Comet’s ACL Surgery Post-Op Day 1

Comet is home safe. It was a long day for her at the animal hospital, but her surgeon said everything went very well. She did indeed have a full thickness tear (complete rupture) of the ACL in her hind left leg and a torn and folded medial meniscus on the same knee. Her backside and legs are shaved bald at this point, and she has a little bandage on her front arm where the IV was inserted. There is no bandage or covering on the incision site, though she has quite a few stitches. I’ll be monitoring that site to make sure it stays clean, dry, closed, and free from infection. The poor girl smells like a cocktail of antiseptics, a vet’s office, and iodine.

Comet was super groggy when we got her home. She was barely cognizant and sported what can only be considered a very dazed and confused stupor. We helped her into the crate, which was outfitted with her bed inside and her blanket. She was too woozy to figure out how to lie down in there, so she kind of just collapsed, sighed, and stayed put the entire night. She truly didn’t move an inch. I petted her head for a while and said soothing words of encouragement to try and comfort her. I put my heating pad along her back on the low setting with the automatic timer for two hours. She seemed cold and uncomfortable and if there’s one thing Comet loves most in the world (maybe besides us and her grandma), it’s being nice and warm. She tries to lie under my mom’s wood stove, even when she’s panting! Our house is usually quite cold (59 degrees), so I wanted to ensure her temperature was adequate so that her muscles could relax. Fortunately, the past four days have been lovely and warm, so the house is now 64 or so!

Later in the evening, Ben gave her three of her pain pills. She’s allowed 2-3 three times a day for now. She seemed to tolerate them fine, although she licked the peanut butter off the tablet the first time and left the pill.

I slept upstairs for the first part of the night, but I woke abruptly from a nightmare about Comet’s surgery. I grabbed my phone and ran downstairs to check on her. She was still in the exact same position and seemed fine, although her respiration rate was definitely faster than normal and her breaths sounded shallow. I opened the crate and gave her lots of kisses and snuggles and pet her for a while. It’s funny because I think we tend to think that animals are pretty different from us, but domesticated pets (at least) respond very similarly to humans in many situations. As soon as I was stroking her ears and comforting her with a soft, soothing voice, she calmed down. Her breathing slowed and I could feel her tense little body relaxing. I reassured her that I was here, and that she was brave and good. I doubt she understands most of what I say, but I kept affirming I love her and she’s a good girl. I put the heating pad back on to gently warm her back.

I stayed on the couch for another hour or so, until she seemed more asleep, then I went back upstairs, but I couldn’t get myself back to sleep. Eventually, I headed back down to watch over her. Although there is little I can do to alleviate her pain right now, I wanted her to feel comforted by my presence; I, too, felt more relaxed when I could see her in case she needed anything.

After my meditation, I turned on the light and tried talking to her in a more animated fashion. While still groggy for sure, Comet did visibly perk up with my happy words. I gave her the pain medication and tried to get her to drink some water. She refused the bowl that I brought near her face, so I just wet my fingers in it and she licked water off. I won’t delude myself and count that as much in the way of ample hydration, but it’s a start. The surgeon said its normal for them to not pee for two days post-op nor have a bowel movement for 4-5. I’ve offered her the choice several times now to go outside, but she just looks at me and puts her head back down. She’s not interested. I imagine the torrential rain this gloomy morning isn’t helping to entice her!

Around 7am, I asked her if she was hungry. She loves that question and indeed, even today, she peeked right up. She didn’t get any food at all yesterday, but with the heavy anesthesia, we knew she wouldn’t want any food last night. Comet tried sitting up, but wilted over like a puddle of jelly. She looked at me with her penetratingly deep brown eyes and I tried hoisting her backend up, but she was just too weak and unstable. After barely mustering two feeble attempts, she lay back down and exhibited no interest in trying again. There’s no need to push her at this point, so I poured a little bit of her kibble into a bowl and held it up for her while she ate in her cage in a semi-upright position. When she finished, I gave her the other two pills that are prescribed for her: 75 mg (half a pill) of something called vetprofen and 100 mg (1 pill) of an antibiotic. These are both reported to be somewhat poorly tolerated, especially gastrointestinally, so they are to be given with food. I encouraged her to drink, but she still refused.

About ah hour after her little breakfast, I tried to rally her to go outside. This time, she didn’t display a single sign of interest and didn’t move at all. I’ll let her rest then.

Ben is off to his conference for the next few days, so I’m flying solo as dog nurse. I hope she doesn’t start to resent me! I’m sure she’s quite uncomfortable, so I wouldn’t blame her if she did. My plan is to shower her with love and support, and be patient and gentle with her. I’m in her corner and pulling for her 100%. I’m so proud of how she did yesterday and for her bravery during these first few hours in recovery. Comet is my little trooper and I’m confident she’ll get through this feeling stronger and happier once she’s healed. It’s such a relief to know she’s on the upside of the whole ordeal and will be more comfortable in a matter of a few weeks. I’m so grateful that she’s going to be okay. That girl really has my heart.

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