Terii’s Cycling Babble

February 21, 2013, 7:38 am
Filed under: Misc

Yes, I know. I’ve been quite silent over here. I haven’t been riding and the only other thing to report would have been, ‘Still waiting’. It seemed easiest and less tedious to hold off until something significant happened which it finally did.

Most of this month has just been spent waiting and worrying while the toe creeped me out. That terrible twisted and bent digit just looked so painful and horrific. Throw in the swelling on the side which seemed to hint at something worse… I just shuddered every time I looked at it.

It didn’t seem to bother Loke much though. He was his normal bouncy, high energy self with only the rarest moments of discomfort where he’d limp a step or two if he came down particularly hard.

The lack of cycling did not help. After our riding frenzy in January, he was ready to keep on, damaged foot or not. He let us know about it. He’s been bossy and harassing. Even just picking up his leash sent him into paroxysms of glee that involved caroming around our little apartment like a pinball. Once, he even did a flying leap that took him over the coffee table, planting all four feet against the vertical back of the couch to leap back to where he’d started. I had images of a freaked out rock wallaby with a bee up its nose. Scolding him didn’t make him miss a beat. Just thinking what that might have been doing to the toe made me ill.

A few days after the other vet had shaved Loke’s foot, we were back to see Nadina as a follow up. Since the swelling hadn’t been reduced appreciably with the meds, she decided to do minor surgery on it to see what was going on exactly. Loke didn’t seem to notice anything had been done to him when we went to get him. He wasn’t the least bit groggy and didn’t limp at all. He was just happy that Jens and I had come back for him.

The results were disturbing. The reason the toe looked so twisted and bent was Loke had badly damaged the ligament somehow. According to Nadina, most likely he caught the toe on something, twisted and pulled in his struggles to free it. Surgery to repair it would be only partially successful and he’d always have some pain with it. On that issue alone, she recommended removal.

The swelling was caused by some sort of infection that had built up a mass around the bone and roots of the toe nail. She’d scraped out as much as she could, but had no real way to remove all of it. That gunk had been sent off to the lab for identification.

And the bone? It had changed again in 6 days and not for the better.

The news left Jens and I shaken. Nadina could see that and told us to think about it while we waited for the test results.

Later, I came to somewhat regret letting that moment slide and not scheduling surgery right away. Regret is such a useless thing. I prefer to regard such things as a lesson to be learned from. Still, I felt that pang on this issue.

Nadina had assured us that in all likelihood, Loke wouldn’t even notice the amputation except to be trouble free of whatever pain it had been giving him. She’d done the same procedure on other highly active dogs and they kept going as well as before. In most circumstances, they stopped limping before the end of the 3rd day after the procedure. She thought she’d even be comfortable letting Loke go back to running after 14 days of recovery.

I also wanted to talk to the couple who own the kennel where Loke was born. They are very much attached to all their dogs and I wanted their input. The woman was incredibly supportive and said, ‘Do it.’ It seems over the many years of raising, training and racing huskies they’ve had the inevitable accidents and such where a dog had to lose a toe. It didn’t even slow them down.

As the days went on, little improvement was to be seen. The swelling had somewhat subsided after Nadina’s surgical efforts, but the toe remained twisted and horrible looking. I desperately wanted to take Loke for a run to burn energy. I just knew I’d never be able to keep him from wanting more than a rolling walk. He’d dig into the snow/ice with his nails for traction, putting incredible amounts of force on them as they took the brunt of muscles straining for greater speed. I had no idea what that would do to his already damaged ligament.

So, we just suffered. Jens walked him as much as he could in between his long working days and I pitched in what I could. Even a 2 hour walk with Jens did nothing to take the edge off his energy. Loke’d come back home and look around as if to say, ‘That was a lovely little warm up. Now what are we doing for the rest of it?’

The results finally came in and Nadina asked to see Loke again. I was glad of that. Loke had finished his meds a few days earlier and already had started showing signs of limping again. Jens even had me pick them up from Gamla Uppsala one day when he started walking funny.

So, on the 18th, there we were. The results on the gunk hadn’t been entirely conclusive. All the lab had been able to determine was there were no indications of bacteria. Fungus, however, was present. That sent a chill through me. Fungus at the bone. Still makes me shiver. They had been unable to discern what kind of fungus since it hadn’t wanted to grow. Another test they were doing to figure it out would take an additional four weeks.

