Saturday, April 5, 2014

Our Darling Daisy has joined the family circus.

So, you've read the previous posts about how "life" flows and ebbs around here.  But then everyone's life ebbs and flows - some more than others.  And to some who read this blog on a regular basis you've already been introduced to Daisy, our youngest retriever.

Daisy's been growing and she's a joyful happy girl - a sweet puppy in the true sense of what a golden retriever can be and extraordinarily loving.  Trudy likes petting but Daisy lives for it. 

We were trotting along just fine...getting the potty training done and enjoying the relief from the constant heaviness of the past half decade and I guess the universe wasn't done after all.  At about 3 months of age Daisy greeted my son-in-law at the door in the kitchen.  The usual puppy excitements got the best of her as she slipped and skidded on the linoleum floor.  We moved to rug and the "loving" commenced.  It was later that day we noticed a pronounced limp when she went outside.  I tried hard not to be "panicked" but with all that's happened my chest immediately tightened down while I waited for the other shoe to fall.

And fall it did. 

The limp did not resolve itself after a day and so I took her to our local vet.  They call her crazy Daisy because she's always so happy to see them and them her.  When our vet began to move her leg around I heard the clicking but he asked to keep her for the afternoon so he could x-ray her and asked for permission to medicate her if he needed to.  We left her in their able care.  When we returned I could tell by the looks on their faces we were getting back on the roller coaster...and all of a sudden I felt like I couldn't breathe. 

This is an X-ray of what normal Canine hips look like.  She how the ball of thigh bone is fully into the socket of the hip.  Just perfect.

This is Daisy's X-Ray.  On the left side of this x-ray is her right hip - It is 15% in the socket.  The other is 25%. 

By the time we were called in to talk to the vet I honestly could have used a glass of wine - maybe a bottle.  I knew we'd have a big bill but I was hoping it was something he could rectify on the spot.  How wrong I was.  The moment he popped in the x-ray I knew we were in big trouble.  I just didn't know how big.
I listened intently and tried to take it all in.   She has hereditary hip dysplasia - the most severe he's ever seen in a puppy (she was about five months old at that time).  There were, he said, "possibly" several options.  If it went untreated Daisy would eventually have debilitating arthritis and be lame and in gross pain from it.  A death sentence for an active animal.  At first the thrumming in my ears was so loud from my blood pressure I don't think I heard what he was saying for a good 2-3 minutes and had to ask him to repeat it.  He mentioned several surgical options (none of which could be accomplished at a family vets office) and told us that any of these options were going to cost several thousand dollars.  Say what?  
Okay, well - we paid nearly a thousand to have Nellie's leg tumor treated - so if it were two thousand maybe we could charge it and tight our belts more and figure it out.  He told us to go home and think about it.  At the very least we would have to go to one of several Orthopedic specialists and get a more exacting interpretation of the x-rays, an estimate, and more precise set of options.
Maybe not the closest orthopedic canine doctor but we figured probably the most practiced would be down in East Lansing at the Michigan State University Veterinarian School.  We did our thinking and decided as long as we didn't have a definitive diagnosis we couldn't make an informed decision.  It was my last grasp on the straw called "hope".
We made that appointment.  It's a wonderful school full of fresh faces wanting to help the animal kingdom (ever the optimist in a sinking ship!).  We met a nice surgeon - he was knowledgeable and broke down the possibilities which amounted to this: Option one - same as our family vet had said about lameness and pain.  Option two:  A total hip replacement (THR).  What?  Both hips could use it BUT we could get away with doing the worst hip (the 15%) and working on physical therapy to strength the muscle on the second one and using medication when necessary.  It would restore her to a near normal life.
The only drawback...and it's a doosey.   The cost of one hip: $5,000. - $6,000. dollars.   My jaw was on the floor, just as your is right now.  The alternative - not pretty. 
Many good friends asked of Daisy could use one of those wheeled carts to get along.  Sorry, that is not a possibility.  The pain involved in having her hip slip out of the socket and grind on the outside just won't allow that.  Most dogs who use carts are paralyzed or have issues that make a cart a good alternative - Daisy is not a good candidate.  When it does slip our vet gently rotates the leg until we hear what we need to hear and it slowly moves back into position (as well as it can).  We then hit it with anti-inflammatory and pain medication.  She currently is on near continuous doses of tramadol and rimadyl.   This is what they would prescribe to a much older dog in their late life stages as movement becomes a major problem due to age and arthritis.   Daisy is now a mere 7 months old.
We have some time - not much.  One thing that is on our side for the moment - time.  They can do absolutely nothing until she is full grown or there is a major emergency (i.e. she is dragging the leg around).  That means if we are  extremely careful with her play we can get her to 12 months without a major incident and then move forward.  She needs to be full size before they can do THR.
So there, here we are.....on the roller coaster....cranking up the hill again and taking those deep dives that take my breath away until I want to pass out.   Some days I think if I remind myself to put one foot in front of the other and smile I'll just puke...but I do it anyway. 
So what's the plan Sharon?  Let's talk about that.  Tomorrow.



