How can you not love them…

I met Casey and her mom at the Langley Emergency Clinic just after Basty’s crisis.  We were waiting for the ambulance to take us to Canada West.  I couldn’t get over how much she resembled Basty in both appearance and personality.  Such a tender and loving creature…

Casey’s mom, Gail, practices Holistic Veterinary near Kelowna, BC… here is her web site:  http://holisticvet.ca/index.htm

Thanks for the photo Gail…!!

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Synopsis

Here is a quick synopsis of what Basty’s operation found.  It is unfortunate that the operation really turned out to be more exploratory and less of a fix.  I feel so bad having put him through all of this pain, only to find out that he would have been better off with just rest to reduce the inflamed area… and perhaps chiropractic later on to address the chronic issues.

At any rate, here is what the spine should look like… you can see the spinal cord running smoothly along the vertebrae, with the disc’s separating each vertebrae at intervals along the spine… the disc’s do not protrude into the spinal cord. 

And here is what Basty’s look like:

The prolapsed intervertebral disc being the problem… essentially, the disc is herniated towards the spinal cord.  And Basty has three or four of these, of varying degrees… one of them was thought to be a rupture, and more critical.  The “exploration” required that a hole be drilled into the vertebrae bone to allow an instrument in to ‘feel’ between the spinal cord and the disc.  When the instrument was used to ‘feel’ along the spinal cord, it became apparent that we were dealing with a chronic condition rather than a recent rupture.

The only “fix” that the operation had, was that a small hole was drilled into the disc in a direction away from the spinal cord so that any pressure induced on the disc would herniate or rupture in a direction away from the spinal cord.

The following is a good reference, and where I obtained the diagrams: 

http://www.caninechiro.com/id7.html

1st Post Op Visit

Had a good visit with Basty this afternoon.  He was happy to see me, but in some obvious discomfort.  He tried to lay still on his tummy, and did well for the most part, but there were a couple of times where he tried to stand to address his discomfort.  This was not a good thing as he only made it worse.  After about 20 minutes, he needed to go back into ICU for a dose of pain meds. 

I brought along his favorite food (Club Canine Buffalo Meal) and fed him during the visit.  He ate hardily… having his appetite back so quickly is a good sign.  I left an extra serving with the nurse, to feed him later on.  I also left her with a couple of doggy peperoni sticks… a favorite treat.

I had a chance to chat with Dr Higgins.  A gave me a run down of what he found, by drawing a few diagrams (a picture is worth a thousand words).  I will scan and post them later, with an explanation of what he found.

The recovery prognosis is good.  Often, it takes some time before a dog will try to stand or put weight on his legs after this type of surgery.  Basty has already been doing this, which is encouraging.  He will be monitored over the next couple of days to see how he progresses, and we will decide when it is best to discharge him.  Part of his recovery will be to have a physio work with him to get movement back in his legs, and to help him to start putting weight on them.

My biggest worry is the potential for parallasis after such an operation.  Dr Higgins seems to think that this is very slight, and not something to worry about.

Post Op

I just spoke to Dr Higgins, the neurologist and surgeon in Basty’s case.  The operation went well, but had some unexpected ‘complications’.  Twice during the surgery, he had to exit the OR to review the MRI’s.  As we had discussed, Basty definitely has a three or four discs with long term trauma.  But the pain meds and keeping him subdued over the past week seems to have had a good effect, as Dr Higgins had a bit of a hard time finding what he was looking for.  It sounded like surgery may not have been necessary, but he did some work on the disc in question, trying not to agitate the spinal cord (sometimes the spinal cord and disc can adhere to each other when this kind of trauma has been around for a while).  He did a controlled weakening of the disc so that if it were to herniate in the future, it would not do so toward the spinal cord (not his words… my translation of what he said).

Basty will be kept sedated for pain tonight, and he will reevaluate him in the morning.  I will go in tomorrow afternoon to sit down with Dr Higgins to discuss the operation in more depth, and to discuss a strategy of physical therapy to help him recover.  Hopefully, more surgery is not going to be a requirement.

Checked in for surgery

We left the house at 06:30 to drive to Canada West.  45 min in good traffic can be a lot longer in rush hour.  We arrived around 08:00.  I walked him around the block before going in.  Filled out the tons of paper work, absolving everyone from everything.  We said our good byes; I told him that I would be back (the usual signals when I leave him somewhere, to let him know that I will be back), and gave him a parting kiss.

