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Recovery from Surgery – The First Two Weeks

October 1st, 2021

Day Three After Surgery, and Skippy somehow managed to get one of his staples partially loose.  Surgical tape strips were added to create a licking barrier, and also to hold the loose staple in place so that he wouldn’t have to endure a visit to the vet for additional stapling or stitches.  He still hadn’t pooped, but we were told that was quite normal following surgery.

Surgical Tape Strips Added to Skippy’s Incision

Day Four:  Skippy finally pooped and held himself up while he did it!  We celebrated.  (I’m sure he celebrated it on the inside as well).  I picked up some Honest Kitchen goat’s milk for cats, and started giving him a tablespoon each day to encourage more fluid intake.  I was rewarded with a second poop later that day.  Standing completely took the energy out of him, and afterwards he was clearly exhausted.  I put up a baby gate at the foot of the stairs, and allowed him full access to our main floor in an effort to try and coax more movement from him.  I would still keep him in the recovery room at night, for safety.

That night he was super obsessed with licking his leg, so I managed to gently wrestle a recovery suit/onesie onto him.  He kept it on for three  hours before wriggling his way free of it.  In hindsight, I should have started training him with the recovery suit before his surgery, so he would be used to it.  If anyone ever asks me for pre-op tips for their pet, recovery suit training will be at the top of my list.  I also put his collar back on, and added a bell so that I’d be alerted to the sound of him licking.

Not Happy with the Onesie

Day  Five: I noted some slight weeping around the loose staple, and I could see some brownish fluid through the surgical tape strips.  I texted photos to the vet, but they let me know that a little bit of drainage was to be expected, and that overall it looked good to them.  Additionally, Skippy took three beautiful steps today, when I set down his food dish.  They were wobbly and uneven, but he did it.  I was so happy to see that he could still control his leg without the ball joint, and that he still had enough muscle strength to hold himself up.  It completely wiped him out afterwards.  Today he also opted to start using the regular low-sided litter box instead of the cookie sheet.

Some Brownish Fluid Weeping from Incision Site

Day Six:  Skippy’s fentanyl patch was clearly wearing off, and his personality was starting to show through again.  His eyes were less dilated, and he was eating more, interacting more, and playful at times!  He was doing nice big stretches, and more weight bearing.  Overall it was a really good day, and it felt like such a turning point towards recovery.   We finished off the last can of the special canned food the vet provided to us, so tomorrow I would transition him back to his regular canned food. 

Day Seven:  Skippy’s fentanyl patch was removed at the vet’s office, and they said that everything looked great.  Skippy was so happy to have access to his foot again, and licked it all the way home.  When we got back from the veterinarian’s office, he had a huge burst of energy, and was acting so happy, rolling around playfully.  He finally pooped again after a three day hiatus.  Unfortunately, he refused to eat his regular food, despite how I doctored it up.

Bright Eyed and Inquisitive After Patch Removal

Day Eight:  Skippy was very subdued.  He was laying in one spot all day long, and I suspected that he was holding his bladder and bowels so he wouldn’t have to walk to the litter box.  I tried picking him up, and he cried.  I was able to gently slide him onto a throw rug, and then I slid him (on the rug) over to his litter box.  He immediately used the litter box, and my suspicions were confirmed.  He was hurting.

I texted the vet and asked if I could start giving him gabapentin again.  They approved it immediately, and asked me to let them know if he needed a second fentanyl patch. We started back on 25mg of gabapentin every twelve hours, and within an hour of the first dose, he was moving again, looking relaxed, and staking out his food dish.  He still wouldn’t eat his regular food though, so I ran to the vet’s office to buy more of the Hill’s a/d canned food.

Day Nine – Eleven:   Skippy is continuing to receive gabapentin 25mg every 12 hours, which seems to be keeping him active and happy.  His appetite is good, and he is still eating the Hill’s a/d urgent care formula.  I’m trying to keep his calories around 200 since he needs to lose weight and isn’t burning any energy right now (other than trying to heal).  I divide the can into three portions, and feed him every 8 hours to keep him feeling full.  I supplement with some canned pumpkin, the HK goat’s milk, and a tiny bit of kibble so that he doesn’t feel hungry all the time.  I am using this air dried kibble that has a higher moisture content, and the green lipped mussels that I’ve been reading about.  He’s doing a lot of napping, probably due to the gabapentin, but is still able to handle light weight bearing.

