Monday, November 11, 2013

September and October "at a glance" (yeah, a little more than a glance)

I suppose I will start with updating on Nick's limp. OMG what a fiasco!! It was decided that he needed a TPLO, or a rebuilding of the knee with plates so that he would have the appropriate bend to his knee and his near-blown ACL would be able to heal.  Although we had been told that we could take him home the night of surgery, when we arrived to pick him up we were informed by a tech that he had to stay overnight after all, and that although there were not personnel present at night, he would be heavily sedated and quite comfortable. And that we could not see him because it would upset him. The next day we called and no one was in yet. Then someone called Paul (at work) and mentioned a small cut on Nick's back but nothing major. I called, no injury was mentioned, and I was told I could go at 4 to pick him up. I arrived at 4, and the people at the desk called the back, then informed me I couldn't pick him up until the next day, doctor's orders. Why not? I demanded. Because. And no, it would be best if he didn't see me and get upset. Really?? The following day we called several times, and finally one of the vets called and said we could come pick him up. We drove across town and walked in the door, they called to the back and then said, "Dr. ____ has gone to lunch. Would you mind coming back in a couple of hours?"

"No. Bring us our dog. Now."

"Please have a seat."

"No. We want our dog."

"Well perhaps we can show you into a room."

Paul was so awesome, he said, "ONLY IF THE DOG IS IN THE ROOM. I WANT MY DOG!"

They finally brought us our poor boy, and we saw what they had been hiding. He had rather large wounds on his back, electrical burns from the cautery grounding plate during surgery, which had been over 4 hours long.

Although knee rehab exercises should have begun immediately, instead over the next several weeks we were occupied caring for his wounds, which revealed themselves to be much larger than they had looked, and there were more than even they had known about. We returned repeatedly to have them looked at and they kept wanting to wait while healing took place under these huge scabs, which were beginning to break apart and tear his skin. And the mess! We were constantly scrubbing the couch and sheets for what we affectionately called "wound boogies," all over everything he touched, and all over him. And he was in such pain! Every time he moved a scab would crack or pull away from its edges and begin to bleed or ooze.





One morning I sent these photos to the vet's office and asked, "Do you really want to keep waiting to deal with these?" and the answer was, "Has he eaten since last night? No? Great. Bring him right away and we will operate on him this morning." So I did. I left him, quite alert and very distressed, in a concrete room with a drain in the floor and cyclone fencing, which he tried to jump to get back to me. They said, "Don't worry, we're going to knock him out for surgery in just a few minutes. He's just upset because he can still see you." So I left, even though my gut was twisted over his pitiful crying. I went home and waited all day to go get him. Finally they called at the end of the day and said they hadn't gotten to him, had run out of time over other more urgent cases, and could I just leave him overnight? NO! NO FUCKING WAY! I drove back across town and picked him up, and brought him home.

And guess what? Probably because he hadn't eaten in over a day, he developed bloat that very evening! Imagine if we had left him there, alone, overnight?!! Left unattended he would have died, alone in that awful concrete room. We rushed him to an overnight vet and he underwent emergency abdominal surgery at 1 a.m. to untwist his stomach and intestines. Then at 7 a.m. we took him from the animal ER (which closed at sunup) to a specialty clinic for observation, where the outlook was scary -- all things together, a new plate in the knee which was susceptible to infection, potential harm to his GI system from the bloat, an incision all the way up his belly which left him more susceptible to infection, and these massive, oozy, horrible burns, complicating his healing and yes, leaving him susceptible to infection. We brought him in the car, and they brought out a gurney and he couldn't even raise his head off it as he was carried in.

They didn't have a kennel or cage big enough for him, so they made a makeshift bed out of heavy blankets, surrounded by a "wall" of plastic crate sides that snapped together, and laid him right in the middle of their workspace in the back, and hooked up an IV. We went back to say goodbye (and go home and sleep) and he tried to stand up and follow us. Later one of the vets told the original vet that even with all his complications and normally poor prognosis, Nick's will to be with us was amazing and that is why he lived. We were able to bring him home the following day.

It was arranged that the burns themselves be treated at this same clinic once his belly stitches had healed and he was out of the woods in that respect, and the original vet would foot the bill.

This is what the worst wound looked like before surgery.





The surgeon who performed the plastic surgery said he lost count at 80 stitches in Nick's back.



When surgery was over and we went to pick Nicky up, he said that in 5 days, the ordeal Nick and we had been through would be over, and the only thing left would be to restart strengthening the knee. That was Monday, and by Saturday he was our boy again.

Now, a month later, his hair's nearly grown back over his scars and he's thrilled to be able to play with Trudy again, and chase the squirrels down the fenceline in the back yard (they've been trying to call him out to play all this time and are happy to have their friend back for the chase!).

Nick's ordeal put us about 2-1/2 months behind schedule!!! So now we're starting to get things ready for Baby Claire's arrival, which is just some 7 weeks away. Many other things have happened and I hope to post them here soon...but I've said that before right?

Nighty night!!

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