Monday, August 19, 2013

Kenai: Surgery

Day of surgery: I'm so fortunate. I know my vet as a friend and several of the techs involved I know even better. Kenai knows them, too. Having these folks involved in this surgery helped keep me at ease and helped Kenai to hopefully not feel so alone and abandoned.
One of the techs sent me updates and photos throughout the day.
"Pre surgery blood work was normal. We're prepping him now."
"Just prepped and sedated him for surgery. He was very good and lay down to help us out."
"Starting surgery on the right knee now."
"First knee done, starting on the left."
"He's out. He did very well."
And then the vet called me. These are the notes I took from that call:
his right knee was worse when joint was open; partial tear on right
left side had more complete tear with more arthritis
clinically both knees were about the same; good that we caught it early
trouble eating lately? jaw is very stiff; muscle myositis disorder: immune system attacks muscles of jaw and face; causes atrophy; a lot of muscle loss across top of head; couldnt get jaw open under anesthesia; drooling, change in voice; $300 more dollars (two $150 tests though only one will need to be done initially); treatable with steroids and immuno suppressants $4 perscription treat; initial testing is expensive
I was elated the surgery was over and went well. I was crushed that something else was wrong. I was hopeful that if tests were positive that it was treatable. I was a rollercoaster of emotions. 
The vet and I talked about options and facts. I said to send off the first blood test. We'll move forward from there. 
I could have worried excessively at this point, but I did my best to push it from my mind and distracted myself with the 6 mile ride on Q. 
Post-Op Day 1: I leave work a little early to go pick Kenai up. The vet said she could drop him off at my work, but as she's a traveling equine vet the majority of the time and only performs these surgeries a couple days a week, she was out and about and wouldn't be back until 6 or so this day. I just wanted my boy back at this point.
There was an older gentleman and an older couple when I arrived. The older couple was dropping one of their dogs off for some sort of "more advanced" surgery, knee or otherwise, I don't know. The other gentleman looked very distraught, but reserved. The other vet - strictly "small" animal (as opposed to my vet's equine and livestock practices) - called the gentleman into a room. 
As the receptionist and I talked through stuff with Kenai, his release, and his bill, she let on that the distraught gentleman was here for "an emergency with his dog". Oh. :-\
A tech came out to discuss Kenai's rehab with me. I nodded and confirmed that I understood everything. And I did. I've been reading up a lot about it online and have found rehab programs a lot more conservative that I plan to incorporate into the one they gave me.
The tech passed me back off to the receptionist who told me the damage (which was $500 cheaper than if I'd had both legs done at separate times. And that was including the extra test for the myositis!). I paid and waited for the tech to bring Kenai out. And waited. And waited. Finally the receptionist told me that she was sorry, but it would be a moment or two more. That distraught gentleman? His dog had to be put down.
I was already a basket of nerves, scared and upset because I knew Kenai was likely confused and in pain and it was because of me. Hearing this? Now I just wanted to cry for like a month. So, so, so awful.
A few minutes more passed. They asked me to pull my car around. I did. The tech brought Kenai out. 
My poor, poor naked butt dog. So sad. So hurt. So pathetic.
We got him loaded up and I headed to the barn with him. The temps were in the upper 60s and I would be able to park in the shade. He would be very comfortable while I rode the horses.
After futzing around at the barn for an hour or so, I headed home. 
I wasn't sure how I'd get Kenai out of the car without help, but I figured we'd get it done somehow.
Ha. Haha. No.
In my efforts to help him out, he started whining and whimpering. I tried to alter what I was doing. His protests increased. I decided to just get it over with as quick and safely as I could, hips under towel, one of my hands on that and another on his collar.
He screamed.
He screamed the worst scream I've EVER heard him scream. I helped him flop in the grass, apologizing to him again and again and again. I sat down beside him and just sobbed.
With some time, I was able to get up and help him inside without issue. I got him to lie down, eat a meal of his food piece by piece from my hand. He even drank some water! But then he wanted up again. Bathroom? Well, okay.
I assisted him outside - always with the towel under his hips to support his back end - and we hobbled in tandem for awhile. He would gaze off at the horses, sniff the air, sniff the ground, big doggie smile on his face.
Pee? Poop? No. Not with me beside him at any rate. He doesn't usually like to go on a leash either. So I took a leap of faith, figuring it would be quicker and easier to let him do it on his own. 
I dropped the towel to the ground. "Go pee!" I encouraged. 
Lo and behold, he hobbled off on his own and took a nice poo. When he finished he hobbled right back to me, I replaced the towel sling, and we went inside. Good boy!
The rest of the evening went without great issue. He can't stand up on his own. He has trouble lying down. We did the assist then independent hobble routine once more for him to pee. Good boy!
He slept through the night relatively well, though he did wake up in surprise from the pain and cried a few times. I comforted him, and we went back to sleep.
We're not out of the woods yet, but definitely moving in a great direction.
Dogs are survivors. Dogs are survivors. Dogs are survivors.This is my new mantra. We (he) can do this.
(Follow up [because I drafted this awhile ago]: Kenai is doing great almost a week out of surgery. He's perkier and happier by the day. Seeing people he knows and enjoys has been the best for pulling him out of his post-op depression of sorts. His tail wags more and more each day, his eyes are brighter, he's moving more, and his appetite is slowly returning. <3 my puppy.)

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