Sep 7, 2013

Jasmine Update: Two Limps Forward, One Hobble Back

There are a few simple rules in life that everyone needs to keep in mind at all times. One of those rules is to never ask "What else could go wrong?"  Life views that as a challenge, and to inquire of the powers that be what else they might have in store for you is to invite stress.  Stress, heartache and an endless appetite for whatever money you may have set aside for that honeymoon you haven't taken since getting married back in 2006.  Jasmine's road to recovery has been full of turns and close calls.  She seems to be headed towards a more stable and predictable path now, almost ten weeks after I snapped her leg in two ( my boots are fine, by the way ) but for a while there Monica and I were afraid things might not be fine at all.

Breaking your own dog's leg may seem funny on the surface but trust me, unless you're the kind of person who thinks of torturing animals as the "gateway drug" to tapping into your inner serial killer, it ain't all that cool and it costs quite a bit of money.  Jasmine was doing pretty well for about a month after the accident.  The vets where we take all of our little critters ( I even took my pet scorpion, Tyson, to a vet once several years ago! ) know us and our pets by name, and they always ask how they are whenever we have to bring one of them in for a check up.  Jasmine had a pin inserted into her right shoulder that went all the way down to her elbow.  She hobbled around well enough in a way that was cute, kind of funny looking, sad and pitiful all at the same time.  She was doing okay for awhile, but then we noticed that her leg started to really swell up over the course of a couple days, and that was when things became scarier than they were the night I tripped over her.

Monica was taking Jasmine in for check ups and laser treatments three times a week.  Once we saw how big her leg had become we tried to palpate the swollen area around her elbow and a few spoons full of blood, sebaceous fluid and infection oozed out.  Not out of one hole mind you, but out of several tiny ones that kept showing up.  It was about one o' clock in the morning, and every time Monica thought we had gotten it all another spot would open up. We were freaked out!  Jasmine had an appointment the next day anyway, so we wrapped her leg up and held our breath until she could see one of the vets.  The vet who checked her out the next day was convinced that her leg was going to have to come off right away.  She took an x-ray that showed zero progress, and the infection did not look good at all.  We had the surgery scheduled for the next day ( or two days later, I can't recall now ) and we were devastated.  Joking about breaking her other legs if she got in my way again was all well and good when we thought she would be okay.  I could live with the shame of hurting her if it could just be an interesting story to tell later, but the thought of amputating the sweetest dog ever's leg was rough.  

The morning that we were supposed to drop her off for the amputation happened to be on Monica's birthday.  I went into work late that morning so I could be there with Monica and Jasmine when it was time to drop her off.  I woke up to Monica crying in bed, and once I looked down and saw Jasmine lying on the floor, looking so sweet and hopeful I started to cry too. You just can't block out that kind of guilt forever, and I have such a soft spot for Jasmine.  Everyone does!  She is just that sweet and happy.  She's still a puppy at heart, even at something like fourteen years old.  What an awful morning...  Happy birthday, Sweetie!  I broke your dog!  I hope you like it!

We had a chance to have a conversation with the vet who was to perform the operation, and we  begged him to check everything before taking her leg.  If that was what had to happen, we were able to accept it, but just a few days earlier we were told she was doing well.  The news that she would have to lose the leg hit us out of nowhere, though I knew intellectually there were only two outcomes; she'd be okay or she would lose the leg.  There was never an in between.  We dropped her off and I went on to work.  Monica called me about an hour or so later with potentially great news.  The vet seemed to think he could still save her leg!

I saw the x-ray that freaked out the other vet, and it looked like there had been no healing whatsoever.  They took more x-rays that morning and from different angles things didn't look so dire.  The swelling and all of the infection was from the pin coming lose and stabbing at her elbow from the inside.  Ouch!  Heavy antibiotics and pain meds were prescribed, and the vet put in a shorter pin that ran perpendicular to the femur.  Within a few days the swelling had gone down and she seemed to be in less pain.  We were getting back on track, but we weren't done yet.  You have to hold your breath for a long damned time apparently to be able to relax during an experience like this.  We are talking about an older dog after all, and since when does anything work as smoothly as advertised?  Expect the unexpected, right?

A couple of weeks after the infection scare we noticed that Jasmine had stopped putting any weight on the broken leg and the swelling had returned.  What the hell?!?!?!  Monica took her in again and said that the vet looked deflated when she explained what was going on. Another x-ray showed that the smaller pin was not there anymore.  In fact, it was nowhere to be found! While not unheard of, it is rare that a pin falls completely out once it has been lodged into bone.  I'll probably end up stepping on it.  There would be at least a sliver of poetic justice in that.  I'm sure Jasmine would get a kick out of it. 

Okay, lesson learned!  We are not completely out of the woods, but she does seem to finally be on the recovery track we hoped for several weeks ago.  Just this week she has started to go for walks without her cart, and we are cutting back some of her meds.  So far, so good. Now that she's out of the cart and back on a leash she wants to bound ahead of everyone all the time.  It's really cute... a little foolish, but cute.  It's the kind of cute that makes you feel warm and fuzzy.  Then she trips and warm and fuzzy is quickly replaced by the guilt of laughing at a critter that depends on you potentially hurting itself while you look around to make sure no one else saw what just happened.  You try and pick her up to keep her off the leg after that but then her nearly useless appendage swings out with all of the control of an untethered gate whipped by a gust of wind,  Sometimes it's really freaky looking, because she tends to look crazed when her leg decides to go off on its own, completely contradicting everything else about her body language.  Then she'll try to hop down the driveway as hard as she can as though she didn't just freak you out.  Weird, man... weird.

We are at the beach right now with both Jasmine and Ripp.  Family visit.  One of my grandmothers has been in a rough spot for awhile now and it's time to get in another visit before it's too late, if you know what I mean.  My aunt and I have Power of Attorney for my grandmother's health care, and for a few weeks there it appeared as though the decision whether or not to remove her remaining leg might fall on us.  There was way too much amputation talk going on in the Shelton household just two weeks ago.  The right decision was made in both cases, but my grandmother will absolutely not be walking around again and enjoying playing in the yard.  At least not until she is back with everyone else she grew up with, but then she'll be able to fly, climb Mt. Everest, swim around at the bottom of the ocean and still be clean for supper all in the same day.  She is ready to be with her family again, as she remembers them from her childhood.  We'll miss her, but I am happy that she has something to look forward to after a rough surgery a year ago and twelve months in a hospital or a nursing home.  My aunt has been there for her in a big, big way.  I am also happy for that.  

Love 'em while you've got 'em!  I am very fortunate to have had a meaningful relationship with my grandparents throughout my forty six years.  Not many people my age still have grandparents.  They have been as influential in my life and my emotional development as anyone.  I might not love music as much as I do were it not for them.  My grandfather was a touring musician in the forties and fifties.  Other members of my family have always played music, and some of them have done it professionally, but it's your grandparents who seem larger than life.  Hell, I guess you could say that you may not have wasted the last ten minutes of your life reading about our dog's broken leg on my blog without the influence my grandparents had on me.  If you feel like you wasted your money here today, blame them!  

Oh, I do have some exciting news about Confessor to share with you all.  I'll wait until we get back into town for that.  We are psyched, to say the least!  More and more family members are starting to show up here, so things are about to get hectic... I'll post the Confessor development in a day or so.

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