Monday, November 8, 2010

The long and winding road...a reflection on our first trip to Minneapolis.

Driving down the endless road!
So the long road home gave us time to reflect on everything that has happened since our departure last Tuesday evening.
Travelling home:
Having a rest in Wisconsin, the state that never ends!

When we originally arrived in Minneapolis we pretty much rolled right into the parking lot at the Veterinary Medical Center and walked straight into the pre-op appointment which included the presence of the Daily Planet camera.  As you know from the post that day we were incredibly tired and it took a lot of concentration to focus on the discussion.  We didn't have the camera there to get ourselves on TV, we simply want everyone to know of the incredible work being done in Minneapolis to help find a cure for brain tumours in dogs and humans alike.  We must thank Director of Photography Jay Kemp and Producer Michelle McCree for making sure that the camera was there to record the events without being intrusive.  Honestly, we can't say that we really noticed the camera at all and the appointment ran very smoothly.  We were extremely excited for what the following day would bring.

Asleep on the long ride home

Everyone expected Thursday's surgery to run smoothly as all the preparations had been in place for some time.  Dr. Pluhar had the original MRI scans that were done at the Mississauga Oakville clinic and all of Rilley's medical history (related to the tumour).  Even the physical exam done during the pre-op appointment was normal.   We received regular updates via Brian, the communications point-person for the television production crew.  Then when Dr. Pluhar came out while Rilley was moved from the OR to the MRI she told us that things had not been as simple as had been expected.  It seemed that everyone was shocked to learn that the tumour had grown much quicker than expected and that it had begun to attach itself to Rilley's brain.  Dr. Pluhar had hoped to remove the tumour in one complete piece, but given this new development she had no choice but to cut it into pieces in order to remove it.  This gave us a dose of reality and the true weight of Rilley's predicament began to sink in.  While it turned out that Dr. Pluhar skillfully removed the tumour despite the increased difficulty we realized that had we not made this journey, our beloved Beagle would have only survived for another week or two.

This development made a lot of recent events make sense.  Within the week previous to our departure Rilley had numerous seizures in greater frequency and he had begun to lose some control over his bladder.  We had actually commented that something seemed wrong and that things appeared to be getting worse.

Thankfully, we got to Minneapolis in time for the tumour to be stopped.  Dr. Pluhar literally ended up saving Rilley's life.  It appears that the only consequence to the change in his tumour is that it of a more serious grade.  We are still waiting to find out what grade of meningioma the tumour is but it doesn't change Rilley's course of treatment.

Dr. Pluhar getting Rilley
ready to be discharged
In two weeks, Rilley will have his stitches removed and he will receive the first of his vaccine injections.  The vaccine takes two weeks to develop and will be shipped directly to Rilley's regular veterinarian, Dr. Stephanie Ewing.  She has kindly agreed to administer the shots.  Luckily, Rilley loves Dr. Ewing, so he should be pretty happy to go see her on a regular basis.  He will receive an additional five rounds of vaccinations at two week intervals.

We also learned during our visit that Rilley's liver enzymes were at extremely high levels, most likely due to the Phenobarbital anti-seizure medication that he has been on.  This will now be replaced with another anti-seizure medication called Keppra which is not processed as intensely by the liver.

Rilley will be making return trips to see Dr. Pluhar at the University of Minnesota in three, six and twelve months for follow up MRIs and blood work.  But for now, he seems to be happy, healthy and back to his old self...causing trouble.

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