Everyday Adventures in Havachon Heaven

The Good, Crazy, & Adorable Life of One Havachon Puppy

Canine Disk Surgery Recovery Journal: Day 2

I’m behind in posting this, it was supposed to go up last night at the end of Day 2, but I was hoping to have some pics to share. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to crop and define them, so this is just text. Sorry about that! Tonight’s post for Day 3 will be better.

There was a little less whining during the night Tuesday night, which we’re taking as a good sign. Daisy is doing a fair bit of panting, though, which may be due to pain or perhaps it’s a side effect of the meds.

Moving around is very difficult for her because of that limp back leg. She just kind of drags it or just drags her entire rear end around without picking it up as she turns in circles to rearrange herself; once in a while we’ll see her pick it up but not bend it or use it at all. If it wasn’t for that leg, she’d be doing much better. She seemed to have trouble staying comfortable today and there was a bit more whining in the daytime.

We’re feeling generally positive, though – the incision looks good and Daisy’s affect is much better than before surgery. At that time, her ears hung limply (far different from a relaxed look), she barely moved, and she had a constant “help me”, pained expression. It was pathetic and heartbreaking. Now, even though she’s enduring a painful recovery and difficult treatments, like being expressed totally against her will, being taken out of the crate twice a day which causes a lot of discomfort for her, and having to take meds she hates, when she’s lying in the crate her ears are perkier, her eyes are brighter, and the “help me” look is gone. Blessings, every single one.

The unexpected “oh dear” issue. Gas. Really putrid, nasty clouds of the stuff – and there’s no escape, we have to stay in the room with her! (Now that’s love LOL!) Daisy hasn’t pooped since she got home, but they didn’t expect her to until Wednesday (tomorrow, but I can’t see it happening). Last night when the vet taught DD and DH how to express Daisy for pee, he checked her colon and found it empty, so he wasn’t at all concerned that she hasn’t pooped. However, she’s passing gas that would knock a T-Rex on its butt. And of course it’s cold out, so we can’t even open windows. Oh, the sacrifices!

Licking bald spots. A good portion of Daisy’s front leg is shaved from where the IV was, and she’ll start licking it. I allow a little bit of it, but then I have to stop her because too much licking can cause hot spots and infection. The absolute last thing we need. Thank goodness she can’t reach her shaved and sutured back!

Tramadol battle. We use natural, organic peanut butter, which is much softer than regular brands. We’ve found that adding crushed Tramadol in with the peanut butter and then freezing it for about ten minutes makes it just solid enough for us to get it far enough into her mouth that it immediately softens and she starts mushing it with her tongue, then swallows it. She pulls a face, but it’s in her! We’ll see if we can keep getting away with that, she has a long way to go on this med. If this starts to fail (aka, if she starts outsmarting us with this method too), we’ll try putting the crushed pill in hamburger.

Acknowledgement! When Daisy heard her buddy barking from down the street, she picked her head up and took notice with her ears raised to half mast – something that she didn’t do in the days before surgery or yesterday. She didn’t bark – the only sounds she makes so far are whining and moaning – but she did become alert, which we’re taking as another positive sign.

Expressing. Daisy really hates this process, but we have to do it until she goes on her own. DD got a small puddle out of Daisy at noon, but nothing came out tonight. Daisy didn’t drink a lot, but still, dogs usually have something saved up. If we can’t get anything out of her by 11 AM tomorrow, we’ll have to take her back to the hospital for help with it again. We really hate to put her through that – going there is always so traumatic for her.

And with all that, Day 2 is finally over and done. At this pace, it’ll feel like a year before the 8 weeks are over!

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Canine Disk Surgery Recovery Journal: Day 1

First off, I can’t thank you all enough for your words of encouragement and support. When I feel low and painfully worried (which happens often), I reread all your kind words, and they really help. Thank you for always being here for us.

We’re journaling Daisy’s recovery, at first day-by-day so we can keep track of everything. Hopefully as the days go by, things will “normalize” and our updates won’t be quite as frequent. I hope to put up some “fun” posts in between!

Daisy’s surgery went well, she has a long incision down her back that we need to keep an eye on, but so far it’s doing well. If you hate seeing sewn-up incisions, scroll past this photo!

Daisy post op incision

There was a 95% chance of a positive outcome from the surgery, and Daisy is doing relatively well except for the fact that her back left leg isn’t working well yet. It’s just kind of hanging and flopping a bit, and when she’s lying down it’s in freaky positions, but the neurosurgeon said not to rearrange it. We weren’t sure if it was paralyzed, which really scared us, but today we saw her move it a little bit, so we’re hopeful.

Monday, 12/7 – First Full Day Home

Today felt about a week long, mostly because even though the hospital gave us great instructions and written information, there are always things that are different from what’s written as well as problems you run into along the way. We’re adjusting, but I feel like it’s going to be a very long 8 weeks. (Total healing could take a year or so.)

