June 13, 2009
The specialist vets that Barney had his mandibulectomy done at, held an Open Day today. I wanted to go so that we could see where Barney had been during his stay there and just generally have a nose around.
We couldn’t all go because one of us had to stay with Barney, as he is only a week post-op since his second suturing. It’s a shame because I’d have loved for Matt to come along too but he offered to stay home whilst I went with Luke, my sister and my niece.
We arrived at midday and headed straight for the reception area. There were mps available, which were all numbered to show you what each area was and what they did there. All of the practice was set up with stuffed toy dogs to give an idea of what happens at each station. Some were having IV fluids, others were having scans etc. All good fun.
We went into the theatre (surgery) and they had a big screen set up with images of lots of different dogs before, during and after surgery. Some of the before and during pictures were quite shocking, but the aftermath of those was amazing. These people really are talented. I’m so impressed at the skills they hold.
Whilst we were standing watching the screen, pictures of a dog’s mouth came up on the screen and in the corner were the words “mandibulectomy” and I thought, ‘oh, that’s what Barney had done’. The next thing I know, there he is! Barney! Famous! There was a picture of him after his surgery, sitting there, in front of the camera, tongue hanging out, looking a little tired but otherwise fine, with a big plastic collar on. I was amazed. He must have been one of their more challenging or “different” cases. I’m not sure how many of these they actually get to perform because so many dogs have this type of cancer and it’s not found until it is too late. I was very proud to see our boy on the big screen. Even my sister was shocked. He looked gorgeous too 🙂
We continued through the practice, and bumped into Rob. He came over and said hello, said hello to Luke as he did on the previous occasions we’d met and then he told me that the vaccine had been approved and Barney could have it, however, there is a lot of ‘red tape’ surrounding the entire thing so it’d be a couple of weeks before he could tell us anymore, but he would contact us as soon as he had any further news. I was really pleased and called Matt straight away to tell him about Barney being on the ‘big screen’ and also about the vaccine 🙂
The rest of the practice was just amazing, they have their own laboratory, MRI scanning unit and so many different departments, the entire place is fresh and clean and has that “new” feel to it. It’s so, so, impressive.
As we headed outside, we bumped into Professor Dick White. He seemed to know who I was before I’d even spoken to thank him for all he did for Barney. He said it was no problem and asked how he was. He was very much ‘that’s what I do, no need to thank me” which in a way was nice because he didn’t make you feel like you owe him anything, which of course we feel we do. We really do. He and Rob did such a marvellous job with Barney, and so quickly too, that we feel we owe his life to them (and of course Martin Cossey at Broadway).
After a look around, I bought Luke a Moon Bear cuddly toy, which he lost within 5 minutes, so I went back and bought another. The Moon Bears are something that the Prof deals with. He is working endlessly to help end the suffering if these bears in Asia. The lives they lead are just plainly awful. See the link below for more details.
Anyway, all in all, we enjoyed the couple of hours we were there. We saw lots and got a good view of exactly where Barney was cared for, which was nice. Next time, all 4 of us will go. 🙂
June 6, 2009
I’d noticed a small amount of something that looked like blood on some bedding and mentioned it to Matt. I was also a little concerned at a tiny white area in Barney’s mouth, but Matt told me it was fine and just part of his mouth, so I tried not to think about it. We decided the next morning (Thursday 4th June 2009) that we’d get an appointment with our local vet (Martin) anyway, just to get it checked out and make sure that everything was healing as it should be because I’d noticed a little more blood.
We got up, got ready, and as Matt was dressing Luke, a call came through from Rob at Dick White’s. With anticipation, I waited to hear what he had to say. I knew he was calling with the results from the jaw tissues that were removed, along with the lymph node.
At 9.40am, we were on top of the world. Things seriously couldn’t have been better. I was crying with joy and relief when Rob told me that the margin of jaw they had taken had been free both ends, which meant they got every last piece of the tumour in his mouth. He also told me that the lymph node was clear too. The cancer had NOT spread there which means that it was contained. We were so pleased; I just can’t describe the feeling.
