Arthrodesis of the right carpus, and other amazing tails

Her favorite chair

Originally uploaded by bad9brad

Lucy had surgery last Monday to help correct her “leg posture” so she would not continue to roll and slap the foot down which creates an ulcer on the bottom of the foot. The ulcer grew larger and consumed part of the large pad on the foot, and because she still cannot feel the bottom of the foot it only gets worse with every passing day. Once an infection set in we had to make a decision about how to move forward with her medical care: surgery or amputation.

Operation Expensive Dog is comprised of at least two steps:

1. Arthrodesis surgery (competed). This surgery fuses the bones of the ankle into a more upright posture, with a little bit of “pigeon toe” thrown in, to prevent the rolling and slapping of the foot when Lucy walks. There’s a titanium plate screwed to the bones to hold the leg in the correct posture and facilitate the fusion. Healing time is approximately six to eight weeks.

2. Skin graft. About two weeks after the first surgery is deemed successful, Lucy will go back for tissue grafting. The surgeon will take cartilage from the ancillary pads on each front leg (the pads that don’t touch the ground) and graft the tissue into the area where the large pad has worn away. Hopefully it will only take one surgery but if the ulcer has not healed enough there may be a second graft required.

Lucy will have an “altered gait” for the rest of her life, but she already had a funky gait anyway because of the way her leg moved. I’ve been told she will be able to run and jump and do all the things normal dogs do, but we’ll have to always take extra care of the foot since she won’t ever regrow the nerve endings that allow her to feel what’s under foot. Lucy definitely will wear her hiking booties when we’re out in the wilderness, and that’s okay with me.

The difficult thing about all this medical work (beyond the incredibly high costs) is that she needs to be “quiet” for the next three or four months. Try telling an 18-month-old Labrador Retriever mix to be quiet! We’ve already had some issue with her jumping on and off furniture and the bed, all of which is forbidden by the doctors. She could displace the plate or cause the bones to not properly fuse together, and I’m really not ready for the alternative.

Lucy has been in good spirits today and even has her appetite back. She wants to play! now! Oooh, look a squirrel! I’ve stacked objects on her favorite chairs and ottoman to keep her from perching on them to look out the windows, and closed the bedroom door to keep her off of the bed, but she still finds ways to get into trouble. Clearly this is going to be more difficult for me than for her.

Fabi is staying with Mike and Antoinette and Emily until tomorrow, but when she returns I know I will have to watch them both like a hawk to keep them from playing and wrestling in their normal fashion. Perhaps I can call our vet and see if she will prescribe some sedatives for both of them.

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