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Josie The Greatest Dane

Josie's Journey with Osteosarcoma

Josie The Greatest Dane

50/50 Chance…Are The Odds Dr. Angie Gave Josie

April 6th, 2010 · 14 Comments · Uncategorized

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Tuesday April 6th 2010 It is 9:15pm and I just arrived home from our local vet. Josie began acting strange at about 5:40 tonight…we did our normal walk in the gully with Gully, my friend Lynn and her  standard poodle named Henry. We were at the park for 2 whole hours. When we were done we went to the shop and the girls both got baths…mainly because of the rain we had today and all the mud they schlepped through. We stopped home quick for 2 dry collars and then we were off to the vet…We had a 3:40pm double appointment. Gully needed suture removal for her recent squirrel chasing escapade and Josie needed a CBC count done and faxed down to Madison for follow up on her recent chemotherapy. Both went well.

We arrived home at 4:15pm to find Marsh in the garage riding the recumbant bike. The girls and I went into the workout room and said hello to him and then went into the house to prepare dinner. Of course the girls ate first. I made their favorite gravy food which they both ate and then they laid down in their respective spots in the living room for a little snooze. I fixed supper for Marsh and I after he got out of the shower and we both ate. Marsh cleaned up the kitchen and I let the girls outside for a drink of water and then they went and laid back down.

From here…I dont know what time it was, or how long after the water drinking episode it was…but soon, very soon after she laid down, Josie came and stood in front of me…I thought it was very odd, Gully was out cold….she was exhausted and full bellied….but Josie, was standing, staring at me….I asked her if she had to go potty but she didn’t move. She had just drank and ate, so I knew it wasnt one of those, and then she put her head down and a stream of saliva fell from her mouth. I immediately thought she was nauseated from the chemo…but that was last week Tuesday…could it take a whole week to effect her?

I opened the door and she hopped out on the deck and heaved but nothing came out….I tried to get her to drink, but she wouldnt…then she walked in a circle like she was going to lay down….in the wet grass!!!!!…..this….made no sense to me. She hates getting wet…why would she lay in the wet grass….I thought for sure she was sick from the chemo and called the vet for more pills. It was exactly 5:45 and they close at 6….I could get there in time and save her a night of nausea…

I explained my fear to the receptionist. She put me on hold to got our records and said she would talk to Dr. Angie Madden-Heinzen about the prescription….within 1 minute Dr. Angie was on the phone and her first question…. “Is her stomach distended?” Baffled…I asked her “Are you thinking bloat?” She said yes, that she was….so I palpated her stomach and said, it is bigger, but she just ate….I looked at her from all different angles and felt one way one second and the other way one second after that….She suggested I get something yummy and see if she will swallow it. If she wouldn’t swallow it, that could mean bloat….I ran to the fridge and got some goodis and put it in front of her. Josie smelled it and then turned her head….Well, that didn’t help.

I asked her if it was okay if I just brought her in… “Better safe than sorry” were my exact words. She said of course….so…we loaded up in the Jeep…and off I sped, to the other side of town….as I drove Josie began to pant. Her tongue started hanging out of her mouth and the color of it confirmed to me Dr. Angie’s suspicions, she was losing color. We arrived and Dr. Angie was waiting for us holding the door to an exam room open for us. She felt her stomach and then took Josie to the back room for Xrays…She was right, it was bloat….

At this point, I have two options….surgery or euthanasia….no question in my mind! Immediate surgery I said. Dr. Angie also offered me another surgery option, The Referral Center in Appleton….45 minutes away….I said no, immediate surgery. I waited in the waiting area while the cleaning lady picked garbage cans up off the floor to sweep underneath them and rinsed the coffee machine…..Marsh came and sat with me. I called Brittany and my Mom. I cried….I worried…. 50/50 chance are the odds Dr. Angie gave Josie….

1 hour later…Dr. Angie came out from behind the counter….still drying her arms….the arms attached to the hands that saved my babies life. These doctors are amazing…I am so blessed to have this knowledgeable woman live in my hometown and know…over the phone the life threatening condition that has just taken over my dog. She diagnosed her twice….One month ago she looked at the lump on her wrist and said.. “I am afraid it is Osteosarcoma”, and she was right….and today….over the phone…. “Is her stomach distended?” Cats have nine lives, my precious Josie has had three so far, thanks to Dr. Angela Madden-Heinzen.

I waited in the lounge about 15 more minutes while they got Josie settled into yet another kennel and then Dr. Angie came out to announce that Josie was “now taking visitors”. She looked amazing…still drugged, but happy to see me. I laid on the floor with her for about an hour, caressing her, kissing her and whispering to her how much I loved her and what a good girl she was….all this while Dr. Angie stepped over us and took vitals.

Josie is not out of the woods yet, tonight is still a big hurdle to get through. Dr. Angie is going to check on her every two hours and report back only if there are problems. Otherwise I look forward to hearing from her at 7am tomorrow with my first visit at 8am. If all goes well, she will be able to come home on Thursday.


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WOW… She Is Really Amazing!!!!

April 4th, 2010 · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

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Tuesday March 30th 2010 Today was Josie’s first round of chemo. She did really well! We drove home and she slept the entire way…no big surprise there…I am so not looking forward to her getting sick….I feel so bad having to put her through this.

Wednesday March 31st 2010 Josie seemed chilled this morning so I covered her with warm blankets out of the dryer (her fav). She slept late this morning and laid outside in the sun for a bit in the afternoon. We took just a short walk with breaks on her mat.

Her appetite isn’t the greatest, but no vomiting or diarrhea so far.

Thursday April 1st 2010 I can honestly say she seems pretty normal….just missing a leg….when is she going to get sick??? will she get sick???

Friday April 2nd 2010 We went to the Brewer game tonight. It was the longest I have left her since her surgery. Came home and she was fine! I really worry too much. I think she slept the entire time I was gone.

Today she ate dry food on her own…with no coaxing….huge step…

Saturday April 3rd 2010 Normal day….walked for about an hour with two short breaks…she didn’t seem to need them, maybe we will nix the mat from now on.

Sunday April 4th 2010 Took our regular route off leash, but decided not to carry her mat…she got a bit slow at the end of the loop, but she made it! We were down in the park for a total of 1 ½ hours!!!! She got to interact with lots of dogs today and did really, really well!!!!

