February 28th, 2018 Day 24 I’m totally exhausted. Dr. Bailey said that we would have to devote ourselves to Zoey’s recovery if we wanted this to be successful and she wasn’t kidding. For the past 24 days my life has been dictated by the clock. Potty time. Feeding time. Medication time. Therapy time. Play time. Massage time. Vet appointments. Cuddle time.
March 1st, 2018 Day 25 I never thought that we would have to face something like this with Zoey. Unfortunately, torn ACL’s are very common in dogs. The ACL ligament helps to stabilize the knee. Active dogs, sedentary or overweight dogs, and dogs who were spayed or neutered before puberty are all at increased risk for ACL injury. If you think that sounds like a large population of dogs, you would be correct. It’s also a known fact a high percentage of dogs (somewhere between 30-60%, depending on the study) that tear one ACL will tear the ACL in their other leg within two years of the initial injury. Ouch! Zoey ended up with both of her legs being affected. Double ouch! I wanted to give our girl the best care so I did a lot of research before the surgery and I still do some reading on it every day. I keep learning how other families have dealt with this and I find it so interesting. One of the best resources I found online was actually a free one. It was TopDogHealth.com, run by a licensed veterinarian, Dr. James St. Clair, who has dedicated his professional career to helping dogs recover from the type of condition that Zoey has. I signed up for his newsletter and printed out a long, detailed guide to TPLO recovery. I gotta say that I was pretty impressed with it. Week by week it outlines exactly what Zoey should be able to do. It talks about what physiotherapy we should be doing with her and includes diagrams to show us how to do each thing. I’m really grateful that there are resources like this online.
March 2nd, 2018 Day 26 Well we are almost half way through the first 8 week period of Zoey’s recovery. Keeping her calm and quiet for the first eight weeks is critical in this recovery process, because she is basically healing from 2 broken legs. But weeks 9 through 16 are also just as important. If a human being had a leg injury of this kind, you know what would happen. Surgery, yes. Then what? Physical therapy. And finally, a lot more hard work that eventually leads back to full activity. Limited walking, slow walking, normal walking, short jog, longer jog, and then, and only then, back to a full run or quick sprint anytime you feel like it. Zoey started walking on her legs within a week. It has been getting progressively better, and now at almost 4 weeks post-op, Zoey is stronger on her legs than she he had been prior to surgery. But she is still far, far from truly recovered.
March 3rd, 2018 Day 27 It’s been a rough day. Zoey has been inconsolable. She has paced the floor. She’s tried to lie down on each dog bed. She’s tried to sit but she couldn’t even seem to lower herself far enough to do that. She’s had Tramadol this morning, which is an opiate pain medication. She had a dose of Gabapentin, which is a nerve pain medication. And this evening we had to give her Trazadone, which is a sedative. She cried and we have felt so helpless. David eventually picked her up using the harness and laid her on our bed and I laid down next to her and just held her. I wrapped a blanket around her for more comfort and I sang to her. Eventually she fell asleep and slept for a solid hour and a half. I really hope that tomorrow is a better day.
March 4th, 2018 Day 28 Zoey has had a lot of energy today and has tried every way possible to make sure she’s heard. She’s pouting and whining and reminds me of a toddler seeking attention. And she made every pee break last as long as possible. Walking slow, sniffing EVERYTHING, digging her head in whatever pile of snow she could find. So yeah. Easy to say that she is feeling good today.
March 5th, 2018 Day 29 So Zoey is now able to have 3 walks a day. She’s graduated from using the short lead to a slightly longer leash that allows her to walk a few feet ahead of me and I don’t have to hold her harness when she’s walking anymore. She’s loving the freedom!
March 6th, 2018 Day 30 One month down, two to go! She is walking well and using her legs more and more, but he is definitely stiff for a bit after a long period of rest. The first 8-12 weeks of recovery is so important to her overall success of the procedure. Over- activity can be disastrous, so limiting her activity while the bones heal and fuse with the plates, and keeping them stable (so as to not injure their other bones due to weight compensation) is crucial. However, insufficient activity can also leave her weak and set her up for additional injury down the road. It is all about balance and we hope that we make it to the end of Zoeys Journey Through TPLO Surgery and have her come through with flying colors!
