12 Weeks Post-Amp and Treatment Update

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Hi to all our Tripawd friends!

I apologize it has been a while since I’ve posted an update on Finn. I think because we experienced such a rough recovery, we have taken the last month or so of “normalcy” to decompress.

I am happy to report Finn is doing great. He continues to get acupuncture every 2 weeks to treat his phantom limb pain. I’m still amazed how effective acupuncture has been for him and would recommend it for anyone struggling after amputation. Our vet also hits extra points for GI issues while he’s undergoing chemo treatments.

He also will go for this third chemo treatment next week. His first treatment didn’t seem to affect him at all; however, his last one definitely hit him harder. His appetite is never something we’ve had to worry about, but he refused to eat anything other than rotisserie chicken and pumpkin for a few days. It was an interesting and slow process trying to get him to trust his food again. And to sneak his supplements back in.

Also, Finn had his last blood draw for the Yale immunotherapy vaccine which was sent back to them from our vet to be tested to see if his body is producing the expected immune response. We potentially may do a booster vaccine after Finn has completed his chemo treatments. Fingers crossed it’s all good news.

No doubt our big guy likes to keep us on our toes. We had a decent scare over the last couple weeks when we noticed a pretty large mass quickly growing on his back – the size of a coconut big. While the vet thought it was just a lipoma, it started getting bigger and I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was malignant so we had it tested. Lipoma it is! (Side note of love and gratitude to my husband and our vet who are both very patient and caring when I’m a worried and sometimes irrational wreck.)  I’ve actually noticed a lot of little lipomas all over him since his diagnosis. Wondering if it is from all the meds we pumped and continue to pump in him… I will be so happy once chemo is finished.

We also continue to deal with a ripped back toenail with quick exposed which doesn’t want to heal. Finn has had a lot of back feet issues since his amputation. Some of it has to do with the fact that he is missing a toe on his back left leg which was amputated after a really bad MRSI infection several years ago. It’s all a little bit comical now… three legs, three toes. That plus his gait change, plus his naturally Great Dane boney feet have been a challenge with pressure sores and weird wearing on toenails. I bought some booties to try out (special order because, of course) but can’t use them until his toenail quick is healed up. I try to keep a sock on his foot most of the time to keep him from licking but sometimes I forget and he’s unattended and he destroys it again. I’ve never had to put the cone of shame on this dog, but it might be what I have to do.

In the meantime, we are trying to be more dog here. Between COVID and Finn’s cancer diagnosis, I feel like perspective has changed quite a bit for us. When we first found out he had cancer and heard his prognosis, one of many things I was completely devastated by was that he wouldn’t meet the new baby – he wouldn’t make it that long. Now, every day we grow closer to that date I wouldn’t think he’d live past and I feel full of hope that we can beat the odds.

With lots of love,

Finn and Casey


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Acupuncture for PLP and Treatment Update

Tripawds is a user-supported community. Thank you for your support!

Hi to our friends,

Finn is a little over 5 weeks post-amputation today and I am so happy to report that he seems to be 90% back to his old self. All I can say for folks who are struggling with Phantom Limb Pain is hang in there. There are options. I know because I exhausted them all! For us, the best thing we ever did was take Finn to a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist – he is a DVM who also studied traditional Chinese veterinary medicine so has a very blended approach (I know I said all this in my last post but I can’t stress enough how much I adore him and his thinking!). It has truly been night and day for Finn. We went from constant restlessness, readjusting, muscle spasms and whining, to zero of these symptoms in a week. I know it sounds really dramatic but it has been life-changing for him and for us. My stress and guilt levels have completely dropped knowing he will be OK and happy again. We have had two sessions so far and will continue to do them through chemo.

For cancer treatment, today was Finn’s last Yale immunotherapy vaccine dose, which means we were able to schedule his first chemo appointment for next week. We have also started Finn on few new supplements as prescribed by the new vet he sees. He is continuing his low dose of gabapentin and CBD oil. We have added Wei Qi Booster (Chinese herbal supplement), Stasis Breaker (another Chinese herbal supplement) and a complex mushroom supplement.

We’ve been walking about every 2 or 3 days. Short walks, of course. We even walked down to his favorite neighbor (always comes out to give him treats). Well, when said neighbor did not come out and I told Finn we had to go home, he refused to leave. I had to then coerce/drag (I know I looked like an idiot) a giant, stubborn dog back to the house which one of the other neighbors interpreted as he was hurt and needed help. I then had to explain his cancer/amputation/stalling tactics/pain-in-the-buttness to them which was embarrassing. So yeah, you can say he is back to normal.

The only other hiccup we’ve run into is a pressure sore on his back right foot. I’ve been doing my best to keep him off it but it has developed a small sore on it. I ordered some Manuka honey after reading a lot about it here and received it today. Tonight I cleaned it well, applied the honey and dressed it. Stay tuned for results…We are definitely keeping an eye on it as the last thing we want is an infection.

Thanks as always for all the love and support. We couldn’t have done or continue to do this journey alone. The Tripawds community is something to be overwhelmingly grateful for.

