Originally Posted by Steve
WOW! I never knew how much pet surgery could be!
Did they say anything about how to help prevent this from happening again?
Yeah, tell me about it. Part of what we are paying for though is the best facility and medical staff in western Pennsylvania.
A bunch of veterinary specialists got together and opened this facility just a few years ago. It's not a "vet clinic" where you take your pet for routine care. You either go there for emergencies, or are referred there by your regular vet because your pet's issue is beyond their scope, and requires a specialist.
If I didn't link it before, here's their website
. Note all the specialty services along the top.
We do have pet insurance, but the last time he injured himself this way, they denied our claim (it doesn't work quite the same way as human medical insurance) due to something that was noted in one of the doctor's charts.
We are praying that with the help of the doctor making some specific notes to address the previous reason for denial, we can get a percentage of our bill paid for, but I'm not going to hold my breath.
As for preventing future injuries to his spine? That's what the reason we went ahead with the surgery. It's complicated, but his spine had too much mobility allowing for the "pinching" of the spinal cord, causing swelling which cuts off the signals from the brain that allow control of the limbs. There's also some abnormality in there, but I'm unclear if it is totally caused by the body's defenses trying to "protect" that area - there was a lot of scar tissue in there that would suggest that.
The amount of "disability" depends on the severity of the damage at the time. The first time it happened, he was really bad (all four legs were affected), but we managed to get him recovered at home with a LOT of effort and physical therapy.
A few years later it happened again when he caught his nose on the ground while chasing a ball. He twisted his neck, dropped to the ground, and couldn't move. This time he had limited use of his back legs, and the recovery time was not as long. At that time, we had discussed the option of surgery, but since it was not without risk, very expensive, and he had recovered without
surgery once before, we went that route.
Fast forward a few more years and it happened again with no vigorous activity to point to as a cause - it just "happened". Any time you have a repeated injury, your chances of getting back to where you were initially are reduced. Factor in that with the fact that it could happen again at any time and we were left with three options:
1. Take him home as we had done in the past and cross our fingers.
2. Allow the neurologist to surgically correct the problem area as best as he can and fuse it to eliminate the instability in hopes that we can prevent this from occurring again.
#1 didn't seem like the best option and while #2 was something we are going to struggle with financially, we were not about to consider #3 without trying surgery first. Only when all options are exhausted will we consider that decision that nobody should have to make.
It's not easy to care for a dog that is this debilitated, but it's what we signed up for when we adopted him. In addition to simply being a wonderful dog all around, he's gotten us through some really crappy times emotionally. He deserves as much of a chance as we can give him.
He's going to walk again. I have faith.