I have had a heartbreaking week, but could not have gotten through it without amazing doctors and the support of my family and friends. I am forever grateful. Here is the full story of how my pug, Missy lost the use of her hind legs out of nowhere, and the long week we went through to save her. Long story short, she is fine! In about 6-8 weeks she should have full control of her legs and be able to walk on her own. She has already made such a turnaround in such a short amount of time. This blog post is meant to inform and give thanks.
Saturday July 16th
I was out of town visiting family when my friend Dan, who was dog sitting text me asking if Missy had trouble with her back leg. My heart sank. I had no idea what could have been wrong. She was a healthy 10 year-old pug that just had an impressive geriatric physical. Dan said Missy was limping on her back right leg. I thought she may have stepped on something or sprained it. He said she didn’t seem to be in pain so I told him to monitor it and avoid any jumping or stairs. The rest of that day I felt uneasy and worried.
Sunday July 17th
Dan text me asking if he should take Missy to the emergency room because both legs were obviously bothering her. She didn’t want to move, but still did not seem to be in pain. I called him to get a better grasp of what was going on. Dan seemed calm and I couldn’t sense any worry in his voice, so I told him I would rather take her to my vet on Monday (Village Vet is closed on Sundays). I hung up the phone, but couldn’t turn my mind off. I felt sick with stress and worry. I panicked as I waited for my flight. My mind immediately went to the deepest darkest fear of losing her, but I gave myself a pep talk that I was overreacting and pulled myself together.
I got home that night to find my Missy LaRue sitting flat on her butt, upright, hind legs out, not able to greet me at the door. She tried to scoot towards me and I burst into tears. I was afraid to touch her, not knowing if I would do more damage than good. Immediately my deep, dark fears came back. I wasn’t ready to lose her. I needed her. She was the reason I managed to keep myself together through my twenties. She kept me accountable and responsible to keeping her alive and safe. It was then that I realized I depended on her more than she depended on me. Missy was tough, she wasn’t crying out in pain, so I knew why Dan didn’t think she had any, but I could tell by the look in her eyes that she was scared and hurting.
I called the Animal Emergency Center in Studio City, they told me to bring her in right away. The doctor there gave her pain meds and referred her to a specialist at The VCA in Woodland Hills. I rushed there as fast as I could, while driving as slow and steady as possible without making much movement for Missy sitting up in the front seat. I wanted to break out in tears and each time I caught my eyes welling up. I scolded myself. It was not the time to fall apart.
We got to the hospital at 10PM. The doctor saw missy right away, and within minutes was able to give me her diagnosis. Missy had a back disease called Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD), which caused deterioration of a disk that had slipped and hemorrhaged in her spine. She said the chances of her living without the surgery were 50% and the chances of her recovering with the surgery were 75%. There was no question on whether or not I would choose the surgery. Even after she told me I was looking at $10,000. I didn’t care. I charged the deposit and the surgeon, Dr. Bausman was called in. I was informed of the steps that would be taken, and went home trusting Missy was strong enough to pull through this surgery, and that Dr. Bausman was the best for the job. I felt like a bad mom leaving Missy at the hospital, but I wouldn’t be able to see her until the surgery was over, and I knew I would be no good to her sleep deprived. I was home by 11:20PM. I laid in bed with my phone on the pillow waiting for it to ring with the MRI results.
Monday July 18th
I received a phone call at 1:30AM from Dr. Bausman introducing himself and letting me know he sent the MRIs to the lab and was waiting on Radiology to get back to him. At 3AM Dr. Bausman called again to say Missy’s MRIs came back, confirming the diagnosis, giving him an exact location on where he needed to cut and how he was going to do it. At this point I was more worried about Missy being under anesthesia. Some breeds are more susceptible to have problems under it, and older dogs are never guaranteed to come out. I prayed that she would remain steadily sedated just enough to get her through the operation then wake right up when it was all over. At 4:30AM I got the call I had been waiting for all night! The surgery was done and went very well. Missy was safe and sleeping painlessly. I felt a slight bit of relief and went to sleep.
