Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's Been Forever Since I Updated This!

Penny is doing wonderfully.  :)

She healed perfectly, has recently been spayed, and we even have a giant yard for her to run around in now!  We also got her a friend - a fostered lab named Lanie that became a pet.

The only complication she's had was very recently, when I noticed her favoring that leg again.  Terrified that something had gone wrong with her repair, we rushed her to the vet.  Well, actually we checked her paw for burrs first, THEN we rushed to the vet.  Anyhoo, the vet started at her toes and examined up - and as soon as he got to her knee there was a *pop.*

It turns out that either the injury, or the surgery to fix the break, caused the tendons that hold the knee joint in place to slip a little out of place, allowing the joint to move in ways it shouldn't sometimes.  It's good it isn't a dire, immediate fix, because Penny's scheduled to be my fiance and my flower girl at our wedding in November!

It can be fixed, though, once we have a little cash saved up, and in the meantime she has painkillers for when it gets to really bothering her.  Nothing stops her from tearing through the yard (or her dog beds), though!  True to her pittie nature, she never really acts like she's in pain.  In a few months, though, we'll have the moneys to get her in to the local ortho surgeon and get his opinion on how to best fix it up.

I'm just so glad her leg is stable and she's doing really terrific!  THANK YOU to everyone who helped out!  Here are some pics/vids of Penny (and Lanie, of course, they go everywhere together!):

When they first got a GIANT yard (after our apartment flooded and we had to move out a little early)!

Lanie taking Penny for a walk!

Penny's gigantic goofy grin

Yeah Penny, no one was sitting there, s'coo.

Penny's pout - after our apartment flooded we spent about a week in a motel.  She was not allowed on the first.

And giving her a bed of her own was also not enough.

Chillin' in the yard.

Glomping in the yard.

Why, that's a Penny on a box!

And that's a Penny on a car!

And that's a Penny on a me.

Lanie chasing Penny around with a litter box.

Rolling in the dirt after a bath is her favorite thing to do, hands down, I swear.  :)

New toy time!!!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Recheck #1

No pet heals quite the same, even from the same procedure, but it's always better to be safe than sorry if one suspects something's gone wrong.  We chose not to take any risks with Penny, because this close to the finish line, nobody wants to hear that there were complications!

Saturday afternoon we noticed Penny's leg had become very swollen - not at the site of the surgery (which was up near her hip), but further down toward her hock.  It was very squishy, like it was built up fluid, but didn't feel hot or anything.  We called the ATA right away and made an appointment to have her recheck one week early - Monday morning.

So today we brought her in and they checked her out, and thankfully, it's not an infection!  We just need to do warm and cold compresses on her until the swelling goes away, and she should be good to get her stitches out in a week (in town, thank goodness).  In three weeks (March 2nd) we'll bring her back to Austin for x-rays to make sure everything stayed in place and is healing well, and we'll go from there!

Thank you to everyone who has helped us get this far!!  I'll keep ya posted.  :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Healin' up

Now that it's been a couple of days, I thought I'd post a couple of pictures of how her incision is healing up.  The goof has decided that she's completely better now, and doesn't need to stay off the leg, be kept in a box, or not bounce around.  We think quite differently!  The silly girl's got no clue how close she came to being a tripawd!

Day 2 - healin' right up!

We're having a lot of issues with the e-collar right now.  The plastic one they gave us was fairly crude and kept her from laying down, using the restroom, eating, drinking, etc.  To take her outside  you had to help her out of the kennel, remove it, carry her outside and let her do her thing, carry her back in, put her in the kennel, then reattach the collar while she was in the kennel because she can't turn around once it's on.  Or lay down.  Or look side to side.  I wouldn't wish that thing on my worst enemy.

Her best pouty face!

So we tried something called a procollar, and it seemed to be working a lot better.  She could go everywhere without having to remove it, and it seemed to keep her from messing with the incision without seeming to destroy her hopes and dreams (she gets oddly melodramatic about the collars, more than her leg!).  Just this afternoon, though, I caught her licking the ouchie!  Drat!  So she's back to the yucky plastic cone until I can rig up something more comfortable but effective.  With no bandaging on her leg, it's extremely important to keep it clean.  I don't think she'd be so happy if we let it get infected and she had to go back to Austin early!

