The New Vet

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Well, that was an interesting trip…

Mom took me to see the new holistic vet. It turned into an hour and a half drive to get there. I settled down about 30 min into the trip. My tripup friends would love it.  The office is in the middle of an amazing dog park! We did the whole exam thing. They were really nice and gentle with me. The vet took her time going over my history. I did so well that she recommended trying acupuncture since I was just laying on the table taking it all in.  She said it would help relax me for the ride back home.  She was right! Mom never heard a peep out of me all the way home. You can see by the look on my face that I was still pretty laid back after we got back home.  lol  

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The vet agreed that surgery would do more harm than good. I don’t have enough tissue left after my amputation. The first vet took my leg, hip, part of my pelvis, and some of the abdominal wall in order to get clean margins. The last surgery to remove the most recent tumor also resulted in a hernia and repair… which led to a tough, long recovery. Now, there are just too many tumors to remove and not enough of me to go around. The new plan includes keeping me on my omega 3 supplement, adding a Chinese herbal blend to some coconut oil and applying it directly to my tumors (I get an oral dose when I bathe myself), B12, and a supplement designed to reprogram my immune system to help recognize the bad cells. It’s not a cure, but a stronger immune system may help slow the tumor growth and keep me comfortable longer. The vet said that I was, otherwise, strong and healthy. She said she had expected a much different cat before she met me. Over the last few days, I’ve done all the new treatments with no problems. So, we will just have to see how it goes. 


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Decisions… Decisions…

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Vaccine Associated Sarcoma – When surgery’s no longer an option:

It’s been over 7 months since the surgery to remove the new VAS tumor. We knew recurrence would most likely happen since we didn’t get clean margins this time. Now, I have multiple tumors along the incision site from my spine down the same side as my amputation. There’s not much tissue left there. We’re going to see the vet to see what our options are, but I’m thinking it might be time to plan for palliative care. I still look and feel very healthy aside from the lumps and bumps, but we want to be ready in case things change as the tumors continue to grow. That last surgery was so hard with me being a more, uhh, “mature” fella and all. Mom doesn’t want to put me through that again. 

In the meantime… I think I’ll just keep on soaking up the sun and getting chin scratches while looking all cute and innocent.

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Please, feel free to comment with any suggestions for my visit with the vet. We look forward to hearing from you!

Still Here, Still Hopping!

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I’ve been gone way too long… sorry!  My last post was over a year ago when I celebrated my 2 yr ampuversary.  Since then, we moved over 4 hours away with the 3 orphaned kitties that Mom took in. (Yeah, I let them stay.)

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I celebrated my 3 yr ampuversary back in June, but had a tumor recurrence.  I had it removed in August.  The pathology report showed that it was another vaccine associated sarcoma (VAS), but we didn’t get clean margins this time.  I’m now 2 months post op and back on high alert.  I’m 13 yrs old now and that tumor removal was a lot harder on me.

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Mom has me on omega and herbal supplements to help slow any recurrent tumor growth.  So far, so good.  I’m pretty much back to my old, silly self.  As you can see in the next pic… Mom told me to get off the counter.  I think I let her know what I thought about that!

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I’ve really missed you guys.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to post more now. Take care,

Little Man

 

“The Scoop”… part two!

More Q & A:

jerryon April 7th, 2014

What’s your secret to beating cancer?

If you could give advice to kitties about to become Tripawds, what would it be?

Again, great questions!  There’s no doubt that the secret to me beating the VAS monster has been the combination of being one blessed kitty and having a speedy and radical treatment.  From my experience, VAS, vaccine associated sarcoma, is an aggressive type of cancer that forms in the soft and connective tissues surrounding an injection site.  In my case, Mom felt a rough bump on my leg.  My vet did a biopsy to confirm that it was VAS.  Once I had more blood work and x-rays to make sure it had not already spread, I had a radical amputation.  The vet removed my leg, part of my hip and pelvis, and some of my abdominal tissue.  Two weeks later, the pathology report said that I had clean margins… the amputation went past the cancer cells leaving me with healthy tissue.  Since I was once feral and did not travel well, we did not follow up with chemo or radiation.  The nearest specialist was 2 hours away.  We were cautiously optimistic that, with clean margins, I could live 9 months to a year (and possibly even live out the rest of my natural life cancer-free). 