I went to visit Missy Monday night in the hospital during visiting hours, 7PM-9PM. She was in recovery mode until her pain was manageable and she could pee on her own. Missy was laying in a crate with a catheter and an IV in, she sat up on her butt when I entered the room and approached her crate door. Seeing her all drugged up still not able to move her hind legs made me cry. She didn’t look any better from when I had left her before. The nurses assured me she was doing well and that she was eating. I laughed a little through my tears. My dog will always eat, no matter what her condition is. She loves food more than she loves me. I rubbed her ears for a few minutes, told her I loved her, closed her crate door, and drove home. The rest of the week would be spent preparing for her at-home recovery.
Tuesday July 19th
I spoke to Dr. Bosman at 8AM. He was surprised at how well Missy was recovering. She had the feeling of deep and superficial pain back in her legs, next would be motor, the movement of her legs, and peeing on her own. He said they nicknamed her Missy Elliot because she has “junk in the trunk.” It was then that I felt the most relief. My thick booty Missy was in the best hands and would soon be home with me.
Wednesday July 20th
I took advantage of visiting hours once more at 8PM. This time was much easier to keep my emotions in check, since I knew what I was walking into. She had slight movement in her hind legs, and she looked less sad. I rubbed her ears for a while and told her she would be coming home soon. On my way home I picked up a crate I was borrowing for Missy from a friend. I was so thankful I didn’t have to add another expense to the list.
Thursday July 21st
Dr. Bausman called to let me know he was taking out Missy’s catheter to see if she could pee on her own. Since her pain was manageable peeing was the last phase for hospital discharge. He wanted to keep her there for another night to be sure. I prayed she would be able to pee! It was a funny thing to pray for, but I wanted her back and this was the only thing holding her. That night I got her crate ready with slip proof bedding. I laid fake grass and pee pads on the balcony for short distance potty breaks. I had everything ready for her arrival.
Friday July 22nd
I called at 8AM to see what time I could pick Missy up. I was told she hadn’t peed yet, so they wanted to keep her for the day. I was instructed to call back at 4PM to see what progress was made. I was so bummed. I didn’t want to wait another day. at 2:30PM I got the call that Missy had peed and was ready to come home! I called and texted all my family and friends to share the good news. I couldn’t wait to get our lives back on track.
My friend Sarah came with me to Pick up Missy so she could drive while I held my baby on my lap. I waited patiently for the nurse to call me in to give me discharge instructions. I was given 4 medications for Missy to take throughout the day. I was told to keep her weight down, and to keep her as immobile as I could aside from potty breaks, as this would help with the healing. Finally they brought Missy to me. I imagined it felt similar to a mother holding her newborn for the first time. I burst into tears I was so happy to have her in my arms.
Her bandage was removed and her staples along her incision were exposed. It was bigger than I thought.
The ride home was the happiest I had been in a long time. Missy looked so happy to be out of there and back with her mama.
The Road to Recovery
Missy will be confined to this crate for the next 6 weeks. I use a sling under her back legs to walk her to her food bowl and out to the balcony to go potty. She can poop and pee on her own, and tries to stand on her legs quite often. I am amazed at how well she is healing only 1 week after that horrific disease paralyzed her. We only disagree when it comes time to take her medication, other than that she is a peach!
The hardest part of all of this was not having her around. We have had the same routine for 10 years, breaking it was very difficult. I still rushed home after work before doing anything else, and each time I opened the front door and didn’t hear her nails clicking on the wood floors coming around the corner to greet me I remembered she wasn’t home. I said goodnight to her aloud before I closed my eyes.It was difficult to fall asleep without her noises. I woke up thinking I heard her snoring every morning and felt sad when I realized the snorts were only in my dreams. Not having her with me for 5 days (when she should have been, not like when I was away on vacation) made me realized how big of a role she has played in my life. I didn’t know I could love something so much. This has prepared me for the worst when the tragic day comes that I will never take her home from the hospital, but I have a feeling we have many years left together, so that day can shove it!
I made this cake to say thank you. Thank you to the wonderful doctors and staff that saved Missy’s life. Thank you to my friends and family. Thank you for calling, texting, and emailing me everyday, multiple times a day to check on us. Thank you for offering your time and supplies. Thank you for being there. I am never really alone, and for that I am so thankful.