Sunday, February 22, 2009

2.5 weeks out...feeling GOOD

Well, the good news is that Heisman feels GREAT, and the bad news is that Heisman feels GREAT!  Harding and I are having such a hard time keeping her quiet and still it is getting ridiculous.  She would be running at a full sprint if I would let her.

We saw Dr. Greenwood on Thursday - Heisman's "Big Daddy" Massengale came up and went with me to the vet, since Harding was in New York on business.  Heisman is so lucky to have such an attentive grandfather.  He carried her EVERYWHERE!  Heisman really wished that she were not an 80 lb. dog - she LOVES to be carried.  Her tail was wagging the whole time.  We got to NVS and she sat in the car with Big Daddy until they called her name - then Big Daddy carried her all the way from the car into the exam room so that she wouldn't have to walk on the slick waiting room floor!

She got all 21 staples out, but ended up getting 4 stitches - a "net" win, we think.  The area that I thought looked "a little" gross turned into a gaping, bleeding, DEEP hole once the staples were removed, so Dr. Greenwood added 4 stitches in that area - necessitating ANOTHER trip to Clarkston in 10 days to get the stitches out.  I asked about the clicking, and he wasn't worried AT ALL, but Mommy still is.  It sounds gross and happens every time she puts her leg down.  Supposedly (from OrthoDogs) it is only scar tissue or an internal suture, but I hope it goes away soon!

Depending on when Heisman gets these stitches out, we start physical therapy very soon at Caring Canine.  We can't wait to meet these people as they have already been so helpful on the phone!  I will have to take my Flip camera so that we can get some awesome footage of Heisman in the underwater treadmill and doing all of the other fun activities at physical therapy.  Hopefully, we can get her surgery leg strong before the CCL on the other leg completely gives out!

Thanks for all of the thoughts and prayers.  We are still doing great!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

One and a half weeks since surgery!

Obiviously, I had to go back to work - though I delayed it until last Friday - but blog updates have been sparse.  Heisman is SO BORED - just look at the above picture!  She is feeling great, which is AWESOME, but she doesn't understand why I keep asking her to lay in her bed and be calm.  My saving grace is pictured at right - THE SARGE.  This is a 4-in-1 bone from Merrick Pet Care, which means that it has jerky, tendons, bone, and marrow.  It has been about the only thing that keeps Heisman occupied, but it does not go very well with the beige rug covering our wood floors!  I should be vacuuming, not blogging!  She also got an awesome Valentine's Day package from her "Granny" and "Big Daddy" Massengale that had new treats for her everlasting treat ball as well as a few other goodies.

I have two main concerns with Heisman's knee, despite all going smoothly.  The upper area of her incision, where the knee bends and above, does not appear to be healing very well.  The bottom area of her incision is fully closed up and looks like the staples could come out today.  However, the top part is still wide open between the staples and a little red in places.  She has been on antibiotics, and I have started a thorough cleansing routine with Chlor-Flush and Neosporin.  Hopefully, this will improve.  If it does, we will be STAPLE FREE come Thursday - exactly two weeks after surgery.  My husband has to leave on a business trip, so my dad is coming up to help me carry Heisman down the steps of our house and keep her still in the back of the SUV all the way to Clarkston.

I am excited to see the vet due to my other concern.  Before the surgery, I heard a constant clicking, or quiet popping, in Heisman's knee joint before the surgery that I assumed was her meniscus.  However, the surgeon said that her meniscus was fully entact and he made a releasing cut to prevent the meniscus from interfering with the bend of the knee.  Regardless, I still hear a popping every now and then.  I was thinking that it may be coming from the other knee, but I am almost positive that it is coming from her "surgery knee."  This makes me really nervous, so I am glad that the surgeon visit is in store for Thursday.

Due to the new "cleansing routine," Heisman is keeping her incision from my sight, so I only have one to show from the last few days.

Also, Heisman has a pretty precious new habit.  Rather than sleeping in her dog bed in the kitchen at night, she has started curling up with me on the TWIN SIZED air mattress.  Check out the picture that Harding took the other night after I laid down and he told Heisman to "go to bed."

Finally, here is a precious picture that I got of this spoiled puppy the other morning after she spent the night with her daddy in the living room.  She LOVES sleeping on pillows now!

