Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Time to let go of the spare

Dogs are born with 3 legs and a spare... Well, it's now or nothing we decided. With the infection in Zane's leg, the odds of getting it cleared up were pretty slim. Often amputation is the route to go with severe bone infections. We didn't know exactly what was going on and our doctors were not clear either. So we had two situations that both called for an amputation.

We were money poor at that point. Kayla Lily and Zeke both had acl surgeries in August and September respectively. Then in November we did the hardware removal on Zane. First estimate that came in for the amputation was over $2400 at a specialty 24 hr care hospital. Holy cow! We were panicked.

I started shopping around- awful to think that you have to "shop" for reasonably priced surgery but we did. We were unwilling to use a general vet that could not offer overnight care. We knew that due to Zane's poor healing track record, he would need 24 hr supervision and damn good pain drugs. We found a 24 hr vet hospital that offered us the surgery for $1700 with 24 hr care and constant pain management via IV. We scheduled the surgery.

Upon meeting the surgeon, we soon realized he was not too optimistic about the outcome of an amputation for Zane and our ability to care for him afterward. His demeanor was a bit unsettling and we left with an uneasy feeling that morning. Greg headed out of town once again for work and I spent the day alternatively fretting and praying that God would lead the way, whatever He chose. That evening, the surgeon called. He had problems during surgery and Zane lost blood pressure. They were able to get things back under control and he was  awake now and in recovery.

I visited the following morning and Zane was awake and in decent spirits all things considered. Geez, that was the hardest post surgery visit I have ever made. The shock of seeing such a giant dog without one of its limbs is something you just can not prepare for. Exactly a year earlier, I had visited my friend Luke the day after his amp. He is a Great Dane who is just a few months younger than Zane. Still, it wasn't enough to ready me for Zane. I sucked it up, held it together, and moved forward. Zane had no choice in the matter so I rallied ahead for him.

I had him stay one more night at the hospital for monitoring and then came back the following morning to bring him home. He greeted me outside and made it into the van easily enough with 2 doctors assisting. I wondered the whole way home how I would get him out on my own and up the 3 steps to the house. I called on my super hero powers. Between using the ruffwear harness and a sling, we inched our way toward the house. Once in, he flopped down on the nearest bed and I breathed a sigh of relief.

His recovery was complicated by a lot of drainage, bruising and after effects from the anesthesia. He had considerable trouble walking for the first week to 10 days. He just seemed to be so uncoordinated all of a sudden. We wondered if we had made a bad decision. True to his nature, though, Zane figured it all out and started hopping around better day by day. By Christmas, he was showing off in the backyard and attempting play with his pack mates.