Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tail of Two Surgeries, Part 2

Turns out, Lester had a pain in the neck. All those times, when he flinched upon being touched on his neck or shoulder, we put it down to nervous Chihuahua behavior. Maybe the poor guy has had a sore neck for years. Under that fur coat was a bulging disc laying against, agitating delicate nerve endings. That would make just about anybody act like a nervous Chihuahua.

Here's the thing about spinal discs- they are like jelly doughnuts. The outside of the doughnut is attached to the disc bones. Running along side of the row of doughnut stuffed discs is the spinal cord. Sometimes the jelly oozes out of a doughnut and bumps up against the spinal cord. Pain occurs. Infringement of motion occurs. This is what happened to Lester.

The surgeon goes in and removes the disc material (doughnut jelly) taking the pressure off of the spinal cord. The cushion (outside of the doughnut) is still there. Now the discs aren't clanging against each other, there is just less buoyancy in the material between the discs then before the insides of the doughnut squirted out.

The incision was, interestingly, on the front of Lester's neck. With his hair shaved and that long scar running down his neck he would have looked pretty bad ass if he wasn't wearing a diaper.

The first two weeks post op, Lester was on bed rest. For a dog, this means confined to his crate. Lester was allowed out of his crate only to relieve himself. For that event, he needed help standing up. So he wore his seat belt harness. The loop on top of the harness, designed to attach to a vehicle's seat belt, worked dandy for Lester's toilette. A pretty pink scarf looped through the harness loop for the human helper to hold on to and Lester had stability to stand and "go".

Trouble is, Lester didn't always go while in this rig. Thus the diaper.

At our vet visit two weeks after surgery, Lester's staples were removed. What ever happened to stitches? No matter. Though one envisions an office claw style staple remover, the vet tech whipped out what looked more like heavy duty cuticle scissors.

The vet examined Lester and said because he has feeling in his limbs and is able to stand, albeit with a precarious sway, most likely he would in time return to full motion. We were to simply allow Lester to practice walking and get his balance back. "It's OK if he falls," Dr. Galle told me. That's when I knew Lester would be fine. That one sentence broke through my protective maternal mind, that Lester is not so fragile and oh so not helpless. I had to let him walk and let him fall.

Indeed, as soon as we got home, Lester staggered around our backyard, his muscles waking with each jerky step.

Lester was treated at Animal Neurology & MRI Center in Commerce, MI.

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