UPDATE OCTOBER 27, 2011 - Hanging out and Hanging in With Blaze: (as always, click on any image for a larger view)(THIS IS LONG, SOME OF IT IS UNCOMFORTABLY GRAPHIC – IF YOU HATE THAT PART, SKIP TO THE END AND LOOK AT OUR DARLING GIRL HAVING FUN IN THE PARK).
I’ve been hearing from some of you and am so sorry that I’m behind on my updates about our miracle girl, but have had a difficult 3 weeks, including a business trip during which I had to leave Blaze back at Ansley Clinic – only for two nights – since her nursing care is something either I or they have to do, plus very busy with work, and with daily life.
While she is doing very well, there are still ongoing concerns about Blaze’s health.
Everyone, including both Dr. Brandley at Ansley, and Dr. Mees, the dental specialist who did Blaze’s second oral surgery on the 19th of October, hoped that this would be the solution to the chronic and uncomfortable chest congestion and sneezing and sinus dripping that had hindered her from feeling and being completely well.
As I mentioned in my last post, the recent oral surgery was much more complicated than just the anticipated repair of the right side fistula that Dr. Brandley knew had come loose. In reality, both upper fistulas had reopened, the poor little girl had broken off teeth on the bottom left, and abscessed teeth on the bottom right which had to be addressed. Her whole mouth was again involved in a large procedure.
After the surgery, I learned that Blaze had so little viable bone and soft tissue left from the years of agonizing oral disease that she had suffered that Dr. Mees could only re-do the upper right fistula with a single gum flap, rather than the double flap procedure she had planned. This open fistula had basically made a huge hole from the side of her cheek under her right eye, to her gum, through her soft palate to her nasal cavity. Every time she took a breath, air went straight into her trachea and throat through her cheek and palate, and every time she ate, part of the food she swallowed went into the open hole, as well. Normally there are natural barriers for bacteria in the mouth and nasal cavity, but in Blaze’s case the “open communication” as the vets call it, meant the barriers did not exist and bacteria had run rampant creating chronic infection and discomfort.
In addition to this problem, Dr. Mees encountered massive scar tissue in her nasal cavity, and more in the tissue on the side of her face to her gum. Again, this was the result of Blaze’s long term oral infection, not from a previous surgery. All that had to be cleaned out before the repair could even be attempted. Blaze’s nasal cavity was scraped, the scar tissue removed from her cheek and gum and the chronic hole on the right side of her face was sutured closed from the outside. You can see from this photo how well the outside of her face has healed – amazing, considering the mess it was when she was first rescued.
Blaze had a hard time after the second surgery. She had difficulty waking up afterward and was basically out of it for about 3 days, during which I struggled to get food in her, help her regain her balance, get her to pee/poop, and get her back to the cheerful and trying-really-hard self she had been before. The scraping of her nasal cavity and the local anesthesia she had during surgery left her sense of smell compromised, so she was only interested in eating things that smelled really strong. The Gerbers chicken baby food was a big help as well as boiled chicken, grated cheese and cottage cheese. Turns out Blazie loves people food, so this was a help, though discouraged by Dr. Brandley since all the meds she’d been on had caused digestive issues. She still refuses to drink water from a bowl, but I manage to get enough liquid in her with the soupy food to keep her well hydrated.
The sneezing and wheezing never stopped after the second oral surgery, even though both vets think a lot of it was just chronic infection from being so ill for so long. The antibiotics were stopped ten days after the surgery because she had been on them for so long; now she has subsequently developed a nasal infection with green discharge – but it’s been intermittent, not really bad yet. If the infection gets worse, we’ll go back on antibiotics. The Doctor says Blaze does not have fluid or anything questionable going on in her lungs, is not running a fever, is not dehydrated, and is in no immediate risk, although she refused to eat much while she was there.
Dr. Mees has concerns that there is a real risk to opening Blaze’s mouth wide enough to see if the repairs have come loose – if they have not, opening her mouth wide could cause them to – so she wants to wait for a serious follow up exam until one month after the surgery, which is a little under two weeks from now. I have seen Blaze do some serious wide mouth terrier yawns at bedtime, so I don’t think she’s in any pain. The congestion is worst while she’s sleeping and in the mornings when she first wakes up; by later in the day after she’s moving around and eating, it abates some. Sometimes at night when she’s doing the wet breathing and wheezing, I prop her head up on a pillow so she can breathe better and that seems to help.
