For those who know me, it will not surprise you that this post will not be sugarcoated. I will come right out and say that this has been one of the toughest and worst week’s of my (and Greta’s) life.
After her surgery last Wednesday, I called Thursday morning to see when I could pick her up. The vet tech answered the phone with “Perfect timing! We are having a GREAT morning! Greta just ate breakfast and is up and moving around and doing really well! You can come pick her up at any time!” Music to a worried dog-mom’s ears.
The first few days after Greta’s surgery seemed to good to be true – she was walking pretty well, eating/drinking normally, following me around the house, even trying to play. On about Day 4, Greta started waking up in the middle of the night shrieking and screaming in pain…the worst possible noise you can imagine…magnified because we were woken up from a dead sleep. We could usually calm her down and get her back to sleep for a while but then it would happen again. She seemed better as the day went on but each night the pain and crying was getting worse. After her shrieking fits, she would begin to pant incessantly and stare into space until we could finally rub her back to sleep. On night 5 and 6, I think Greta, my boyfriend and I each got about two hours of sleep per night. She would sit on my bed staring and whimpering at me. None of her pain medication provided any reprieve. She was begging me for help, and I felt completely helpless.
It was bad enough Monday night/Tuesday morning that I took her back to the hospital. She was really anxious and temperamental with all the vet staff (not normal) and when the vet touched the bottom of the incision, Greta growled and snapped at her. The vet said that she had developed a ‘seroma’ (fluid pocket) at the bottom of the incision. This is fairly common because there is a lot of dead space after amputation surgery – especially with hers because they removed so much of the muscle and scapula. The vet also said that she thought the fluid had become infected because it was so painful. They needed to do another minor surgery to drain the fluid and then they would send it to a culture lab to test for infection. Another estimate – another minimum $400 vet visit.
I left the hospital feeling defeated, confused, disoriented, angry, disheartened – and this was all magnified by the fact that I hadn’t slept more than two hours a night for the past few nights. Things can get pretty dark when you are running on no sleep. I couldn’t help but wonder if I made the right decision with the amputation. I thought removing that grapefruit-sized piece of hell from her body would give Greta a better life and now she was more miserable than ever. I tried to keep myself from feeling any sort of guilt over her pain, but instead I spent most of Tuesday alternating between tears and rage. Unfortunately for the woman trying to steal my parking space at the grocery store, she crossed my path during rage, and for some reason it made me feel better to scream at a complete stranger. After which I felt bad and returned to tears.
When I got home, I decided that a nap would be best for me and all the complete strangers in Chicago that I may encounter later that day. As I was dozing off, I got a phone call from the vet. She was about to start the surgery, and decided they should keep her overnight to keep an eye on her because she was really disoriented and in so much pain that they wanted to pump her full of antibiotics overnight to completely knock out the infection. She said she’d call when she finished and added another $400 to the estimate for the overnight stay, etc. Lots more tears; no more sleep.
About two hours later, she called again and said that Greta perked up immediately after they drained the fluid. She was responding well and seemed less painful, so she said I could come pick her up around 7pm that night. The tears finally stopped – I would have her back home and would also save a few hundred dollars. I showed up at the vet to pick her up looking like I had gotten punched in both eyes – crying all day definitely doesn’t agree with me – but I really didn’t care at that point. They sent her home with a pain patch on her foot, which wouldn’t kick in until morning, and a little drainage system attached to her that I would have to empty so we could keep track of how much fluid was draining. See photo below. We had one more sleepless night ahead of us, but by morning I could see the pain patch kicking in. She dozed off and slept for three straight hours…glorious!
Things are still far from being good with her, but I feel like we are at least headed in the right direction again. I am hoping this will be the last issue and she will soon be on her way to running and playing again. Because seriously, it just doesn’t seem fair to keep hitting roadblocks when you’re traveling with a missing leg.