again soon!  Thanks for your support!

Rhonda and Winston

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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10 March 2009 - 10:02 pm
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Winstons Mom said:

Let the healing begin!

That's the spirit! Sounds like you're off to a great start, thanks for the update. Keep up the good work and know that everyone here wishes you the best for a speedy full recovery.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
25 April 2008
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11 March 2009 - 9:57 am
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Rhonda and Winston,

  I am happy that the surgery went well and he should be home soon. Please, someone will have to help you with Winston. He will be sore from the surgery... and need help getting around. The first couple of weeks will be rough but well worth it.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Kim & Buster

Kim & Angel Buster

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
–Anatole France

Member Since:
28 May 2008
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11 March 2009 - 11:34 am
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Many thoughts and prayers being sent to you and Winston as you start the healing process.

Much love,

Heather and Zeus

Heather and Spirit Zeus - Our life changing journey…from the earth to the heavens…one day at a time…always together

Orlando, Florida
Member Since:
24 October 2008
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17 March 2009 - 9:45 pm
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Glad to hear that the surgery is behind you and Winston and he is now on the road to recovery!

Also, very glad to hear that he had an epidural, too.

Keep us posted, please, on his progress!


Sandra and "Angel" Luna

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