read part one here
read part two here
read part three here
that first week, boscoe's recovery from TPLO surgery was very up and down. moments of peace were superseded by moments of sheer terror. the various vets had pounded into my head that boscoe must not jostle the mended knee in any way or they'd almost certainly have to do the surgery all over again. so i found myself gasping and panicking every time he tripped or fell or tried to jump. you just can't keep a big dog completely still for eight weeks. it's simply not possible.
i walked him three times a day for five minutes each time--a slow, easy walk to the corner and back.
and sometimes, if it was a gorgeous morning and he seemed to be feeling good, we went farther--all the way around the block. in retrospect, this might not have been wise.
he'd try to to walk fast and skip by on three legs, and my job was to slow him down and force him to put weight on the mended leg. this is something he was not inclined to do.
on wednesday, we had just gotten to the yellow house on the corner, when boscoe suddenly crumpled to the ground and screamed. after i started breathing again, i somehow got him up and turned around, and he limped heavily all the way home.
email to Lo, wednesday, sept. 21:
damned if i know what to do. i was googling TPLO and
complications and pain, and i found a page with
testimonies from all kinds of people who had it done
on all kinds of dogs. couldn't find anything like this
but i wonder if i took him too far. they said he
should have five-minute walks twice a day, but maybe i
overdid it by going around the block. that's probably
more than five minutes.
this is probably all my fault.
most of the testimonials i read tonight said you
should just take him out to poop and come right back
in for the first week or so. but then other websites
said that dogs were "walking normally" a day after
WHO THE HELL KNOWS WHAT TO DO OR WHAT TO EXPECT???
THIS IS DRIVING ME CRAZY.
the last thing i would ever do is hurt my dog. goddamn it.
i got him back to the house, gave him some pain medication and a frozen Kong ball packed with peanut butter, and he settled down in his bed. for the next day or so he limped more than he had, but as far as i could tell there was no serious damage. yikes.
for most of that first week, we toted him back and forth to the vet clinic for various visits--first to have his bandages and fentanyl patch removed, then to have his incision checked, then to get more morphine-substitute and other narcotics when it was clear that he was still in a lot of pain. each visit was traumatic, involving lifting him into the jeep (which he hated) and lifting him down again once we got to the clinic (ditto). and then of course lifting him again to get him home.
we continued to sleep on the hall floor together, boscoe and me, and i'd wake up around 2 a.m. when his drugs wore off and he started whimpering and panting. into the kitchen i'd go in the dark for a syringe of Metacam, which i'd spray into his mouth, and within five minutes or so he'd settle down peacefully and go back to sleep.
sleep was always more elusive for me after that.
every morning i'd open the freezer and get him a Kong ball that i had packed with peanut butter the night before--something to keep him quiet and happy while we were gone--and give him his pain medication. then i'd cage him up again in the hallway. he had his bed, a bowl of fresh water, and his kong, but he didn't have what he really wanted: freedom, and riley. riley had to stay on the other side of the barricade, but at least they could see each other through the screen.
i knew that boscoe's pain meds usually wore off by about 4 p.m. and i was never home before 6. knowing he was uncomfortable for a couple of hours always made me feel guilty. after a few days, the vet prescribed a new fentanyl patch, which helped.
email to Lo, friday, sept. 23:
that pain patch is helping considerably. i'm hoping that by monday, when it has
to be removed, he won't need a third one. but who knows? it's impossible to
keep him completely completely safe. last night he tripped over the doorjamb
coming in after pooping, and fell. YIKES.
he seemed fine after that, but who knows???
he slept well, got me up at 5, needed to poop again. he's a pooping machine.
must be all that peanut butter.
he's bored and lonely and hates being in the front hall without us. he whimpers.
but if we try to all be in the living room together, he wants to jump up on the
couch or the chair. YIKES.
this is a long, long, long, long haul.
but by the next week, he was doing much better. being a gregarious dog (his motto is, i'm the only one in this family who's considered social), he loves being petted. and being a smart border collie, he saw that he had a sudden advantage: he could stop cold in the street, waiting for a stranger to approach, and insist on being petted. he knew there was no way i was going to drag him away, as i usually would; i had to be careful of that leg.
so i'd stand there foolishly as one of the neighbors drew nearer, and boscoe would smile broadly at them, and wag his tail, and i'd sheepishly ask, hoping i didn't sound like a stalker, "will you pet my dog?"
email to Lo, Monday, Sept. 26:
so far so good with boscoe. i walked him around the
block at about 6:30. i had to ask two strangers if
they'd pet him---he's become absolutely obsessed wtih
being petted. one was a high school boy, who looked
very surprised but complied, and the other was a
junior high girl in absolutely skin tight pants about
a block later. she complied too.
i hope i don't get a reputation in the neighborhood
for being the creepy woman who asks neighbor kids to
"pet my dog."
and then things quickly started improving.
wednesday, sept. 28:
boscoe's feeling better! he went into the puppy stance
several times tonight, tried to mount riley, wanted to
play and go for a walk. thank goodness. but now we
have to keep him quiet when he's frisky, which is
harder than keeping him quiet when he's in pain.
Thursday sept. 29:
when doug left with riley on the walk this morning, boscoe went
ballistic. tried to jump up at the door. whined. so i
leashed him up and we followed them. riley finally
spotted us about 3 blocks into it. so they waited for
us. we had to take a much shorter than normal walk
because boscoe isn't yet up to the full morning route.
but we went longer than he's gone yet--probably 9 or
10 blocks. he did great.
riley was frustrated, though. pent-up energy. he did
massive puppy spurt figure 8 s in the yard when we got
back. he has totally carved up all of our grass again.
nothing but ruts and mud.
step by step, we were all getting back to normal.
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