Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Bit of A Stressful Weekend

Rilley received his 5th vaccine on Thursday and seemed just fine. To err on the side of caution we decided to have him stay with Dr. Ewing on Friday since I wouldn't be home. Again no problems. We thought we were in the clear once again with any problems.

Then on Friday night we were watching television with Rilley happily snoring next to us when he starts to twitch. At first we took no notice as he often twitches in his sleep. Something seemed different though ... the twitching was lasting longer than usual and when we tried to wake him up he wasn't startling awake as he normally would. I must admit I started to panic a bit. Thankfully in these situations Roy is calm. After some coaxing with food he soon bounced back and seemed fine. I emailed Dr. Pluhar and she said that if he did have a seizure it wouldn't be unexpected with the later vaccines to see breakthrough seizure activity. She explained that such seizures would be caused by brain inflammation from the vaccine. The next morning he still seemed a little out of sorts though and would just sit there and stare blankly into space.

Happily he seems back to his normal self and is begging for food as he normally does. This morning he tried to steal everyone's pancakes at breakfast which is the Rilley we know and love.

So it is off to Minnesota on Wednesday for his MRI and appointment to see Dr. Pluhar on Thursday. I am excited and a bit nervous to see the results but looking forward to seeing Dr. Pluhar and what she has to say.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Vaccine #5 is done but old problems return

"This is because of that time I jumped into that courier truck, isn't it?"
Once again the courier had managed to foul things up with this shipment; despite the fact that the last two had come through flawlessly.  They claimed that Canada Customs has altered the rules for importing as of January 1, 2011 that significantly changed the process.  The funny thing is though, vaccine number four (and the one before that) had no problems coming through the courier's customs brokerage, not to mention that it sailed right through customs and that was when?  Oh...JANUARY 6th!  As our post entitled "Four down and two to go" can attest to!  Obviously, everyone involved in Rilley's care have always made sure that everything is being done correctly, and we've always had all the paperwork in order.

As for the actual injections today, everything went smoothly.  No complaints from Rilley, not even a yelp, even though he did need to lose some more fur to the sheers!  Dr. Ewing did her best to remove just the right amount on the back of his neck.  As usual, we must now wait and see what the next few days will bring in the form of reactions.  Hopefully they will be as tame as the previous rounds.  Also, as we have done for the previous rounds, I will be taking photos of the injection site at 24 and 48 hours post injection and sending them off to Dr. Ohlfest for him to review.
Right when he had regrown the fur on the back of his neck...
A patch is shaved to make room for the latest injections.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tomorrow is Vaccine #5!

One...two...three, four, five, everybody in the car so come on let's ride...
To the vet for...Vaccine Number 5!

Ok, so Lou Bega I'm not.  However, Dr. Ohlfest's lab has regrown Rilley's fifth vaccine from a set of backup tumour cells and it is presently on the way from Minneapolis!  Once Rilley has been given it, there will be just one more to go.  The sixth and final injection was originally going to be administered at his three month follow up visit with Dr. Pluhar next week and despite the delay there has been some discussion of injecting it on schedule.  However that is dependent upon the severity of any reactions to tomorrow's vaccine and we have a feeling that it will most likely be shipped to Dr. Ewing and given to him here in two weeks.

Unfortunately, now that Rilley's fur has pretty much grown in, he needs to be shaved every time he receives an injection.  Poor little guy, especially in the winter.  The one thing he does have going for him is that he seems to be regrowing it quite rapidly now.

I think it's time to wrap up this blog entry.  Sara and I are still looking for a hotel for next week and I think I should help out!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Getting Ready for Our Big Return Trip

It is hard to believe that is has been nearly 3 months since Rilley's surgery. Part of the treatment protocol is to return to the University of Minnesota and see Dr. Pluhar for a check up and have a follow up MRI done.

Let's hope we won't need the four wheel drive!
As such we are busy preparing for the 16 hour trek to Minnesota next week. We are planning a bit smarter this time though and have decided that we are not taking any food in the Jeep with us at all. We thought we had outsmarted the pooch last time by having some snacks hidden within a Rubbermaid container. We soon found out that there is no out smarting our beagle boy after he dove into the back of the car and managed to get the lid off the container and into our stash of candy bars.  We will also have to stick to regular coffee, we also found out the last time that Rilley has a penchant for Starbucks specialty coffees and will get in our faces when he smells it.  Not a good thing when you're trying to drive!

Anyway, we know that Minneapolis can get hit pretty hard with snow, so we will be packing our own road survival kit just in case.  Here's hoping that we won't need it, so everyone please send warm thoughts to keep the snow away!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Vaccine #5 on hold....

Rilley was to receive his fifth vaccine this week, however there has been a bit of an issue at the lab.  We received an email yesterday letting us know that there will be a five day delay.  I'm not going to pretend to be an expert but from what I understand there weren't enough cells produced to make a full batch of vaccine.  However, we know that the dedicated staff at the lab are working diligently to manufacture a new batch.  I suppose you have to expect the odd bump in the road when you're fortunate enough to have access to leading edge research and experimental treatments.