My advice for soon-to-be tripawds… education and preparation, as much as possible!  The more you know, the better… that goes for what the diagnosis is, possible treatments, what to expect at home, future care, prognosis, and where to find support.  If you’re already here, then you are WAY ahead of the game!  Ask tons of questions.  Keep in mind that it is ok to get a second opinion, if possible.  Also, tests and treatments can get expensive.  There are financial options available… you just have to know where to look.  Always ask for discounts.  You might be surprised what your vet will be willing to do to help you out. If you have time, call around for estimates and ask if the other offices may know of any other resources that could help.  In the case of VAS, since it is vaccine associated, contact the vaccine manufacturer regarding financial compensation.  Your vet should have the needed information in your pet’s chart.  The most important advice is DON’T GIVE UP.  If quality of life is a concern, all you have to do is take a look at the PAWESOME animals on this site to know that, as the TRIPAWD saying goes, it really is “better to hop on three legs than to limp on four”.  =)

Here are some old pics from my biopsy and surgery…

my lumpy leg

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Little Man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next time, I will tell you all about how I helped to bring about some pretty big changes at my vet’s office.  In the next few weeks, I will also share some tips Mom learned when she brought me home after surgery and some of the changes that came in the days following.

Giving you “The Scoop”…

No, not the scoop from the litter box!  This is the scoop on VAS or Vaccine Associated Sarcoma.

I’d like to take the opportunity to answer some of your questions in honor of my upcoming 2 YEAR ampuversary.  We are super excited because I was only expected to live 9 months, and here I am!

Our first question is from Jerry:

Has being a Tripawd affected your ability to jump off of high places like countertops? Do you still land as graceful as a four-legged cat, or even better?

Great question!  Jumping and landing ability all depend on whether you have a front or rear amputation.  I have one rear leg to depend on when I jump.  I can’t jump as high and I’m not as graceful (ok, I wobble a lot), but that doesn’t stop me!  You can’t keep a good cat down!  Since I have 2 front paws to land on, that’s not a problem for me.  I can imagine that for my front leg amputee friends… they might be able to jump higher, but getting down might be a little tricky and possibly even hurt sometimes.  Mom has been talking to our vet and reading up on joint supplements.  Since our other legs have to work a little harder to compensate, our joints might give us more problems than our 4-legged friends over time.  

I remember Mom put out pet steps before my surgery.  She was hoping that I’d get used to them and use them when I came home.  Sorry, Mom.  Call me stubborn, but I didn’t need them and I knew it!  She tried to keep me from jumping at least until my incision healed, but when she saw that I was so determined, she just put our household furniture next to the higher places that I was trying to get to.  I used our homemade “steps” until my stitches came out, then I was OFF!

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This is back when I used to go cabinet climbing.  I can’t get that high anymore, but counters, tabletops, windowsills, chairs, beds, piles of freshly washed and dried towels… I’m on it!

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This was today with my “little” sister, Sweet Kitty.  

Keep the questions coming!  I’ll be answering more of Jerry’s questions next time, including my secret to beating VAS and some advice for new tripawd kitties!  It’s about to get deep!

One Hop Forward, Two Hops Back: The Backwards Walk

2012-08-04 14.40.29How embarrassing!  I can barely stand to think about it… the backwards walk.

I had done so well in the weeks following my amputation.  I had started running and jumping with no problems.  Then, almost 2 months post-op, I had my first episode with the backwards walk.  It really upset me and scared my mom because she didn’t know what was happening.  I had been laying on my mom’s bed and when I got up to hop down, it was like I lost control of my back leg.  I hobbled backwards and bellowed really loud.  It scared me so I plopped down on the floor and refused to move.  When I did try to walk, I would start going forward and then hop backwards again.  After I laid there a while, I was able to get up and go about my business like nothing happened.  Mom didn’t know if my other leg simply fell asleep, if something was wrong with my nerves, another tumor, or if I was having phantom sensations where my other leg would have been.  It often looked as if I was trying to use that missing leg, and since it wasn’t there, I’d wobble and get taken off guard.  I had a few more episodes over the next few weeks, especially if I tried changing directions quickly.  It would last a few minutes, sometimes longer,  before I could walk normally again.  Mom did a lot of research and asked other tripod cat owners about this.  The cause is still unclear, but apparently it is a common occurance.  It often happens in the first days or weeks after amputation, but it can happen months later.  Many people believe it is part of the healing process, perhaps involving some type of phantom sensations that occurs as the nerves and tissues are healing… making me think that other leg was still there when it wasn’t.  Whatever it was, I’m just glad it’s gone.  It seems like as suddenly as it started, it went away.  I haven’t had an episode since.  Of course, if you notice your pet doing anything that worries you, don’t hesitate to run it by your vet.  =) 

It’s laundry day! Do you know what THAT means???

laundry daySoft.  Cuddly.  WARM towels fresh out of the dryer! 

I always loved laundry day, but since the surgery I love it even more.  Many of our doctors may have mentioned that trying heat, cold, or alternating between the two can help with the discomfort after surgery. Mom had some cooling pads that she kept in the fridge, but I didn’t care for those.  She tried a heating pad and heated blanket on low heat, but I thought the pad looked funny and it wasn’t very soft… forget that.  And the blanket just smelled funny!    Finally, it dawned on her how much I like warm towels.  She saved a few towels aside just for me and she’d warm them up and toss them in my favorite napping spots… ahhh.   I always lay with my amp site down on the warm towels and my head burried.  Even now, almost 8 months later, I don’t have that discomfort anymore, but I still jump at the chance to cuddle up in the towels.  What can I say?  I’m spoiled rotten and I know it. 

No more cabinet climbing…

HPIM0071Ahh… those were the days!  I used to spend hours up on top of the kitchen cabinets.  Not anymore… 

But, ya know what?  That’s just about the ONLY place I can’t get to on my own.  Ha!  (Now if Nova would stop showing off and taking my old spot, I’d be happy… but, no.  She has to do what sisters do best… rub it in!)

Yep, mom took the time to set up pet stairs and make a litter box with lower sides just for me.  Did I ever use them?  Nope.  (Sorry, mom.)  I guess I am a little bit stubborn.  Call me a creature of habit, but I thought enough had changed with the missing leg.  I needed everything else to stay the same!  Sure, I made a mess with the litter box a time or two, but that’s all good now. 

From the first week after my amputation, as soon as mom realized that I was going to do things my way… she arranged our furniture to make it easier for me to get to my favorite napping spots.  Now, I just jump!  That back leg of mine is getting stronger and stronger.  Really, who needs that 4th leg anyway? 

Family Time

I love when my family is home.  Today is one of those great days.  Mom and dad are off from work and my brother (“D”) is home from school for Mardi Gras.  It’s a rainy day… perfect day to be LAZY!

sleepy kittiesNapping with me is my sister, Nova.  Mom was worried about how we’d get along after bringing me home from the vet with a missing leg.  Mom kept us separated for a day while she wiped us down with some cleaning cloths.  She did that to get the vet smell off me and so we’d smell a lot alike.  Mom watched to see how I did staying in her bedroom and bathroom.  Once she saw that I was ok, she let Nova in to visit.  She sniffed me over, spending a lot of time over the stitches.  Next thing I know, she butted my head and started trying to give me a bath.  Gee… thanks, Sis.

In the weeks that followed, Nova let me have some space.  She stood back as I learned how to get around again.  She was never far away.  Mom was relieved that she didn’t have to keep us separated.  Sometimes when animals come back home, they don’t get along with siblings.  Sometimes, they even get aggressive with one another or act like they want nothing to do with each other.  Mom has heard from other families that this usually doesn’t last long, but it can be stressful.

basket nova looking at meHere is another pic of Nova when she’s not drooling on mom’s leg.  lol  Yep, now the 2 of us play just like before.  We chase each other, wrestle each other, and nap together like nothing ever happened. 