Can’t say much more than…WOW… she is really amazing!!!!

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We Are Almost Back To Normal….Minus One Leg

March 29th, 2010 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

Friday March 26th 2010 Josie is back to her old self….sleeping late…I cover her with a blanket and she lays there…only difference? She is laying on the floor….something she rarely did before the amputation, now it is almost the norm. She slept almost all night on her amputation side. I can’t help but wonder if it feels good???

I notice when she gets up a bit of swelling along the incision. I put in a call to Dr. Danielson. He is in surgery all day and will call when he gets out.

I actually go to the Y today and attend cycling class…I haven’t been there since Friday March 5th….it is nice to be back but I decide to make it a short class, quick shower and head home…..it is Josie’s first time home alone without any human supervision. I got home, and she was fine!

My friend CC and I take the girls for another walk down in the gully. The girls have a blast. We do a longer route than yesterday so I bring along her blue mat and we take two breaks so Josie can lay down and catch her breath from all that hopping. CC gives her a new nickname…Kanga. We run into regulars that are down there. At one time there must have been a pack of about 15 dogs running around. Josie is a bit on edge, probably from getting bumped into and sniffed at too many times. But it was nice to have her down there to see all her old friends and their humans…everyone has been very worried about her.

She is exhausted when we get home. Gully has to have a bath because she was running in all the swamp and mud, but Josie gets a break due to the staples…she wont be so lucky much longer and really is starting to get pretty ripe…

Saturday March 27th 2010 Today has been pretty low-key….Josie just sleeps a lot.

She still refuses to drink water…I am puzzled….I guess when she gets thirsty, she won’t have a choice.

Took her and Gully for a nice walk in the gully. She did really well. We took one break on the blue mat and she really just lays down on it and takes a breather. She is sleeping on the couch now…under a fuzzy blanket. I love you Josie!

Sunday March 28th 2010 Josie is doing great…going up and down the newly carpeted stairs with no problems at all. We took a short walk today, but she did drink a LOT of water…swamp water, but heck, it was water…..

Monday March 29th 2010 WOW….I am going to try to make this a normal week. Josie slept with me almost all night last night, back to her old bed hog self again and I am lovin’ it.

Today we walked almost the entire park and she did great!!! We even climbed the cliff and took a long break at the top! It seems we are almost back to normal, just missing one leg.

Tomorrow, Madison for staple removal and talk with oncology about chemo….

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Josie Just Loves Human Company!!!!

March 26th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

Wednesday March 24th 2010 I woke up this morning…yes, I said this morning….Josie and I fell asleep together on the couch last night and I woke up alone….she was sleeping on the floor. She started to get anxious again last night, so I put in a movie and sat on the couch with her….just like we used to do. I think that may have been the trick…her breathing slowed and she fell fast asleep.

This morning I took the girls for an off-leash walk in a field near our house. Josie was in heaven!!! I brought along a workout pad that rolls up and when we got half way, I spread it out in the grass and she laid down for a rest. She was so happy to be out that when we were turning around to head back, she stopped, looked at me, then up the hill to a wooded area where deer bed down, then back at me, then back up the hill….I figured she was trying to tell me something so I said “Okay, lets go!” And she hopped…right up that hill and sniffed all the dead weeds….. It warmed my heart to see her raise her nose in the air to take in the fresh morning scents. I see improvement… Josie is such a trooper.

Lisa, Robin and Mom stopped tonight…Josie just loves human company!!!!

She has been going up the stairs really well, down is still a challenge. I try to stay near her with her sling under her chest….She doesn’t seem to appreciate it too much, but I am so worried that she is going to fall….

Dr. Lassara called and confirmed the test results….Osteosarcoma….I pretty much knew that already so it didn’t come as a shock to me. We are on the road to recovery and it is going to take a lot to take us back down….

Josie is currently only taking Deramaxx for pain. I have Gabapentin here, but thought I would see how she did without it and so far, she is almost normal, she is just missing a leg….

I noticed that she is lying on amputation side more often…on floor, not when she is on the couch. I have some blankets spread out on the floor for her and she likes to sleep there at night, sometimes when I wake up, she is laying on her amputation side..

Thursday March 25th 2010 Josie didn’t sleep through the night, but I tried my hardest to not let her anxiousness keep me awake. She stirred a few times, moved to different areas of the room, but eventually laid down and found a comfy spot each time…she didn’t stand by me and pant…

Today we got ready for our walk….she stood like a stubborn old donkey in the driveway…She would not follow Gully and I as we left the property. I eventually asked her if she wanted to go for a ride in the truck…she immediately started wagging her tail. So…I backed the truck up to the curb just like I did when we got home. She hopped right over with her tail wagging and jumped in the back.

I instructed her to lay down, which took a while, but I don’t think she would do to well standing while I drive. We drove to the gully and walked around the new water sewer containment area. She was like a puppy…bouncy and full of life. It was heart warming to see. Then we stopped at G-mas for a short visit and a quick nap on her couch.

My friend Lori stopped by with a card, treats and a gift certificate for Josie from a local dog treat store. Lori also brought along Michelle a girl I know from the sheriff’s department. Lori is a cancer survivor and is my inspiration for Josie’s recovery. Michelle is a fellow great dane owner and just loved Josie…she showed her so much love, she fell fast asleep….it was a really nice visit.

Josie has been just amazing yesterday and today. What a transformation! I am going to start getting back to the YMCA next week. Back to our old routines. Time to take care of me….

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I Question My Decision, Really Question Whether or Not I Did The Right Thing!

March 23rd, 2010 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

Sunday March 21st 2010 Today my sister Lisa stopped by with her 3 sons and daughter-in-law. Josie is ever so happy to see them! She is such a people dog! Everyone is amazed with how good she is doing. She really does get along well.

Today Marsh took Gully for a walk to help relieve her energy. Much to our surprise he arrives back at home within a half hour. I hear the front door open and Miss Gull enters the kitchen….Marsh yells up the stairs “Gully needs a bandage!” I look and sure enough she has a big gash on her leg and it looks like it needs stitches. Well, that is so Gully, she always needs to be the center of attention. Josie can’t go get an amputation….Gully will need a bandage….So typical. I decide to just put some triple anti-biotic ointment on it and wrap it up with that self cling bandaging like Josie is wearing, only Gully gets pink. She bleeds through 3 of them by the end of the night, so by the time I get to the last one, it is almost a tourniquet.

