February 5th, 2018
Day 1 of this new journey.
Heading to St. John’s to meet with her surgeon, Dr. Bailey, at the VSC hospital. She’s hungry and in pain as she fasting and her morning pain medication was withheld. Struggling to get comfortable in the car. I’ve been sitting in the back seat with her and she’s been resting on my lap but now, an hour into our trip, she’s restless, uncomfortable, and panting, which is one of the signs of excessive pain in dogs. I really wish we could have given her medication to help with this trip. But we have to follow the dr’s orders strictly because the last thing we want is something to go wrong.
February 5th, 2018
Day 1 – Afternoon
So it looks like Zoey’s leg was in even worse shape than we thought. Her CCL ligament is completely ruptured, she has a torn meniscus and her knee is completely non-functional. And to make matters worse, her right knee is also full of inflammation and fluid and has a partial CCL tear as well. So what does that mean? She has been diagnosed with Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease. The rupture is something that has resulted in a slow degeneration over time, not an actual injury. The only way to fix it and prevent her losing all function of both hind legs is surgery. A very big surgery.
At 7:30 tomorrow morning Zoey will be admitted to VSC Hospital in St. John’s to undergo what’s called a Bilateral Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (BTPLO). The complete ligament will be removed and then they will cut right through the tibia bone and rotate it 90 degrees. A metal plate will then be screwed into her bone to secure it together and make her knee strong and sturdy. This will be done on both legs.
They tell me that things have to get worse before they get better. But how do you explain this to your baby girl when she’s looking deep into your eyes, questioning why her mommy and daddy are crying so much?
February 6th, 2018
Day 2 – Morning
At 7:30am we left our baby in the care of the professionals. Lots of hugs and kisses and many tears were shed as we told her we loved her and that everything was going to be ok. She licked our tears away with such strong confidence, as if to say ‘yes, I know Mom. Everything is going to be fine.”
Her level of communication and her ability to show compassion exceeds any level that I’ve ever seen in an animal.
Now, we wait. For calls, texts, pictures etc from Dr. Bailey throughout the day. First she will be given a bath with a micro-antibacterial shampoo to cleanse her skin to reduce chance of infection. We certainly don’t want infection to get into the implant. Good luck, baby girl. We’re right here waiting.
February 6th, 2018
Day 2 – Evening
Zoey’s Bilateral TPLO surgery was a success. It’s been a very long day on all of us. We spent 4 hours just wandering through the Avalon Mall because we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. We went back and forth to the hospital 4 times to check with the staff and get updates despite the fact that they promised to call. I just needed to hear it in person. And she’s ok! She’s awake and doing well tonight. She’s in pain and uncomfortable so they’re giving her some more sedation and gravol and keeping her in the icu tonight. They said that despite her being so miserable she is still very friendly and gentle with the staff and all the technicians have fallen in love with her. Both legs are bandaged now and will be changed in the morning. She’s being watched all night by her very own personal aid.
Personally? I’m completely exhausted. I’m worn out both emotionally and physically. My feet are aching from so much walking today and I’m having a lot of phantom pain in my shoulder. But it’s nothing I haven’t dealt with before! I am definitely looking forward to a nice hot shower and a chance to lie down with David beside me. He has been having a hard time as well. To hold my husband in my arms as he sobs is a very humbling thing. We are in bay Roberts at my mother in laws for the night. We will be going to St. John’s tomorrow afternoon to visit my baby girl and we are allowed to go and sit with her and feed her supper if she is awake and able to handle the excitement of seeing us! One of the technicians just text us this picture, of the aid sitting on the floor giving Zoey some cuddles. And anyone who knows Zoey knows that no matter how miserable she is feeling she always wants to be cuddled.
February 6th, 2018
Day 2 – night
Her bandage on her knee is starting to slide down and they were just getting ready to take it off and re-bandage it. She’s quiet. Haven’t barked or whined much at all. She’s on a morphine drip, Onsior, Tramadol and Gabapentin tonight. Sweet dreams, my precious angel. We love you to infinity and beyond!
