Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lessons in Patience

Whatever Holly did to herself last Thursday remains injured. I gave her 2 days rest, but continued her stretching exercises. She was definitely not putting her usual weight on the leg Friday, but Saturday she looked markedly improved and was more evenly balanced when standing still. 

On Sunday she went back to 1/2 the amount of exercise she was doing before she came up lame. Nope, that didn't work at all...on Sunday evening she was dead lame again. So, back to 100% lock down mode and is now on a full course of anti-inflammatories. Monday she still looked pretty sore and has not improved one bit since.

For the last 8 weeks her activity has slowly increased from complete lock down to 30 min walks 3-4x per day, plus strengthening exercises 2x per day. It doesn't seem like much (and it isn't), but now that we are right back to square one after 8 weeks of REALLY hard work and patience, seeing her lame again is incredibly heartbreaking and severely disappointing. 

And since we don't go for x-rays and visit with her vet and PT until Friday, I've been fretting my ass off. I've talked to both her vets and they have tried to assure me to NOT fret since there is no heat, no swelling, no 'sore-to-the-touch' pain in the knee itself.

NOT fret...yeah right. 

Why so sad Kim?

Let's go back a few years. 

In May 2011, at a agility trial, she fell off the dog-walk. It was a heart-stopping "holy shit!" kind of fall. Her mind just wasn't on the task she was doing, and she came right off it. Shocked her as much as it did me. We oggled and poked at her the rest of the day, and while I pulled her from the rest of her classes, she seemed fine. She also seemed fine the next 2 days where she took time off from anything but loafing in the yard. And then she was lame. She'd rest, and then be lame again. Rinse and repeat several times over. My vet at the time couldn't find anything wrong and labeled it a soft tissue injury, which is a crap diagnosis. I talked to many friends and found out about a canine PT in a different part of the state. Long story short, Holly was diagnosed with a torn shoulder that was the equivalent to a rotator cuff injury in a human. 4 months later, with 2 of those being in canine hobbles, she slowly went back to hiking, playing and agility with me.

We did some winter agility trials starting in October 2011, but by Feb 2012 she was having weave pole problems. I wanted to rule out something physical before labeling it a training problem, so we visited a vet that does chiro and acu.

The vet found she was having back spasms and muscle tightness, but didn't know if her back was the source of the problem, or a symptom of another problem. So we did chiro, added some stretching and massage and did a followup. The back pain was still there and had muscle knots in the exact same places they were before. Huh. I started doing some online research and found that dogs with a iliospoas (groin) injury can present with back pain. The iliospoas is a tough muscle to palpate and my vet didn't think there was anything wrong with it. I disagreed. So back to the PT we went and she confirmed my suspicions that she had a iliospoas strain/pull/tear. She also warned me that if this presents as a chronic issue (which is ended up being) that it can indicate knee instability. So we did rehab for 4 months. Everything looked great. Back to work and play. We only got 6 weeks of soundness, that's it. Somewhere around Halloween 2012 she tore her ACL.

This means that since June of last year, Holly's been allowed to be a regular dog for just 6 weeks. Sigh. And since June of last year I went through several months of losing my girl Casey at the same time. Double Sigh.

If you add up the months she's been sound, versus the months she's been injured...the injured months win. It seems like we've been in either recovery mode or injury mode for the better part of the last 2.5 years...and we have. I just can't take any more of this. I look at EVERY STEP she takes. I know EVERY INCH of her body. I can tell the second something isn't quite right.'s driving me INSANE! It's her body, her injuries and her lack of being able to do anything, but mentally I'm handling this worse than she is. I just want my healthy, happy dog back and we can't seem to get there.

Seeing her limp last week after making a very difficult choice to do surgery, and seeing that rest isn't healing whatever it is like we thought it should, is just breaking my heart.

Please keep your fingers crossed for some good news on Friday. We need it.

In the meantime, this is one of the ways Holly has been retaining her sanity. She no longer eats dinner from a bowl. Instead she gets frozen Kongs, bully sticks, and/or kibble from one of her many interactive dog toys. But, the Amazing Treat Machine is her favorite. Please forgive the darkness of the of these days I'm going to actually remember to turn on more than one lamp in the living room when I use the camera.


Ximena said...

Oh gosh. I have no words. 2012 was an awful year for Team Holly, huh. Ugh. I know Steve (save the pit bull, save the world blog) had the iliospoas injury occur twice. She documented his initial recovery and kind of the second recovery. Maybe you'll find some solace in her posts. She had an EXTREMELY helpful PT, as far as I know.

Also -- What a cool toy! I've never heard of it. I think Elli would probably end up wanting to step all over it. Too much 101 Things Shaping Game when she was younger, haha.

Kim said...

Yup Holly and Steve were going through rehab for their iliospoas at the same time. Holly's PT rehab worked great for the iliospoas, and as of our 4 week post-Sx visit with her, it's still doing great. Holly's physical therapist really is awesome!

It's cool isn't it! Yes, I had to show Holly that it wasn't a "101 Things to do with a Box" box...after that, she got it right away. It sure was a super easy way to teach her to 'put something inside something else".