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So, where are we now?

While I don’t want to be totally one dimensional by only writing about Belle, I do appreciate that there are those among you who would like to know what the present situation is. So for those who are interested, here’s a more detailed update.

A couple of weeks ago I began to be concerned that she wasn’t putting any weight on her broken leg. Granted it was still fairly soon after the operation and the two major incisions had not yet healed, but I couldn’t help but think that something was wrong. I brought this up with my local vet each time I took Belle in for an anti arthritis shots, but I obviously wasn’t firm enough in voicing my concern, as the vet offered no advice other than it must still be sore. Finally after bringing it up on three separate occasions, she suggested that I take her back to the vet who did the operation (70 miles away). So I made an appointment to see him in four days time.

Before he examined her, he got me do walk her around on a lead so that he could see what the deal was, and immediately said that it may already be a lost cause, and that he had told me that I needed to do regular physio therapy on her. WTF was he talking about?! Yes he did say that I needed to bend her leg every day, but he didn’t say that if I didn’t do it, she could develop a Volkmann contraction which would ultimately render her leg useless. I had tried to do it a couple of times, but every time I did, the staples would pop open, plus I was scared that I would damage the repair job at the knee (I had visions of re-breaking the leg by pushing too hard), additionally, she was in obvious distress whenever I tried, so I just left her alone.

Apparently these contractions can happen in a couple of days on young dogs (something else I found out later), so it’s critical to make sure the joint can bend. Although in truth, I don’t believe I ever felt the knee bend, as for the first week the leg was in a bandage, and the second week the incisions were still bleeding so I couldn’t really do much. By the time the wounds had sealed, the quadricep had already lost all elasticity. If you aren’t familiar with any of this, it’s becasue the scar tissue overwhelms the muscle tissue. And if you haven’t caught on yet, this condition is a result of the operation – not the accident!

If the leg never regains any function, then the recommended course of action is amputation, which is why I said last week that she may lose her leg, it has nothing to do with an infection. So there you have it, the reason I was so bummed last week. However over the past week and a half I’ve read all the literature, spoken to several vets (as well as MDW who is an OT) and am now convinced that this happened through no fault of mine, and while that doesn’t make the situation any better, it does alleviate the sense of guilt I was feeling.

So, where are we now? After a week and a half of physio sessions five times a day, and crating her for the periods in between, I’ve managed to get about 15 – 20 degrees range of motion in her knee, which isn’t much but it’s better than nothing, and I have managed to prevent the leg from seizing up completely. She does occasionally put some weight on it, but not enough for me to think it’s the beginning of the healing process, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.


36 Responses

  1. What an amazing month you’ve been through. You’ve obviously done what you can and only time will tell. Were you supposed to be a mind reader about the post op care? The fault for lack of ROM exercises is the vets if he was not clear about after care. I hope she does better now. I’ve got my fingers crossed for you.

  2. Your devotion to your pet is commendable, and your misgivings about the veterinary treatment understandable. Ain’t nuthin’ like the look in their eyes when you are obliged to hurt them (for their own good) or hold their foreleg while the fatal injection is administered.

  3. Billy – Unfortunately I’ve also had the experience of holding a foreleg while a lethal injection has been administered (twice), it’s not something I’d like to do too often (twice is probably enough for me).

  4. Things area lot clearer now. I could never believe the problem was your fault and as you say this doesn’t make it any better but you can let go of the guilt. Presumably the physio will need to continue for many weeks if not months!

  5. I will keep my fingers crossed for you and for Belle, WT. I like you better for your commitment to your furry friends, you know.

  6. i love that cartoon, WT.

  7. Oh, Peter…this does a little sound hopeful. I can’t imagine anyone doing more for their puppy.

    The cartoon is perfect. I went back to read it after reading your post as I was anxious to hear news about Belle.

  8. I will keep my fingers crossed too. Every bit helps!

  9. I’m glad she has gotten some range of motion back. I hope your working with her will continue to bring good results.

    I’m also glad you are not feeling so guilty about this. You have done so much more already than most people would. It also sounds as though that vet needs to work on his communication skills. He should not have assumed you would know more than he told you, especially since it seems another vet didn’t even know.