This afternoon we all took a 3 hour nap, Gully on the dog bed and Josie and I on the mattress. Ahhhh…..sleep…..it sure does a body good.

We take short walks a few times a day. After one walk Josie decides to go potty on the front lawn. She loses her balance and does a face plant. UGH!!! I feel so bad for her. I am sure she doesn’t feel embarrassment, but I still feel for her.

I notice that a few times throughout the day when Josie goes to lay down she accidentally tips to her amputation side. When this happens she just lays down completely, head and all….she lays there for a while, completely still…..I wonder what she is thinking….When she does decide to get up, she is like a turtle on its shell. She cant do it and cries with pain. I try to help her but can only push on her amputation side to do so, which I am sure causes more pain, but I have to help her.

Today she seems to be really restless…she doesn’t know where to lay….outside…inside…..dog bed….mattress…..blanket….. She seems different, panting…..and different.

Tonight she is REALLY restless and she whines when moving. I think she is in pain. So I give her the two pills of Tramadol. This doesn’t seem to do anything at all. I wonder, or over-think, and decide to cut off her bandage…maybe it is pinching her. That doesn’t help either. I call UW Hospital and speak with the doc in the ER. She tells me that according to Josie’s weight, I can give her up to 4 1/2 pills. She suggests that I give her two more…which I do.

I am just an emotional wreck! I cry and cry….Josie is my baby and she is apparently suffering. Something I never intended!!! I question my decision, really question whether or not I did the right thing!

12:30am JOSIE WAKES UP WITH A SHRILL CRY!!! She jumps off the mattress. She is scared to death! She is scared of me, she is scared of the room. For 5 minutes she pants and salivates like crazy! She hops in place…small hops…and does an anxious yawn, then she does something strange, she lays on the carpeting in front of the door. Her eyes look strange, almost fixed. Her pupils are large. I pet her, talk to her softly, kiss her snout. She wont even look at me.

1:20am I call the UW Hospital again and tell the ER doc my suspicion…that Josie is having a psychotic episode from the Tramadol. She tells me that it can make some dogs anxious….WHAT?  She isn’t anxious, she is paranoid….she is totally out of it. Tramadol does not make her drowsy…it freaks her out! I ask her how long before this drug wears off and she tells me about 8 hours. It is going to be a long night….

1:30am I think maybe food will help her body get rid of the drug faster, so I make her gravy food. She eats it, pants and continues to hop in place. Her nose is running constantly and she is salivating like crazy. She lays by the door again…on the carpet. I fall asleep with the lights on hoping that the lights will help her recognize her surroundings.

3:49am I wake up to another shrill cry. Now, she is laying in the corner behind the pool table by some chairs. I call her name. She looks over to the area where I am sitting but never looks right at me, but she is responding to my voice. She tries to figure out how to get over to me. She finally meanders through the maze of furniture she was hiding behind and gets closer to me. Her tail barely wags, but it does wag….She is very restless still and doesn’t know where to lay….

How much sleep did we get? not very much…..tomorrow has to be better….because it can’t get any worse than this….

Monday March 22nd 2010 It is 7am and we are up already…Josie is panting….hard….I think she is hot….or is it that damn drug….She goes outside. The Wisconsin air is cool, I hope it helps. She comes back inside and lays on the mattress with me. She leans up against me, pushing me into the bookshelf behind me, but I don’t mind, I am just happy that she knows who I am and she isn’t afraid of me. We fall asleep for a few minutes and my phone rings. It is Dr. Danielson and he tells me to stop the Tramadol….that is a no-brainer. He tells me that she should not be having much pain anymore and should get by with just the Deramaxx.

Josie seems to be a bit better but she is still a little restless. She lays outside on her blanket again. I dont want to leave her out too long due to the fact that she was recently shaved… I dont want her to have to deal with a sunburn on top of everything else. I decide we should try to get into the house. Our raised ranch poses a problem….when you walk in the door it is either stairs to go up, or stairs to go down….a decision must be made…I decide it is better to go down….carpeting vs. hardwood floors.

Josie stands at the top of the stairs…Marsh is standing next to her holding the handles of the infamous blue sling….I am at the bottom of the stairs coaxing her to come down….She attempts…but chickens out more than a few times, but finally….she goes for it….I celebrate at the bottom…praising her over and over. Once she is down I close her and Gully behind the french doors and I head to Lowes. I pick up 10ft of rug runner and some double stick tape. I arrive home, rip open the drawer in the metal tool bench and pull out the staple gun. Next is the vacuum cleaner and off I go….clean the stairs, tape, carpet, staple….tape, carpet, staple…I follow the contour of each stair all the way to the bottom and only have to make one cut…about 3 inches from the end. I clean up my mess. The carpet looks nice running down the middle of the stairs…a little crooked, but Josie wont care.

Josie and I lay on the couch together….and nap…and with Gully on the love seat, we all sleep for 3 long hours…..

4:00pm My friend Amy and her daughter CC stop by and bring the girls a treat. As we sit and visit….Gully’s leg starts to bleed again…drip blood…all over the concrete…I guess she will need to go to the vet….so after the girls leave, I load Gully in the Jeep/ambulance and we are off. Marsh stays with Josie while I am gone…this is the second time I get away….and Gully…she gets 5 stitches…she IS SO a drama queen…

9:30pm Josie actually sleeps on the love seat out in the garage for a bit. She wakes and drinks some water. She comes back inside and lays down on the mattress, with my direction. She seems to be pretty normal tonight. She is a bit restless, and after a few minutes lays by my feet as I sit in the chair. I spread out some blankets for her and she lies down. She sleeps for a while after I get her to lay to her side. It seems she always wants to balance herself to stay laying upright….in the middle….something she never did when she had all four legs…it was either lay to one side or the other. Hmmm….I am puzzled…….I do this a lot….

