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1 Month After Diagnosis: Bowser’s Update

It’s been exactly one month since my best pal was diagnosed with oral melanoma.  So, what’s happened since then?  We’ve had our ups and downs but since I haven’t updated in a while, I thought I would let you know what’s been happening.

Bowser finished up his dose of meds and he’s been completely off of them for a few weeks.  For the most part, my old dog is back to normal except for when it comes to eating and keeping it down normally.  Unfortunately, we are still stuck in a “piece by piece” food delivery but thankfully, I’m chock full of hillbilly ingenuity.  Instead of feeding Bowser one piece of dog food at a time, I’ve found that the “bird method” actually works.  At my wit’s end one day, I tossed a handful of dog food on the floor (imagine you’re feeding birds).  Bowser went around to each piece and he kept it down… and that has been how he’s eaten ever since.  In the morning and evening I will throw him small handfuls of food.  Yes, it’s messy and incredibly annoying, but it works.

We still have our “bad days” but thankfully, those are not happening as much now.  Most of the time, Bowz is bounding through the house and he’s happy.  It’s funny but it seems like all of this turned around after “Bowser Day”.  Maybe it was my way of handling his sickness but who knows, all I care about is that things are better.  I’m still filled with fear every day when I go home and I still worry non-stop but I guess it’s a different kind of worry.  I don’t feel like he’s going to fall over dead at any given moment.

Our lives have changed since April 1st when we got the diagnoses.  My relationship with Bowser has definitely changed drastically.  Since I’ve been babying him so much, he now doesn’t want to go outside without me.  When I let him out the door, he will turn around and look over his shoulder to see if I’m behind him.  When he hears the refrigerator door open, he runs to it because he thinks that he’s going to get a piece of turkey (because that’s how I gave him his meds).  When a cabinet door opens, he thinks I’m getting out pills which equals turkey.  And the hilarious thing is that when he hears a pill bottle now, he goes running wherever it is.  My dog has become a druggie.  But hey, whatever works.  Bowser sleeps in bed with us many nights, which he didn’t get to do before.  I guess you could say that all of this has brought Bowser and I even closer than we were before.  It’s pretty nice.

Last week, I arrived home to find Bowser didn’t want to get up to greet me.  I was worried until I walked around the corner and saw the mess that was waiting for me.  Bowser had gotten into the empty trash can and eaten the trash bag and he also got into my bag of pet food samples and helped himself to 3 bags of dog and cat food.  Yup, we’re starving him.  I mean, he’s getting an entire cup more than he used to but we’re still depriving him of food so much that he has to break into closed packages.  So my new chore is to get a baby-lock so the damn dog can’t get into the cabinet.  Next thing I know he’s going to be opening the fridge.

We’re still hanging in there and holding on for dear life.  Regardless of what tomorrow brings, it can never EVER take away what we have today.

Warning, Graphic Image: Some viewers may find this animal abuse hard to see. Viewer discretion advised.

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Estimate Schmestimate: Bowser’s Update 4/16/13

Estimate: An approximate calculation or judgment of the value, number, quantity, or extent of something.

I beg to differ on that definition.  Instead, I think it should read:

Estimate: I’m going to tell you this much lower number so that after you are convinced and committed, I can then rape you with the real cost.

Okay, so I’m being a bit ridiculous but had I known how much yesterday’s Barium study would cost me, I would have said “no”.  My reasoning?  When I talked to Bowser’s vet on Friday, he estimated $150-$200 for x-rays to check for a blockage.  I wanted to try the x-rays because the alternative would be for Bowser to be back under anesthesia for another surgical procedure (the scope and biopsy of the esophagus).  Given his age, that he just had surgery a few weeks ago and his current weak condition, the vet and I didn’t think that the scope was the best idea.  So, $150-$200 sounded like a reasonable quote and something that I could do to try to figure out what was happening with my best bud.  When I showed up at the vets to pay the bill, I about shit my pants when they told me the bill was nearly $400.  WTF?  It doubled?  I did talk to the vet prior to paying the bill and he told me that when we talked on the phone, he forgot about the charge to mix up and administer the Barium, that he did an additional x-ray and that Bowser’s meds added more charges.  Damn.  Had I known it would have been that much, I would have really re-thought the scope.  At least then we would have gotten more definitive information.  Needless to say, I got in trouble when Larry got home because he thought that I got taken advantage of.

So, now on to the results… the x-rays showed no obvious obstructions in Bowser’s esophagus.  While that is good news, it’s also frustrating because we still don’t know why Bowz can’t eat without regurgitating.  The vet took 4 films; two before administering the Barium, one immediately after the Barium and one a short time later.  Barium is a chalky substance that is used as a contrast medium in x-rays.  Not only does it allow hollow structures to be imaged but it also can detect any blockages that may be present.  The Barium did hang up a little in one spot of the esophagus but not enough that it concerned the vet.  On viewing the last film, you can see all the Barium made it to Bowser’s stomach.

Now what?  Well, we are no closure to really knowing what’s happening with Bowser.  While we don’t see obvious obstructions on the x-ray, we have to keep in mind that cancer rarely will show on one.  We are now trying to treat him as if he has a bacterial infection in his stomach.  Bowser will continue taking the Prednisone and he’s had 3 other medications added.  I swear the dog is taking as many medications as I do!  Bowz is now down to 1 dose of Prednisone a day.  Added to that is Cerenia (a nausea medication) once a day, Amoxicillin twice a day and Metronidazole twice a day.

Bowser is holding steady, even though on Saturday, I thought he would die.  After Bowz ate on Saturday, he started to regurgitate so I let him outside.  He went into the yard and started getting sick and just about the time I got to him, he walked off and then kind of collapsed on the ground.  I ran to him and fell down beside him and began to stroke his fur as I bawled like an infant.  As the sun set behind us, we laid there in the grass for nearly 30 minutes before we could both pull ourselves together enough to go back in.  I spent much of that night crying but I promised Bowser that I would do better the next day.

On Sunday, I kept my promise and Larry and I dedicated the day to Bowser.  While I knew that I wasn’t promised tomorrow with my best friend, I knew that I had that day and I sure as hell wasn’t going to waste it.  On Sunday we did all of Bowser’s favorite things and the day was about him and him alone.  Bowser went “bye-bye” in the car, he laid in the grass in town, he ate ice cream at Baskin Robbins, he got to wee-wee on a fire hydrant, work on a race car, pretend to drive a semi and most of all, he got to be Bowser.  Sunday there were no tears shed, no regrets felt and no love lost.  We lived in the moment for all 86,400 seconds of the day and no matter what happens, that can never be taken from us.

Bowser enjoying his day, 4/14/13

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