    Get well soon, Belle!

  10. The cartoon is so cute. I think that some people have children for the very same reason.

    It seems that you’re hopeful Belle will regain at least some of the use of her leg. I have been thinking about her since you last posted about her leg. Thanks for the update.

  11. I’m truly sorry about Belle, but am really relieved that you’re not beating yourself up quite so badly about it. Seriously, if a medical professional doesn’t spell something out pretty clearly, how are you supposed to read their minds? That wasn’t your fault, it was theirs. And I’m glad you’re realizing that.

    You’re a pretty cool doggy daddy. She’ll get there.

  12. I am hoping with you for the best outcome for Belle. I hope she will regain use of her leg again. She is young and dogs seem to be so tough, maybe the miraculous will happen. I hope so. My Spunky got run over three times and went on to run again. Once the vet said, “no hope” and yet the next day, he got up and ran around. His back got crushed badly. What a tough dog he was! He even got shot two different times. He must have had nine lives like a cat.

  13. ((WT)) What a rough time you two have had! Hopefully, it’ll just continue to heal and get better and better. I would have done (or not done) the same thing if I had been the caretaker. Popping staples would have stopped my “professional treatments” immediately too.

    Your love for her is more helpful than any vet!

  14. Keep at it! She may end up being more resilient than the vets would have you believe. She is already showing signs of improvement…it may get even better over time.

    I had to do that to Zeus last year when he had his surgery. I felt so bad. Everytime I got down to work that leg he gave me the “don’t hurt me” soft eyes.

  15. Hi WT, I think that vet has a brother in SA who has been “looking after” my daughter Vicki’s health.
    With the right care Vicki seems to be improving so we can only hope Belle will do the same.

  16. Oh man WT, I’m so sorry for you and for Belle. I know the last thing you want is pity, I’m not, honestly; just totally sympathizing with you because I know how much you love your dogs!! Our bodies are complicated things, too complicated and you should never have felt guilty, not for one minute…..Hugs for your hard work in physical therapy that you are giving her. I hope the time with your wife was good and that it helped ease your heart.

  17. Glad to hear that you’re not beating yourself up anymore. The vet clearly didn’t give you enough information – ever heard of a hand-out, dude? Something with detailed instructions, maybe showing your client what to do before they go home? Moron.

    Being the optimistic sort, I think there’s some hope if you’ve already gotten some movement back. You’re a damn good pet owner.

    Thanks for the update.

  18. that is good news, keep doing the physio on her. anyone who’s read your blog for any time knows you’re an excellent pet owner and do whatever you can for your “kids.”

  19. Keeping my fingers,legs,toes and eyes crossed!!
    That will make my life rather difficult but I hope it helps Belle recover!! HUGS to you and Belle! I’m hoping for the best!

  20. First of all, I’m very disappointed in your vet…I think he totally let you down in the communication/client education department.
    Second of all, don’t give up. It may seem like small progress you are making, but to me is sounds like GREAT progress! KEEP DOING WHAT YOU ARE DOING! It will only get better the more you do it.
    Third, do you have any water around there where she could swim? (I don’t know if your temperatures would allow this…I know it’s getting to be winter there.) Or even if you have a deep tub you could fill with warm water and walk her back and forth in it (not as good as swimming). Swimming would work wonders if you had a way, but I know that is a long shot. But what you are doing sounds great and I’m so impressed with your dedication. Thanks for the update and keep up the good work!

  21. Oh WT. I’m so sorry about your poor little Belle. What a horrible experience for the BOTH of you. I think the person above me had a good idea, though. The swimming thing would probably help a lot… if you could get her into a shallow pool and let her doggy paddle around a little bit.

    Hang in there, mate. I’m thinking about ya and that little baby angel pup.

  22. All my fingers and toes crossed too :-).
    I know how the vets are and they don’t explain things well enough, you did the best you knew to do and there is no fault there, but with the vet.
    Big hug to you and Belle and all the posse.

  23. That cartoon made me laugh!

    Sorry you’ve been going through all this grief (in more ways than one) with Belle! Thanks for the update. I can see why you weren’t in a mood to post.