2:00am Josie wakes me up various times but this time I am awake. She is doing her soft anxious whine through her nose. She is standing near the side of the mattress. I put her outside…does she have to poop, pee, drink? She drinks some water and comes in. Hop…hop….hop….she just cant sit still…..

3:20am We are still up…she is restless and panting. She doesn’t know where to lay.

3:30am She goes outside again………drinks water, comes in. I tell her to lay down on the love seat, which she does. I think “Is this it?”

3:43am She is off the love seat…hop…hop…hop

4:00am Maybe we should try to go in the house again??? We get in and she wants to go upstairs…so….we go up. She goes right into my bedroom. I haven’t slept in there for over a week and a half…Marsh is sound asleep and we come barging in. I turn on the light and Josie goes around the bed and hops right up! I think YES!!!! She is amazing….I break the news to Marsh….sorry….would he please go sleep in the pool room with Gully who is fast asleep out there? He does…and I crawl into the flannel sheets…ahhhh…..I try to get some blankets to cover up seeing as Josie is laying across them all, and I am happy just to get a corner….lights out….sleep…finally….

4:10am Josie gets up and JUMPS off the bed…she cries from the impact off our high bed….I now am at wits end…I can’t keep chasing her around this house! So, I let her go…she goes into the living room…hop, hop, hop…. back into the bedroom…hop, hop, hop….back to the living room…hop, hop, hop…back to the bedroom….hop, hop, hop…come to bed sweetie….come by Momma….back to the living room….hop, hop, hop….hop, hop, quiet…. clamber, clang, bang…hop, hop, hop…she went down the stairs!!!! I FLY out of the bed and there she is…looking up at me…innocent and almost smiling….I grab her sling and we take the next flight together…to the basement…where I can close the doors….She lays right down on the love seat….sleep??? is this it????

4:33 She gets off the love seat….will this ever end? She climbs up on the couch and curls up in my nest….the small area that my bent knees make….She lays there with her head lying on my hip area. Her breathing is jerky, every respiration is almost a grunt without the noise. I can feel her face twitching on the back of my thigh…..but we fall asleep…

5:52am She gets off the couch….I tell her to come back and lay down…she does. I am impressed….we fall asleep again….

Tuesday March 23rd 2010 7:54 I wake up to her panting hard she is wide awake but just laying in my nest looking around. Her nose is running again….I wonder all kinds of things about that….We go upstairs and I set up the deck with her blanket and put a gate across the stairs so she doesn’t get any smart ideas. She seems relaxed…at ease…

10:15 I decide to hop in the shower and leave the outside door open so both dogs and both cats can get in and out and enjoy the beautiful day. I block all stairways so Josie doesn’t go on a momma-hunt while I am in the shower. I get out of the shower and find her laying in the hallway waiting for me. She gets up and whines with pain. I give her the Deramaxx pill and call my local vet for advice. I have many questions about this whole thing, meds, etc..but one of the biggest ones is if she does home euthanasia if the need arises….She is so kind and encouraging and tells me that she will help me through this all but if I ever decide for the home visit, she needs advance notice….I cry so hard numerous times while on the phone with her. Sometimes I cant even talk….

I post an entry on the discussion forum….there are such wonderful people out there…I am fortunate I have this site…no one else knows unless you have been through it. I am thankful for my stranger friends!!!!

I prepare Josie gravy food, again….if we keep this up, she is going to get fat!

It is 11:30am and she is sleeping on the floor…out cold! For about an hour now…I get her up and take her for a walk….

I get another script for Gabapentin and more Deramaxx. My third time away from the house. I decide to go all out and stop at the grocery store for some bananas and oranges…man, I live life on the wild side….

It is 9:30 right now and we have been in the house all day. Josie seems almost 100% normal, minus a leg. She is happy, wagging her tail, eating good, and today….yes, she slept all day…….I am sure she needs to catch up…..now, if she keeps me up tonight??? I will take a Gabapentin myself….don’t worry, I am just kidding!!!!

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A Day of Firsts…..

March 23rd, 2010 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Saturday March 20th 2010 Today we slept late….probably because we were up in the middle of the night. Took Josie for a short walk down the block and back. She rested when we got home….I think the walk makes her tired. It is probably a lot of work for her to hop on that concrete.

I had her go outside today and lay in the sun. She used to love to do that on nice days….It used to be hard to get her to come in sometimes. But today it takes some persuasion. I put her blanket out and instructed her to lay down. She joined Gully and they watched the world go by just like they used to….

My friend Lisa stopped by today….boy, that Lisa name pops up a lot here….Lisa is the mom of Josie’s boyfriend Curby. He is a beautiful St. Bernard. Today Lisa came alone, but Josie was very happy to see her none-the-less. She actually did her first lap sit since the surgery. She had another first when she ate on her own for the first time without me making gravy food. Things are looking up!

5:49 pm Josie got up ON HER OWN!!!! wanting to go outside….She also lays on the mattress for the first time with Gully.

Today, makes me happy….I did make the right decision. Today, I keep up on pain management pills to prevent her from suffering. Tramadol, one pill as scheduled, can give two if necessary.

8:00pm Marsh babysits so that I can go to my Mom’s 80th birthday party. I have siblings home from IL and CA. We play apples to apples and have cake…supper was done already by the time I showed up, but cake was good enough for me.

9:15pm Marsh calls…Josie is searching for me….time to go home….

3:00am Josie wakes me up whining….I give her a pill. I pet and massage her until approx. 5am and then we both fall asleep….

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“Purple for the Princess”

March 23rd, 2010 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Friday March 19th 2010 I wake to one of my favorite songs….turned into an alarm ring tone on my cellphone….it is going to be a great day! I shower and pack up the jeep….getting Josie’s comfy spot all set for the long ride home. The weather man is predicting rain this afternoon, so hopefully the doc will let us leave early.