Lela said...

Oh man....I think I need to send you a 4-Leaf Clover plant!

Patty said...

Oh Sharon, I'm so sorry to read this. We had to put our last dog down at only age 7 because he got bone cancer, and our current dog has had two knee surgeries (TPL?) and suffers from a lot of arthritis. It's so hard to see them suffering. I'm holding out hope for you that they'll be able to do something. Some friends have a lab who had some congenital hip issues and between their loving care (and the vet's) and her unstoppable attitude she has a pretty good and active life. She may post a comment here too. Hang in there. Dogs seem so much more unflappable than humans, and their "can do" attitude amazes me, no matter what challenges they have. xox

Heidi Heiman said...

Hi Sharon,
We are Patty's friends here in California who have had a similar experience with our (almost) 10 year old Lab. Annie was born with a malformed hip -- the head (ball) of her femur hadn't developed, so our vet performed an FHO, a femoral head ostectomy. Basically, the end of her femur was cut off and her body formed its own muscular joint. She was about 6 months old at the time of the surgery. Our vet continues to marvel at her ability to hunt and run -- saying that if he took her x-rays and a video of her tearing around to a vet conference, the other docs would never believe that the 2 were from the same dog. Our very best wishes go out to you and Miss. Daisy. If we can be of any further help, please let us know.
Heidi Heiman

Patty said...

Sorry- mental block. Our guy had a couple of TTAs- Tibial Tuberosity Advancement

Sharon Driscoll said...

Hi Heidi - So glad to hear from you about that hip. I believe the orthopedic surgeon has said that Daisy was a bit beyond that point where they would consider that as an option,...if only. It is so good to hear about other success stories. They did say we will work on the muscle structure through PT so we can boost the support of the remaining leg and strengthen the muscle around the metal hip. I know it's the right thing to do for her and hearing about Annie gives me enormous hope. Thank You for taking the time to tell me all of this.

Sharon Driscoll said...

Hi Patty - Happy to hear form you. We met another dog when we were at MSU who had scars on his knees from TPL. He was a large dog, very well loved and very confident on those knees. His family was there getting an assessment for some additional surgery and they were very happy with the vets there. We have our fingers crossed and I'm forging ahead.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Sharon, I had to get a hip replacement for my Rottweiler. I could not have gotten by without care credit , a card which gave me a year or more to make the payments interest free. Years later I needed serious dental work and they took the card too. It was a lifesaver for my dog and for my teeth!

Sharon Driscoll said...

Yes, we know what you mean about the care credit. When the fund-raising is all said and done we will be doing that to cover whatever we haven't been able to raise. I did receive a refund from the breeder and recently got a state tax refund so those combined with all of the help has put us half the way there. We are going to press on with seeking support since we've a few more months before she can be operated on - she has to be 12 months old. It is nice to know I can spread out payments on that system. She has to have this surgery - there really isn't a viable alternative. Thanks for the info and support. It's comforting to know that others have been through this. I take it that your Rottie is doing well.
you should have attached a photo I want to see him

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Maggie passed away 12 years ago next month. She saved my life when we had a gas leak in the house and is forever my "hero dog!" She enjoyed her good new hip for 2 1/2 years and my only regret was not figuring out how to buy one for her sooner!

Sharon Driscoll said...

So sorry to hear she passed away - they sure do leave a hole in your heart when it's their time to go. Absolutely she was a Hero! Their noses are so much more powerful than ours and I'm pretty sure they're so much more intuitive. Thank You for sharing all of that with me. Twelve years ago we sure didn't have the wealth of information and resources we have today when there is trouble...and I don't think 12 years ago I'd of been able to past my shyness to ask.