This is a long post, so just bear with me!
This time last year I was a mess. An absolute mess. Riley had been limping for quite some time, but it got worse this time last year. I took a trip to Richmond (Virginia’s capitol—that’s your geography lesson for the day) with my mom and sister for my sister’s birthday. I didn’t even stay the night up there because Riley was in pain and I just couldn’t live with myself if I left her home with my dad while she was feeling like that. Hey, sometimes a girl just needs her Momma! 🙂
I called on a Friday and got her an appointment with the surgeon we had consulted with for her hip dysplasia (back when she was 10 months old) on the next Monday. I only had to wait three days. I could handle the wait like any normal person, right? After a long weekend, Monday came around. We saw the surgeon and found out she had torn her cranial cruciate ligament in her right knee. Yikes.
She would need to have surgery. But what kind of surgery should she have? We had a few options. There was a surgery that was cheaper, where they would use a synthetic suture to fix her knee, but that was indicated in “calmer” dogs (I don’t think I need to tell you that Riley is not too entirely calm…) and was likely to tear as she became active again. So that option was pretty much out. We decided to go with a tibial plateau leveling osteotomy or the infamous…dun dun dun…TPLO surgery.
X-Ray of post-TPLO surgery leg.
In TPLO, they use a plate and screws to reposition the angle of the bones in the leg. This also involves cutting apart the shin bone and repositioning it. So essentially, the surgeon breaks their leg then screws it back together. I think I cried that night that they told me she would need surgery. Well, the main reason I was crying was because my active, happy-go-lucky girl would have to be confined to a crate for EIGHT long weeks. Egads!
Fate or God was looking out for us though, because her surgeon, Dr. Chris Dassler, didn’t usually have openings for TPLO surgery for weeks (see how common a CCL tear and TPLO surgery is!), but he just so happened to have an opening in two days…that Wednesday, October 18th, 2011. We scheduled the surgery and doled out a huge chunk of money for it.
We dropped Riley off around 7:00 AM at the surgery center. Riley had her surgery on October 18th, and I waited all day for a phone call from the surgeon. Finally, in the afternoon (so I didn’t literally wait “all day”), Dr. Dassler called me. He said the surgery had gone well and that Riley was in recovery. He said she already had some arthritis in that knee as it had apparently been torn partway for quite some time (six months or so) and had just torn the rest of the way the week before (when she started up the really bad limping and pain). Gulp. Boy, did I feel guilty! I had seen her limping for several months but just chalked it up to her hip dysplasia.
Riley in her crate after surgery.
We were able to pick Riley up the next day, Thursday, October 19th, 2011. The surgeon was amazed that she was already putting weight down on that foot. She looked pitiful, but happy enough to see me. They walked her out with a “sling” going under her belly to help support her weight. Her right leg was shaved from her ankle all the way up to her back (side note: is it really necessary to shave their entire leg like that?? I mean, I can see just shaving the surgery site, but back and front of their leg??). She looked like Frankenweenie with about 24 staples in her leg. Poor girl.
Her 24 staples…
After staple removal! Fur growing back, slowly…
To make a long enough story short(er), I crated her for the eight long weeks, took her out on the leash to go to the bathroom and to eat, slept downstairs on an air mattress beside her crate, applied heat and cold packs to her wound, and did physical therapy with her three times a day. Luckily, I was just a student at the time, so I had lots of time to spend at home with her.
Sleeping on the air mattress beside Riley’s crate.
What the silly girl liked to do during physical therapy. See what I mean about shaving their entire leg??
She recovered nicely and now, a year later, is back to running and jumping like the wild woman she truly is! What a difference a year makes!