I arrive at the hospital and for the last time, I have Lisa paged. Lisa and another doc meet me by the counter and take me into an exam room where Josie will have a dressing change. The door opens and in comes Josie with Dr. Danielson in tow! She looks GREAT!!! She is happy to see me, of course and we great each other as usual. Dr. Danielson then begins to cut away at the large bandage encapsulating her barrel chest. There it is, her incision. It is a large upside down “T” shaped mark on her side. There is a lot of bruising and a ton of staples…but it looks clean. Josie stands by me as Dr. Danielson re-wraps her incision and explains about the pocket of fluid that has gathered at the base of her chest. He includes it in this wrap, hoping that will help it go away. He tells me to check it often and if it gets warm or hard to call immediately. Her new wrap is purple, like her first one…and Dr. Danielson says “Purple for the Princess”. I half jokingly say “I guess that makes me the Queen!” Well, he did laugh, but I am sure he had another 5 letter word to describe me and it wasn’t queen….

Once the bandage is on, I assume that she will go back in the “ward” until they decide to release her….so I ask if I can sit with her until she can leave….Much to my surprise, Dr. Danielson tells me that she is good to go! I just have to go over discharge instructions with Lisa and we are on the road! I ask the two Dr. if they would help me load her into my truck. She weighs 125lbs and I don’t know that I can lift her by myself without hurting her. They quickly agree and all four of us escort the princess to her waiting chariot.

When I arrived at the hospital, I had conveniently backed my jeep up to the curb right in front of the door so she wouldn’t have as far to get up into the truck. Dr. Danielson had hold of the chest sling and lifted Josie’s front end up while Dr. Foy scooped up her rear end and boosted her into the jeep. I took the dish of food that Josie refused to eat for them and placed it on the bed I had set up for her in the back. She immediately scarfed down the gravy food. I opened two windows for her and followed Lisa back inside for the discharge instructions. I was told about medications, patches, staples, pain, and a return visit….I was then handed a brown paper bag of meds and was out the door in a few minutes….I hugged Lisa and cried, I was so thankful that she was there with Josie through every step of her procedure. She was kind, gentle, meek and mild, just the thing Josie needed at a time like this. I wished her the very best in her career as a Vet upon her graduation in May. We departed and I headed over to pay the bill.

I left the hospital….with a big sigh, opened the drivers door to my truck, with my Josie waiting in the rear. She was standing….first thought as a pet owner….what if she has to pee? We wont be home for over 2 hours….so….I open the lift gate and stand there perplexed…how am I going to get her out of here??? I decide to scoop Josie up around her body, chest and rear….and lift her down. She winces a tiny bit but starts hoping right to the grassy area. At that point I think I am right, she does have to pee…..until we get there and she hops and hops and hops…and then starts hopping all over the parking lot. She is just taking me for a walk. So, back to the truck we go. I get to the lift gate and look at it…how am I going to lift her in? Down, was easy…but up??? I may need help. Just then Josie decides she is getting in the truck. She puts her only remaining front leg on the bumper…as I bend down to scoop up her rear end, she changes her mind and gets back down. Okay, I am going to have to go get help….and just as I think that, she does it….SHE JUMPS RIGHT IN THE TRUCK!!!! Just like that…she is in…I quickly head to the drivers door, jump in, praise her over and over… and then instruct her to lay down….she wont be able to stand while I drive, well, at least not for a while.

Josie sleeps all the way home, she looks very comfy in the back and I cant help but continuously look back at her. I even tip my rear view mirror to I can constantly  monitor her. We arrive back to Manitowoc and I treat her to a cheeseburger from McDonalds. Being a vegetarian, I don’t normally buy hamburgers, but this time….it is a special day for my little carnivore. I get fries and a coke and we eat them on the way home.

We pull up at our house and I decide to use the curb just like I did when we were at the hospital…so I back my truck in a 90 degree angle to the curb, the hood of the jeep is clearly out in the lane of traffic, but….we live on a street with little traffic and in the event someone comes, they can still drive around me. I wrap Josie’s sling under her chest and she hops out. We walk to the garage and head into the “pool room”. I get her some water and let her out back. The whole time using the sling….I chase her around waiting for her to go potty. She apparently thinks that both me and that sling are nuts, as she hops right out of it and almost runs to the far edge of the lot and squats and pees, just like a pro.

My boyfriend Marsh comes out to see her. We put up a baby gate in the door way so that Gully can come see her too without being overly excited. They greet each other with sniffs and licks and finally after a few minutes we let Gully in. We just have to be careful that she doesn’t lick off the fentanyl patches, they could be deadly if ingested….Josie lays on the mattress and relaxes. My sister Lisa comes over to see the patient….Josie is soooo happy to see her…which is evident by her ever present groan. The rest of the night is uneventful….I am just happy to have her home and I think she is just as happy to be home.

Until 3:45am…….

Josie wakes me, she is breathing hard….almost like a pant….I give her another pain pill. Tramadol. I let the girls outside and she drinks a bunch of water and her and Gully wake up the neighborhood with their loud barks. They come back in, she repositions on the mattress and Gully takes over the love seat and then they both sleep….but I, am awake….the nurse sits and watches her patient sleep…..

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Tomorrow we are going home!

March 21st, 2010 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

Thursday March 18th 2010 I wake up early….pre-dawn….I have a hard time falling asleep due to worry, worry that the phone will ring in the middle of the night, but so far, it hasn’t. I finally fall back to sleep and shower first thing. Lisa asked me yesterday if I could wait to come visit until about 10am due to their early morning rounds. I honor her wishes. As soon as I shut off the water to the shower I hear it….ring ring ring….my phone! I am dripping wet and want to run to get the phone without even drying off but I am not at my own house…so I half towel off and run to get to it, but, of course voice mail has beat me to it. So there I stand with an “unavailable” on the caller ID making it impossible to call back…so I wait. Finally I get the tone that alerts me that they left me a voice mail. It is Lisa. I hear her soft voice and my heart sinks in my chest…is something wrong? That is my first thought, but as I listen to her message, calmness replaces the panic. Josie is doing good. She was actually standing in her kennel when Lisa arrived that morning. How great is that!!!!