If you sit back and think about it, it does seem ironic that while our pup lays at our feet enjoying life, he is blissfully unaware of all the work that has gone into saving his life.

Obviously the news that there was an issue at the lab level this time had us concerned, so last night we emailed the doctors at the University. Dr. Ohlfest responded earlier today with a quick email to ask us not to worry, there isn't anything to be concerned about right now.  Then later this evening we were pleasantly surprised to receive a phone call from him as well.  (This was the very first time that we had the opportunity to speak with him directly; previously it had only been through email.)  Dr. Ohlfest said that this delay is not believed to compromise Rilley's health, more specifically he put it this way "The beauty of the immune system is that it does not forget; it is not like a drug that wears off."  In essence, if the treatment is working, as we can only assume it is, there are tumour-specific antibodies flowing through Rilley's bloodstream at this very moment.

Needless to say his call made us feel more at ease about the situation and we really appreciated the call directly from the man himself.  In early February, Rilley, Sara and I will be travelling back to Minneapolis for Rilley's first follow up visit.  One stop that we are excited to make is a visit to the Ohlfest Brain Tumor Lab to meet Dr. Ohlfest and hopefully some of the staff as well.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The kids really love their pooch

Rilley has been doing well since our last post so there is nothing new to report.  As a result we thought it would be nice to change focus this time around.  Tonight we were going through some things that the girls have done for school (and for fun) and we came across two items that would be fun to share. While no one needs proof of a child's love for the family pet, here are a couple examples of how much our two girls adore Rilley.

First up is a story that Katherine had written for a school project.  She had to write about something that brightens her day.  Although, I think she gives Rilley a bit too much credit on the "learning tricks" part!
Click on the image to enlarge it.
(Unless you have really, really good eyesight!)

While our four legged little friend has been the subject of many of the kids school projects, Elizabeth created the following drawing just because she felt like it.  I think she was inspired by how much he loves food as this is pretty much what he looks like every night when he stands up on his hind legs to see what we are having for dinner!
Click on the image to enlarge it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

After the fourth vaccine....

It has been five days since our last post.  Not much has happened aside from a few seemingly mild side effects.  However Rilley has been jittery this past weekend, not knowing what to do with himself and frequently rolling around on his back.  On Saturday while petting him we had come across something that was causing his fur to stick together.  Figuring that he had merely rolled in something we went to pull it out.  Well, it turned out to be dried blood and the fur came with it revealing a spot where the cyst had been bleeding. 
The troublesome cyst.
The cyst seemed fine for the rest of the weekend but at breakfast this morning, the girls noticed a red spot on his fur so once they were off to school Rilley went for another visit with Dr. Ewing.  It turns out that the cyst had apparently burst.  The best we can figure is that Rilley's skin was really irritated by from the vaccine injection causing him to excessively roll on his back and this in turn caused him to burst the cyst.  Additionally, as a result of the broken skin, an infection began to take hold.  Needless to say, Rilley is now on antibiotics to take care of it.

One other suggestion that Dr. Ewing had made was to put a child's t-shirt on Rilley in an effort to protect the cyst whenever he rolls around on his back.
After wrestling the shirt onto a defiant dog, it's time to pose for the camera.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Four Down, Two to Go!

"Ah, come on, enough with the needles already!"
I guess the holiday's accelerated time as today was once again vaccine day for Rilley.  It seems as though all the kinks have been worked out of the courier process as the shipment arrived in even faster this time around.  It arrived at Dr. Ewing's office by 10am this morning!  Once again, poor Rilley had to have a bit more fur shaved off to make room for the injections.  That part he didn't mind but his skin must becoming more sensitive as it took a few attempts and a helping hand from one of the vet techs to get the vaccine injected.  All in all everything went really smoothly despite the fact that Rilley was not being all that cooperative.  Dr. Ohlfest doesn't expect that we'll see any new reactions to the treatment, perhaps more of the same and perhaps at a more severe level.  However, the only side effect we noticed so far was that his skin became red within three hours of the injections, however it seems to be subsiding.  Dr. Pluhar has suggested that perhaps it was a result of the Imiquimod cream that must be applied 15 minutes prior to receiving the vaccine.  We do need to apply more 24 hours later, so we'll see if the same thing happens then.

Loving kiss from dog to daughter.
"Please, please tell me I'm almost done with all the needles!"

Monday, January 3, 2011

Follow the Ohlfest Brain Tumor Lab online!

We received an email tonight from Dr. John Ohlfest letting us know that the Ohlfest Brain Tumor Lab can now be followed through Facebook and Twitter.  He asked us to spread the word, which we are more than happy to do!  If you are interested, follow the links below.

Like on Facebook

Follow on Twitter

 You can still visit the lab's own website as well by following this link.

A Rilley Ornament!

The other day a kind, animal loving neighbour of ours gave us this Christmas ornament that bares a striking resemblance to Mr. Rilley himself.  We think that this will make a great addition to the tree next year.  Her beloved dog Indiana ("Indy"), who unfortunately passed away a few years ago, was Rilley's best friend.  Thanks for thinking of us Kelly!