Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Ortho Dog 12 Step Program

I have shared a lot on the blog how much support I have received from the OrthoDogs yahoo group. They have been an amazing source of support and a WEALTH of knowledge. Tonight, I stumbled across a file on the site that gave the "12 Steps" of being an OrthoDog mom. I think it is not only humorous, but also give great insight into what we got through for our babies!! ENJOY!


SHOCK AND ACCEPTANCE: Getting over the initial shock and accepting that your perfect dog has developed a pretty severe injury. Reactions may include: crying, denial, blaming self (maybe if I had done this or not allowed that), wondering if you vet (whom you’ve been using for years) is suddenly confused and has no clue what he/she is talking about.
REFERRALS AND CONSULTS: Visiting every possible vet with every possible background (hopefully, you’ve discovered ortho dogs by now), getting really confused and feeling like you never really knew anything about taking care of your precious pet. Questioning everything you are being told (oh, this is such a good thing so you are really starting into recovery). Oh yes, there is some shock again at this point once we get the estimate. Make sure you have someone with you for that in case you faint and need to have someone catch you so you don’t hit the floor.
DECISION AND MORE QUESTIONING: You’re now beginning to accept the diagnosis and have made a decision on a course of action. You feel good that you were able to sort things out and have made that decision. Well, you think you have, maybe, there was so much information, now what did that other doc say, but is it the best one? Oh gosh, what will I do if it is the wrong one? At this point I think we are all still hoping we’ll wake up and it will be a bad dream or maybe it was a mistake.
BUILDING THE RECOVERY FACILITY: You’ve probably all ready started this but it is a separate step. Gathering up the throw rugs, pumpkin, xpen, crate, ecollar, and bed for you, ramp, and sling, and supplements. Oh these days are so busy, but we’re still not sure we really want to have surgery. Perhaps while we’re doing this our dog will heal, they do seem to be doing better with the confinement,
PRE OP NIGHT AND SURGERY DAY: Oh my! What an experience. I just can’t even come up for words for this one except HELP! WHAT AM I DOING? WHAT HAVE I DONE? WILL HE/SHE BE OK? OH GOSH, AM I REALLY READY FOR THIS?
COMING HOME: Oh they are so happy to see us. It doesn’t look as bad as I thought, Wow, that wasn’t difficult at all. UH OH! We’re home now, is he/she in pain. Oh what can I do, I don’t speak dog, Oh gosh, I’m not capable of taking care of this, where is that emergency phone number to the vet?
TOE TOUCHING AND WEIGHT BEARING: Oh, yes, maybe we did make the right decision. Things are going to be fine, just fine. OH NO! Today no toe touching. Where is that emergence phone number to the vet?
FIRST BOWEL MOVEMENT: Ok, here is when we know we’ve got a problem, because we’ve most likely never been to concerned about our dog actually having a bowel movement and it somehow seems strange that we should be so excited and that others are excited for us. Oh, we are in such a new and strange place in life. By the way, co-workers and friends can imagine why you are so excited about this event, they smile, say oh that is great, wonder what the heck you’re thinking and may whisper politely behind your back.
SUTURE REMOVAL/TWO WEEK CHECK UP: Oh yeah, we can do this. Life is good! Oooops, was that a slip, a pop, a creak? Where is that emergency phone number to the vet, better get on Ortho Dogs and ask some questions. Oh, I’m not sure I made the right decision.
AREN’T WE FEELING JUST WONDERFUL: Oh No. Keeping him/her quiet is harder than I thought, Kongs and toys, treats and TV. Oh you’re not as healed as you think you are. Oh, why have I tortured myself like this? I’ll surely go nuts trying to keep this dog from hurting himself/herself again! Better log on to Ortho Dogs and ask some more questions.
8 WEEK XRAYS/CHECK UP AND BEYOND: Oh yeah, life is good. Got the bone healing going on! Can smell the roses from here. Gonna be back to normal in no time now. WOW, was that me so frantic only a few weeks ago. Better answer the Newbie’s post and do some reassuring. Things are going so wonderful. UH OH, A little limping, where’s the emergency phone number for the vet?
RELEASED FOR A LIFE TIME OF FUN: Oh, that really was nothing. Better post my success story on Otho Dogs for all to read. We did a great job and things are wonderful. Should I really let him/her play so hard, or be off leash, was that a noise I heard from the knee? Limping on the other leg? Ugggggggg! Where’s that emergency phone number for the vet?