Thanks again for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers!  We are hanging in there!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Recovery Day 6 - More Cone Drama

Well, everything is going really well still, except for all of this drama with the stupid cone.  Heisman is more tolerant of the "Comfy Cone," but she still does everything she can to get it off.  I feel awful about this, and I really don't want to go back to work tomorrow.  To get her to keep it on, I feel it's too tight, but if I loosen it at all, she can get it off.  I just feel so bad leaving her at home.  However, Mommy and Daddy both certainly have to work to fund all of this orthopedic surgery.  I also don't know the protocol for once the staples come out - does she get to come out of the collar immediately, or does she have to stay in it?  I am kicking myself for not ordering the BiteNot collar - but I have heard that in some cases, the dog can still get to the wound.

She licked at the incision site again last night.  After I cleaned it some with Chlor Flush, she would not let me see it again to take today's picture.  I will try to update the incision shots tomorrow.

I love this sweet puppy so much.  I wish I could work from home with her until she is fully healed.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Recovery Day 5 - Mail and Cones

Hi friends! As I am sure you can see from the above picture, this doggy has been cracking me up today! Our experience with the Bonafido was truly hilarious. So, not exactly what I was expecting. When my mom looked at the pictures, she made a comment that I was essentially ordering an inner tube. I did not buy this at all. When I looked at the pictures, I thought I was ordering a "floppy" or "soft" ring that would not blog Heisman's peripheral vision. NOT TRUE!!!!! Chalk this one up to a toal cone FAIL. Mother knows best - and mine was right this time! I think that this thing could keep a 500 lb. man afloat in a swimming pool. To say that it did not work would have been the understatement of the century. Not only does Heisman HATE it, she can get it off in seconds flat. I will be sending it back PRONTO. Needless to say, I had to find a new solution FAST if I am ever going to go back to work.

Enter The Comfy Cone. I left Heisman alone for the first time since surgery - coneless - and rushed to East Atlanta to Park Pet Supply - the only place in the city that carries the Comfy Cone. It looks quite humane now, and I have it at home, but the Bonafido experience has Heisman quite leery of any new "hats," so we are going to wait for Daddy to get home to try it on. I mean, just look how peacefully the cute dog in the ad is sleeping. This is TOTALLY going to work, right? We'll see, and I'll report back for those of you who will be going through a TPLO in the near future.

On to more exciting things...Heisman got her first piece of MAIL today - all the way from Charleston, South Carolina from her cousins Sully and Tail Biber!! She was THRILLED! Sully and Tail sent FOOTBALL TREATS - perfect for a dog named Heisman - and one of Heisman's personal favorites, the Busy Rollhide! They sent the sweetest card and the gifts and treats really brightened Heisman's spirits. I just had to snap a quick picture of the envelope so that we will always remember Heisman's first piece of mail...Thanks, sweet cousins!

While I was out shopping for the Comfy Cone, I was able to swing by the City Dog Market and pick up a deer antler for Heisman to try. She loves it! A total success - she chewed on it for about an hour and was plum tuckered out. She is passed out on her bed right now with the antler still in her mouth - I will have to get a picture of that! The wonderful owner at the City Dog Market also offered me a piece of shark spine and stingray tail to give Heisman - it is a great source of Omega 3 and will help both Heisman's leg and her skin! They are so cool looking, so we are saving it for when Daddy comes home from work, but I can't wait to see what she thinks of them!

Finally, I must mention the pet product that has gotten us through these first few days - Greenies Pill Pockets. Heisman's Grandma Brannon picked these up for her because of the quantity of pills that she has to take. Because of her chronic skin problems, the surgeon could not discharge Heisman with the typical pain management protocol - a Fentanyl patch. Rather, Heisman had to be on oral pain killers, Tramadol, with a dosage of 3 pills 3 times per day. In addition, she gets 2 Benadryl every 4 hours, 2 antibiotic pills twice a day, an anti-inflammatory pill every day, and we recently added a Pepcid AC ever day because - imagine this - all of these pills upset her stomach. Heisman HATES taking pills, so getting them down her was really an almost all day process. Greenies Pill Pockets are like dog gummy bears. You can mold and shape them however you want. I can get 4 or 5 pills in one pill pocket, and Heisman will still swallow them with no problem. Trust me, this is an AMAZING product.

