Beatrix’s life today

Continued from Chemotherapy

March 15, 2021: 6 months post surgery

Bea continues to do very well. She goes on 15-20 minute walks every day, play with Buster and does most everything she did prior to surgery. She does still have phantom nerve pain, which gets better and worse. When she does a lot of crazy playing with Buster, or digs (yes, she can still dig with just one leg!) or runs fast off leash, she starts to get more, and it has become clear that when she does these sorts of activities, her right “shoulder” (technically she doesn’t have a shoulder there anymore) gets involved. You can see it moving the way it would have if the leg was there. Any time she does a lot of moving that area, the nerve pains seem to increase. They don’t hurt a lot, she sometimes does a little yelp, or more often just jumps up, but I think that is more because she is startled by them than them hurting a lot. She doesn’t act like she’s in pain, she acts the way she does when someone touches her back end or tail when she’s not expecting it—she startles and tries to get away. It’s unfortunate that being touched unexpectedly is the one thing that has always stressed her out, I think another dog might not be so bothered by the phantom nerve twitches. Gabapentin helps for sure, though it often exacerbates the problem in the initial half hour or so after taking it—during that time period she sometimes gets more, but then they dwindle and she calms down (gabapentin is calming, which helps a lot). Some days she can go without Gabapentin now, but some days she has it every 8-12 hours, depending on how frequent the nerve twitches are. As side effects go, this is somewhat bothersome for her, and it would be great if she didn’t have them, but the fact that this is the only real side effect for her is amazing.

She does still have the node on her lung, but as of her last scan in mid-February, it was still just the single node, and it hadn’t grown since the previous scan. It’s small, it remains at around 3cm. Once the IV chemotherapy finished, I was presented with 3 options for the next phase: 1) do a CT scan for a better look at the lungs, and if no other tiny nodules are present, surgically remove the node, 2) leave the node in place but give her low-dose oral chemotherapy in an attempt to keep whatever it is from growing, or 3) do nothing and just let her live her best life. I have opted for #2. I didn’t want to put her through a major surgery for a single node that isn’t causing any symptoms at the moment. Her kidneys have held up extremely well but at some point they could be damaged by treatments, and the stain done as part of the CT scan would be hard on her kidneys, as would sedation for surgery, and additional meds afterward. I felt that it wasn’t worth risking the kidneys plus putting her through a major surgery and several weeks of recovery when we aren’t even sure what the node is. The low-dose oral chemo (a drug called Palladia) is often effective at keeping osteosarcoma at bay, and it is also used to treat both primary lung tumours and histocytic sarcoma, which are the two likely alternatives that the lung nodule could be, given her breed. It seemed like the best option, especially since she tolerated the carboplatin IV chemo so well.

She has now been on Palladia for just over two weeks, and has had no gastrointestinal side effects, which are the most common issue. She does have some muscle stiffness which can also happen, so I’m hoping that won’t get worse, we will see how it goes over the next couple of weeks. At the end of March we will do another x-ray of her lungs, as well as blood work to see if the Palladia is compromising her kidneys or liver, and then make the call on whether to continue. 

It’s wonderful being somewhat back to our normal day to day life! She gets the Palladia 3 times per week, but aside from that, she’s just being Bea. She wrestles with Buster and bugs me for pickles (her favourite treat toy) and demands attention from everyone that crosses her path. She’s her happy self, and that’s the best we could hope for. Fingers crossed this continues for awhile to come! I will continue to update this page with any changes as I notice them. 

Always a happy girl, this one. Don’t matter how many legs.