The Seven Days of Christmas after Chemo

Last Thursday D.J. underwent his 4th round of chemo. All the chemotherapy medications he has and will receive have potential side effects which include loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. We were supplied with medications to treat nausea and diarrhea after his first treatment but had not yet needed to use any of it. This fourth treatment, doxorubicin, was more likely to cause gastrointestinal upset so we were instructed to start the anti-nausea medication immediately. He probably didn’t help things by eating a box of chocolates after the treatment.

 

After the treatment.

 

Day 1- D.J. was fine.

 

Day 2-D.J. was OK for most of the day but was reluctant to eat his evening meal. He ate when we added some macaroni. I wasn’t convinced his decreased appetite was entirely due to chemo. Earlier in the day, I had planned to bake some last minute Christmas cookies and had left a 1 1/4 pounds of butter on the counter to come to room temperature. When I started to bake I couldn’t find the butter. As I searched my husband informed me that when he came home from work he had found a shredded plastic bag on the floor. We have 4 cats and 2 dogs and I think one, some or all of them ate my butter. Based on past events, D.J. was the most likely suspect. If he did eat the butter, along with the chocolate a few days ago, he could have pancreatitis. The clinical signs of pancreatitis would be the same as the side effects of chemo and supportive treatment would be the same. We were already doing what we could for both problems.

 

Day 3 (Christmas Eve)-D.J. was very sick. He would not eat. He looked uncomfortable. He developed diarrhea. That evening he vomited the meal he had 24 hours earlier. Chemo or pancreatitis? I continued to treat him for nausea and diarrhea.

 

Day 4 (Christmas Day)-D.J. was still not eating and seemed very tired. He managed to wag his tail and open and chew his Christmas present for a few minutes but then went back to bed. He wouldn’t eat anything and continued to have diarrhea. Reluctantly, we left to attend our family Christmas. When we came home we offered the dogs some of their Christmas treats and D.J. ate 1 dog cookie. We all agreed that this was our best present of the day.

 

Day 5 (Boxing Day). D.J.’s appetite was back and he was eating so quickly he was choking. There seems to be no middle ground regarding appetite in labs. He seemed to feel better but still had liquid diarrhea.

 

Day 6- Normal appetite, abnormal stool but playing all day with his new toy.

 

Day 7-Normal appetite, formed stool, long walk, the squeaking of the new toy is driving me crazy.

 

D.J. had 2 terrible days over Christmas. I am unsure whether this was due to chemo or eating a pound of butter or both. He is scheduled to receive doxorubicin 3 more times. I am hesitant to do this to him again. I will be discussing treatment success and life expectancy if we exclude doxorubicin with Dr. Richardson next week.

 

Day 7 reminds me of why I chose to treat D.J. He is happy, playful and the best dog ever (chocolate and butter incidents already forgotten).

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