I drive to the hospital and have Lisa paged. Lisa comes out smiling and walks me to the room where we will be reunited for the first time away from a kennel. The room is clearly used for multi tasking. There is a computer desk with a computer, a small table to possibly do paperwork at or eat a lunch, a garbage can overflowing with a pizza box and various food related items, a couch, an end table holding a table lamp, a telephone and a patients file, a love-seat and a large coffee table that is pushed up against the wall. The floor is the typical office style linoleum tiles. This is where I sit to wait as she goes to get Josie. I go from the couch to the love-seat and finally sit on the floor. I figure that when Josie comes in she will only have to walk a straight line to get to me…I set the camcorder on my cell phone so I can record her first walk to me. The door opens and in comes Lisa holding her food dish and her orange blanket and behind her is JOSIE!!! She is literally dragging the other student into the room once she sees me. She is so happy to see me and literally falls into my lap. She is panting from the laborious walk to the room and probably a bit from the excitement. She buries her face into my lap and doesn’t move. Lisa spreads her blanket on the floor and asks if I can get her to eat because she wont eat for them. I take the food dish from Lisa and put it in front of Josie’s nose and she gobbles it up. Lisa tells me that she will give us some time together and leaves the room. I get up and go to the couch. It has to be more comfortable than sitting on the floor. Josie gets up next to me and we both lay down. She lays her head on my chest and we snuggle for about 2 minutes….then the door opens. It is Lisa and she tells me that she may have to move us, someone needs to use the room to say good bye to their dog that they will be euthanizing today. I have no problem with that at all and recall seeing the file on table….I feel for the family and agree to move when ever they need it. Lisa leaves again and I think she may have met someone right outside the door because she turns around and comes right back in and asks me to leave now. We pick up our belongings and she moves us to the room next door.

This room is a meeting room. It has the same type of floor but all it has is a large meeting table and about 20 hard chairs in it…..I see a small rubber type rug near the door and decide this is the only soft thing in the room and spread Josie’s blanket over the top of it. Josie lays down and Lisa leaves yet again. I lay next to Josie and hold her….but something doesn’t feel quite right….it feels like we are laying in a tanning bed with all the lights in there, so I tell Josie to stay and I get up and go towards the closed door and turn off the lights. And then we lay together in the dark, the only light comes through the glass window that is next to the door. It is a full length window approximately 12 inches wide and has a mini-blind covering it but they are open. Through the window we can see into the rooms across the hall. We lay there and watch all the foot traffic, human and canine. Before I know it, Lisa is back at the door. An hour has passed and it is time to take Josie back to the ICU. I ask her if I can use the sling and be the one to assist Josie back. I also think it would be nice to take her out potty first. Lisa agrees.

I wrap the strap under Josie’s chest and grab the two handles and Josie begins to hop toward the door. We turn left into the hallway and Josie is just about jumping out of the sling! She is on a mission and then I see it…the entrance to the hospital…and the waiting room….it is where we came in….and Josie knows it. She wants to turn right and leave this place but we need to go left! She will not turn….so with a little pushing of her rear end, we are back on track. We head outside to the enclosed kennel area for the patients to use. Josie heads right to the end of the fence…she may think that there is an exit to get to the parking lot. Once she realizes that there isn’t she is ready to go back in. She is panting hard from all the hopping she is doing and probably needs to rest. I get her back into her kennel in the ICU and Lisa attaches her IV again. She lays down and looks up at me, defeated…that walk kicked her butt. I think she will sleep good this afternoon. I kiss her snout and tell her I will be right back with Brittany……Lisa tells me that I can come back about 5pm with Brittany. She is going to be so happy to see her…both of them….I leave now and have such a great feeling….Josie is going to be fine!

I pick up Brittany after I leave the hospital. We head downtown and grab some lunch. We are both so happy that Josie is doing so good. After lunch we head over to Nathan’s house. He is busy working in the garage on an old bicycle. We each grab a bike and head to a nice trail not too far from his house. It is another beautiful day and to get outside and enjoy it feels good, but 5 o’clock can’t come fast enough for either one of us. We leave Nate’s at 4:30 and arrive at the hospital just before 5. We have Lisa paged and once again she shows up with a big smile.

Lisa explains that Josie is out of intensive care and is now housed in the “ward” again. Her IV has been removed and she is doing great. She puts us in the room with the couch again and apologizes for having to move us last time. I tell her not to worry, I didn’t mind at all, and immediately am thankful that Josie is still alive….Lisa leaves to get Josie and returns with her in her blue sling. Today her body wrap is green instead of the royal purple they had on her yesterday….she looks striking in any color with her steel blue coat. Lisa is once again carrying her food dish and asks if we can get her to eat again. I take the bowl from her and Josie once again devours the canned food mixture they have prepared. This time though she only eats the good stuff and leaves her dry food on the bottom….

We get up on the couch again and assume our position, laying side by side. Brittany sits on the floor in front of Josie’s face that she has draped across my belly and kisses Brittany. First kiss goes to Brittany. Josie doesnt saturate your face when she gives you a kiss, she is a soft little dry kisser. We lay that way for a bit and suddenly Josie jerks her whole body in an attempt to get up! She scares me and I jump up off the couch and step right in her food dish that is laying on the floor. Dry kibble scatters about the room and Josie is up in no time at all. She hops right to the closed door….Brittany and I look at each other…now what??? Does she have to go potty? What should we do?

I convince her to go back to the couch. She sits her butt on the couch like big dogs do, but the floor is slippery and she only has one leg in front…and that leg slides out in front of her and she lays flat out on the floor…on the wound side. We both feel so bad and Brittany questions whether or not she should be laying on the incision. Apparently it doesn’t bother her. The floor is cool and she immediately falls asleep. Brittany and I get drowsy from watching Josie sleep and then I realize that if she sleeps now, she will be awake when we leave. So now we talk to her, pet her, try to keep her awake.

Lisa returns to the room in about an hour and Brittany and I go with her to walk Josie potty. She does great once again hopping down the hall. She pees for an eternity! So, that may have been why she bolted to the door. I again hold Josie’s sling and we make our way back to the “ward”. The door is open and her orange blanket is spread on the mat. Josie enters the kennel and once she is completely inside I remove the sling….just as I do, Josie decides to turn around and with out the support of the sling, she falls right into the corner of the kennel…ugh!!! I feel so bad!!!!!! She regroups, gets up and lays down with her head facing the front of the kennel and looks up at me like she just did something wrong. This, literally breaks my heart! I tell her over and over how sorry I am and kiss her head repeatedly hoping she understands.

