It’s a roller coaster ride

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We are, admittedly, behind in updates of #Groversgrandfinale. Week 2 after surgery was … challenging and emotionally draining.

Week 1 after Chemotherapy? That was nothing. Grover never blinked an eye — no nausea, no diarrhea, no worries.

But, (there’s always a but), we began to really struggle with pain management. 11 days after surgery (on a Friday night of course) Grover started crying out when he lowered his head to eat, went to get up and sometimes just laying there in bed. The kind of screams that rip your heart apart. All of the warnings about exacerbating cervical disease and concerns about his remaining forelimb holding up came flooding back. Maybe we made the wrong decision. How long could we “ride out” this kind of pain to see if it improved?

To get us through the weekend our veterinary team prescribed us a fentanyl patch. We got his patch on and settled outside to try and enjoy some vitamin S (sun). Grover was finally able to rest, so we let him soak up the rays. As the day progressed he became increasingly unsteady on his feet. Panic started to set in … was it worsening of cervical disease? But … mentally he was slow … almost like he acts when he comes out of anesthesia. <light bulb moment>. The fentanyl patch. We remembered the veterinarians telling us, before his amputation, that they were taking the patch off because they could melt under the warming blankets and release uncontrolled amounts of fentanyl. All day he laid out in the sun … and melted his fentanyl patch. Essentially he was high as a kite from melting and releasing 3-5 days of fentanyl over a period of 12 hours. Son of a biscuit. We worked to get the patch off, wash the area and tried to comfort the now higher than a kite three legged Great Dane. Imagine trying to sooth a drunk Octopus. On the positive side of things … he wasn’t painful?

By morning he was back to normal and we were lucky that the neurology and rehab team got us in for assessment. The good news was that they didn’t find a significant abnormality on any of his exams … the bad news was that we didn’t know what the problem was. After another sleepless night of whining, panting and crying we ended up getting an MRI of his cervical spine/neck.

Normal. The MRI was normal. Relief washed over me and I have to admit I had no idea how stressed I had been until I felt the release of hearing the words normal. No mets to his neck. No compression of his cervical spine. Our best guess? The pain was from a pulled muscle. We added amantadine to his pain management schedule.

The relief was short lived as we all struggled through two sleepless nights of panting and whining. He wouldn’t lay down but would pace … it just didn’t make sense. If he was painful, why wasn’t he laying down?

We talked to our veterinary team the next morning and were referred to a veterinary behaviorist who explained to us that dogs can get dementia, similar to elderly people, which can be acutely made worse by anesthesia. He’d now had (2) anesthesia events in the past 2 weeks… it made sense. We were prescribed a sedative help us all get some sleep, left the lights on at night to hopefully remove some “night time anxiety” and had a formal appointment for more evaluation with the behaviorist the next week.

Fingers crossed this would help us overcome this new obstacle.


Grover getting some “jacuzzi” time in the under water treadmill during his rehab appointment


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Author: jkopper

The lucky owner of Grover, a Great Dane, living with osteosarcoma.

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