Friday night, the 15th, while Becky and Dave were at karate, I worked
with Cody's front right foot. I massaged and manipulated it, looking
for what was bothering him. Cody showed no signs of tenderness in his foot.
By Sunday, the 17th, his limping was getting worse. While watching the Broncos play the Jets, I started massaging Cody's front right leg. I started at his foot and worked my way up. When I got to a place just below his elbow, Cody let out a very sharp cry. Cody is a dog that rarely makes a sound when he's hurt, so this scared me. In fact, knowing how many of our beloved retired racers have succumbed to osteosarcoma, I burst into tears.
Dave and Becky told me to calm down, which I did, but I decided to call Bob (Dr. Bob Irmiger, our vet for the past 18 years) on Monday. So Monday, I left a message for Bob on his machine telling him about Cody's limping and my fears. Bob called back that night, questioned me about where it was and we decided to meet at the Humane Society vet clinic on Wednesday so Bob could take x-rays of Cody's leg.
Wednesday, January 20, 1999
At 2 PM, I visited another group at Storage Tek, where I had been interviewing. The manager and 2nd level told me how much they want me to work for them! I was on cloud 9 when I called and left a message for Dave to tell him.
Later that afternoon, I was to meet Bob at the Humane Society at 4 PM. While on the way, my pager went off. Becky was paging me to tell me that Dundee had just thrown up and that there was a worm in it. Yuk! But, I could only deal with one dog at a time.
When Bob came in to examine Cody, I did first tell him what Dundee had just done. Bob said not to worry...it's just round worms and he said he would give me meds to take home for the pup.
Bob then started to check Cody's leg. When he got to the spot, Cody let out a very sharp cry. Other than that, Cody appeared to be in great health...good heart and lungs. Bob didn't think that there was a problem, given the location, but we decided that it was in our best interest to take x-rays.
We talked while waiting for the x-rays to be taken and readied. Then, they were done. Bob came back into the room and sat down next to me on the bench and showed me the leg. Unfortunately, there was a tumor on his leg, right below the elbow. Tears immediately came to my eyes and my heart started breaking. I went from Cloud 9 down to the depths of despair.
We talked a bit and then Bob went and called up to CSU. He was
able to talk to his friend, Dr. Bill Dernell, who told him what the prognosis
was and made some suggestions. Basically, he told us that without
doing anything, Cody only had a couple of months to live and that was with
risking the leg breaking at the tumor site. With amputation, Cody's
prognosis went up to 4 months. With Chemo and the surgery, Cody's prognosis
went to a year or more. Dr. Dernell also told us about a study being
done by Bayer Pharmaceuticals. This study required that the cancer
could not have spread. Several tests, including a chest x-ray and
bone scan would have to be performed in order to prove this. If Cody
passed these tests and the tumor came back as osteosarcoma, Cody would
be accepted into the study. If accepted into the study, we were told
that Bayer would reimburse us $500 of the cost of surgery and the initial
tests. In addition, Bayer would pay
for the chemo, the anti tumor drug after the chemo and any medical needs Cody would have due to the disease.
Bob gave me a hug before I left. Since he's a friend, as well as our vet, he's very caring and knows how much our dogs mean to us.
So, I took Cody home. I told Becky on the phone when I called to ask her if she had talked to her dad. I didn't want to tell her that way, but in some ways, it was easier for her to tell Timmy and her dad and to prepare her before I brought Cody back home.
Dave canceled his plans that night for karate class, so we all sat down to dinner together and talked about Cody. Becky and I both had trouble not crying. Timmy didn't understand too well. Dave was having trouble coming to terms with it all. There were several discussions about money. It's a hard fact of life, but it is something that needs to be discussed. That and the quality of life. We basically decided to try and get Cody into the Bayer study.
We couldn't do any more that night, since we needed to call Dr. Dernell and discuss the options with him.
I don't remember too clearly what transpired the rest of the evening. As usual, there was the normal homework to do, so I'm sure both kids did that. In the meantime, I helped with that and kept Cody close by.
Becky was having semester finals this week, along with preparing to go to the karate tournament in Las Vegas. Way too much stress for anyone, let alone a kid, to have to go through.
After the kids were in bed, I tried to go to sleep. I couldn't,
of course. I got up and lay down on the floor next to Cody, hugging
him and fell apart.
