Maggie Health Update
It’s been almost a year since Maggie was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her left shoulder. She’s been through a lot of treatment and has been a model patient throughout. Read about Maggie’s treatment Part I and Part II.
Maggie has just turned twelve and amazingly, she’s never developed any adverse reactions to her medications or treatments, she loves going to the vet for her monthly bone strengthening treatment (a 3 hour IV) and tolerates all of the poking and prodding she’s been through. She’s been a cooperative, compliant and very responsive patient. We’re happy we were aggressive with her treatments as it has given us another whole year with her and another year for her to enjoy her life.
She has changed over this past year too – while a year ago she still pretty fearful, over the past year she has outgrown a lot of those fears. No longer does she give Steve the “side-eye” whenever he walks by her, no longer does she bolt from the room when one of us coughs, she boldly comes into the bedroom now – all the way in to wake us up for her breakfast. She lets us pet her and love on her – at least for a few minutes, which is a few minutes more than she used to. She’s really grown and loves her life.
Over the course of the last year we were able to reduce Maggie’s pain medication to a very low dose. She’s had a few flare-ups, but usually a day or two at a higher dose has brought it under control. Up until recently she was taking two chemotherapy drugs, Cytoxan and Palladia with no ill effects.
About 4 months ago, the vet noted blood in her urine during her monthly check-up. It was minimal and she said that sometimes that’s due to the aspiration technique they use to acquire the sample. So, the vet asked for a collected sample to check for a UTI. No UTI, but she still has blood in the urine. She had an ultrasound that didn’t uncover anything alarming, so that’s something we’re watching. Over the last week or so, I’ve noticed some of her stools are black which may be a sign of internal bleeding, so we might have an issue developing and as a precaution, the vet has taken her off her two chemo drugs.
In just the last 2 weeks, Maggie has developed more pain in her left leg. It’s not a limp – she won’t even put weight on it – she’s holding it up. This happens when she first gets up after lying down for a while and then resolves within a minute or so. She gets up, takes a few steps and stops, lifts her paw in the air and sits or lies back down. Typically, I will go over and rub her leg a little and then a few seconds later she will get up and kind of gingerly walk a few steps, and then she’s just fine. It doesn’t last, and she shows no lingering signs of pain or discomfort.
After speaking with our vet, we increased her pains meds to the max dose, but it doesn’t seem to have any affect – the behavior continues.
Maggie had her monthly check with the vet last Friday. They’ve put her on some stomach medications to help resolve the black stools – which is likely a sign of internal bleeding, possibly an ulcer. We’ve also taken her off the Carprofen (anti-inflammatory) as that can exacerbate stomach ulcers. As far as her limp goes, there really isn’t much we can do at this point other than stronger pain meds – as in Oxycodone, which I don’t think we would do. The monthly bone strengthening treatment sometimes helps, so I’m hoping she gets some relief from that. But, taking her off the anti-inflammatory may make it worse as it has some pain relief properties, so we’re in this spiral right now of trying to find the right mix of meds to make her comfortable.
Other than the limp and being more tired than usual, Maggie still seems fine. She still bosses us for her meals, expects her “find the food” game each night and enjoys her short walks. We’re getting used to a new normal with her, but given she’s off all of her chemo drugs and maxed on her pain meds, I’m not liking this new normal. At the end of the day, we can only love her and care for her the best we can and be ready to say goodbye when the time is right. We’ve truly been blessed to have her another year and I think she has really enjoyed learning to be a dog this past year.