February 7th, 2018
Day 3 – Morning
Zoey had a good night. She ate a little chicken and a few sips of water. She was on IV fluids until 3am. Unfortunately she hasn’t done her pee since yesterday so they are a little concerned about that. They are thinking it’s because she still recovering from the epidural so they are giving her a little more time And if she doesn’t Pee soon they are going to express her bladder. When Dr. Bailey took her bandages off this morning one of her legs is oozing fluid a little so that is another cause for concern. They are going to put her on some antibiotics to make sure that she doesn’t get a full blown infection in the incision. She has also been trying to pick at the bandage on that particular leg so she ended up having to start wearing the cone. I hate those big plastic cones because they look so uncomfortable on her so we went and purchased a Kong E collar which is like a doughnut and it is inflatable. It will be a lot more comfortable for her and it’s much less awkward for her to turn her head and to see things around her. So we are bringing that in when we go visit this afternoon. During the night the staff had her standing on her legs and she is bearing her weight which they are very pleased with. Of course they have a support harness on her so someone is holding her at all times. So even though she can stand she isn’t bearing 100% of her weight on her own. They also had her outside to get some fresh air three times now. And she loved that. I am very impressed with the care and attention that’s always getting at this hospital. And they have been very patient with David and I as well. David jokingly said that Zoey is getting better care than most people do in our regular hospitals! They have been very patient with me and my anxiety over all of this. They have been texting us with pictures and updates and throughout the night we text them several times because we couldn’t sleep, wondering how our baby was doing. And within five minutes of sending a text to them they always responded with an update and a picture of her at that particular time. I am so incredibly grateful for the people that work at the VSC hospital. I really could not ask for anything any better for our girl.
February 7th, 2018 Day 3 – Evening
We just left from visiting with our baby girl. She’s hurting. A lot. We had the family room to ourselves, which was really nice. Both David and I got on the floor and lay down with her. I was wearing a black shirt and I didn’t care how much dirt and dust and fur covered me, I just wanted to be on the ground on her level. We laid with her on the floor and as she cried we cried. A lot of tears were shed in that family room today as we wrapped her arms around our baby girl and listen to her crying. My heart is so heavy that it feels like my chest can’t hold it in place. My shoulders are aching and my head is throbbing. But this is completely insignificant compared to the pain that Zoey is in at this moment. Her eyes are getting matted from tears. After 15 minutes with us she began hyperventilating and Dr. Bailey came in and gave her a morphine injection. She’s back in her kennel in the ICU now and they said she should be asleep very soon. She did her pee so they didn’t have to express her bladder after all. She hasn’t eaten all day though. Had a mouthful of chicken overnight. We brought her food but couldn’t get her to even taste it. She is trying very hard to lick her legs and ended up scratching herself with the edge of the cone so they are going to put an even bigger one on her. She’s very confused and I think seeing us just made her worse because she wants to come with us. So we had to leave. She was too upset. It broke my heart. I wanted to scoop her up and take her home. But she’s not ready for that yet. Dr. Bailey is very proud of her though because she’s able to stand and bear some of her weight. Some dogs are fearful and take much longer to make their first step. Zoey is a true fighter. She is extremely well behaved and obeys every command she is given. Keep fighting my angel. You can do this!
February 8th, 2018 Day 4 – Afternoon
Zoey isn’t doing as well as Dr. Bailey was hoping today. So they want to keep her in another night. Not the positive update I had been hoping for. Her incision on one leg is oozing and they don’t want to release her until they make sure that it’s not going to turn into a full-blown infection. And she’s also not eating much of anything other than a few bites of chicken. They have her on antibiotics so hopefully that will catch any infection there may be. She’s much more alert today and was very excited to see Dr. Bailey when she went in this morning, tail wagging and lots of kisses. She’s a little restless which is actually a good sign because she wants to move around now. So we are here now for another night, staying at David’s mom’s place in Bay Roberts. David had to call work as he was scheduled to go in tonight and he had to cancel his shift for both tonight and tomorrow. So that’s a full week now off work. But what else can you do? We are not taking Zoey home until she is well enough to do so.