Bottom line is this: If either of the fistulas have opened again, we are in serious trouble. Blaze cannot undergo another surgery. There simply is not enough bone and tissue to make it work and both Dr. Brandley and Dr. Mees have said no to that. I’m told that many dogs live acceptable lives with chronic open fistulas, but that Blaze’s were so horrific that if they open again, the congestion and infection will eventually make her so sick that we will lose her. So we wait for our next visit to Dr. Mees to find out if this is the case.
I am trying to remain positive. In the meantime, I will keep shoveling food into her and cuddling her next to me wrapped in her leopard binkie at night. I’m making sure she gets treats of bread crust with mayo, grated cheese, Buddy’s peanut flavored gummy treats, bites of boiled chicken and walks to the park. She has silly puppy days when she feels good and hops and runs around, has other days when she mostly just sleeps, but I am grateful for each and every one of those days.
The good news is that Blaze has improved tremendously in the weeks since she came home, in spite of the congestion issues. She has learned the household routine, gets loads of affection, is liked by Nancy, Danny and Neo, and is adored by Moose, who wants to be with her all the time. She gets a short walk to the park on sunny nice days (see our happy videos of today’s walk), which she totally loves, has met several of the neighbor’s dogs, which she loves even more. She knows her own yard and has learned to come up and go down steps, a thing she had clearly never done before she came here. She loves hanging out on the deck during sunny days. Sometimes she just runs for the sheer joy of it and that gives me such joy to see. She’s also learned to beg at the table – but I think that’s an inbred terrier thing, sort of like chasing squirrels – just automatic – and boy, she can really give you the pitiful eye with conviction! Academy Award for Begging. I used to split a small portion of my sandwich crust 4 ways so everyone got a little treat when I finished eating lunch – now a bigger portion gets split five ways, because Blaze loves soft crust with mayo on it better than anything and will get you with her remaining teeth if you’re not careful handing it to her!
She seemed happy to be home last night, followed the other dogs around and hung out while I unpacked. This weekend we’ll go back to the every 3 hour feeding and using all the tricks I can think of to make her feel better.
We had a great walk in the park today. Doesn’t she look terrific? Hard to believe the improvement she’s made since she first came out of the shelter in August, so sick and sad. Sorry for the quality of my videos but walking and shooting video while trying to hold her leash is a little hard, especially when she is excited and running along like she was today.
After the park and back yard patrol for squirrels by the rest of the gang, everybody has had lunch. Bread crust with mayo has been divided appropriately.
The wind is blowing on this beautiful Fall day in Atlanta. Our house is surrounded by huge, very old oak trees, and every time a big gust blows, hundreds of acorns rain down on the roof, bang the gutters and chimney cover, hit the wind chimes and the deck. Sounds like golf balls, and all the dogs are aware of the strange noise except for Blazie who cannot hear it, thus sleeps peacefully on beside me as I write this, snoring wetly, happily swaddled in her furry binkie.
I’m praying to any deity that may be listening, trying to live in shining karma, taking in the positive energy of all the people and dogs who love and support me in my own effort to be positive about Blaze. I have to believe that she will ultimately overcome this challenge as she has so many times before.
I know many of you will ask but, no, there’s nothing you can do except think of us, pray for us, send powerful thoughts. Donating to American Fox Terrier Rescue in Blazie’s name will continue to help her as well as help us be prepared for the next time something like this happens – and unfortunately, there is always a next time. Some people are stupid, arrogant, overwhelmed or unprepared to care for a dog. But worst of all, some people, like Blaze’s former owner, are just plain evil.
So, take a look at our Miracle Girl in our park videos because this is the terrific stuff that you all deserve to see. This happy little dog who is no longer skeletal, who is having big fun on her walk to the park, who has amazed us all so many times. I thought a still photo of Blaze leaving her mark in the park was appropriate.. Also, get a load of my proud capture of her going UP steps by herself, a thing she has just conquered in the past couple of days.
Bad video skills, but big love from me and Blazie to all of you who continue to care and send your wonderful support.
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