Nadina took a closer look at the toe, palpating it as much as Loke would let her, which wasn’t much. Then she sat back down on her stool and sighed. To her eye, the swelling was coming back and if anything, the toe looked even more twisted and bent. One thing she really didn’t like was Loke was acting significantly more sensitive and the swelling, which had been soft, mushy even, felt hard.

I had thought, maybe, the swelling had been coming back, but if so, it had been so gradual and I’d been looking at it every day, I couldn’t be sure. I felt a little panicky at the news that the feel of the mass had changed.

The ligament damage, the fungal infection, and the bone remodeling. Another 4 week wait while who knew what was going to happen with the infection and whatever going on in the bones? I just couldn’t do it.

We sat there and stared at each other for a long moment, a wordless agreement before I even said, ‘Remove the toe.’

Immediately, she was tapping at her computer. She had a slot open on Wednesday. I said I needed to speak to Jens, but book it. I’d call her before the evening was out to either confirm or cancel.

Jens agreed with the decision and even offered to cancel his business trip to Copenhagen. I thought that very sweet, but assured him I could manage. He did suggest that I ask if Tina could help me get Loke home and maybe keep me company for part of the evening for moral support in case Loke was as bad off as he’d been with the gland surgery.

Last Walk With All 12 Toes

Last Walk With All 16 Toes

So, that’s how it happened. I arrived outside the clinic early to take Loke for a walk along the paths in the area. Once through a small industrial area, the cycle paths go through a wooded section that have a few little tromped trails in the snow. It seemed a good idea to walk him as long as I could before turning him over to the veterinarians.

Any lingering doubts I’d had vanished at the changes I could see just since speaking with Nadina on the 18th. The swelling had definitely increased again, but in a much smaller and localized area next to the nail on that one side. Loke had also been favoring the foot more, even just wandering around the apartment.

I spent a long day in panic and anxiety. Loke’s been under general anesthetic so much lately.

The receptionist finally called around 1 pm to say the surgery went smoothly, no complications. Loke was in recovery to come out of the anesthesia. She said Nadina wanted to keep him for a few more hours. Once hearing the surgery went okay, I was fine with waiting to fetch him home.

Longing For Escape

Longing For Escape

Around 6 pm, Tina and I went to the clinic. We had to wait while Nadina finished with one patient. From the back of the building, we could hear Loke howling. Long, drawn-out husky yodels of misery. I was laughing nervously to cover the fact it was giving me flash-backs of last year’s surgery nightmare.

Finally Nadina beckoned us into a room with a barely groggy Loke. The furball had a huge mass of bandage wrapped around his foot. Still he was overjoyed to see us, Tina especially.

Nadina told us she hadn’t planned on bandaging Loke’s foot, but when he began shaking off the last of the anesthetic, he was so thrilled, friendly and energetic. He wanted to bounce and run around as if he hadn’t just had an amputation or even a problem with the now missing toe.

‘He’s just too happy a dog!’ she said.

So, the bandage was put on and made so bulky so it would be too awkward for Loke to walk on the foot, forcing him to keep his weight off. Loke was fairly silent during the meeting. Just the tiniest of whines ever few minutes. Those might have been more of a ‘I wanna leave this evil place!’ statement or even, ‘I need to PEE!’

As for the cause of all this headache, the toe was going straight to the lab for biopsy on the bone. Probably the same for the infection as well, but I’m a little less worried about that then I am about whether or not there might have been cancer.

With prescriptions for yet more pain meds and the bandage wrapped in a plastic bag to keep it dry, out we went. Loke practically tried to throw himself down the stairs before we wrestled him into the tiny elevator.

Beyond that, it was a quiet night. While Tina was here, he still gave those barely audible whines every 10 minutes or so, but nothing too disturbing. Once I went to bed, I don’t think he made a sound except getting up to hobble to different spots of the apartment. There are 3 he has for nighttime sleeping. His pillow in the living room, his bed next to Jens’ side of our bed and the floor at the foot of the bed.

So far, it looks like a nice, quiet and non-traumatic recovery. Here’s to crossed fingers that by March 7th, I’ll be back to riding with a grinning husky on the trike’s tether and many more miles to come for the year!

2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Terii, Sorry to hear you had to go through the angst of watching this happen to your beloved. I am glad that it seemed to have gone well and I wish Loke a speedy recovery!

Comment by Jim

Thank you, Jim! So far so good. I’ve had to hold him back on our walks which I find more encouraging than the first few walks where I had to pretty much carry him home.

Comment by Terii

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: