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Bella The Cockapoo (PNST)

Bella- Nerve Sheath Tumor

Bella the Cockapoo (PNST). We now call her our “Tri-paw Bunny”

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Bella-the-Cockapoo (7 yr old) has had a rough journey the past 3 months, but things are looking up! I hope my blog helps those who face similar struggles. I found the TRIPAWDS site to be so very helpful and am grateful I found this site before her amputation.

First, Her Leg:  Bella started lifting her right hind leg in December (2 1/2 mos. ago). We noticed she seemed to elevate it, just slightly above the ground and hesitated to jump up on the couch, bed, etc. We thought she injured it, and waited for it to heal.

Next, Her Eye:  On New Years Day (2018), she woke with a sliver-blue looking right eye. It looked really bad so we took her in to our vet the following day. We mentioned her leg issue and wondered if the two were related. The following 3 weeks were a rush against time to save her eye. Apparently, she endured trauma (we don’t know how)…but the end of that eye story ended wonderfully, ideal really! She was on heavy glaucoma meds. and prednisolone drops to reduce her glaucoma (her eye presssure started at 46!-, whereas, 15 normal). Today, her right eye is “pristine,” and her ophthalmologist absolutely thrilled with her recovery. Originally , he thought it might be lymphoma, but because it healed so quickly, he decided it must have been an acute injury. We were so pleased we didn’t have to remove her eye….. However, her limping continued…the muscles in her rt hind leg begin to obviously atrophy.

Our vet checked her twice and couldn’t find anything. Thankfully, I scheduled an appt. w/ an orthopedic vet at the local university hospital…That orthopedic vet first thought it was sciatica (compressed nerve), and thought that a quick/easy surgery would remove the pain. However, an MRI soon revealed the devastating, unexpected news–it was a peripheral nerve sheath tumor (PNST)-fortunately it had not yet entered the spinal cord (but was very close–1/2 cm). They prepared us that we might only get it removed with a 1/2 cm margin and that these tumors have a nasty habit of reoccurring.

We booked surgery for the very next work day (Monday) and knew that amputation was the only option. The weekend before surgery was so awful–we shed many tears and grieved for the loss of her limb and worried about whether the tumor could be completely removed. We prayed and asked those around us to say prayers that the tumor would be completely removed. I , also, asked my daughter to come over and take photos of her with her, with her leg intact so we could remember her beautiful whole body before surgery. Surgery was so very stressful, as you all likely know…. and, Leaving her overnight at the hospital was anguish... and yet…we were emotionally exhausted so needed to rest up and prepare for her to come home as a new tri-paw. The next day, we bought thin grippy large rugs and laid them on the wood floor in our home (as suggested on TRIPAWDS, and we picked her up from the hospital… It was one of the most wonderful times in my life. Because of the TRIPAWDS website, my husband and I were both PREPARED to see her amputation scar (because of this TRIPAWDS website and all of your wonderful tips). I looked into her beautiful brown eyes (as was suggested on TRIPAWDS) and I saw my Bella, not the amputation scar. It was still a bit hard to see her without her leg and to see the scars but I WAS PREPARED. I appreciated the advice to be positive in front of Bella…and not to show sad emotions in front of her. I was strong because one TRIPAWD blogger told me to NOT think of it as removing her limb…but instead that I was REMOVING HER PAIN.

Today, we are encouraged, but cautious. It has been 4 1/2 days post-op… and we were thrilled to learn last night that the surgeon removed the whole tumor, it was located further down from the spine than they thought, and we got good margins (5mm) around the tumor removed. We are , however, still cautious, as the surgeon said it is a more aggressive cancer than usual in these causes. They are going to do additional testing because it was more aggressive than anticipated. We have been advised to keep our oncology appt. (which is 6 1/2 weeks away). But, our sweet Bella has really learned how to hop around. It is so good to see her tail wagging when she moves around the house. She is eating well (another good tip from TRIPAWDS blogger is to give her her favorite foods–organic scrambled eggs, chicken, banana, carrots). She is pooping and peeing fine. It is a bit tricky to get her moving around enough to activate her bowels but this is coming along just fine.

We are grateful to have our new tri-paw with us. We now affectionately call her our Bella Bunny, due to her little hop that has been added to her walk. We are embracing each minute and looking forward to having her stitches out in about 9 days.

I will try to figure out this blogging situation on TRIPAWDS, because I do want to encourage others who are faced with a diagnosis that requires amputation. Has it been stressful–Yes!–Has we been full of worry?–Absolutely, Yes!!— but we have our girl at home and her wonderful wagging tail and are giving her the best outcomes we can, given her diagnosis.

TIP:  She hates that Elizabethan collar, so during the day, keep her next to us (fortunately, I work online so can be with her all the time until stitches are removed)… At night, we put a t-shirt on her…cut a slot for her one back leg…dangled the shirt long and rubber banded the very bottom of the shirt and put her usual harness on top of the t-shirt so she can lick her stitches. This worked well and she slept well. We put a mattress on the family room floor and sleep with her there since she is used to sleeping with us in our bed, which is way to high in the air to risk her jumping down from at this time.

TIP:  Ask if your surgeon can use the solution for 3 day pain relief after surgery (I think it might have been called Nocita)…I think it really helped–and I noticed she was sore on day 4 and uncomfortable-I am guessing because that solution wore off after 3 days.

Thank you to all of the previous bloggers and also for the TRIPAWDS  site. You cannot know how much we appreciated the advice, pictures and it was so good to not feel alone.


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