It sure is pretty, just not very effective right now.  Lookit those perky ears!

In the meantime she's a very enthusiastic, happy girl.  I can't wait to see her when we finish with our last checkup appointment and she gets a great big thumbs up!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


That did not go as anyone had planned.

We drove Penny up to Austin bright and early in the morning, and got her in right on time for drop off.  We filled out her paperwork, gave them her x-ray from back in November and rabies certificate, and discussed with the vet what exactly was going to be done.  The surgical assistant actually came back out before we left and expressed to us that amputation was going to be the only option because of how bad the injury looked, and that they wouldn't do a spay at the same time.  I was really, really bummed, especially since they'd already taken her back, but I know the vet doesn't amputate lightly.  We headed out to our friend's apartment to wait out the surgery.

A couple of hours later I got a phone call saying how surprised they were to see the film was from a few months ago (seriously?  I thought we did this whole consultation thing over the phone before, and guess how long it takes to raise $900).  They said they had to redo the x-ray and discovered that an FHO was still impossible, but that they could do just a plate for, oh, between $900-$1,000.

I had a mild heart attack, quickly asked my fiance if we could find $100 somewhere, anywhere, and gave the go-ahead to save the leg.  Of course, what else would you do?  Electing for an amputation when fixing it was only $100 out of reach would be plain cruel.  We wanted to do anything we could to keep her on all four legs - that is the whole reason we're here.  Yeah.  Do it.  We'll make it work.

I did ask her, though - why did it get more expensive?  Our first quote was $600-900.  The woman said, and I quote:  "That was from back in November.  That was a 'guess-timate,' not a real estimate."  We will encounter difficulties with this definition later on, too.

Apparently just doing one piece of hardware was more expensive than doing...more...things...I'm not entirely sure how she managed to word that, but it sounded ridiculous even from her. So I asked - this is our quote, then?  It's going to be $900-1,000?  Yes.  Yes, it is.

I go to take a 2-hour nap (because at this point I've been up over 24 hours and I simply need to get things straight!), with visions of scary bills but a happy, four-legged Penny dancing over my head.

I wake up to find I've missed a phone call (Doh!), but that they called my fiance and said that Penny was all done.  He had apparently asked for the total bill, to which they responded...


Wow guys.  You thought an extra $100 was going to be hard for us to pull together, I had a breakdown when I heard we were $240 over the initial quote, and heck, $140 over the NEW quote.  I tried calling them, but apparently during pickup hours they just let their phone ring.  I'm not being rang the entire time we were there picking her up, too.

I knew this was going to be expensive, and I completely anticipated some extra costs (although I was initially told that $600-900 included followups, drugs, aftercare, etc.), because no estimate is spot-on.  But we did not COME with an extra $240 in our pockets.  After gas to Austin and back, $240 was more than we had in our combined bank accounts.  We could eat cardboard for the rest of the month and still not fill that gap.  I was extremely unhappy, and frankly, I felt let down.  I felt...well, lied to.  It took us months to raise that money.  We didn't even raise it all, half of our goal came from the amazing work of God's Little Creatures.  It felt like we were being told AFTER the fact that all of that generous giving, all of that pulling together, was not enough and now we were cornered.  Because they weren't answering the phones, and apparently the woman in charge of debating charges had gone home, GLC couldn't even call and dispute them, let alone pay them.  The person I spoke with kept pointing out that the new AND the old "quotes" were not real "estimates," and that they didn't include everything.  She insisted she hadn't spoken with me before when we did the consultation over the phone in was just all extremely frustrating.

And you know, don't get me wrong - the vet did everything right.  Yes, I wish the tech had reviewed Penny's file and information before we got there (so they'd know we set this all up in November and what the problem was), but at a low-cost clinic you roll with the punches.  They did EXACTLY what we asked them to - they fixed her leg.  They even managed to keep all four paws - something we didn't have high hopes for.

But what do you do when you arrive with emptied pockets, excited that you finally made it, to be told that they did the work but it'll cost more money?

You let your fiance take the care instructions, you put GLC on the phone with them, and you go outside and you have yourself a little cry.  Then you go back in, you pick up your little girl, and you take her home.

