Thursday, June 11, 2009

Potential bad news RE: Gilligan and his lump removal

Here is a picture of Gilligan from the park that is relatively close to our house during last Fall. Gilligan likes to sit in the park alot. We take him there 3 times a day (morning walk, afternoon walk and evening walk). His usual route is about 1000 meters but sometimes he is able to shorten it by lying down and refusing to get up. He is pretty good at having an abreviated walk through this mechanism.

In fact Gilligan is the first dog I have met or owned that is not super excited about exercise including walking or hiking. I think he is just as happy to simply sit home, eat treats, hang out and snuggle.

Today Gilligan went to get some lumps removed. I was anxious but hopeful this was going to be as routine as surgeries can be. This was not to be.

The basic gist of what has occured is that Gilligan's bumps had a variety of issues including bad margins/lacked membranes holding the mass and one bump that was not a fatty mass but a tumor that looked like brain/spaghetti. The only positive was that Gilligan handled his anesthesia like a champ. Oh yeah and the vet and technicians loved him because he is a sweetie!

Basically the doctor took out his first bump with some difficulty because it did not have clean margins she had expected of a fatty mass (which it was) and thus the bump was not easily removed. Apparently it was contained within/merged with some muscle so removing it did not take the 20 minutes that was expected but considerable longer. The next several bumps were just as troublesome. By the time they got to his neck bump, they realized all his bumps were more invasive then expected. His neck bump was very close to his jugular vein thus making this a delicate operation.

The final bump that was to be removed (based on our "must remove" list) was the bump on his wrist. This bump has been visible since last Sept/Oct. Back during his yearly exam in the Fall it was felt this bump was not of major concern. Well, this is the mass that was not at all what the doctor expected. It apparently looked like brain/spaghetti which could be very bad. And the doctor was not able to get the entire mass because Gilligan had been under anesthesia for quite some time. Finally this mass was intertwined with a vein which added a degree of complexity. This wrist bump sounded really bad.

The wrist bump will be biopsied. Although during our conversation I did ask the question, "what is the point of biopsing it?" The one thing I observe as a statistician is that oncology studies really strongly show the earlier you detect and treat any cancer the better the prognosis. This mass has been present and detectable since last summer/fall so the window of opportunity to treat might already be over. And making medical decisions for others is so hard. But hopefully this mass is just some unnamed bizarre looking mass that is not any cause for alarm.

We hear the results next week.

Because of the extra time in surgery and all sorts of ports to allow for wound draining, when we spoke to the Doctor it was recommended that we consider letting him stay overnight or else pick him up as close to 7 p.m. (previously the window was 5:30-5:45 p.m.!).

Because he is in a sterile environment in which medical professionals are available, we decided to let him stay at his vets overnight. This means for the first time he is all alone. Hopefully he is really hopped up on painkillers and residual anesthetic.

Tristan and I let him stay in our bed last night (and the night before). We barely had room enough for us. But tonight I would give anything to be relegated to a tiny bit of bed because Gilligan was in it and taking up 90% of the bed (the other 5% would be cats and 5% Tristan and I-combined for any of you questioning my questionable math skills!)


Jimbo said...

Fergie one time had a lump removed from her back that turned out to be malignant - the lump had been there for several months (we thought it was an old dog fatty tissue type lump), it hadn't spread anywhere and the vet got good margins, and there was no further treatment required.

We later went through much more doggy cancer with both Monty and Fergie, our late great goldies. Sadly we became way more knowledgable about canine oncology than we ever wanted to be.

Best wishes - especially to Gilligan


Lora said...

Oh, wow! That is the saddest news. I'm sorry to hear about the problems your pup's having. I've got a couple of those creatures myself so I understand how you feel.

Glad to hear you had a great first tri experience. We've all had a first time and we should never forget how terrified we were so that we can be sympathetic to other newbs.

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

I always feel so sorry for pets when things like this happen because they have no idea why it is happening and no understanding that it is being done for their own good. To them, it must just seem arbitrary and cruel, and when my dog Sushi had to have some procedures, it always broke my heart to think that she might think I had let her be hurt for no good reason.

But they always forgive us, don't they, sister?

I am keeping Gilligan in my thoughts. Hope all turns out well and he recovers soon!

Runner Tammy said...


I am so sorry to hear about your doggie stories. This is my first bout with any type of surgery in a dog.

Snowball, Gilligan's predecessor was a Samoyed that was as full of energy as Gilligan is lacking (1988-2000 with us; although he was 14 because we rescued him). Snowball had no health issues although from 2-10 years of age he was hyperactive (needing 5-10 mile runs every day, even if I had the flu!), then from 10-12 years was a "normal" dog. Finally 12-14 years he was pretty lazy. His final days he might still have had more energy Gilligan on his most active day (or Snowball at least exerted more energy then I ever have seen Gilligan exert:-).

We will give Gilligan a pet on the head on your behalf.


Welcome to my blog. Sorry for some reason my life turned from a really great start a massive PR for a 50 miler and a 100 miler to my mom passing away last month and Gilligan our dog having health issues. I guess if my life was to be chronicled on "True Hollywood Stories", this is the part I would start to downward spiral.

But alas I know I have super friends, a wonderful family and great pets who will help me muddle through.

You are right about always needing to support others new to tri's and other events. I can still remember the terror I had at my first marathon, 50 miler, 100 miler and tri. All of these events there is always the wild card that is hard to anticipate and be prepared for. Having encouragement from more seasoned athletes definitely makes a bit easier and is a confidence booster.


I completely agree with you. I just wonder what poor Gilligan is thinking about with respect to going into surgery one way and coming out with bits missing, discomfort and just the general post op confusion.

Having had 4 surgeries over the span of 3 years after getting hit by a car, I distinctly remember being really confused the first few hours after every surgery even though I signed my own consent form and knew exactly what I was doing! I also remember wondering why my leg was in a cast each time I came out from anesthesia. One would think the 3rd or 4th time I would get accustomed to this.

Gilligan is so sweet and loves everyone. He definitely lives in the moment and is always so excited to see Tristan and I.

I think we are going to start spoiling him beyond belief. Regardless of the biopsy results because of the 12 more bumps that could be removed (and now will not be removed), there is a strong likelihood that at some point a bump does develop near a vital organ.

Considering his bumps seem to have grown in a manner that makes removal difficult and invasive I think Tristan and I will just try to convince our doctor to ensure he is always comfortable.

We might need to find more places so we can go out for treats every night of the week. We already carved out Wed for Carvel (buy one get one free sundaes-yeah us for living within 400 meters of a shopping center with a Carvel), Thurs for Brusters, and frequently other outdoor places for other treats.

In fact summer is a good season for us to commence Gilligan spoiling because there are many outdoor concert series with low cost picnic dinners. And of course Gilligan is not finicky about where or how he gets food so anothers person dropped dinner is Gilligan's tasty treat:-)

Well, I have to head to bed before Tristan does so I can get my 5% of our newly assigned bed real estate partitioning....