Week 7 - Quick Update

Not a major update, but wanted to keep everyone in the loop.

Heisman has seen continuing progress on the Cipro for the staph.  We have no bruising, no swelling, and, best of all, NO LIMP!

On Friday, Heisman goes for her 8 week appointment, where she will be sedated and re-x-rayed for the first time since surgery.  I have always known that this is a milestone for her, but not exactly sure what it will entail for the days following the business.  It is very clear that life cannot return to "normal," but I hope that Heisman can start regaining some of the freedom of life before surgery (that is, before we take it away again for the second surgery).

She is beginning to become "used to" this lifestyle, very lazy all day and very accustomed to sleeping at all times.  I am very anxious to get her out of this house some, even on short walks - just so that she has SOMETHING to look forward to.

She is limping some on the other leg, and alternates which leg she will "tuck under" her when she sits.  That's another question that we will have to ask on Friday - how long until surgery number 2?  While I want to give her right leg long enough to heal, I am anxious to have both surgeries behind us so that we can fully resume a "normal" life.

Thanks for the thoughts and prayers - look for an update when I get home from work on Friday, and keep praying for good news!

Friday, March 20, 2009

6 weeks post-surgery: Infection Update

Hello blog readers!  I know, I know.  It's been a really long time AGAIN since my last post, but this hopefully I can make this update interesting enough to be worth it!

Honestly, I haven't updated because I have been so down about Heisman's recovery.  Dr. Greenwood called us last Saturday telling us that Heisman's blood culture had come back, revealing that she has MRSI, or methicillin resistant staphylococcus intermedius.  Yes, a staph infection - the most resistant to antibiotics.  This strain of infection is only in animals, so Harding and I cannot get it, but Hamilton (the cat) could.  We have desperately been trying to keep their shared water bowls separate!

Dr. Greenwood changed Heisman's antibiotic to Cipro - a human strength antibiotic.  I went to Wal-Mart to pick it up and had to sign away her medical rights as her guardian.  It was pretty hilarious to pick up a prescription for Heisman "K-9" Brannon at a normal pharmacy.

Anyway, I was very disheartened to learn about Heisman's prognosis, and even more upset as she did not improve over the next 4-5 days.  However, I can officially say this morning that I think she is responding.  Over the past week, I have communicated with the wonderful people at the Bella Moss Foundation who are dedicated to research about staph in dogs.  Though they are based overseas, they were able to put me in touch with an expert at UGA who does a lot of staph research - Dr. Steve Budsberg.  Dr. Budsberg was nice enough to call Dr. Greenwood and review Heisman's case, reporting back that, from everything he can tell, we are on the right track.  Today, Heisman's demeanor is better, her lameness is slightly improved, and the swelling is reducing!!  HOORAY!!!

On another note, I was talking to my husband last night and told him that I really wished I could "remember" Heisman's limp in January before surgery so that I could at least feel like I had done something if improve her quality of life.  It has been so awful to watch her in pain with the infection and know that I put her in this position!  Well, talk about answered prayers, I was packing my Flip Video camera for a trip this weekend and found a 3 second video of Heisman walking away from me from 1/1/09.  I think that this clip must have been a fluke, but it was amazing to see!  Check it out!

I also took a quick video today so that you can see the surgery leg.  Then, thankfully, she heard something at the door and got up to walk towards it.  Even with the staph, the improvement is remarkable.  I really needed this - an answered prayer indeed!

