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Marley -n- Me

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Jun 27

What a nasty, horrible disease.  But, boy, is she pretty! My only thoughts for the day.  🙂

Jun 25

Whenever your vet comes in, shakes your hand and says “Well, you have had quite the journey with Marley, haven’t you?”  Dr. W is a man of very few words.  That slight gesture at yesterday’s 10 Day Post-Amp recheck made me want to burst into tears right there.  But I didn’t.  I held myself together.  In “Vet” talk, I think that was his way of saying to me ‘You have done what you can do.  I have done what I can do.  Let’s see what happens.’

Marley is doing great post-amp.  Like, literally the best I have seen her in two months.  She is smiling again.  Not just any smile but that big Pittie smile that resonates in your soul. She is playing fetch and running after her Boy.  Her incision is healing beautifully.  She tires quickly but it is like she has been on three legs all her life. She has only taken one tumble when she slipped inside on the wood floors (chasing a ball, of course!)  She hit the bottom of her incision and it bled a bit but only from a staple ripping.  In Marley-style, she didn’t even notice it.

 

10 Days Post-Amp

Unfortunately, there is cancer still present in her body.

Her ascetabulum (hip socket) and her pelvic bone show cancerous changes.  Bone is supposed to be smooth and shiny.  Hers, per Dr. W, looks like coral.  He said that the cancer will continue to invade the soft tissue in that area and cause bony changes even to the soft tissue.  A future tumor in that area is not likely but rather guaranteed.  Not the news you want after a second surgery but we also knew that this was not curative either.  We talked about what this means for her and he said “Let’s hope for at least a good rest of the summer with her.”  I don’t hope for anything at this point.  I enjoy today and only wish for tomorrow.  I can’t plan out next week or next month or next year for her.  I can only look at today.  What can I do today?  How can I keep her comfortable today?  What awesome things is she feeling up to doing today?

And we went to a Drive-In movie last night and celebrated with popcorn…we have made it this far.  It is reason to celebrate.

Rosie seemed way more enthused about sharing the dog bed then Marley did. 🙂

Jun 24

Yeah, I know, I am this big, tough girl who uses bad words, doesn’t cry in front of people and fixes everyone else’s problems.  But, yeah, I get scared.  Sometimes I just need my Mommy too.

Russ was at a Conference all week in Orlando, ruff timing, and I was home with the pups, Clover and Marley’s Boy the week of surgery June 13th holding down the fort and the businesses.  The balancing act of just being a “single” working parent for one week is a lot.  Single parents have my utmost respect and admiration. They deserve all the cookies and ice cream this world has to offer, for real.

Doing this all alone the week of Marley’s amputation was definitely scaring the shit out of me.  Luckily G’ma and G’pa (my parents) were right by my side ready to help in anyway that they could.

 

I could kiss that nose for hours.

I drove Marley up to Dr. W the night prior to surgery.  The next day I was tapping my fingers on my desk just waiting for that phone call.  When it didn’t come by 4PM, you know that I was on the phone with the Vet office asking what was happening.  Dr. W had gotten backed up on surgeries and Marley was slotted to go in at 5:30PM.  That wasn’t all bad.  That was a busy part of my day, picking up Marley’s Boy and going home to make dinner, clean up dinner and get the dude ready for bed.  Like clockwork, I had just finished putting the last dish in the dishwasher when the Vet office called and said Marley was out of surgery and was waking up.  She was up and alert.  A wave of relief hit me.

But my bigger concern was how she was going to tolerate the next few days post surgery after her pancreatitis/pneumonia following the last surgery.  Now a whole new set of stressors came on.  I told the Tech that she had to be hand fed.  No ifs, ands or buts about it.  Hand feed that girl if she will eat it please.  She laughed uncomfortably for a second.  And I said “No, seriously, I am not kidding.  I need you to hand feed her.  Will you please do that?”

G’Ma came to spend the night with Marley’s Boy and I was up the next morning at 5AM popping out of bed ready to go see my girl.  Yeah, I am pretty sure that was a mistake.  She was still very doped up and groggy.  I don’t even know that she realized it was me in the room.  I could have been a purple unicorn as far as she was concerned.  There was a yellow see-through bandage holding her whole leg together that was filled with blood.  The only thing I could equate it to were those thick plastic wrapped racks of meat at the grocery store that always make my stomach turn whenever I see them.  But this was Marley’s hip.  Uggh.  It was dripping blood.  Yeah, it wasn’t a pretty sight for 6:30AM.  They said she had not eaten yet and I sighed.  I left to go to work for what would be an exceptionally busy day.  Hoping and praying that Marley got better throughout the day and started to eat.  Not a great way to start the day.

That evening, I got home and told G’Ma and Marley’s Boy that I was going back up to see her.  They both chimed right in and said “Great, we will join you!”  I wondered if that was such a good idea.  I had only talked about Marley going in for surgery and having a big boo-boo with Marley’s Boy.  Before we left, we sat on the couch and I spent some time showing Marley’s Boy pictures of dogs (thank you Google) that had amputated legs.  By the time we were on the road, Marley’s Boy was talking fluently about Marley’s “sooogewy” and that her “leg was gone, the doctors took it”.  I was pretty confident that he understood.

