May has turned out to be an unexpectedly busy month for our family filled with emotional highs and lows, fears and unexpected blessings, trials and triumphs. Rusty had his two week post-op visit and the surgeon said that his incision looked great and he was very happy with Rusty’s progress. Our only concern was that Rusty had been starting to knuckle under on his remaining back leg (he had FHO surgery at 6 mos. ). When Rusty would get up after sleeping he was having trouble hopping and would knuckle under and stumble. The surgeon checked his conscious proprioception and he saw what we did, that Rusty was not quick to flip his back foot over. We decided to wait and watch and if it does not improve or gets worse we will visit neurology.
‘You can’t see me’ – Rusty “hiding” on his way to the vet
Rusty also had his first physical therapy appointment. He was very nervous at first but when he realized that this visit did not involve needles or x-rays and was instead full of peanut butter treats he decided he was a fan of physical therapy! We went through all kinds of strengthening exercises that we will do everyday and learned that his knuckling under may be due in part to weakness in his back leg. We also learned how to use a dremel on his nails in order to keep them very short. Everyone at the rehab clinic was very friendly and encouraging. We will be back in three weeks for a follow-up.
Rusty listening carefully to his physical therapy assignment
Last Friday we noticed a couple new bumps under Rusty’s skin that were dark in color. I took him in so a vet could take a look at them on Saturday. She did a needle aspirate and determined that they were both sebaceous cysts – Yeah! All was well until yesterday when Rusty woke up with a stiff neck. This has happened twice before and normally lasts a couple days. We aren’t sure what causes it but he is obviously in pain and can’t turn his head or shake and has trouble laying his head down. We have taken him in for this before and have some gabapentin we can give him for pain. We feel so bad for him but luckily the meds work quickly and it doesn’t happen very frequently.
Rusty is now taking K9 Immunity Plus and started Synovi G4. He is still on the san shedan and artemisinin and we give him turmeric and kelp powder. He really is doing so well and learning how to balance. He loves doing his physical therapy for treats and we found out by default, as he ran through his trick arsenal trying to earn a treat, that he can sit and down and roll over and even tried to shake hands while lying down which is pretty darn cute.
We are so impressed with Rusty and so thankful to everyone on this site for their input and for sharing their stories. Here’s to an uneventful June…
May was exhausting!
Yesterday was a pretty great day for our family. We received the pathology results from Rusty’s amputation and it turns out that he has chondrosarcoma, grade 1, well-differentiated and not present in the lymph node. As far as cancer diagnoses go this is what we were hoping for Rusty. The results of his pre-surgery blood aspirate had shown “consistent with chondrosarcoma but osteosarcoma cannot be ruled out”. We made an appointment with the oncology department at UW Madison and had prepared ourselves for chemo but it isn’t recommended for chondrosarcoma so we cancelled the appointment. We had just gone through an 18 month battle with hemangiosarcoma with our sweet Lucy and are very glad that Rusty’s amputation has been successful and that he has a good prognosis. I imagine there aren’t a lot of people who are cheering when they learn they have chondrosarcoma but under these circumstances we are counting ourselves very lucky indeed.
On the amputation recovery front, Rusty is continuing to do very well and is learning to balance on three legs. He would really like to get at his incision so he has to wear the fancy pants Mom made for him! His can-do attitude is contagious and we are so proud of his progress.
Rusty’s fancy German lederhosen pants!
Nine days post surgery. It was a beautiful, sunny day today on Mother’s Day and we decided to celebrate with a fun car ride to get ice cream. My mom and Rusty and I took a short drive to get a vanilla cone and use the gift card Rusty had received from my Dad and sister. Rusty LOVES ice cream and works very hard to get every last bit out of the cone.
Working hard to clean out the cone….
Rusty is continuing to heal and adjust to his life on three legs. We are adjusting to the sound of his new walk. I think he sounds like a cantering horse. We are working out a routine for food and meds and supplements and he is thrilled that this means he gets to eat more often throughout the day. We still don’t have pathology results from his surgery but I am so happy with his progress that I am rather enjoying the not knowing. I still have my fingers and toes crossed for good news.
Rusty was released to come home after spending one night at the vet. I was so happy to have him home and have been amazed at his progress. When I first saw him right after surgery at 4:30pm he was very drugged. I called the techs a few times overnight to see how he was doing. They checked his vitals every two hours and he was a little chilly so he got some heat support but otherwise his numbers were good. They tried to take him out to potty at 9pm and he didn’t like the sling and had trouble trying to stand. They fed him at 2am and 8am and he ate well (food is Rusty’s favorite thing). They took him outside every 5 hours and because he didn’t like the sling they let him try it on his own and he was able to figure out how to squat! The surgeon called at 9am and said that he was doing well and would be able to come home later that same day.
I went to pick him up and met with a tech who answered all of my questions ( I had loads of them and she was very patient and thorough). I got the bill, made a follow-up appt. and collected his medicines and then she brought out my little guy (or little “flower” as he looked in his cone). This was the first time I had seen his incision site and honestly, it didn’t bother me at all. I thought he looked beautiful.
Before I left, they showed me how he was walking and I couldn’t believe that he could stand let alone take some steps. I was so impressed with how well he was doing on his first night home. Rusty ate his dinner, took his meds and peed and pooped outside! The first night he was very restless and couldn’t seem to get comfortable. The next day he was able to nap soundly and was walking better every time he got up. I had gotten him an inflatable collar to wear instead of the cone but he can still reach his incision to lick so he has the cone back on today.
The ride home
Rusty has adjusted so quickly to having three legs and has such a good attitude. I decided I had absolutely no excuse for not doing the same! I am so proud of him and inspired by him and so glad to have him home.
Resting at home
We should get the findings from the pathologist next week and we have gone ahead and scheduled an appointment with the University’s oncology department in case we need to pursue chemo. I am doing my best just to take each day as it comes – just like Mister Rusty Bucket.
Standing on his own!
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my ramblings and send well wishes for Rusty. It is helping me so much to have the support of others who have been through this same thing.
Much Love – Amy & Rusty
Thank you to everyone for your words of encouragement. I can’t believe I found this website and this amazing group of people who are so kind and supportive.
Rusty had his surgery today at 2:15 and it took about an hour and a half. Dr. Jackson came out and told us that the surgery had gone well and that everything looked good and that we could see Rusty. They brought him into an exam room wrapped in a fuzzy blanket and his little eyes were open so wide. He was of course on loads of drugs and he couldn’t even figure out how to retract his tongue – but there he was, my sweet boy and he was beautiful and precious and awake. I was so happy!
Rusty right after surgery.
I haven’t seen his incision site yet but I think that’s ok for today. I was just so relieved to see that he was doing well and was so happy to hold him (he did feel lighter). He is staying the night so they can monitor his progress. They will try to feed him at 2am and will try to take him out to potty. I will try not to call every hour!
I am so thankful that his surgery went well. Step One – Done. I can almost breathe again.
Me and my brave little guy