**UPDATE**VIMP called to tell me that Mina’s white cell count is double the normal, around 31,000. They’ve called in an antibiotic that she only needs to take once per day. That brings the total number of prescriptions to five, with one supplement. I spoke to the LVT after talking to Auntie Sue about the meaning of an elevated white cell count, and the LVT told me it does happen to canine chemo patients, it could be a number of things including her body’s response to the cancer, but it’s not something I should really worry about for now. So, I’m off to CVS for another prescription. Then, I’m going to have a beer. That’s MY medication.

That’s what we’re doing today. Actually, that’s what Mina’s doing today. She’s about run through the enormous amount of chicken carcass that Robb cooked for her, so I cooked some chicken Chow Now earlier (and burned lots of incense). She’s no longer interested in sweet potatoes or baby food, but the vanilla yogurt is still OK in small quantities. I’ll get some Yukon Gold potatoes for her tomorrow and see if she still likes those.

Mina did something so funny today that I laughed out loud for several minutes. While outside, she sniffed a corner of the garage near our building, then lifted her left leg and attempted to pee on the corner of the garage! Mostly she just got her right leg wet but it made me laugh to see my old girl trying to pee like the boy dogs.

It’s time for the last Cytoxan tablet so I have to slap on the latex and wrap it in a Pill Pocket. We’re both feeling better after last week and I hope I’m now better prepared for the roller coaster ride of chemo.

s.

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Dr. Smith, the PWEVC doc whom Mina sees, told me that chemotherapy is a roller coaster. He wasn’t just whistlin’ “Dixie.”

Today’s trip to VIMP was a surprise all around. We were met by Dr. Smith, and I immediately felt better. He’s grown on me. He’s positive, he’s straightforward without being cold, and he clearly likes Mina. He took her away and came back about 20 minutes later and told me he examined her, took blood for a CBC and DPP (which he explained as breaking down a part of her blood even further), an ultrasound level 4, and CBC Differential Antech T330 – I have no idea. I’m sure Dr. Smith told me but I got lost on this news …

Pred head at VIMP waiting to see Dr. Smith

Pred head at VIMP waiting to see Dr. Smith

Her spleen has shrunken “dramatically.” His word. Her original ultrasound on April 21 revealed a spleen of 6.9 cm, and today it’s 2.07 cm! It’s still huge and full of nodes but it’s smaller. THE CHEMO IS WORKING.

I know, right?

Now, there are some potential problems. Mina’s mild anemia is up slightly from last week, as is her white cell count. There are some other blood values that they’ve sent to an outside lab for further testing. I’ve got a call in to Dr. Cliver, Mina’s regular vet, to clarify what those values mean.

The VIMP budgies were squabbling again today

The VIMP budgies were squabbling again today

Another potential problem is her kidneys. Her urinalysis showed no “overt evidence of infection,” but there was something about the specific gravity of the specimen that was off. It could be the dilute nature of her urine (’cause she’s drinking like she’s been in the desert), or it could mean her kidneys are starting to show a problem. So, we’ll do a urinalysis every week.

Mina’s Prednisone dose was reduced to just 10 mg. once per day. She also takes Metoclopramide for nausea 5 mg. three times daily, Famotidine 10 mg. twice daily, Tramadol 50 mg. twice daily, Remeron three-quarters of a 15 mg. tablet once daily, and her Dasuquin MSM – two tablets daily.

I don’t wonder that she lost another pound this week, putting her weight at 49 pounds. It’s the loss of muscle mass that really bothers me, but Dr. Smith reminded me of our talk about how cancer works and also told me that some dogs lose a lot more per week than Mina’s losing. He’s not that worried about her weight right now. I remain freaked out.

Also, she has little staph infections on her belly from her urinary incontinence. I’ve been washing her belly daily and putting Neosporin on the owies but FAIL. I didn’t realize she was so immuno-deficient that any little irritation can become a big problem. Later on, after she’s rested from her VIMP visit, I’m going to trim away the hairs in that area and do a much better job of keeping her clean and medicated.

So. We started the Cytoxan today. She got two 50 mg. tablets after her vet visit. She’ll get one 50 mg. tablet tomorrow and that’s it. This is serious shit. Here’s some of the information that came from the pharmacy:

Cyclophosphamide (sold as Cytoxan) is used to treat various types of cancer. It is a chemotherapy drug that works by slowing or stopping cell growth. Cytoxan also works by decreasing your immune system’s response to various diseases. Side effects: Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach ache, diarrhea, or darkening of the skin/nails may occur. … Temporary hair loss may occur. … Tell your doctor immediately if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: pink/bloody urine, unusual decrease in the amount of urine, mouth sores, unusual tiredness or weakness, joint pain, easy bruising/bleeding, etc. …”

VIMP is mostly worried about “Cytoxan cystitis.” I think Mina’s dose is small enough that some of the side effects listed on the pharmacy literature are not common in canines. She has to drink A LOT. She has to pee A LOT. Trust me, we’ve already got both. I just steam-cleaned the carpet again with a strong vinegar and water solution. I’m going to work from home again tomorrow to make sure she’s drinking and peeing a lot.

Overall, I feel a lot better today and my nausea has disappeared. Mina is resting now, but we need to go outside soon for a walk. She’s eating boiled chicken and rice and later on sweet potatoes every couple of hours. She’s acting really hungry and I think that’s the Remeron that Dr. Smith prescribed. I hope he’s her LVT from now on, but he may have just been filling in today.

Oh, and we saw Carole from Chow Now and her husband at VIMP. I’m ashamed to say I don’t remember his name, but I’m like that with human animals. I do remember that their dog, Polly, was at VIMP for a bowel resection and I hope she’s doing well. Lovely people, really.

s.