Since the tumor I had was caused by an adverse reaction to a vaccine, mom is very picky about the vaccinations my sister gets now.  The vet said that since my reaction, I won’t have to get any more vaccinations.  My mom plans on working with our vet to come up with a plan for my sister.

Mom brought Nova home from the shelter after I lost my older sister from diabetes.  I was used to having another cat around, and I was lonely.  Nova is 3 yrs old, so her energy keeps me acting young, too.  

Next time, I’d like to start talking about some of the stumbling blocks I had to hop my way around.  Mom says I’m one stubborn Little Man!   

 

 

Introducing…

Little Man

Hi… I’m Little Man and, as you can see,  I’m a cat.  I’m a little nervous being surrounded by so many dogs here, but I’m sure we’ll be friends in no time!  Especially since we have something in common… 3 legs.  =)

 

I’m here to share my story and show others that life on 3 legs is definitely worth living.

     

Back in my feral kitten days, I was found living in an old barn.  Dad put on some old work gloves and got me out from under a storage locker.  He brought me inside to mom, who held me close and petted me for hours until I decided to give this housecat thing a chance.  They already had another cat who helped me adjust.  That’s been 9 years ago.   My older sister is no longer with us, but I now have another sister, Nova… more about her later. 

 

my lumpy leg

Back in May of 2012, my mom found a lump on my left hind leg.  She took me to my vet and he did a wedge biopsy.  The tumor was a vaccine-associated fibrosarcoma (VAS).  He went over all the research with my mom and told her that amputation was my best chance at beating this thing.  We live in a rural area of Alabama, so the nearest specialists were over 2 hours away.  I don’t travel well, so mom decided that whatever treatment I needed, our local vet would have to take care of me.   We went home to talk with dad and make the biggest decision of my life.  Now, dad was worried that I wouldn’t be happy with 3 legs.  He thought I wouldn’t be able to live like a normal cat and that I’d be miserable.   “What kind of life would that be?”, he asked my mom.  His first suggestion was to just take care of me as long as they could and keep me comfortable.  Mom did some research and showed dad videos of other animals living with 3 legs.  He was still very uncertain.  He told my mom that it was up to her.  She called the vet and scheduled my surgery.  She set it up for June 25th.  Dad agreed to take me.  The plan was for my vet to do more lab work and take some x-rays.  If the cancer had already spread, I’d go back home.  If everything looked good, he’d proceed with the amputation… which he did.  I ended up losing my left hind leg, part of my pelvis, and some abdominal tissue since the tumor was pretty high on my leg.  I stayed at the vet through the week because mom had to work and she wanted to be able to take good care of me when I came home.  I came home that Friday.  Mom had it worked out so I wouldn’t be by myself until the stitches came out.     

 

back home

Mom says I did great while I was recovering.  I took my antibiotics and pain meds like a good boy and didn’t have to wear the “cone of shame”.  I surprised everybody by coming out to see some visitors every now and then… I even let a few of them pet me!  (I used to run and hide if I heard a stranger, so mom and dad  were shocked. lol)  Mom had tried getting me to use some little steps to help me get up to my favorite spots, but I refused.  I just used our regular furniture and made my own steps up to mom’s bed.  Within 2 weeks, I was back to playing with my favorite toys, chasing Nova, and getting up on the couch and bed all by myself. 

 

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Two weeks after surgery, we got the call from the vet with the biopsy results.  We had clean margins!  The vet said that with those results and the fact that I didn’t like to travel, I didn’t need chemo or radiation.  I just celebrated my 7 month ampuversary with no signs of any new lumps. 

 

In my future posts, I’d like to introduce you to my family, reflect on some of the things I had to overcome, and share the reasons why I love my life with 3 legs.   Thanks for having me here!