Well, that was JUST what this mother needed to see!  This weekend, I am headed to the North Georgia mountains, for a girls' weekend in a cabin for my best pal Jen Crews' bachelorette party!  I am nervous to leave Heisman, but her daddy will do a GREAT job keeping her on track with her pill regimen (back to 16 per day) and loving on her.  I will try to keep updates coming more regularly, but please know that the thoughts and prayers are most certainly working!  Keep them coming!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Week 4.5 - Setback #1

Warning: graphic images in this one - they look GROSS!

Well, we have had our first surgery setback, but not nearly as major as I thought. Last Tuesday, Heisman's daddy and I took her to get her stitches out at the 4 week mark (she got these after she got her staples taken out). As she got out of the car, she had her first "OOPS" moment. She slipped and fell right on her bad leg. Talk about breaking a mother's heart! She would not put her leg down, but we were glad that we were at the best place in the world for it to happen - Dr. Greenwood's office! Dr. Greenwood took out the stitches and assessed the "structure" of the leg. Everything was FINE and we were on our way!

Well, Friday evening (3/6), Harding and I both noticed that Heisman's limp was getting worse. We also noticed a small bump (not discolored, not weeping) forming just below her knee joint. Safe to say from the picture at right that the "small knot" developed into something much larger and quite discolored. When I called the surgeon first thing Monday morning, I heard the words that the mom of an "OrthoDog" dreads, "When is the soonest you can get her in?"

My heart dropped. At this point, Heisman, who was bearing weight on Day 2 after surgery is now bearing no weight on the leg, and has this NASTY lesion on her incision site RIGHT over the plate. I was terrified that the surgery was ruined AND that it would be something that somehow was MY FAULT!! Lucky for Heisman, it is her Granny Massengale's Spring Break, so we had some company (and support for ME) for our trip to Clarkston. Dr. Greenwood was off today, so Heisman saw his partner Dr. Corse. He was AMAZING and so great with Heisman. He took some x-rays to make sure that we are structurally sound. WE ARE!!! What a relief. He also saw some "new bone" formation, which is rare to see at only 4 weeks out of surgery. This was the good news. The bad news is that Heisman has an infection of the surgical plate that was inserted during surgery. Heisman, my precious genetic mutant, in addition to being predisposed to the ACL tears, also has HORRIBLE allergies and has suffered from skin infections from birth. After surgery, she was on 2 weeks of Clavamox (antibiotic) for her skin infection, but, apparently, as soon as she got off the Clavamox, she got a skin infection, and that led to the infection of the plate.

Dr. Corse said that there is no need to panic yet, just to watch Heisman VERY closely. She is on 1000 mg of Clavamox per day and back on Tramadol to help her with the pain. He also took a blood culture from Heisman so that he could determine the type of infection and, if necessary, adjust her antibiotics accordingly.

I guess the moral of the story is that we are back on the road to recovery. My mom (Granny Massengale) asked Dr. Corse if he could give ME a shot of Valium. I just can't get past the everyday worry of Heisman to relax into the recovery phase. It also doesn't help that I know the 2nd surgery for her is imminent. I see other dogs running and playing with their owners and turn green with envy - it is hard to imagine the "other side" of surgery after a setback of this nature AND an impending surgery to the other leg. I want MY dog to run and play and be normal with her friends. I know that day is ahead, somewhere. I am going to try to make "mini-goals" for Heisman - the first one being that she can come with us to the tailgate for the Georgia Tech vs. UNC game on September 26. She LOVES football season and seeing all of the people, so I would hate for her to miss one. She is TWO YEARS OLD and I hate that so much time is going by when she would normally be so active, but can't be.

Enough worry, here are some fun pictures:

It SNOWED IN GEORGIA last Sunday!! Here are Heisman and Daddy in the snow!
And Heisman and Mommy in the snow!!
A long trip to the vet and some x-rays is nothing that a nap with my sister can't cure!
Finally, Hamilton wanted me to let you know that she is doing just fine, thanks for asking. Here is our cheap, low maintenance animal.
Thanks for all of your thoughts and prayers - we're still hanging in there. I will try to do a better job of keeping the blog up to date - especially with this recent complication.