Calming the whining – We’re not hearing any of the horrible loud, constant crying and yiping or pathetic pained facial expressions that went on around the clock for two days after Daisy’s meniscus/ACL tear surgery. That’s what we were expecting this time. But it’s not as bad – there are extended periods of whining that sometimes get a bit louder. We did some research and discovered music specifically modulated to heal and calm dogs, created by a neurosurgeon along with a composer. The one we got is harp music (Harp of Hope: Animal Therapy Edition) – and it’s miraculous! We put it on when Daisy is whining and within five minutes, she’s in a deep sleep that lasts for a good half hour. There’s also piano music created the same way called Through a Dog’s Ear that will be our next purchase.

Daisy post op spine 1

Eating – For some reason, Daisy won’t chew her kibble. We can’t give her canned food because it gives her diarrhea, so we’re soaking her kibble to make it soft and mushy. One problem overcome! She won’t eat much, her appetite is affected by the pain, the meds, and her inactivity (which the vet said was normal), so we give her what she’ll take a few times a day. She eats about 10-20 pieces each time, and we’re happy just to see she has any appetite at all.

Meds – Daisy refuses to take her Tramadol pain med, even smothered in peanut butter or pumpkin. We tried mushing it into her softened kibble, but she’s actually sniffing each kibble and rejecting the one with the Tramadol – complete with a shiver when she smells it. We thought we’d gotten one into her this morning, but we discovered that this little sneak of ours had dropped it and laid on top of it, hiding it from us. She has had no pain medication since we brought her home Sunday afternoon. This is when its difficult to have a smart dog – they know exactly how to get around whatever they don’t want! We have been able to get the Prednisone into her, though. That Tramadol must taste horrible!

Going Potty – Nothing since we’ve brought her home. The neurosurgeon said that if she didn’t pee for any 24-hour period, we had to express her or she runs the risk of a UTI, plus a full bladder presses on the spine and causes more pain. This is something we’ve never done, so we watched some YouTube videos about it and also read the instructions the vet gave us. Of course, it did come down to this, but we couldn’t get it to work. So we had to run her back to the hospital tonight so they could show us what to do – fortunately they’re a 24-hour emergency hospital, so doctors are always there. They’re extremely compassionate and helpful – they encourage us to call any time of the day or night if we have questions or concerns, and to bring her in if we feel the need to have someone see her. I can’t tell you how comforting that is.

It wasn’t a pleasant experience with the expressing – the vet found that Daisy’s bladder was so overly full, it was dangerous. He showed DD how to express her – we’re supposed to be able to feel the bladder, but we can’t feel it (nor could he) because her abdomen muscles are so tight and firm. He helped DD do it, but Daisy yiped and screamed and even tried to bite him. It was horrible, but it got done. Now we’ll have to try to do it ourselves, but he told us that if we still have trouble with it, we can bring her in any time of the day or night. These doctors are truly a blessing for us.

Physical movement – Being confined to 8 weeks of strict crate rest doesn’t allow for much, but then again Daisy doesn’t want to move anyway. We have to use a sling on her back end and hold her so that only her hind toes touch the ground and her front legs do all the walking (of which there are only a few steps a day). Her left back leg is limp right now, but today we saw some encouraging small movements driven by the thigh muscle. She can’t put any weight on it at all, but clearly it’s not paralyzed. When she rearranges herself in her crate, she just kind of drags her back end around. We have faith that this will be temporary.

Daisy post op sling

We were told by the neurologist that improvements should happen by the week, not by the day. Yet we saw a couple of small improvements today already, so we’re very encouraged. We’re dreading having to express Daisy three times a day until she pees on her own, and like new parents, we’re still waiting for her first poop, which might not be until midweek.

Onward to Day 2 tomorrow.

 

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Daisy has taken a big turn for the worse; please pray for her

We’re asking our blogging friends for a lot of POTP right now. Daisy is in surgery for a severely misaligned and swollen disc. She’s only 5 years old.

For the past week she’s had back pain again and was on meds, but they didn’t do much good. Yesterday she could barely raise her hind quarters without great effort, and she preferred to lie in one spot for hours. Going down one tiny step to the outdoors made her screech.

We knew this wasn’t good. She was moving backward instead of forward, even on meds. We made an emergency appointment with our dear vet, who did some tests and discovered this was a neurological problem. It could be one of three things: a disc issue (bad but not impossible), a tumor (very bad), or a blood clot (the worst). He called an excellent neurologist and sent us straight over to her.

Her first assessment was that with high-powered meds and 8 weeks of crate rest, things could get better, but she could also become paralyzed suddenly. She would also run this risk for the rest of her life. Or we could opt for surgery, with a 95 percent chance of recovery. If Daisy were to become paralyzed, the odds went down to 50/50.

We authorized an MRI so we could make an educated decision; it showed a severely misaligned disc with a lot of swelling. At that point she pretty much took the choice away from us – without surgery, paralysis was a very real possibility and Daisy would definitely live her life in pain. Constant pain.

We wanted to avoid surgery at all costs, but we couldn’t. She’s in surgery now and if she does well, we bring her home Sunday for 8 weeks of crate rest (and some frightening things the surgeon said we’ll see, but we’ll talk about them as they happen).

Meanwhile we are praying harder than we ever have in our lives. We’re asking our wonderful blogging friends to send positive thoughts and prayers to Daisy for a successful surgery and full recovery. We need our sweet little girl to get through this and be her silly little self again. Nothing would be the same without her.

Daisy

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