Thursday, January 21, 1999
Early Thursday morning, I put in my first call to Dr. Dernell. I left several messages throughout the day, but we didn't connect until late that afternoon. Dr. Dernell told me the following information:
- Surgery and Chemo has an average success rate if only a year
- If there is no spread of the disease at that point, it is considered cured.
- This is an aggressive disease
- The purpose is to maintain the quality of life
- Dogs do well with the surgery and the chemo, while maintaining the quality of life
- The treatment is for control of the disease
- To get into the study, 2 scans are done:
- A bone scan with radioactive compounds to light up the skeleton where there are fast changing cells.
The places that light up are signs of potential spread of the disease.
- A soft tissue scan, but this is just for information.
- As long as this "staging" fits into the average and we don't find that the disease has metastasized anywhere
else, Cody can get into the study.
Dr. Dernell and I agree to bring Cody up to CSU on Monday,
While at work, it was so hard to concentrate. I kept having tears well up in my eyes. I finally sent an email to my friends, Judy, Jody, Pat and Martha. Then, I called Eileen. It was so hard to tell people, too.
That night, everyone skipped karate again and we went out for dinner and again discussed the options. We all decided to go for the surgery and try to get into the study. Cody is too important to us and when you look into his eyes, he's not ready to die.
Of course, tears were again very close to the surface throughout the
evening. Cody slept on the couch at my side...a special treat!
Friday, January 22
Cody started throwing up. We had given him a couple doses of Bufferin to help him with the pain. Bone cancer is a very painful disease and since he was limping, he was obviously in pain. Unfortunately, the aspirin was causing his stomach to rebel.
Cody had thrown up once before I left for work, which Dave took care of. But, by 8:00, he had thrown up some more, so Dave called me to have me call Bob. Luckily, Bob was in, and he told me to stop giving the aspirin and to give Cody Pepcid AC twice a day. We had a sample package at home, so Dave was able to give him one right away.
Dave was home this day because Becky and he were flying to Las Vegas for the weekend. Becky and Brad were entered in the Las Vegas Nationals, the first NASKA tournament of the year.
Dave called just before he left...Cody was doing better, but still throwing up. I was left with a carpet and the large braid rug to clean during the weekend.
I couldn't feed Cody that night, and he threw up a few more times during the night, but I had towels handy to catch it.
I washed his blanket that night, too, and planned to sleep with it each night before taking him up to CSU so that he could have my scent with him while he was away.
I was so tired by the time I went to bed, tears wouldn't come and I
had trouble sleeping.
Saturday, January 23
I fed Cody some rice and some apple sauce, which he kept down, for breakfast.
Before lunch, I fed him some more
and then Tim and I left for swim lessons and a trip to the Butterfly Pavilion. When we came home, Cody had
thrown up again in his crate. So, I cleaned that up and tried just some apple sauce, which he kept down.
My parents came over to see Cody and take Tim and I to dinner. When we got back, Dave called with the results of Becky's tournament. She took 6th place in forms, but was eliminated in the 1st round of sparring when she had to spar Eboni Adams. Unfortunately, Eboni is in the movie "Blade" with Wesley Snipes! What a way to be eliminated. Brad took 6th place in sparring and 3rd place in forms. Finally, some good news!
I had Cody eat some more rice before bed, which he kept down during
Sunday, January 24
Cody kept more rice down, so I cooked up some hamburger and fed him a few times a mixture of rice and hamburger. He couldn't have anything after 10 PM, so I made sure he had more to eat at 9:30. I was very worried about his not having a good meal since Thursday night and going into surgery within a day or 2.
I took Cody on a short walk. We had to be careful because the leg was so fragile and could break at any time. But, he needed a walk, as did I. I left Timmy playing N64 and started off on a short walk around the block. It was very cold out and starting to snow, so I wore my big green wool coat with the hood up. This was good since I started crying while we were walking. This beautiful animal whom we love so much and had worked so hard on to calm all the fears he had when he came to live with us, was going to lose his leg. A dog that knows what it's like to run with the wind would know that no more. I cried for his loss as well as his pain.
While watching television, I let Cody sleep on the couch at my side.
Boy, did he love that. He was having more and more problems using
that leg, though.