Day Twelve – Thirteen:  Still administering the gabapentin, and Skippy is now letting us pick him up without any sign of discomfort.  So many cuddles to make up for!  His weight bearing is still somewhat limited, but he’s working on it.  He tends to take 2-4 steps, before he transitions to scooting across the floor.  Step step scoot, step step scoot!

Day Fourteen:  Staples came out today, and although I wasn’t allowed in the vet’s office with him, they told me he was very relaxed about it and didn’t even seem to notice.  At home, he had a new found obsession with his incision and so I had to do a lot of redirecting to get him to stop licking.  The vet gave us another two weeks’ worth of gabapentin, just in case.  That night he tried to lick the incision for a solid two hours, before finally giving up and falling asleep.

After Staple Removal

Recovery from Surgery – The First Month

September 29th, 2021

Week Three:  Early this week, Skippy developed a small hard lump on his incision that wasn’t red or hot, and didn’t appear to be causing him any pain.  It was clearly irritating him though, and he was licking at it a lot.  We headed to the surgeon to have it looked at, and learned that it was a suture knot.  We were told that Skippy had received internal sutures, in addition to his external staples, and this lump was caused by one of the suture knots showing through his skin.  Because they’re dissolvable sutures, the lump would resolve on its own and wasn’t anything to worry about.  We had to do a little extra redirection to keep the licking down, but otherwise it was all good.

Suture Knot Showing Through the Skin

By the end of the third week, Skippy’s incision looks great and he is leaving it alone.  Physically he seems to be feeling really well, and we’ve stepped his Gabapentin down to 12.5 mg twice a day.  He does the occasional weight bearing, but our wood floors are making it far too easy for him to keep scooting and avoid walking.  We start laser therapy later this week, which will hopefully help get his circulation going and help him start using that leg more. 

Week Three – Feeling Good and Cute as Ever!

 

Stay tuned for updates on Skippy the tripawd, as he recovers from remaining leg FHO surgery.  He starts physical therapy at four weeks post-op, and will also begin some homeopathic treatments (chiropractic care and acupuncture) at ten weeks post-op.  Those dates were simply subject to veterinarian availability, and not necessarily on any prescribed timeline…

Two weeks post-op, enjoying a warm sunny spot.

Skippy’s Six Week Post Op Update – Remaining Leg FHO Surgery

September 27th, 2021

Today marks six weeks since Skippy had FHO surgery on his remaining hind leg.  The good news is that his fur is growing back nicely, his appetite has fully returned, he’s lost half a pound, and he’s healthy and happy.  The challenging news is that we tried to start physical therapy last week with a local pet rehabilitation therapist, and things didn’t go as planned.

Before we could start any physical therapy, it was recommended that we get a new set of x-rays to see how things were healing.  Unfortunately, the therapy clinic vet told us that Skippy’s femur is too rough, and that he probably needs to have another surgery to smooth it down.  Hearing that news took my breath away initially, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned during these past few months, it’s that x-rays seem to be highly subjective and no two vets ever seem to agree on what they’re seeing.  (I once had a vet try to aspirate a tumor from our pet chicken, and it turned out to just be an egg!)  Insert mental head slap here..  Ugh.

Six Weeks Post Op Radiograph #1

FHO Six Week Post Op Radiograph

We have been told that some bone remodeling could occur to smooth things out, and so that’s the path we are on right now.  We were given an eight day course of anti-inflammatory medication, and Buprenorphine, with the hope that he would use his leg enough to promote bone remodeling.  We did see an increase in overall playfulness in him during that time, but it doesn’t seem like he’s doing any more weight bearing.  Occasional he will take a few fully extended steps, sometimes up to ten at a time, but for the most part he is still scooting.  Thankfully, he has enough strength and mobility now to scratch his right ear again, so that is a good sign and certainly a nice improvement for his quality of life.  (Mom still has to scratch his left ear, of course).

