Monday, December 28, 2009

BELIEVE IN MIRACLES; Another milestone for Jinx


Jinx celebrated Christmas 2009 with a large knuckle bone. She is my Christmas Miracle and the best gift I could ask for. Recall that when we left the UW-veterinary hospital in Madison in September they sent us home to manage the pain and die. They told us that she had a peripheal nerve sheath tumor and that it was terminal. If they amputated her leg, the median return time for the cancer was projected at 7.5 months. Without amputation, they told me to expect the tumor would invade her spine in 2 months.

We returned home, grieved and regrouped. I took Jinx to Dr. Strickfaden in Depere, who is a holistic vet. Anyone who follows this blog has read of the path we have taken. Jinx takes biocome treatment every other week, to support pain management and energy levels. She only gets 1/2 deramaxx each day, along with Chinese herbs for energy. I watched in trepidation for any sign that she was stumbling or losing the battle. Thanksgiving came and went and she remained strong and happy. In fact, I asked a friend to give her a bite with the bite pillow and she hit so hard she knocked him off his feet, as he did not expect she had that kind of strength! She is on three legs, with the affected foot atrophied but gets along well as a tripod.
A wonderful friend, David Jackson, volunteered to take photos of Jinx for me. I wanted to get a photograph to have a nice portrait of her and to use in my Christmas cards. Jackson is a professional photographer who does some very interesting things with lighting. He took the photos of Jinx gratis. I am eternally grateful. We took the photographs in front of twisted metal at a rubble site similar to the type of environment in which we worked.
Shortly before Christmas, Dr. Strickfaden told me of a new drug that has had some success in "eating" cancers. It is preferably injected into the tumor, but with Jinx that area is so near to her spine and under the scapula so it is inaccessible. Instead, we use an oral version. The drug is called "Neoplasene". It is expensive, and if it shows success she will continue to be on a maintenance dose. I asked Tom to pick up a refill for me and when he returned home he was shaking his head and said, "we have to start bagging Jinx's poop." I figured they must need to examine in for sloughing cancer cells or something but I asked "why?" He replied, "because at the price of this stuff, she must be shitting GOLD!"
One thing that I did discuss with the vet was the bad advice I received from one of the assistants who called to tell me how to apply the medication. The gal told me to use soft food and to conceal the medicine, which has a nasty taste. She said dogs can lose their appetite with this treatment. I told her that dogs have an incredible sense of smell, and also are not stupid. If you take a food they like, and make it taste and smell terrible, do you think they will eat it the next time? Not a chance! And then you are set on a spiraling downward path of trying new things to entice the dog to eat. Instead, I use a liquid syringe and just pop the icky stuff down her throat. She knows she has to do that in order to be released to get the GOOD STUFF!! The good stuff includes two tablespoons of yogurt (any dog on medication needs probiotics) with some canned dog food and her Deramaxx tab in the morning, and a bowl with 1/2 cup Orijin dog food soaked in hot water. She eagerly waits for meal time and her appetite has not diminished in the least. When I explained the logic, Dr Strickfaden agreed with me and understood. I suggested that they might be causing dogs to actually stop eating with the advice they had given me.
But here it is Christmas 2009 and the dog that the UW told me would likely be dead in two months (actually suggesting they thought the cancer had already invaded her spine but wasn't showing on the MRI based on her neurologic reactions) and she is still here, still happy and still the same sweet yet crazy malinois she has always been. Tonight, just for giggles, I asked her to do an Object Guard on a food bowl and she gladly and SERIOUSLY complied!! I gave her bite rewards and I swear she smiled! If she is dying, no one has told her yet.
I know it is possibly too much to ask or expect that the cancer will disappear, but I do hope. And I do wonder whether she might regain use of her foot and whether I will need to massage the toes to loosen it up again? I'm very afraid of amputation because it has been my experience that the cancer cells just go crazy when you insult the body like that, so as long as she can get along on three legs but holding up the fourth, we'll continue that way. The story to this point is certainly a Miracle. She has survived and blessed us for two more months than was predicted. Yes, I realize that cancer is unpredictable and both people and animals outlast diagnosis at times.
But today, we have another Miracle.