And a few more pictures from today - though none can top the Bonafido...

Day 5 Incision Shot

A look at my "office" for the week. There's no place I would rather be... Please note the greasy potato chips and Frosty Paws cup in my tennis shoe. Heisman and I are clearly coping with recovery the same way - junk food! Also, check out the fortress we have built to keep Heisman off of the sofa and "her armchair."

More antler chewing

A good look at the antler

Shark Spine and Stingray Tail

Loot from the Sweet Biber Family: Sully, Tail, Ella, Elizabeth, and (last but not least) Jay

Monday, February 9, 2009

Recovery Days 3 and 4 - POOP!

Well, we are still having a delightfully uneventful recovery.  Heisman had her first post-surgery poop.  I officially feel motherly because I never dreamed of seeing the day where I would be excited about poop, but HOORAY!  (In case you are interested, post surgery poops #2 and #3 were equally celebrated).  She's doing great in her harness and walking really well.  Harding and I agreed last night that her limp is already better now that it was pre-surgery.

I called the surgeon this morning because we were told when we picked her up that she may not put the leg down until 2 weeks post-surgery and not to worry.  Well, we are having the exact opposite problem - she feels great - wanted to take off after a squirrel yesterday!  The vet assured me that this was perfectly normal and could have been expected with Heisman being so young.

I have hit the first point after this surgery where I feel unprepared.  I did not expect for Heisman to need to be entertained so much this soon after surgery.  I thought I would have a long period of "puny!"  I have some toys for her, but not nearly enough.  The City Dog Market is closed today, but I am headed there first thing tomorrow to get some deer antlers for her to chew on.  You read that correctly - deer antlers.  They are supposedly great for dogs to chew on and also have good "stuff" in them for joints.  We'll see what Miss Heisman thinks about those tomorrow.

We had read that the medications and post-anesthesia period could alter Heisman's mood and demeanor, but have not seen that.  The only change in her has been the clinginess.  She wants to be with either Harding or I AT ALL TIMES.  She has always followed us around, but this is a bit more extreme.  I can see the concern in her face when I leave the room, and it breaks my heart!  It will be very hard for me to go back to work on Wednesday and leave this precious face behind!

Here are some more pictures chronicling the last few days...

A look at the shaved area of Heisman's leg and hip.

Incision Day 3

Incision Day 4

Spooning Sisters

The "Canine Genius" stumped by her Kong...

A "hello" from Hamilton!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Recovery Day 2 - So far, So good!

Presents!!!  Heisman's Grandma and Grandpa Brannon and Aunt Mary dropped off get well presents for Heisman, doggie chicken soup for her dinner, and chicken tetrazzini (Mommy's favorite) for Heisman's parents for dinner!  How wonderful!!  As you can see from the picture at right, Heisman wasted no time "unwrapping."  I have never seen a dog so aware of presents - a wrapped box or a gift bag, doesn't matter - she knows how to take care of business!!  Inside she found a brand new Kong toy, Kong Stuff'n treats, and Greenies Pill Pockets to house the 17 pills per day that she is taking!  We are very excited and incredibly appreciative of the generosity.

Recovery is still going very well.  Heisman really feels great today, which is wonderful, but makes me very nervous.  She is not wanting to let her knee hold her back at all.  I will say, the phase we are in is nothing like I expected.  Except for the occasional burst of energy, it is nothing that I can't handle.  I am totally speaking too soon - I just know it.  She's using her ramp successfully outside and has not had a problem using the restroom.  She has even starting bearing some weight on her surgery leg, which pretty much gives this mother heart failure.  When she is standing now, she is putting just her toes on the ground, but outside she is bearing a little weight and continuing her regular routine of finding the perfect pinestraw to grace with her scent.  I did not expect any weight bearing at this point.  Again, probably a good sign, but I would like to put this leg in a plastic bubble and allow no harm to come to it ever again.  Don't worry - all of this movement is under close supervision and while she is in her harness/"backpack"/"pretty necklace."  I also had my first night of sleeping with Heisman in the kitchen on an air mattress.  Other than discovering a tornado of draftiness in the kitchen that about froze us, we did just fine.  Heisman woke up 5 or 6 times, but just to lick her stitches.  She slept from about 1AM until around 10:30.  I had 4 dreams that she woke up, broke out, and made a 3.5 foot leap to get in bed with her daddy.  Crazy woman.

