Saturday, July 14, 2007

Nappies for Lulu?

Well, it looks like Lulu is not going to regain use of her hind legs. She has even lost the deep pain sensation that she had before the surgery, a result of an irreversible cascading effect from the spinal cord trauma.

We received this devastating news on Monday, more than 72 hours after the surgery. And were given the advice to euthanise her. Lots of crying ensued as you can imagine.

But, we wanted to bring her home to say goodbye, so she came home with us on Tuesday, 8 days after the MVA. Once she got home she was quite depressed, because she had to be isolated in order that she doesn't catch her "type II biplanar external skeletal fixator" (eight pins going into the vertebrae surrounding the fractured one to reduce and stabilise it) on anything. We bought a playpen for this purpose.

It soon became obvious that with supervision she was much happier being out of the playpen, ie. lying with Missy the greyhound and resuming her licking duties. And OMG can she move (scoot) when she wants to!!! We were amazed at how fast she can pull herself along with her front legs, dragging the back knees and trailing the dwelling urinary catheter bag behind her.

The catheter was left in because the vet wanted a few quality days with us, and did not think we would react very well to urine dribbling everywhere. Lulu also doesn't have control of her bowels so we were told that poos would be quite unpredictable. But, a couple of times we've taken her out for a walk and drink (she refuses to drink out of her "sickbay" bowl and wants to go outside to drink from her normal bowl), that was when the poos came. And due to her dry food diet, the stools were firm and easy-peasy to deal with.

She has physiotherapy at least twice a day, involving moving the back legs through their natural range of motion, like bicycling them etc. We also take her out with a stretchy bandage slung around her belly to support the back legs and she can move quite fast that way, although she gets confused that the "lead" is behind her instead of at her collar... she was very well trained to heel pre-paralysis. We are yet to try hydrotherapy but because she's such a small dog a bathtub would work well for this. Must try this tomorrow! It's a shame she hasn't really been exposed to much water before this except for baths. So I don't know how she will react to it but it's really good for her.

Within a couple days of her being home she is now a lot brighter... and we realised that euthanasia is no longer an option. We are of course terrified that we won't be good enough parents but want to try our best. There are lots of paraplegic dog information sites on the internet and we are slowly reading through them. A "doggie wheelchair" (cart) for her would run about $450 but that is small peanuts compared to what we've already had to pay (almost $4500). So we won't have funds for central heating in the house for a couple more years.

Right now she is not eating very much and refuses to eat unless the food is hand-fed to her. Hoping this will change. We are trying to get things "back to normal" and instead of making her eat in her playpen, feeding the two dogs outside like we used to. Since we adopted this attitude instead of isolating Lulu she seems much happier. She goes in the playpen at sleep time (after a few quality hours with us as we sit in bed, watch TV and knit etc -- haha she's always wanted to chill on the bed with us) and when we have to go out and can't supervise her, so that she doesn't injure herself by catching the plate on something.

I think the vet is expecting us to bring her in for euthanasia this week so I will have to call him on Monday and discuss our decision. The doggie wheelchairs are all made in the US so we would like to order soon as they can take a few weeks. I think she will positively love having the mobility and we won't be able to catch her!

Anyway, I just tried one of Matilda's outgrown small Bummis SWW on her with a booster pad inside, and here is Lulu wearing it -- her back knees are tucked into the cover and I'm not sure if I have to design something that would prevent that but for now it helps protect the knees when she drags along. I think this sort of thing would work well and am looking forward to the trailing catheter bag going! We will have to express her bladder three times a day to prevent infections and the nappy is to catch drips etc.

So much to learn! And lots of care to give, but seeing as I used to be a vet nurse in my previous life I think we will cope OK. That's the easy part TBH. Emotionally is another story but we can't give up on her now.

1 comment:

Austysmum said...

You are an amazing woman to be doing so much for your dog. They are part of the family aren't they? When our dog got sick with an aggressive form of cancer that ate away his foot, we didn't think twice about dressing it (up to 5 times a day as he kept shewing off the bandages!) and upping his Addison's medication so he didn't get depressed. While he was happy and willing to chase balls we figured he might as well have extra time with us. However when the cancer got so bad that he didn't get up anymore it was sadly time to say goodbye.

If Lulu is happy, then I don't see why she can't stay with you, you are obviously very loving owners!

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