Day 65: The Doxorubicin Blues


Most dogs don’t have a bad reaction to L-asparaginase, a protein-based chemo drug. Roo got that on Friday. By Saturday she was starting to feel the effects. Not until last night did she even want to go for a short walk. When she did, though, she pooped and it looked good for the first time since Friday.

She started this morning feeling pretty good. She ate a little chicken and jumped in the car without wanting to be helped. Her leg injury is clearing up quickly and she wasn’t limping. I felt bad about having to rush her, but the camper had to be taken to the dump today, and it seemed like a good idea to get it over with before we went to the vet, because Roo was scheduled for doxorubicin, and that was the chemo drug that really took a bite out of her the other time she had it.

By the time we got to the vet, Roo was turning treats down. Dr. Mason went to get some that were even tastier than the standard cookies, and Roo turned those down, too. Other than that, she didn’t seem to be doing badly, and though the doxorubicin is scary, we proceeded with that. Dr. Mason also did some cold laser therapy on Roo’s damaged foreleg.

By the time we left the hospital an hour and forty-five minutes later, Roo wasn’t feeling great. She had a big yellow bandage on her foreleg and another flowery one on the chemo site on her back left ankle. It was the most murderously hot portion of the afternoon, around two and up to 94 degrees and still and humid. Roo pooped, and that didn’t look good. 

One thing I’ve learned nursing Roo is that this cancer treatment is complicated stuff and there’s no point in second-guessing when it’s too late. The doxorubicin is onboard. I can only hope that all the premedication for nausea, appetite and diarrhea that she didn’t have last time until the sickness had already set in are going to help.

This evening, she’s turning water down and won’t eat anything. After a huge amount of coaxing I managed to get her to come outside for a few minutes to see if there were any chipmunks. Soon she’s going to stop believing me when I tell them they’re there, but it’s pretty much all the ammo I have to get her interested. She only lasted four or five minutes, not enough to empty in case she needed to. She was too tired, feeling too beat up. I’ve given her her second dose of the drugs an hour and a half early, in case the problem is nausea, and now she’s sleeping. I have subcutaneous fluids for her, and if she keeps refusing water, I’ll poke a hole in her later and give her that.

Otherwise, this is a little like waiting for a bomb to go off. If her reaction is anything like it was last time, which I doubt, because she’s getting the all the drugs that helped her then, she should start feeling better in a few days, and she won’t be getting another dose of chemo for two weeks.

In the meantime, I spend as much time as my knees can take on the floor with her. She gets upset if I leave her before she drifts off to sleep. She’s waking just now and looking at me. I hope she wasn’t looking at me just a few seconds ago when I checked the weather for thunderstorms that are supposed to get here tomorrow. I don’t think so. But I don’t know. I don’t know anything. I wish I did.

[That’s an old picture of Roo, from way back when she was bitten by a snake, but she hasn’t changed a bit. She’s still my little puppy.]