We are going to have to invest in an E-Collar (cone/lampshade).
I ordered one today from Bonafido that is soft and floppy and doesn't restrict Heisman's vision like a true E-Collar.  It should be in Tuesday afternoon, in time for me to go back to work on Wednesday.  The vet did not expect that Heisman would have trouble licking at her staples, so he didn't send her home in one.  However, Heisman assures me that of her 21 staples, she is equally annoyed with each and every one of them.

Hamilton continues to be a supportive big sister.  She could not STAND the stinkiness of Heisman and was continually trying to bathe her - which was wearing on Heisman's nerves.  Just for Princess Ham, I gave Daddy a "Heisman shift" and ran up to City Dog Market this morning and picked up "Waterless Bath: For Clean, Fresh Smelling Pets."  She seems pleased with the results and is letting Heisman sleep - for now. 

A look at the incision and some bruising on Day 2.

Thanks for my presents Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Mary!

Finally, Heisman's good pal Ruby Holt had to head off to the emergency vet last night after a late snack on some dark chocolate.  All seems well now, but Heisman has been keeping her paws crossed for her!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Recovery Day 1

Well, here we are, almost 24 hours out of surgery.  Harding and I picked Heisman up this morning, and she is already doing so well!  She's not putting her surgery leg down at all, but that's certainly fine by us.  She already went outside to relieve herself once with success!  She, of course, decided that this was necessary 2 minutes after her dad left to meet a friend for lunch.  However, we did fine just the two of us!  So, you can see her post-surgery xray to the right - WOW.  She is officially a bionic puppy!  The post-op instructions that the vet gave us were not nearly as intense as some that I have read online - but we are certainly erring on the side of caution for the time being.

We had heard that it may be difficult to get her to eat and drink at first, but she had a Frosty Paws soon after getting home, beelined for the treats after coming in from outside, and, admittedly, shared some of Mommy's barbeque sandwich that Daddy brought home.  After that smorgasboard, she and Hamilton are tapped out in the dog bed.  Hamilton was very happy to see Heisman and has been a very supportive big sister - even giving Heisman a bath - we agreed with her that Heisman is pretty stinky!  I am posting some more pics below.  It is alarming that everything seems so normal right now - I know that we have some tough days ahead, but it does a heart good to have our baby home safe and sound.

A labeled look at Heisman's post-surgery X-rays.  You can see the cut in her bone here as well as the TPLO plate and screws.

A quick look at the incision - it is on the inside of the leg, so I have not done a lot of digging and poking to get a better look.

Another shot of the incision.

Post- surgery Frosty Paws with Daddy.

Hamilton showing her sisterly support.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Quick "Surgery Night" Update

Well, here we are on the night after Heisman's surgery - a VERY quiet night.  I had no idea how odd it would be not to have Heisman here with us!  Hamilton (pictured at right) is content to be an only child again after almost 2 years, but there is definitely a void!

I took Heisman in for surgery at 9:30 am today.  My husband had to work, so I was on my own.  Despite all of my internal pep talks, I was a total basketcase when the time came for them to take her back.  Heisman, of course, had no clue and saw it all as a very interesting experience.  We talked to Dr. Greenwood for a while, and he did another exam to confirm that Heisman does actually have a full cruciate tear of her right hind leg and, as we knew, was the perfect candidate for a TPLO procedure.  I shared with him my fears of her limping on her left hind leg, and he said that he would check it out as well through some x-rays.  After a tearful goodbye, the waiting game began.

I heard from Dr. Greenwood around 6:30pm.  He said that the surgery was pretty much "textbook" and that Heisman had done very well.  Normal dogs have a 25 degree slope to their knee, and Heisman was at 32 degrees - which is quite a large difference that no doubt led us to this injury - confirming genetics as the reason behind the tear.  The other bad news is that he can already detect "changes" in her other knee joint and can tell that we are dealing with the same "sloping" problem there.  Bottom line: prepare for the inevitable second surgery.  I could hardly hear all of this additional information through focusing on the fact that my baby had a successful textbook surgery, and there was nothing showing Dr. Greenwood that she would have anything less than a full recovery of the right leg.