We didn’t get long to talk about it as our appointment time was looming and we needed to get sorted. We took Luke’s pushchair out of the car, just leaving his little buggy in as we always do when we have Barney in the car, and since we’d be straight back, we left his bag of nappies etc behind too. We wouldn’t need anything…. or so we thought….
Just as we were about to walk out of the door, Matt put Barney’s harness on and straight away, he pulled at it with his mouth. Matt and I both told him “no” and he eventually dropped it, only to grab it again. When I looked at him, something just didn’t look right. I started panicking and noticed that his mouth now looked very white inside. I asked Matt over and over what it was and came to my own conclusion that it was his jaw. He’d popped all his stitches!! I think he knew it was his jaw that was visible, but didn’t quite want to believe it and was in a state of panic like me. Next problem was… how the hell do we get this crazy dog from the house and into the car without him doing himself any more damage. For the 20-second walk to the car, we had to be very harsh with him for his own sake. Once in the car he just sat there looking rather sorry for himself.
We drove, rather quickly, to our vet. We didn’t even get Barney out of the car. I ran in, said we had a 10am appointment and asked if Martin was free straight away. (We are very well known at our local vets surgery). The receptionist, Leanne, shouted for him and he came out and I asked him to come and see Barney in the car. I explained what had happened and why we were coming to see him originally. When he got to the car, I lifted the boot door and Martin just laughed. He looked at Barney and said “Oh Barnes, what have you done”. It was a typically funny moment, simply because Barney is such a character, it’s as if people expect this kind of thing to happen with him. He’s just so boisterous, so clumsy. He assured us it wasn’t quite as bad as it seemed, and confirmed that, yes; it IS his bone we were looking at. That made me feel ill, I couldn’t look at it. You never expect to see something so graphic on your own dog.
Matt had already called ahead to Dick White’s and they’d told us to drive down. They said it’s be a resuture but he’d have it done under sedation so we just expected to spend the day in Newmarket until we could collect him. We’d been given an appointment for Midday but we were there by 11.15am. I went in and told them we were there and they said they’d be as quick as possible. We decided Barney was better off in the back of the car, rather than sitting in reception getting all excited. No more than a few minutes later, one of the staff came out and called us in. He took one look at Barney and confirmed that his mouth would need resuturing and that it’d need to be done under General Anaesthetic. I knew this meant another overnight stay. I was gutted and worried. This would be his third General Anaesthetic in three weeks.
The vet this time was Lorenzo (Unfortunately, Rob was tied up and Barney was there as an emergency). Lorenzo didn’t really know Barney’s history but he knew what he’d had done. He took us into the same room as we’d been in last time we dropped off and picked him up.
He went through a few things with us, had us sign the consent form and explained that he would need to stay for 24 to 48 hours but it would more likely be 48 hours which meant we’d not see him for 2 nights. I was devastated but I knew this had to be done.
We had a cuddle and Barney trotted off without a care in the world. Staying over at the vets is a real adventure, right? Nothing fazes him, which is good I guess. I’d rather he was happy there than have him sitting whining the whole time and being entirely depressed.
As we watched him go through the door, we spotted Rob, who in turn, spotted us and came out to talk. He, like Martin, was half laughing at what had happened and said that perhaps they’d undermined just how boisterous Barney is and that this time they would reinforce the sutures (put more in). He assured us he would be fine and just said that the histology was brilliant and that he was really happy.
So again, we drove off, leaving Barney behind to face another general anaesthetic and another stay with the vets. Not fun and I wasn’t happy, but I did see the funny side to it and at least this time we knew it was minor surgery compared to a week ago.
We had to go home this time and await our updates.