We walked into the room and I heard the Tech behind the door say “Come on Marley, your family is in here!”  To my surprise Marley came bouncing into the room, tail wagging and happy to see us!  The tech said she is doing very well after surgery.  Standing up herself to get out of the crate.  Sitting up during the day.  But she still wouldn’t eat for them. She brought in a dog bowl of three kinds of food…two mashed kinds and also some rotisserie chicken.

I had stopped at a BBQ joint and picked up a 1/2 pound of brisket.  Marley already had her nose in my purse digging for it!  So I pulled it out and opened it up and we spent a few minutes getting some food into her.  She ate the rotisserie chicken as well but would not touch the “hospital food.”  Ha!  That IS my girl.  She laid down pretty quickly but she was alert and definitely happy to see us.  Marley’s Boy looked at her yellow plastic bandage, put his hand over it and said “Ow, wow, that’s a big boo-boo Marley.”  And then it was back on to loving her and telling her about his day at school.  I didn’t know what to expect in terms of his reaction to her.  But he didn’t even skip a beat.  He grabbed her leash and said “Come on Marley.  Come on let’s go for a walk outside.”  Man, kids can teach us so much.

We took Marley outside to potty, spent some more time loving on her and then we left to go home.

Stopping for some ice cream first, of course.

Thursday morning she looked even better.  Thursday evening she looked even better still.  Friday morning she was bouncing on one leg to go outside and R-E-F-U-S-E-D to go back inside.  She stopped at every car door. Looked back at me waited for me to lift her in.  She didn’t care whose car it was…she was determined to go home!  I laughed and had to carry her back inside because this girl was not released to go home yet.  Friday afternoon I got the call that she was being released and I closed the office early and rushed to go pick her up.

We walked in the front door almost the same time that Russ did from Florida.  Our family was back together again!

Jun 24

I told a small fib at the end of my last post when I said we didn’t know we were walking into surgery Round 2.  Well, it was a half-truth.  Marley struggled on vacation.  I was not sure if this was “the end” and her last “hoorah” OR if the cancer had grown that aggressively at her FHO site and she was going to need amputation.  I am a realist whereas my husband is an idealist.  We make a great team.  And I told him that either this was the end or we were going to need to amputate.  I prepped him for our June 6th appointment.

In defense of the cancer, we knew it was never gone.  Margins on the FHO surgical site were not clean so we knew the cancer was still there.  So I wasn’t surprised at all when I saw the X-ray on June 6th that presented a sizeable tumor regrowth at her FHO site.  Disappointed.  Sure.  Sad for her.  Absolutely.  Worried about my imploding bank accounts.  Uh, yeah, no doubt.  But we knew she was in pain and the X-ray confirmed why.  When we first went down this whole road with Marley in April, Russ was against amputation 100%.  I understood why.  It is a radical surgery.  Having done rescue for a number of years, our rescue had taken in multiple dogs that we had to do amputations on.  I saw the success that dogs had after amputation and how they thrive afterwards getting rid of a useless limb.  But it is different falling in love with a three-legged dog that you want to adopt then to turn your baby of 11 years into a three-legged dog.  That’s a tough pill to swallow.  And then the “what-if” fears start to creep in:

What if she has complications and gets pancreatitis/pneumonia again?

What if she does not adjust well?

What if she dies in surgery?

What if this doesn’t take away her pain?

What if…what if….what if….

The conversation that put us on the same page revolved around one fact and one what-if only.  Fact: If we didn’t do amputation, Marley was going to continue in pain despite the pain meds until we couldn’t stand to watch her in pain anymore.  Whereas, if we do amputation…”what-if” the amputation gives us one more week, month, three months of pain-free time with her?

See, not all what-ifs are bad!

The choice was simple.  Marley wasn’t ready to die.  We agreed that we saw it in her eyes that she was still here fighting.  So “what-if” we stop stressing about everything else and we follow her lead.  Stop thinking like a human and start listening to our dog.  “Mom and Dad.  This hurts.  Like really bad.” ~Marley

Don’t worry, girl, we got you.

 

And she still has her boy to live for. She reminds us everyday.

 

Amputation was scheduled on 6/13 with Dr. W.

Jun 24

What do we do in this house when we get bad news?  Yep, that’s right. We go on vacation!  Well, that’s not always the case but it was with this round of news.  So instead of a whole bunch of words…which we know I like lots of the bad ones.  🙂  Here is our Memorial Day week trip with Marley in pictures.

 

 

One note to make.  Marley got progressively worse on this trip and was back to not using her leg.  She hopped on her three legs like a boss all week trying so hard to be strong.  I knew better.  The shaking and hiding had come back.  She spent some time hiding in a closet down in Virginia.  And at other moments she was at her best and happy.  We knew that our checkup at MSU on June 6th was going to shed more light on what was going on.

Little did we know that we were walking into Round 2 of surgery.