“Write hard and clear about what hurts.”
I asked him to go on an adventure with me, and he gleefully obliged. I asked him to run in and out of forests with me. I asked him to go with me to Minnesota and show me what we’re made of. I asked him to be strong when I was weak. I asked him to join the big leagues and take me to Reno. I asked him to gaze, wide eyed as I at the lights of New York City. I *begged* him to make it through Reno. He has done everything I have ever asked of him. I never thought to ask him not to have a torn ACL, though.
In July 2014 my sweet Motion came up lame after a training session. He walked it off rather quickly, but still I let him rest and recover for a few days. As the lameness persisted in extremely minor and intermittent occurrences, we began to look harder at the leg. We tried extended crate rest with Rimadyl, trigger point therapy, and then conditioning and stregthening exercises. It was decided that he either had some sort of chronic soft tissue injury, or an extremely partial tear of his ACL. Conveniently, the only non-invasive way to diagnose it as either of those things, was to rule out the other. (x-rays also really could not diagnose either of the possible injuries, at least not that early.) The intermittent symptoms came and went and he appeared to remain pain free and stable as I attempted to bring him back to full activity. Around Christmas, I finally broke down and got X-rays taken. Now, some 6 months after the initial injury, the X-rays still can’t show you if the ACL is torn, but they can show you if there have been any degenerative changes in the knee that could point towards a diagnosis of a tear. All of my vets agreed that they saw these changes and were suspicious of a partial tear. <cue heartbreak> But, I finally knew. I could stop running from it and giving myself false hope. I could stop tormenting myself. We sent the radiographs off to multiple other vets and surgeons for a second opinion on the risks of continuing to run him through AKC Nationals. Everyone agreed that so long as he was pain free and stable, which he was, and still is today, there was no harm in running him at a low impact height (20″) for a bit longer. So that’s what we did. And we had one hell of a time.
Today, we trekked up to see Dr. Beale at Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists. He agreed there was likely a partial tear, but he was borderline on whether or not to go ahead with the TPLO. He explained that it is such a minor tear and it has miraculously not worsened in the past 9 months or so that he was unsure of whether or not to proceed. I explained that he had been living in a bubble protecting that knee. He hasn’t been to the beach, or to the lake, or gone on a long hike with me. He ran only at 20″ (6″ lower than his true height in one of the two venues we compete in, and nearly 2″ below his shoulder.) I explained that I did not want him to live cautiously for the rest of his life merely to save me a wad of cash. So the team of vets left to go check the schedule to see how soon he could be penciled in. As they left, I think I heard the vet tech say “Man, she really wants this surgery…” Understandable, I guess. I wrecked my heart and soul mentally and emotionally preparing myself for this moment.
And then he gave me an out. An out?? I had not prepared myself for an out.
and then I did not take the out? Her thoughts (though wildly incorrect) were valid, I suppose.
So let me make this perfectly, and unmistakably clear. I do not want this surgery. I want my dog back. I want my dog to be able to live the wild and free life he was born to lead. I want to run in and out of forests, and up and down beaches, and in and out of lakes with him. I want to run hard and run free with him. I do not wish for him to have to live in a bubble any longer.
We have scheduled him for surgery tomorrow. I am terrified, and relieved, and racked with guilt. Really any emotion that can make you feel even the slightest twinge of discomfort, be it good or bad, I am feeling it.
No, that’s not quite right. I’m not so much feeling it anymore. I’ve felt it for 9 months. For 9 months it has festered inside me and essentially become me. I am not feeling uncomfortable. I am uncomfortable.
Tomorrow is the day. Tomorrow is the day it all ends, and it all begins. Tomorrow is the day I have yearned for for 270 days. Tomorrow we begin to heal, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Tomorrow we are clean.