FHO Recover, Day 5

The Princess Pooch continues to heal. She’s been up and around quite a bit today and is steadier on her feet with each passing day. Today she’s been putting her foot down while standing and sometimes while walking, but she’s yet to put any weight on it.

She’s back to indicating she needs to go outside when what she wants is a treat and not to pee. She’s never learned to scratch at the door or bark; instead, she peers around the recliner and stares, then gets excited when we ask if she “want to go potty.” I’m so happy p_pooch_sunto see her on her feet that I don’t care if she’s trying to trick me for a treat.  She’s also decided to catch some rays when she’s outside sometimes now. We don’t let her do so for long so she won’t burn, but I imagine the sun feels good.

I continue to move her hips in a “bicycle” motion in reps of 10 several times a day. This doesn’t seem to cause her any pain, but she stares at me with a look that says “what the hell are you doing?” Speaking of pain, we gave her the last of the pain pills last night, and she hasn’t shown any signs of pain.

She still shows little interest in her incision, and when she does on occasion, we just tell her to “leave it,” and she does. She hates the e-collar, but we continue to put it on her over night. She looks so sad when I put it on her; it breaks my heart.


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FHO Recovery, Day 4

Not much in the way of new developments today, but the Princess Pooch continues to get back into her routine. We moved from cold to warm compresses, and she doesn’t seem to enjoy those as much. And she looks longingly at the sofa and recliners where she likes to sleep but are now covered with chairs so she can’t get on them. She seems to have decided her original bed is the choice spot for now, but she does use the new bed on occasion.

We continue to try to stimulate her appetite: tonight’s dinner was rotisserie chicken with a bit of gravy mixed in with her regular food. She found a way to eat around most of her regular food, but we’re just happy she’s eating.

Here’s a photo of her on her favorite sofa from March 2017.

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FHO Recovery, Day 3

The Princess Pooch is even stronger today and is getting back to her routine. The pest guy was here today, and she was as wound up as she has been every time he’s been here. She didn’t jump on the sofa and spin and bark at him–we’ve blocked the sofa with a chair so she can’t get on it–but she did everything else in their usual routine.

She continues to put her left foot down in a normal position when standing, but she has yet to put any weight on it. We were told she probably wouldn’t for at least a week, so we’re not concerned. She is putting it in the more usual position when she squats to pee, and she even managed a bit of a poop today–not much since she hasn’t been eating much.

Speaking of eating, tonight we got her a carne asada burro of her own, and she chowed down with tail wagging enthusiasm. It was good to see her eat and enjoy a meal. She loves carne asada burros, and I usually share mine with her. I think she knew getting one of her own was a big treat.

We’ve moved her pain medicine schedule from every 6, to every 8 and now to every 12 hours, and she seems to be doing well. She’s now resting on either hip as her mood dictates, so that his is clearly no longer bothering her.

So far I’ve just been walking her around inside the house because it is brutally hot outside; it’s supposed to cool down to just above 100° by Sunday, so I hope we can begin walking outside then.

new_ecollarFinally, her inflatable e-collar arrived today, and she seems to hate it less than the big plastic one. She hasn’t tried to lick or go after her incision at all today, but we’ll put it on overnight just to be sure she can’t get at it if it starts to itch.

I am very pleased with her progress. Even though she’s an active 12-yr old, I was concerned this surgery might take a lot out of her; I am happy to see it hasn’t.

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FHO Recovery Day 2

Today the Princess Pooch was much more steady on her feet–3 of them–and moved around quite a bit more than she did after coming home from the hospital yesterday. She still isn’t eating much, but I gather that’s not unusual.

On a few of her trips outside, she put all 4 feet on the ground. She didn’t put any weight the leg where she had surgery, but she did put that foot on the ground in a normal fashion–the first time she’s done that since breaking her hip on Saturday, July 1st.

Although she’s not licking or paying much attention to her incision, we’re still putting the e-collar on overnight. You can see from the photo below how happy that makes her.