By 3pm we had a call. It was Lorenzo confirming that the surgery was done; Barney was fine and was recovering (again). Phew. I cried with relief. I just hated the idea of that third general anaesthetic. We had regular updates from them and on Saturday 6th June 2009, 48 hours after we’d left him, we drove to Newmarket again and picked him up. He looked better this time. Different. A bit more “normal”. He’d had more sutures, but his jowls seemed to be pulled up more, making the surgery seem less apparent. It’s difficult to describe. I will add pictures as soon as possible to show what I mean.
It was great bringing him home again. We vowed this time that we really would treat him with kid gloves and went back to adding water to his food again as we’d only done it for 3 or 4 days last week as he seemed to be doing so well.
Once again, our family unit felt complete and our house felt like a home again 🙂
June 3, 2009
Our first week home was pretty un-eventful, which is good!
My sister and my Dad popped round to see Barney. Of course, people are going to be curious to see what he looks like now. I would be. They both agreed that he didn’t look half as bad as they’d expected, especially my sister. I think she had expected the same as Matt and I – something really horrific. She seemed pleasantly surprised. My Dad was pretty much the same. They both confirmed that it was definitely the right thing to have done which always makes you feel better. We know it was the right thing, but sometimes amongst the tears and worry, you do have your doubts, if only for a split second.
The weather was mostly nice this week, so we spent a lot of time in the garden to keep Luke amused. It also gave Barney a good opportunity to relax, but to also be outside in the fresh air. He’s not having walks at the moment as he has a tendency to put the lead and harness in his mouth when he goes out and we just can’t risk it. It doesn’t make him happy but at least he has the freedom of the garden.
With regard to everything else, it’s hard to not mollycoddle him and to want to wrap him in cotton wool, more so because Luke is way too young to understand what he has been through and still wants to share his toys with him and pat and play with him all the time. Barney also doesn’t understand and still tries to open doors with his nose and therefore uses his mouth without realising it. All things that make us flinch and go into crazy, over-protective “parent” mode. Yes, it even happens with a dog. His lack of pain (for which I am not complaining at all) makes it even harder because he still wants to chomp on things and we have removed every last trace of his toys from his reach, along with most of Luke’s harder, chewable toys.
Feeding has been fun. Well, okay, it hasn’t, simply because it is so messy. We have been lucky enough to be able to feed him his breakfast and dinner in the garden since the weather has been so good, which has been a bit of a blessing because the amount of food that gets slung out of the bowl is amazing. It ends up everywhere. Not only is the floor covered in it, so is Barney and anything within a 6 foot radius. It’s worse right now because his usual tinned food with mixer is just tinned food, which needs to be watered down so it’s real slop. We only have to do this for a few weeks though until he can go back to having mixer again. Right now it is too hard for his mouth to cope with, as all the tissue is very soft and only held together with sutures.
The feeding actually isn’t a problem. It was to be expected. Barney has very little control over his tongue at the moment and that’s something that may improve over time, but then again, it may not. Either way, it’s fine for us. If what we have to deal with is a dog that makes some mess when he eats, then so be it. It’s a very, very small price to pay for his life.
This week proved to be a rather emotional one. I felt like every time I looked at Barney, I burst into tears. Not because I don’t like the way he looks, not because I feel sorry for him, not because of anything other than the reality of the entire situation hitting me like a brick between the eyes. It all happened so fast, from diagnosis to removal, that I barely had a chance to sit and process my thoughts. Any thoughts I did have were purely worry about what the future held and what the end result of the operation would be. I’d not really thought about exactly what had happened, and not only what Barney had been through, but also what we’d all been through.
It finally hit home that my baby, my Barney, had CANCER. It’s one of the worst, most horrible things that anyone can have, and he had it. It’d always been something I’d feared for him because he’s always been quite a “lumpy” dog, but I guess I always thought we’d be lucky with him.
As it is though, and as far as we are aware, it’s now all gone and we can look to the future. 🙂