Now to keep my mind off of him for a while… tough when you know he is about to endure such an operation.

On the positive side, I gave him his last dose of Gabapentin last night.  I was instructed not to give him his morning dose.  Interestingly, Basty was back to being himself this morning.  He was steadier on his feet, and seemed his more usual chipper self.  Aside from mild Ataxia, I suspect the drug was also affecting his mood.  Something I will have to consider when we decide what kind of medication he needs to be on for the short and long term.  He did have a bit of a rough night… found it hard to find a comfortable position… his back was definitely bothering him.

Sending you energy and strength for a speedy recovery, Basty…

~ from my iPhone

Steady as he goes…

Borrowing from an order a commander might give as they direct the course of their ship, steady as he goes describes how Basty is doing.  Walks have been short, and visits with canine pals kept subdued.  He gets carried up/down stairs, and is not allowed to jump onto or off of anything.  I am not sure if he is more bewildered by it, or just enjoying this new royal status..!!

Administering his medication (Gabapentin) twice daily, has been a challenge.  Anyone who knows Basty, knows that he is a very picky eater.  Historically, I have always asked for meds in liquid form because Basty just won’t swallow a pill.  Unfortunately, there is no liquid alternative to Gabapentin.  I have tried the pill-popper with zero success.  I have resorted to pushing the pill to the back of his throat with my fingers.  He pretends to have swallowed the pill, and as soon as I release his mouth, he spits out the pill. After the second or third try, he finally swallows.  The key is to get him to swallow before the gel coating dissolves in his mouth as the med is very bitter.  I think I am getting better at it.  This morning I set up to give him his breakfast, and fed him some before I tried to give him the pill.  I then placed the pill in the back of his mouth and he swallowed right away.  I am hoping that the lure of a waiting meal or treat will be the key..!

One of the possible side effects of Gabapentin, is Ataxia… loss of coordination.  I am not sure if he is showing signs of ataxia, or if it is because of the pressure on his spinal cord due to the ruptured disc, but he does waiver somewhat in his hind quarters.  I have also noticed some unsteadiness on his front legs.  I will identify this to the neurologist.

I take him in to Canada West for his disc surgery tomorrow (Thursday).  He needs to be there by 8:00 in the morning.  The surgery is scheduled for 10:30.  I am worried about how much pain he will be in post surgery.  But I am encouraged to know that the surgery is fairly routine, and recovery is fairly quick.  It will mean a couple of weeks of keeping him off of his feet (short bio breaks only), and then four to six weeks of very low key walk breaks.

Basty Stable for now

Dr Tim Andrews of CBVC call me on Saturday evening to chat about Basty’s condition.  His fax machine was loaded with items from the Langley Emergency and from Canada West.  The final diagnosis was not yet included, so I explained what Dr Higgins talked about wrt the MRI results, and the pressing concern regarding Disc surgery to eliminate the rupture that is pressing on his spinal cord.  Dr Andrews gave me a run down on what is involved with Disc surgery… essentially, the gel inside the Disc is removed and the vertebrae has bone shaved off in the area of the Disc.  The muscle and tendons in the area are sufficient to support the spine.  The fibrous material of the Disc is left in place to provide padding between the vertebrae, and the shaving of the vertebrae bone prevents the vertebrae from rubbing together.

Saturday night, Sunday, and Sunday night have seen me catering to Basty, hand and foot.  Trying to keep him from being too active, but he is a dog after all.  He wants to go for a walk, but I need to limit them, and he is not happy about it.  His restlessness at night is keeping me up.  He has problems finding a comfortable position, and has obvious discomfort.  I also need to take him out for a pee in the middle of the night to ensure that internal pressures don’t irritate his spinal condition.  Of course, stairs are out of the question, so I am his ‘elevator’ any time we need to go up or down.  He is on a drug called Gabapentin to address his pain, typically prescribed for neurological issues.

Recovery from Disc surgery is a 6 to 8 week process.  The surgery is quite common, and has a high success rate.  The first couple of weeks require that activity be kept to a minimum.  Soon he will be back on his feet, with short walks on the menu.  Just need to keep him subdued, and avoid any excitement.

May I be the kind of person Basty thinks I am.