**UPDATE**VIMP called to confirm our appointment and I asked about the ultrasound. I stayed on hold while the tech checked with Dr. B. It’s all set. Mina will have her usual CBC, physical exam and ultrasound and the appointment will take about an hour and cost anywhere from $75-$150 extra. If it gives me the answers I need, it’s money well spent.

It’s odd but VIMP has not called me today to verify our 9:30 a.m. appointment for tomorrow. Hmm …

Still no response from Dr. S. to the e-mail note I sent yesterday. I guess I’ll just ask for that ultrasound when I get there tomorrow. I honestly don’t know what to expect anymore and I don’t know Mina’s status at all. It’s all a confused mess thanks to TEAM GRIM REAPER.

Anyhoodle … Mina and I drove up to Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park yesterday morning. We took the back roads to Front Royal and entered the park and headed up the mountains. We were not prepared for this trip – no sunblock, no DEET – but I did bring Mina’s waterer and my own Klean Kanteen filled with filtered water.

It was nice up there – humid and about 80 degrees. Every time we got out of the car to look around, we were swarmed with bugs. An invisible, neon sign that reads “EATS” must have appeared above my head as I seemed to be the only one swatting at bugs. It was a beautiful drive, not very crowded at all, although I did notice that all the lodges and campgrounds were full.

We drove until we reached VA 211 and headed down the mountain. That road is like a wild mouse roller coaster, which I thought was kinda fun but it annoyed Mina because the tight turns made it hard for her to stand up and hang her head out the window. Boy howdy, it was hot when we got down to normal elevation. I turned on the air and closed the windows, but Mina wanted the windows down so we had both fresh air and bought air at the same time. I didn’t get any pictures because taking pictures of mountains with a cell phone camera is just lame.

We rested the remainder of the day, but Mina did eat some last night. I cut up an Yves Tofu Dog and put it on top of her beef and chicken and she ate it all. Then she ate a couple of jars of baby food and NO PUKING. In fact, she has normal bowel movements now. I don’t hear any more gurgling in her stomach and her gas has subsided so perhaps whatever was bothering her (cancer or IBS, we just don’t know) has subsided. She ate some more chicken before going to bed, too.

This morning we drove to my office to pick up my laptop. I stayed home today because I want to make sure that Mina is feeling OK. She seems pretty chipper, even taking a couple of walks outside in the heat. She hasn’t eaten much today, just some chicken and half of a tofu dog, but that might be the heat. Mina has historically lost weight during the summer months because she just doesn’t eat as much. Or it could be like my friends Jill and other have suggested and this is just a very low spot on the chemo roller coaster. I hope it improves this week.

Here’s a picture of Mina and one of her friends whom she rarely sees, Chance. He’s older like Mina and they always get so excited when they see each other, but Chance’s human always pulls him away too soon.

Mina and Chance

Mina and Chance

And here’s a shitty cell phone cam video taken today of Mina on a walk. Notice how near death she looks …

Nothing is certain, very little is known, more tomorrow …

s.

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So, after leaving behind a sad, not-eating Mina yesterday morning, I start getting reports of how perky she was and how all her breakfast was gone before noon. When I got home -late because of traffic and a brief stop at Whole Paycheck- I found a perky Mina ready for a walk and an empty food bowl. She continued to ask for food right up until bedtime, around 9:30 p.m.

Hmm …

Mina on her bed a few months ago

Mina on her bed a few months ago

This morning I had the same experience – Mina wasn’t interested in eating and she sat with her pred head in her skinny paws and stared at me with her big, brown eyes. Today I’m not buying it. She’ll eat at some point and she’ll eat all afternoon and evening. This is all good because all of the chemo drugs cause a reduced appetite. I thank Dr. Smith for the Remeron prescription that’s keeping her appetite high.

She’s not terribly energetic while we’re indoors, but she’ll take a decent walk once we’re outside. It’s nothing like the walks we used to take that could last for 30 minutes or more, but for a dog who’s lost five pounds since the beginning of March and has seriously reduced muscle mass, mild anemia and CHEMOTHERAPY, I think she does pretty well.

Speaking of chemo … I had a little crisis yesterday about whether or not to give her the monthly treatment of K9 Advantix. I’d found a couple of Web sites claiming that any spot-on flea and tick treatment can be fatal to dogs, especially immuno-deficient dogs such as Mina. (Remember, chemotherapy kills ALL cells, even the good ones.) What I couldn’t find were any medical or veterinary Web sites making these claims. One product that features cedar oil as an insecticide was prominent on a couple of these sites, but it didn’t take me long to figure out that all the positive raves came from a single source or were written by a single person.

I called VIMP and I called Village Veterinary Clinic (Mina’s regular vets) to get the scoop. VIMP called back after Dr. Birnbaum read the information that vets get for K9 Advantix and said it doesn’t get into the bloodstream or major organs. It’s strictly subcutaneous. Mina’s been using it for years with no problems and we cannot afford a tick-borne illness. It would kill her and she’s already had Lyme Disease, so she needs a reliable flea and tick preventative because we live in an area that has a huge tick population.

Next, I talked to Dr. Nolan at Village Vet. She has heard that Frontline and Advantage were blamed in a small number of canine deaths, but she wasn’t sure that the topical treatments were to blame. She said she doesn’t believe these treatments cause dogs to die and that I needed to weigh the risks and decide which is greater.

I chose to give her the K9 Advantix. She seems fine today. I’ll keep an eye on her skin and her behavior and if anything goes awry we’ll go to PWEVC to see Dr. Smith.

Mostly I’m concerned about keeping her drinking and peeing to prevent the “Cytoxan cystitis,” her elevated white cell count, and those little sores on her belly that I keep washing and treating with Neosporin twice a day. Chemo is exhausting even when you’re not the patient, lemme tell ya.

s.

We took a good walk this morning, the best in a couple of days – all the way around the complex. Here’s Mina standing in front of the leasing office, wondering why Lori isn’t there to scratch her butt.

skinny_mina_05_02_09

We’re off to ECOW today for an entire case of chicken Chow Now Petfood. She’s nearly off the chicken carcass. I still have to cook the chicken Chow Now, but I don’t have to dismember any corpses.

s.