February 8th, 2018 Day 4 – Night
Zoey is doing really good tonight. Ate a little bit more, dog food this time. Still no poop but the pain meds are probably constipating her. Hasn’t been eating much or moving around so Dr. Bailey isn’t too concerned. They are giving her another day and if she still hasn’t had a bowel movement then she will be prescribed something to help move things along. When we go home, I will start giving her a 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin 2x a day. It acts as a stool softener. As long as she’s not active we will keep pumpkin as part of her daily menu. They started her off with no cone around her neck to see if she would be OK with not licking her legs but that didn’t last. They put a cone on her that was a size large but discovered that she was still able to get access to the bandages on her leg so they removed that one and put an extra large cone on her. Then earlier this evening when I got a call from the doctor with an update she started to laugh. Apparently Zoey is incredibly smart and very flexible because despite wearing an extra large cone she still managed to twist her body in a way that allowed her to still be able to reach her incisions. So now she has graduated to what they call the satellite dish! It is the largest cone that exists and it is usually only use on the large Newfoundland breed dogs, which are at least twice her size. She’s going to have to wear this for at least the next three weeks because it is very important that nothing happens to those incisions. If she pulls out her stitches then it could possibly result in them having to do another surgery. I can’t imagine what is going to be like to have her going around our house with that satellite dish on her head. It’s going to be quite a challenge, that’s for sure! I was told tonight that Zoey has made quite an impact on the staff that have them working in the ICU section these past few days. So he has such a unique personality. The doctor said that a lot of animals come and go through that place and OK usually you’ll get one that really makes an impact on them because their personality is so unique. And Zoey has done exactly that. Whenever someone walks by her kennel she wags her tail and gives them her famous grin. She is getting her legs iced several times a day and when they do it the staff sit on the floor with her. They wrapped her legs with the ice packs and they spent some time talking to her, giving her lots of hugs, scratching her ears, and just spending one on one time with her. She pays no attention to the fact that there is ice on her legs because she is too busy giving those sloppy kisses. When you talk to her so he listens to your every word. She makes direct eye contact and it’s as if she understands every single word you say. You could sit and tell her your life story and she will sit and look at you and listen to your every word. I am positive she knows exactly what you are saying. The staff have grown to really enjoy these direct one on one sessions with her. Can you imagine having a job like that? Getting to sit on the floor and cuddle with all of these amazing animals? I would love to be able to do something like that all day and get paid for it! But anyways, Zoey is there for one more night with the staff at VSC hospital and at 9 AM tomorrow morning we are going to be getting our baby girl! We are having an information session with Dr. Bailey where she will teach us exactly how to work with Zoey and use the harness that she will be wearing for the next several weeks. I have been very upset and anxious about how I, personally, I’m going to be able to handle all of this with just one arm but Dr. Bailey promised that when we leave with her tomorrow morning I will be able to handle her on my own. She is going to show us, not just tell us, but actually show us how to walk with her and use a harness to assist her. There’s going to be lots of physical therapy to be done with her every day which we will be learning about tomorrow. The surgery part maybe don’t but it’s real journey is just beginning
February 9th, 2018 Day 5 – Morning In less than 2 hours we will have our princess in the car with us, heading home!! There are Many mixed feelings floating around in the air between David and I here in the car. We are both sitting in silence, lost in our own thoughts and fears about this next part. What if we hurt her? What if we do something wrong or forget to give her all of her pills? Or what if our other dog, Buddy, accidentally hurts her? That poor little guy …. Right now he thinks he’s on vacation lol He has been staying with my aunt and uncle in Comfort Cove and by the sounds of things he’s having a wonderful time! Yesterday they even took him in the woods with them! He has been doing good while away from us so for that I am beyond thankful. But inside, my heart is aching to have him with me. I miss him. His cuddles, his sneaky ways, his bark, his body against my chest. My biggest fear is that he thinks I abandoned him
February 9th, 2018 Day 5 – Night Reality has hit me like a slap in the face. Yes, we are overjoyed to have her out of hospital and home with us. But that means it’s OUR responsibility to care for her now. There are no doctors or technicians. There’s no one. Here we are now with a bruised and battered creature that we are afraid to touch for fear of hurting her or doing something wrong that could cause more damage. Me and David sat on the floor in our living room with her and iced her legs, one at a time. We cried our way through the range of motion exercises with her because we had no idea if we were doing it right and we knew we were causing her discomfort. But it’s done now. Meds have been given. And she’s relaxing again. Tomorrow is a new day, and David is back to work. Am I capable of doing this??
February 10th, 2018 Day 6 – Morning First night home was … interesting. Zoey slept comfortably on her bed next to us up until 3am, when we woke to her crying. She was restless and uncomfortable and we didn’t really know what to do for her because she wasn’t do any medication until five hours later. David ended up sleeping on the floor for a few hours with his head on her bed next to her and after that I took over and laid on the couch with my hand resting on her as she lay on our bed right next to me. That got us through until 8 o’clock this morning when she woke again. Getting her to eat is difficult because she doesn’t seem to have much appetite. I wouldn’t be trying to force food so much if she didn’t have to eat with the medications. Her breakfast consisted of two spoonfuls of wet dog food one spoonful of a peanut butter and banana mixture and one small piece of cheese, all with pills hidden inside. It was a long morning, but I got through it.