The inflatable one we ordered is scheduled for delivery tomorrow.

Thus far I am pleased with her progress. Tomorrow’s goal is to whet her appetite.

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Summer of Injuries

It seems breaking my elbow and wrist were just the beginning of our summer woes.

A week ago, sound asleep then awakened by the door bell, the Princess Pooch went flying toward the door and her left back leg slipped out behind her. The result was a broken hip. She had FHO surgery on Friday, and we brought her home early this morning.

According to Topdog, Femoral head osteotomy,

also referred to as a femoral head ostectomy or FHO, is the surgical removal of the head and neck of the femur. In simpler terms, it is the removal of the “ball” part of the ball-and-socket that makes up the hip joint. This way, the bones of the joint are no longer in contact, which eliminates the pain that is caused by the abnormal contact of the bones . . . . Once the femoral head and neck are removed, the surrounding muscles and developing scar tissue work to support the area, and act as a false joint. This means that now when the limb is moved, the forces are transferred to the pelvis rather than the leg itself. The FHO Surgery is a fairly simple procedure in that minimal equipment is required, and no implants are needed. The procedure causes the leg to be slightly shorter than the unaffected leg, although amazingly, most dogs return to close to normal activity after the surgery.

princess_pooch_homecomingSo far, the Princess seems to be doing pretty well. Since we had some lead time on the surgery, we got her a new bed with bolsters on three sides rather than all the way around so she has a flat entrance and some non-skid carpet runners so she has better traction on the tile, and these seem to be making getting in and out of bed and around a bit easier for her.

She’s been up and about much of the day, drinking lots of water and heading outside to pee. She’s even had a bit to eat, so we’re feeling pretty good about her progress so far. She’s pretty much leaving her incision alone after having to wear an e-collar for about half an hour after trying to lick the area. We ordered her an inflatable e-collar that will arrive Monday; at least it will be more comfortable if she has to wear it.

For now, we’re putting an ice pack on her incision for 10 minutes and will continue to do so for the next three days; then we’ll move to a warm compress for 10 minutes three times a day for three days after that.

She’s restricted from running, jumping, playing, using stairs or jumping onto sofas for the next 2-4 weeks. Since she’s 12 and we don’t have stairs, our major concern will be keeping her off of the furniture and from playing–she loves to fetch and chase her tail even at her advanced age.

She can hang out in the house as long as one of us is here to keep an eye on her to ensure she’s not doing any of the above activities, and otherwise we’ll restrict her to a small space and do the same each night. We’ll take her on short walks of 10 minutes or so 3 times a day for the next two weeks, probably early morning and late in the evening and around the house mid-day since it’s so bloody hot here. Then, when her staples are removed in 2 weeks, we’ll begin to take her swimming in addition to taking her on increasingly longer walks. By week 4, if all goes well, she’ll be able to return to her normal level of activity.  Oh, and we’ll do some range of motion work on her back legs for the next two weeks as well. Hopefully rehabbing my own broken elbow has prepared me for this task.

For now, she’s on some pain medication and pepcid in addition to her Prozac for anxiety and Galliprant for arthritis pain.

I plan to document her recovery in the hope that her experience might help other folks whose pup is facing this process.

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No Nukes

My family never talks about feelings, and we certainly never talk about plutonium. It’s hard to take something seriously if you can’t see it, smell it, touch it, or feel it. Plutonium is a cosmic trick. The invisible enemy, the merry prankster. Can it hurt you or not? None of us know.

Kristen Iversen’s Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats (Crown 2012) is a book about the power of secrets and silence. It’s fusion of memoir and investigative journalism that weaves together Iversen’s less-than-ideal childhood—with an alcoholic father, a melancholic mother, and a suburban neighborhood contaminated by radioactivity in the air, the water, and the soil—with the development of the Rocky Flats Plant near Denver, Colorado. Rocky Flats, open from 1952 to 199, built plutonium triggers for the United States’ ever-growing nuclear stockpile during the Cold War.