March 9th, 2018 Day 33 Today was Zoey’s 4 week post op appointment with Dr. Goucie. It has been a long, painful day for her. She was sedated at 8:30am and at 2pm we picked her up. She was still very lethargic and her eyes were extremely bloodshot. My heart broke the minute I saw her. I climbed into the backseat of the car with her and she slept with her head in my hand during the full 45 minute ride home, only lifting her head several times, long enough to look at me for a minute and cry. Over all she got a good report but we have to be more strict with her. She’s having too much activity and she has some inflammation around the plates but nothing too serious. Seven days of an anti-inflammatory medication called Onsior again. She showed us the x-ray’s on the computer and what her legs look like today. It’s hard to look at. Reminds me of something from a horror movie. The plate is below her knee and almost to her ankle and there are seven screws in each leg. So much metal attached to her little bones. The bone has only just started to fused together so technically she still has two broken legs. It’s healing well but she still has a long road ahead of her yet and we were told that we have at least another four to six weeks of having her on leash. On the x-rays you can clearly see where the bone is broken in half. It’s starting to join now but Until we get x-rays that show absolutely no break in the bone then she has to be resting all the time. It’s frustrating for all of us. She wants to play and run and go outside by herself so she can go explore the way that all dogs like to do. But instead she is attached to a leash and is not allowed to go running around playing with her toys. It’s so hard to say no when she finds a toy and brings it to you so you can either throw it or play tug of war with her. But this is how it has to be for another 4-6 weeks. It HAS to. If not she will end up back in surgery to repair a slipped plate, a loose screw, or a freshly broken bone. It will be worth it in the end because when we DO get to open the door and let her run outside on her own, she will be able to run normally, without a limp, and without any pain. We are giving Zoey her life back by doing this. I wish I could could explain that to her though.
March 10, 2018 Day 34 It feels like we are right back to square one after yesterday’s procedures. She’s been crying all day. She’s exhausted and really drowsy from medication but she’s fighting against it. You would think that feeling as groggy as she does, she would just be sleeping. But she won’t lie down. I feel like she’s scared to let herself give in. Afraid that something may happen to her again if she falls asleep. Right now she’s sitting up on her bed, leaning against the wall, and she’s swaying. Her head slowly goes down and once it hits her chest she instantly sits up again. It’s painful to watch this and it reminds me of the intervention shows that portray individuals addicted to opiates, so high on the drugs that they can’t keep their eyes open or hold their head up. Thankfully the effects of the sedation from the vet appointment should be wearing off by the end of the day.
March 11th, 2018 Day 35 It’s been 35 days now since we began Zoey’s journey. 34 days ago she was diagnosed with Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease. Zoey was admitted to VSC Hospital in St. John’s and underwent what’s called a Bilateral Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (BTPLO). The complete ligament was removed and then they cut right through the tibia bone and rotated it 90 degrees. A metal plate was then screwed into her bone to secure it together and to make her knee strong and sturdy. This was done on both of legs. Leading up to this, Zoey was basically walking on 3 legs because she couldn’t bear weight on the 4th. Now she is walking on all 4, the way that she was meant to do. And as her healing continues I long to be able to watch her walk on her own without our assistance and then run. I hope this summer is great weather wise because I plan on celebrating Zoey’s recovery every day with lots of fun and activity!
March 15, 2018 Day 39 So I hand feed my dogs. I always have and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Some people do not agree with hand feeding but that’s ok. In my house we hand feed. For several months now Zoey has not been able to stay seated in one position throughout her meals because sitting upright on her bum is too painful for her because she can’t stretch out her legs or bend them up very well. Today, when it was their dinner time, they both sat and Zoey was able to stay seated long enough to eat all of her dinner. That is an amazing sign of improvement and I was so freakin excited when she took her last bite. Today she had her first comfortable mealtime in