So… we are in a holding pattern for now, and for the foreseeable future we will continue with Gabapentin, joint supplements, and biweekly laser treatments with the hope that Skippy’s bones will do their job and smooth out.  I think this is going to be a slow process, but I am overwhelmingly thankful that Skippy is still with us, and that despite everything he’s been through, he is happy and knows how much we love him.

 

Skippy, Six Weeks Post-Op

The New Normal – Ten Week Check up after Remaining FHO Leg Surgery

September 20th, 2021

Life with Skippy has evolved into a new wonderful state of normal, following FHO surgery on his remaining hind leg.  This past Fall, there were many days when I didn’t think he would ever recover from his injury – an unexpected broken femoral head that we still can’t find a cause for.  Here we are though, just a few weeks until Christmas and I get so excited when I see him knocking all the shoes off the shoe rack, or attacking the bell on my favorite Christmas throw pillow.  His happy and playful personality has returned in spades, and it’s the best gift we could ask for.

Enjoying Time on the Sofa and Especially the Christmas Decorations!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Physically, Skippy is bearing weight on his leg about 30% of the time, which is a huge improvement from just a few weeks ago.  Our wood floors make it far too easy for him to quickly slide around on his bottom, and I suspect that if we had wall-to-wall carpeting, he would probably be walking a lot more by now.  I’ll take what I can get though – he is happy and pain free, and that’s amazing.

We are still getting weekly laser treatments, and after two months on the waiting list for a local veterinary acupuncture clinic, our appointment is now only a week away.  I hear amazing things about acupuncture, so I’m really excited to see how it helps him.  Currently, he still can’t push himself up onto the furniture at all, so he requires a boost to reach his favorite bird watching window sills.  (Which we are beyond happy to do).  After a week of supervised stair therapy, he can now easily and safely walk up the carpeted stairs, and is able to zip down them at his former record speed.  So now he has both floors of our home to explore again, and I was honestly really excited when after months, Skippy came up to our room to wake me up at 5am for his breakfast.  Ironic that something I used to grumble about now gives me cause for celebration.

Finally Climbing the Stairs

Last week we had a medical visit for vaccinations, and saw a different veterinarian this time.  She agreed with the most recent assessment that the femoral head looked rather rough, but unlike the other vet, she was 100% confident that the bone would remodel.  She said that if we were to take x-rays again today, they would already look totally different than the ones from four weeks ago.  She encouraged us to let him climb furniture and jump down independently, to encourage more bone remodeling.  She didn’t seem to think a second surgery would be a consideration, and her positive outlook reinforced my opinion that x-rays are highly subjective and two vets can look at the same image and provide two different assessments about it.

Tabletop Christmas Tree Gazing

So that’s all for now!  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for more improvement after our acupuncture treatments begin, and hoping the Christmas tree won’t be the thing he decides to start climbing on.

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

 

Pet Acupuncture for Post-Op Relief

September 18th, 2021

Several months after Skippy the Tripawd’s remaining leg FHO surgery, we decided to give acupuncture a try.  It was the best decision we’ve ever made.

First up, Skippy tolerated the acupuncture treatment so well!  I was terribly nervous, but he didn’t notice the needles at all and actually fell asleep during the first treatment. I was amazed.  And within a few days, he started really bearing weight on his leg again, and I began to feel a flicker of hope.  Within a week, we estimated that he was back to at least 50% of the mobility he had experienced prior to his hip fracture.

Six weeks later, we attended our second acupuncture appointment, and then we continued to be amazed by its effectiveness.  Within a week of his second treatment, he was at 75% of his normal mobility level, and even managed to climb up into bed with us.  What a great surprise!

We ended up waiting 2-3 months for his third appointment, and afterwards we all were just blown away by his activity level and strength.  He was back up on the sofa, perching in the window ledges, running after toys, and we all felt that his mobility was even better than it was before he fractured his hip.  110% improvement.

In short, I’m now the biggest believer in acupuncture, and I highly recommend it for any Tripawd parent whose pet is struggling to gain their mobility back, or dealing with pain.  I believe our sessions were under $100, and our vet only recommended them every six weeks or so during the acute phase.  Now, we are merely being seen as needed, and Skippy hasn’t needed a session in months.

Happy Healthy Boy