GLC will call them tomorrow and see what can be done.  Maybe the price can be negotiated, or maybe it doesn't have to be paid all at once.  All I know is that I owe God's Little Creatures and all the pets there somewhere in the ballpark of $700.  I wouldn't feel right still asking people for Penny's surgery after it's done with, so it's going to be a lot of hours finding ways to raise money and supplies instead of sleeping.  It's not like I would have stopped talking to them anyways, but Penny and I pretty much owe a lot to them right now.  They are...simply amazing people.

I don't honestly know how all this will work out, but I'm glad to have my girl home and through the worst of it.  She is in a lot of pain right now, but it should get better over the next few days.  She's in strict kennel confinement and is only allowed out to go to the bathroom, which is just fine by her so far because she's in so much pain she won't move unless you make her.  The sweetheart still does her best, though.  She's wearing an e-collar, and it's simply pathetic on her.  I think she thinks it's an added torture.  She gives you this look of "Seriously?  Whyyy?  I don't feel good, and you're putting this pokey plastic thing on my head?"

It beats pulling out her staples, though!

So what exactly did they do to her?

Penny got one plate and six screws.  The vet had to re-fracture and re-set the bone to make it work, but it looks loads better than it used to:

P.S. - Usually the film is the property of the vet and goes in the medical record...apparently in this case we just got to keep it.  I'm not arguing!  I'm happy to be able to maintain her record for myself, with all this craziness!
It should be very stable, but in the future if the plate causes any problems it can always be removed.  The spring-lookin' thing along the side are her staples.  They said she might have a limp, and I think it was the only time I laughed around them - if they could have seen her when we first got her!

She has a few more visits to them, at least two - one in two weeks to remove her staples and check the healing, and another two weeks later for checkup x-rays.  Hopefully these checkups will be our only other day-visits to the ATA!  Penny still needs a microchip and to be spayed to be completely done with her vetting in my book, but that's an issue for a later time - and in town, where the drive to recovery is 5 minutes, not 2 hours!

Despite how frustrating this day was, I'm happy that her operation is DONE.  I cannot wait for her big, ugly, painful ouchie to become just a scar and a memory.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Almost Surgery Day!

It's one day before Penny's surgery!

Tomorrow morning I'll be getting off of work a couple of hours early, picking her up, and driving her out to the Animal Trustees of Austing.  Drop-off is between 7:30 and 8:30 am, and pickup is between 3 and 5 pm the same day.  She probably won't feel too nice, but there wouldn't be any supervision there overnight, so taking her home the same day will be our only option.  I may have to discuss with them again what exactly is going on, since hers is sort of a special case, as is the payment (since all we have to go on is an estimate, and we aren't even sure what procedure will be done!).  Hopefully they will have the heart to put off spaying until another time... because I'm not particularly thrilled about the idea of having two separate surgeries with their own aftercare to address.  We'll see...we'll see.

As soon as we pick her up and get her home I'll give you guys the FULL update - what they decided to do, where we go from here, etc.  In the meantime we're just trying to give Penny as much love and freetime as possible, as well as completely reorganizing our living room to make getting around easier for her post-surgery.  After 10 pm tonight she won't be allowed to eat anything, and after midnight she won't be allowed any water.

Ahhh...I'm so nervous!  She doesn't seem to have any idea.  :p

Saturday, February 5, 2011

They called me WAY early...

And it looks like her surgery date is February 15th!  It sounds like they might require she get spayed the same day?  I'm not thrilled about being told that so late, especially since that means two surgeries at once, but we'll see if it even comes up.

I'll let you guys know how it goes!

We All Did It!!!

You guys are amazing!!!

Thanks to God's Little Creatures, the amazing community, and everyone who knows and loves Penny online, we have reached our goal of $900!

I've taken the donate buttons down, but if you would still like to donate you can give to GLC, who always needs supplies and donations to help other pups in need.  You can contact them to arrange a donation using their Petfinder site here.

I tried to arrange a surgery date to reserve today, however, the vet and vet tech who arrange the special surgeries won't be in to help us set a date until Monday.  They'll call me, and we'll get that date set in stone!    Exciting!  She's almost there!

Here are some pictures of Penny playing in the snow we had this week:

She loved it!  It was actually hard to convince her to go back inside, despite the fact that we couldn't find her sweater before going out!  What a goof.  :)