    Geesh, with staples popping open, I would also have been scared to move her leg like that! Sounds like the vets didn’t really give you enough information. No doubt you did your best.

    Keep doing what you’re doing now, and we’ll keep our fingers/paws crossed!

  24. GRRR I get SO FRUSTRATED with both docs and vets that expect people to be mindreaders and immediately understand all of the nuance in a complex situation! If you hadn’t been so vigilant and on top of this there would be no hope at all – instead, again, your loving care of poor little Belle is phenomenal.

    best wishes with this, and give her a hug for me.

  25. Thanks for the update, Peter. I don’t know who I feel sorrier for – you or Belle. I know it must hurt her but I do not think it hurts physically as much as it hurts you emotionally. Oh, wait, I forgot. You are a curmudgeon and therefore safe. I will save all my sympathy for the pup…lol.

    Glad she is doing better (and you also).

  26. I have my fingers crossed for her. And you have looked after her brilliantly Willowtree. If you had done it everyday from early on and opened up her wounds then surely her risk of infection would have been huge.
    I’d have done what you did so I’m glad you’re letting go of the guilt. Guilt is evil.

  27. Oh, dear. Physical therapy is painful on humans, too, so it’s going to hurt Belle. Still, it’s a much better outcome than euthanasia. It’s a long process, but she’ll be better, and then you can send her to me (I think I’m number 23 on your list of people who want Belle). The staples popping open would have scared me, too, but there’s always good old gauze and tape in a pinch. It worked in WWII. Glad she’s crate trained, because otherwise she would held captive in a room without the rest of the family. And I am especially happy that she’s still with us. (Did that move me up to No. 22?) Happy for the update, even if your vet is an idiot.

  28. Poor girl!! Poor You!!

    Great thing about our four legged kids is that they don’t find fault like we humans like to do.

    First of all, you aren’t a vet and gave her the BEST of care YOU could. If you were a vet, your attitude might just be “Oh, another injured dog, ho-hum”. So what if her life is not what you had planned? You still love her and Belle has the best of care in your home and will continue to have a life of love and affection for the rest of her days.

    Luckily, animal medicine, much like human medicine is not an exact science, but more like a “best guess” at times. Hopefully you and Belle will trust yourselves to heal up and get back to more routine activities. Like night adventures….

  29. let us hope that Belle takes good care of the 3 remaining.
    I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a dog that is as accident prone as she.
    Hard headed girl, that one.

  30. swimming! brilliant! that definitely would help.

  31. What a horrible roller coaster ride this has been for you and Belle. I am so sorry this is happening, but it does sound like she is showing some improvement. I am also glad your guilt is relieved a bit….you are a wonderful dog owner and Belle is a lucky girl…I am holding on to the hope that she will be able to keep her leg…

  32. I completely see where you’re coming from and I wouldn’t have done one thing any differently than you have. It all makes sense, the necessity of it, but at the expense/cost of upsetting her, undoing all that repair work etc… no way! I think you did the right thing- in all things considered. It’s absolutely not your fault. No-one explained it well or even thought to teach you how to help her successfully without also causing harm. I’d be looking into things like T-Touch Massage, etc… I think it’s still possible to do enough physio to avoid amputation. She’s young and she will work with you and communicate with you. The degree of bend you’ve got so far is good. I appreciate you finally feeling like talking about it. I’ve worried about you guys and checked in on you daily. Sometimes more than daily. I don’t think there’s anything else you could have done. If it didn’t even feel like it was bending in the beginning… I bet there was too much swelling, etc… and you would have done more harm than good.

  33. I’ll second the swimming idea, if at all possible. I used to do it for the arthritis when I was a kid and it’s way easier and less painful.

  34. I feel bad for both of you! And too bad you can’t kick the vet in the a**. Sometimes, they are sooooo aggravating!! I will keep my fingers crossed and say a few prayers and hope that the two of you will soon be thinking happy thoughts and feeling much better.

  35. WE are all keeping our fingers crossed…

    Just a reminder that Karmyn’s Baby Shower is Friday.

  36. Hey WT my fingers are crossed too and I am confident that this will work out. You are a brilliant daddy to Belle.

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