Colleen reminded me yesterday that the truly great thing about dogs is how they live their short, beautiful lives in the present moment. They don’t get anxiety by thinking ahead to worst-case scenarios. They live joyfully in the present moment.

Here’s Mina visiting my workplace yesterday, standing outside Auntie Sharon’s office door:

Wishing Auntie Sharon a Happy Birthday!

Wishing Auntie Sharon a Happy Birthday!

She looks happy because, at that moment, she was happy.

I have been so worried about Mina this past week that I’ve forgotten to enjoy the moments we have together. She’s had loose stools, diarrhea, and two episodes of vomiting during Leukeran week. Mina usually feels kinda crappy on this drug, but this week she was literally crappy. This morning I am so relieved to report that she had her first normal-looking bowel movement in a week. She also had a bath and she wasn’t at all happy about it, but she smells better.

You know it's bad when she actually lays on her bed. Oh the pathos!

You know it's bad when she actually lays on her bed. Oh the pathos!

After her bath and mine and a data conference, it was off to VIMP. I dutifully filled out the intake sheet with all of the weeks events, then weighed Mina on the lobby scale. That was depressing but not expected because she was an awfully skinny dog when wet. Turns out that Mina lost 1.6 pounds last week. It wasn’t the two episodes of vomiting that spoiled her appetite, it was the damned diarrhea.

When the nice tech who’s name I cannot remember came to get Mina, I asked for a copy of the blood profile that Dr. Cliver had faxed over the day before. “I’ll have to ask Dr. C. if I can give you that since it came from another office.” WHAT? Where’s Dr. B.? “She’s not in today.” I do not want (name of LVT who cheer leads for Team Grim Reaper) coming out here. “OK, then.” You have to understand that whenever Mina loses weight, they raise the specter of abdominal cancer. “But we checked her last week and everything looks great!” I know, but that letter did a lot of emotional damage. “I’m sorry. She’ll be fine.” And off she went with my Mina …

  • Physical exam: bright, alert, decreased weight, tiny popliteal lymph nodes, no other nodes palpable.
  • CBC (done at regular vet): normal WBC count (11,000), normal HCT (45.7% – not anemic), normal platelets – adequate for chemotherapy.
  • Vincristine was administered in the left cephalic vein today (0.36 mg IV). This is a decreased dose of Vincristine.

The good news is that her HCT is up 4.5 percent in a week! I think, and I’m not Dr. C. so I might be talking out my ass, this indicates that her bone marrow is pretty darn healthy.

Mina will also take a Metronadazole for the next couple of weeks when she has any loose stools. I have 10 tablets left over from March, when she was having diarrhea all the time and we didn’t know that she had cancer. Now it’s only with the chemo so I don’t expect we’ll need it much after the last treatment. It’s safe to use with the Immodium, too.

I mentioned that Mina has something going on in her right ear and they recommended I get some Animax soon and treat it before it gets out of control. I think the skin irritations and yeast are really bothering her now. She has little eruptions and scabs all over her skin. I’m going to bathe her twice a week in the Malaseb whether or not she likes it until her immune system is back online and able to help fight off infections.

All the budgies, all lined up ...

All the budgies, all lined up ...

Oh, the blood profile … thank God for Dr. Cliver! She was busy with patients when I dropped in for the Animax ointment, but I’d have hugged her if she were free. She called and talked to me about Mina’s blood profile and said it looked great! There was one liver level, and I can’t remember the acronym, that was elevated but not as elevated as it was four months ago. Dr. Cliver said that all the other levels were WNL (within normal limits) and that indicated the functioning liver of an older dog. She wasn’t worried about it at all. She also told me that Mina’s kidney levels were all WNL. That should please Dr. B.

I told her I put in a call to Dr. Kocen’s office to discuss Mina’s post-chemo care and Dr. Cliver also prefers a natural approach with diet and supplements. When Dr. Kocen’s office called back I talked to a delightful woman who recommended that I look up Dr. Charles Loops because most of the employees of Dr. Kocen’s office are using Loops for this sort of treatment. Dr. Kocen doesn’t really treat for specific illnesses, but rather treats the whole dog. And that’s great, but right now I want specific immune-building help for Mina. So I found Dr. Loops’ Web site and I’ll give him a call this week. He has easy-to-follow and easy on the wallet protocols to follow and this nice lady said it worked great for her dog’s cancer. The consultation isn’t cheap, but the protocols weren’t very spendy.

So, Mina has eaten twice since we got home from VIMP, I’ve applied the Animax and when I was putting some on her belly I could easily feel her ribs sticking out. My poor, skinny girl … I’m hoping she’ll be interested in the Chow Now again once we’re off the chemo because I think that food will really help her a lot. Plus, it means I won’t have to dismember chickens in my kitchen because Carol will have done it for me.