Lots of love,

Finn and Casey

Acupuncture

Today we are 25 days post-amputation. Since Finn’s diagnosis on March 13, we have seen 5 different vets, he has been on 9 different prescription medications and I’ve had countless moments of regret and meltdowns. Since about day 8 of surgery recovery, Finn has had symptoms that he was experiencing pain and discomfort. Until this point, no one has been able to tell me what’s wrong or has even believed me that something was wrong. Yesterday though, we went to a new vet (hopefully our last) who I reached out to as he was also a certified veterinary acupuncturist and I was desperate for help. I can’t begin to tell you how amazing our appointment was. He took  a lot of time with us, he explained things thoroughly and he believed me. He explained the difference between western-medicine thinking and Chinese-medicine thinking and his blended approach. We went through Finn’s symptoms and he explained all about how acupuncture can help him. We also discussed other herbal supplements. It was SUCH a relief to have some understanding and answers.

The plan now is to continue acupuncture for the next 4 months. As for medications, we will keep him on his low dose of gabapentin for now, add in herbal supplements (the vet has them on order so I’m not sure exactly what they are yet) and CBD oil (I actually had ordered some before our appointment so I asked the doctor what he thought about adding that to his regimen. He said as long as it was a high quality, reputable brand and full spectrum, he was absolutely for using it.).

No change to our overall cancer treatment plan. Finn will get his next immunotherapy vaccination in about a week and a half. Chemo will start a week after that. He will continue to get acupuncture and herbals throughout for treating both the cancer and any side effects of the chemo.

For what it’s worth, today has seemed to be a more comfortable day for my big pup. I hate getting my hopes up, but I need to maintain a positive attitude. I was reminded during acupuncture that Finn picks up on my energy. And I know I’ve done a terrible job of keeping the right energy for him lately. Definitely something for me to work on…

I hope our experience can be helpful to someone else on this journey who is struggling. Again, I don’t know if what I’m doing is the right or wrong thing anymore, but yesterday definitely felt like a breakthrough of answers and potential solutions. Here’s to hoping we are finally on the right path.

xoxo,

Finn and Casey

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First acupuncture session yesterday ☯️ #tripawdsofinstagram

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Getting Better?

Well, no one said it’d be easy, right? Always when I think we’re on the right path and take a step forward, we go right back downhill. The last few days have been back to pure discomfort for my poor boy. It is constant up and down and readjusting, never fully resting. And watching him so uncomfortable is killing me. My last ditch effort to help him has been to take him off everything except for his 300mg (2x/day) of gabapentin starting yesterday. I even took him off all his supplements. And while I don’t want to jinx it, today he seemed to be slightly better. He was even excited when I offered a walk – something that has yet to happen! We walked down to the end of our street and back and it was the happiest I’ve seen him since his amputation.

Maybe I need to accept that he will have good and bad days? Or maybe I need to just be patient? I can’t help but keep thinking he is dealing with phantom limb pain and maybe one of his meds/supplements is not agreeing with him on top of that. Part of me doesn’t know what to think anymore.

For now, we will continue to take things a day at a time and hope we turn that corner for good. We also have our acupuncture appointment tomorrow which I’m excited for. Stay tuned…

Lots of love,

Finn and Casey

Getting Better (Phantom Limb Pain)

Hi friends. What a three weeks it has been. This has been one of the biggest emotional rollercoasters I’ve been on and I just want to say how grateful I am for this community and everyone’s words of encouragement and advice (thank you Pam, Stacy and Jerry for your sweet comments on our last post!)!

I’ll start this out by saying the past two days for Finn have been better – not perfect, but definitely better. Today even had some helicopter tail in it!

Now to recap the last week… buckle up.

After we started the amantadine last week, Finn showed no signs of improvement. It was constant up and down and discomfort. His elbow was destroyed from getting up and down off the floor so much. He would lie in his weird position and cry if you tried to manipulate him at all. I researched like crazy and started to think this was all phantom limb pain – he had all the classic symptoms. Maybe even exacerbated by his scapula being left in. (I had no idea leaving or not leaving the scapula in was even a thing until reading about it here after his amputation.) By Thursday, I had no idea what to do. I don’t think he had slept all week and we had exhausted all medications/therapies. We were all mentally and physically depleted. I ended up calling another surgeon for a second opinion. He recommended taking him off all his meds except for the carprofen as he thought it could all be a side effect from them. By the next day, he was not better but worse so we brought him in to get looked at. After two vets examined him, they decided nothing is wrong and sent us home with trazodone. I felt like I was going crazy. I know he acts differently at the vet than at home probably because his adrenaline is pumping, but something was wrong. When I asked about phantom limb pain and my strong feeling that that is what we were dealing with, it was brushed off. They told me not to give him any more medications still except his carprofen and the trazodone as needed. Once we got home, he was back to his usual severe discomfort and whining.

Now I know I’m not a vet but I know my dog and I knew something was wrong. I made the executive decision that this was phantom limb pain we were dealing with and he needed something. And not trazodone. Later that night I restarted his gabapentin at the lowest dose. I also restarted the amantadine on Saturday. Lastly, I converted one of my long sleeve compression shirts for him to help with 1. protecting his poor destroyed elbow and 2. keeping some pressure on his muscles to maybe help with twitching/spasms.

Now I don’t know if it was the couple day break from all his medications then restarting, or the shirt, or divine intervention but by Saturday, there was SO much improvement. Today seemed to be continued improvement so fingers crossed we are going in the right direction!

I have also reached out to a local vet who does acupuncture as I’ve read good things about that helping with phantom limb pain.

We are gladly still excepting all the love and healing you’re sending. It is greatly appreciated! Oh and Happy Mother’s Day to all you amazing, strong mommas whose fur babies are lucky to have you (especially those 3-legged ones) 💕

Xx,

Finn and Casey

(p.s. picture is of Finn and his sister Charlie sun bathing last week)