Using artifacts, court records, press releases, and interviews, Iverson focuses on the 1-8708838fdahistory, people, and repercussions of Rocky Flats. It’s a compelling read, so much so that I fought to return to as soon as the anesthesia and major pain medication wore off after my elbow surgery even when that meant holding the book open using my left hand and the pillows piled up next to me to keep my arm elevated.

In some ways, I resonate with Iversen’s story. First, there’s the familiar tale of an alcoholic parent. In my case it was my mother, but Iversen’s depiction of her father and the ways the family ignores, hides, and excuses his drinking mirrors much of my experiences with my mother. Second, there is the recklessness of a youth spent in open spaces before cell phones, the internet, and during a time when it wasn’t uncommon for a kid to head out after breakfast and spend the entire day on her own or with friends before hightailing it home before arrival would mean trouble.

Then there are the stories of deformed animals, cancers, birth defects, the poisoned groundwater, the nuclear accidents that sent clouds of radiation over Denver, and the vital health information that was suppressed over the decades. I remember awakening in the 1980s to the destructive power of nuclear waste. I wrote letters, attended protests, marched in the streets, and got arrested at the Nevada test site. And yet while I consider myself fairly-well informed about the history of this country’s flirtation with and full embrace of all things nuclear, much of the history of Rocky Flats was news to me, as it probably was those who lived in those suburbs with their “million-dollar views” of the Rockies who believed all the government assurances that all was well even after the 1957  fire in the manufacturing building melted the radiation sensors and released into the air somewhere between 1.1lb and 92lb of plutonium (estimates of MUF – material unaccounted for – varied), and after the next fire and the next.

Full Body Burden — the title refers to the amount of radioactive material at any time in a human body — is a powerful examination of the dangers of secrecy, and a warning that the secrecies of America’s embrace of all things nuclear continues. Rocky Flats, after decommissioning and a cleanup effort, has been now been declared a wildlife refuge:

Legislation that would have required additional signage informing visitors of what happened here, and why it might still be dangerous, has twice been defeated.

I wonder what other nuclear secrets continue to harm us?


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Desert’s Elbow

A week ago today I had ORIF surgery. ORIF stands for Open Reduction Internal Fixation, a surgery that involves a 2 inch incision along the top of the elbow, then positioning the bones where they should go and using screws and pins to hold them in position. Sounds simple enough, and from what the doc reported to me post surgery it was a straight forward surgery. I see him on Monday, and he’ll do new x-rays to see how things look.

And a week after surgery, things do seem to be going pretty well. I am following my doc’s A00029F01borders and doing stretching activities for about 5 minutes every hour, and I am getting a better range of motion every day. Doing the stretching is painful at times, but I am determined to get as much of my elbow’s normal operations back as possible.

All in all the break and post surgery pain has been bearable, but I have to say, that the 3 hours of unmitigated agony I went through when the nerve block wore off was . The doc and nurses today me it would be bad, but I seriously didn’t think I’d survive long enough for the medication to kick in, and frankly didn’t care if I did. I can’t even describe the pain, but I can say that the combined pain of a gall bladder attack and surgery and spine surgery was nothing in comparison. Nothing. I lay in bed and cry and whimper, and moan and groan for hours, even once the medication kicked in and I fell asleep.

I had a good bit of pain the next two days, but by Sunday I was weaning off the pain medication, and have only been taking them at night to sleep. At first the problem was pain and not being able to get comfortable, then even when the pain let up, I couldn’t elevate my arm without causing neck pain. Last night I was sort-a able to sleep on my side, so I was actually comfortable for the first night since I broke my elbow.

elbowHere’s my elbow today: still swollen and bruised, but I think it looks pretty good for a week out of surgery. And, today,  I found myself using my right arm to do stuff without even thinking about it, which I think is a good sign. I think I might try driving around the neighborhood tomorrow. If I could myself out of the house to do something, I think I’d feel even better!


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