We gather up our belongings and Lisa tells us that Josie is doing way better than expected and will probably be able to leave tomorrow. Another Vet is helping her explain how tomorrow will work. If all goes according to plan, she may be able to leave late morning or early afternoon. I tell them that I prefer to leave early morning, knowing that she would like to get out of there ASAP. They explain that they will do a dressing change in the morning and then all gather to discuss the case and then meet with me for discharge instructions. I request to be there for dressing change so that I can see the incision before I remove the dressing at home. I would like to know what it looks like so that I have something to compare it to. They both agree that would be fine.

As we walk out of the “ward” we run into Dr. Danielson, the surgeon. He expresses his joy in the fact that Josie is doing really well and tells me that if all goes well we can leave tomorrow…..afternoon…..??? No, I tell him…..morning….we do this a few times and laugh over it and he ends telling me we will see how things go….I, on the other hand, hope that my point was made and he will grant me my wish. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t want her to miss out on any medical care, but knowing Josie as I do, I think she will do far better when she gets out of there….and I think they may be seeing that for themselves.

So once again I leave the hospital with out my furry baby. She will hopefully get better sleep back in the “ward”. There are not any “round the clock” techs so it will be quieter for her. I drop Brittany off at home and head back to Nathan’s house. We relax in front of the TV and drink a couple glasses of wine. Tomorrow we are going home!

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It is Official….Josie is a Tripawd Dog

March 19th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

Tuesday March 16th 2010  Surgery Day…..

I load Josie up in the jeep and off we go to Madison. We pick up Brittany and we head to the hospital. We wait in the waiting room with an array of other dogs and a cat sprinkled into the mix. A cute young girl walks in wearing her brand new light blue lab coat. She introduces herself to us as “Lisa”. Lisa also has a long name and I immediately forget it. Lisa walks us down the hall to our room and begins to examine Josie. I immediately warn her that Josie hates the vet. I suggest that maybe she removes her lab coat which she promptly does. She lays it on the floor on the other side of the room and continues her exam. She completes the exam and leaves….only to return with two men, neither of which are students. Both doctors examine Josie and then proceed to tell me that surgery will be tomorrow…..my response is “WHAT????” They tell me that if I would like to, I can leave Josie overnight…..I am at a complete loss for words…we just drove for 2plus hours for another exam? I don’t understand what just happened. We thought she was going in today….but apparently that is how they schedule things here. They see the patient the day before and then if there is room in the schedule they squeeze them in, but if not, they do it the following day. The surgeon apologizes for the confusion and tells me to make an appointment for 7:30 am the following day.

I head to the reception desk feeling so bad for Josie…she must be starving by now seeing as they told me not to feed her after 10pm the night before. But, we schedule our appointment and leave. The day is gorgeous and and we spend it with Brittany and my nephew Nathan walking along Lake Monona. Oh, and I feed her….her very favorite…gravy food.

We spend the night at Nathan and Nora’s house. Josie is in heaven laying on the couch with Nathan. He is like the dog whisperer and puts a sleep spell on her which turns her into putty on his lap. Josie and I sleep together in the guest bed and wake early to head back to the hospital for our appointment. This time we have to go without Brittany. She has to work today and had to give her last hugs and kisses yesterday.

Wednesday March 17th 2010 Real Surgery Day….

We wake up and drive to the hospital and I get lost….of course….but thankfully I left early enough to give us a little extra time and we arrive exactly at 7:30.

Lisa comes out and we go back to the kennel area or the “ward” as they politely call it….it still looks like a kennel to me…like the ones at the humane society….dull, drab, hard, cold. I lay her blanket on the pad tell Josie to go in. She looks at me like I am nuts, so of course I go in first, and my loyal pal follows. I hug her and kiss her and tell her I will be “right back” only because she will have no concept of time once she is anesthetized. Lisa explains that the surgery will probably be late morning or early afternoon….”WHAT????” comes out of my mouth yet again….Now why did they have us come at 7:30? She explains that anesthesia will have to come see her and it will be more convenient if she is there when they have time. I ask her if I can sit in the kennel with her until she goes into surgery… I don’t mind sitting on the floor… and I know Josie would be more comfortable with me no matter where we are. Lisa tells me she will check and let me know. So I leave and wait in the waiting room. Almost immediately the surgeon comes back with Josie……she can stay with me until she has to go back!!! Yay!!!!!!!  Josie is much to large to sit in the chairs of the waiting room and usually never lays on the floor so I get a blanket from the truck and lay it on the floor for her so she has a soft place to sprawl out.

10:30am Lisa’s face appears around the corner….it is time. I ask if I can walk her back but she tells me that it is too busy  “back there” and would be better if I stay up front. I say good bye to my baby and tell her to be a good girl. Lisa puts a rope around her neck and tries to lead her to the back….Josie, will have nothing to do with it. She takes a few steps and drags the little vet-to-be right back where she started. This goes on a handful of times and finally Lisa sub-misses and asks me to walk back with her.

I walk her to the double doors and hold them open and tell her to go….she is so dang smart, she refuses to go through until I do. So I trick her and walk in first and once she clears the door, I turn around and hide behind the door. My heart breaks as I peek through the glass window on the door and watch her walk down the hall with Lisa, confused and looking for me…..I had to do it….but it breaks my heart.

I walk back to the lobby, sobbing….I go to bathroom and compose myself. I go to my truck, get my chair and my ipod. I put my chair in the sun, turn on Norah Jones and get lost for about an hour….I wake up to a diesel truck idling about 5 feet in front of me, waiting to unload his horse in the large animal area of the hospital. I cant believe I fell asleep, but knowing how I have been sleeping lately, know that it was needed.

The surgery should take 2 hours is what they told me yesterday. At 1pm I figure she might be getting close to being done. By 1:30 I am beginning to get antsy. I ask the receptionist to see if there are any updates. She comes back to tell me that they just started her surgery at 1:25. WHAT???? I am thoroughly disgusted with the lack of communication and express that to the receptionist. She apologizes, as do I, and tells me that she works until 3pm and will do a final check before she leaves for the day and report her findings to me immediately.

2:55 Reception advises me that Josie’s limb was just removed, she is doing great through the surgery and they have just begun closing the area. She tells me to check back with her replacement at 4pm.

