Friday, July 25, 2008

Routine Surgery is Not Always Routine.

Even though my human partner is a vet, she does not like doing surgery on her own animals. I have heard that this is true for human doctors, too--not wanting to practice on their own family. Anyway, my person took me to the veterinary hospital where she works, to have a spay and a gastropexy. I knew what it meant to be spayed, but I had never heard of a gastropexy, so I kept my ears open while my partner was telling her husband what it was. She explained that it is a procedure that is done to "tack" the stomach to the body wall, to prevent that really dangerous situation where the stomach fills with air and then twists--called gastric dilatation with volvulus, or GDV, for short. (See these two previous posts: and A gastropexy is "standard procedure" after repositioning the stomach during GDV surgery. As she said, it is much better to do this as an elective procedure than in an emergency, when a dog is in critical condition. So..... I was taken in for "routine surgery." My two humans took this opportunity for a trip out of town for a few days, figuring that I was going to have to be separated from them anyway.

Little did they know that my surgery was going to be anything but routine. Here's the story, as I experienced it. Any gaps in my memory were filled in by hearing my two humans discuss everything later, when I turned out to be fine. Apparently, the surgery had gone fine and I was soon back in a recovery cage, getting intravenous fluids and morphine. At some point, someone saw that I was bleeding more from my incision more than I should be and that my gums looked a little pale. My blood pressure was also too low. Someone checked my hematocrit (red blood cell percent) and saw that it had dropped. My surgeon got worried that I was bleeding somewhere and took me back to surgery. Apparently, he saw a disturbing amount of blood in my abdomen, most likely related to the spay procedure, but no obvious "bleeders." The gastropexy site was not bleeding at all. They ran some blood clotting tests and, even though my clotting times were normal, my blood platelets were a little lower than normal. Platelets form the initial plug on which a blood clot attaches. Anyway, my condition was stable overnight and during the next day, but by that night, my blood count had dropped little lower, so they gave me a blood transfusion. The other complication that was occuring at this time was a type of heart arrhythmia called "accelerated idioventricular rhythm," that occurs rather commonly after an episode of hypotension (low blood pressure). It resembles a string of premature beats called VPC's (or PVC's), but is actually not serious unless the heart rate is extremely fast. Nevertheless, it concerned my surgeon enough that I was put on a continuous IV infusion of antiarrhythmic medication. I gather that everyone was very worried about me, but I didn't know this until later. I was getting pain medicine, so I was pretty happy. I just slept a lot and waited for my people to come back to get me.

They finally came back and all was right with the world again. There was one more blood test they were waiting for, to see if my platelets had a defect caused by something called von Willbrand's Disease. The next week, when that test came back normal, my partner did some other test that involved pricking the inside of my lip with something, to see how long it took to stop bleeding. I guess that was normal, too, because after that, everyone had decided that there was nothing wrong with my platelets. I overheard my partner talking with one of the other doctors. Both seemed to agree that the "routine spay" on a large breed, mature female dog (which I guess I am) was sometimes anything but routine.
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Oh, yeah........ In case anyone is wondering---I'm fine now.

Friday, July 4, 2008

My Baby Sister

Remember those little puppies I showed you a few months ago? Here's the one my breeder-mom kept. Her name is Melody. I am so proud. . . . . . .

My Favorite Facebook Page! I am SUCH a Fan (I'm also their mascot!)

I try not to discriminate against a species that is "less fortunate" than mine.