To say that the past month has been a rollercoaster is truly an understatement. Quick background of things…
Lupe is a 14 year old cockapoo and I wish I could say it was love at first sight, well it was, for my friend but not for me. I had the name Lupe picked out after a summer in Mexico during grad school. I really admired the way that Mexicans (especially women) had so much national pride in the Virgin of Guadelupe and the name Lupita just made me think of a sweet little dog. So somewhat randomly I told my friend who was visiting from out of town that I was getting a dog. I was leaning towards a little male maltese because my parents had one and I thought it would be cool to have matching dogs. They brought out his little cratemate because they couldn’t leave her alone. My friend took the little tannish red dog and kept pushing her on me. Finally, that little pup nussled my neck, made a few puppy squeaks and I was smitten. My friend said to me, “You found Lupe…” That was September of 1997 and she has been my Lupe since.
It hasn’t always been easy over the years. Lupe was diagnosed with a cataract in her left eye when she was 2. I know she would eventually lose sight in the eye but she did just great. In June of 2011 at her yearly check up her vet (Dr. B) looked at her eye and asked me how long it was red. It hadn’t been long but it was starting to bulge. The test quickly confirmed glaucoma. We made an appointment with a specialist and I began researching glaucoma in dogs. Meds I knew would be an option but eventually they eye would have to be removed. The specialist (Dr. W) set us up with all the eye medications with hope that they would quickly bring down the pressure (it was over 70 and normal is 10-20). She said we would quickly know if the meds were working. I had learned that unless the glaucoma is diagnoses early on, the eye is blind. So I asked Dr. W what were we trying to accomplish if she was blind and Dr. W honestly told me nothing and we scheduled the surgery for the next week. Lupe did great, her pain was gone. It took me a little longer to cope because I could see the swelling and bruising. Once her fur grew back, it was hard to tell she was missing an eye.
So that leads us to her next trial. In the beginning on May I noticed she had a slight limp but some mornings she is a little stiff so really didn’t think too much of it. She went to daycare that day and the limp was still there that evening. I scheduled her for her routine check up a week later since the limp was still there. Dr. B thought it was arthiritis and put Lupe on supplements and NSAIDs to get the swelling and limping under control. The limp in the left front leg seemed to respond but she developed a limp in the right front leg and a few days later I noticed a bump near her front elbow. So back to Dr. B we went, x-rays and a joint tap were done. She was put on doxycycline as we live in a high tick area and it was thought she could have a tick borne disease. Results came back, no signs of infection, no tick borne disease, no lymphocytes and we were of to see an orthopedist the next day (last Friday).
The orthopedist (Dr. Z) and a radiologist looked at her x-rays and said that the lump didn’t seem to involve the bone, just the joint. A biopsy was performed the next day and Dr. Z was going to look for evidence of a soft tissue trauma which is what she seemed to think it was. Had to drop Lupe off early Saturday morning and tried to keep the panic and anxiety at bay as I busied myself until I got the call. I was sitting in Panera trying to eat lunch when the phone rang. Lupe had done great, she had to be put under rather than sedated due to pain. Dr. Z felt like she got a good sample, but the cells looked abnormal. We talked briefly about what it could be and what options were. She said if it were a malignancy, chest x-rays would be needed. I had her do them that day. Well, it seemed that my sweet girl had cancer. There was a meltdown as the gravity of everything hit me. I tried to make some light of it…a one-eyed, three-limbed dog…sounded like someone needed to be a pirate for Halloween. When I picked her up that afternoon, the chest x-rays were clear and Dr. Z told me that I had options but we would wait until the results from the biopsy came in. Lupe had the cone of shame and a partially shaved leg, she looked pathetic but adorable at the same time.
The results came back in May 31st. Synovial cell sarcoma which appeared to be localized to the elbow joint. We scheduled blood work and an abdomnial ultrasound for the next day. We talked about treatment options and the vet said if we decided to go forth with amputation she would be able to do it as soon as Saturday. I wasn’t ready to act THAT fast. Lupe was at the vet at 6:45 Friday morning and I went to get her aound 2:30. Dr. Z spent about an hour with me before she brought me Lupe so that I could ask questions, cry and she could really discuss options. Pallative care is not an option. Yes, Lupe is an older dog, but she is healthy otherwise (minus the bouts of collitis and UTIs she has had…and which have both hit in the past week). She is not considered a terminal patient. So that leaves amputation. Scary thinking of it but I have to give her a chance to live her lifespan pain free. Lupe is already starting to walk on 3 legs as the 4th leg is basically non-weight bearing at this point. Dr. Z also mentioned that I should check out tripawds.com and was thrilled I had already found the site. Interestingly enough Dr. Z has had 2 tri St. Bernards and understands the anxiety and difficultness of the decision process. Surgery is schedule for Thursday, June 7th pending the results of blood work.
Lupe is doing well. The tramadol has made her sleepy and her appetite is not great today but I have been advised that is a side effect of the pain meds along with the collitis and UTI. She hasn’t pooped since Tuesday but with the collitis and pain meds, not too surprising. I figure when she has to go, she will. So that’s our story…now to share a few pictures taken from March…