Dillinger’s lump, mast cell tumor removal *warning surgery shots

When I first noticed my dog had a small lump on his shoulder, I think it was 2011.  It was a probably only the size of pea then.  Dillinger’s lump felt like it was just beneath the skin, and my first thought was that it was a lipoma , which are little benign fat tumors, of which I have several myself.

Lipoma, pic from Wikipedia

I have had my lipomas for years, and doctors as well as my own research led me to believe that I shouldn’t worry about them, so I haven’t.  This foundation of thinking is probably what led me to go so long without professional in depth scrutiny of Dillinger’s lump.   In hindsight now of course, I am seeing that I was suppressing having a vet do an in depth examination of the lump because I feared their results and recommendations.  I tend to have a lot of skepticism of the medical industry because it seems to be common practice to place capitalism before patient care, whether intentionally or not.   Additionally I trust the body to take care of itself given the proper N.E.R.S (Nutrition, Exercise, Rest,  low Stress) and I think surgery, drugs, and invasive procedures should be a last resort because they can cause unintended reactions or complications.  Plus professional help is expensive right?

So I monitored Dillinger’s lump over the years.  It wasn’t sensitive to the touch. It didn’t seem to change for the longest time. But then in 2015, it seemed like another lipoma was starting to grow right next to the first one. Again, using my own lipomas as a reference,  and I have two lipomas right next to each other, I thought, well…I wish they weren’t there, but if they aren’t a threat to our health….whatever.

But Dillinger’s lumps grew that year, as apparently did me suppression of logic to just take him to the vet.

Dillinger’s lump September 2016

About 4 months ago something new happened to his lump, it started to build up fluid around it.  This greatly increased the lump’s size, it doubled, maybe even tripled in size over the next several months.

Dillinger’s lump September 19 2017, “dude, take me to the vet, they’re calling me side boob at the park.”

At this point I new I was going to have to take him to the vet. The lump was crazy big, and I figured his body was telling me it was no longer going to to be chill about the lump.   So I saved money with this in mind, did some vet research and made an appointment to see Dr. LeBrun at The Village Vet.

And yet another turn of events! The fluid from the lump vanished one day. I came home from work and the lump had drained somehow. I’m not sure if it leaked out or in, I could not find any wetness on his fur or surrounding bedding, but there was some skin damage on his lump…so I’m guessing out. Now the lump was this size.

Dillinger’s lump February 12, 2018

This last Monday February, 19 I was able to see the vet, they are busy, so it did take a couple of weeks after calling them for their schedule to allow seeing me.  Dr.  LeBrun aspirated Dillinger’s lump and looked at the cells under a microscope and told me that the lump was a mast cell tumor, and recommended immediate surgery, which I was able to schedule for February 22.  She also recommended I get one of three increasingly scrutinizing types of blood tests, of which I got the mid level one, which as far as I understood only seemed to lack testing for his thyroid metrics.  His blood tests came back on the 21st and were “perfect”.

Yesterday, February 22, Dillinger had his surgery to get his lump removed.  I met with Dr. Aubrey, the surgeon that removed Dillinger’s lump, at about 8 am. She went over the planned procedure with me and told that they would be taking a 2 cm margin around the tumor, and that there would be about an 8 inch stitched up incision line when she was done.   I asked Dr. Aubrey to take pictures during the surgery, and she was nice enough to comply.  Below you can see those pictures and it is graphic, so if you don’t want to see surgery pictures do not scroll down anymore I guess!

At that point some technicians gave Dillinger a sedative and allowed me to sit in the waiting room with him while it kicked in. In about 30 minutes he was getting dopey and they took him to the surgery room.  I was told the surgery would take about an hour, and I’m not sure when they actually started but I got a call at 9:40 am that Dillinger was on the table and they wanted to take off another mass on his leg that maybe was just a mole, or a skin tab, but maybe something worse, and since he was already under anesthesia they thought it was good to just go ahead and remove it.  I agreed.

At 11 am I received another call that the surgery was over with and everything had gone well, and that they just wanted to keep him until 4 pm to make sure the wound stopped leaking and that he was doing ok.

So ok….if you are still reading this I’m guessing you want all the info! So as I said here, are the pictures during surgery and right after….


Dillinger 8 hours post surgery
Dillinger 8 hours post surgery. Dr. Aubrey told me that the lumpy bunched skin at the top was a combination of fat and extra stitches because there were more blood vessels there that she had to deal with.

So when I picked up Dillinger from the vet at 4pm he was definitely feeling confused and anxious. He was able to walk so I took him on a half block pee/poo walk to where I had parked, and then again another 1/2 block from my car to my apartment.  It was a bummer seeing him confused and anxious, but I’m guessing despite me explaining everything that was going to happen to him before it did, he was still surprised!

When we got back to into my apartment I gave him a scoop of food and some canned wild salmon, his first food of the day. I pushed a 70 mg Tramadol pain pill into the salmon. It’s hard to know how much pain he was in vs how much dope he was already feeling, but I didn’t want him to be in pain.  After the food he layed down and drooled a little, which he normally doesn’t do unless he is anticipating food.  Maybe the dope was making him nauseous.  He got up and paced around and whimpered for the next couple of hours, interspersed with laying down and semi nodding off.

I watched Murder on The Orient Express with the sound coming through headphones while I kept an eye on him (which is both a light-hearted entertaining movie and yet super obvious plot as far as crime mysteries go).

We went to bed at 9:30 pm and both seem to have slept well.  Today his mental and emotional health are markedly improved.  Almost all the confusion and anxiety seems to have left him, and I get the sense that he is starting to understand his current situation of post surgery, rest and recovery.

So that where we are at…..I’ve taken a few days off work so that I can make sure Dillinger’s incision is healing and that he doesn’t mess with it…an I hope that all of the mast tumor cells were removed and that he makes a full recovery and lives for many more healthy and happy years!

*update 6-20-18

I really should do a full write up on Dillinger’s healing journey, but for now I will just keep it short and simple. Dillinger is healthy and happy and I am very glad that his lump is gone!

Dillinger May 13th, 2018