I had planned on picking her up tomorrow after work, but Dr. Greenwood said that she is ready for discharge tomorrow morning.  You can't imagine how quickly I took the day off - I will spend it working, but next to my puny puppy!!  I am getting really nervous about having Heisman home and the recovery period ahead of us, but I also cannot WAIT to see her.

I have had so much support throughout this procedure from my friends over at OrthoDogs - they have been so reassuring and supportive.  Heisman and I both look forward to recovering in good company with a lot of other sweet dogs in the same boat!

Thanks for all of your thoughts and prayers for Heisman - look for another post tomorrow after she is home in the comfort of her bright blue romper room!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Welcome to Blueland - and a Pre-Surgery Setback

Well, we are in the home stretch before surgery, and are making preparations to get our house "post-surgery friendly."  What exactly does this entail, you may ask?  Well, the biggest hurdle has been that Heisman will not be allowed to walk on wood floors for at least 8 weeks - which is all that we have in our little house.  Our friends Mike and Gina Whitehead were nice enough to donate a bound piece of carpet and padding to the cause.  My parents brought the carpet up on Saturday, and we decided to use just the non-slip padding in the kitchen, where Heisman will stay while we are at work, and then use the carpet piece along with another rug from my parents' attic in the living room.  The part of this story that is humorous is that the carpet padding is bright blue and shiny.  So, you can only imagine how lovely our kitchen looks - I don't think the pictures even do it justice.  Our dining room 
table is pushed against the wall and everything else is BLUE.  I would take a picture of the hodge-podge carpeted living room, but the family is all currently occupying it now watching the Super Bowl.  Also, Heisman's daddy built her a ramp today so that she can avoid the one step required to go from the deck to the backyard.  The only downside to this is that Heisman is TERRIFIED of the ramp.  She will not go near it.  Needless to say, we have a good bit of work to do before Friday when she will really need to use it.

Also, we have had a bit of a set back this week.  Heisman has started limping a bit on her "good" hind leg.  As we know, CCL injuries in dogs can basically be caused by one of two things: an athletic injury or a genetic issue.  If the cause is genetics, it is pretty much inevitable that the ligament will tear in the other leg.  We were really hoping that this was not the case with Heisman, but I am definitely fearing the worst.  I would really be surprised if the surgeon does not tell us on Thursday that both ligaments are torn.  At this point we will have to make the decision to decide to have bilateral surgery (both legs at once) or have the first leg done, recover for 8 weeks, then have the second.  This process definitely takes a toll on the heart and the wallet, so please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

On a more fun note, more preparations.  I have been trying to find toys for Heisman to "play" with while confined.  I wanted something where she would have to use her mind a bit to get some of her food or another treat.  My first buy was the "Canine Genius" - a laughable name
if you know how far from a genius Heisman really is.  Within the first 10 minutes, she had the bottom ripped off and had gotten all of the little treats out.  Who's the Canine Genius now???  The "big winner" has been the Everlasting Treat Ball, pictured at right.  I take the "indestructible" claim of dog toys with a grain of salt (see Canine Genius), but so far, so good.  This toy is built so that I can put pieces of Heisman's food in the middle and either give it to her that way or cap off each end with Everlasting Treats.  She LOVES it either way!  Now, all I have to do is find the Everlasting Treats at a more affordable price than the one offered at Petsmart.  Another success has been filling Kongs with Kong Stuff'n and Kong Ziggies and freezing them, so we will keep that up as well!

Our final purchase for Heisman's recovery is the Ruffwear Web Master Harness.  It came in but was too small, so I have sent it back to get a Large.  Hopefully, the exchange will come before Friday!  This will allow me to better support Heisman's back legs after surgery because it puts a handle on the top of Heisman's back that I can lift up on to support her weight.

As you can tell, Heisman's parents have had a very eventful past few days.  I am very anxious going into this week.  Surgery day is Thursday, so we can only hope for the best.  Look for updates as the week progresses and after the big day.  Thanks for thinking of us!