4pm Dr. Danielson appears around the corner. He is the surgeon on the case. He is not a student, but he appears to be about 14 years old. Even though he looks so young, he is very professional and articulate when we speak. The first thing out of my mouth is how freakin’ pissed off I am about how this was handled and I warn him that I am about to cry, which I do. He apologizes completely and explains everything in great detail which immediately calms me. I have great trust in him and the staff at the hospital but my emotions definitely took over me today. He explains that most “owners” usually drop their dogs off and come back later and he wasn’t aware that I was waiting there all day….another break in communication on their end. I in turn tell him that I am not her “owner” but her “Momma”, and clearly not your average client. It was one of the most stressful days I have had and now all I want to do is see Josie. He tells me that she was just put in ICU and I could possibly see her in about an hour when she comes to. I thank him and tell him that “its all good now”.

4:15pm Dr Danielson comes back and asks me that if I want to come back to see her but warns me that she is pretty fresh out of surgery and still heavily sedated. I jump out of my seat and follow him to ICU. She is laying in another large kennel, covered with her orange blanket from home…the one I slept with for a few days so it would smell like me when we were apart. She is laying on her good side, her tongue still hanging out the side of her mouth and her eyes covered with a petroleum substance so they don’t dry out. She sees me and jerks a bit. I tell her over and over what a good girl she is and kiss her face a million times. I look at her bandage and all her other limbs. I cover her up and just stroke her face and neck. I get close to her and remind her of all the people who love her. They allow me to stay sitting on the floor of the ICU with the door propped open for about 15 minutes. I am handed a small tray of cotton soaked with water. I drench her tongue and dab her dry nose. There are students coming and going…tending to animals and cleaning cages. I ask them if I can come back once more before the end of the night and Lisa says yes. She is done between 7:30 and 8:00 and she will come back to get me about 7pm.

As I walk to the waiting room, I realize…it is official… Josie is a Tripawd Dog….

7:00pm arrives and Lisa shows up again…as we walk to the back she briefs me on her condition. She is doing great. We get to the ICU and as soon as Josie sees me she attempts to get up but seeing as she is still a bit sedated and the fact that she doesn’t have her left front leg, she fails. Her tongue is no longer hanging out of her mouth but when I open her jowls to look at it, the front is flipped on itself which I immediately fix for her. She is happy to see me even though she doesn’t wag her tail or lift her head, she does make a few sounds…and knowing Josie as well as I do, she only talks when she is happy. Her eyes are wide and she watches all the activity in the room, I assume she is thinking….probably hoping….that none of those lab coats come near her.

I decide to leave her, to rest, I don’t want to excite or upset her. She needs to get strong so we can go home early. I once again put my head close to hers and whisper in her ear, telling her that I love her, that I will be right back. I tell her to lay down and go to sleep now…that she such a good girl. I kiss her snout, the area right above her nose. It is my favorite spot to kiss her, it is soft and my lips fit there perfectly. I close the door to the kennel and say good bye to Lisa and thank her for allowing me the second visit tonight. I leave the unit and cry as I walk down the hall. It is amazing how much I love her…..

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I Don’t Love Her Leg, I Love Her!

March 15th, 2010 · 5 Comments · Uncategorized

Friday March 12th 2010 Today we went to visit G-ma….(Grandma) G-ma has yummy treats in her pantry and the best couch to take a nap on. We also took a walk in the gully with my brother-in-law Steve and Jesse (Josie’s Cousin). Jesse is a black lab and was Josie’s first canine friend ever. Josie used to look up to Jesse. She would crawl underneath her and was that annoying puppy, biting at her ears, taking away her toys and always wanting to play….now, Josie towers over Jesse….but Josie continues to look up to Jesse as a young sibling would an elder. It was a hard walk…only because she was at her favorite place with one of her very best friends and I was being an over protective parent. I wouldn’t allow Josie off-leash. We arrive home and I make two bowls of gravy food to warm their bellies and we settle in for a night of movies on our mattress.

Saturday March 13th 2010 Today we took a short walk with our friend CC. She just loves the girls and is tickled to spend time with Josie before her surgery. We walk along Lake Michigan and enjoy the beautiful day. After a few errands, I decide to take the girls to Fisher Creek. The days are ticking away and I am worried how Josie will do with three legs…I figure that extra walks cant hurt anything as long as we take them slow. After the walk the girls get their last bath before Josie’s surgery. Josie is not a fan of the hose….no matter how gentle I am, or even if I warn her, her skin jumps as soon as the water touches her. After a good toweling off, we arrive home to do more snuggling on the mattress.

Sunday March 14th 2010 Today is picture day! Josie has her picture snapped at least 300 times today. We walk in the gully and later at the beach. Today I cant resist letting her off-leash. She runs and plays with such gusto. I cringe with each step and I warn her to take it easy…like she knows what that means. But she is in her glory!!!! All the fears of her losing her leg take over me…what if she cant run with three legs??? I dont think I have ever cried so much in all my life! But it is so wonderful to see her running…She has such a beautiful gallop…splashing along in Lake Michigan.

Today I realize that it is the “not-knowing” that is so hard. I need to snap out of this….I need to be happy for her. Happy that she will live.

Monday March 15th 2010 I actually slept!!! I wake up and cant believe it….I slept longer than my recent 4 – 6 hours!!! I feel so great! The sun is shining and we are going to have a GREAT day! Man, what a difference a day makes….

Today we go to Cato Falls. The girls load up in the Jeep and off we go. We arrive back in town and I make a last minute turn and take them to the gully, again. Gully (that may be confusing…Gully was named after Josie’s favorite place, the gully) meets one of her favorite boys, a yellow lab named Otto. Those two play exactly the same….hard!!! They love to run through the puddles and roll in dead fish! She will be pooped out tonight. Josie, on the other hand, is only allowed off-leash for a short bit but she doesnt seem to mind to much. Watching how slow she has gotten over the past few days has really solidified my decision. She lays down more often and doesnt seem to want to play as much as she used to. Today….I didnt cry once! I really feel that I have made the best decision for Josie. Tomorrow….is a big day! I want to stay positive….I dont want Josie to see me cry.

I took over 100 pictures today. After looking at them all, I ask myself why am I so obsessed with all the pictures before her surgery? She is still going to be my Josie-Girl…after all……I don’t love her leg, I love her!

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